British-Moroccan chef gives free gourmet meals to key workers, homeless amid coronavirus

British-Moroccan chef gives free gourmet meals to key workers, homeless amid coronavirus
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British-Moroccan chef and entrepreneur Khalid Dahbi distributes meals to front line workers. (Supplied)
British-Moroccan chef gives free gourmet meals to key workers, homeless amid coronavirus
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Front line workers receive Khalid Dahbi’s meals. (Supplied)
British-Moroccan chef gives free gourmet meals to key workers, homeless amid coronavirus
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British-Moroccan chef and entrepreneur Khalid Dahbi prepares meals for front line workers and the homeless. (Supplied)
British-Moroccan chef gives free gourmet meals to key workers, homeless amid coronavirus
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British-Moroccan chef and entrepreneur Khalid Dahbi distributes meals to front line workers. (Supplied)
British-Moroccan chef gives free gourmet meals to key workers, homeless amid coronavirus
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British-Moroccan chef and entrepreneur Khalid Dahbi prepares meals for front line workers and the homeless. (Supplied)
British-Moroccan chef gives free gourmet meals to key workers, homeless amid coronavirus
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British-Moroccan chef and entrepreneur Khalid Dahbi prepares meals for front line workers and the homeless. (Supplied)
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Updated 03 April 2020

British-Moroccan chef gives free gourmet meals to key workers, homeless amid coronavirus

British-Moroccan chef gives free gourmet meals to key workers, homeless amid coronavirus
  • Dahbi says he and his team are “keen to deliver” and distribute meals where they are needed
  • The British-Moroccan chef and entrepreneur said he is preparing the meals solely to help others and has always “loved giving back”

LONDON: A British-Moroccan chef and entrepreneur is bringing a smile to dozens of key workers and homeless people in England during the coronavirus lockdown by cooking and distributing 150 restaurant-style meals every day.

Khalid Dahbi, 39, the executive resident chef at British concierge company Quintessentially, said he is keeping his kitchen open during the coronavirus outbreak to provide nutritious food to frontline workers as a way of giving back to society.

“For me, it’s another way of having fun,” Dahbi told Arab News. “Amid the darkness of the coronavirus pandemic, if I can make people smile through my food, then I’ve succeeded.”

He said his meals are gourmet standard, and he has been serving dishes such as risotto with truffles, grilled supreme of free-range chicken with risotto primavera, smoked salmon sandwiches, and risotto primavera with grilled chicken and salsa.

“The meals aren’t served hot, but we ask recipients of the meals to heat them up,” Dahbi said. “They’re served in packaging that’s suitable for ovens and microwaves, so they just need to warm the food up and they have a restaurant-style meal.”

The British government has introduced a lockdown and social-distancing measures to slow the spread of coronavirus in the country.

The measures include restaurant closures, which make it difficult for key workers such as nurses and police officers, who have stretched schedules and work round the clock, to obtain food.

“There are a lot of people in London who don’t have access to hot food, and with everything closed, I’m taking the opportunity to cook some gourmet meals for nurses and other key workers, Dahbi said, adding that he and his team are “keen to deliver” and distribute meals wherever they are needed.

“A few friends of mine who work for the NHS (National Health Service) recently called me and told me that nurses have very little options for food and that they can only buy cold sandwiches at the hospital cafeteria,” he said.

“So we cooked some food and put it into our vans and took it over to London Bridge Hospital, where a member of staff made sure that around 30-40 nurses had a nice hot meal.”

Dahbi said he is preparing the meals solely to help others and has always “loved giving back.”

He added: “I’m giving to the areas where there’s a real necessity. Yesterday I went to Charing Cross Police Station. The police don’t have access to hot food. We walked into the police station and were welcomed with open arms. They accepted all the food we gave them and thanked us immensely because they needed it. There was nothing around. Even if you bring food from home, it’s not the same thing.”
Although 80 percent of the meals that Dahbi cooks are given to frontline workers, he has also distributed food to homeless shelters in Covent Garden, Camden and Marylebone.

“If I come across anybody on the streets on my way to these shelters, I’ll stop and open my boot and give them a meal,” he said.

Dahbi, who also owns a pizzeria and restaurant in Covent Garden, covers the costs of the meals that he and his team of five chefs make, as well as their wages. He said it is a way of keeping his team in employment during these difficult times.

“It’s my way of investing in my team and keeping them busy, because I don’t want to lose these people who’ve been with me for such a long time, so it’s a good way to get them involved, and of course they’re being paid as well,” he added.

Paying tribute to his team, he said: “I’m successful because of the people around me. Without them I’d be nothing. They stand by me on a daily basis, and for me to turn my back on them isn’t something I’d consider.”


EU targets key Belarus sectors after plane diversion

EU targets key Belarus sectors after plane diversion
Updated 21 June 2021

EU targets key Belarus sectors after plane diversion

EU targets key Belarus sectors after plane diversion
  • Ministers meeting in Luxembourg backed broad-ranging measures targeting major revenue sources for Belarus
  • Officials said measures include ban on sales of surveillance equipment and tightening of an arms embargo to be formally adopted by 27-nation bloc

LUXEMBOURG: EU foreign ministers on Monday agreed to sanction key sectors of the Belarus economy as the bloc ratchets up pressure on President Alexander Lukashenko after the forced landing of an airliner.
Ministers meeting in Luxembourg backed broad-ranging measures targeting major revenue sources for the Belarusian regime: potash fertilizer exports, the tobacco industry, petroleum and petrochemical products.
Officials said the measures — including a ban on sales of surveillance equipment to Belarus and tightening of an arms embargo — should be formally adopted by the 27-nation bloc in the coming days.
The ministers also officially signed off on adding 86 additional individuals and entities to an assets freeze and visa ban blacklist.
Seven people — including defense minister Viktor Khrenin and transport minister Alexei Avramenko — were sanctioned for the forced landing of a Ryanair passenger jet last month.
The remaining 71 individuals — including Russian tycoon Mikhail Gutseriyev, Lukashenko’s son Dmitry and daughter-in-law Liliya — were targeted for ties to the Belarus government’s sweeping crackdown on opposition or for supporting the regime.
“Today we have confirmed and decided that sectoral sanctions will be taken against Belarus, which will have a severe impact on the Belarusian economy,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said ahead of the meeting.
“We want the release of the political prisoners, an end to the violence against protesters and the opposition, and an inclusive dialogue that will lead to free and fair elections.”
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said earlier that the economic sanctions should be wrapped up after a summit of the bloc’s leaders in Brussels later this week.
“We’re going to hurt the economy of Belarus heavily.”
EU statistics show that trade with Belarus topped 10 billion euros in 2020.
Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who insists she rightfully won last year’s poll, welcomed the inclusion of business tycoons and top officials on the blacklist.
“It’s a rather strong sanction list,” she told a press conference in Brussels.
Belarusian strongman Lukashenko sparked international outrage by dispatching a fighter jet on May 23 to intercept the Ryanair plane flying from Greece to Lithuania.
When the plane was forced to land in Minsk, Belarus arrested dissident journalist Roman Protasevich and his girlfriend Sofia Sapega on board.
The EU responded quickly by blocking Belarusian airlines from flying to the bloc and stopped carriers from its 27 nations from using Belarusian airspace.
The bloc had already slapped sanctions last year on 88 individuals — including Lukashenko and his son — over a brutal crackdown on protests since the veteran leader claimed victory at elections in August deemed fraudulent by the West.
The authorities detained thousands during the demonstrations and the EU says that some 500 political prisoners remain behind bars.
“We are clearly showing that Stalinism and state terror no longer have a place in the 21st century,” Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn said.
Lukashenko, ruler of Belarus since 1994, has so far shrugged off the pressure with backing from his key ally Russia.
Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis complained that Belarus was hitting back by sending migrants, mostly Iraqis and Syrians, across its border.
He warned the flow could increase after sanctions were approved and that Lithuania “might need help and assistance from other European countries.”


German tourists investigated in Italy for fatal boat crash

German tourists investigated in Italy for fatal boat crash
Updated 21 June 2021

German tourists investigated in Italy for fatal boat crash

German tourists investigated in Italy for fatal boat crash
  • Investigators were awaiting results of blood analyses to determine if tourists were drinking before crash
  • Woman's body was recovered from the lake Sunday evening by Italian firefighter rescue divers

ROME: Two German tourists from Munich are being investigated in Italy for a boat collision on Lake Garda that killed an Italian man and woman, Italian Carabinieri paramilitary police said.
Italian state RaiNews24 TV said investigators were awaiting results on Monday of blood analyzes to determine if the tourists had been drinking before the crash. The Carabinieri said both Germans are free on their own recognizance while under investigation for alleged manslaughter and failure to provide assistance.
The woman’s body was recovered from the lake Sunday evening by Italian firefighter rescue divers and the man’s body was found in their small boat earlier in the day.
The Carabinieri office conducting the investigation declined to give further details because the probe is still ongoing.
The Corriere della Sera newspaper said the victims’ boat was badly gashed near the bow and that the man, 37, had suffered a grave abdominal wound. One of the 25-year-old woman’s legs was partially torn off, it said. A search had been launched for the woman after women’s clothing was found on the boat near the man’s body.
Police located the tourists after people noticed their docked motorboat was damaged, the Italian daily said.
The Italians reportedly had met with friends on shore Saturday evening, then headed out on the man’s boat and were about mid-lake when the vessel was struck by the motorboat. Corriere della Sera said investigators found pieces of wood from the Italian man’s boat imbedded in the tourists’ boat.
Lake Garda, which has many shoreline resorts in northern Italy, is very popular with European visitors.


UN rights chief ‘deeply disturbed’ by ‘serious violations’ in Ethiopia’s Tigray

UN rights chief ‘deeply disturbed’ by ‘serious violations’ in Ethiopia’s Tigray
Updated 21 June 2021

UN rights chief ‘deeply disturbed’ by ‘serious violations’ in Ethiopia’s Tigray

UN rights chief ‘deeply disturbed’ by ‘serious violations’ in Ethiopia’s Tigray
  • Extrajudicial executions, arbitrary arrests and detentions, sexual violence against children as well as adults, and forced displacement

GENEVA: The UN rights chief voiced alarm Monday at continued reports of “serious violations” in Ethiopia’s violence-wracked Tigray region, by all parties in the conflict, including continued abuses by Eritrean troops.
“I am deeply disturbed by continued reports of serious violations of international humanitarian law and gross human rights violations and abuses against civilians by all parties to the conflict,” Michelle Bachelet told the UN Human Rights Council, pointing to “extrajudicial executions, arbitrary arrests and detentions, sexual violence against children as well as adults, and forced displacement.”


US envoy hopes North Korea responds positively on offered talks

US envoy hopes North Korea responds positively on offered talks
Updated 21 June 2021

US envoy hopes North Korea responds positively on offered talks

US envoy hopes North Korea responds positively on offered talks
  • United States’ diplomacy with North Korea stalled over its nuclear program and US-led sanctions

SEOUL: President Joe Biden’s special envoy for North Korea said Monday he hopes to see a positive reaction from the North soon on US offers for talks after the North Korean leader ordered officials to prepare for both dialogue and confrontation.
Sung Kim, Biden’s special representative for North Korea, is in Seoul to speak with South Korean and Japanese officials about the United States’ stalled diplomacy with the North over its nuclear program and US-led sanctions.
The trilateral talks followed a North Korean political conference last week where leader Kim Jong Un called for stronger efforts to improve his nation’s economy, further battered last year by pandemic border closures and now facing worsening food shortages.
The US envoy Sung Kim said the allies took note of the North Korean leader’s comments and are hoping the North will respond positively to the proposal of a meeting.
“We continue to hope that the DPRK will respond positively to our outreach and our offer to meet anywhere, anytime without preconditions,” Kim said during his meeting with South Korean and Japanese nuclear envoys, Noh Kyu-duk and Takehiro Funakoshi, respectively. He was referring to the North’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
South Korea’s Foreign Ministry said the officials from the three countries reaffirmed a coordinated approach toward North Korea and shared commitment to work toward a quick resumption of dialogue.
North Korea’s economic setbacks followed the collapse of Kim Jong Un’s ambitious summitry with then-President Donald Trump in 2019, when the Americans rejected the North Koreans’ demands for major sanctions relief in exchange for a partial surrender of their nuclear capabilities.
Kim Jong Un in recent political speeches has threatened to bolster his nuclear deterrent and claimed that the fate of diplomacy and bilateral relations depends on whether Washington abandons what he calls hostile policies.
US officials have suggested Biden would take the middle ground between Trump’s direct dealings with Kim and President Barack Obama’s policy of “strategic patience.” But some experts say the North likely must take concrete steps toward denuclearization before the Biden administration would ease any sanctions.
South Korea, which is eager for inter-Korean engagement, has expressed optimism about a quick resumption of diplomacy.
Seoul’s Unification Ministry said Kim’s comments during a ruling party meeting last week, where he said he expected both dialogue and confrontation with the United States, demonstrated a flexibility toward diplomacy.
But others saw Kim’s comments as merely a reiteration of Pyongyang’s wait-and-see stance of insisting Washington budge and offer concessions first.
While Kim urged officials to boost agricultural production and brace for prolonged COVID-19 restrictions, none of the decisions reported after the party meeting seemed directly related to facilitating talks with the United States.
While displaying an openness to talks, the Biden administration has provided little detail about its policy on North Korea beyond a long-term principle of taking a “calibrated and practical approach” on diplomacy while simultaneously upholding sanctions against the country.
Thae Yong Ho, a former North Korean diplomat who defected and was elected a South Korean lawmaker, posted on Facebook that Kim’s comments at the party meeting seemed tailored to mirror what the Biden administration has said about the North.
“Advocates of engagement see Kim Jong Un’s recent mention of dialogue as a sign North Korea is opening the door for talks, but Pyongyang has not yet expressed a willingness for working-level negotiations on denuclearization,” said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor of international studies at Ewha Womans University in Seoul.
He said the North may return to negotiations only after demonstrating its strength with post-pandemic economic recovery and provocative military tests, which could possibly come later this summer when the United States and South Korea usually hold their combined military exercises. The allies describe the drills as defensive in nature, but the North claims they are invasion rehearsals.


China urges US not to seek ‘political manipulation’ after Taiwan COVID-19 vaccine aid

China urges US not to seek ‘political manipulation’ after Taiwan COVID-19 vaccine aid
Updated 21 June 2021

China urges US not to seek ‘political manipulation’ after Taiwan COVID-19 vaccine aid

China urges US not to seek ‘political manipulation’ after Taiwan COVID-19 vaccine aid
  • The United States delivers 2.5 million COVID-19 shots to Chinese-claimed Taiwan

BEIJING: China’s foreign ministry urged the United States on Monday not to seek “political manipulation” in the name of vaccine assistance after the United States delivered 2.5 million COVID-19 shots to Chinese-claimed Taiwan.
Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian made the comment at a daily news briefing in Beijing.