Australia’s Great Barrier Reef status lowered to critical and deteriorating

Australia’s Great Barrier Reef status lowered to critical and deteriorating
Progress toward safeguarding Australia’s Great Barrier Reef under a long-term sustainability plan through to 2050 has been slow, a conservation report said. (AFP)
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Updated 07 December 2020

Australia’s Great Barrier Reef status lowered to critical and deteriorating

Australia’s Great Barrier Reef status lowered to critical and deteriorating
  • Australia’s northeastern coast has lost more than half its coral in the past three decades

MELBOURNE: The health of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, the world’s most extensive and spectacular coral reef ecosystem, is in a critical state and deteriorating as climate change warms up the waters in which it lies, an international conservation group said.
The World Heritage-listed site off Australia’s northeastern coast has lost more than half its coral in the past three decades.
Coral-bleaching in 2016, 2017 and 2020 has further damaged it health and affected its animal, bird and marine population, the International Union for Conservation of Nature said in a report.
Such bleaching occurs when hotter water destroys the algae which the coral feeds on, causing it to turn white.
The union moved the reef’s status to critical and deteriorating on its watchlist.

Some activities which threaten it, like fishing and coastal development, can be tackled by the management authorities, the union said.
“Other pressures cannot be addressed at the site level, such as climate change, which is recognized as the greatest threat,” it said.
Progress toward safeguarding the reef under a long-term sustainability plan through to 2050 has been slow and it has not been possible to stop its deterioration, it said.
The turtle populations — including loggerhead, hawksbill and northern green — as well as the scalloped hammerhead shark, many seabird populations and possibly some dolphin species are declining.
Efforts to safeguard the reef are rising, however. HSBC and the Queensland government said in October they would buy “Reef Credits,” a tradable unit that quantifies and values the work undertaken to improve water quality flowing onto the reef.
Similar to the carbon offset market which incentivizes the reduction of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, the scheme pays landholders for improved water quality.


Egyptian swimmer breaks unusual 9-year-old monofin world record

Omar Sayed Shaaban, 21, from Ismailia recorded a 2 meter 30 centimeter jump, breaking the previous record held by fellow Ismailia native Soliman Sayed. (Supplied: GWR)
Omar Sayed Shaaban, 21, from Ismailia recorded a 2 meter 30 centimeter jump, breaking the previous record held by fellow Ismailia native Soliman Sayed. (Supplied: GWR)
Updated 03 March 2021

Egyptian swimmer breaks unusual 9-year-old monofin world record

Omar Sayed Shaaban, 21, from Ismailia recorded a 2 meter 30 centimeter jump, breaking the previous record held by fellow Ismailia native Soliman Sayed. (Supplied: GWR)
  • The civil engineering student has been swimming since he was 8-years-old
  • Monofins are shaped like a ‘mermaid’s tail’

LONDON: An Egyptian swimmer has broken the world record for the highest jump from water with a monofin.

Omar Sayed Shaaban, 21, from Ismailia recorded a 2 meter 30 centimeter jump, breaking the previous record held by fellow Ismailia native Soliman Sayed and Italians Cesare Fumarola and Stefano Figini, who all hit the 2 meter mark in 2011.

The civil engineering student has been swimming since he was 8-years-old, joining the Suez Canal Club a year later, and is now a professional sprinter swimmer coached by Farouk Al-Akhras.

Monofins, typically used in fin-swimming, free-diving and underwater orienteering, are shaped like a mermaid’s tail and swimming with them is considered a niche sport. 

Training to beat the record has changed the way Shaaban eats, sleeps and trains as well, with three training sessions a day, two of them in water, with a gym session in between.

“I practise to increase my limb beat frequency and obtain stiffer muscles, but my aim is never to bulk up,” he said. “Bigger muscles make it hard to sprint in water, so I work out to maintain cutting cycle, increase flexibility, enhance muscle reflexes and of course build stronger legs.”

As a junior, Shaaban was ranked as the second fastest swimmer in the world, and he currently holds three world medals (two silvers and a bronze), and he achieved the new world record during a 3-month training programme for another upcoming championship.

He can cross 50 meters underwater on one held breath in only 15.6 seconds, and 100 meters using a snorkel in 35.5 seconds.

“As a sprinter, I understand that even thinking burns oxygen, so I tend to focus on the present moment. Part of our training is to learn how to be extremely relaxed inside the water,” he said.

“Swimming is peaceful. A rush of unexplainable thoughts crosses your mind underwater, but it is certainly different and healing.”

The young Egyptian told Guinness World Records he wasproud with the recognition received following his achievement, adding that he hopes to train in better conditions with full focus on the world record and raise the bar higher.

One of his dreams, he said, was moving from second to hold the title of fastest swim sprinter in the world, adding he was “just a couple of milliseconds away” from reaching top spot.


Dubai cat cafe hopes rescues will find purr-fect new homes

Dubai cat cafe hopes rescues will find purr-fect new homes
Updated 28 February 2021

Dubai cat cafe hopes rescues will find purr-fect new homes

Dubai cat cafe hopes rescues will find purr-fect new homes
  • The cafe’s original residents were strays taken in by the family over the years
  • Now Ailuromania hosts cats from a government-run animal shelter in the neighboring emirate of Ras al Khaimah, hoping to increase adoptions

DUBAI: A haven for humans craving furry feline company, a cat cafe in Dubai also doubles as an adoption center for some of the United Arab Emirates’ many strays.
The Ailuromania Cat Cafe, which was the Middle East’s first cat cafe when it opened in 2015, hopes the relaxing properties of its 25 rescue and shelter cats will help find them their forever homes.
“Anyone who is stressed just has to find a cat. All your stress will go away,” said Omnia Fareed, whose two cat-loving sisters Allaa and Iman started the cafe after university, taking inspiration from similar establishments in Korea and London.
The cafe’s original residents were strays taken in by the family over the years. Now Ailuromania hosts cats from a government-run animal shelter in the neighboring emirate of Ras al Khaimah, hoping to increase adoptions.
The cafe’s name Ailuromania is a play on the Greek-derived English word for a lover of cats: ailurophile.
The cafe has regular customers who come seeking relaxation from the stresses of life, or because they cannot keep a cat at home.
“They are so cute, they love playing,” said visitor Shaasthra. She said she appreciates how the cafe looks after the cats’ welfare by advising people not to hold them or wake them up.
Another regular visitor, a street cat who would stare in through the window, was also invited and eventually adopted.
Since Dubai began lifting coronavirus lockdown measures last summer, the cafe re-opened with capacity and sanitization restrictions.
Dubai has a large number of stray cats, with many abandoned on the streets by their owners. In 2018 UAE authorities made it illegal to abandon animals, but animal welfare activists in Dubai have for years called for a large-scale trap-neuter-release scheme and feeding programs to bring numbers down humanely.
In August, Dubai municipality issued a circular restating a policy of fining anyone caught feeding strays, saying it increases the spread of diseases.


Chinese court orders man to pay former wife $7,700 for five years of housework

Chinese court orders man to pay former wife $7,700 for five years of housework
Updated 24 February 2021

Chinese court orders man to pay former wife $7,700 for five years of housework

Chinese court orders man to pay former wife $7,700 for five years of housework
  • The award of compensation for housework sparked debate on Chinese social media

BEIJING: A Chinese court has ordered a man to pay his former wife 50,000 yuan ($7,700) as compensation for housework she did during their five-year marriage, state media reported on Wednesday.
Under a landmark civil code that seeks to better protect the rights of individuals, spouses can seek compensation from their partners in a divorce if they have shouldered more responsibilities — including housework.
The woman, who did not work outside the home during the marriage, sought compensation for housework she had done after her husband filed for divorce at a district court in Beijing last year.
The judge ruled in her favor, telling the man to pay 50,000 yuan for her labor, according to state television.
He must also pay 2,000 yuan a month to support their child, with other assets such as property to be divided equally.
The award of compensation for housework sparked debate on Chinese social media, with many netizens saying the amount was too little.
“A nanny’s annual income is already in the tens of thousands of yuan,” said a social media user. “This is too little.”


Experts warn of ‘dangerous’ keto diet side effects

Experts warn of ‘dangerous’ keto diet side effects
A reduction of carbohydrate intake and increase in fats place the body in a metabolic state called ketosis. (Supplied)
Updated 20 February 2021

Experts warn of ‘dangerous’ keto diet side effects

Experts warn of ‘dangerous’ keto diet side effects
  • “The keto diet can also affect your performance during certain exercises, and you won’t be able to work out as intensely or as often as before”

JEDDAH: The ketogenic diet has become one of the fastest-growing dietary trends, but experts have warned that many of its advocates are unaware of the dangerous side effects the diet can cause.

According to Healthline.com, the ketogenic diet, commonly known as keto, is a low-carb, high-fat diet that shares similarities with low carb and Atkins diets. A reduction of carbohydrate intake and increase in fats place the body in a metabolic state called ketosis.
However, the diet has led to severe side effects for some people.
“The keto diet should only be done under clinical supervision, and only for brief periods of time,” Dr. Ruwaida Idrees, a nutritionist, CEO and owner of Hayati Ghethaei, a catering company, told Arab News.
She added that the keto diet should only be considered in “extreme cases,” because it can do “more harm than good.”
Idrees said: “It can cause damage to the heart, since the heart is also a muscle.”
Consulting a doctor, completing necessary tests and discussing goals with a clinical dietitian should all be considered before starting a keto diet, she added.
Idrees said there are many misconceptions surrounding the keto diet and exercise, adding that exercise can still reduce the risk of heart disease, obesity and other health conditions.
People need to be careful about the types of exercises they practice, she said. “The keto diet can also affect your performance during certain exercises, and you won’t be able to work out as intensely or as often as before.”
Fouz Ghannamil, a fitness trainer, told Arab News that the diet appeared to work for many people. “It is good, but my own opinion is that the human body needs more nutrition than just fat and a really small dose of carbohydrates.”
She added: “It has a high portion of proteins which is good, but the fat sources, no matter how good they are, are a bit too much. It is better in my opinion that the portion of fat and carbs is balanced.”
Ghannamil suggested a better alternative for people looking to shed pounds this year — sticking to a diet of “80 percent healthy food and 20 percent junk food.
“Because naturally, your mind will desire junk food that is not natural, however, it has loads of fat in and your body can use it as an energy source.”
She warned people considering a new diet to stick to a balanced nutrition pyramid that contains everything they need: Protein, carbohydrates and fat.
She added that people should avoid diets based solely on numbers rather than personal experience.
Idrees, on the other hand, proposed the Mediterranean diet as a simpler alternative to the keto diet, saying that it has a good balance of seafood and other sources of proteins, moderate portions of dairy and a limited intake of red meat.


TWITTER POLL: Huge majority disagree with US decision to remove Houthis from terror list

TWITTER POLL: Huge majority disagree with US decision to remove Houthis from terror list
Updated 15 February 2021

TWITTER POLL: Huge majority disagree with US decision to remove Houthis from terror list

TWITTER POLL: Huge majority disagree with US decision to remove Houthis from terror list

DUBAI: A large majority of respondents to an Arab News Twitter poll said they disagreed with the US decision to remove Houthi militia from a terrorism list — reversing one of Donald Trump’s final decisions before leaving office.
A staggering 74 percent of 1,113 voters said they opposed the decision, while just over 17 percent agreed. And only 8.9 percent said they were undecided.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the Houthis will be removed from the US list of foreign terrorist organizations on Feb. 16.


Blinken said the decision to remove the group’s FTO designation as well as its Specially Designated Global Terrorist Designation was driven by concerns, calling it “a recognition of the dire humanitarian situation in Yemen.”
The announcement came after the Houthis mounted a number of attacks on civilian targets in Saudi Arabia, which were condemned by the State Department earlier this week.
The top US diplomat noted in his statement that Houthi leaders Abdul Malik Al-Houthi, Abd Al-Khaliq Badr Al-Din Al-Houthi, and Abdullah Yahya Al-Hakim remain under sanction.


“The United States remains clear-eyed about Ansarallah’s malign actions, and aggression, including taking control of large areas of Yemen by force, attacking US partners in the Gulf, kidnapping and torturing citizens of the United States and many of our allies, diverting humanitarian aid, brutally repressing Yemenis in areas they control, and the deadly attack on Dec. 30, 2020 in Aden against the cabinet of the legitimate government of Yemen,” he said, using another name for the Houthis.
The Biden administration's special envoy for Yemen, Timothy Lenderking, was in Riyadh this week for meetings with Saudi and Yemeni officials as well as UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths.
“The United States will redouble its efforts, alongside the United Nations and others, to end the war itself. We reaffirm our strong belief that there is no military solution to this conflict,” Blinken said Friday.