In Gaza, loss or injury to beloved pets add to grief and trauma

In Gaza, loss or injury to beloved pets add to grief and trauma
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Updated 02 June 2021

In Gaza, loss or injury to beloved pets add to grief and trauma

In Gaza, loss or injury to beloved pets add to grief and trauma

Israel's latest war on Gaza has killed hundreds and injured thousands but it has also heaped suffering onto the region's animals, and in some cases the children who own them.


Kabul roadside blast injures five, says TV station Ariana

Kabul roadside blast injures five, says TV station Ariana
Updated 47 sec ago

Kabul roadside blast injures five, says TV station Ariana

Kabul roadside blast injures five, says TV station Ariana
KABUL: A roadside bomb blast in the Afghan capital of Kabul caused at least five casualties, television station Ariana News said on Tuesday.
The target of the attack appeared to have been an open-backed vehicle like a Toyota Hilux, it added, but there were no further details and no official confirmation of the figures.

Middle East on close watch as omicron rattles recovery prospects: Daily Virus Update

Middle East on close watch as omicron rattles recovery prospects: Daily Virus Update
Updated 22 min 31 sec ago

Middle East on close watch as omicron rattles recovery prospects: Daily Virus Update

Middle East on close watch as omicron rattles recovery prospects: Daily Virus Update
  • Oil prices stumbled in their biggest decline since April 2020

DUBAI: Oil prices gave up gains on Tuesday, falling more than 2 percent along with broader financial markets, after a media report cast doubt on the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines against the omicron coronavirus variant.

The head of drugmaker Moderna told the Financial Times that COVID-19 vaccines are unlikely to be as effective against the omicron variant of the coronavirus as they have been against the Delta variant.

Both benchmarks tumbled more than $1 on the news. Brent crude futures fell $1.82, or 2.5 percent, to $71.62 a barrel at 0605 GMT, US West Texas Intermediate crude futures dropped $1.61, or 2.3 percent, to $68.34 a barrel.

Oil plunged more than 12 percent on Friday along with other markets on fears the heavily mutated omicron would spark fresh lockdowns and dent global growth, hurting oil demand.

November 30

Amid speculations on the impact of omicron on oil demand, the Saudi energy minister said it was too early to tell, adding OPEC+ was keen to monitor the situation.

The group of oil-producing countries has rescheduled its meetings to later this week to have more time in assessing the impact, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, told Arab News in an Aramco ceremony in Dhahran on Monday.

Earlier, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said, there is “no need for emergency measures in the oil market.”

He added OPEC+ partners did not call to review the current deal.

Oil prices rebounded on Monday after a huge slump last week, which was led by fears brought by the new coronavirus variant.

Brent crude futures climbed $3.11, or 4.3 percent, to $75.83 a barrel by 0355 GMT, after falling $9.50 on Friday.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude was up $3.47, or 5.1 percent, at $71.62 a barrel, having tumbled $10.24 in the previous session.

Oil prices plunged more than 10 percent on Friday, their biggest one-day drop since April 2020,  as the new variant spooked investors across financial markets.

There are worries the new variant could derail the global economic recovery, potentially hurting oil demand, while it has also added to concerns that a supply surplus could swell in the first quarter.

Economists at Goldman Sachs outlined four scenarios that could happen as the world cautiously navigates the situation. 

If omicron turns out to transmit faster than its predecessor, Delta, it will result in first-quarter global growth slowing to a 2 percent quarter-on-quarter annual rate.

The economists said if both the disease severity and immunity against hospitalizations are worse than for Delta, global economic growth will take a more substantial hit, but inflation impact will be “ambitious.”

On a slightly positive note, if omicron spreads slower than delta, it will have no significant effect on global growth and inflation, Goldman Sachs said.

If the new variant is more transmissible, but causes less severe disease, global growth could be higher than Goldman’s baseline.

November 29

Most Gulf stock markets ended lower on Sunday, with the Saudi and Dubai indexes suffering their biggest single-day fall in nearly two years as fears of a potentially vaccine-resistant coronavirus variant spooked investors.

Opinion

This section contains relevant reference points, placed in (Opinion field)

The World Health Organization on Friday designated the omicron coronavirus variant detected in South Africa as being “of concern” — the fifth variant to be given that designation

Saudi Arabia’s benchmark index slid 4.5 percent, dragged down by a 5.4 percent fall for Al Rajhi Bank and a 6.2 percent decline for Saudi Basic Industries.

The Kingdom halted flights from and to Malawi, Zambia, Madagascar, Angola, Seychelles, Mauritius and the Comoros Islands on Sunday owing to concerns related to the spread of the new COVID-19 strain, state news agency SPA reported on Twitter.

The latest pandemic developments also sent oil prices, a key catalyst for the Gulf’s financial markets, plunging by $10 a barrel on Friday for their largest one-day drop since April 2020. The new variant added to concerns that an oil supply surplus could swell in the first quarter.

“It’s obvious that traders are concerned about the implications of the newly mutated virus which brings back the lock-down memories from last year. If Saudi decides to impose more restrictive measures the economy will be impacted significantly and the growth prospects next year will vanish”, Mohammed Al-Suwayed, chief executive officer of Razeen Capital, said. He said the time is now suitable for investors to reinvest in the market since the share prices are relatively low.

Dubai’s main share index declined 5.2 percent, its biggest intraday fall since March 2020, with most stocks in negative territory.

Blue-chip developer Emaar Properties plunged 9.4 percent and budget carrier Air Arabia retreated by 7.1 percent.

In Abu Dhabi, the index fell 1.8 percent, weighed down by a 3.3 percent drop for telecoms company Etisalat and a 1.4 percent decline for First Abu Dhabi Bank, the country’s largest lender.

The UAE has suspended entry for travelers from South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Mozambique from Nov. 29 over concerns about the new coronavirus variant, the state news agency reported on Friday.

In Qatar, the index slipped by 2.8 percent as investors shunned stocks across board, with petrochemicals group Industries Qatar leading the losses.

Egypt’s blue-chip index lost 1.3 percent, with top lender Commercial International Bank retreating by 0.8 percent.

(With Reuters)


Aramco deploys first $10bn to local, international firms to kickstart Jafurah project

Aramco deploys first $10bn to local, international firms to kickstart Jafurah project
Updated 28 min 15 sec ago

Aramco deploys first $10bn to local, international firms to kickstart Jafurah project

Aramco deploys first $10bn to local, international firms to kickstart Jafurah project
  • The company said it signed 16 subsurface and Engineering, Procurement, and Construction (EPC) contracts

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s oil giant Aramco has signed $10 billion worth of contracts to kickstart the development of its massive Jafurah unconventional gas field.

The company said it signed 16 subsurface and Engineering, Procurement, and Construction (EPC) contracts with local and international companies, including US-based Schlumberger and Halliburton. 

Other companies that signed contracts with Aramco include Baker Hughes, NESR, Saudi Taqa, Sinopec, Larsen and Toubro, and Saipem. 

A total of $68 billion is expected to be spent over the first 10 years of the project’s development, Aramco said, as it anticipates more than $100 billion total lifecycle investment. 

By 2030, the Saudi oil giant expects the Jafurah site to produce up to two billion standard cubic feet per day of sales gas, 418 million scfd of ethane, and around 630,000 barrels per day of gas liquids and condensates.


Singapore to hold off further reopening to evaluate omicron variant

Singapore to hold off further reopening to evaluate omicron variant
Updated 36 min 54 sec ago

Singapore to hold off further reopening to evaluate omicron variant

Singapore to hold off further reopening to evaluate omicron variant
  • ‘This is a prudent thing to do for now, when we are faced with a major uncertainty’

SINGAPORE: Singapore will hold off on further reopening measures while it evaluates the omicron COVID-19 variant and will boost testing of travelers and frontline workers to reduce the risk of local transmission, authorities said on Tuesday.
“This is a prudent thing to do for now, when we are faced with a major uncertainty,” Health Minister Ong Ye Kung told a media briefing on Tuesday, adding the variant had not yet been detected locally.


Moderna CEO says vaccines likely less effective against omicron — FT

Moderna CEO says vaccines likely less effective against omicron — FT
Updated 25 min 23 sec ago

Moderna CEO says vaccines likely less effective against omicron — FT

Moderna CEO says vaccines likely less effective against omicron — FT
  • Drugmaker CEO warns of “material drop” in vaccine effectiveness, mutations mean existing vaccines likely need modifying

SYDNEY: The head of drugmaker Moderna said COVID-19 vaccines are unlikely to be as effective against the omicron variant of the coronavirus as they have been previously, sparking fresh worry in financial markets about the trajectory of the pandemic.
“There is no world, I think, where (the effectiveness) is the same level . . . we had with Delta,” Moderna Chief Executive Stéphane Bancel told the Financial Times.
“I think it’s going to be a material drop. I just don’t know how much because we need to wait for the data. But all the scientists I’ve talked to . . . are like ‘this is not going to be good.’“
Vaccine resistance could lead to more sickness and hospitalizations and prolong the pandemic, and his comments triggered selling in growth-exposed assets like oil, stocks and the Australian dollar.
Bancel added that the high number of mutations on the protein spike the virus uses to infect human cells meant it was likely the current crop of vaccines would need to be modified.
He had earlier said on CNBC that it could take months to begin shipping a vaccine that does work against omicron.
Fear of the new variant, despite a lack of information about its severity, has already triggered delays to some economic reopening plans and the reimposition of some travel and movement restrictions.

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