Dubai’s annual Al-Gaffal dhow race returns after COVID-19 suspension

Dubai’s annual Al-Gaffal dhow race returns after COVID-19 suspension
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Updated 04 June 2021

Dubai’s annual Al-Gaffal dhow race returns after COVID-19 suspension

Dubai’s annual Al-Gaffal dhow race returns after COVID-19 suspension

DUBAI: Sailors have participated in Al-Gaffal race, the annual long-distance dhow sailing competition meant to honor the lost tradition of pearl diving, after it had been suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The race departs from Sir Abu Nuair island, about 103 kilometres west of Dubai, and finishes in Dubai’s Bluewaters Island.


Amazon, Google face formal fake review inquiry in Britain

Amazon, Google face formal fake review inquiry in Britain
Updated 2 min 55 sec ago

Amazon, Google face formal fake review inquiry in Britain

Amazon, Google face formal fake review inquiry in Britain
  • The United Kingdom starts a formal investigation into Amazon and Google's efforts in preventing fake reviews.
  • The British competition regulator could take enforcement action if firms broke the law.
Britain’s competition regulator started a formal investigation on Friday into whether Amazon and Google may not have done enough to prevent or remove fake reviews.
Along with regulators in the United Sates and the European Union, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has stepped up its scrutiny of big tech firms in recent years.
The British regulator said it will gather more information to decide if the firms may have broken consumer law by taking insufficient action to protect shoppers. Both Google and Amazon said they were continuing to assist the CMA.
CMA action last year over the trading of fake reviews resulted in Facebook, Instagram and eBay removing groups and banning individuals for buying and selling fake reviews on their sites.
Google said on Thursday it would delay blocking tracking cookies on its Chrome browser following intervention by the CMA.
The CMA started its investigation into reviews in May 2020, focusing on the internal systems and processes of several platforms for identifying and dealing with fake reviews.
The regulator said it was also concerned that Amazon’s systems had failed adequately to prevent and deter some sellers from manipulating product listings, through for example co-opting positive reviews from other products.
“Our worry is that millions of online shoppers could be misled by reading fake reviews and then spending their money based on those recommendations,” the CMA’s Chief Executive Andrea Coscelli said in a statement.
“Equally, it’s simply not fair if some businesses can fake 5-star reviews to give their products or services the most prominence, while law-abiding businesses lose out.”

ENFORCEMENT ACTION
The CMA said it has not reached a view on whether Amazon and Alphabet’s Google have broken the law.
However, if it concludes they have broken consumer protection law, it can take enforcement action ranging from securing formal commitments to change the way they deal with fake reviews or escalating to court action.
Amazon said it would continue to assist the CMA with its enquiries.
“We are relentless in protecting our store and will take action to stop fake reviews regardless of the size or location of those who attempt this abuse,” said a spokesperson.
Google too said it would continue to work with the regulator.
“Our strict policies clearly state reviews must be based on real experiences, and when we find policy violations, we take action — from removing abusive content to disabling user accounts,” a spokesperson for the company said.

Branson’s Virgin Galactic gets FAA approval to fly people to space

Branson’s Virgin Galactic gets FAA approval to fly people to space
Updated 4 min 34 sec ago

Branson’s Virgin Galactic gets FAA approval to fly people to space

Branson’s Virgin Galactic gets FAA approval to fly people to space
  • Company completed its first manned space flight from its home port in New Mexico in May
  • SpaceShipTwo craft can hold six passengers

WASHINGTON: Billionaire Richard Branson’s spaceship company Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc. said on Friday it received approval from the US aviation safety regulator to fly people to space, following a successful test flight last month. Virgin Galactic completed its first manned space flight from its new home port in New Mexico in May, as its SpaceShipTwo craft, which can hold six passengers, glided to a landing on a runway safely with its two pilots.
The approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) comes at a critical time for Branson as his space venture faces competition from Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin.
“Today’s approval by the FAA...give us confidence as we proceed toward our first fully crewed test flight this summer,” Virgin Galactic Chief Executive Officer Michael Colglazier said in a statement.
Virgin Galactic has about 600 people who have paid deposits and are waiting to experience weightlessness and see the curvature of the Earth at a cost of $250,000 each.
The craft will take off from a dedicated spaceport in the New Mexico desert in the US.
Branson is expected to take one of the flights this summer.


India’s IT minister slams Twitter for denying access to account

Prasad reiterated that all social media firms must abide by the new IT rules. (File/AFP)
Prasad reiterated that all social media firms must abide by the new IT rules. (File/AFP)
Updated 17 min 55 sec ago

India’s IT minister slams Twitter for denying access to account

Prasad reiterated that all social media firms must abide by the new IT rules. (File/AFP)
  • India's Technology Minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad, slams Twitter for denying access to his account for a period of an hour.
  • Prasad was denied access after his post allegedly violated the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

NEW DELHI: India’s technology minister slammed Twitter on Friday for denying access to his account for almost an hour amid growing tensions between the US company and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration over compliance with new IT rules.
Ravi Shankar Prasad said in a thread on Koo, a home-grown rival to Twitter, that the company had denied access on the grounds he had violated the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), subsequently restoring access.
Prasad said Twitter had violated India’s new IT rules, which became effective in May and mandate that an intermediary or a host of user content must inform a user of the grounds for its action.
The rules also say that a user must be “provided with an adequate and reasonable opportunity to dispute the action” taken by an intermediary.
It was not immediately clear which of Prasad’s posts violated the DMCA.
Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The dispute over the minister’s account comes as India’s federal government and Twitter are wrangling over non-compliance with the new IT rules.
In a separate case, police summoned Twitter’s India head Manish Maheshwari earlier this month for failing to stop the spread of a video that allegedly incited religious discord. On Thursday, a court gave Maheshwari relief in that case.
Prasad has previously criticized Twitter over the viral video, saying its failure to act was “perplexing.”
On Friday, Prasad reiterated that all social media firms must abide by the new IT rules, which also mandate the appointment of new compliance executives.
“Twitter’s actions indicate that they are not the harbinger of free speech that they claim to be but are only interested in running their own agenda,” Prasad said, adding that users faced the threat of being “arbitrarily” removed if they did not follow the company’s line.


Iraqi salt collectors depend on seasonal rains for production

Iraqi salt collectors depend on seasonal rains for production
Updated 50 min 11 sec ago

Iraqi salt collectors depend on seasonal rains for production

Iraqi salt collectors depend on seasonal rains for production

Iraqis from the village of Mamlaha, named after its production of salt from natural ponds, which villagers have been filling from a nearby spring for over 200 years, work the salt fields in Iraq's eastern Kurdish province of Sulaimaniyah.

Some 300-400 tons of salt are produced from the village every year during the summer months when locals collect salt from the ponds after the water evaporates. 


PIF appoints former Samba CEO as head of compliance

PIF appoints former Samba CEO as head of compliance
Updated 50 min 26 sec ago

PIF appoints former Samba CEO as head of compliance

PIF appoints former Samba CEO as head of compliance
  • Rania Nashar was a senior advisor to the governor since January

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) said it appointed Rania Nashar, former CEO of Samba Financial Group, as its head of compliance and governance, Al Arabiya reported.

Nashar joined the fund as a senior adviser to its governor, Yasir Al Rumayyan, in January of this year. She brings with her more than two decades of experience in the banking sector.

PIF recently announced the appointment of Eyas Al-Dossari and Omar Al-Madhi as senior directors to its MENA investments division, and Abdullah Shaker as senior director to its Global Capital Finance Division.

The fund said this month that it had created the position of deputy governor to support the fund’s continued growth and expansion.

Saudi Arabia’s $430 billion PIF is one of the largest and most influential sovereign wealth funds in the world, and the main driver that supports the economic transformation of the Kingdom in accordance with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 goals.

PIF has increased its employees from 40 in 2016 to more than 1,100 employees today.