Alert on a fire at Iran's parliament is withdrawn

Alert on a fire at Iran's parliament is withdrawn
A general view of the Iranian parliament building in Tehran on June 8, 2017. AFP
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Updated 01 December 2021

Alert on a fire at Iran's parliament is withdrawn

Alert on a fire at Iran's parliament is withdrawn

TEHRAN: A Reuters alert reporting a fire at the Iranian parliament is wrong and is withdrawn. 

 


Indonesia to develop $4bn polysilicon industry to boost solar panel production

Indonesia to develop $4bn polysilicon industry to boost solar panel production
Image: Shutterstock
Updated 7 min 37 sec ago

Indonesia to develop $4bn polysilicon industry to boost solar panel production

Indonesia to develop $4bn polysilicon industry to boost solar panel production
  • The Asian country also has a wish to generate 5.3 gigawatts by 2030

RIYADH: Indonesia will establish a $4 billion polysilicon industry amid efforts to boost solar panel production.

Polysilicon is a vital material for solar panels,  and prices soared to a 10-year high in 2021, driving local solar firms to boost production of the material. 

Indonesia is seeking to boost industry production in the country at lower levels than prevailing market prices as it seeks a move away from fossil fuels towards green energy instead, Bloomberg reported.

The Asian country also has a wish to generate 5.3 gigawatts by 2030 through vast solar panel installations.

Two plants are already in progress as a result of a collaboration between potential investors and domestic firms, Bloomberg reported, citing Septian Hario Seto, a deputy for mining and investment at the Coordinating Ministry for Maritime Affairs and Investment.

The first plant, worth $800 million, will be located in Batang, Central Java. It is set to open in the third quarter of 2022 and has an estimated production of 40,000 tons of polysilicon in its preliminary phase.

The second plant has an accumulated worth of $3.2 billion and is set to open in North Kalimantan with an estimated production of 160,000 tons of polysilicon.

This is expected to bring about a phase of excess supply in the country soon.


US singer-designer Pharrell slammed over accessory’s similarities to Mughal antiques

US singer-designer Pharrell slammed over accessory’s similarities to Mughal antiques
Updated 12 min 17 sec ago

US singer-designer Pharrell slammed over accessory’s similarities to Mughal antiques

US singer-designer Pharrell slammed over accessory’s similarities to Mughal antiques

DUBAI: US singer Pharrell Wiliams attended Kenzo’s Spring 2022 show during Paris Fashion Week and simultaneously teased his new partnership with fine jewelry house Tiffany & Co.

The N.E.R.D singer sat front row, next to Kenzo’s new creative director Nigo, donning a pair of diamond-embellished sunglasses that got everyone talking — but not for the right reasons.

Users on social media, including online fashion watchdog Diet Prada, took to the photo-sharing platform to point out the striking similarities between Pharrell’s custom sunglasses and historical Mughal antiques.  

The antiques in question are two pairs of frames dating back to the 17th century that were put up for auction last year by Sotheby’s.

Belonging to the Mughal royals that ruled the Indian subcontinent, the extremely rare Islamic antiques feature emerald-cut lenses and were created to aid a wearer in reaching enlightenment and heal and ward off evil, according to the Sotheby’s website.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Diet Prad (@diet_prada)

Legend has it that following the death of Shah Jahan’s wife Mumtaz Mahal, in whose honor the Taj Mahal was built, the emperor is said to have cried so many tears that he needed to cure his ailing eyes with emerald stones.

“These extraordinary curiosities bring together myriad threads – from the technical mastery of the cutter and the genius of craftsmanship to the vision of a patron who chose to fashion two pairs of eyeglasses quite unlike anything ever seen before,” said Edward Gibbs, chair, Sotheby’s Middle East & India, ahead of the London auction last year.

The Mughal bejeweled spectacles were commissioned by an unknown prince and fashioned by an artist, who shaped a 200-carat diamond and a brilliant Colombian emerald, weighing at least three hundred carats, into two frames.

Now, social media users are slamming the US singer-designer for the similar shades, although Pharrell has yet to respond to the backlash.


World Bank berates Lebanon’s elite for ‘zombie’ economy

World Bank berates Lebanon’s elite for ‘zombie’ economy
Image: Shutterstock
Updated 15 min 58 sec ago

World Bank berates Lebanon’s elite for ‘zombie’ economy

World Bank berates Lebanon’s elite for ‘zombie’ economy
  • Already one of the most unequal countries, millions more have been pushed into poverty

The World Bank blasted Lebanon’s ruling class on Tuesday for “orchestrating” one of the world’s worst national economic depressions due to their exploitative grip on resources.


The global lender said the nation’s elite were still abusing their position despite Lebanon suffering possibly one of the three biggest financial crashes globally since the 1850s.


“Lebanon’s deliberate depression is orchestrated by the country’s elite that has long captured the state and lived off its economic rents,” the World Bank said in a press release attached to a report on the Lebanese economy.


“It has come to threaten the country’s long-term stability and social peace,” the released added, echoing public sentiments that have prompted angry protests in recent years.


Fuelled by massive debt and the unsustainable way it was financed, the crisis has slashed Lebanon’s gross domestic product by 58.1 percent since 2019, plummeting to an estimated $21.8 billion in 2021, the World Bank said.


Already one of the most unequal countries, millions more have been pushed into poverty.

The World Bank expected those below the poverty line to have risen by as much as 28 percentage points by the end of 2021, after an increase of 13 percentage points in 2020.


Government revenues collapsed by almost half in 2021 to reach 6.6 percent of GDP: the lowest ratio globally after Somalia and Yemen, the bank said.


Real GDP is estimated to have declined by 10.5 percent last year, according to the report, while gross debt is estimated to have reached 183 percent of GDP, a ratio only exceeded by Japan, Sudan and Greece.

’DELIBERATE DEPRESSION'


“Deliberate denial during deliberate depression is creating long-lasting scars on the economy and society,” said Saroj Kumar Jha, the World Bank’s regional director of the Mashreq.


“Over two years into the financial crisis, Lebanon has yet to identify, least of all embark upon, a credible path toward economic and financial recovery.”


While government finances improved in 2021, that was driven by a decline in spending even steeper than in revenues, the World Bank said.


It projects a fiscal deficit of 0.4 percent of GDP in 2021 from 3.3 percent of GDP last year, helped by a recovery in tourism. Arrivals leapt 101.2 percent in the first seven months of last year, though still impacted by the pandemic.


But a sudden halt to capital inflows and a large current account deficit was steadily eroding reserves, the World Bank said.


Lebanon began talks with the IMF on Monday, hoping to secure a bailout — something Beirut has failed to achieve since 2020, with no sign of long-delayed economic reforms sought by donors.


“This elite commands the main economic resources, generating large rents and dividing the spoils of a dysfunctional state,” the World Bank said.


Lebanon’s politicians, former militia leaders and others from families wielding influence for generations over the Christian and Muslim communities often acknowledge corruption exists.

But they generally deny individual responsibility and say they are doing their best to rescue the economy.


The crisis has caused massive losses in the financial system, estimated by the government in December at $69 billion.


“Worryingly, key public and private actors continue to resist recognition of these losses, perpetuating the zombie-like state of the economy,” the World Bank said.


The nosediving exchange rate — the Lebanese pound has lost more than 90 percent of its value since 2019 — should have boosted exports.

“This did not happen,” the World Bank said, hindered by pre-crisis economic fundamentals, global conditions and the institutional environment.


US combat jet crashes in South China Sea exercise, 7 hurt

US combat jet crashes in South China Sea exercise, 7 hurt
Updated 17 min 26 sec ago

US combat jet crashes in South China Sea exercise, 7 hurt

US combat jet crashes in South China Sea exercise, 7 hurt
  • Details on the crash of the multimillion-dollar aircraft are still being verified

BANGKOK: A US Navy F35C Lightning II combat jet conducting exercises in the South China Sea crashed while trying to land on the deck of an American aircraft carrier, injuring seven sailors, the military said Tuesday.
The pilot was able to eject before the aircraft slammed into the flight deck of the USS Carl Vinson on Monday and then fell into the water. The pilot was safely recovered by a helicopter, said Lt. Mark Langford, a spokesman for the US 7th Fleet.
Seven sailors, including the pilot, were injured and three were evacuated for medical treatment in Manila, Philippines, while four were treated on board the ship. The three sent to Manila were reported in stable condition on Tuesday morning, the Navy said.
Details on the crash of the multimillion-dollar aircraft were still being verified, Langford said.
“The status and recovery of the aircraft is currently under investigation,” he said.
Two American carrier strike groups with more than 14,000 sailors and marines are conducting exercises in the South China Sea, which the military says is to demonstrate the “US Indo-Pacific Command Joint Force’s ability to deliver a powerful maritime force.”
Impact to the deck of the USS Carl Vinson was “superficial,” Langford said, and both carriers have resumed routine flight operations.
As China has pressed territorial claims in the South China Sea and increased pressure on Taiwan, the US and its allies have stepped up exercises in the region, in what they call freedom of navigation operations in line with international law.
As the Carl Vinson and Abraham Lincoln strike groups began their dual carrier operations on Sunday, China flew 39 warplanes toward Taiwan in its largest such sortie of the new year, according to Taiwan’s defense ministry.
The formation of 24 Chinese J-16 and 10 J-10 fighter jets stayed out of Taiwanese air space, but the maneuver prompted Taiwan to scramble its own aircraft in response.
Chinese pilots have been flying toward Taiwan on a near-daily basis, and it was unclear if Sunday’s flights were a response to the American exercises. China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs refused to comment.
Taiwan and China split during a civil war in 1949, but China claims the island as its own territory. Beijing has used diplomatic and military means to isolate and intimidate the self-ruled island, but the US has continued to support Taiwan by selling it advanced weapons and fighter planes.


Islamic university to be created in Latin America

Islamic university to be created in Latin America
Updated 14 min 3 sec ago

Islamic university to be created in Latin America

Islamic university to be created in Latin America
  • Initially based in Brazil and Mexico, plan is to have branches in other countries
  • Goal to educate ‘any person who wants to deepen knowledge of Islam,’ vice president tells Arab News

SAO PAULO: Latin American Islamic associations gathered in the Brazilian city of Sao Paulo recently to sign an agreement to create the Latin American and Caribbean Islamic University.

The academic institution will allow future Muslim leaders to study in their own region, without the need to move to Middle Eastern countries and other Muslim nations.

Imams in Latin America had been discussing the idea for years. Now, Brazil’s Islamic Dissemination Center for Latin America, known by the Portuguese acronym CDIAL, and the Supreme Council of Imams and Islamic Affairs in Latin America and the Caribbean have finally made it possible.

CDIAL and the council established a deal with the Islamic University of Minnesota, which will provide academic courses and materials for the new institution.

Initially, it will have headquarters in Sao Paulo, with classes in Portuguese, and Mexico City, with classes in Spanish.

“We’re beginning with the cities with a higher number of potential students. But our idea is that other countries create their own branches in the future,” CDIAL’s Vice President Ziad Saifi told Arab News.

He said the program was inspired by traditional Islamic courses such as those offered by the Islamic University of Madinah in Saudi Arabia and Al-Azhar University in Egypt.

“The university’s goal is not only to educate future sheikhs, but any person who wants to deepen his or her knowledge of Islam,” he added.

Even non-Muslim students will be able to enroll in classes, said Egyptian-born Sheikh Abdelhamid Metwally, who will be the university’s president and academic director.

“We want to educate people in Islamic culture and tradition. We certainly will be able to work on the formation of sheikhs. Students who desire to pursue such a path will be able to continue their studies,” he added.

“But we also want to simply educate people on Islam. Both Muslims and non-Muslims need to have a better understanding of our religion.”

Living in Brazil for 15 years, Metwally believes it is desirable to train in Latin America religious leaders who will work in the region.  

That is also the opinion of Sheikh Mohamed Mansour, who will coordinate the Spanish-language courses in Mexico City.

“We need to educate people here so they can think from here. Many times, people go to the Middle East to study and when they come back, they want to impose the Middle Eastern culture in Latin America. That’s not possible,” he told Arab News.

Islam has been growing throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, “but we aren’t growing well if we don’t have true knowledge,” Mansour said. “We need an academic foundation, something that goes beyond the mosques’ teaching.”

In Mexico, he explained, only Spanish can be spoken in class except for Arabic-language courses — if a professor or instructor can only speak Arabic, a translator will be present. “God willing, soon we will have masters and PhD courses too,” he added.

Saifi said many sheikhs and the Muslim community as a whole have been supporting the creation of the university.

“Thankfully, people have been giving their time to this project and working on the translation of educational materials and other tasks,” he added, expressing hope that courses will begin in August.

The coordinating group is working on the university’s official accreditation in each of the region’s countries.

At first the university will operate with distance learning, given the rising number of COVID-19 cases in most Latin American countries. But a physical location is being selected in Sao Paulo, Saifi said.

No distinction will be made between Sunni and Shiite students, and men and women alike will be able to enroll.

Saifi expressed hope that in the future, the Brazilian branch will welcome students coming from other Portuguese-language countries such as Angola and Mozambique.

“We still have a low number of mosques in Brazil, but their number is growing. We’ll certainly need more sheikhs and people educated on Islam,” he said.

Metwally agreed, saying: “In my own community in Sao Paulo, we have members who are already interested in enrolling. We’ll educate good Muslims.”