Cut! Popcorn, candy ban hits French cinemas’ virus recovery

Cut! Popcorn, candy ban hits French cinemas’ virus recovery
A woman wearing a face mask to protect against COVID-19 looks at movie summaries outside a cinema, in Paris on Thursday. No more munching, crunching and slurping at the movies in France. (AP)
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Updated 30 December 2021

Cut! Popcorn, candy ban hits French cinemas’ virus recovery

Cut! Popcorn, candy ban hits French cinemas’ virus recovery
  • COVID-19 measures kicking in Monday will mean an enforced rest for popcorn machines and ice creams
  • The ban of at least 3 weeks on eating and drinking applies to theaters, sports venues and public transport

MARLY-LE-ROI, France: No more munching, crunching and slurping at the movies in France.
The country’s increasingly fraught fight against an unprecedented surge in coronavirus infections is putting a stop to eating and drinking at French cinemas, just as they show signs of recovering from the brutal economic bashing of lockdowns last year.
COVID-19 measures kicking in Monday, once France’s New Year’s celebrations are out of the way, will mean an enforced rest for popcorn machines and ice creams left in cold storage. The ban of at least three weeks on eating and drinking also applies to theaters, sports venues and public transport.
For cinema owners hoping to lure back movie fans who switched to home-viewing during the pandemic, not being able to tempt them with candies and soft drinks is another blow. French cinemas sold 96 million tickets in the eight months they have been reopened this year, a jump of 47 percent compared to 2020. But ticket sales are still down 55 percent compared to 2019, before the pandemic, the National Center for Film and Moving Images said Thursday in its look at French cinemas’ annual sales.
Benoit Ciné Distribution, which supplies 70 percent of France’s cinemas with popcorn, sweet treats and drinks, was deluged with both order postponements and delivery requests from movie houses expecting good sales on the final weekend before the food and drink ban, with “Spider-Man: No Way Home” and “Matrix Resurrections” featuring on billboards.
“It’s like being told to apply the emergency brake to the high-speed train,” said Vincent Meyer, a director at Benoit.
Against raging coronavirus infections, the government is hoping its latest measures will also apply a brake on the fast-spreading omicron variant, but without derailing France’s economic recovery that is a vote-getter for President Emmanuel Macron, facing reelection in April.
As well as the food and drink ban, there’ll once again also be limits on crowd numbers at public venues, with no more than 2,000 allowed indoors and 5,000 outdoors. The limits don’t apply to election campaign rallies, infuriating some musicians who will no longer be allowed to perform for stand-up crowds. Some suggested, only half-jokingly, that they may rebrand their concerts as political rallies.
France’s COVID-19 death toll is already at more than 123,000 people. New infections are higher than they have ever been and hospitals are again overburdened with the gravely sick. Many health experts had called for stricter measures than those announced by the government this week, with some pushing for renewed closures of schools and businesses. France reported another 206,243 coronavirus infections Thursday, just shy of the record 208,000 cases set Wednesday.
Michel Enten, manager of the Le Fontenelle cinema in the town of Marly-le-Roi west of Paris, was relieved to stay open, even if he’ll no longer be able to sell cotton candy, popcorn, ices and drinks. He says he has lost about half of his clientele during the pandemic. He expects the ban on food and drinks to hit larger cinemas particularly hard and says it may even help lure back fans to smaller, arty cinemas like his.
“There are lots of people who hate hearing the sounds of popcorn in the auditoriums,” he said. “Perhaps we will win over new movie fans, people who were watching Netflix and are saying to themselves, ‘Now there’s no more popcorn, let’s run to the cinema.’“
Cinemagoers said they understood the need for new measures, although some struggled to see any logic in not being able to indulge their sweet cravings in cinemas or theaters when restaurants are still allowed to serve food and drinks.
“It’s going to be strange to just go to the cinema and do without all these little moments,” Vincent Bourdais said as he lined up in Marly-le-Roi for “Spiderman.”
“Often, when one imagines the cinema, one thinks of the auditorium, the beautiful posters, the popcorn, the smells.”


Egypt finishes first in 2022 Arab Open Robotics Championship

Egypt finishes first in 2022 Arab Open Robotics Championship
Updated 05 July 2022

Egypt finishes first in 2022 Arab Open Robotics Championship

Egypt finishes first in 2022 Arab Open Robotics Championship
  • The tournament included over 650 students representing 136 teams from 12 Arab countries

LONDON: Egypt has finished in first place at the 2022 Arab Open Robotics Championship held in Sharm El Sheikh on Monday.

Since 2008, the Arab Open Robotics Championship has been the largest regional robotics tournament held in the Arab world.

The tournament was organized by the Ministries of Youth and Sports, Communications and Information Technology, Bibliotheca Alexandrina, and the Egyptian Federation of Electronic Games.

The tournament included over 650 students ranging in age from four years to the end of the university stage.

The participants represented 136 teams from 12 Arab countries: Egypt, Kuwait, the UAE, Oman, Yemen, Qatar, Jordan, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, Iraq, and Libya.

The Arab Robotics Association accredited 100 juries to judge the tournament's nine robot competitions.

Egypt came first, winning seven trophies. Jordan finished second with two trophies, followed by Iraq, Libya and Qatar in third place.

In addition, the tournament hosted a lively forum for Arab youth on the sidelines.

The tournament aims to improve participants' skills in engineering sciences, electronics, programming, and artificial intelligence, the Qatar News Agency reported.

It also aims to foster a creative spirit among robotics participants while highlighting the abilities of those interested in science, engineering, technology, and mathematics.


Blackburn Rovers to host Eid-Al-Adha prayers at Ewood Park

Blackburn Rovers to host Eid-Al-Adha prayers at Ewood Park
Updated 05 July 2022

Blackburn Rovers to host Eid-Al-Adha prayers at Ewood Park

Blackburn Rovers to host Eid-Al-Adha prayers at Ewood Park
  • 3,000 people are expected to attend the event

LONDON: Blackburn Rovers will once again be opening their doors to the Muslim community to host the Eid-Al-Adha prayer on Saturday.

Rovers became the first football club in the UK to host the Eid Al-Fitr prayers in May, which marked the end of Ramadan.

The event will begin at 9.30 a.m. local time at Ewood Park. More than 3,000 people are expected to attend the event.

"Eid @ Ewood Park" is open to all ages, with facilities for both men and women to pray on the pitch.

There will also be free on-site parking and a complimentary bus service. The event is supported by "Eid in the Park," a three-day festival held in four different locations across the UK.

As such, the event will follow Saudi Arabia for moonsighting.


Indonesia school helps students recite Qur'an in sign language

Indonesia school helps students recite Qur'an in sign language
Updated 05 July 2022

Indonesia school helps students recite Qur'an in sign language

Indonesia school helps students recite Qur'an in sign language
  • Hearing-impaired students typically take about five years to learn to recite and memorize the Qur'an at the school

YOGYAKARTA, Indonesia: Concerned about how Indonesian students with hearing impairments often miss out on religious education, cleric Abdul Kahfi founded an Islamic boarding school to help them study and recite scripture from the Qur'an using sign language.
Opened in 2019 in the city of Yogyakarta in central Java, the Darul A’shom school now has 12 staff and teaches 115 students aged between seven and 28 years from across the world’s biggest Muslim-majority country.

This picture taken on June 22, 2022 shows students studying at an Islamic boarding school for deaf children in Sleman. (AFP)

Abdul hopes the school will make it easier for future generations to learn about Islam.
“Nowadays hearing-impaired adults barely know religion in depth because from school age they have never learned about it,” said the cleric, noting how interest in his school had spread quickly.
In Indonesia, the curriculum in public schools provides limited religious teaching to children with special needs, starting at the age of eight or nine rather than at kindergarten as is the case for many other students.
Only three out of 10 children with disabilities in Indonesia are able to go to school, according to a survey by the United Nations children’s agency (UNICEF).

This picture taken on June 22, 2022 shows students learning to recite the Koran using sign language at an Islamic boarding school for deaf children in Sleman. (AFP)

Hearing-impaired students typically take about five years to learn to recite and memorize the Qur'an at the school.
“Now I am able to read and memorize 30 juz (parts) of the Qur'an,” said Muhammad Farhad, a 10-year-old student, who said he wanted to become a cleric one day so he can pass on his knowledge to others.
Indonesia has tens of thousands of Islamic boarding schools and other religious schools that often provide the only way for children from poorer families to get an education.


Posh paws: UAE pet shop launches $10,000 diamond dog collars

The UAE’s Pet Corner store has launched a must-have accessory for all the posh pooches out there. (Shutterstock)
The UAE’s Pet Corner store has launched a must-have accessory for all the posh pooches out there. (Shutterstock)
Updated 04 July 2022

Posh paws: UAE pet shop launches $10,000 diamond dog collars

The UAE’s Pet Corner store has launched a must-have accessory for all the posh pooches out there. (Shutterstock)

DUBAI: The UAE’s Pet Corner store has launched a $10,000 accessory for all the posh pooches out there – a diamond-studded dog collar.

The collars will go on sale as part of the chain’s new Pet Corner Elite Club offering, which features a range of luxury accessories.

(Supplied)

Billed as the UAE’s first diamond and gemstone studded exquisite collars for dogs of small to medium breeds, the Haute Hound collection features a bow-shaped centerpiece brooch with 2.6 carats of certified natural diamonds and 6-7 carats of natural rubies encrusted in 18 carat gold.

Priced from $ 10,074 upwards, every collar comes with a certificate of authenticity, diamond grading and gemstone identification.

“Dogs are man's best friends and diamonds/gems are truly one of nature's most precious and beautiful creations — making it a perfect accessory for any pooch. We see our customers wanting only the best for their precious pets. This collection offers comfort and style to make any pup stand out from the crowd. We will be introducing many more elite products and supplies in the coming months,” Sidarth Mahindra, Pet Corner’s chief pet officer, said.


Flamethrower used to torch Pan-African flag flying on pole in Florida

Flamethrower used to torch Pan-African flag flying on pole in Florida
Updated 03 July 2022

Flamethrower used to torch Pan-African flag flying on pole in Florida

Flamethrower used to torch Pan-African flag flying on pole in Florida
  • Group likens attack to the massacre of 10 Black people at a supermarket Buffalo, New York in May

ST. PETERSBURG, Florida: A person using a flamethrower set fire Saturday to a Pan-African flag flying on a pole outside the headquarters of the Uhuru Movement, a Black international socialist group based in Florida.
Security video released by the group shows the driver of a white Honda sedan pulling up outside the group’s St. Petersburg headquarters, removing a flamethrower from the trunk and shooting a tower of fire at the flag flying about 30 feet (9 meters) above the ground. The group says the man stopped when a worker inside the building yelled at him. The video shows him putting the flamethrower back in the trunk and then driving away. A photo supplied by the group shows the flag with a large hole.
St. Petersburg police said they are investigating the fire and are working to identify a suspect.
The Uhuru Movement is part of the African People’s Socialist Party, which says it is “uniting African people as one people for liberation, social justice, self-reliance and economic development.”
Akile Akai, the group’s director of agitation and propaganda, said the attack is in the same vein as the May killing of 10 Black people at a Buffalo, New York, supermarket. Police say the arrested suspect in the Buffalo massacre is a white nationalist.
Akai said such attacks are caused by the decline of a “social system and facade of normalcy based on oppression, colonialism and exploitation.”