Two killed, 120 injured in Abu Dhabi gas explosion

Two killed, 120 injured in Abu Dhabi gas explosion
The blast on Monday set off a fire that damaged the facades of six buildings and a number of stores. (AP)
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Updated 26 May 2022

Two killed, 120 injured in Abu Dhabi gas explosion

Two killed, 120 injured in Abu Dhabi gas explosion
  • Two people were killed and 120 injured in a gas cylinder explosion in a restaurant in Abu Dhabi
  • The blast on Monday set off a fire that damaged the facades of six buildings and a number of stores

ABU DHABI: Two people were killed and 120 injured in a gas cylinder explosion in a restaurant in the United Arab Emirates capital Abu Dhabi, police said.
Initial reports “showed that 64 people sustained minor injuries, 56 others were moderately wounded, and two people died,” police tweeted.
The blast on Monday set off a fire that damaged the facades of six buildings and a number of stores before being brought under control, they added.
Four of the damaged buildings were “safely” evacuated, with efforts underway to find their residents temporary housing “until the buildings are completely secured,” the police said.
Pictures released by Abu Dhabi police showed first responders tending to a person on a gurney, and debris and broken glass strewn across the pavement.
A witness told The National newspaper that he heard two explosions around lunchtime.
“The first sound was small and people started calling the fire and police,” said the man, who was not identified.
“Then soon, there was a big blast. It was a really big sound. The windows shook and in some offices, the windows shattered.”
The authorities gave no indication of foul play.
However, the UAE has been on heightened alert since a Houthi drone and missile attack killed three oil workers in Abu Dhabi on January 17.


Chelsea boss Tuchel given one-game ban after Spurs red card

Chelsea boss Tuchel given one-game ban after Spurs red card
Updated 5 min 26 sec ago

Chelsea boss Tuchel given one-game ban after Spurs red card

Chelsea boss Tuchel given one-game ban after Spurs red card
  • Tuchel's touchline ban has been suspended temporarily, pending the full written reasons for the decision
  • Conte has been fined £15,000 after both managers admitted improper conduct

LONDON: Thomas Tuchel has been given a one-match suspension and fined £35,000 ($41,000) after the Chelsea manager was sent off following his furious clash with Tottenham boss Antonio Conte, the Football Association (FA) said on Friday.
Tuchel’s touchline ban has been suspended temporarily, pending the full written reasons for the decision, allowing the German to take his place in the dugout for Sunday’s Premier League clash at Leeds.
Conte has been fined £15,000 after both managers admitted improper conduct following a pair of angry exchanges during last Sunday’s stormy 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge.
Tuchel and Conte were booked after they first squared up to each other when the Italian celebrated Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg’s equalizer close to the Chelsea technical area.
Then, after Harry Kane headed Tottenham’s second equalizer deep into stoppage-time, Tuchel shook hands with Conte at the final whistle in such an aggressive way that it drew a fiery response from his counterpart.
The feuding bosses had to be separated by players and coaching staff, but were both sent off by referee Anthony Taylor.
“An independent regulatory commission has today ordered that Thomas Tuchel be fined £35,000 and banned from the touchline for one match, and Antonio Conte be fined £15,000 after they respectively breached FA Rule E3,” the FA said.
“Thomas Tuchel and Antonio Conte admitted that their behavior after the final whistle of the Premier League game between Chelsea FC and Tottenham Hotspur FC on Sunday, August 14 2022 was improper, and both managers requested a paper hearing.
“These sanctions are subject to appeal, and Thomas Tuchel’s one-match touchline ban has been suspended temporarily pending the independent regulatory commission’s written reasons for its decision that will be made available in due course.”


Agthia saves $26.4 million in 18 months using cost optimization measures

Agthia saves $26.4 million in 18 months using cost optimization measures
Updated 1 min 1 sec ago

Agthia saves $26.4 million in 18 months using cost optimization measures

Agthia saves $26.4 million in 18 months using cost optimization measures
  • Group plans to expand into consumer business and have a consumer-centric mix of 75 percent of revenues

DUBAI: Agthia, a food and beverage company based in Abu Dhabi, has saved 97 million dirhams ($26.4 million) in 18 months as part of its Strategy 2025 program.

Alan Smith, CEO of Agthia, told Arab News that the company had committed to saving 200 million dirhams over five years as part of its long-term strategy envisaged in 2021.

“The company saved 97 million dirhams in just 18 months,” said a beaming Smith, adding that the company plans to become a leader in the Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan by 2025.

The group plans to expand into consumer business and have a consumer-centric mix of 75 percent of revenues.

Agthia Group CEO Alan Smith. (Supplied)

In July 2022, the company’s board approved the acquisition of a strategic 60 percent stake in Auf Group, a specialized healthy snacks and coffee manufacturer and retailer in Egypt.

Agthia has also received its board’s approval to acquire 60 percent of Egyptian coffee maker Auf Group as it expanded its footprint in the North African country last month.

Growth crossroads

The company acquired five companies in 2021, which included Al Foah Dates in the UAE, Al Faysal Bakery & Sweets in Kuwait, Nabil Foods in Jordan, Atyab in Egypt and BMB, a fully integrated food company in the UAE.

And these acquisitions contributed 73 percent of the total revenue for the six months ending June 30, 2022.

Agthia Group’s net revenue grew 51 percent year on year to 2 billion dirhams in the first half of this year, according to the company’s results.

Smith said that compared to a few years ago, Agthia’s revenue was 2 billion dirhams on a full-year basis.

BACKGROUND

The company saved 97 million dirhams in just 18 months, said Smith, adding that the company plans to become a leader in the Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan by 2025.

“I think the number is about 73 percent, so we’re very close to our long-term commitments,” he added.

Due to the seasonality advantages the company sees in the snacking business and the growth in the protein business. Smith said the contribution of the consumer business division to the overall revenue will be at least 75 percent on a full-year basis, if not more.

Before acquiring five companies last year, Agthia’s revenue was split 50-50 between consumers and agribusinesses.

Besides the brands acquired in 2021, the consumer business includes Yoplait dairy products and a slew of water and beverage brands such as Al Ain and Al Bayan. On the other hand, the agribusiness produces Grand Mills flour and Agrivita animal feed.

“What we are seeing in quarter two is the consolidation of all five acquisitions we did last year,” he said.

Optimization opportunity

According to Smith, Agthia generates 50 percent of its revenue from the UAE and the rest from other parts of the world.

The company has also taken cost optimization measures to increase its revenue and improve profitability. For instance, the confectionery and healthy food brand BMB had a manufacturing facility each in Dubai Investment Park and Jebel Ali.

After the acquisition, Agthia closed one of BMB’s facili- ties and consolidate it into an existing Agthia manufacturing facility.

“It was a rented facility that we shut down and moved that production into Agthia’s own facility,” Smith said.

Smith said Agthia’s financial results and Strategic 2025 plan are on track despite market volatility.

Agthia is currently setting up a new manufacturing unit in Saudi Arabia for Nabil Foods, the firm’s protein brand, to meet the growing demand for the product line from local customers. Earlier this year, the company announced the greenfield investment of 90 million dirhams to set up the facility.

According to Smith, the facility’s design is completed, and the scope of work for tendering has been outlined. He is now awaiting necessary approvals for the Saudi manufacturing facility from the competent authority.

With this project, Agthia will be able to increase its footprint in the Kingdom and support its strategy to become one of the most prominent players in the Middle East and North Africa consumer packaged goods market.


Police recover Lewandowski’s watch, stolen while signing autographs

Police recover Lewandowski’s watch, stolen while signing autographs
Updated 25 min 2 sec ago

Police recover Lewandowski’s watch, stolen while signing autographs

Police recover Lewandowski’s watch, stolen while signing autographs
  • A young man approached and snatched the watch from the player's wrist
  • Spanish media reported the watch was a Patek Phillippe worth 70,000 euros

BARCELONA: Police said they had recovered Robert Lewandowski’s watch, stolen as the star striker signed autographs before a Barcelona training session.
The incident occurred on Thursday afternoon when the 33-year-old striker, who joined from German club Bayern Munich in July, arrived at training and stopped in front of fans for autographs, Catalan police told AFP Friday.
A young man approached and snatched the watch from the player’s wrist.
Spanish media reported the watch was a Patek Phillippe worth 70,000 euros ($70,300) and that Lewandowski climbed back in his car and gave chase but lost the thief.
The police were alerted at 4:30 p.m. local time (1430 GMT) and within an hour they had caught the 19-year-old, who was hiding in the bushes around the stadium. They recovered the watch which was nearby.
He was arrested for “robbery with violence,” the police said. They explained that even though Lewandowski was not hurt, taking the watch off his body was considered violent.


Bahrain’s ambassador to the UK visits Oxford Center for Islamic Studies

Bahrain’s ambassador to the UK visits Oxford Center for Islamic Studies
Updated 33 min 34 sec ago

Bahrain’s ambassador to the UK visits Oxford Center for Islamic Studies

Bahrain’s ambassador to the UK visits Oxford Center for Islamic Studies
  • Sheikh Fawaz bin Mohammed Al-Khalifa saw his country’s pavilion at the center and reviewed research in a number of fields

LONDON: Sheikh Fawaz bin Mohammed Al-Khalifa, the Bahraini ambassador to the UK, visited his country’s pavilion at the Oxford Center for Islamic Studies, the Bahrain News Agency reported.

He also met the founder and director of the center, Farhan Ahmad Nizami, and reviewed its research into history, economics, arts and social science in the Islamic world. The envoy highlighted the role the center plays in bringing together elite scholars and researchers.

Nizami congratulated the ambassador on his recent appointment as the Dean of the Arab Diplomatic Corps.

The center is a registered educational charity that describes itself as being dedicated to the study of all aspects of Islamic culture and civilization, and of contemporary Muslim societies.


Daesh militant gets life in US prison over killing of American hostages

Daesh militant gets life in US prison over killing of American hostages
Updated 19 August 2022

Daesh militant gets life in US prison over killing of American hostages

Daesh militant gets life in US prison over killing of American hostages
  • The victims' relatives and friends sat in the front rows of the courtroom and were visibly shaken during the course of the hearing
  • Elsheikh was accused of conspiring to kill four American hostages: James Foley, Steven Sotloff, Peter Kassig and Kayla Mueller

VIRGINIA, US: A US federal judge on Friday sentenced a member of a Deash cell known as “The Beatles” to life in prison for involvement in a hostage-taking plot that led to the killings of American journalists and aid workers in Syria.
Families and friends of the four Americans killed and of other hostages previously detained by the militant group looked on as District Court Judge T.S. Ellis sentenced El Shafee Elsheikh, 34, to life without parole, calling his behavior “horrific, barbaric, brutal and of course criminal.”
A jury in April concluded the former British citizen was part of an Daesh cell, nicknamed “The Beatles” for their English accents, that beheaded American hostages in areas of the Middle East controlled by the militant group. He was found guilty on four counts of hostage-taking and four counts of conspiracy after a two-week trial.
The victims’ relatives and friends sat in the front rows of the courtroom and were visibly shaken during the course of the hearing as tears rolled down their eyes and they consoled each other. Elsheikh was sentenced to eight concurrent life sentences.
At the peak of its power from 2014-2017, Daesh ruled over millions of people and claimed responsibility for or inspired attacks in dozens of cities around the world.
Its leader, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, declared a caliphate over a quarter of Iraq and Syria in 2014, before he was killed in a raid by US special forces in Syria in 2019 as the group’s rule collapsed.
Elsheikh, who was born in Sudan and raised in London, was accused of conspiring to kill four American hostages: James Foley, Steven Sotloff, Peter Kassig and Kayla Mueller.
Foley and Sotloff, both journalists, and Kassig, an aid worker, were killed in videotaped beheadings. Mueller was raped repeatedly by Al-Baghdadi before her death in Syria, US officials have said.
The deaths of Foley, Sotloff and Kassig were confirmed in 2014; Mueller’s death was confirmed in early 2015.
Elsheikh appeared in the federal courtroom in Alexandria, Virginia, on Friday wearing a gray jumpsuit, a facemask and glasses. Family and friends of his victims were asked to make statements in front of the judge.
“Hatred completely overtook your humanity,” Foley’s mother, Diane said, later breaking down in tears. “I pity you. I pray your time in prison will give you a time to reflect.” Friday marked the eighth anniversary of Foley’s beheading.
The head of the London police’s Counter Terrorism Command, Richard Smith, said in a statement the victims’ families “have shown remarkable fortitude and bravery in giving their accounts of what happened to investigators, and in court.”
The charges against Elsheikh, whose British citizenship was withdrawn in 2018, carried a potential death sentence, but US prosecutors had previously advised British officials that they would not seek the death penalty.
Prosecutors argued that a life sentence was needed to prevent Elsheikh from causing future harm and to set a precedent that such crimes will get strict punishment.
“The Beatles were genuine psychopaths,” First Assistant US Attorney Raj Parekh argued in court on Friday during the hearing, adding that Elsheikh was the highest-ranking member of the Daesh to ever be convicted in a US Court.
Another cell member, Alexanda Kotey, was sentenced to life in prison by a US judge earlier this year. Kotey was held in Iraq by the US military before being flown to the United States to face trial. He pleaded guilty last September to the murders of Foley, Sotloff, Kassig and Mueller.
A third member of the group, Mohammed Emwazi, died in a US-British missile strike in Syria in 2015.
Some former hostages, released by the cell after protracted negotiations, testified during trials about the torture they endured. Family members of those killed also testified.