Saudi Arabia’s senior negotiator Shasly is absent from climate talks in Bonn

Ayman Shasly has been serving as the chair of the Arab Group Climate Change Negotiation at Saudi Energy Ministry since January 2012, according to his LinkedIn profile. File
Ayman Shasly has been serving as the chair of the Arab Group Climate Change Negotiation at Saudi Energy Ministry since January 2012, according to his LinkedIn profile. File
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Updated 15 June 2022

Saudi Arabia’s senior negotiator Shasly is absent from climate talks in Bonn

Saudi Arabia’s senior negotiator Shasly is absent from climate talks in Bonn

RIYADH: Ayman Shasly, Saudi Arabia’s senior climate negotiator and former Aramco employee, is absent from interim climate talks in Bonn, according to Climate Home News.

Shasly has been serving as the chair of the Arab Group Climate Change Negotiation at Saudi Energy Ministry since January 2012, according to his LinkedIn profile. 

In his absence, Albara Tawfiq, who is an international policy adviser at the Energy Ministry and policy adviser at Saudi Aramco, will be chairing the Arab group’s meetings, Climate Home News reported. 

“We don’t have a clear direction of the chairmanship of the group,” Tawfiq told Climate Home News.

He added that his role as chair was “not yet officially permanent.”

The report said Climate Home News was awaiting Shasly and Saudi Energy Ministry’s comment.


Saudi Arabia continues to rank among top 5 overseas markets for ‘Bullet Train’ 

Saudi Arabia continues to rank among top 5 overseas markets for ‘Bullet Train’ 
Updated 15 min 9 sec ago

Saudi Arabia continues to rank among top 5 overseas markets for ‘Bullet Train’ 

Saudi Arabia continues to rank among top 5 overseas markets for ‘Bullet Train’ 

NEW YORK: The Brad Pitt action film “Bullet Train” led all movies in ticket sales for a second straight weekend, according to studio estimates this week, with Saudi Arabia continuing to earn a spot on the overseas play ranking.

David Leitch’s assassin-crowded film grossed $114.5 million globally in two weeks from 61 overseas markets. 

Saudi Arabia led the Middle East and North Africa market with $3.6 million and it ranked among the top five globally. 

Overseas play was led by France with $5.8 million. The UK is currently at $6 million. Mexico has grossed $5.4 million, followed by Australia’s $4.1 million and Saudi Arabia and Spain at $3.6 million each. 

The Sony Pictures film cost $90 million to make. 


‘Day of conquest’ as Taliban mark first year in power

‘Day of conquest’ as Taliban mark first year in power
Updated 9 min 15 sec ago

‘Day of conquest’ as Taliban mark first year in power

‘Day of conquest’ as Taliban mark first year in power
  • Taliban fighters expressed happiness that their movement was now in power
  • For many ordinary Afghans, however, the return of the Taliban has only increased hardships

KABUL: Taliban fighters chanted victory slogans next to the US embassy in Kabul on Monday as they marked the first anniversary of their return to power in Afghanistan following a turbulent year that saw women’s rights crushed and a humanitarian crisis worsen.
Exactly a year ago, the hard-line Islamists captured Kabul after a nationwide lightning offensive against government forces just as US-led troops were ending two decades of intervention in a conflict that cost tens of thousands of lives.
“We fulfilled the obligation of jihad and liberated our country,” said Niamatullah Hekmat, a fighter who entered the capital on August 15 last year just hours after then-president Ashraf Ghani fled the country.
“It’s the day of victory and happiness for the Afghan Muslims and people. It is the day of conquest and victory of the white flag,” government spokesman Bilal Karimi said on Twitter.
The chaotic withdrawal of foreign forces continued until August 31, with tens of thousands of people rushing to Kabul’s airport hoping to be evacuated on any flight out of Afghanistan.
Images of crowds storming the airport, climbing atop aircraft — and some clinging to a departing US military cargo plane as it rolled down the runway — aired on news bulletins around the world.
Authorities have so far not announced any official celebration to mark the anniversary, but state television said it would have a special program later on Monday to mark the event.
Many Taliban fighters gathered in Kabul’s central Massoud Square, where they displayed the regime’s white banners and performed a traditional dance, some holding weapons and others taking pictures on their mobile phones.
“We all are happy that we are celebrating our independence in front of the US embassy,” Aminullah Sufi Omar said.
Taliban fighters expressed happiness that their movement was now in power — even as aid agencies say that half the country’s 38 million people face extreme poverty.
“The time when we entered Kabul, and when the Americans left, those were moments of joy,” said Hekmat, now a member of the special forces guarding the presidential palace.
For many ordinary Afghans, however, the return of the Taliban has only increased hardships — especially for women.
Initially, the Taliban promised a softer version of the harsh Islamist rule that characterized their first stint in power from 1996 to 2001.
But many restrictions have been imposed on women to comply with the movement’s austere vision of Islam.
Tens of thousands of girls have been shut out of secondary schools, while women have been barred from returning to many government jobs.
And in May, they were ordered to fully cover up in public, including their faces, ideally with an all-encompassing burqa.
“From the day they have come, life has lost its meaning,” said Ogai Amail, a resident of Kabul.
“Everything has been snatched from us, they have even entered our personal space,” she added.
Taliban fighters on Saturday dispersed a rare women’s rights rally by firing gun shots into the air and beating some protesters.
“Our call for justice was silenced with gunfire, but today we are pleading from inside our home,” Munisa Mubariz said on Monday.
She was among about 30 women who gathered at an undisclosed location to stage an indoor protest.
The women, who mostly had their faces uncovered, posted photographs online of themselves holding banners, including one that read: “Afghanistan’s history is tarnished with the closure of girls’ schools.”
While Afghans acknowledge a decline in violence since the Taliban seized power, the humanitarian crisis has left many helpless.
“People coming to our shops are complaining so much of high prices that we shopkeepers have started hating ourselves,” said Noor Mohammad, a shopkeeper from Kandahar, the de facto power center of the Taliban.
The country is in economic crisis, with its overseas assets frozen by Washington and aid curtailed in order to keep funds out of the Taliban’s hands.
No country has officially recognized the new government.
“All those powers who came here have lost here, but today we want good relations with everybody,” said fighter Hazi Mubariz.
For Taliban fighters the joy of victory overshadows the current economic crisis.
“We might be poor, we might be facing hardships, but the white flag of Islam will now fly high forever in Afghanistan,” said a fighter guarding a public park in Kabul.


Commodities Update — Gold slips; Soybeans down 2 percent; Base metals drop

Commodities Update — Gold slips; Soybeans down 2 percent; Base metals drop
Updated 24 min 46 sec ago

Commodities Update — Gold slips; Soybeans down 2 percent; Base metals drop

Commodities Update — Gold slips; Soybeans down 2 percent; Base metals drop

RIYADH: Gold prices slipped on Monday as the dollar rebounded, with expectations of sharp interest rate hikes from the Federal Reserve further pressuring bullion.

Spot gold was down 0.5 percent at $1,792.76 per ounce, as of 0540 GMT, after rising about 1.6 percent last week.

US gold futures fell 0.4 percent to $1,808.20.

Silver drops

Spot silver dropped 1.2 percent to $20.57 per ounce, while platinum fell 1.2 percent to $950.62. 

Palladium slipped 0.8 percent to $2,203.98.

Grains down

Chicago soybeans slid more than 2 percent on Monday, falling for the first time in three sessions after a US government report raised the country’s production forecast, with additional pressure from expectations of improved weather this week.

Corn and wheat lost more than 1 percent each.

The most-active soybean contract on the Chicago Board of Trade lost 2.1 percent to $14.24-1/2 a bushel, as of 0339 GMT.

Corn fell 1.4 percent to $6.33 a bushel, while wheat gave up 1.6 percent to $7.93-1/4 a bushel.

Industrial metals down

Prices of industrial metals fell on Monday after top consumer China reported several key economic data, which missed expectations by large margins, reinforcing fears of weakening demand from the world’s biggest metals market.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange was down 0.7 percent at $8,033 a ton, as of 0412 GMT, while the most-traded September copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange dropped 1.3 percent to $9,160.34 a ton.

LME lead fell 1.8 percent to $2,145.50 a ton, tin declined 1.5 percent to $24,805 a ton, zinc decreased 1.4 percent to $3,539 a ton and aluminum eased 0.2 percent to $2,429 a ton.

(With input from Reuters)


REVIEW: ‘Day Shift’ is a horror show in the worst possible sense

REVIEW: ‘Day Shift’ is a horror show in the worst possible sense
Updated 26 min 57 sec ago

REVIEW: ‘Day Shift’ is a horror show in the worst possible sense

REVIEW: ‘Day Shift’ is a horror show in the worst possible sense
  • Netflix vampire movie has little going for it

LONDON: Hitting screens in the Middle East and North Africa, Netflix’s latest horror action movie “Day Shift” could be about to disappoint.

What is it with Netflix and sucking the life out of interesting new IPs? If it is not “Bright” or “Project Power,” it is “Outside the Wire” or “Thunder Force” — seemingly fascinating and original science fiction and fantasy movie ideas that wind up less than the sum of their parts?

So it is with “Day Shift,” the streaming giants’ new horror-action caper starring Jamie Foxx as vampire hunter Bud, and Dave Franco as his nerdy union representative. The notion that vampire hunting could be a viable career path in the San Fernando Valley, with unionized payouts for turned-in fangs and a benefits package, is moderately entertaining. Unfortunately, stuntman JJ Perry’s directorial debut never gets beyond that initial premise, all-too-quickly devolving into a tonally nonsensical plot and script, one-note characters and wooden performances across the board — it says something when a cameo from Snoop Dogg is far from the worst performance in a movie.

The film stars US actor Jamie Foxx. (Supplied)

Even having watched it, it is hard to sum up what the movie’s plot is, or why Karla Souza’s rent-a-villain Audrey (a vampire real estate mogul … no joke) wants Bud and his family to suffer. In keeping with his stunt background, the only time Perry’s movie comes to life is during some of the more inventive action sequences. There are some interesting drone shots that keep one particular chase sequence zipping along, and the choreography of some of Foxx’s vampire slaying is suitably kinetic. But everything else feels depressingly derivative — this is every vampire movie you have ever seen before, only done worse, and stretched so thin that you can see where the script is playing for time before launching into the next predictably bombastic set piece.

Much like many of its characters, “Day Shift” is a movie that needs putting out of its misery. We can only hope that, despite Netflix’s obvious quest for a new family of franchises, this one stays dead.


French academic back in Iran prison after 5-day leave: supporters

French academic back in Iran prison after 5-day leave: supporters
Updated 27 min 58 sec ago

French academic back in Iran prison after 5-day leave: supporters

French academic back in Iran prison after 5-day leave: supporters
  • Fariba Adelkhah was earlier allowed to leave Tehran’s Evin prison for five days
  • Her temporary release comes at crucial time of nuclear program talks

PARIS: A French-Iranian academic held in Iran for the past three years in a case that has raised tensions between Tehran and Paris has returned to prison after a brief furlough, her supporters said.
Fariba Adelkhah was last week allowed to leave Tehran’s Evin prison for five days.
Hopes that the measure may be extended were not fulfilled, her support group said in a statement published late Sunday.
“Unfortunately, Fariba’s five-day leave was not extended, or transformed into house arrest,” it said. “It gave her a break, but it’s still bad news.”
Activists say that at least 20 foreign and dual nationals are being held by Tehran on baseless charges, in a deliberate policy of hostage diplomacy aimed at extracting concessions from the West.
Adelkhah’s temporary release comes at a crucial time in the negotiations between world powers and Iran over the Iranian nuclear program, with Tehran studying a final proposal from the EU aimed at salvaging a 2015 deal.
It is relatively common for prisoners in Iran to be allowed brief leave for time at home with families before returning to jail.
A specialist in Shiite Islam and a research director at Sciences Po university in Paris, Adelkhah was arrested in June 2019 along with her French colleague and partner Roland Marchal.
Adelkhah was sentenced in May 2020 to five years in prison for conspiring against national security, accusations her supporters say are absurd.
Marchal was released in March 2020 and Adelkhah was allowed home in Tehran in October 2020 with an electronic bracelet. But she was then sent back to prison in January 2022.
Iran last month allowed German-Iranian woman Nahid Taghavi, who was arrested in October 2020, a medical furlough to get treatment for back and neck problems.
Three other French nationals are also being held by Iran.
Benjamin Briere, who according to his family is simply a tourist, was arrested in May 2020 after taking pictures in a national park with a recreational drone and sentenced to eight years in prison on spying charges.
Meanwhile, French teachers’ union official Cecile Kohler and her partner Jacques Paris were arrested in early May on security-related charges, Tehran has said.
Iran insists the foreigners are given fair trials but their families claim they are being held as pawns in a political game.