App You Should Not Miss: Penzu

App You Should Not Miss: Penzu
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Updated 29 July 2022

App You Should Not Miss: Penzu

App You Should Not Miss: Penzu

Penzu is an online diary and personal journal that I recently have been using, and have found to be very therapeutic.

What I like most about it is its simplicity, which makes it very convenient. I open the application, and the first thing I see are my journals — If you pay for a subscription, you will enjoy more journals and customization options.

It is one of the easiest and uncomplicated interfaces that any user can enjoy.

You can also get creative and upload photos from your phone or computer to add more to your personal journaling experience.

I believe journaling is a very helpful practice to clear one’s mind, and we must make some time in our day to write down our thoughts.

Penzu asks you to set a reminder as soon as you sign up for it; I choose to journal every evening when I am freed from my busy schedule. It has helped me a lot in clearing my mind and organizing my thoughts.

From an environmental perspective, I’m very pleased that I can write so much without worrying that I might run out of pages, and it cuts down on the use of paper. Digital journaling is ticking all the boxes for me. Another feature that I appreciate is that Penzu is 100 percent private, which makes me feel secure to express myself because paper diaries and journals can be read by anyone if they are not hidden away. Penzu allows you to create a password lock for your online journals.

If you have created a number of separate journals and you are looking for a specific item, Penzu has a smart journal search feature. Penzu is available on iOS and Android.


2,000-year-old Iranian carving seized at British airport in smuggling attempt

2,000-year-old Iranian carving seized at British airport in smuggling attempt
Updated 01 April 2023

2,000-year-old Iranian carving seized at British airport in smuggling attempt

2,000-year-old Iranian carving seized at British airport in smuggling attempt
  • UK Border Force officers spotted the item and became “suspicious” when they noticed it was wrapped in a “haphazard” way
  • After gaining permission from the Iranian government, the British Museum said the piece would go on display for three months

LONDON: An attempt to smuggle a 2,000-year-old Iranian carving into the UK was thwarted recently when the item was seized by authorities at a British airport.

The treasure, a large fragment from a Sasanian rock relief, depicts a male figure and appears to have been gouged from a cliff face in Iran with an angle grinder, experts said.

According to an Observer report, the carving is estimated to be worth more than £30 million ($37 million).

UK Border Force officers spotted the item and became “suspicious” when they noticed it was wrapped in a “haphazard” way, the report said.

Those found guilty in Iran of trafficking antiquities face a possible death sentence and people have been executed for the crime in recent decades.

“We almost never come across a case of something being cut out of the ‘living rock.’ That’s a level of brutalism that surpasses anything,” St. John Simpson, a senior curator and archaeologist in the British Museum’s department of the Middle East, said.

“You’ve even got felt-tip marks on the back before they’ve used an angle grinder to slice diagonally behind it and across the top. It was then packed in an incredibly bad manner, in a small, almost unpadded crate held together with nails.

“If it had been a state-of the-art handling crate, that would have attracted a different sort of attention because it requires all sorts of paperwork,” he said.

Simpson, who said the piece has been restored by museum staff, identified it as Sasanian, an empire that existed between A.D. 224 and A.D. 651.

“It belongs to a period when Iran was the center of a powerful empire stretching from Syria to the Caucasus and Central Asia, and with its capital at Ctesiphon, south of present-day Baghdad,” he said.

“The Sasanians were powerful rivals of Rome, and famous today for their fine silverwares and cut glass.”

Simpson said the carving would be “incredibly valuable” on the black market.

“It looks amazing; it is stunningly attractive. The valuation could be anything, really. We’re talking £20 million to £30 million-plus. There’s never been anything like it on the market.”

After gaining permission from the Iranian government, the British Museum said the piece would go on display for three months before being returned to Iran, where it will be shown at the National Museum in Tehran.

Seyed Mahdi Hosseini Matin, Iran’s charge d’affaires in London, said: “We sincerely hope that further expansion of cooperation between the British Museum and the Iranian Embassy in London will continue to be effective in fighting against illicit trafficking of cultural properties and protect the cultural heritage of mankind.”


NYUAD unveils new map of Mars using images captured on Emirates Exploration Imager

NYUAD unveils new map of Mars using images captured on Emirates Exploration Imager
Updated 30 March 2023

NYUAD unveils new map of Mars using images captured on Emirates Exploration Imager

NYUAD unveils new map of Mars using images captured on Emirates Exploration Imager
  • Work combines more than 3,000 observations from over 2 years
  • Findings will help scientists learn about major climatic shifts

ABU DHABI: NYU Abu Dhabi research scientist Dimitra Atri, from the Center for Space Science, and his team have unveiled a map of Mars, using images captured by the Emirates Exploration Imager.

The EXI is an advanced imaging system aboard the Emirates Mars Mission currently orbiting the planet, the Emirates News Agency reported on Thursday.

The new color composite map combines more than 3,000 observations over two years, which have been processed together.

The Mars Map captures the planet’s regions and features in high resolution, including polar ice caps, mountains, volcanoes, remnants of ancient rivers, lakes, valleys, and impact craters.

The map will also help scientists learn about major climatic shifts that can fundamentally alter planets, WAM reported.

The map is the result of the UAE’s significant scientific advances and will aim to inspire more young people in the country to pursue STEM careers. 

Atri said: “We plan to make our map available to the entire planet, as part of the new and more advanced ‘Atlas of Mars’ which we have been working on, and [which] will be available in both English and Arabic once published.

“The hope is that this accessibility will make it a great tool for researchers and also students to learn more about Mars, and showcase the possibilities that the space sector in the UAE can offer.

“More than 30 previous spacecraft have only managed to capture a snapshot of the Mars weather, whilst EMM will follow the seasonal changes throughout a Martian year.

“The Hope probe is helping researchers to create this global image of the planet due to its strategic position.

“Hope circles Mars in an elliptical orbit that allows it to observe from much further away than any other spacecraft. This strategic position is helping researchers to create a global image of the planet.” 

EMM is the Arab world’s first interplanetary mission and was commissioned by the UAE’s leaders in 2014.

The spacecraft was launched from Japan in July 2020 and entered Mars’ orbit on Feb. 9, 2021.


Weapons to wasabi: Russian jihadist runs Syria sushi outlet

Weapons to wasabi: Russian jihadist runs Syria sushi outlet
Updated 30 March 2023

Weapons to wasabi: Russian jihadist runs Syria sushi outlet

Weapons to wasabi: Russian jihadist runs Syria sushi outlet
  • Islam Shakhbanov headed to Syria in 2015 “to take part in jihad.”
  • Shakhbanov was inspired to open “Sushi Idlib” after sampling Japanese cuisine during his travels

IDLIB: A Russian jihadist has traded his weapons for wasabi by opening a small sushi restaurant in war-torn Syria’s rebel-held northwest, as the conflict wanes and fighters look for other income.
Islam Shakhbanov, 37, from Russia’s Muslim-majority Dagestan republic, said he headed to Syria in 2015 “to take part in jihad.”
But after years of war, the Damascus government has regained control of most of the country and Syria’s main frontlines have largely frozen, putting many foreign fighters out of a job.
“In the end I opened this sushi restaurant,” the goateed man told AFP, standing near a banner displaying a fish, with slogans in Arabic, English and Russian.
Wearing a warm vest, and with a dark winter cap on his head, Shakhbanov said he fought alongside jihadist factions and the Faylaq Al-Sham rebel group until about five years ago.
Faylaq Al-Sham is a Sunni Islamist group that has acted as Turkiye’s proxy during several Turkish military campaigns on Syrian soil. It has also been the source of pro-Ankara mercenaries sent to battle in Libya on the side of the UN-recognized government.
The group fought fierce battles against the Russian-backed Syrian regime in Aleppo, Idlib and Latakia provinces, and is considered close to the Syrian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Shakhbanov said he had lived in countries including Pakistan, Afghanistan, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia, and was inspired to open “Sushi Idlib” after sampling Japanese cuisine during his travels.
He boasted it was the first sushi restaurant in the conservative enclave, Syria’s last main rebel bastion where many people depend on humanitarian aid.
Rebel-held Idlib is home to about three million people, around half of them displaced by 12 years of war.
The enclave is controlled by Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham, the former Syrian branch of Al-Qaeda, and other rebel groups — some of whom count fighters from central Asia and the Caucasus among their ranks.
Landlocked Idlib is surrounded by regime troops to the south but borders Turkiye to the north, with the coast less than 25 kilometers (16 miles) away in some places.
Shakhbanov said he imports many of his ingredients from Turkiye — pickled ginger, soy sauce, prawns and even crab.


Idlib was among the areas struck by a February 6 earthquake that collapsed buildings and killed tens of thousands, mostly in Turkiye.
The sushi restaurant survived unscathed.
Behind the counter, two chefs, also former fighters from Russia, chopped fresh salmon and cucumber, spreading the ingredients onto a bed of rice and seaweed before pressing everything into a roll.
The restaurant at first struggled to attract customers in the impoverished enclave where Japanese food is an oddity, but Shakhbanov bills his seaweed rolls as “affordable.”
A California roll sells for 60 Turkish lira ($3), double the price of a large shawarma sandwich more familiar to local residents.
He said he now has about a dozen regulars and hopes to attract more customers by adding fried dishes to the menu.
But Shakhbanov, married to a Syrian woman and with two young daughters, said he is ready to leave the sushi behind and taste combat again should divided rebel factions agree on a military strategy.
“I opened a restaurant,” he said, “but I did not abandon jihad.”


Actor, former MMA fighter Shah Hussain to feature in upcoming film

Actor, former MMA fighter Shah Hussain to feature in upcoming film
Updated 28 March 2023

Actor, former MMA fighter Shah Hussain to feature in upcoming film

Actor, former MMA fighter Shah Hussain to feature in upcoming film
  • Star was involved in choreographing the fight scenes of ‘Morris Men’

LONDON: British Pakistani actor Shah Hussain, who was formerly a professional mixed martial arts fighter, is set to star in an upcoming film, “Last Respects.”

Hussain has appeared in a number of popular productions, including Netflix’s “Red Notice,” SKY AMC’s “Gangs of London,” and Apple TV’s “Slow Horses.”

Featuring in “Morris Men,” Hussain played the role of Huss Ellis and, due to his extensive martial arts experience, he was closely involved behind the camera in choreographing the movie’s fight scenes.

In addition to being the first professional Pakistani MMA fighter in the early 2000s, he is also a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

Hussain stars alongside a cast of prominent stars, including Peter Andre, Sean Cronin and Mark Pegg, in his forthcoming project “Last Respects.” The plot revolves around three gangsters who pay their respects to their ringleader, only to discover that it is a test of their loyalty.


Nestle hands out limited edition KitKat Iftar Bars in Canada

Nestle hands out limited edition KitKat Iftar Bars in Canada
Updated 28 March 2023

Nestle hands out limited edition KitKat Iftar Bars in Canada

Nestle hands out limited edition KitKat Iftar Bars in Canada
  • The 30-piece bars, which have one piece for each day of Ramadan, were given away in partnership with social media influencers in the country

LONDON: Food and beverage company Nestle Canada partnered with Muslim content creators to give away limited edition KitKat Iftar Bars for Ramadan.

Where regular KitKats contain two or four chocolate-covered wafer fingers, this extra-large version has 30 — one for every day of the holy month.

Nestle Canada said the special version of the snack was designed to commemorate the Iftar tradition observed by Muslims when they have their evening meal after fasting all day during Ramadan. KitKat’s long-time advertising slogan is “Have a break, and the company added that it wanted to celebrate the breaking of the fast at sundown.

Nestle Canada gave away the special KitKat Iftar Bars through partnerships with selected social media influencers in the country.