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Monday, 31 March 2008

Never Sick Again

Amrita TV Super Star Global - Final rounds - Swayamvara Vilambaram - 31 Mar 2008

Global remittances rise 7% to Dh1.17tr


Global remittances rise 7% to Dh1.17tr
By Saifur Rahman, Business Editor Published: March 31, 2008, 00:09

Dubai: Global remittances rose seven per cent last year to $318 billion (Dh1.17 trillion) up from the previous year's $297 billion, according to the latest World Bank report.

India topped the global list of the remittance recipients with $27 billion (Dh99.1 billion), followed by China with $25.7 billion (Dh94.32 billion), Mexico having received $25 billion (Dh91.75 billion), the Philippines $17 billion (Dh62.39 billion) and France with $12.5 billion (Dh45.88 billion).

Rich countries are the main source of remittances led by the US with $42 billion in recorded outward flows in 2006. Saudi Arabia ranks as the second largest with $15.6 billion.

Of the $318 billion, about $240 billion (Dh880.8 billion) went to developing countries last year, which is eight per cent higher than the $221 billion (811.07 billion) recorded in 2006.

These flows do not include informal channels, which would significantly enlarge the volume of remittances if they were recorded.

"In many developing countries, remittances provide a lifeline for the poor," said Dilip Ratha, World Bank's senior economist, and author of the report.

"They are often an essential source of foreign exchange and a stabilising force for the economy in turbulent times."

Despite a near stagnation in remittance flows to Mexico and a deceleration in other Latin American countries contributed to a slowdown in the rate of growth of remittances, its flow to developing countries remains robust because of strong growth in Europe and Asia.

As money transfers are being subjected to more intense scrutiny by regulators, the remittance industry has experienced a shift in remittances from informal to formal channels, the report says.

But the same regulations have also increased the documentation requirements for opening bank accounts. Large money transfer operators have therefore benefited from the shifting flows.

More recently, the remittance industry has also seen the introduction of cellphone-based remittances and several pilots involving remittance-linked financial products.

Mobile banking and partnerships with cellphone companies can potentially extend remittance services to millions of people in remote, rural areas. UAE's largest telecom operator etisalat has started a pilot project to facilitate remittances through mobile phone.

These changes may imply a shift from cash-based remittances to account-based remittances in future.

"The remittance industry is experiencing some positive structural changes with the advent of cell phone and internet-based remittance instruments. The diffusion of these changes, however, is slowed by a lack of clarity on key regulations (including those relating to money laundering and other financial crimes)," the report said.

"Remittance costs have fallen, but not far enough, especially in the South-South corridors."

Countries in South Asia and East Asia are experiencing robust growth in remittances. In the Philippines, remittances rose by 15 per cent year-on-year during the first nine months of 2007. Both Bangladesh and Pakistan reported over 20 per cent growth in remittances during the first nine months of 2007.

"High oil prices and strong economies in the oil-exporting Middle Eastern countries are contributing to strong demand for migrant labour. In India, the largest remittance-recipient developing country, private current transfers grew by 30 per cent in the first half of 2007," he said.

While South-South migration nearly equals South-North migration, rich countries are still the main remittances source, led by the US, according to the World Bank's new Mig-ration and Remittances Factbook 2008, released recently.

The US was also the top immigration country in 2005, with 38.4 million immigrants, followed by the Russian Federation 12.1 million.

Among low-income countries, India had the highest immigration volume with 5.7 million, followed by Pakistan with 3.3 million.

The top immigration countries, relative to population are Qatar with 78 per cent followed by the UAE with 71 per cent, Kuwait having 62 per cent, Singapore 43 per cent, Israel 40 per cent and Jordan 39 per cent.

In many developing countries, remittances provide a lifeline for the poor."

Dilip Ratha
World Bank's senior economist

UAE Opec governor says oil market well-supplied

UAE Opec governor says oil market well-supplied
Reuters Published: March 31, 2008, 00:09

Dubai: Oil markets are well-supplied with inventories of crude oil and refined products over their five-year average, the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) governor of the United Arab Emirates said on Sunday.

The weakness of the US dollar has amplified the rise in oil prices, which was partly due to speculation, Ali Al Yabhouni told an energy conference in Dubai.

"The market is sufficiently well-supplied and what proves my argument are inventories; they are over and above the five-year average for crude and refined products," he said.

"It is not only fundamentals that are driving prices. It is very complex and there are many different players contributing to oil price movements."

Al Yabhouni said producers decide their output policy based on oil market fundamentals, but cannot cater for the appetite of financial speculators. "We are looking at supply of oil, we see demand and try to match it. Financial demand is something else," he said.

Opec left its output steady at a meeting earlier this month despite calls from consuming countries for more oil to halt the record rally. The weak dollar and rising cash flows from hedge funds helped send crude oil prices to a record high of $111.80 a barrel in mid-March. US crude closed at $105.62 on Friday.

Al Yabhouni said earlier this month Opec would not react to speculative oil price movements when market fundamentals were balanced. Opec officials have long insisted factors beyond their control are fuelling oil's rally.

"One reason the price is high is the weakness of the dollar," said Al Yabhouni. "If you look at it in other currencies such as the yen and the euro oil is very affordable. So, yes, the price looks high in dollars but not in other currencies."

Passenger bus rams into the middle of bridge in Sharjah


Passenger bus rams into the middle of bridge in Sharjah
Staff Report GULF NEWS Published: March 30, 2008, 11:05

Sharjah: A passenger bus bound to Dubai from Sharjah rammed into the median of a bridge in Arouba Street near Al Khan Road, Sharjah, early on Sunday.

The cause of the accident is still being verified. Two passengers sustained minor injuries, said a passenger.

The accident sparked massive traffic jams, blocking motorists trying to get to work after the weekend.

Woman hunts for Good Samaritan who saved her daughter's life


Woman hunts for Good Samaritan who saved her daughter's life
By Marten Youssef, Staff Reporter
Published: March 30, 2008, 17:12


Dubai: He stopped his car when he saw a screaming woman by the side of the road. She needed to get to hospital with her sick child urgently.

After helping them, the unknown stranger vanished. Now the woman is looking for her "angel", as she calls him, to thank him properly.

Jyoti Rana from the Greens, a 34-year-old Canadian who came to Dubai two years ago, experienced a mother's worst nightmare last Tuesday. Her two-year-old daughter, Sia, had an abnormally high fever.

"My sister-in-law and I decided to take her to hospital. We waited outside our house for a taxi. Two minutes later, I turned around and Sia had fallen flat on her face," Jyoti said.

Sia turned pale and her lips turned blue. She was not responding to her mother's calls.

Jyoti panicked, picked up her unconscious child and did what any mother would do. "I screamed for help. No one stopped. I picked her up and ran into the nearest hotel, but there was no-one. I sprinkled her face with water, but she still did not respond."

After a security guard came to her aid, she was still feeling helpless. The security guards tried to stop several taxis, without success. One of them ran into the street and stopped the next car.

Without hesitation, Jyoti jumped into the car while trying to revive her child. "I wasn't thinking straight. All I cared about was my child," she said.

The anonymous driver asked her which hospital she wanted to go to and without any questions he drove to the Welcare Ambulatory Care Center.

"The drive usually takes 15 minutes from my house, but he did it in less than 6 minutes. All he said was, 'it's going to be OK.' He kept repeating that."

After admitting her daughter to the hospital, she was asked for Sia's health card.

"That's when I realised I left my purse in the man's car. I looked down at the side of the bed and there was my purse, which meant he must have brought it in," said Jyoti.

Sia recovered with doctor's attention from a febrile seizure (fever fit).

"I want to find that man to thank him," said Jyoti.

With very little memory of what the driver looked like, Jyoti recalls: "He could have been Indian or Arab. People told me he was driving a silver sedan. He must have been in his late 20s or early 30s. I cannot remember what he looked like at all, but I am hoping that he would read this and contact me. If it weren't for him, Sia would probably not be here now," she said.

If you know who the good samaritan is or if it was you yourself then fill in the form below, leaving your contact details and we will pass them on.

E-mail : Jyoti Rana can be contacted by email: jyoti@thebigball.org

Sunday, 30 March 2008

Amrita TV - Super Star Global - Final rounds - Judgement Day

Asianet Award for Best Music Director

RTA sets up a new agency to regulate driving licences

RTA sets up a new agency to regulate driving licences
By a staff reporter 30 March 2008 KHALEEJ TIMES

DUBAI — Shaikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Executive Council, has ordered the setting up of the Licensing Agency within the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA). Ahmed Bahrouzyan will be the chief executive officer of the agency.

The Licensing Agency will be responsible for licensing driving institutes and centres as well as training instructors and inspectors of drivers and vehicles.

It will also be responsible for testing and licensing of drivers and vehicles along with endorsing the conditions and guidelines governing training of drivers.

The agency will regulate circulation of number plates and manage public auction of number plates.

Among the other tasks of the agency will be developing and updating database of drivers and vehicles, issuance of No Objection Certificates with respect to commercial and tourist activities related to transport, in addition to controlling the performance of driving institutes, vehicle testers and commercial activities of transport.

The CEO of Licensing Agency will oversee the administrative affairs of the agency, prepare a work plan of the agency together with its annual budget estimates for submission to the Chairman of the Board and Executive Director of the RTA.

The CEO will implement the approved annual plan of the agency, realise the targeted performance results, submit the periodical performance reports to the chairman and draft rules and regulations related to the business of the agency.

Mattar Al Tayer, Chairman of the Board and Executive Director of the RTA, pointed out that the aim of establishing an agency dedicated to licensing is to enhance the level of services rendered so as to win customer satisfaction. It also aims at educating and heightening the awareness of all types of road users.

The decision to establish the agency is also dictated by the increasing numbers of licensed drivers in the emirate. The number of driving licences issued last year reached 89,475. The number of registered vehicles was 848,357, of which 802,376 are light vehicles and 45,981 are heavy trucks

15 double-deckers to ply between Dubai and Sharjah from September

15 double-deckers to ply between Dubai and Sharjah from September
By Joy Sengupta (Our staff reporter)30 March 2008 KHALEEJ TIMES

DUBAI — A new fleet of double-decker buses would be transporting passengers between Dubai and Sharjah from September this year, the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has announced.

Abdullah Yousuf Al Ali, Director of the Public Buses Department at the Public Transport Agency in the RTA, said, “We will be starting with 15 double-decker buses in September this year. The number will be raised to a total of 70 in the coming months. With the number of passengers travelling between the two emirates fast increasing, these buses will be very helpful.”

Al Ali added that the buses would be linked with the control centre through the GPS system and people with special needs will be able to board the buses with their wheelchairs and also be able to move around in the bus.

The new buses will be equipped with the eco-friendly Euro IV engines.

“The service will help in the development and expansion of the bus network between Dubai and the rest of the country. The new buses will also strengthen the position of Dubai as a commercial and regional economic centre and a point of attraction for investors and businessmen from all over the world," added Al Ali.

Amrita TV Super Star Global - Final rounds - Kandathum Kettathum 30 Mar 2008

Friday, 28 March 2008

Jaaju Jaaju Stories - Birbal Catches A Thief



Jaaju Jaaju stories are bed time stories narrated by a loving father to his son each night before going to sleep. These stories are collected from various sources. Besides the little one (who loves to listen to the story and sleep with his head on his dad's shoulder sucking his little thumb), there are three other characters who listen to this daily - they are Kesavan - the elephant, Chakki - the cow, and Sundari - it's little daughter. Each night, the story is ended at some point, to give curiosity to the listeners and it is started the next night with a question answer session. Enjoy reading each day as it is posted and pass it on to your little loved ones.

Birbal Catches A Thief

Birbal was one of the nine gems in the court of emperor Akbar. He was respected by everyone for his intelligence and wit. Whenever Akbar was in difficulty, he called Birbal for help.

Akbar was very fond of jewellery. He had many rings of gold, pearls and diamonds. His favourite ring was the one with a large diamond at the centre and pearls around.
At the emperor’s palace, there were eight servants who looked after his clothes and jewellery. They also helped him get ready to go to the court. No one else was allowed to enter his room.

One day, the Emperor wanted to wear his favourite ring. But it was missing. Akbar ordered a search for the ring. But no one could find it.

Akbar then asked his men to call Birbal. When Birbal came, he told him about the robbery and asked for help. Birbal called all the eight servants who were in charge of the Emperor’s room.

He gave each of them a stick of the same size and asked them to come back with it the next day. He told them that the stick of the person who had stolen the ring would become longer by one inch that night.

The next morning, the eight servants stood in a line with their sticks. Birbal caught hold of one of them and took him to Akbar.

The man fell at Akbar’s feet and admitted that he had stolen the ring.

The king was surprised. He asked Birbal how he found out the culprit. Birbal said the thief had cut his stick by an inch fearing that it would grow.


This story is dedicated to all loving children

Amrita TV Super Star Global - Final Rounds - Kandathum Kettathum - 31 March 2008

Why some engineers become terrorists

Why some engineers become terrorists
30 Mar 2008, 0000 hrs IST,Shashi Tharoor

An IIT graduate — so the story goes — is walking near a pond one day when a frog speaks to him. "Kiss me," it says, "and i will turn into a beautiful princess." The IITian does a double-take, turns back to check if he has heard right, and sure enough, the frog repeats itself: "Kiss me and i will turn into a beautiful princess." He looks thoughtfully at the frog, picks it up and puts it into his pocket. A plaintive wail soon emerges: "Kiss me and i will turn into a beautiful princess." He ignores it and walks on. Soon the frog asks, "Aren't you going to kiss me?" The IIT guy stops, pulls the frog out of his pocket, and replies matter-of-factly: "I'm an engineer. I don't have time for a girlfriend. But a talking frog is cool."

No prizes for guessing what a literature graduate would have done in the same situation! Such is the self-image of the engineer in India: rational, hard-working, self-disciplined, steady, focused on the results of his work. Parents pray for the smartest of their kids to become engineers. Any child with better than average marks in science at school is pushed towards the profession, sustained by peer pressure that convinces him there could be no higher aspiration.

And no doubt for some there isn't. But that clearly isn't the whole story. Disturbing new research at Oxford University by sociologists Diego Gambetta and Steffen Hertog points to an intriguing — one might say worrying — correlation between engineering and terrorism.

If that doesn't raise eyebrows at the IITs, nothing will. But consider the evidence: Osama bin Laden was a student of engineering. So were the star 9/11 kamikaze pilot Mohammed Atta, the alleged mastermind of that plot, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and their all-but-forgotten predecessor, the chief plotter of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, Ramzi Yousef.

The Oxford scholars, after putting together educational biographies for some 300 known members of violent Islamist groups from 30 countries, concluded that a majority of these Islamist terrorists were not just highly educated, but a startling number of them are engineers. Indeed, according to Gambetta and Hertog, nearly half had studied engineering. A summary of their research in Foreign Policy magazine remarked that "across the Middle East and Southeast Asia, the share of engineers in violent Islamist groups was found to be at least nine times greater than what one might expect, given their proportion of the working male population."

Is there something about engineering that makes its most proficient graduates vulnerable to the temptations of violent extremism? Gambetta and Hertog seem to think so. They have no patience for the more conventional possible explanation — that engineers might be sought after by terrorist groups for their technical expertise in making and blowing up things. Instead, they argue that the reason there are so many terrorist engineers is that the subject helps produce a mindset that makes one prone to radicalisation.

Engineers consider themselves problem solvers, and when the world seems to present a problem, they look to engineering-type solutions to solve it. Engineering, Gambetta and Hertog suggest, predisposes its votaries to absolute and non-negotiable principles, and therefore to fundamentalism; it is a short step from appreciating the predictable laws of engineering to following an ideology or a creed that is infused with its own immutable laws. It is easy for engineers to become radicalised, the researchers argue, because they are attracted by the "intellectually clean, unambiguous, and all-encompassing" solutions that both the laws of engineering and radical Islam provide. According to Gambetta and Hertog, surveys in Canada, Egypt, and the US have proved over the years that engineers tend to be more devout, and more politically conservative, than the rest of the population.

I'm not suggesting one should buy wholesale the conclusions of the Oxford researchers; I know a few engineers who wouldn't harm a fly, so i'd be wary of making any sweeping generalisations about an entire profession. But the study does seem to me to open the door to make a nowadays unfashionable case: the argument in favour of studying the humanities. I have always believed that the well-formed mind is preferable to the well-filled one, and it takes a knowledge of history and an appreciation of literature to form a mind that is capable of grappling with the diversity of human experience in a world devoid of certitudes.

If terrorism is to be tackled and ended, we will have to deal with fear, rage and incomprehension that animates it. We will have to know each other better, learn to see ourselves as others see us, learn to recognise hatred and deal with its causes, learn to dispel fear, and above all just learn about each other. It is not the engineering mindset that facilitates such learning, but the vision of the humanities student. The mind is like a parachute — it functions best when it is open. It takes reading and learning about other peoples and cultures to open (and broaden) minds.

Ignorance and lack of imagination remain the handmaidens of violence. Without extending our imagination, we cannot understand how peoples of other races, religions or languages share the same dreams, the same hopes. Without reading widely and broadening our minds, we cannot understand the myriad manifestations of the human condition, nor fully appreciate the universality of human aims and aspirations. Without the humanities, we cannot recognise that there is more than one side to a story, and more than one answer to a question.

That, of course, is never true in engineering. Perhaps the solution lies in making it compulsory for every engineering student to take at least 20% of his courses in the humanities. Maybe then he might even kiss the frog.

Tata's acquisitions of JLR sparks an outpouring of national pride

Tata's acquisitions of JLR sparks an outpouring of national pride
31 Mar, 2008, 0010 hrs IST, AGENCIES

NEW DELHI: To understand India's economic rise, look to its cars.

The iconic Indian automobile of a generation ago was the Ambassador, a noisy, boxy clunker that was ubiquitous despite its ungainly 1950s style.

Compare that to the newest Indian-owned line of cars, the famously sleek and sophisticated Jaguar, which Tata Motors, India's biggest auto company, purchased on Wednesday, along with Land Rover, in a landmark US$2.3 billion deal.

The vehicle upgrade could be a metaphor for the transformation the entire country has gone through in recent years, as the so-called ``License Raj'' _ the stifling state-run socialist system widely blamed for shackling India's economy _ came to an end, giving rise to a new middle-class whose appetite for consumption has reshaped India and spurred a national economic boom.

Now, Indian companies are taking that money and shopping overseas for acquisitions as part of a strategy meant to announce India's arrival on the global stage, break into new markets and keep the profits rolling in.

``It's a matter of survival,'' said Ashutosh Goel, an analyst with the brokerage firm Edelweiss Capital. ``To succeed and thrive you have to be a serious global player and not only focused on the domestic market. You can't remain a purely Indian player.''

Nearly all the leading corporations here _ including Reliance Industries Ltd. and outsourcing company Wipro Ltd. _ are looking overseas, and news of Indian acquisitions of brands from Europe, the United States, Asia and Africa has become common.

Many see the newfound assertiveness as a reflection of the general feeling in India that the once-stagnant underachiever now belongs among the international elite.

``Indian companies have been in the mood for overseas purchases for a few years now and that coincides with the boom in the economy and the general feel-good factor here,'' said Anjana Menon, an editor at Mint, a leading Indian business newspaper.

At the same time, the robust economy and looser regulations have attracted widespread foreign investment, increasing competition here and forcing Indian companies to expand overseas to seek sales, analysts said.

Beyond Tata Motors, the crowded car market includes the Maruti Suzuki Ltd. _ majority owned by Japanese automaker Suzuki Motors Corp. _ South Korea's Hyundai Motor Ltd., Japan's Honda Motor Co. and U.S. automakers Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Corp.

International companies are interested in more than selling just cars, however. Coca-Cola Co., which was booted out of India in the 1970s to make way for the local brand Thums-Up, came back in 1993, after the economy opened to foreign investment, and now owns the former rival. In gleaming new malls across India, customers can choose between German washing machines, Korean air conditioners and Japanese televisions.



Tata Group, the country's oldest and largest conglomerate, is the most striking example of an Indian company on an acquisition spree. With roughly 100 companies in everything from salt to software, it has led the charge that has made India an international player.

The group has emerged from its own economic doldrums with high-profile moves like the purchase of British steelmaker Corus Group for US$13 billion, as well as tea, hotel and automobile companies.

Tata's acquisitions have sparked an outpouring of national pride. ``The Empire Strikes Back!'' was one of many headlines Thursday that trumpeted the purchase of Jaguar and Land Rover, brands founded in Britain, India's former colonial power.

The economic rise can be traced back to 1991, when India began shifting toward a market economy. The boom was led by the outsourcing and technology sectors, which forged a connection between Indian companies and overseas markets.

The new opportunities gave rise to an educated and ambitious middle class, which has lustily embraced consumer culture.

``The middle class Indian from a decade ago was more of a saver and he's a spender now,'' said Menon. ``There's a generational shift and there's more money in people's wallets and they're freer to spend.''

Companies like Tata have reaped giant profits that freed them to pursue acquisitions. In five years through March 2007, Tata's annual group sales more than doubled to US$29 billion, not including Corus Group. The capitalization of its 27 listed companies rose six-fold, to US$78 billion.

``Bankers are looking where they can put their money and (Tata is) a sure thing, they're not even a bet,'' said Tarun Das of the Confederation of Indian Industry.

Tata announced the Land Rover and Jaguar acquisition with very little fanfare, apparently anticipating anti-India backlash. In a sign of how the times have changed, Indian companies that once lobbied the government for protection against foreign competition now find themselves battling protectionist sentiments abroad.

Tata is paying Ford with a 15-month, US$3 billion loan but expects to replace that financing with a mix of equity and debt during the next several months, said C. Ramakrishnan, Tata's chief financial officer.

Some analysts are skeptical about how the luxury brands will fit into Tata's portfolio and whether going into debt to pay for the deal makes sense amidst fears of a global recession.

But many of Tata's big-ticket acquisitions were derided initially and went on to be praised by analysts. It's other purchases include Britain's Tetley Tea, Boston's Ritz Carlton Hotel, Eight O'Clock Coffee, Glaceau flavored waters and South Korea's Daewoo Commercial Vehicle Co.

Other corporations looking overseas include the Aditya Birla Group, which has bought companies in cement, metals, telecommunication and textiles. Last year, Reliance Industries bought Malaysia's leading polyester producer, Hualon Corp, while Wipro bought New Jersey-based Infocrossing Inc.

``Every large and small Indian company is looking at overseas corporations,'' said analyst Goel.

Amrita TV Super Star Global - Final Rounds - Kandathum Kettathum - 29 March 2008

Amrita TV Super Star Global - Final Rounds - Kandathum Kettathum - 28 March 2008 late night edition

Air fares set to rise again

Air fares set to rise again
By Zoe Sinclair (Our staff reporter)KHALEEJ TIMES 28 March 2008

DUBAI — Passengers’ pockets are likely to be hit again with airlines serving the UAE yesterday indicating fare increases due to escalating fuel prices.

The price of oil is circling around $110 per barrel while the UK airports — Heathrow and Gatwick — have raised taxes. The airlines are being forced to consider passing the cost on to their passengers.

Emirates Airline president Tim Clark announced on March 5 it would be increasing fares amid plans to cut costs by $100 million.

A statement this week revealed fares were increased by 5.5 per cent as of February 15.

“Emirates increased fares by 5.5 per cent across all three classes — First, Business and Economy — with effect from February 15,” a spokesperson said.

“Our fares incorporate our operating costs which include fuel, salaries, taxes, fees for use of facilities and other costs of operation. As with every airline, pricing is also subject to market forces and we will continue to evaluate our fare structure based on these.

“The staggering increase in fuel prices has had an inflationary effect on all our operational costs. However, Emirates will continue to work very hard to shield our customers from any price fluctuations,” the spokesperson said.

A British Airways spokesperson has indicated it would cover the passengers’ airport taxes for those who had already purchased tickets.

However, the airline would in future pass on some of the additional cost of airport taxes to its passengers.

The airline currently charges a fuel surcharge on its tickets and said it was continually reviewing the situation as to whether any increases had to be made. An Air Arabia spokesperson said the airline had included a fuel surcharge in its ticket fare but had not increased this charge for the past year.

“We usually do our best not to increase ticket prices as per the cost of fuel,” the spokesperson said.

“This (a fuel surcharge increase) is an option to consider if the fuel prices keep rising.”

Etihad Airways spokesperson Thomas Clarke said the airline was continually reviewing fuel prices but used tactics, including hedging, to avoid peak prices.

“Rising fuel costs are a challenge for all airlines and remain a significant proportion of Etihad’s total costs,” Clarke said.

“Our hedging policy helps us to achieve greater certainty and allows us to manage seasonal fluctuations.

“Fuel costs represent about one-third of Etihad’s total costs.”

Amrita TV Super Star Global - Final Rounds - Kandathum Kettathum - 28 March 2008

A time to balance


A time to balance
Manu Kaushik / Business Today March 17, 2008

Has the volatility of the past two months altered your risk tolerance level? Has the value of your stock portfolio declined alarmingly and been overtaken by bond assets, which have increased in size? In either case, your asset allocation needs a makeover.

The main challenge investors face is to earn a reasonable return while managing risk appetite. And maintaining your risk appetite means rebalancing your portfolio towards the desired asset allocation.

As things stand today, should you choose more of debt or equity? That depends on your risk tolerance levels. Market conditions have changed in the past few weeks.

But a good asset allocation strategy can help you make prudent investing decisions. “The first step towards rebalancing your portfolio is to review what you expect by way of returns and weigh that against your tolerance for risk. The state of markets (equity and debt) also decide where you ivest and how much,” says Prateek Agarwal, VP & Head (Equities), Bharti AXA Investment Managers.

Balancing it right

Keeping a diverse portfolio means among different classes of assets (e.g., stocks, debt and liquid assets) so that they work together to build your wealth, while affording you some protection from downturns in any specific asset class. Says Arpit Agrawal, MD & Group CEO, Dawnay Day AV Financial Services: “Any asset class is impacted by three basic things— momentum, liquidity and fundamentals. In the short term, momentum and liquidity play a major role, but over the long term, fundamentals are more important.”

In times of volatility, especially when the markets are shrinking, savvy investors who stick to their asset allocation make the best of a disciplined approach.

During boom times, these investors book partial profits and add on debt, and during bad times in the equity market, they sell debt and add on equities to maintain the asset allocation equilibrium. “The idea behind this rule is to keep your asset allocation within the desired risk profile. During booming markets, most investors are tempted to add more to equities, rather than book gradual profits, leading to an asset allocation mismatch. This rule brings a greater sense of discipline for an investor and provides much needed guidelines for resisting greed and temptation in rising markets,” adds Ambareesh Baliga, VP, Karvy Stock Broking.
On the other hand, when the markets are booming, adding debt by sticking to your original asset allocation can reduce the volatility. Says Sanjay Matai, Promoter, Wealtharchitects.in: “Debt funds can help you counter volatility in the markets and provide a certain degree of stability to your holdings.”

When and why

Knowing how to rebalance your portfolio is half the battle; knowing when to rebalance is the other. One way to rebalance is to increase your investment in asset categories that have fallen below your original allocation percentages. Another is to sell assets in one category and use that money to increase your investment in categories that have become underweight. Says Agarwal: “I recommend that you take a look at your portfolio at least once a year and think about pruning any asset class that has moved beyond its target by more than 5 per cent.”

Let us assume that an investor buys units in various equity funds for Rs 7 lakh, and invests Rs 3 lakh in debt funds. The objective is to maintain a constant asset mix of 70-30 through the investment horizon. The problem starts when stock and bond prices change. The reason is that movements in these asset prices will change the net asset value of the funds, and that, in turn, will change the investor’s desired mix. If the equity portion of the portfolio, for instance, increases from Rs 7 lakh to Rs 8.5 lakh, while the bond portion moves to Rs 1.5 lakh, the total equity exposure will be 85 per cent. This is clearly in excess of the investor’s desired equity exposure. Under such circumstances, the investor must cut equity in the portfolio by Rs 1.5 lakh to maintain the ideal mix.

Once you get started, it’s not a difficult thing to follow. But the best part is that you will, by default, add equity to your portfolio when the times are bad and, thus, buy stocks at cheap prices, and book profits when the times are good.

Amrita TV Super Star Global - Final Rounds - Kandathu Kettathum - 27 Mar 2008

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Eight mistakes to avoid while investing

Eight mistakes to avoid while investing
26 Mar, 2008, 0358 hrs IST,Dhruv Agarwala & Kartik Varma,

Investing is not just about picking winners, but also about avoiding mistakes. Retail investors can be better off if they avoid making the following mistakes.

Overconfidence - Don't be unrealistically optimistic

A bull market makes retail investors believe that they are geniuses - after all, anything they put money into goes up. This overconfidence in their own abilities leads to a complete disregard of the risks involved. Every new generation that invests in the market ignores past experience. These new investors wrongly believe that stock prices only go up.

Don't be overconfident and don't start believing that you have superior skills compared to the market. Recognise that in a bull market you are benefiting because the whole market is going up. If those around you are getting unrealistically optimistic, start managing your risk accordingly. Remember that sometimes markets do come crashing down.

Over enthusiasm to trade - Not every ball should be hit

Good batsmen realise that some balls outside the off-stump should be left alone. Similarly, professional investors realise that sometimes its better to just stand still than to rush into a stock. Retail investors often make the mistake of "flashing outside the off-stump" because they cannot resist the temptation to trade in every opportunity. And, like an inexperienced batsman, they suffer the same fate.

Too much trading will lead to a lot of churn, extra commissions to your broker and huge tax implications for you. Some of the world's best investors follow a buy and hold strategy - you should too.

Missing the benefits of compounding of capital - Learn from Einstein

Albert Einstein is reputed to have said that compounding of capital is the 8th wonder of the world because it allows for the systematic accumulation of wealth. Even though any one in class 5 could tell you how compounding works, retail investors ignore this basic concept.

Compounding of capital can benefit you only if you leave your money uninterrupted for a long period of time. The sooner you start investing, the bigger the pool of capital you will end up with for your middle-aged and retirement years.

Don't wait to start investing only when you have a large amount of money to put to work. Start early, even if it's with a small amount. Watch this grow to a very large amount with the passage of time.

Worrying about the market - But there is no answer to your favourite question

Smart investors don't worry about the direction of the market - they worry about the business prospects of the companies whose stocks they own. Retail investors are obsessed with the question "Where do you think the market will go?" This is a wrong question to ask. In fact, no one knows the answer.

The right question to ask is whether the company, whose stock you are buying, is going to be a much bigger business 10 years from now or not? Don't take a view on the market, take a view on long-term industry trends and how your chosen companies can create value by exploiting these trends.

Timing the market - Around 99% of investors will fail in this strategy

Its very difficult to time the market, i.e, be smart enough to buy at the absolute bottom and sell at the absolute top. Professionals understand that timing the market is a wasted exercise.

Retail investors always wait for that elusive best opportunity to get in or to get out. But by waiting they let great investment opportunities go by. You should use systematic or regular investment plans to make investments. You'll have to make fewer decisions and yet can accumulate substantial wealth over time.

Selling in times of panic - You should be doing the opposite

The best opportunity to buy is when the markets are falling and there is fear in the minds of investors. Yet, many retail investors do exactly the opposite. They sell when the markets are falling and buy only when the markets are high. This way they end up losing twice - by selling low and buying high, when they should be doing exactly the opposite.

If nothing has changed about the long-term outlook for the company that you own, then you should not sell this company's stock. Use this opportunity to buy more of the same stock in falling markets. Some of the world's biggest fortunes were made by buying when others were selling in panic.

Focusing on past performance - Its like driving forward while looking backwards

It is a very common perception that because a stock has done well in the past one year, it's the best stock to invest in. Retail investors do not realise that often the best performers will underperform the market in the future because their optimistic outlook has already been priced into the stock.

Don't go after hot sectors that are currently producing high returns. Don't let greed drive your investment decisions. Look forward to see whether the gains produced in the past can get repeated or not. Short-term trends of the past might not get repeated in the future.

Diversifying too much will kill you - Investing is all about staying alive

Beyond a point, having too many names in a portfolio can be counterproductive. You might end up duplicating, or end up taking too much exposure to a sector. Over-diversification can upset your portfolio, especially when you have not done enough research on all the companies you have invested in.

If you are an active investor in the stock market, maintain a manageable portfolio of 15-25 names. Instead of adding new names to this portfolio, recognise ideal ones. Then back them with more capital. In the long-run, this will produce better returns for you than adding another 20 names to your portfolio. Investing is all is about patience and discipline. By avoiding mistakes you can improve the long-term performance of your portfolio, whatever the economic conditions prevailing in the market.

Courtesy: www.iTrust.in / The Economic Times

Amrita TV Superstar Global - Final round - Kandathum Kettathum

Dubai Customs joins AskDubai service

Dubai Customs joins AskDubai service
27 March 2008 KHALEEJ TIMES

DUBAI — Dubai eGovernment has announced that Dubai Customs has become the 15th government department to join the AskDubai service, an initiative that facilitates interaction between the government and its public through a single point of contact.

Through the AskDubai call centre, the public can enquire about various services offered by Dubai Customs through multiple channels of communication.

AskDubai is a unified, bilingual contact centre connecting to government departments in Dubai through multi channels including a call centre, internet chat, e-mail and fax. It integrates key features of Customer Relationship Management, which has become a crucial component in many IT-enabled customer care services. AskDubai utilises industry-leading technologies that ensure each call gets immediate attention from an agent or an automated voice response system.

Amrita TV SSG Final rounds - Kandathum Kettathum - 27 Mar 2008 - Forum news

Amrita TV Super Star Global - Final Rounds - Kandathum Kettathum - 26 March 2008

Thick blanket of smoke envelops Dubai after Al Quoz fire


Thick blanket of smoke envelops Dubai after Al Quoz fire By Alia Al Theeb, Kevin Scott and Alice Johnson, Staff Reporters GULF NEWS Last updated: March 26, 2008, 20:53

Dubai: Two people were killed and five injured when a huge explosion ripped through a warehouse in Dubai's Al Quoz industrial area on Wednesday.

Three people are also unaccounted for as a result of the fire which sent plumes of black smoke spiralling across Dubai on Wednesday morning.

Three firefighters suffered moderate burns trying to contain the inferno and two passersby were also hurt.

The fire, which started in a warehouse that stored fireworks illegally, soon spread to more than 70 warehouses that stocked a variety of goods, ranging from electrical equipment, clothes, plastic toys and food.

The losses have been estimated at around Dh600 million.

A 29-year-old Filipino died after being hit by a piece of flying shrapnel and another person — still to be identified — was in the warehouse when it exploded.

Dubai police said one person is missing.

A huge mushroom cloud of smoke formed over the city's skyline after the explosion at about 7.15am. Thousands of residents were woken by the huge blast and the trail of smoke was visible to motorists making their way to work all over the city.

Debris from the fire spread across the area, reaching as far as Safa and Jumeirah.

Dubai Civil Defence said illegal fireworks had been stored in the warehouse, hindering the control operation. Firefighters also blamed the presence of flammable materials as a factor contributing to the ferocity of the fire.

The blaze was eventually brought under control by late evening.

Flames covered one square kilometre of the industrial estate.
The UAE armed forces, along with teams from Abu Dhabi Police and Civil Defence personnel from Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Ajman, and Al Ain, helped Dubai personnel in fighting the fire. The department of Environment, Health and Safety at Jebel Ali also joined the efforts.

Major General Khamis Mattar Al Mazeina, Director of Dubai Police's Criminal Investigation Department (CID), said the owner of the warehouse containing the firecrackers has been detained and is being interrogated.

Al Mazeina said investigations were ongoing to discover how the firecrackers were brought into the country. He said the authorities were waiting for firefighters to complete cooling operations before examining the scene.

The Roads and Transport Authority closed a number of roads around the blast site, leading to huge traffic jams on major arteries including Shaikh Zayed Road, Al Khail Road, Muscat Road and Umm Suqueim Road.

Hussain Al Banna, Director of the Right of Way Services Department and head of the emergency team, said: "The road closures were intended to provide easy access for fire engines as well as rescue and ambulance vehicles."

History of disasters

- February 6, 2003: Powerful explosion and fire rip apart three warehouses in Al Qouz. Seven people were killed. Ten others were also injured in the blast said to caused by firecrackers.- March 13: Massive warehouse blaze in Al Quoz, but no one was injured. Some 2,660 barrels of petroleum compounds and 6,500 lumber planks, which were soaked in a highly inflammable liquid were gutted.

- August 9: A fire destroys workshop of a factory in Al Quoz Industrial Area. No injuries reported.

--January 24, 2004: Goods worth over Dh15 million go up in smoke when a massive fire destroyed at least three warehouses in the Al Quoz Industrial Area. No injuries or casualties reported in the incident

--May 2: Fire guts two warehouses in Al Quoz Industrial area, causing more than Dh10 million in damage.

--April 1, 2007: Fire guts a warehouse and three others partly burn down. No injuries were reported. The fire broke out in a warehouse which stocked paint and construction materials and spread to the surrounding warehouses.

--March 18: Huge blaze breaks out at a site for recycling paper in Al Quoz Industrial area number 3 behind Al Ghurair University. No injuries were reported in the fire.

Expat pension plan under study

Expat pension plan under study
Gulf News Report Published: March 27, 2008, 00:18

Abu Dhabi: Expatriates are likely to be brought under the national pension scheme, according to a government plan.

A proposed "Pension Savings" draft law is being studied by the General Authority for Pensions and Social Insurance (GAPSI), and aims to include all expatriates working in the public and private sectors, a senior official said yesterday.

At present, pensions in the private sector are provided through an end-of-service payment (gratuity) relative to the employee's length of service calculated on the basis of basic salary.

"The law is still being studied, and we expect the studies to conclude by the end of April, and that will be followed by receiving the necessary initial approvals," Abdul Rahman Al Baqer, GAPSI's deputy director, told Gulf News.

Raft of proposals

"The proposal covers all expats in the country's public or private sectors, and I want to make it clear that this endeavour was not commissioned or directed by the government ... it comes as an initiative from the authority itself according to the outline set by the leadership, within the framework of our strategy to include all those working in the UAE in the pensions scheme," Al Baqer said.

The study includes various pension proposals and mechanisms to implement it. "We are not consulting businessmen or companies over the proposed legislation," Al Baqer said.

As per the proposed legislation, the pension amount will be collected by an entity other than the companies of the employees, through monthly subscriptions to be cut from their salaries in favour of their respective accounts with GAPSI.

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Photo Speaks - Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium Abu Dhabi

Somerset and Yorkshire Cricket teams are here in Abu Dhabi now, playing for the ARCH Trophy. Here are some action scenes from one section of the match played yesterday.















Photos by Ramesh Menon

Amrita TV Super Star Global - Final rounds - Forum Visheshangal - Kandathum Kettathum 26 Mar 2008

Amrita TV Super Star Global - Final rounds - Forum Visheshangal - 26 Mar 2008

Remove the fear of failure



Remove the fear of failure
Mr Amitava Roy, President, Symphony Services

One teacher I remember, and why: Prof. Bhola Nath Roy, my grandfather, for the values he instils in me.

One most valuable work lesson thus far: I am humbled by the intelligence of my colleagues and juniors.

My role is to unleash the untapped potential in people around me.

One thing I look for the most in a new recruit: Attitude.

A book that I am currently reading: How to manage in a flat world, by Susan Bloch & Philip Whiteley.

One tip for time management: Prioritisation.

One key thing in my fitness routine: Walk.

One signal that tells me there is a problem: Slowdown in communication.

One technique for handling anger: Deep breath.

One essential ingredient in my investment portfolio: Common sense.

One good thing about a new generation: Passion.

One worrying thing about the young: Affluence affecting their survival instincts.

One thing that clinches a deal: Trust.

One definition of values: Truth.

One way that I use for resolving conflicts: Listening.

One favourite activity when travelling: Photography.

One indicator of performance: Success.

One macroeconomic variable I keenly watch: India’s GDP growth.

One dream I’d like to chase, later in life: Travel — sightseeing.

One good way to foster innovation: Removing the fear of failure.

One clue that tells me I’m the leader: When others listen.

Trust those you depend on



Trust those you depend on
Ms Ranjini Manian, Founder and CEO, Global Adjustments.

One teacher I remember, and why: Robin Sharma’s List of Heroes. I made my wish-list and it has resulted in my actually meeting them!

One most valuable work lesson, thus far: Trust those you depend on.

One thing I look for the most in a new recruit: Multi-tasking ability.

One thought from a book that I am currently reading: “One pointed attention is key to success,” from Eknath Easwaran’s Book on Meditation.

One tip for time management: Cut through the knot of the most pressing thing that seems to weigh in your very stomach!

One key thing in my fitness routine: Pranayama.

One signal that tells me there is a problem: When I can’t think of a new idea.

One technique for handling anger: Postpone speech.

One essential ingredient in my investment portfolio: Land.

One good thing about the new generation: Superbly gadget savvy.

One worrying thing about the young: Do they know their roots?

One thing that clinches a deal: Asking sincerely.

One definition of values: Do what you want others to do to you.

One way that I use for resolving conflicts: Mediate.

One favourite activity when travelling: Listening to talks on the Bhagwad Gita on my iPod.

One indicator of performance: Societal admiration.

One macroeconomic variable I keenly watch: Dollar-rupee exchange.

One dream I’d like to chase, later in life: Teach Indian philosophy.

One good way to foster innovation: Adapt learning to your field.

One clue that tells me I’m the leader: There is actually someone following.

Tips for small retail investors to ease their nightmares

Tips for small retail investors to ease their nightmares

17 Mar, 2008, 1620 hrs IST,Shakti Shankar Patra, TNN

Ranjit Sehgal works as a system analyst at one of the top IT companies of India. Apart from forwarding emails, which his job requires him to do, he passionately tracks the domestic equity market. His favourite anecdote about the market until recently was: “Each time the market crashes, if you sell your house and invest in the stock market, in a month, you’ll be able to move a couple of suburbs closer to South Mumbai.”

Two months ago, all you had to do was name a stock and he would have told you its last traded price. You name a brokerage and he would have told you which stocks they were betting on. Any news or rumour, no matter how trivial, as long as it was remotely related to the equity market, he had it covered.

A day didn’t pass by without him arguing, disputing, advising or seeking advice on various message boards on the internet. He was a much sought-after man by friends and acquaintances, who had all heard of his uncanny ability to spot a multi-bagger and wanted to find a better avenue for their cash than the low-risk low-return bank deposit. He followed his own advice and put all the money he had to spare into stocks — for he believed that stocks were king.

But that was then. Today, with the Sensex in a free fall and bears mauling virtually every stock, Ranjit is in a funk. He has not logged on to his demat account for the past couple of days and zaps the business channel the moment it comes on.

His portfolio has lost over half its value and every passing day seems to erode it further. Ditto with the message boards, which are now filled with jokes like: ‘the easiest way to make a million through the stock market is to start with two million’.

He just can’t understand what went wrong. During the past three years, each time the market had corrected sharply, he had bought into it and turned in a heavy profit. He had done his own analysis, mapping the Sensex against the Dow and had been convinced that decoupling was taking place.

This time round, too, he had bought into the Sensex when it first fell in January and sure enough, it had rebounded. Then, when it fell again he bought even more. Unfortunately, it has never recovered since and he suddenly finds himself sitting on a mountain of useless paper.

Most investors are likely to identify with Ranjit’s predicament. Suddenly, that demat account is a nightmare and the fixed deposit a dream investment. While there may be many who are undergoing this traumatic experience for the first time, old market hands will tell you that this is just an umpteenth rerun of greed melting into fear.

The real predicament that they now face is: Where does one go from here? While there is no one-size-fits-all solution, here is some advice that small retail investors can use to mitigate the nightmares they are enduring...

Never hold on to what you won’t buy now

There’s no point in burying your head in the sand like an ostrich and waiting for a miraculous rebound. An active interest in the state of affairs is a must. The first thing you should do is take a long, hard look at your portfolio.

Does it have more of established companies with proven track records, or does it consist more of stocks like Nagarjuna Fertilizers & Chemicals and Reliance Natural Resources (RNRL), which you bought because they were ‘momentum plays?’

Having done that, get rid of the momentum stocks. After all, with the momentum gone, it’s time for these stocks to go as well. The rule is simple: ‘Never hold on to something that you wouldn’t buy now’ . Never ‘hope’ or ‘pray’ . It is either a ‘buy’ or a ‘sell’.

So, it doesn’t matter at what price you bought such stocks — just dump them and collect whatever cash you can. If you have blue-chips in your portfolio like Reliance Communications, Bharti Airtel, Hindustan Unilever or ICICI Bank, to name but a few, you can actually choose not to sell them. In the long run of say, 3-5 years, there is a good chance that you will still earn a return higher than what a bank deposit can give you in the same time period.

Once bitten twice shy

Having lost money in the market, it is but natural that you may have decided to stay away from it totally. That, however, is not such a smart thing to do. As any seasoned investor will tell you, the best time to buy is during a bear market. That said, it is important to keep returns expectations realistic and ensure that you get into stocks, which have a sound business model and visible cash flow. When you invest in a stock, you are basically buying a small stake in a company.

Generally, people tend to ignore this fact. But the moment you ask yourself about the company you want to own, the answer is definitely, Reliance Industries and not Nagarjuna Fertilizers; it is definitely Infosys, but certainly not Himachal Futuristic. It is important to buy stocks for their intrinsic worth and not on the basis of expected short-term gains.

Only fools rush in where angels fear to trade:

If you are someone who was sitting on the fence with cash, praying for a correction, ready to jump in for his first investment in equities, then remember to go easy. For only fools rush in where angels fear to trade. Although buying into a correction is something that has paid rich dividends in the past 3-4 years, the same may not necessarily be the case this time.

With global financial markets in turmoil and a general election looming on the horizon, you would do well not to assume that the market has bottomed out. Just because the stock you were planning to buy has fallen to 50 from 100, doesn’t mean that it cannot go to 25. So, try and enter in a staggered manner. In times such as these, as the saying goes: ‘cash is king’ .

Sense and sensex:

Often, investors get too obsessed with the level of the Sensex and forget to concentrate on the fundamentals of the stocks that they hold. There are umpteen instances of individual stocks underperforming in a bull market and those outperforming even in a bear market.

This is because the index reflects the entire market and does not necessarily reflect what is happening with your stock. So, let analysts talk about Sensex levels while you track your stock.

India, still shining:

With the garbage out of the house, we need to decide what stocks to buy, if any. Just because the decoupling theory has been thrown out of the window doesn’t mean that we are absolutely married to the US economy.

Although a slowdown in the US will affect export-oriented industries in India, it will have a limited impact on most of India Inc, since by and large, the India story is about domestic consumption, rather than exports.

And if the Budget is anything to go by, then the government is definitely in a mood to leave more money with consumers. With more money to spend, the sectors that are expected to benefit are consumer durables, FMCG and retail, to name a few.

The relative outperformance that these sectors have shown during the current turbulence is a good indicator that they may well hold their own even in a bear market. For some of ETIG’s top picks within these sectors, take a look at the stock ideas discussed in the current edition.

Money matters:

Lastly, and most importantly, the fact remains that we had an absolutely unbelievable and overtly extended bull run of around five years. During this period, the Sensex went up seven times, with most stocks going up exponentially.

This couldn’t have continued till eternity. But at the same time, this doesn’t mean the end of the world. Equity markets always swing between overexuberance and absolute despair.

So, don’t lose heart; there will be an end to this carnage. But to enjoy the fruits of the next boom, invest in fundamentally sound companies and always have a substantial amount of cash in hand. For, while you can buy a future multi-bagger today, tomorrow it may end up being a lot cheaper.

Amrita TV Super Star Global Final rounds - Kandathum Kettathum 26 Mar 2008

Camel gala offers Dh35m in prizes

Camel gala offers Dh35m in prizes
By Eman Mohammed, Abu Dhabi Deputy Editor GULF NEWS Published: March 26, 2008, 00:06

Abu Dhabi: A total of Dh35 million prize money is to be given away during the first Mazayin Dhafra Camel Festival being organised in the Western Region next month, said an official.

Ganem Huraiz Al Mazroui, director of the competition, told a press conferenceon Tuesday the winners will get Dh35 million in cash prizes and 100 cars will also be given away.

He said around 2,000 competitors had registered for the competition so far and the number is expected to increase.

A 'camel beauty contest' among other activities will be held during the festival at Zayed City in the Western Region from April 2 to 10.

The festival is being organised by Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (ADACH) and sponsored by General Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, as part of ADACH's efforts to promote local folklore through cultural events.

The participating camels are required to be of pure-bred origin and free from any contagious diseases. The camels are to be divided into age groups and owners can participate with more than one camel as long as they can prove ownership.

Mohammad Khalaf Al Mazroui, Director-General of ADACH, and deputy-head of the festival's committee sees the event as a symbol of the significance that camels enjoy in Arab culture.

"We hope that this event will become an annual one so we preserve that part of our heritage," Al Mazroui said.

Praise: 'Part of heritage'

Shaikh Mohammad Bin Butti Al Hamed, Head of the High Committee for the Festival, Representative of the Ruler at the Western Region, praised the status camels held in traditional Arab life.

"Although the camel has always been a companion to the Arab during his travel in the old days, today camels still play a part in our lives, as thousands of people continue to attend camel races and watch what is perceived as part of our heritage."

55,000 pupils to be affected by fee increase


55,000 pupils to be affected by fee increase
By Siham Al Najami and Sunita Menon, Staff Reporters GULF NEWS Published: March 26, 2008, 00:06

Dubai: More than 40 of the 137 private schools in Dubai have been allowed to increase fees by up to 16 per cent for the next academic year.

This means that around 55,475 pupils will be affected by the new fee hike. The Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) on Tuesday said it would continue with the 16 per cent cap on fee hike it announced last year.

"We are continuing the fee cap for the next academic year and schools, which did not increase their fees last year, are allowed to hike the fee but not more 16 per cent," said Dr Abdullah Al Karam, Chairman of the Board of Directors and Director General at KHDA.

There were about 92,451 pupils affected by the fee hike last year, most of whom enrolled in schools that implemented the full fee hike.

Currently there are 137 private schools in Dubai with a total strength of 153,000 pupils.

Parents welcome move

The Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) announced on Tuesday that the decision in consultation with and approved by the Executive Council of the Government of Dubai. The new announcement made by the authority on 16 per cent ceiling on fee hike, however, has not gone down well with many schools in Dubai, but the move has been welcomed by parents.

Amrita TV Super Star Global - Final rounds - Kandathum Kettathum - 25th Mar 2008

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Amrita TV Superstar Global - Kandathum Kettathum - 24th March 2008



On performance dated 24 Mar 2008

10 tips to get noticed in your GD

10 tips to get noticed in your GD

Kshipra Singh | March 25, 2008 | 11:19 IST

In the last article, we discussed eight things that you should not do in a group discussion (GD). This week we look at tips that can help you in succeeding in the GD. Your soft skills definitely come into picture here. Here are some of the things that you can do to make a winning impression in your GD.

~ Read voraciously: Make a habit of reading voraciously on every subject. This will keep you ready for any topic for a discussion in GD. Your knowledge is your most important weapon in a discussion.

~ Initiate the discussion: Most of us have a misconception that initiating the discussion would give you an advantage over others. It does give you an advantage but only if you know the subject well and have something relevant to start the discussion otherwise it is a disadvantage.

For instance, when a group was given the subject "Is capital punishment right?" some members of the group heard the word punishment and jumped at starting the discussion with out understanding the meaning of capital punishment. The evaluators kept listening for two minutes after which they intervened and asked the group if they knew the meaning of capital punishment. The members who initiated were quiet, looking at each other's faces. That is when a silent member of the group got up and explained the meaning of the topic. From this, you can easily tell who must have succeeded in the GD, the ones who initiated the discussion or the one who explained the topic and gave it a right direction.??

They say, "Speaking just for the sake of speaking is noise". So, don't create noise in the GD, instead make some useful and resourceful contributions to get noticed in the discussion.

~ Speak politely and pleasantly: As you speak make sure that you do not talk at the top of your voice. You should be audible and clear. Remember?that you are participating in a discussion which is different from a speech given out by the leaders in their rallies. Even if you disagree with the other's point of view, disagree politely. Use phrases like, 'I would like to disagree a bit here' or?'I am sorry, but I think I have a slightly different point of view'.

~ Be precise: Abstain from using irrelevant information and data from your talks during a GD. Speak precisely so that others also get a chance to put across their point of view.??

~ Acquire and apply knowledge: Stay attentive to the ideas put forward by other group members and keep writing the important points discussed during the GD. As you get a chance to speak, put forward your views about the topic. You can also agree or disagree with other's ideas, based on your knowledge about the subject.?

~ Agree with the right: Don't take a stand on either extreme when the discussion begins. It might happen that you get convinced by other's argument and want to change your stand. Respect another's opinion as well and agree with what is right, even if you initially had a different opinion.

~ Speak confidently: Maintain your confidence as you speak. Establish eye contact with other members of the group and do not let your voice tremble.

~ Moderate: Try to moderate the discussion if any arguments arise. This is necessary to ensure that the group doesn't wander from the goal of the GD.?

~ Use positive body language: Your body language should not demonstrate dominance or low self confidence. Show your interest in the discussion through your gestures like bending forward a bit, nodding your head.

~ Be a team player: Last but not the least, be a team player as this is a group activity. Be comfortable with the group members and vice versa.

The author is a contributor to www.CareerRide.com, a website that addresses technical and personal aspects of an IT interview. CareerRide also provides sample CVs and answers to questions asked in a personal and technical interview.

'To be successful, you need a compelling vision'

'To be successful, you need a compelling vision'

March 24, 2008 | 17:30 IST

Shirish Nadkarni has led an interesting life. He studied at some of the world's most illustrious schools -- IIT and Harvard. He was the tenth Indian to join IT behemoth Microsoft back in 1987, contributing to its incredible growth?and played a pivotal role?in the overall online strategy for the MSN portal.

He then went on to set up his own?company TeamOn Systems, which he sold and is now heading portal Livemocha.com, a portal that helps people learn a number of different languages.

In an e-mail interview with rediff.com's Shifra Menezes, he shares his experiences and lessons young entrepreneurs can learn from them.

Source: rediff.com
Give us a brief sketch of your career in the industry and the agencies you worked with before Livemocha.

I started my career at Microsoft in 1987 in product management. In fact, I was the No 10 Indian to join Microsoft at that time. It was a great time to join Microsoft and was able to contribute to the huge growth that Microsoft enjoyed in the PC software business.

Towards the end of my career at Microsoft, I was responsible for driving the overall online strategy for the MSN portal. In that context, I was responsible for Microsoft's entry into the two largest application categories on the internet -- email and search.

On the e-mail front, I led the acquisition of Hotmail and, on the search front, I led the partnership with Inktomi, a leading search provider. I left Microsoft in 1999 and started my first company, TeamOn Systems.

At TeamOn, we developed a unique wireless e-mail technology for mobile handsets. TeamOn was acquired by RIM (Research in Motion) in 2002 and the technology we had developed became BlackBerry Internet E-mail which now has several million users.

I stayed on at RIM in an executive capacity and helped RIM grow their consumer business. In 2006, I left RIM to start working on my next venture which became Livemocha.

You have studied at some of the illustrious colleges in the world. Tell us a little bit about what it was like at an IIT and Harvard.

It was truly an incredible experience going to both IIT and Harvard. You get to interact with some of the best students and professors in the world and the competition is very tough.

However, the experiences were different in some respects. With IIT, the focus was very much on very rigorous theoretical learning -- as you know, the IIT entrance exam is legendary for asking very tough problems.

With Harvard, the focus was much more practical in nature. Instead of just learning theory, it was an all case study based approach with theory being taught in the context of the case studies being taught.

Both approaches have their place in the learning process and one is more effective than the other depending on the discipline that you are in.

How did Livemocha come about? Tell us a bit about what the portal does and its growth.

Livemocha emerged out a personal need to teach my own kids a foreign language. I was disappointed with the existing solutions in the market and felt that the internet provided a perfect platform to connect people so that they could each leverage their native language expertise to help each other.

Livemocha combines in-depth instructional content for six different languages with? a worldwide community of language learners. The site has experienced growth.

We launched the site in Sept 2007 and have already grown to over 300,000 users from 200 different countries in a matter of 5 months. India is one of the biggest source of users on our site.

What kind of assignments did you handle in the early days of your career?

My first assignment at Microsoft was a Product Manager for Microsoft Mail. It was an amazing experience since e-mail (which we take for granted today) was hardly commonplace. It was an opportunity to establish this whole new category of application on the PC platform.

My work schedule was quite hectic in the early days since Microsoft was a fairly small company in those days and one didn't have access to many resources. It was not uncommon for people to work 60 to 80 hours a week. But we didn't mind since it was great to be at the forefront of new technology adoption

Tell us a bit about how you went about setting it up TeamOn Systems.

I started TeamOn Systems in 1999. To fund the company, I went to a number of prominent angel investors who I had known. These included people like Sabeer Bhatia, the founder of Hotmail, Pete Higgins, Executive VP at Microsoft, Mike Slade, CEO of Starwave etc.

This was very valuable not just for the funding that they provided but more importantly for the tremendous amount of advice and experience they were able to provide.?

The acquisition by RIM happened in 2002 and was prompted by RIM's desire to enter the "prosumer" (mobile professional or individual business user) in addition to their traditional enterprise business.

At TeamOn, we had built a unique consumer wireless e-mail technology which was a perfect fit for RIM's requirements. The acquisition was very successful for RIM -- the technology that was built by TeamOn became BlackBerry internet e-mail which is now being used by several million BlackBerry users.

What kind of challenges have you faced in the course of your career, and how have you learned to deal with it?

The biggest challenge I faced was with my first company, TeamOn Systems. We originally started TeamOn Systems with the idea of creating a small business e-mail solution (sort of a super charged Hotmail for business users).

However, the dot com bust happened right after we got venture funding for the company and many of the partners who would distribute our application went out of business. So we had to retrench and look for new opportunities for the technology we had built.

Given the advent of data applications on mobile handsets, we decided to redirect our technology to the mobile space. It turned out to be a fortuitous move and a successful one at the end through the acquisition of the company by RIM.

Do you believe in the 'lucky break' factor, or do you believe that an innovative, new idea is all you need to guarantee career success?

I believe in both innovation and luck. You can be very innovative but sometimes you are ahead of your time.

So it is important to have some luck as well to be at the right place at the right time. But luck by itself is not sufficient -- you have to be prepared to take advantage of the "lucky" opportunities that present themselves.

What do you think is the most common mistake newcomers make? What advice do you have to give them in this regard?

The most common mistake that newcomers make is to not focus on what exactly is the value proposition that would get people excited about using your offering. Sometimes you get carried away with some interesting idea or technology but if its not something that really solves a real need, it is not going to be adopted. As most venture capitalists would say "You need to sell Aspirin not vitamins!"

Having come such a long way in your career, what do you think remains to be achieved? Which dreams are yet to be realised career-wise?

Right now my immediate priority is to make Livemocha into a global company that is teaching at least 50 different languages to millions of users all over the world and creating a better understanding between people from different countries.

However, beyond Livemocha, I want to dedicate my time to help upcoming entrepreneurs achieve their dreams as well as make a major contribution in the education field (Livemocha is the first effort in this regard).

My dream is to eventually start a series of volunteer schools that provide free math and science tutoring to kids.

Did you have a mentor, and if so, how did he/she inspire you to steer your career in the right direction?

I have not had a specific mentor but have relied on a number of senior executives for advice and guidance. People who have had big influence on my career are people like Pete Higgins, former Executive VP at Microsoft and Jim Balsillie and Mike Laziridis, co-CEOs of Research in Motion.

Has your career impacted your personal life? Do you feel like you've had to sacrifice a few personal pleasures in favour of your job, or are you a workaholic, thriving under pressure?

I have been happily married for the last 20 years. My wife Mona is also Indian. I have 2 kids -- Rohit and Priyanka who are both in high school in the US. My career certainly has had an impact on my personal life though my family, especially my wife, has been very supportive.


I do, however, take time to spend with my family and also contribute time to the community.

Currently, I am volunteering my time as the President of the Seattle chapter of TiE. I am also on the Board of Trustees of a new school in the Seattle area.

How do you spend your free time?

I love to play tennis and watch sports. In fact, my dream is one day to watch Roger Federer play at Wimbledon before he retires.

What is the last book you read or are currently reading?

I love reading books?-- currently I am reading the Age of Turbulence by Alan Greenspan.

What would you say is compulsory reading for young entrepreneurs?

One of all time favourite?business books is called Positioning: The Battle for the Mind by Al Ries and Jack Trout. It describes in very simple terms how to build a compelling and a unique positioning for the product that you are trying to market. Without clear "positioning" that differentiates one's product from others, an entrepreneur has no real chance of success.

What tips do you have for today's youngsters looking to set up their own company? Other than a good idea, what is required from them?

To be successful, you need to have a compelling vision that you are willing to go all out to achieve. It can't just be a product idea. It has to be a vision about how you are going to change the world with this idea. And you need to complement your vision with an incredible amount of drive because undoubtedly, you will experience many challenges and disappointments.

Without the vision and the drive, it will be very hard to get to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Maitha to represent UAE at Beijing


Maitha to represent UAE at Beijing
By Alaric Gomes, Senior Reporter GULF NEWS Published: March 25, 2008, 00:34

Dubai: Shaikha Maitha Bint Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum will be representing the country during this summer's Olympic Games in Beijing.

Shaikha Maitha's participation at the Olympics was announced by the UAE National Olympic Committee yesterday.

Shaikha Maitha has been cleared to participate in taekwondo in the 67kg category for women.

The UAE NOC received a letter dated March 18 from the International Olympic Committee endorsing Shaikha Maitha's participation.

Joining the UAE national team captain will be Saeed Rashid Al Qubaisi in Judo in the 73kg category for men.

The UAE athlete was last week endorsed as the Best Female Arab Sportsperson for the second consecutive year following a poll conducted throughout the Arab region by popular website Maktoub.com.

Shaikha Maitha had polled the highest number of votes from among the 13 sportswomen from the 10 Arab countries.

Shaikha Maitha's training schedule is supervised by renowned former world karate champion Sameer Jumaa in the company of the experienced trainer Moeena Jadeed. Earlier this year, Shaikha Maitha had been bestowed with the World Fair Play Award for 2006.

Memorable effort

Shaikha Maitha created history when she became the first UAE woman to win an international gold when she won gold in the +65 kg category at the 10th Pan Arab Games held in Algeria in 2004.

Probably her most memorable performance came during the 2006 Doha Asian Games when Shaikha Maitha won the silver medal in the +60 kg category.

$50m steel factory opened in RAK

$50m steel factory opened in RAK
By a staff reporter KHALEEJ TIMES 25 March 2008

DUBAI — Shaikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Crown Prince and Deputy Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, on Sunday inaugurated the $50 million RAK Steel factory in Al Ghail, Ras Al Khaimah.

RAK Steel, a joint venture with Ras Al Khaimah Investment Authority (RAKIA), is an energy-efficient, environment-friendly mill that will manufacture 500,000 tonnes of deformed steel reinforcement bars per year. The inauguration ceremony was attended by senior officials of RAKIA, dignitaries from Ras Al Khaimah Government, customers and suppliers.

The establishment of RAK Steel comes at a time when the demand for steel is at an all time high, thanks to the continued construction boom in the UAE and the Middle East region. The value of projects under construction in the UAE alone is estimated at $220 billion, while it is in excess of $800 billion in the GCC as a whole. A significant amount of this value will be for steel. Moreover, the Gulf Organisation for Industrial Consulting (GOIC) recently estimated that the UAE would use 44-66 million tonnes of rebar products over the next 15 years.

RAK Steel produces rebars from 8mm to 40 mm diameter in variable lengths of 6 to 18 metres to both British and American standards. The company uses the superior TEMPERIT process for manufacturing the rebars.

World’s biggest shopping mall to open in Dubai

World’s biggest shopping mall to open in Dubai
(DPA)/KHALEEJ TIMES 25 March 2008

Berlin -The biggest shopping centre in the world is being built in Dubai beside the Burj Dubai skyscraper and is due to open in early September.

“The Dubai Mall will have about 1 million square metres of space,” says Rene Hingst of Dubai Tourism at the recent ITB travel fair in Berlin.

There will be about 1,200 shops, an ice-rink and an aquarium, according to the real estate company behind the venture.

On completion, the Burj Dubai will be highest building in the world.

In addition to offices and private apartments, the building will also house the first hotel laid out by Italian fashion designer Georgio Armani which is due to open in 2009.

Tourists, who do not plan on staying in the hotel, will also be able to visit the building. There will be special tours with the highlight a trip to the tower’s viewing platform, which according to Hingst, will be the highest in the world.

At the moment, the tower has over 165 floors and will have a few more before it is finished.

The building’s final height has not yet been decided on, but the 600 metre mark has been passed. Total height will exceed 700 metres.

Moves for people on the move

Moves for people on the move
Bharat Thakur, Columnist GULF NEWS Published: March 21, 2008, 23:47

Today, life has become very hectic. We are always on the move — going to work, travelling, taking children to school and carrying on with other activities.

Sometimes, it becomes difficult to find time to take some time off to exercise. So, this is for all those people who are on the go.

All it takes is 15 minutes to follow the routine outlined below.
These contractions and stretches will work and relax the major muscles, get the endorphins flowing and get the body ready for action.

Warm Up

To warm up, jog in one spot and loosen your limbs. Do not raise your knees high and the feet should come up just a little; for a minute.

Surya Namaskara (Sun salutation)

This is a set of 12 asanas, which flow from one to the next. It works on your entire body and your cardiovascular system.
Repeat 11 complete rounds; for 7 minutes.

Tadasana (Palm tree posture)

Stand with the feet together and your arms by the sides.

Raise the arms over the head. Interlock the fingers and turn the palms outwards.

Inhale and pull the arms, shoulders and chest upwards. Raise your heels and stand on the toes.

Feel the stretch in the whole body — without losing balance or moving your feet.

Hold the posture for a few seconds.

Practise 5 rounds.

Benefits: Helps develop physical and mental balance. The entire spine is stretched. Helps clear congestion in the spinal nerves.

Tiryaka Tadasana (Swaying palm tree posture)

Stand with the feet about 2 feet apart.

Interlock the fingers and turn the palms outwards.

Inhale and raise the arms over the head.

While exhaling, bend to the left side from the waist.

Hold posture for a few seconds.

Inhale and come back to the upright position. Repeat on the right side. This will complete one round.

Practise 5 rounds.

Benefits: This asana massages, loosens and works the sides of the waist.

Natarajasana

Stand straight with the feet about a metre apart.

Turn the toes out to the side.

Slowly, bend the knees and lower the buttocks, about 20cms.

The knees should bend outwards over the toes and the spine should be straight.

Bring your palms together and take them up.

Hold for 10 seconds.

Return to upright position.

Repeat 5 times.

Benefit: This asana strengthens the muscles of the middle back, the pelvis — including the uterus — and the thighs, knees and ankles.

Naukasana

Support yourself on your elbows and then raise your legs 45 degrees.

Stretch your arms out towards your knees. Exhale.

Push your upper body towards your legs.

Hold for 10 to 15 seconds. Breathe normally while holding the posture.

Practise 5 rounds.

Benefits: Strengthens the core body. Tones the abdominal muscles.

Meru Wakrasana

Sit with the legs outstretched.

Bend the left knee and place the foot outside the right knee.

Push the left knee with the right elbow and place the left hand behind, next to the buttocks.

Keep twisting the body to the left, while keeping the spine straight.

Hold the final position. Look over the shoulder, as far as you can.

Re-centre trunk; relax for a few seconds.

Repeat on the other side.

Practise up to 5 times on each side.

Benefits: Stretches the spine. It helps alleviate backaches and neck pain.

Nadi Shodhana Pranayam (alternate-nostril breathing)

Sit in padmasana — with legs stretched out and the back straight.

Bend one leg; place the ankle on opposite thigh, close to the groin. Bend the other leg and place the ankle on the thigh of the bent leg, close to the groin. Place your hands on your knees.

Bend the forefinger and the middle finger of your right hand.

Next, close your eyes and practise deep breathing.

Close the right nostril with the thumb, place ring finger between eyebrows and inhale to a count of 5.

Close the left nostril with the ring finger. Hold the breath till a count of 10.

Take the thumb to the space between the eyebrows; exhale slowly through the right nostril — to a count of 10.

Now, breathe in again through the right nostril to a count of 5.

Close the right nostril with the thumb and hold your breath till you count to 10. Place the ring finger between the eyebrows and exhale through the left nostril — again to a count of 10.

Repeat complete cycle for 2 to 5 minutes.

Bharat Thakur is the founder of Bharat Thakur’s Artistic Yoga. For questions on yoga, write to dubai.artisticyoga@gmail.com. For information, log on to www.bharatthakur.com

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