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first_imgThe kingdom’s haj ministry said the pilgrimage will be open to various nationalities already in Saudi Arabia, but it did not specify a number.”It was decided to hold the pilgrimage this year with very limited numbers… with different nationalities in the kingdom,” the official Saudi Press Agency said, citing the ministry.”This decision is taken to ensure the haj is performed in a safe manner from a public health perspective… and in accordance with the teachings of Islam in preserving lives.”The decision to limit the event comes as Saudi Arabia struggles to contain a spike in infections, which have now risen to some 161,000 cases and more than 1,300 deaths. Topics : The announcement to hold a limited haj could disappoint millions of Muslim pilgrims around the world who often invest their life savings and endure long waiting lists to make the trip.But it would likely appease Muslims who feared the pilgrimage would entirely be cancelled for the first time in the kingdom’s modern history.”Saudi Arabia has chosen the safest option that allows it to save face within the Muslim world while making sure they are not seen as compromising on public health,” Umar Karim, a visiting fellow at the Royal United Services Institute in London, told AFP. “But there are lots of unanswered questions: What is the exact number of pilgrims that will be allowed? What is the criteria for their selection? How many Saudis, how many non-Saudis?”Saudi authorities said the haj ministry will hold a news conference on Tuesday to flesh out the details. Saudi Arabia on Monday announced it would hold a “very limited” haj this year, with pilgrims already in the kingdom allowed to perform the annual ritual as it moves to curb the coronavirus pandemic.The haj, one of the five pillars of Islams and a must for able-bodied Muslims at least once in their lifetime, represents a major potential source of contagion as it packs millions of pilgrims into congested religious sites.But the decision to scale back the haj, which last year drew 2.5 million pilgrims, is fraught with political and economic peril and comes after several Muslim nations pulled out of the ritual. ‘Difficult year’ The decision risks annoying hardline Muslims outside the kingdom for whom religion trumps health concerns.It could also trigger renewed scrutiny of the Saudi custodianship of Islam’s holiest sites — the kingdom’s most powerful source of political legitimacy.A series of deadly disasters over the years, including a 2015 stampede that killed up to 2,300 worshippers, has prompted criticism of the kingdom’s management of the haj.A watered-down haj would also represent a major loss of revenue for the kingdom, which is already reeling from the twin shocks of the virus-induced slowdown and a plunge in oil prices.The smaller year-round umrah pilgrimage was already suspended in March.Together, they add $12 billion to the Saudi economy every year, according to government figures.”This has been a really difficult year, with Saudi Arabia facing declining revenue from all sectors — oil, tourism, domestic consumption, and now umrah and haj,” Karen Young, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, told AFP.A full-scale haj, which last year drew about 2.5 million pilgrims, was unlikely after authorities advised Muslims in late March to defer preparations due to the fast-spreading disease.Earlier this month, Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, emerged as one of the first countries to withdraw from the pilgrimage after pressing Riyadh for clarity, with a minister calling it a “very bitter and difficult decision”.Malaysia, Senegal and Singapore followed suit with similar announcements.last_img read more


first_img“Infrastructure is an increasingly important asset class in portfolios, with its attributes for matching long-term liabilities particularly compelling,” he added.The £45m mandate will see a significant increase in the City of London Corporation Pension Fund’s infrastructure exposure.According to its 2011-12 annual report, it had combined private equity and infrastructure holdings of only £8.6m at the end of March last year, accounting for just over 1% of the fund’s £614m total portfolio.Annabel Wiscarson, executive director for business development at IFM Investors, said the firm would remain focused on European and North American projects.She also said she viewed the establishment of the Pensions Infrastructure Platform, the vehicle under development by the National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF) and Pension Protection Fund (PPF), as “complementary” to the approach taken by IFM.“Obviously, we’ve known about the PIP now for a year and a half or so, and all we keep seeing is them having a very similar philosophy to us – long-term ownership of infrastructure, conservative gearing,” she told IPE.“So, if anything, we are very happy to align ourselves with the PIP because it’s exactly how we started and how we continue to invest in infrastructure. We’ll be complementary with them.”PPF chief executive Alan Rubenstein recently said the PIP’s founding investors had shown a “willingness”, and the NAPF’s head Joanne Segars said she expected the fund to launch by the end of the year. The City of London is set to grow its infrastructure exposure, awarding Australia’s IFM a £45m (€53m) mandate to be split between the £720m local authority’s pension fund and a maintenance trust.IFM, jointly owned by 30 Australian Superannuation funds, will invest the mandate in core equity infrastructure holdings on behalf of both the pension fund and the local authority’s £470m Bridge House Estates, used to pay for the maintenance of local bridges.They previously won a £35m mandate from the Leicestershire County Council Pension Fund.Paul Mathews, corporate treasurer at the City of London Corporation, welcomed the ability to invest in a pre-existing portfolio of cash-generating assets based partially in the UK.last_img read more


first_imgLocal council pension funds from London and Manchester have created a £500m (€654m) investment vehicle for infrastructure and alternative assets, amid increasing collaboration between London and Northwest England.The special purpose vehicle will be jointly owned by the Greater Manchester Pension Fund (GMPF) and the London Pension Fund Authority (LPFA) and look to boost the funds’ below-benchmark allocations to alternatives.The £13bn GMPF invests £130m in the asset class, around £260m below its target allocation, while the £4.9bn LFPA currently allocates £170m (3%).Both pension funds will put £250m into the fund, which they said would have a fairly liberal definition of infrastructure, including property, utilities, listed infrastructure and core and non-core assets. The co-owned vehicle will see the funds analyse opportunities and make investment decisions jointly using pre-existing internal capabilities and expertise.Councillor Kieran Quinn, chair of the GMPF, said his fund had been doing deals on a smaller scale for two decades and that investors felt able to approach it with opportunities.“What is different about this fund is it takes away one of the constraints to [investing in infrastructure],” he said.“When the chancellor goes seeking resources to invest in UK plc, he rarely knocks on pension funds’ doors. So what we are trying to say here is that we can do things differently and scale up the opportunities.”Chief executive of the LPFA, Susan Martin, said the vehicle would be able to seek out appropriate risk/return investment opportunities using the shared resources of the funds.“£500m is a game-changing amount,” she said. “Both funds already have opportunities brought them, so we can share that deal flow and assess it without resources. I would imagine we would get more interest, and be more attractive, working together.”The vehicle will look to make investments over the next four years, with a Manchester and London focus, but assessing all viable opportunities.Quinn added: “There are some bigger transnational schemes we think we can assist with.“It is about being able to knock on the door. Some say you cannot knock on the door with £500m, but we are saying we have the resources to start ensuring people look to us for solutions.“That might be about creating a larger entity by encouraging other pension funds to come forward and join us.”GMPF neighbour, the Lancashire County Pension Fund, and the LPFA also recently announced an asset-liability management partnership, creating a £10bn investment fund.This will see the two pension funds pool assets and jointly manage liabilities while merging governance and administration.Martin said the entirely separate arrangement with Lancashire was significantly more complicated than the infrastructure fund.“As part of the pooling of the assets [with Lancashire], the LPFA and GMPF tie-up will come through the asset-liability management,” she said. “But they will be separate organisations.The LPFA was originally one of 10 founding members of a similar fund led by the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) and the National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF).However, the London fund left the Pensions Infrastructure Platform (PIP) citing cost issues and expected risk/return profiles.The BAE Pension Fund and the BT Pension Scheme also left for similar reasons.“This is different in many ways to the PIP, as it is not setting up and resourcing a new company,” Martin said.“It is taking current expertise and doing things direct and as co-investment. The risk/return is slightly different.”The LPFA, GMPF and Lancashire all advocated greater collaboration between local government pension schemes (LGPS) in a recent government consultation.The UK government is expected to shortly announce its decision on whether to mandate LGPS funds to passively invest all listed assets using collective investment vehicles.Quinn added: “The challenge that was set by government was collaboration, and how we have met that is by making that significant statement that we are up for this.”last_img read more


first_imgOil Spill Response Ltd (OSRL) has announced a new capability for its Subsea Well Intervention Services (SWIS) members, with the opportunity to join a mutual aid agreement and develop a framework for requesting access to additional personnel and assistance from other participating members during a response.While the industry continues to demonstrate that it can cooperate rapidly and effectively in response to offshore incidents, a framework to guide the consideration of mutual aid and response assistance enables the industry to augment its capabilities in critical moments, as SWIS Director, Andy Myers, explains:-“The inception of this agreement strengthens OSRL’s subsea service for industry, helping to answer personnel resourcing requirements during a response. Industry consortiums, such as OSRL, are built on principles that promote collaboration opportunities, such as this. In the event of an incident, we already see members coming together to offer resources and expertise. This framework formalises some of those relationships and fundamentally increases response capabilities when they are required most.”IOGP Safety/Wells Director, Olav Skar, adds: “We believe that collaboration creates a better industry. This is a good example where collective insights and resources can improve the management of offshore incidents. We admire OSRL’s progress in this domain and look forward to building on the excellent cooperation we have enjoyed to date.”last_img read more


first_img Sharing is caring! Tweet Share Share 20 Views   no discussionscenter_img LifestyleTravel Air Canada to begin scheduled seasonal service to St Kitts by: – July 18, 2011 Share Photo credit: topnews.net.nzBASSETERRE, St Kitts (CUOPM) — Air Canada is to begin scheduled seasonal service into St Kitts’ Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport in December.The weekly service starts on December 23, 2011 for the peak winter 2011/2012 travel season, which ends in April 2012.The non-stop flight will operate from Toronto on Fridays and will be the island’s only non-stop commercial flight from Canada, effectively making St Kitts and its sister island, Nevis, a more viable winter destination choice for travelers from this key North American market.Air Canada flight AC1778 will depart Toronto (YYZ) at 8:40 a.m. and arrive in St Kitts at 2:40 p.m. every Friday. The same-day return flight AC1779 will depart St Kitts at 3:40 p.m. and arrive in Toronto at 8:00 p.m.Air Canada will use an Airbus 319 aircraft with 108 economy class seats and 12 business class seats for this flight. All flights are listed in local time. Reservations will be handled exclusively via Air Canada Vacations and their associated travel agencies.The vacation package and flight program follows several weeks of planning and a recent visit to the Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Senator Richard “Ricky” Skerritt by Shirley Lam, manager product development, and Sylvia Costa, manager destination services, of Air Canada Vacations.“The addition of this programme from Air Canada Vacations is very significant for St Kitts and Nevis,” said Skerritt.“Canada has always been a valuable source market for visitors and investors as well as home to a large contingent of our Diaspora. I am gratified that Air Canada Vacations is adding us to their list of partner destinations this coming winter and our government is working closely with our local hoteliers and other St Kitts and Nevis tourism stakeholders to make full use of this opportunity to strengthen our travel and tourism relationship with Canada,” he added.Caribbean News Nowlast_img read more


first_imgBernie Sanders: “”The American people are sick and tired of a president who lies all the time.” He has a decisive lead over his rivalsin the Nevada caucus, with results from over half the precincts counted. Sanders won in 11 of Nevada’s 17counties. (BBC) But there is a long way to go until aDemocratic nominee is confirmed. He had underwhelming results in Iowa andNew Hampshire. Those states kicked off the four-month long primaries process,in which candidates are jostling to convince voters why they are the bestcandidate to challenge Trump.center_img So far, with 60 percent of the ballotscounted in Nevada, Sanders, the left-wing senator for Vermont, has 46 percentof the vote, ahead of Biden on 19.6 percent. The field is then split between anumber of other moderates, with Pete Buttigieg on 15.3 percent and ElizabethWarren on 10.1 percent. WASHINGTON – Bernie Sanders has cementedhis status as the Democratic front-runner to take on Donald Trump in November’sUS presidential election. Results from Saturday’s vote also showformer vice-president Joe Biden coming second, a better performance than in thetwo states which have voted so far.last_img read more


first_imgBy Rob NugentPOCOLA, OK (July 21) – Ronny Gould raced to his first IMCA Modified win at Tri-State Speedway this season on Friday night.Michael Hines was second and Jason Payton took third.last_img


first_imgRelatedPosts Gunners, Reds battle for Community Shield glory Ljungbjerg resigns as Arsenal’s coach Arsenal sign Brazil winger Willian on three-year contract Brighton piled the misery on Arsenal with a hard-fought and deserved 2-1 win at the Emirates Stadium, where boos rung out at full-time in interim boss Freddie Ljungberg’s first home game in charge. The visitors had never previously won away at Arsenal but they dominated the first half and withstood an Arsenal assault after the break before Neal Maupay headed home the decisive goal on 80 minutes. Alexandre Lacazette had earlier cancelled out Adam Webster’s opener with a bizarre flicked header from a corner but Arsenal – who had a David Luiz strike rightly ruled out by VAR for offside at 1-1 – couldn’t find another way through, with Mat Ryan making a fine stop late on to deny substitute Gabriel Martinelli. Arsenal, who have now gone nine games without a win in all competitions, remain down in 10th place in the Premier League and trail fourth-placed Chelsea by 10 points. Brighton, meanwhile, have pulled four points clear of the relegation zone and are up to 13th. Aaron Connolly almost capitalised on a mix up between David Luiz and Bernd Leno inside 60 seconds and that set the tone for the first 45 minutes. While Arsenal occasionally threatened through Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang down their right flank, the majority of the first half was played out in the hosts’ half, with Maupay fizzing a dangerous cross into the six-yard box which Connolly just failed to reach before the Frenchman forced Leno into a smart save. Brighton – a real threat from set-pieces – won five corners in the first half and made their dominance count on 36 minutes when Webster reacted quickest to the loose ball in the box and slammed home. Arsenal responded with Joe Willock testing Ryan with a good header before Lacazette rightly had his penalty appeals turned away when he went down under a challenge from Webster. Arsenal brought record signing Nicolas Pepe on at half-time in place of Willock and their intensity was transformed after the re-start. Within five minutes they were level. Pepe probed down the right and won a corner and Lacazette’s flick-on from Mesut Ozil’s set-piece crept in at the back post while Sead Kolasinac and Davy Propper battled to turn it home. There was a VAR check on Kolasinac’s challenge but after a nervy wait Arsenal’s equaliser was confirmed. Brighton still had their chances, with Maupay just failing to connect from close range on 61 minutes but moments later David Luiz had a goal ruled out for offside by VAR, when he was judged to have gone too soon before sweeping home from a free-kick. Arsenal were on top and seemed set to go on to win but Brighton impressively rode the storm and continued to cause their hosts problems. Maupay – a thorn in Arsenal’s side all night – had a shot blocked by Sokratis on 79 minutes but then just moments later had the ball in the back of the net, pulling away from David Luiz to head home Aaron Mooy’s centre. As the Arsenal home fans began to vent their anger, teenager Martinelli tested Ryan with a header and Pepe had a shot deflect wide but Brighton saw out the match to claim a deserved, valuable and historic three points.Tags: Arsenal FCBrighton and Hove AlbionFreddie Ljungberglast_img read more


first_img Despite ongoing difficulties around the redevelopment of Casement Park – a proposed venue for the event – Stormont ministers have reaffirmed their desire to see Ireland host the sporting spectacle. Arlene Foster said: “The Northern Ireland Executive is fully committed to providing all the necessary support required by the bid team to ensure the delivery of a compelling, world class bid to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup.” Press Association The Northern Ireland Executive is committed to delivering a “compelling” bid to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup, the First Minister has said. center_img The comments were made as members of the bid’s oversight board, including former Tanaiste Dick Spring and Irish rugby international Brian O’Driscoll – one of the world’s most capped international players – visited Belfast’s Kingspan Stadium, another proposed venue for some fixtures. Also at the meeting was Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, who said everyone must “go the extra mile” to secure success. “A Rugby World Cup in Ireland would prove to be a hugely attractive destination for rugby supporters from throughout the world and we would relish the opportunity to welcome them to one of the world’s major sports gatherings, the Rugby World Cup, in 2023,” he said. “I am confident, with the co-operation already in evidence between both governments, sporting bodies and the general public, Ireland would deliver a hugely successful tournament for World Rugby.” Last week the Northern Ireland Assembly was told that delays around work at Casement Park were creating a bad impression for bid organisers. Plans have been effectively stalled since the High Court overturned a decision to approve a 38,000-capacity stadium in 2014. The judge found that Environment Minister Mark H Durkan acted unlawfully in granting permission a year earlier following a legal challenge by residents living close to the stadium. However, Sports Minister Caral Ni Chuilin has repeatedly insisted that a new stadium will be built. She said: “A redeveloped Casement Park is a Programme for Government commitment and integral to the bid for 2023. “I remain committed to ensuring that we deliver on that commitment and I am confident we will do so.” last_img read more