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Roelant Oltmans resigns as head coach of Pakistan hockey team

F.P. Report

Karachi: Roelant Oltmans has resigned from his position as head coach of Pakistan Hockey Team on Saturday.

According to reports, Oltmans wrote a letter to the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) and it stated that Oltmans said that he is responsible for the performance and results of the team.

He added that the circumstances at present do not create an environment where we can get the best out of the team.

Oltmans added, “I don’t think the PHF has the possibility to change the circumstances to a level that is required from my point of view.”

Oltmans was appointed as head coach of the hockey team in January this year for a term of two years.

The Pakistan hockey team had a dismal campaign during the Hockey Champions Trophy 2018, where they finished last among the six countries that participated in the tournament.

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Another journalist murdered in Mexico

TUXTLA GUTIRREZ (AFP): Gunmen on Friday killed a Mexican journalist who had received threats after reporting on corruption in the southern state of Chiapas, his newspaper said, in what was at least the ninth murder of a reporter in the country this year.

Mario Gomez, a reporter with El Heraldo de Chiapas, is the latest victim in a wave of violence against the press in Mexico, the second-deadliest country in the world for journalists after war-torn Syria, according to the watchdog group Reporters Without Borders.

“He had recently filed a complaint because he was receiving threats,” a colleague at the paper told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Gomez, 35, had also been threatened in 2016 for publishing articles on corruption by two state officials, according to the media rights group Article 19.

El Heraldo said Gomez, a general news correspondent in the town of Yajalon, was leaving his house to go to work when two unidentified men arrived and “murdered him in cold blood” with a series of shots to the abdomen at point-blank range.

Gomez was taken to the hospital but died of his wounds, said the paper, where he had worked for the past eight years.

“We call for an exhaustive investigation to find those responsible for this crime,” his colleagues wrote in an editorial published on the newspaper’s website.

The state prosecutor’s office said in a statement it would “follow all lines of investigation to shed light on this reprehensible crime and bring those responsible to justice.”

Racked by violent crime linked to its powerful drug cartels, Mexico registered a record number of murders last year: 28,702.

That included at least 11 murdered journalists.

Asking questions about the multibillion-dollar narcotics trade, government corruption or the links between the two can be a deadly job in Mexico.

Including Gomez, at least nine journalists have been murdered so far this year in the country in possible retaliation for their work.

More than 100 have been murdered in Mexico since 2000.

The vast majority of the cases have gone unpunished — as do more than 90 percent of violent crimes in Mexico.

It was not immediately clear whether Gomez was enrolled in the Mexican government’s protection program for journalists and human rights activists, launched in 2012 in a bid to stop such crimes.

The program provides bodyguards, panic buttons and other protective measures to people at risk. But it suffers from under-funding and has failed to stop several high-profile murders.

It risks running out of funding in January, if the government does not bridge a budget gap.

Gomez’s murder “saddens and burdens us, just as we’re facing the lack of resources for the government’s protection program for at-risk journalists,” said Balbina Flores, Mexico rpresentative for Reporters Without Borders.

“We demand a full investigation and a guarantee of security for his family.”

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Dubai Metro to get new trains this year

Monitoring Desk

DUBAI: Mattar Al Tayer, Director-General and Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), announced that the first of the new Dubai Metro trains would arrive in Dubai in November, and the last one would arrive by the end of October 2019.

Al Tayer made this announcement after attending the technical test run of the first train on a 500m test track at Alstom Company’s factory in Poland, according to a statement issued on Saturday.

The new metro carriages manufacturing progress had reached 10 per cent at the facility.

The train rolled over the test track at varying speeds, and multiple tests were carried out on the safety systems, electric propulsion, braking system, emergency stops and the train doors operating systems.

Attendees included Al Tayer, included Abdul Mohsen Ibrahim Younes, CEO of Rail Agency, Abdul Rida Abu Al Hassan, Executive Director of Rail Planning and Projects in addition to directors & engineers from RTA and Alstom.

Al Tayer inspected the interiors of the new rail carriages, which are being manufactured under a contract for the supply of 50 trains, 15 of which will be deployed to serve Expo 2020 and 35 will be used to enhance Dubai Metro service.

The RTA chief checked the additions and improvements introduced to the interior design of the metro carriages such as dedicating the last carriage for women and children and leaving part of the first carriage for the Gold Class. Other carriages will be of Silver Class. Seats will be transversal in the Gold Class, and longitudinal in the Silver Class as well as women & children’s carriage. The improved design will increase the intake of trains by 8% from 643 riders to 696 riders. The exterior design of trains will remain unchanged to maintain the design identity of Dubai Metro and its familiar colours to the public,” said Al Tayer.

Additions include revamping the designs, without affecting the identity of handles, lighting, and locations of digital signage (VBSD). They also include an illuminated dynamic map for the metro route and stations, using LED power-saving lighting system, and modifying the design of the luggage compartment to make it usable by standing commuters.

Improvements also cover the shape and number of handles, the use of modern digital display systems, distributing seats at the two sides of the train and increasing the gangway connecting between carriages. The new carriages are customised to be used by People of Determination and the smooth boarding and alighting of riders.

Al Tayer described the technical test run of trains as a milestone in the construction of Route 2020 Project, which involves the extension of the Dubai Metro Red Line 15 km from Nakheel Harbour and Tower Station to the site of Expo 2020.

During the technical trial run, tests were conducted to ensure the readiness of the train along with the functioning and performance of all control systems under all conditions. Tests will continue until the shipment of the train to ensure the reliability of results.

Tests will cover a wide range of issues such as the air-conditioning system, electrical feed & braking system, coupling of coaches, disconnecting of power supply, rail monitoring & control system, and operational tests of the train under normal and emergency conditions,” elaborated Al Tayer.

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Global Village Dubai offers discounts for visitors

Monitoring Desk

DUBAI: Global Village, the world’s leading multicultural festival park and the region’s first family destination for culture, shopping and entertainment, has announced that its highly sought after VIP Packs sales for its 23rd season will start Saturday, September 29, 2018. They will be sold daily from 9 am to 6 pm until the allocated quantity of more than 4,000 packs run out. VIP Packs for the upcoming season offer a value greater than ever before and guests can take advantage of them throughout the season, which starts on October 30, 2018 and lasts until April 7, 2019.

Guests keen to visit the park throughout the season find the VIP Packs beneficial as they can avail of several special services and facilities. They offer more than five times their value through exclusive privileges, in addition to the convenience of VIP parking that shortens the time to enter Global Village during busy periods.

VIP Packs from Global Village have been very popular since their launch 11 seasons ago and guests rush to acquire them at the earliest from when they are released for sale. During the previous season, more than 4,000 VIP Packs were sold out within four days of their release to the public.

Global Village has further developed its VIP Packs for this season, adding more categories and including more exclusive privileges and value. For the first time, they include cards for access to the whole new Circus shows in the Carnaval funfair area and discounts from 23 restaurants around the park.

This season, VIP Packs can be purchased through the Global Village website, (GlobalVillage.ae) to ensure the widest possible reach and utmost comfort, or through the VIP Sales Centre located at the Global Village Management Office from Saturday, September 29, and daily from Saturday to Thursday, 9 am to 6 pm until fully sold out. Each guests can buy up to 8 packs of any category from the Global Village VIP Sales Centre and up to 2 Gold or Silver category packs thought the online store. They need to present their UAE ID to purchase and this also ensures that their maximum quota is not exceeded.

“Our VIP Packs are a unique reward for loyal guests who visit us year after year. They are also a wonderful gift for friends and relatives,” said Bader Anwahi, CEO of Global Village. “The quantity of VIP Packs is determined by past studies and availability of the privileges offered. As we continue preparations for our 23rd Season, our VIP Packs provide customers additional luxury, comfort and a variety of exclusive benefits. As we saw last season, VIP Packs are in high demand and are sold rapidly within the first few days of launch. We advise guests to buy them before they go out of stock if they wish to take advantage of a luxurious experience and exclusive benefits throughout Season 23.”

With every VIP Pack, guests will receive an exclusive free Dubai Entertainment Experience pack with a value of more than Dh1,400, offered by Global Village in collaboration with its entertainment affiliates, for guests to explore Dubai’s diverse entertainment destinations. These complimentary packs includes vouchers to Dubai Parks & Resorts, Roxy Cinemas, The Green Planet Dubai, Mattel Play! Town, Hub Zero Dubai, Laguna Waterpark and special discounts at Lapita Hotel in Dubai Parks & Resorts.

The park has provided VIP Packs for the past 11 seasons, and each time it upgrades their content to add more privileges based on the views and suggestions of guests. In an upgrade of its services with smart technologies this year, it has embedded a smart RFID chip in the VIP Pack car passes, which greatly facilitates the process of entry and exit for vehicles.

Global Village VIP Packs include VIP tickets to the park, car passes, Carnaval funfair cards to enjoy the rides and skills games, and for the first time ever they also include discounts on restaurant bills and cards for the all-new circus show.

VIP Packs for Season 23 come in four categories, the most popular of which is the Platinum Plus Pack that carry’s the number 1 and include two car passes for VIP parking access and three reserved parking spots, 200 VIP entry tickets, 30 VIP parking tickets worth Dh200 each, and Carnaval funfair cards worth Dh1,000. They also include tickets for the whole new circus show worth Dh450 and 30 discount vouchers for 15 per cent off in restaurants.

The VIP Pack details are as follows:

Platinum Pack (Price: Dh4,000):

Platinum Packs carry the numbers 2 to 10 and include two car passes for VIP parking access and two reserved parking spots, 150 VIP entry tickets, 25 VIP parking tickets worth Dh200 each, and Carnaval funfair cards worth Dh500. They also include tickets for the whole new circus show worth Dh300 and 20 discount vouchers for 15% off in restaurants. Platinum Packs are available for Dh4,000.

Gold Pack (Price: Dh1,500):

The Gold Pack includes one car pass for VIP parking access, 140 VIP entry tickets, 15 VIP parking tickets worth Dh200 each, and Carnaval funfair cards worth Dh250. They also include tickets for the whole new circus show worth Dh80 and 10 discount vouchers for 15% off in restaurants. Gold Packs are available for Dh1,500.

The Silver Pack includes one car pass for VIP parking access, 120 VIP entry tickets, 10 VIP parking tickets worth Dh200 each, and Carnaval funfair cards worth Dh200. They also include tickets for the whole new circus show worth Dh120 and 7 discount vouchers for 15% off in restaurants. Silver Packs are available for Dh900.

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Pakistan’s e-commerce market on the rise

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: The number of registered e-commerce merchants has witnessed more than 2.6 times rise in recent time amid 3G/4G services and availability of cheaper smartphones and Internet packages.

Pakistan has one of the highest rates of mobile and Internet penetration in South Asia, with 40 million Internet subscribers and 20 million Facebook users.

This visible growth has encouraged many retailers to operate their own websites or use online marketplaces to sell their products. Nevertheless, there is still much room to grow.

According to statistics, over $54.47 billion sales were reported in 2017 just by Amazon in the United States, while in comparison, Pakistan’s e-commerce sales amounted to $622 million in 2017 and projected to cross the $1 billion mark by 2020.

Apart from technology, some of the factors that have served as a catalyst to e-commerce growth include ease of purchasing, availability of cash on delivery option, a variety of products to choose from and customer reviews and feedback on social media.

A senior official of Corporate Innovation at Excellence Delivered (ExD), one of the largest technology services company of Pakistan, has said there has been a significant demand for e-commerce services from both tier 2 and tier 3 cities.

“Although it is a fairly new trend in business for Pakistan, the online shopping trend is spreading quickly,” the official said and explained mechanics behind e-commerce, outlining that the primary payment method currently being used is Cash on Demand (COD) where over 90 per cent of online purchases are paid for by COD at time the customers receive the package.

It is interesting to note that around 35 per cent of country’s monthly 70,000 COD shipments are delivered outside of Karachi, Lahore, and Islamabad. It shows that despite the fact that online shoppers are largely from the urban areas, rural shoppers are also willing to go online to make purchases for goods they cannot find in local markets.

This high growth in terms of sales and consumer preference has also encouraged brands to rethink their strategy with regards to conventional retail channels and try alternate e-Commerce methodologies. Quality of products is also an issue which should be addressed by online retailers to boost consumers’ confidence.

 

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Comcast, Fox take $34 billion battle for Britain’s Sky to the wire

LONDON (Agencies): Comcast (CMCSA.O) and Twenty-First Century Fox (FOXA.O) face a quick-fire auction for British broadcaster Sky (SKYB.L) on Saturday after neither side backed down in a drawn-out $34 billion battle.

A deadline for U.S. cable giant Comcast and Rupert Murdoch’s Fox to declare that their all-cash offers for Sky would not be increased passed on Friday without a move by either side, triggering a rare auction run by Britain’s Takeover Panel.

Fox, which has the backing of partner Walt Disney (DIS.N), and Comcast are vying for control of Sky to bolster their businesses in the face of rapid growth of streaming services such as Netflix (NFLX.O), which are transforming the media industry.

Saturday’s auction of pay-TV group Sky will last a maximum of three rounds and any bids will be made in private by either telephone or email, a source with knowledge of the process said.

The Takeover Panel then expects to announce the offer prices that the bidders have submitted on Saturday evening.

Sky’s independent directors, who are so far recommending that investors back Comcast’s 14.75 pounds a share offer, which values the broadcaster at 25.9 billion pounds ($34 billion), are expected to meet immediately to decide which offer to back.

Comcast and Fox could end up making the same bids.

Shares in the London-listed pay-TV business closed up 0.3 percent at 15.85 pounds on Friday ahead of what is the climax to two lengthy and interlocking takeover fights for both Fox and Sky that are set to reshape the entertainment sector.

“This will most likely mark the end of a process that we have managed for almost two years,” Sky Chief Executive Jeremy Darroch wrote in a memo to staff on Thursday.

Fox, which already holds a 39 percent stake in Sky, first offered 10.75 pounds a share for the rest of the broadcaster in December 2016 but saw its takeover delayed by a prolonged regulatory review of the proposed deal in the UK.

The acquisition was then complicated by a separate deal that Disney struck in December 2017 to acquire a host of film and TV assets from Fox, including its Sky stake.

Comcast then gatecrashed both deals, forcing Disney to hike its offer for the Fox assets to about $71 billion in June and Fox to sweeten its bid for Sky to 14 pounds a share in July.

While Comcast responded by immediately boosting its Sky offer to 14.75 pounds a share from 12.50 pounds, it abandoned its attempt to acquire the Fox assets on July 19.

Britain’s Takeover Panel announced the auction on Thursday to end the Sky stand-off and force both Comcast and Fox to disclose their best offers.

Shareholders in the British broadcasting group will have about a fortnight to decide which one to back after the auction finishes.

Fox’s 39 percent shareholding in Sky could become an important factor in determining which suitor ultimately wins control following the auction if the rivals make similar bids.

Fox has set its acceptance threshold for a deal at 75 percent of Sky’s minority shareholders but has the option to lower it and seek a simple majority of all Sky shares, which is Comcast’s target.

Then Fox’s Sky stake would put it in a better position than Comcast to cross the 50 percent threshold.

A Fox victory would result in Disney then taking control of Sky, once it has completed its deal for the Fox assets.

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PTI’s Dar challenges Khawaja Asif victory in July polls  

F.P. Report

SIALKOT: leader of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Usman Dar has challenged the victory of former foreign minister, Khawaja Asif from NA-73 constituency in the July 25 polls.

According to details, Usman Dar filed a petition in the election tribunal and stating that Asif has concealed his assets by submitting an unverified affidavit.

Dar asked the tribunal to denotify Asif’s victory in polls.

PML-N leader Khawaja Muhammad Asif bagged 117002 votes in last General Elections, overpowering PTI’s Dar who managed to secure 115,464 votes.

Moreover, Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) leader Farooq Sattar has announced to challenge Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s victory for Karachi’s NA-245 constituency in the last General Elections.

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Disappointed over Indian inappropriate behavior of cancelling talks: FM Qureshi

F.P. Report

DOHA: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has said that it is very unfortunate that India cancelled the scheduled meeting between the foreign ministers of two countries owing to an issue which took place in July.

FM Qureshi said that New Delhi in September presented an issue which took place in July as an excuse to cancel the meeting and adding that this is appropriate.

Foreign Minister Qureshi said while speaking to the media in Doha en route to New York.

He added that India first agreed to the meeting and then “later found an excuse” to cancel it.

“The talks were called off due to India’s internal issues,” Qureshi asserted and added that he was “deeply disappointed” after reading India’s stance.

The foreign minister, who is travelling to New York to attend the 73rd United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) session, further stressed, “Diplomatic protocol was crushed by India.”

He also said that the resolution of outstanding disputes between Pakistan and India through dialogue is in the regional interest.

Responding to a question about the UNGA session, the foreign minister said  he will present Pakistan’s stance on different matters at the session as well as during his meetings and talks with leaders on the sidelines.

India on Thursday decided to back out of the proposed meeting between foreign ministers of both the countries on the sidelines of the UNGA session.

Earlier, a statement released by the office of Pakistani government’s spokesperson said the reasons provided for cancelling the meeting “are entirely unconvincing”.

 

 

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Afghan officials ready to meet Taliban in Moscow

Monitoring Desk

MUMBAI: Afghan officials have said that they are ready to meet with Taliban representatives in Moscow, however still the exact date of Moscow meeting will be finalized to initiate peace talks between government and Taliban.

According to Russian newspaper report, Russia’s Special Presidential Envoy for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov has said the Afghan officials confirmed that work is ongoing on the content of Moscow meeting.

Kabulov added that he talked with Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Nasir Ahmad Andisha and Andisha said Moscow conference composition is now being put together.

Kabulov said now the critical thing about Moscow meeting is not the date but is the content that should be put together.

Moscow meeting was supposed to be held in September 4, but a few days before the meeting, Kabul refused to participate in the meeting.

Recently, Kabul confirmed it will attend the meeting that will be co-chaired by Afghanistan and Russia.

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Seven children killed in Faryab explosion

Monitoring Desk

FARYAB: As many as seven children were killed and five others were injured in an IED explosion on Saturday in Faryab province of Afghanistan.

According to local media reports, Ghulam Ali, CID Director for Sherentagab district police headquarters said the incident occurred in an area which fell to the Taliban last week – in Koh Sayyad of Sherentagab district.

He added that Taliban had placed an IED in Koh Sayyadarea and eleven children playing in the area were hit.

Ali informed that two of the injured children lost their limbs and are in a critical condition. They have been transferred to Jawzjan hospital.

Taliban has not yet commented.