Dubai - Middle East shares weakened by rate worries; oil boosts Saudi

U.S.-Iran prisoner swap could pave the way for talks on bigger issues

Washington Post

23-09-18 18:14

Iran agreed to a prisoner swap with the US that released five Americans and five Iranians and granted Tehran access to $6 billion of its reserves. Iran may have seen the prisoner swap as a last chance to secure access to funds at a time when the country's economy is struggling after years of international sanctions and economic mismanagement. The swap could lead to discussions on more substantive issues such as a return to the nuclear deal, but this could be hampered by the uncertainty of the US elections and who will be running the country afterward. The Biden administration has pledged to revive the nuclear agreement, but if a Republican wins the 2024 presidential election, Iran policy will likely experience a dramatic shift, as happened when Donald Trump took office and withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal. Successfully carrying out the prisoner swap "ensures the sustainability" of current US-Iran relations, preventing tensions from spiraling out of control, rather than establishing a new dynamic. The agreement that facilitated the swap does not address issues beyond the prisoner exchange, the transfer of Iranian funds, and how the funds will be monitored.
Who is being freed in the Iran prisoner swap?


23-09-18 17:55

Five American prisoners who had been held in Iran are being released and flown back to the US as part of a prisoner swap agreement. The deal, mediated by Qatar, was reached after Iranian funds frozen in South Korea were released. In exchange, five Iranians imprisoned in the US are also being released. The American prisoners include Morad Tahbaz, a businessman arrested in 2018 along with other Iranian conservationists, and Siamak Namazi, who was arrested in 2015 along with his father for allegedly cooperating with a foreign enemy state. Emad Shargi, an Iranian-American businessman, is also being released. The names of the other two Americans being released have not been disclosed. The Iranian prisoners being released from US jails include Mehrdad Moein Ansari, who was sentenced for violating sanctions on Iran, and Kaveh Lotfolah Afrasiabi, an author accused of acting as an unregistered agent of the Iranian government.
Leaders see hope in tackling deadly climate change and public health problems together

Associated Press

23-09-18 21:57

The World Health Organization and leaders of the upcoming climate negotiations will dedicate a day to public health issues during December climate talks. The goal is for nations to act on the root cause of climate change: carbon pollution. The World Health Organization's special envoy for health and climate change, Vanessa Kerry, called climate change a health crisis and said that it is "killing us". The leaders also highlighted the need for better spending on health and the environment.
Unversed in UNGA? Stumped by SDGs? A glossary of UN General Assembly meeting lingo

Associated Press

23-09-19 00:32

The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) is the international organization's biggest annual event, where leaders from all 193 member countries gather to speak on global issues. The General Debate is the centerpiece of the week, where each country's leader or representative gives a state-of-the-world speech. Private meetings between leaders of different countries, known as "bilats," are seen as valuable components of the UNGA. Ministerial meetings are held between cabinet-level officials, such as foreign ministers. The Security Council, the U.N.'s most powerful component, holds its own meeting during the UNGA and is made up of five permanent members with veto power (P5) and 10 non-permanent members (E10). The Group of 77 (G77), a developing countries interest group, and the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) use the UNGA as a platform to highlight their concerns. The U.N.'s sustainable development goals (SDGs), which range from combating climate change to achieving gender equality, are also a focus during UNGA week. The UNGA is an opportunity for countries to outline how they plan to achieve these goals.
AFC announces new broadcast partnership after early deal termination

South China Morning Post

23-09-19 07:18

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has announced a new broadcast rights partner, Asia Football Group, just three days after terminating its previous exclusive deal. The AFC did not provide any details about the investors or executive managers of Asia Football Group, but confirmed that the company is registered in Dubai. The new deal takes immediate effect and will run until 2028. The AFC terminated its previous 10-year deal with Football Marketing Asia last week. The new partnership will help the AFC to continue investing in member associations and regional associations, deliver popular competitions, grow its fan base, and cultivate a flourishing football community across Asia. The next men’s Asian Cup competition will take place in Qatar from January 12 to February 10, 2023. The next Women’s Asian Cup will be held in 2026.
Far from home, Ukrainian designers showcase fashion that was created amid air raid sirens

Associated Press

23-09-19 11:39

Ukrainian fashion designers are continuing to produce clothing, despite the country being at war with Russia. Ksenia Schnaider and her team worked on their latest collection against a backdrop of air-raid sirens, drone attacks and power cuts. Schnaider and two other Ukrainian designers showcased their work at London Fashion Week. At the end of the show, they took a bow wearing a Ukrainian flag signed by three different military units. The war has forced 60 Ukrainian fashion brands to showcase their collections in London and New York, according to Iryna Danylevska, from Ukrainian Fashion Week.
Americans detained for years in Iran arrive in US after their release, US official says

Associated Press

23-09-19 10:47

Five Americans who were detained in Iran have been released and returned to the United States as part of a deal that saw President Joe Biden agree to release nearly $6 billion in frozen Iranian assets. The negotiations for the Americans' freedom have been met with gratitude from their families but criticism from Republican opponents who argue that the monetary arrangement with Iran is politically risky. The release of the prisoners is not expected to significantly improve relations between the US and Iran, who remain at odds over Iran's nuclear program and other issues. Iran's hard-line President Ebrahim Raisi, who was in New York for the United Nations General Assembly, suggested that the exchange could be seen as a humanitarian action and help to build trust between the two countries. The release of the Americans coincided with a significant US military buildup in the Persian Gulf and ongoing tensions in the region. The US has said that the $5.9 billion released to Iran will be held in restricted accounts for humanitarian goods.
Action must respond to extreme weather driving health crisis, says WHO


23-09-19 09:58

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that floods, wildfires, drought and extreme weather are driving a global health crisis. Speaking at a New York climate week event, WHO head Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stated that the climate crisis is a health crisis that is currently taking lives around the world. He added that while melting ice caps and rising sea levels are important, the immediate threats of climate change need to be addressed urgently. The WHO’s first special envoy for climate change and health, Dr Vanessa Kerry, said that climate change is responsible for more deaths each year than air pollution or Covid-19.
Most Gulf markets track oil prices higher; Abu Dhabi flat


23-09-19 08:37

Most major stock markets in the Gulf rose in early trade on Tuesday, tracking higher oil prices, although the Abu Dhabi index bucked the trend to trade flat. Oil prices rose for a fourth consecutive session as weak U.S. shale output spurred further concerns about a supply deficit stemming from extended production cuts by Saudi Arabia and Russia. Saudi Arabia's benchmark index gained 0.3%, Dubai's main share index added 0.3%, and Qatar's index rose 0.5%. However, the Abu Dhabi index traded flat.
India Blasts Canada Over Trudeau’s Allegation That It Played Role in Killing


23-09-19 14:57

India has ordered a Canadian diplomat to leave the country after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau claimed that the Indian government was involved in the shooting of Sikh separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar. India denies any involvement and has called the allegations “absurd and motivated”. The two countries have traditionally had strong ties but there has been tension over the presence of Sikh separatists in Canada who support the creation of an independent state in India called Khalistan. India is concerned that Khalistan activism overseas could revive the movement in the country, where it has been largely dormant for decades. The demand for a separate Sikh homeland raged in India’s northern Punjab state in the 1980s. Sikh bodyguards assassinated Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in October 1984 in retaliation for security forces storming the Golden Temple, a revered Sikh religious site in Amritsar, Punjab, earlier that year to flush out militants. The assassination was followed by a wave of riots that killed thousands of Sikhs, causing a surge in Sikh migration abroad.
US tries to win back Solheim Cup from Europe in Spain. Next week is the Ryder Cup in Italy

Associated Press

23-09-19 14:35

The Solheim Cup, a biennial women's golf tournament between teams from Europe and the United States, is set to take place at Finca Cortesin in Casares, Spain. The defending champion is Team Europe, who won the tournament in 2019. Europe is aiming for its third straight victory in the competition, which has never been achieved before. The United States team includes five Solheim Cup rookies, including Lilia Vu and Allisen Corpuz, who have won three of the five majors this year. Another rookie, Rose Zhang, earned a spot through her world ranking. Lexi Thompson, who is playing on her sixth consecutive Solheim Cup team, has not won a tournament in four years and is in danger of losing her LPGA card this year. Stacy Lewis is the captain of the U.S. team, while Suzann Pettersen is the captain of Team Europe. Lewis and Pettersen will be captains again next year when the Solheim Cup returns to being held in even-numbered years. The tournament will be televised on the Golf Channel.
A Western-led challenge to China’s belt and road? Not so fast, analysts say

South China Morning Post

23-09-19 14:28

Leaders from the West, Middle East and India have announced plans for a multinational ship-to-rail transit network to connect India to Europe via the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Israel. The $20bn project, known as the India-Middle East-Europe Corridor (Imec), is aimed at stimulating economic development through enhanced connectivity. Some have compared Imec to China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), but analysts argue that the two projects are not direct competitors. The lack of details concerning Imec make it an unlikely threat to the BRI, and the project is likely to complement rather than replace China's initiative. Logistics experts have also raised concerns about the economic feasibility of Imec, pointing out the high costs and time-consuming processes involved in the proposed ship-to-rail route. However, some in the logistics industry see Imec as a potential companion to the BRI, rather than a competitor. Freight movers are always looking for faster ways to move cargo from Asia to Europe, and Imec could provide an alternative option.
Most Gulf markets in black ahead of Fed's decision


23-09-19 13:38

Most stock markets in the Gulf ended higher on Tuesday ahead of an interest rate decision by the Federal Reserve, while the Egyptian bourse finished at a record high. The U.S. Fed is expected to leave borrowing costs on hold at 5.25% to 5.5% on Wednesday. Monetary policy in the Gulf Cooperation Council is usually guided by the Fed policy because most regional currencies are pegged to the U.S. dollar.
Fugitive ‘cryptoqueen’ accomplice is jailed for 20 years for $4bn scam

The Independent

23-09-19 16:42

Ruja Ignatova, also known as the "cryptoqueen," remains at large while her business partner, Karl Sebastian Greenwood, has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for defrauding customers out of more than $4bn through their bogus cryptocurrency, OneCoin. Ignatova vanished in 2017 and has not been seen since, leaving her former associates to take the blame for the fraud scheme. Greenwood was arrested in Thailand in 2018 and extradited to the US, where he pleaded guilty to fraud charges. Ignatova was added to the FBI's Top 10 Most Wanted list in June 2022.
Biden acknowledges the old world order needs a refresh


23-09-19 21:55

President Joe Biden addressed the United Nations Tuesday and urged the world to stand by Ukraine. At times, it felt like he was also imploring the countries to stick with the United Nations. "If we abandon the core principles of the UN charter to appease an aggressor, can any member state in this body feel confident that they are protected?" Biden asked. Read the UN charter here. It was agreed to in a very different world -- in San Francisco in 1945 -- with different global powers, different threats and different economies. Ukraine, at the time a member of the Soviet Union, was also a founding member of the UN. On Tuesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made his first in-person address to the UN General Assembly since Russia invaded his country. He wanted to drive home that negotiating with Russia would equal failure. "The aggressor is weaponizing many other things, and those things are used not only against our country, but against all of yours as well, fellow leaders," Zelensky said. Multiple top world leaders skipped the meeting this year, including President Vladimir Putin of Russia, which is a villain for invading Ukraine, but also a permanent member of the UN Security Council with veto power over any resolutions it opposes. Of the five permanent Security Council members - the US, Russia, China, France and the United Kingdom - Biden is the only leader to attend.
Recent surge in WTI price curbs US oil flows to Europe, Asia


23-09-19 21:24

The recent surge in West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude prices has closed arbitrage routes for US crude to Europe and Asia and is preventing oil from the Atlantic Basin from heading east, according to traders. The increase in WTI prices, driven by OPEC+ supply cuts and falling US shale oil production, has altered global trade flows by keeping US oil in the country. This has driven up demand and prices for other oil imported by Europe and Asia. The surge in WTI prices has also widened the Brent-Dubai spread, making crude produced in the Atlantic Basin more expensive for Asian refiners who will now turn to the Middle East.
Prince William hits Central Park ahead of Earthshot Prize event

The Independent

23-09-19 21:10

Prince William has concluded his visit to New York by unveiling the finalists of his million-pound Earthshot prize for climate and environmental innovations. The prince expressed his desire to scale up the innovations emerging from the competition and highlighted the commercial viability of the solutions. The Earthshot Prize summit coincided with New York's annual climate week and the United Nations General Assembly. Winners will be announced at a ceremony in Singapore in November.
Just one Australian hotel makes world’s top 50 list

The Sydney Morning Herald

23-09-20 02:01

Brisbane's The Calile hotel has been named among the top 50 hotels in the world by the World's 50 Best group. It is the only Australian hotel to be featured on the list, ranking No. 12 globally and No. 1 for Oceania. The hotel, which was designed by renowned architecture firm Richards and Spence, is known for its brutalist-inspired design and its embrace of the subtropical climate. The rankings were compiled based on the first-person experiences of 580 jurors who voted for their top seven hotels. The list skewed heavily towards European properties, with 21 out of the 50 slots being occupied by European hotels. Asia performed well, with several iconic Asian stays making it into the top 10. The Passalacqua in Lake Como, Italy was crowned the world's best hotel for 2023. The World's 50 Best lists have faced criticism in the past for their lack of diversity and bias towards European venues. Efforts have been made to address these concerns, including mandating a 50/50 gender balance among jurors.
Iran's parliament passes a stricter headscarf law days after protest anniversary

The Toronto Star

23-09-21 00:52

Iran's parliament has approved a bill that imposes heavier penalties on women who refuse to wear the mandatory Islamic headscarf in public, as well as on those who support them. The bill also extends punishments to business owners who serve women not wearing the hijab and activists who organize against it. Violators could face up to 10 years in prison. The bill requires ratification by the Guardian Council and would take effect for a preliminary period of three years. The move comes after months of protests following the death of a woman who had been detained for violating the dress code.
China’s climate envoy decries trade curbs for ‘politicising’ renewables

South China Morning Post

23-09-21 09:39

Xie Zhenhua, China's top climate envoy, has criticised export controls on renewable energy products, describing them as "politicising" and "imperilling" decarbonisation goals. Xie's comments came during a panel on climate change at a forum held by the Centre for China and Globalisation. Xie's criticism comes as diplomats from the US and the European Union urged China to do more to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Both the US and EU ambassadors also asked China to pledge to cut methane emissions.