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IPL live score: Mumbai Indians vs Royal Challengers Bangalore

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IPL: Mumbai Indians win toss, to field against RCB

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Exclusive: India cracks down on drugs after Bollywood scandal

The Bollywood drug scandal has sent shockwaves across India and the Kannada film industry in South India (Sandalwood) also finds itself in the eye of the storm with a daily surge of allegations, denials and new revelations.

These have raised uncomfortable questions on how deep the rot has spread as police and counter-narcotics agencies piece together evidence and launch raids across the country.

Five states – Kerala, Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra and Andhra – are sharing information on drug cartels, their suppliers, the modus operandi, and users in the Indian film industry. More than 630 cases of possession of marijuana and other psychotropic substances, peddling and sourcing have been filed in 2020 in these states this year alone.

Police say 130 suspects have been arrested under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985, (NDPS Act). Names of film actors, their facilitators, and people who act as conduits and agents have come up, and sleuths are pursuing leads in the case. Top Bollywood actors like Deepika Padukone and Shraddha Kapoor have been quizzed by officials for their role.

Two Kannada actors, Ragini Dwivedi and Sanjjanaa Galrani were earlier taken into custody on drug charges under the NDPS Act. They were remanded in judicial custody for 14 days in Bengaluru. A male model, Niyaz Ahmed from Kerala, event managers Viren Khanna and Ravishankar, were also remanded in police custody.

It all began with the suspicious death of Bollywood actor Sushanth Singh Rajput in June. The actor’s alleged suicide has now snowballed into a massive drug scandal and could have international ramifications following the arrest of Albanian drugs smuggler Denis Matoshi by the Dubai Police last week.

Indian Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) sources said Matoshi was involved in the Indian drug trade as well and they are working with the Interpol to piece together the missing links to Bollywood and Sandalwood. “We have launched a multi-agency swoop in Bengaluru, Mangaluru and Mysuru. Police are coordinating their efforts in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Goa and Maharashtra,” said Karnataka state Director General of Police Praveen Sood to Khaleej Times.

The Indian Coast Guard, Coastal Security Police and local police are coordinating effortrs to counter smuggling of drugs into the Indian Exclusive Economic Zone.

“We are certain that there is an international connection to this drug trafficking and are taking it up at all levels,” Sood said. There have been 330 cases of ganja smuggling in the four districts of Kasargod, Mangalore, Udupi and Uttara Kannada districts in 2020 so far, which is concerning, according to the police officer

What’s worse, in cities like Bengaluru, Mangaluru and Kochi, college students are taking to peddling drugs, more so during the pandemic. “We arrested 180 persons
who are peddlers and smugglers. Some of them are youngsters of college-going age.” said Vikash Kumar, Commissioner of Police in Mangaluru.

In July, police recovered 200 kgs of marijuana. Our focus now is on MDMA, popularly known as Ecstacy,” Shilpa Dyavaiah, Superintendent of Police, Kasargod, in
Kerala state told Khaleej Times. 

Police, meanwhile, have been getting information about marijuana grown in forests and even in cultivable fields. People living in the Western Ghats region and the plains of interior Karnataka have been calling local police stations informing them about the large-scale cultivation and processing of marijuana.

The writer is a senior journalist based on Mangaluru, India.

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Coronavirus: China’s Beijing to protect health emergency whistleblowers

China’s capital Beijing will protect whistleblowers who disclose information about public health emergencies, it said on Sunday, part of the country’s efforts to fix some of the systemic faults that hindered its initial response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Beijing city government said it would offer rewards to health workers who disclose vital information about any imminent health emergency, and will also ensure their safety and legal rights are protected.

Workers could in urgent situations skip the chain of command and report health risks directly to the local government, it said, and as long as their intent was not “malicious”, they would not face punishment if information turned out to be false.

Read the latest updates in our dedicated coronavirus section.

Beijing also said it would strengthen its monitoring network, set up specialist infectious disease hospitals and establish “sentries” at the community level to keep watch for symptoms like fever.

The central Chinese city of Wuhan, where the COVID-19 outbreak first began, has been criticized for its heavy-handed treatment of medical staff who first tried to reveal details of a new and unknown pneumonia-like disease at the end of 2019.

Li Wenliang, one of the doctors warned by local police, later became one of the most high-profile victims of the coronavirus, causing nationwide outrage.

Chinese officials have acknowledged that the COVID-19 outbreak exposed “shortcomings” in their ability to handle epidemics, and they have promised to take action to improve early warning systems and free up the flow of information.

The government said in May that it would empower local disease control centers to take early action in the event of any new outbreak, though experts said the measures did not go far enough to address “systemic” flaws.

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They say China’s top-down political system does not give local governments the authority or the funding to take the timely action required to tackle outbreaks.

Last month, the city government of Shenzhen also unveiled new guidelines allowing medical workers to disclose information about infectious diseases. They also gave local authorities powers to take emergency action more quickly.

Read more:

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Last Update: Monday, 28 September 2020 KSA 09:23 – GMT 06:23

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Markets wary of coronavirus spike, US presidential debate

Chinese stocks drove Asian markets higher on Monday, though sentiment was still cautious ahead of a US Presidential debate and as a spike in new coronavirus cases undermined global economic recovery hopes.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan advanced 0.5 per cent to 550.47, but still within striking distance of a two-month low of 543.66 hit last week.
The index is set to end the month deep in the red after three straight monthly gains as the pandemic continues to wreak economic havoc around the world and raises investor anxiety about sky-high valuations.

Chinese shares opened higher and helped to underpin Asian markets after a tentative start, with the blue-chip CSI 300 index up 0.85 per cent. Shanghai’s SSE climbed 0.5 per cent.

Encouragingly, data over the weekend showed profits at China’s industrial firms grew for the fourth straight month in August buoyed in part by a rebound in commodities prices and equipment manufacturing.

Elsewhere, Japan’s Nikkei was 0.75 per cent higher, partly on a lower yen, while South Korea’s KOSPI index gained 1.1 per cent.

Australia’s main share index reversed early losses to edge up, led by positive news on the coronavirus front with new infections in the country’s second-most populous state of Victoria down sharply and allowing authorities to ease some of the mobility restrictions.

The broad gains in Asia follow a Wall Street rally on Friday though analysts expect the gains to be short-lived as expectations for economic growth start to falter.

Particularly worrying is a resurgence of COVID-19 cases in Europe, dousing earlier hopes that authorities might have started to exert some control on the outbreak and raising further strains on businesses already grappling with losses.

“Clouds have started to gather over the developed world as political uncertainty increases in the US and Europe grapples with a resurgence in COVID-19 cases,” Kerry Craig, Global Market Strategist, JP Morgan Asset Management.

COVID-19 cases are edging closer to 33 million around the globe with 1 million reportedly dead with Europe seeing a surge in new infections.

“While governments are loathe to re-introduce nationwide lockdowns, localised and sector based restrictions may last for some time, restraining economic activity,” Craig added.
Investor focus will next be on the first debate between US President Donald Trump and rival Joe Biden on Tuesday ahead of the November election.

A strong performance in Tuesday’s debate by Biden, who currently has a modest lead in betting odds and polls, might boost stocks related to global trade and renewable energy, while a perceived victory by Trump could benefit fossil fuel and defense companies.

Market focus will also be on progress on a new fiscal support package in the United States while investors will be closely watching UK-Europe post-Brexit trade talks as they continue this week.

In currencies, the dollar eased from a near a two-week high against the Japanese yen to 105.44.

The euro was last at $1.1628, not far from a two-month trough of $.1611 touched on Friday.

The British pound rose 0.1 per cent to $1.2760.

The risk sensitive Australian dollar was slightly firmer at $0.7052 after falling for six consecutive sessions as odds narrowed over the prospect of further monetary policy easing in the country.

In commodities, oil prices came under pressure as renewed mobility curbs in various countries to contain a resurgence of coronavirus cases cloud the outlook on fuel demand recovery.

US Brent crude slipped 18 cents to $41.74 a barrel while US light crude was down 19 cents at $40.06.

Gold was a shade higher at $1,861.8, still some way off an all-time peak of above $2,000 an ounce touched in August.

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Talent firms intensify CEO hunt in the UAE amid coronavirus shake-up

Global talent search firms are reporting a substantial increase in mandates for CEOs and chief experience officers (CXOs) hiring in the UAE amid the rush by corporate majors and family offices to adapt to the new marketplace.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to change the business landscape in the Gulf, a growing churn is being seen in the corner offices of companies across many sectors in the UAE and the wider region.

Revealed: the UAE jobs most in demand during the coronavirus pandemic

While the pandemic has forced many companies to rethink their hiring efforts, many critical roles continue to operate at full capacity

“We are currently working on about six CEO search mandates in the region, apart from other CXO search mandates,” Amarjeet Dutta, partner at global search firm EMA Partners – Dubai, told Arabian Business.

“As a global search firm, we at EMA Partners are amidst an interesting journey (currently) with both multinationals and local family offices to re-calibrate CXO level leadership muscle across key functions,” Dutta added.

Senior executives at other search firms, who wished not to be identified or to name their firms because of “non-disclosure” issues, also confirmed to Arabian Business that they were also seeing a jump in requests for hiring at top levels in the GCC region.

What is fuelling the sudden uptick in requirements for talents at leadership roles?

Dutta elaborated: “Covid-19 has actually enabled many progressive organisations to use this period to look inwards and restructure functions/businesses and also have a re-look at the leadership talent pool and come up with creative designs to optimise business impact.

Amarjeet Dutta, partner at global search firm EMA Partners – Dubai

“The pandemic has also accentuated digital transformation activities of companies and family offices across the region.”

Dutta said most companies are on a mission to build leaner and more effective organisations and sustainable businesses with the right leaders in key roles and Covid has been a great accelerator on this endeavour.

“New or higher cost of getting new leaders has not been a concern for most organisations,” he said.

Among the industries that are seeing increased demand for top level hiring are healthcare and life sciences, edutech and essential sectors such as FMCG and consumer technology.

Demand for CEOs with high EQs

Dutta also revealed the increasing preference for “people with high emotional quotient (EQ)” to fill the top roles in the post-pandemic period.

“The quality of CXOs that we would hire before the pandemic and now has definitely seen a shift in the needle across sectors. While, when hiring a CXO, our focus has always been slightly tilted towards assessing her/his EQ over just the candidate’s proven functional expertise. The pandemic has put in unprecedented and increased focus on that aspect,” he pointed out.

Dutta also said the pandemic has helped many organisations who have CEOs/leaders with high EQ and empathy to perform relatively well.

Salaries are not the main reason employees change jobs in the GCC

Employees are more influenced by other factors, according to a report by recruitment giant Hays

“Beyond 25 years of proven experience, it’s difficult for a CEO to have any challenge on aspects of his IQ part and functional expertise.

“However while working for large family offices, government entities, large and complex organizations and multinationals, the CEO’s ability to protect shareholder value, manage stakeholder and board expectations, learning the art of ‘agreeing to disagree’ and still drive the business growth objective, not being the ‘Yes Man’ but building trust among stakeholders, her/his teams and protecting customer confidence become of paramount importance, especially more now in times of uncertainties,” Dutta said.

Industry experts said the instances of several business leaders voluntarily leaving or opting for postings mainly in Western countries in the wake of the pandemic may have also played a role in the Middle East companies opting for leaders with more grit for future hiring.

More leadership role hiring from GCC

Of late, there has been an increased preference for hiring from within the GCC area for leadership and senior roles, Dutta told Arabian Business.

“About a good 50-60 percent of the leadership talent resides within the GCC today. There is a segment of high potential talent within the GCC and Africa as well, who are waiting to serve a solid purpose and solve complex organisational problems,” he revealed.

“Of course for key technology organisations or tech platforms at leadership roles, we continue to tap into India, Silicon Valley and parts of Europe,” he said.

Five things we learned

  1. Mandates for CEO and CXO searches for companies and family offices in GCC see substantial increase
  2. Increasingly, the focus shifts to emotional quotient from IQ for CEO/CXO candidates
  3. Healthcare and life sciences, Edutech, essential sectors such as FMCG and consumer technology among the industries that are is seeing increased demand for top level hiring
  4. Covid pandemic-hit companies and organisations are rushing to carry out internal restructuring
  5. Search firms are looking to hire more senior level talents from within the Gulf region
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’15 Saudi prisoners to be released by Houthis’

The Arab coalition forces to Restore the Legitimate Government in Yemen said that 15 Saudi prisoners are to be released by Houthis, adding that the prisoner swap is in line with the Stockholm agreement.

The official spokesman of the Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen Colonel Turki Al Maliki said in a press conference here on Sunday that the Yemeni government will release 681 prisoners, and the Houthi militia will release 400, according to the Saudi Gazette.

“Fifteen Saudi prisoners of war will be released by Houthi militia as part of the Yemen prisoner exchange agreement,” Al Maliki added.

Al Maliki said Yemeni prisoner exchange agreement also includes the release of four Sudanese.

He described the prisoner swap as ‘purely humanitarian’. The Coalition called on the Houthi militia not to undermine the efforts of the United Nation special envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths.

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15 Saudi prisoners to be released by Houthis: Arab Coalition

The Arab coalition forces to Restore the Legitimate Government in Yemen said that 15 Saudi prisoners are to be released by Houthis, adding that the prisoner swap is in line with the Stockholm agreement.

The official spokesman of the Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen Colonel Turki Al Maliki said in a press conference here on Sunday that the Yemeni government will release 681 prisoners, and the Houthi militia will release 400, according to the Saudi Gazette.

“Fifteen Saudi prisoners of war will be released by Houthi militia as part of the Yemen prisoner exchange agreement,” Al Maliki added.

Al Maliki said Yemeni prisoner exchange agreement also includes the release of four Sudanese.

He described the prisoner swap as ‘purely humanitarian’. The Coalition called on the Houthi militia not to undermine the efforts of the United Nation special envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths.

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Armenia, Azerbaijan fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh continues

Fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijan forces over the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh continued on Monday morning with the deployment of heavy artillery on both sides, they said.

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The Armenian defense ministry reported fighting throughout the night, while Azerbaijan’s defense ministry said Armenian forces were shelling the town of Terter.

Read more:

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Azerbaijan claims captured ‘strategic’ mountain from Karabakh forces

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Last Update: Monday, 28 September 2020 KSA 08:17 – GMT 05:17

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Monday morning rush clogs key Dubai-Sharjah roads

Monday morning rush hour clogged key Dubai-Sharjah roads. The national Met department (NCM) issued a fog alert for today.

According to Google Maps, tailbacks were reported on Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Road and E11.

Monday morning rush clogs key Dubai-Sharjah roads (KT26174928.PNG)

Motorists are advised to follow traffic rules and take alternate routes where possible.