Makkah-Madinah high-speed rail link to open in March 2018

19/11/2016 (Arab News): MADRID: A delayed high-speed railway linking Makkah and Madinah in Saudi Arabia will finally open in March 2018, the Spanish consortium building the project said Friday. The railway linking Islam’s holiest cities was initially scheduled to open at the end of the year but the date for its completion was moved to the end of 2017. Now, according to a spokesman for the Al-Shoula consortium, “full operations will start in March 2018.” Partial operations will begin a few months earlier, in December, he added. Saudi Arabia in 2011 awarded the contract worth 6.7 billion euros ($7.1 billion) to the consortium of 12 Spanish companies and two Saudi firms for the project which aims to improve transport between the two cities during the annual Haj pilgrimage…
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The America we deserve and cherish

Hisham Melhem19/11/2016 (Al Arabiya – UAE by Hisham Melhhem*): US President-elect Donald Trump is selecting older white men who share his nationalist views, social and ethnic biases and his “America first” isolationist outlook to occupy senior positions at the White House and the other crucial departments and security agencies. His national security advisor, Michael Flynn, believes that “Islam is a malignant cancer” and that “fear of Islam is RATIONAL” (emphasis his). He sees the Muslim religion as a “political ideology” masquerading as religion. Trump’s nominee for attorney general, Senator Jeff Sessions, has a long history of fierce opposition to civil rights and a proclivity for racially charged views. Sessions has referred to the 1965 historic Voting Rights Act as a “piece of intrusive legislation.” His outlook on life is a throwback to the America of the 1950’s when women, blacks and immigrants were told to know their place. Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon, who does not believe that the US has a “major race problem,” turned his website Breitbart News into a platform for alt-right groups, which include white nationalists, Islamophobes, misogynists and anti-Semites. The former leader of the ultra-racist Ku Klux Klan, David Duke reacted enthusiastically to these appointments as if he had been selected, firing this celebratory tweet:..

*Hisham Melhem is a columnist and analyst for Al Arabiya News Channel in Washington, DC.

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/views/news/world/2016/11/19/The-America-we-deserve-and-cherish-.html

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Head of Egypt’s press syndicate sentenced to 2 years in jail

Kalash19/11/2016 (Ahram Online – Egypt): A Cairo misdemeanor court sentenced on Saturday, the Chairman of Egypt’s Press Syndicate Yehia Kalash and two other board members — Gamal Abdel-Reheem and Khaled El-Balshy — to two years in prison for harbouring fugitives inside the syndicate’s headquarters. The verdict, which was issued in absentia after the trio abstained from appearing in court, can still be appealed and the court set bail at EGP10,000 for each defendant. Commenting on the verdict, in front of the syndicate’s headquarters, high board member Khalid El-Balshy told reporters that the syndicate will appeal the verdict, but in the meantime the verdict “won’t distract us from the issues of journalists’ rights and liberties.” “We still have battles to fight for the rights of the journalists, especially the detained ones, as well as the press draft law [currently debated in parliament],” El-Balshy added…
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Sevim Burak: ‘I won’t write for the astute’

Sevim Burak: 'I won't write for the astute'12/11/2016 (Sabah – Turkey): Madness, illness and estrangement are often good friends of an author, helping him or her in their creative writing process. Some authors even cling to these bizarre or bitter situations to continue living or writing, both of which are the same on some occasions. Proust had asthma, Hemingway suffered from bipolar disorder, and Salinger was a fully estranged man. Among hundreds or thousands, these three examples show us that the more extraordinarily an author lives, the more likely he or she becomes what is sometimes called a “cult writer.”..

http://www.dailysabah.com/portrait/2016/11/12/sevim-burak-i-wont-write-for-the-astute

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Senior Cleric Warns Trump to Avoid Hawkish Policy towards Iran

Senior Cleric Warns Trump to Avoid Hawkish Policy towards Iran12/11/2016 (Fars News – Iran): TEHRAN (FNA)- Tehran’s provisional Friday Prayers Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ahmad Khatami warned US President-elect Donald Trump to avoid repeating the previous mistakes made by his predecessors and be careful not play around with Iran. Addressing a large and fervent congregation of the people on Tehran University campus on Friday, Ayatollah Khatami said, “(Trump) be careful not give lion’s tail (referring to Iran) another twist; I hope you will hear these words and realize that the Islamic Iran has a manner and a motto and that is: we will resist until our last breadth.” “We hope that the new US president will fulfill his recent statements that he does not want tensions with any other country, and if not, at least come to know the Iranian nation and avoid doing anything wrong,” he added. Ayatollah Khatami lauded Iran’s diplomacy of impartiality during the US presidential election, and said, “They (Democrats and Republicans ) are the same and both of them are at the service of the Zionists.”..
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Sheikh Mohammed inaugurates the Dubai Water Canal

12/11/2016 (Emirates 24/7): Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has inaugurated the second phase of the Dubai Water Canal, a 12 kilometre waterway that connects Dubai Creek with the Arabian Gulf. The Dubai Water Canal project has been built at a cost of Dh3.7 billion. Crown Prince of Dubai Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai  Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and a number of senior officials, senior business leaders and other dignitaries attended the launch ceremony held in a peninsula near the Jumeirah Beach Park. His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid said that in order to ensure the sustained development of the UAE’s economic capabilities we need to foster innovation, explore new ideas and think outside the box…

http://www.emirates247.com/news/government/sheikh-mohammed-inaugurates-the-dubai-water-canal-2016-11-09-1.643374

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47,000 civilians flee Mosul amid anti-Daesh operations

47,000 civilians flee Mosul amid anti-Daesh operations12/11/2016 (Anadolu Agency – Turkey): More than 47,000 people have fled Iraq’s northern city of Mosul since a major offensive was launched last month to recapture the Daesh-held city, according to Iraq’s Ministry of Migration and Displacement. In a Saturday statement, ministry official Dia Salal said some 3,027 civilians have been relocated from Nineveh province and Kirkuk city to refugee camps in eastern and southern Mosul. “The new influx takes to 47,000 the number of people who have been displaced” since the Mosul operations began, he said. On Thursday, the UN said that around 45,000 civilians have been displaced since the anti-Daesh offensive in Mosul began. On Oct. 18, the Iraqi army — backed by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes and local allies on the ground — launched a wide-ranging operation aimed at retaking Mosul…

http://aa.com.tr/en/middle-east/47-000-civilians-flee-mosul-amid-anti-daesh-operations/684206

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President-elect Trump deserves a chance

12/11/2016 (Al Arabiya News – UAE by Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor* ): Free and fair elections are one of democracy’s main pillars as is the smooth and peaceful transfer of power. America has chosen and, whether one approves of that choice or not, it should be accepted and respected both at home and abroad. It is no secret that while I wrote an op-ed in August, 2015 backing Donald Trump to the hilt and supported his bid for the White House during my keynote address to delegates attending the 24th Annual Arab-US Policymakers Conference held in Washington last year. I felt then – and still do – that a successful businessman would have the skill set to strengthen the US economy, which, in turn, gives a boost to the global economy.I cannot deny that I was shocked and surprised at his stated intention to bar Muslims from visiting the US (an ill-conceived policy that recently disappeared from Trump’s own website), which forced me to rescind my initial enthusiastic endorsement…

*Khalaf Ahmad al-Habtoor is a prominent UAE businessman and public figure. He is Chairman of the Al Habtoor Group

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/views/news/middle-east/2016/11/12/President-elect-Trump-deserves-a-chance.html

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