Tuesday, December 30, 2014

فيديو مضحك جدا جدا جدا جدا

Business - Gold up 2% as oil surges



London — Gold gained around two per cent in thin post-Christmas
trading on Friday, as crude oil prices edged higher and the dollar
remained flat against a basket of major currencies.
Spot gold gained as much as 2.1 per cent to a session high of
$1,199.00 an ounce in early trade and was up 1.8 per cent at $1,194.21
at 14.25 GMT, well above a three-week low of $1,170.17 hit on Monday.
US gold futures for delivery in February also rose 1.8 per cent to $1,194.80 an ounce.
Higher crude prices, as unrest in Libya cut supplies, lent support to
gold on Friday. The metal, which is usually seen as a hedge against
oil-fuelled inflation, has renewed its relationship with oil lately,
mostly suffering from the 5-1/2-year lows hit by crude prices in
previous weeks.
Gold was also supported by a flat dollar, which however remained within reach of a near nine-year peak hit earlier this week.
Liquidity remained thin during the Christmas break as key markets
such as Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore and the UK were closed on
Friday, although New York will be open.
Investor sentiment towards gold is unlikely to improve in the first
few months of 2015, as markets expect the US economy to show continued
signs of strength.
Business - Gold up 2% as oil surges

Business - Trade-weighted euro may be set for shock upswing in 2015

The euro has already lost around three per cent against the dollar since early October - AFP Photo


The euro has already lost around three per cent against the dollar since early October - AFP Photo
While investors are betting the euro will fall against the dollar
next year, hopes that the European economy will therefore get a boost
could be premature: It may not depreciate at all against currencies of
other major trading partners.
As speculation grows that the European Central Bank (ECB) will ease
monetary policy more aggressively, some economists predict the euro
could even slide to parity with the dollar by the end of 2015 from
around $1.22 now.
However, the dollar is no longer the most important element in the
ECB’s trade-weighted euro index, its favoured gauge of the euro’s
strength. That position is now held by the yuan and against the Chinese
currency — along with others such as sterling, the Swiss franc and
Japanese yen — the euro’s prospects are far from clear. The euro has
already lost around three per cent against the dollar since early
October when the ECB said it would buy rebundled packets of debt, as it
tries to fight off the threat of deflation in the eurozone.
Expectations are strong that the ECB will move on to quantitative
easing next year by buying government bonds. This would involve printing
money in the hope of pushing inflation that is close to zero towards
its target of just under two per cent, a policy that should weaken the
euro.
The ECB reckons that a 10 per cent fall in the euro’s effective
exchange rate would deliver 40 to 50 basis points of much-needed
inflation to the eurozone. However, the euro has actually gained around a
third of a per cent on a trade-weighted basis since October.
China is now the eurozone’s biggest trading partner, and the common
currency has held steady against the yuan over the past month while it
has fallen 1.5 per cent against the dollar.
Any euro rise against the yuan would effectively import disinflation
from China, hurting the ECB in its campaign to avoid the kind of
deflation that has hit the Japanese economy so badly in the past decade.
The US economy is expected to grow strongly in 2015, prompting the
Federal Reserve to start raising interest rates and thereby boosting the
dollar, but the outlook for China and its currency is far less clear.
“The potential for the yuan to become more volatile next year is
certainly there,” said Paul Lambert, head of currency at Insight
Investment. “There are certainly scenarios in which the yuan would
weaken.”
Saxo Bank’s Chief Economist Steen Jakobsen reckons the yuan will fall
at least five per cent against the dollar next year as the Chinese
economy slows. Many economists argue that the main way for an ECB
programme of quantitative easing to work would be through weakening the
euro, but this may be tricky to achieve.
Among other constituents in the ECB basket, third-ranked sterling can
expect a bumpy year, with Britain facing its most uncertain
parliamentary election in decades in May.
The euro may also struggle to weaken against the Japanese yen and the Swiss franc, ranked four and five respectively.
The Bank of Japan recently expanded its own programme to stimulate
the domestic economy, while the Swiss National Bank has promised for the
past three years to cap the franc at 1.20 per euro. Earlier this month,
the SNB also said it would start charging banks for deposits in francs
for the first time since the 1970s, hoping to ease upwards pressure on
the currency.
Stephen Gallo, European head of FX strategy at BMO Capital Markets,
said that furthermore, the euro would remain structurally strong, helped
by the eurozone’s current account surplus. ECB measures that would, for
example, revitalise the asset-backed securities (ABS) market, could
attract foreign interest, further supporting the common currency.
“Rather than seeing huge capital outflows because the ECB is offering
cheap liquidity ... you could actually get a decent amount of interest
in euro-denominated asset markets,” he said. “Liberating the capital
markets in the eurozone should be positive for the euro.”
Most of the other constituents in the euro index are other European
currencies, heavily exposed to the eurozone economy and from countries
with very low inflation. According to Toscafund’s chief economist Savvas
Savouri, many of them are set to fall sharply against the euro in 2015
Business - Trade-weighted euro may be set for shock upswing in 2015

Business - UAE trumps world in Net penetration



People visit a mobile shop in Dubai. according to a international telecommunications Union report, 137 million people in the arab world were online by the end of 2013. — KT photo by Shihab









People visit a mobile shop in
Dubai. according to a international telecommunications Union report, 137
million people in the arab world were online by the end of 2013. — KT
photo by Shihab
Abu Dhabi: The UAE is a top nation in terms of the proportion of rural population covered by at least a 3G mobile network.
The nation’s ranking jumped up 14 ranks to 32 from 46, as per the
sixth edition of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) report
‘Measuring the Information Society (MIS) 2014’, which classified the
UAE as being among the “most dynamic” group of countries, having
recorded above-average improvements in the ICT (information and
communication technology) Development Index (IDI) ranking over the past
12 months.
The MIS report, published annually since 2009, features key ICT
developments and monitors the cost and affordability of ICT services.
The report also includes the 2013 ICT Development Index (IDI) which
captures the level of ICT developments in 166 economies worldwide and
compares progress made during the year. The IDI index, which is the core
feature of the MIS 2014 report, ranks countries’ performance with
respect to ICT infrastructure, use and skills.
The report states that the UAE is the highest ranking country in the
world in terms of the proportion of the rural population covered by at
least a 3G mobile network.
According to the report, 137 million people in the Arab world were online by the end of 2013.
The value increases in the access and use sub-indices were both
considerably above the global average. All the indicators included in
the access sub-index showed improvement from 2012 to 2013.
The UAE jumped 12 places from ranking 36 in 2012 to 24 in 2013 in use sub-index and from 38 to 36 in access sub-index.
Furthermore, the report indicated that the price of ICT services are
relatively cheap in the UAE: the UAE ranks among the most affordable
countries in mobile and fixed sub baskets, which cost less than half a
per cent of GNI (gross national income) p.c.
The report also ranks the UAE as sixth in the mobile cellular sub-basket and 14th in the fixed telephone sub-index.
The report confirms that the large improvements in rankings were due
to the expansion of wireless broadband penetration, which doubled from
45 per cent in 2012 to 90 per cent in 2013. Other key drivers were the
high level of household Internet connectivity and the increase in mobile
telephone penetration by more than 17 per cent to 193 per cent in 2013.
The UAE ranked second among all Arab countries in terms of having the
largest proportion of its population online at 88 per cent.
The MIS 2014 shows that the UAE is well above the world, Arab States and developing countries average in terms of the IDI value.
Commenting on the MIS 2014 report, Mohamed Nasser Al Ghanim, director
general of Telecom Regulatory Authority, said: “The significant
achievements of the UAE in the report proves that the TRA is well on its
way to securing its vision of providing an optimal enabling environment
in which the UAE’s ICT sector will emerge as a leader in the global
marketplace. With 88 per cent of individuals in the UAE using the
Internet, the UAE is significantly above the world average of 40 per
cent. This is a testament to the quality of services provided by the
UAE’s ICT sector. 
“A knowledge-based online community is one of the key pillars of the
Leadership’s Vision 2021 which calls for an outstanding ICT
infrastructure that offers an edge to businesses as they transact and
interact with the world,” he added
Business - UAE trumps world in Net penetration

Missing AirAsia jet likely 'at bottom of sea' - Asia-Pacific - Al Jazeera English

An AirAsia plane that went missing with 162 people on board after
takeoff from Indonesia is probably at the bottom of the sea, Indonesia's
National Search and Rescue Agency chief has said.
The statement on Monday came as ships and helicopters scoured the
Java Sea for signs of wreckage from the plane that went missing a day
earlier soon after take off. An Indonesian helicopter reported spotting
two oily spots in the water while an Australian search plane claimed
seeing some objects elsewhere.
It was, however, too early to know whether either sighting was connected to the missing aircraft.
"Based on the coordinates given to us and evaluation that the
estimated crash position is in the sea, the hypothesis is the plane is
at the bottom of the sea," Henry Bambang Soelistyo, Indonesia's National
Search and Rescue Agency chief told reporters.
"That's the preliminary suspicion and it can develop based on the evaluation of the result of our search."
First Admiral Sigit Setiayana, the Naval Aviation Center Commander at
the Surabaya air force base, said that 12 navy ships, five planes,
three helicopters and a number of warships were searching an area of
east and southeast of Indonesia's Belitung island and nearby waters.
Malaysia, Singapore and Australia have joined the operation. 
Al Jazeera's Scott Heidler, reporting from Surabaya, said that
Australia had deployed sophisticated surveillance aircraft in the
multinational search over the Java Sea.
Singapore offered to provide "underwater assistance" which our
correspondent said would be in the form of underwater vehicles as well
as personnel.
The search teams are combing through an area of 200km radius. 
The Airbus A320-200 went missing after air traffic controllers lost
contact with the aircraft about 45 minutes after it left Juanda
international airport at Surabaya in East Java at 5:20am on Sunday
(22:20 GMT Saturday).
Shortly before disappearing, AirAsia said pilots of the plane had
asked permission from Jakarta air traffic control to change course and
climb above bad weather in an area noted for severe thunderstorms.
Investigation ongoing 
Our correspondent said that investigators were checking all passenger
profiles and footage of X-rays of the luggage taken on board, as well as
looking into the maintenance of the plane.
"There are also reports that some fishermen might have heard
something before the news that the plane had disappeared off radar came
out," he said.
The airline said 155 of those on board Flight QZ8501 were
Indonesians, with three South Koreans and one person each from
Singapore, Malaysia, Britain and France.
The aircraft was operated by AirAsia Indonesia, a unit of
Malaysian-based AirAsia which
dominates Southeast Asia's booming
low-cost airline market.


AirAsia said the missing jet last underwent maintenance on November 16. The company has never suffered a fatal accident.
"The plane is in good condition but the weather is not so good,"
Djoko Murjatmodjo told a press conference at Jakarta's airport,
addressing reports of severe storms in the area where the jet went
missing.
An official from Indonesia's Transport Ministry said the pilot asked
to ascend by 6,000 feet to 38,000 feet to avoid heavy clouds.
Climbing to dodge large rain clouds is a standard procedure for aircraft in these conditions.


Missing AirAsia jet likely 'at bottom of sea' - Asia-Pacific - Al Jazeera English

Search area widened for missing AirAsia plane - Asia-Pacific - Al Jazeera English





The search for missing AirAsia flight QZ8501 has
expanded beyond the plane's flight path, three days after the jet
presumably crashed, Indonesia's National Search and Rescue Agency chief has said.
Henry Bambang Soelistyo said on Tuesday that the search area had
widened beyond the islands of Sumatra and Borneo in the Java sea, as 30
ships, 15 aircraft and seven helicopters stepped up efforts to find the Airbus A320-200, carrying 162 people.
Al Jazeera's Scott Heidler, reporting from Surabaya in east Java,
said the search teams were focusing on an area around 70 nautical miles
from Belitung.
Authorities expanded their search to 11,000 nautical miles,
from Pangkalan Bun on the western part of Borneo island to the smaller
islands of Bangka and Belitung.
The focus of the search had previously been over the Java Sea, where there had been no confirmed signs of wreckage.
"Until now, we have not yet found any signal or indication of the plane's whereabouts," Soelistyo said.
The US said in a statement that the USS Sampson, a guided
missile destroyer which was already in the Western Pacific, will arrive
in the area later in the day to join the search. 
"We stand ready to assist in any way possible," Pentagon spokesman Mark Wright said.
China announced plans to send a navy frigate and a military
jet to help, while Australia said it was sending two more Orion aircraft
to join in the search.
Disastrous year
Flight QZ8501 went missing after air traffic controllers
lost contact with the aircraft about 45 minutes after it left Juanda
international airport at Surabaya in East Java at 5.20am on Sunday
(22:20 GMT Saturday).
Shortly before disappearing, AirAsia said the pilot of the plane had
asked permission from air traffic control to change course and climb
above bad weather in an area noted for severe thunderstorms.
The plane's disappearance comes at a sensitive time for Jakarta's
aviation authorities, as they strive to improve the country's safety
reputation to match its status as one of the airline industry's fastest
growing markets.
It also appears to be a third air disaster involving a
Malaysian-affiliated carrier in less than a year, further denting
confidence in that country's aviation industry and spooking air
travellers across the region.
Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 went missing on March 8 on a trip from
Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 passengers and crew and has not been
found.
On July 17, the same airline's Flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board
Search area widened for missing AirAsia plane - Asia-Pacific - Al Jazeera English

Indian cricket sees good, bad and ugly in 2014 | GulfNews.com

  • Image Credit: PTI
  • PTI
    Monumental effort
    Rohit Sharma celebrates after reaching double century during his innings of 264 against Sri Lanka in Kolkata.






New Delhi: From Rohit Sharma’s record-breaking double ton in a One Day
International (ODI) and the national team’s never-ending overseas woes,
to the controversy surrounding BCCI president-in-exile Narayanaswami
Srinivasan over the IPL-6 spot-fixing scandal, Indian cricket had the
good, bad and ugly in equal measure in 2014.

Rohit’s epic innings of 264 against Sri Lanka on the hallowed Eden Gardens turf was the stuff of legends.

The innings spoke about how one-day cricket has evolved over time.
There was a point in time, even 10 years back, when 264 was considered a
good enough score for a team in an ODI.

No one could ever imagine that someone would break the 200-run
individual barrier in ODIs until Sachin Tendulkar became the first. Then
Virender Sehwag bettered it and Rohit also scaled the peak. But 264 not
out was something that few could have ever imagined, though the
batsman’s Test form still remains a cause for concern.
team’s list didn’t have Sachin Tendulkar’s name in it. Life without
Tendulkar actually started in 2014 and it’s been more lows than highs,
if the parameter is performance in Test matches played on foreign soil.

End of an era

It was also the year that probably saw the end of another glorious
bunch of Indian cricketers, who had played with distinction over the
last decade.

Virender Sehwag, arguably the biggest impact player after Tendulkar,
might not play for India again after being overlooked from the 30-man
probables list for the 2015 World Cup.

Similarly, it looks like the selectors have shut the door for good on
Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan and Gautam Gambhir.

Off the field, it was a series of court cases that saw Srinivasan
remaining in exile on the directives of the Supreme Court. Yet he
managed to wield enough power to become the first chairman of the
reorganised ICC and India will now enjoy a bigger slice of the ICC’s
revenue.

The Tamil Nadu strongman is embroiled in a legal tussle with
unsanctioned Cricket Association of Bihar secretary Aditya Verma, who is
believed to be funded by Srinivasan’s bete noire Lalit Modi. As the New
Year dawns, one will watch with intrigue as to who gets to control
Indian cricket
Indian cricket sees good, bad and ugly in 2014 | GulfNews.com

Dubai Football Challenge: Rampant Real Madrid won’t let up against AC Milan | GulfNews.com


  • Image Credit: AP
  • Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo

Dubai: Victory over AC Milan in Tuesday’s Dubai Football Challenge at
The Sevens stadium here would help Real Madrid build momentum towards a
record 24 consecutive competitive wins, Los Blancos coach Carlo
Ancelotti said on Monday.

Fresh from their 2-0 Fifa Club World Cup final win over Argentina’s San
Lorenzo in Morocco last week, Real have now won their last 22
consecutive games in all competitions and are on course to break the
world record of 24 wins in a row set by Brazilian side Coritiba, whose
record winning streak ran from February to May 2011.

Real’s friendly against AC Milan won’t count in the tally, as it’s not a
competitive fixture, but Ancelotti’s side won’t want to lose momentum
ahead of their upcoming games away to Valencia (January 4) and Atletico
Madrid (January 7) — the side they last lost against back in September.
If they win those two games, they would break the record with victory at
home to Espanyol on January 10.

“We are not going to kill the players,” said Ancelotti. “What they need
is rest, but we will play this match the best we can, and the team is
motivated because if we win this game it helps us win the next match.
the weather and atmosphere is good for us, which gives us good
motivation for our games next week.

“We are all happy to be in this moment and we hope it will be the same
in the future. But we have to pay attention because football can be a
little strange — when everything seems good, that’s the moment you fall
down. So we must stay focused and concentrated to continue.

“In football there are no secrets to success,” he added. “There is only hard work, professionalism and organisation.”

Ancelotti added that he would field a full-strength side against AC Milan, with only injured defender Sergio Ramos missing out.

“Every player that is here is going to play,” he said. “I cannot tell
you the line-up from the beginning but all will play. The only players
who won’t be playing are those still in Madrid due to injury. But
Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema are going to play and I hope they
will play well.

“We are happy to be here in Dubai because we have a lot of support here
in the Middle East. Of course we are happy to come here, to play this
game, show our quality and give happiness to our supporters.”

Real and Spain players Isco and Dani Carvajal both agreed the AC Milan match would help the team continue their winning run.

“We know 2015 will be very difficult at the beginning,” midfielder Isco
said. “We will carry on the way we ended 2014 and look to continue the
very long number of consecutive victories. The team is mentally prepared
to face the challenge next year.”

Right-back Carvajal added: “It’s a match we were asked to do in the
winter break but we will take it very seriously. We are excited about
this match because it is good preparation for us as January will be a
hard month for us.”
Dubai Football Challenge: Rampant Real Madrid won’t let up against AC Milan | GulfNews.com

130 buses to offer free rides on New Year’s eve | GulfNews.com



Dubai: More than 130 buses will be deployed to transport people from
various locations to Downtown Dubai, which will once again be the
epicentre of the city’s New Year celebrations, on New Year’s Eve.
As has been the custom in the last four years, since the inauguration
of Burj Khalifa, thousands of residents and visitors are expected to
flock around the iconic tower and the Dubai Mall on the evening of
December 31, joining the fanfare and celebrations, culminating in the
much anticipated spectacle of fireworks.

To ensure the smooth movement of people and to limit congestion on
roads leading to Dubai Mall, the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has
taken multiple steps, including the allotment of 11,000 additional
parking spaces, shuttle bus services from five different parking lots to
Dubai Mall as well as 24-hour metro services and additional taxis.

“We will rely on buses as a prime transit means upon the completion of
the New Year’s celebrations at Burj Khalifa-Dubai Mall where 130 buses
will be deployed, including 100 articulated buses. These buses will
provide free rides for the public on the route from Burj Khalifa–Dubai
Mall station to the Dubai World Trade Centre, and other allotted parking
lots,” said Adel Shakri, Director of Public Transport Systems and Head
of the RTA’s Events Management Team.
which will have 1,500 slots, Meydan with 8,000 slots and Al Jafliyah
near the Dubai naturalisation office with 500 parking slots.

More than 1,000 parking slots will also be provided at Zabeel Park and at the Al Wasl Sports Club
The RTA has urged p
eople to use public transport, especially Dubai Metro, to avoid getting stuck on road.

“The traffic leading to Dubai Mall will be diverted once the parking
inside is packed. There will sign boards before the entries to the area
directing to alternate parking lots,” said Maitha Bin Udai, CEO of RTA’s
Traffic and Roads Agency.

RTA’s taxis dispatch will offer dedicated services for the New Year
revellers and the entire fleet of around 9,000 taxis will deployed for
the services.
buses to offer free rides on New Year’s eve | GulfNews.com

Debris spotted in search for missing AirAsia plane | GulfNews.com


  • Image Credit: AFP
  • This
    aerial view taken from an Indonesian search and rescue aircraft over
    the Java Sea shows floating debris spotted in the same area as other
    items being investigated by Indonesian authorities as possible objects
    from missing AirAsia flight QZ8501 on December 30.
Surabaya: An Indonesia National Search and Rescue spokesman says
several pieces of debris have been spotted floating in the sea off
Borneo island, possibly linked to the missing AirAsia jetliner.

Yusuf Latif says an Indonesian military aircraft saw white, red and
black objects, including what appears to be a life jacket, off the
coast, about 105 miles south of Pangkalan Bun.

The agency has dispatched at least one helicopter to pick up the items
for investigation, which will be taken to the search and rescue
coordination post on Belitung Island
Debris spotted in search for missing AirAsia plane | GulfNews.com

Being content with near perfection | GulfNews.com

Remember those nostalgic days when you were
in school and you were told to chase those straight As? How quickly a
perfectionist learns to live by the words “I’m so pleased, this term I
was top of my class ...” and to enjoy the thrill of impressing others —
and themselves — at the same time. A perfectionist would cry if they
only managed a B+ or ended up in second place.
Some children hated school,
but odds are that the perfectionist child loved it as his or her success
was quantifiable by the results of exams, assignments and teacher
feedback — particularly when they made the grade. The maxim of work hard
and success worked like a dream.
However, those gold stars can
sometimes cause a lifetime of frustration and personal dissatisfaction.
In the adult world, success is measured differently and, not being
structured in the same way as in school, there may well be times when
you miss the good old school days where an A+ was all that you needed to
aspired to.
Of course, there is
absolutely nothing wrong with trying to be perfect — after all, it is an
admirable quality to set high standards and to aim for excellence.
However, perfectionists can take excellence to a more stressful level
than those of mere high achievers.
more, and sometimes enjoy life less because they reject anything that is
not perfect. In fact, the words “almost perfect” can be seen as a sign
of failure. Perfectionists are frequently aware that their constant aim
for high standards are stressful and possibly unrealistic, but they
believe that their drive towards super high levels of productivity
cannot otherwise be obtained.
High achievers, on the other
hand, invariably enjoy the chase just as much as the actual achievement
of the goal itself. However, there are some perfectionists who just see
the goal and nothing else. They’re so concerned with avoiding failure
that they are unable to enjoy the satisfaction of the journey.
Are you a perfectionist? Here are some identifying traits:
* Want all-or-nothing
Perfectionists — similar to
high achievers — tend to set very high goals and constantly work hard
towards reaching their stated targets. However, there is a difference
between the two personality types. High achievers will do their utmost
to work to the best of their capability and be satisfied with results
even if they don’t reach 100 per cent. However, a perfectionist will
usually accept nothing less than 110 per cent of the goal and has little
empathy with any lesser standard.
*Driven to perfection
You know that your drive to
perfection is not necessarily helping your career path or even your
relationships, but you consider it is the price that you pay for
success. The prototypical perfectionist is someone who will go even to
unhealthy lengths to avoid being average, and the pursuit of success at
any cost can frequently be linked to a workaholic, obsessive
personality.
*Find it hard to communicate
Perfectionists often develop a
shield to protect themselves from failure, but it can also get in the
way of connecting with others. Because of an intense fear of failure,
perfectionists usually feel the need to be strong and in control of
their emotions.
* Extra defensive
Because a performance setback
can be difficult to accept, a perfectionist will tend to take
constructive criticism defensively, while high achievers see criticism
as valuable feedback.
* Having unrealistic standards
The goals of a perfectionist are often set so unreasonably high by themselves that they are frequently out of reach.
If you identify with
some of these traits, however, don’t despair. Recognising that a change
in attitude may be needed is an important first step towards creating a
less obsessive nature and achieving the inner peace and real success
that comes from overcoming obsessive perfectionism and being able to say
that “almost perfect’ is still a job well done.
Remember:
* A 100 per cent result is not always necessary or even realistic.
* Perfectionism can be an obsessive trait that can fail to give optimum results.
* Set your targets high and strive to meet them, but not at any cost.
CREDIT: The writer is CEO of an international stress management consultancy and author of ‘Show Stress Who’s Boss!’.
Being content with near perfection | GulfNews.com

Monday, December 29, 2014

Ex-football star scores Liberia senate seat - Africa - Al Jazeera English







Weah won the senate seat over president Sirleaf's son with 78 percent of the vote [AFP]

Former world football star George Weah has won a seat
in Liberia's senate to represent the capital, defeating the son of the
president and boosting his political fortunes ahead of a presidential
election in 2017.


Weah won the Montserrado County seat that includes the capital
Monrovia with 78 percent of the vote, defeating Robert Sirleaf, the son
of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberia's National Elections
Commission said late on Saturday.
Weah, leader of the country's largest opposition party, the Congress
for Democratic Change, lost the 2005 presidential election to Sirleaf
and lost again in 2011 when he was a vice presidential candidate. He is
expected to stand again in 2017.
Weah won FIFA's World Player of the Year in 1995 and was considered one of the greatest African football players in history.
Liberia's efforts to recover from a long civil war that ended in 2003
and reestablish democracy have been hampered this year by an Ebola
epidemic that has killed more than 3,300 people in the country and more
than 7,500 people in West Africa.
"Results from all 4,701 polling places in the country have already
been counted and tallied. The recorded voter turnout for the election is
479,936 which represents 25.2 percent of the total number of registered
voters," election commission chairman Jerome Korkoya said in a
statement following the elections to the senate - the upper house of the
legislature.
Other Senate winners included Jewel Howard Taylor, the former wife of
ex-President Charles Taylor who was convicted by the International
Criminal Court in 2012 on charges including war crimes and crimes
against humanity. Jewel Taylor retained her seat in Bong County,
north-central Liberia.
Former rebel leader Prince Johnson, whose forces captured, tortured
and killed President Samuel Doe during the civil war in 1990, also
retained a seat in Nimba County
Ex-football star scores Liberia senate seat - Africa - Al Jazeera English

Why did Jordan resume the death penalty? - Middle East - Al Jazeera English




According to government figures the majority of Jordanians are in favour of the death penalty [Reuters]
Amman - Last week Jordan put an end to an eight-year moratorium on executions and 11 men were hung at Swaqa prison which has Jordan's only execution chamber.
It was the first time the execution room opened its doors since March 2006 when Jordan hung two men - a Jordanian and a Libyan - who had been convicted of assassinating US diplomat Laurence Foley in 2002 at his residence in Amman.
This
came shortly after Jordan's Interior Minister Hussein Majali announced
 at a press conference last month that "the government was very
seriously looking into resuming the death penalty".
Jordanian officials cited the "rise in crime" as a justification for resuming the death penalty.
"It
has become a necessity to deter people from committing vicious crimes
which have started to appear in our society," Ziad al-Zoubi,
spokesperson for the interior ministry told Al Jazeera.


According
to the Department of Public Statistics, homicide rates have increased
gradually from 100 cases in 2008, to 153 in 2012.
Both Jordan's department of statistics and the public security department told Al Jazeera that the statistics for the years 2013 and 2014 "were not finalised yet".
Zoubi
and other officials said the "vast majority" of Jordanians support the
death penalty, but no studies have been released by the interior
ministry to prove that as of yet.
But two days after the executions took place, the Strategic Studies Centre at the University of Jordan released a survey saying that 81 percent of polled Jordanians support the death penalty. 
The
11 men who were hung on Sunday were "the oldest batch" of those
sentenced to death in Jordan for committing "ugly" crimes which killed
17 people in total, according to officials.

With these executions, Jordan loses its standing as a rare progressive voice on the death penalty in the region.


- Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director of Human Rights Watch
While no one was executed during the eight-year ban, death
sentences, however, continued to be issued making the total number of
people on death row 133, according to the Ministry of Interior.
Activists
were hoping that the moratorium would eventually result in abolishing
the death penalty. Sunday's executions, however, were a setback for
their efforts.
"With
these executions, Jordan loses its standing as a rare progressive voice
on the death penalty in the region," Sarah Leah Whitson, the Middle
East director of Human Rights Watch, said in a
statement condemning the executions.
"Reviving this inherently cruel form of punishment is another way Jordan is backsliding on human rights," she added.
Jordanian
lawyer and human rights activist Asma Khader told Al Jazeera that the
"death penalty did not only - historically - fail to reduce crimes, but
also implementing such a cruel punishment justifies killing".
"The
death penalty underestimates the value of the human soul," Khader, a
key founder of the anti-death penalty coalition, told Al Jazeera.
Khader,
along with other critics, say that the rise in crime "comes in line
with the growing population, almost 9 million now", as well as the
influence of the violence flaring in the region.
"Violent scenes are broadcasted daily on TV stations," Khader said.  


Supporters of the death penalty, however, say it brings justice to the victims and their families and could prevents tha'r (the revenge killing committed by the family of the victim).
"Punishing
the murderer is a right for innocent victims, which the state and the
people are responsible for ensuring," columnist Majed Tubeh wrote in
al-Ghad newspaper, adding that it will help prevent Jordan from (the
consequences) of the tradition of tha'r.
"If
I was a mother of one of the victims, I would not want the killer to
spend a few years in jail and then walk on the streets freely," said
54-year-old Amal Ibraheem.
In
Jordan, a "life sentence" amounts to a 20-year imprisonment. Opponents
of the death penalty say an amendment to the penal code is an
alternative to executions.   
"We
are disappointed that this demand [to introduce a lifelong
imprisonment] was not met. A lifetime sentence would balance between the
rights of the victims and the need to deter people," Khader said.
Local media focused on the horrific aspects of the executions by displaying images of the execution room and detailing the step-by-step process of the execution. A list of the names was released, as well as the crimes with which these men were charged.
In
one case, three of the executed men had confessed to vandalising the
victim's house, murdering her, and then raping her. Another was
convicted for shooting dead his three brothers and two nephews over an
inheritance dispute. Other cases included premeditated murders over
personal and work disputes.
In
Jordan, death sentences are issued by the Supreme Crimes Court and the
State Security Court. The first issues the death penalty for people
convicted of premeditated murder, murder of a parent, murder to
facilitate or hide another crime, theft or rape, and having sex with a
girl below the age of 15, according to Judge Fawzi al-Nahar.
Among
those on death row is Sajida Rishawi after being sentenced for her role
in an attempted suicide bombing attack in 2005 [EPA]
State Security Court issues death sentences to people convicted of terror charges, including to the failed suicide bomber Sajida Rishawi for the triple hotel attacks in the capital in 2005.
Lifting the ban comes as Jordan adopts the use of "force" to "maintain stability", according to commentator Fahad Kheetan.
"This
is a part of the general trend of tightening the security grip,
enforcing law by force, and encountering the challenge of terrorist
movements," he said.
In
a few cases, the relatives of victims of murder, rioted, blocked roads,
and set buildings on fire, calling on the government to arrest and
punish the murderers. Kheetan says "the government was trying to reduce
this response" by the executions.  
Other
analysts, however, argue that the issue remains confusing as the
decision lacks "transparency" and the pubic was not given enough
information.
"Lack
of transparency triggers doubts and invites speculations," US-based
Jordanian journalist and commentator, Imad Rawashdeh told Al Jazeera,
adding that "people are entitled to ask questions on why this group? Why
execute them together?"  
But
as combating crimes requires more than security measures, "it is very
difficult for people and observers to believe that the government's
motive is to reduce crimes while it is not implementing social
strategies to eradicate poverty, which is a major source of crime",
Rawashdeh added.  
Meanwhile,
it remains unclear what the next step would be as Jordanian officials
did not confirm or deny whether Jordan will execute the remaining people
on death row.
Why did Jordan resume the death penalty? - Middle East - Al Jazeera English

Inequality: Are the rich cashing in? - Head to Head - Al Jazeera English

"You don't want to make the rich poor; you want to make the poor
richer," says Arthur Laffer, an economist who laid the intellectual
foundations for Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher's right-wing
policies in the 1980s.

It is not true that Congress spends money like a drunken sailor.
Drunken sailors spend their own money. Congress spends our money.


But should we really be cutting services to the poor while we cut
taxes for the rich? Has the spread of 'Reaganomics' really helped the
world's poor?
In this episode of Head to Head, Mehdi Hasan challenges
Arthur Laffer on whether free market economics still makes sense in the
wake of the financial crisis, and on his famous 'Laffer Curve,' through
which he advocates cutting taxes on high earners.
Arthur Laffer has been described as "the father of supply-side economics".
Joining the discussion are Ann Pettifor, Director of Policy Research
in Macroeconomics (PRIME), Faiza Shaheen, Head of Inequality at Save the
Children UK, and Adam Memon, Head of Economic Research at the Centre
for Policy Studies.
Inequality: Are the rich cashing in? - Head to Head - Al Jazeera English

Bahrain detains Shia opposition leader - Middle East - Al Jazeera English



Salman was among several prominent figures who led a rally near the capital Manama on Friday [Reuters]
Bahraini authorities have detained the head of the
main Shia Muslim opposition group after he was summoned for questioning
over unspecified violations.
The Interior Ministry said on Sunday that Sheikh Ali Salman, the
secretary-general of al-Wefaq Islamic Society, had been summoned for
questioning by the General Directorate of Criminal Investigation.
"Legal procedures are now being finalised ahead of referring the case
to the Public Prosecution," it said in a statement, without
elaborating.
A lawyer who represents al-Wefaq said the charges include incitement
against the government, calling for its overthrow by force and inciting
the youth to revolt, al-Wasat newspaper reported.
The ministry also said that about 2,000 people participated in
Friday's march and that some "violations" had been recorded, but did not
specify.
'Uncalculated adventure'
Salman was among several prominent figures who led a rally on Friday
near the capital, Manama, staged to protest against last month's general
elections, which the opposition boycotted.
Al-Wefaq, which was established in 2002 after an announcement of
political reforms the previous year, described Salman's detention as "a
dangerous and uncalculated adventure that complicates the political and
security scene in Bahrain".
The island kingdom has been gripped by tension since 2011 protests
led by majority Shia Muslims demanding reforms and a bigger role in
running the country.
Bahrain has faced sporadic unrest since authorities quelled the 2011
protests against the Sunni-led monarchy with support from other members
of the Gulf Cooperation Council.
Demonstrations have increasingly given way to bomb attacks on the
security forces. At least two people were killed in two separate attacks
this month.
Bahrain detains Shia opposition leader - Middle East - Al Jazeera English

Yachting: Wild Oats XI wins Sydney-Hobart - Sailing - Al Jazeera English


The nine-year-old yacht crossed the line after two days, two hours, three minutes and 26 seconds [AP]
Supermaxi Wild Oats XI won its eighth line honours in
the Sydney to Hobart race on Sunday, officials said, to become the most
successful yacht in the history of the competition.
The Mark Richards-skippered 100-footer crossed the finish line ahead
of American newcomer Comanche in the gruelling 628 nautical mile (1,163
kilometre) race down the east coast of southern Australia, organisers
the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia said.
The nine-year-old yacht crossed the line after two days, two hours,
three minutes and 26 seconds at 3.03pm (0403 GMT), while Comanche
finished in two days, two hours, 52 minutes and 44 seconds.
"It was our toughest race. To have a boat (Comanche) so close is
always difficult, especially when they are going faster than you,"
Richards told reporters in Hobart after the yacht crossed the line at
Battery Point.
"We managed to pull it off and I just said to the guys, we have just
got to hang in there, hang tough, minimise the losses and wait for the
first opportunity we could to attack and we did and it paid off."
Wild Oats XI, one of five supermaxis -- the biggest and fastest
yachts -- in this year's race was also first across the line every year
from 2005 to 2008 and in 2010, 2012 and 2013.
It surpassed the record of Morna/Kurrewa IV, which won seven line honours titles in the 1950s and in 1960.
But choppy seas during the race meant the leaders were unable to
challenge the race record set by Wild Oats XI in 2012 of one day, 18
hours, 23 minutes and 12 seconds.
The brand-new, cutting-edge Comanche, owned by American technology
entrepreneur Jim Clark, had a stellar start when it flew out of Sydney
Harbour at the start on Friday, followed closely by Wild Oats XI.
But as the boats turned south they encountered choppy seas, prompting
the fleet to spread out as they tried to avoid the worst of the
weather.
By morning the winds had eased, giving an advantage to the slim-line
Wild Oats XI, owned by billionaire Bob Oatley, which broke away from the
wider-bodied Comanche on Saturday afternoon.
- 'Exciting moment' -
Wild Oats XI extended its lead on the second night, taking advantage
of a high-pressure ridge in the Bass Strait, although Comanche narrowed
the gap to 10 nautical miles at Tasman Island on Sunday.
"It all went really, really well. To win a Hobart is such a great
honour, but to win an eighth one, it's just wonderful," Richards said.
"The opportunity to rewrite a bit of sailing history doesn't happen
every day of the week, that's for sure. Just a very exciting moment."
Oatley said his yacht would "definitely be back next year", adding:
"It's a miracle... she is the best boat in the world, she's proved
that."
Clark said he was not sure if Comanche would be back to race next year, but praised Wild Oats XI and its crew.
"Wild Oats and Mark Richards ran one hell of a race and it's a really excellent boat," he said.
The Sydney to Hobart was Comanche's first major ocean race, with
accomplished American skipper Ken Read admitting before the start that
the yacht -- which is broader than its class rivals and has a towering
150-foot mast set further back than most -- was not perfect for the
competition.
Perpetual Loyal, another supermaxi, was the most high-profile
retirement after withdrawing with hull damage, while Brindabella, a
former line honours winner, also pulled out after it started taking on
excess water due to damage to rudder bearings.
The 70th Sydney to Hobart bluewater classic drew its biggest fleet since 1994 of 117 yachts.
Yachting: Wild Oats XI wins Sydney-Hobart - Sailing - Al Jazeera English

Tsunami survivors celebrate 'second life' - Al Jazeera Blogs




Survivors of Asia's 2004 tsunami and relatives of its 226,000

victims cried and prayed as they gathered along Indian Ocean shorelines

on Friday for memorials [Reuters]


                                                                                                     “I’m celebrating my second life,”  
says Thomas Leuenberger, a Swiss tourist who survived the Indian Ocean
tsunami in 2004, when I ask him why he comes back to Khao Lak, Thailand
every year for the anniversary. 
He didn’t need to tell me how
traumatised he’d been by the experience because when we first met he’d
had to take a moment to calm down and recover after listening to fellow
survivors recount their experiences.  
He was just one of several
foreign tourists and Thai people whom we met while covering the
commemoration of a decade since the killer wave struck. 
They all spoke of the sharp pain of the memories they carry with them, all saying it is as if it happened yesterday.
Khao
Lak has changed tremendously since that day.  The streets are bustling
with families on holiday, backpackers and tour operators.  German
bakeries, Indian restaurants, Italian cafés and of course Thai eateries
jostle for customers.  
Before the tsunami struck, it was a
relatively quiet tourist destination.  There weren’t the glitzy big
resorts that are typical of Phuket, a few kilometres south off the
coast.
Nevertheless, thousands of foreigners, almost as many as
Thai people were killed. The place was laid waste by the force of the
massive waves, only a few trees and the shells of some of the strong
buildings were left standing.
Dead bodies of men, but mostly women and children were scattered all over the place and the stench was overwhelming.
One
Thai woman who owns a guesthouse and bar with her Swiss husband told me
her greatest fear at that time was how she would make a living if the
tourists didn’t come back.
Somphit Lambert told me she and her
husband only had the clothes they were wearing; everything else was
destroyed.  But slowly and painfully she and others rebuilt their lives
out of the trauma and grief, finding the courage and endurance to
reconstruct their homes and businesses, literally brick by brick.
I
hadn’t been back to Phuket for holidays since the tsunami hit.  I
didn’t feel that I could relax and enjoy myself in a place where so many
had died and there had been so much suffering;  That changed this week
as I saw for myself how people from around the world had supported each
other on every level so that Khao Lak is thriving today even more than
before the tsunami. 
Friends, governments, aid organisations and
the international community have turned the world’s first global
disaster into a story of survival and endurance.
Tsunami survivors celebrate 'second life' - Al Jazeera Blogs

For oil prices, the question is who blinks first | GulfNews.com

Oil is going to rebound. That is the view of both Harold Hamm, a
leading figure in the US shale industry, and veteran Saudi oil minister
Ali Al Nuaimi. However, both have sharply contrasting views on how that
recovery will come about.

Oversupply of oil caused a near-50 per cent fall in prices in the past
six months, and producers worldwide have been locked in a battle over
who will cut output to bring the market back into balance

.
Al Nuaimi suggested in an interview with the Middle East Economic
Survey that he expected higher-cost production, in Russia, Brazil, west
Africa and the shale oilfields of the US to be squeezed out of the
market. Oilfields in the Gulf, he said, had production costs of just
$4-$5 per barrel, and in any market economy, “high efficiency producing
countries are the ones that deserve market share”.

However, Hamm, one of the leading figures in the US shale oil industry,
argued that pressure was building on Saudi Arabia and other large
oil-producing countries because of their need to fund expensive social
welfare programmes.

“They can’t live with these prices,” he told the Financial Times. “They
can talk pretty bravely, until people are knocking on their door.”

Either they would voluntarily decide to cut their production, he suggested, or political instability would do it for them.

Almost a month on from the Opec ministerial meeting on November 27 that
rejected calls for production cuts and sent crude prices into
free-fall, the weight of evidence seems to lie more on Al Nuaimi’s side.

Private sector oil companies have been announcing sharp cutbacks in
their planned capital spending, with US shale producers in the vanguard.
ConocoPhillips announced a cut of about 20 per cent for next year
compared to 2014, as did Marathon Oil.

Hamm’s own Continental Resources, where he is chief executive and has a
68 per cent stake, announced it would spend $2.7 billion (Dh9.9
billion) on wells and other investment next year. That is 40 per cent
less than its expected spending for 2014, and also about 40 per cent
less than its previous plan for 2015, announced in October. That plan
was itself a reduction from the previous projection of $5.2 billion,
announced in September.

Lower costs for drilling, hydraulic fracturing and other services are
expected to take some of the strain. Continental thinks it can cut the
cost of each well by at least 15 per cent next year, as reduced activity
forces service companies to cut their rates.

However, the scale of its spending cuts still means that it will not be
able to drill as many wells as it had previously hoped. It plans to
keep 31 rigs running on average next year, down from 50 now.

Across the US shale industry, signs of a slowdown are mounting up. The
total number of rigs running in the Williston basin, which includes the
Bakken shale of North Dakota where Continental produces most of its oil,
is already down 9 per cent from its recent peak in October to 180,
according to Baker Hughes, the oil services company. The numbers of rigs
running in the Eagle Ford shale and the Permian basin, in the south and
west of Texas respectively, have also fallen.

Companies are still generally projecting production growth —
Continental, for example, says it expects its average 2015 output to be
16-20 per cent higher than 2014’s level — but by the second half of next
year growth is likely to be slow at best.

As Al Nuaimi points out, production from shale wells falls very sharply
in their first year of operation, so companies need to keep drilling if
they are to sustain their output. However, Hamm argues that in this
struggle between companies such as Continental and large oil-producing
countries, the companies have an advantage because they are more
flexible. “It’s easier to adjust a company than a country,” he says.

Russia’s financial crisis has been dominating the headlines in recent
weeks, but Venezuela and Nigeria are also under severe pressure, and
Hamm argues that other countries could be affected too.

“You very well could see revolution in some of these countries,” he
says. “When people start talking about unintended consequences [of the
oil price collapse], this is something they think about pretty quickly.”

Even Saudi Arabia with its large foreign exchange reserves could find
its finances strained, he adds. “They may have a pretty good stockpile
of cash, but that can dry up real quick. They have budgets too, and they
have to meet the expectations of a lot of people.”

Hamm’s conclusion is that the price of oil is likely to rebound, if not
immediately to its $100 per barrel level from June, then certainly to a
sustainable level of about $85-$90.

The type of political volatility that Hamm raises as a risk, however,
is by definition unpredictable, whereas the pressures on US companies’
cashflows and balance-sheets are relatively easy to predict. Eric Otto,
an analyst at CLSA, identified Continental as heading for an imminent
funding shortfall under its old capital spending plan, but there are
other companies including Whiting Petroleum and SandRidge Energy that he
says are facing similar problems within 18 months.

Standard & Poor’s, the rating agency, said it had a negative
outlook for ConocoPhillips because of the company’s rising debts,
meaning that if its financial position deteriorates more than the agency
expects, it could downgrade the group from it’s a rating.

Al Nuaimi suggested in his MEES interview that it could be three years
before low prices choked off high-cost oil production around the world.
However, he was confident the Gulf countries, and especially Saudi
Arabia, could afford to hold out.

Hamm described those comments as “bravado”. His fellow shale producers will be hoping desperately that he is right.
For oil prices, the question is who blinks first | GulfNews.com

Rouble fall creates turbulence for Russian airlines | GulfNews.com

Moscow: Their international competitors may
be cheering tumbling oil prices, but the collapse in the rouble has
meant major financial turbulence for Russian airlines who have expenses
in foreign currencies.
The rouble has slumped by 40
per cent this year against the dollar and euro, mostly due to crude oil
prices falling by half in the past six months as Russia’s economy is
heavily dependent upon oil exports.
As jet fuel accounts for upwards of a quarter of the cost for flights, most airlines are set to see a boost to earnings.
Russian airlines also stand
to benefit, but that is expected to pale in comparison to the double
whammy resulting from the drop in the value of the rouble.
First, traffic on their most
profitable international routes has dropped as Russians stopped
travelling as their purchasing power has been eroded, not to mention
ticket prices being jacked up twice by 10 per cent.
Second, the airlines have
considerable costs in foreign currencies — mostly aircraft leases —
which have nearly doubled in rouble terms as the currency has slumped.
According to
Deutsche Bank, Russia’s leading airline Aeroflot earns 90 per cent of
its revenue in roubles while 60 per cent of its costs are in foreign
currencies.
“The situation is very serious,” said Oleg Panteleyev, the editor-in-chief of the specialist website AviaPort.
“The result is obvious: as a
drop in traffic is inevitable, they must return planes to lessors,
reduce foreign currency costs and lower the number of planes and
flights,” he said.
With traffic rising by 15 to
20 per cent annually in recent years, Russian airlines have leased and
ordered new planes from Airbus and Boeing to retire their ageing fleet
of gas-guzzling Russian aircraft.
Uncertainty has hovered for
weeks over the third-largest Russian airline, Utair. Unable to repay
some of its debts, Alfa Bank has been trying in court to seize its
aircraft.
Then this past week doubts
began to surface about the finances of number two airline Transaero,
which boasts a fleet of more than 100 mostly Boeing aircraft.
TASS news agency reported that it had appealed to the government for help to avoid having to suspend flights.
Holiday connections
Even if Transaero denounced
the report as an attempt to destabilise it by competitors, the
possibility of thousands of Russian tourists stranded abroad as happened
this past summer when a number of travel agencies went bust was enough
to prod the government into quick action.
Anxious to show it was moving
to contain the effects of the currency crisis, the government promised
to help airlines by subsidising domestic routes and providing loan
guarantees to ensure airlines had access to funds.
On Wednesday Transaero was
granted a loan guarantee of 9 billion roubles (140 million euros, $170
million). The same day Alfa Bank said it was temporarily suspending, “at
the request of the government”, its legal action against Utair in order
to avoid disruptions to flights during the upcoming holidays.
The government has a clear
short-term goal, according to Panteleyev: “the airlines must transport
all the passengers over the holidays”.
Russia nearly shuts down at
the beginning of the year as most people take holiday between the New
Year and the Russian Orthodox Christmas, celebrated this year on
Thursday January 7.
Panteleyev said “obtaining
loans is indispensable ... to pay for jet fuel, airport fees and
salaries, but it isn’t sufficient to survive.”
With the Russian central bank
expecting the country’s economy to contract by nearly 5 per cent if oil
prices remain at current levels and for there to be no recovery before
2017, there won’t be an easy out for airlines.
Complete upheaval
Deputy Prime Minister Arkady
Dvorkovich warned airlines that the government aid would not help unless
they optimised their fleet and routes and cut costs. Their owners would
also have to pump money into them, he said.
Alexei Khazbiyev, a transportation specialist with the magazine Expert, also sees dark clouds ahead for Russian airlines.
“Next year, the traffic on
international flights will continue to drop and the airlines will reduce
their number of flights,” he said.
Khazbiyev estimated that a
majority of Russian airlines will lose money and several smaller
regional companies may go bust, as happened in 2008-2009.
Air transport expert
Elizabeta Kuznetsova wrote in a recent commentary in the business daily
Kommersant that even if the state measures “soften the pain” for
airlines there risks being a “complete upheaval in the market” in 2015.
Rouble fall creates turbulence for Russian airlines | GulfNews.com

Business heads cannot stop at just charting a course | GulfNews.com

Intrigued by the idea that leaders pick hobbies reflecting their
leadership habits, I asked an award-winning equestrian rider, who is
also a leading Emirati businessman, “What have you learnt about leading
from your hobby?”

An equestrian endurance race is the equivalent of a marathon in the
running world. It is a gruelling race over natural terrain — you could
say a cross-county “trail” and it lasts upwards of 10 hours, depending
on how good of a rider you are.

Hours into the physically challenging 160-kilometre race, sitting atop a
horse, it is tempting for even the most seasoned jockey to be
distracted by what is happening around him. There are periodic and
required veterinary checks along the course to make sure the horse is
still in good health and fit to continue. Because of the nature of the
sport, every caution is taken to ensure the safety and health of the
horses.

The mandatory maximum allowable heart rate is typically 60 beats per
minute. This acts like a throttle on how hard the rider can push his
horse. During the checks, if the horse’s heart rate exceeds the maximum
target, then the rider has to wait for it to drop. All the while, the
rider’s time keeps running.

The care necessary to make sure the horse is riding hard but not
breaking is of foremost concern for a rider. After all, horses love to
run and they want to run hard. But it is the jockey’s role to know just
how hard the horse can do so without breaking.

It’s the same for a leader, you have to know exactly how hard you can
push your employees without them breaking and then make sure they work
at their peak. Too hard and they’ll break. Not enough and they’ll get
soft and lose their motivation.

Therefore, the rider must have a great knowledge of pace, knowing when
to slow down or speed up, as well as a great knowledge of their horse’s
condition and signs of tiring.

In a marathon, there are water stations every five kilometres, so the
runner can grab a drink to combat dehydration. While there are water
stops along the trail in an endurance race, interestingly, the rider
gives the water first to the horse to cool him down. The welfare of the
horse is paramount. Another great leadership point — take care of your
people first.

The leadership point that resonated most with me is “where you look,
your horse will go”. As a jockey you must stay 100 per cent focused on
your destination. Ten hours on the back of the horse and you cannot lose
focus. Through all of the distractions and requirements you must stay
focused. There is no time to enjoy the scenery if you want to win.

Usually, riders are given a map or GPS way points for the course, which
shows the route, the places for compulsory halts and any natural
obstacles (such as ditches, steep hills, and water crossings). This is
your guide map to win the race. Then the work of the leader kicks in —
to stay focused on the course.

In business, where you look, so will your employees. And when they
shift their focus, problems with execution emerge. Like the rider who
shifts his focus and costs him a victory, when you lose focus, achieving
your goals is at risk.

Distractions along the race can detract from crossing the finish line
first. In a typical horse race, the horse wears blinkers, also known as
blinders. But blinkers are not enough. The horse actually takes its cue
from the jockey. Where the jockey looks, he leans — even so slightly, so
that the horse goes in that direction.

So instead of the blinders being on the horse, the rider needs them as
well. Their aim is to keep focus — not to look back or to the side. The
leader is just like the rider who keeps his horse focused.

Where the leader looks, the followers also do.

 

The writer is a leadership adviser and author of ‘10 Tips for Leading
in the Middle East and other writings. Follow him on Twitter:
@tommyweir.
Business heads cannot stop at just charting a course | GulfNews.com