Oman Reports First Two Cases Of Coronavirus, Halts Flights To Iran

This photo taken on January 28, 2020 shows medical staff members cheering up a patient infected by the novel coronavirus in an isolation ward at a hospital in Zouping in China’s easter Shandong province.  STR / AFP

 

Oman on Monday reported its first two cases of coronavirus, and halted flights to and from Iran with immediate effect, authorities and reports said.

Two Omani women who had returned from Iran — which is battling the deadliest outbreak outside China — were diagnosed with the disease and were in a stable condition, state TV reported.

The civil aviation authority said in a tweet that it was “suspending all civilian flights between the sultanate and the Islamic Republic of Iran starting today and until further notice”.

AFP

World Leaders In Oman Pay Respects After Sultan’s Death

A handout picture published on the Tunisian Presidency official Facebook page on January 12, 2020, shows Tunisian President Kais Saied (L) meeting with Oman’s Sultan Haitham bin Tariq in the Omani capital Muscat.  AFP

 

Britain’s Prince Charles and Prime Minister Boris Johnson joined regional leaders in Oman on Sunday to offer their condolences to the royal family after the death of long-reigning Sultan Qaboos.

A ceremony at Muscat’s Alam Palace drew figures from across political divides in the Middle East, including Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed and Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani.

Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was among those who met the new sultan, along with Tunisian President Kais Saied, Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, and Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.

Former French leader Nicolas Sarkozy was also in attendance at the ceremony, which took place a day after the new royal ruler Haitham bin Tariq was selected and sworn in.

READ ALSO: Oman’s Longest-Reigning Sultan Qaboos dies At 79

Haitham is a cousin of Qaboos, who never married and died Friday at the age of 79 without an heir apparent.

It was Sultan Qaboos’ policy of neutrality and non-interference that elevated Oman’s standing as a “Switzerland of the Middle East” and won it respect in the region and beyond.

It maintains healthy relations with the United States as well as with regional powers Iran and Saudi Arabia, in what many diplomatic observers see as a model of balance.

Sultan Qaboos, who ruled for half a century, came to power in 1970 when he overthrew his father in a coup with British support.

As a young man, he attended Britain’s elite Sandhurst Royal Military Academy, after which he joined a British infantry battalion in Germany.

British premier Johnson is to meet with the new sultan and senior Omani officials during his visit, his office said in a statement.

“The UK and Oman have a broad and long-standing bilateral relationship that goes back over 200 years,” it said. “Our countries have deep economic ties and shared defence and security interests.”

As ruler, Qaboos modernised his country but also forged a broader role as a go-between in regional and international crises.

Under his reign, Oman refrained from taking sides in the Saudi-led blockade of Qatar as well as a military intervention in Yemen led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The sultan’s death comes amid increased tensions between Tehran and Washington, following the US killing of a top Iranian commander in Iraq that raised fears the region was sliding into war.

The late sultan’s standing has been recognised with warm tributes from across the world, including from US President Donald Trump who said Qaboos was a “true partner and friend to the United States”.

AFP

Oman Govt Swears-in Cousin Of Late Sultan As Royal Ruler

An image grab taken from Oman TV on January 11, 2020, shows Oman’s newly sworn-in Sultan Haitham bin Tariq. 
OMAN TV / AFP

 

Haitham bin Tariq, Oman’s culture minister and the 65-year-old cousin of late Sultan Qaboos, has been sworn in as the new royal ruler, the government said Saturday.

“Haitham bin Tariq was sworn in as the new sultan of the country… after a meeting of the family which decided to appoint the one who was chosen by the sultan,” the government said in a tweet.

Sultan Qaboos, the longest-reigning leader of the modern Arab world who died Friday at the age of 79, was unmarried and had no children, and left no apparent heir.

READ ALSO: Planes Brought Down By Missiles Since 1973

According to the Omani constitution, the royal family had three days to determine the successor and if they failed to agree, the person chosen by Qaboos in a letter addressed to the family would be the successor.

Most experts had expected the throne to go to Asad bin Tariq, another cousin, who was appointed deputy prime minister for international relations and cooperation affairs in 2017 in what was seen as a clear message of support.

Haitham, a sports enthusiast, held the position of undersecretary of the ministry of foreign affairs for political affairs before becoming the minister of heritage and culture in the mid-1990s.

He was also the first head of Oman’s football federation in the early 80s.

AFP

Oman’s Longest-Reigning Sultan Qaboos dies At 79

(FILES) In this file photo taken on December 03, 2007 Omani leader Sultan Qaboos bin Said attends the opening of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit in Doha. Sultan Qaboos, who ruled Oman for almost half a century, has died at the age of 79, the Omani news agency said January 11, 2020.
Karim JAAFAR / AFP

 

Sultan Qaboos, the longest-reigning leader of the modern Arab world, has died at the age of 79, the royal court said Saturday.

“With great sorrow and deep sadness… the royal court mourns His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said, who passed away on Friday,” the court said in a statement.

Qaboos, who has ruled since 1970 when he deposed his father in a palace coup, had been ill for some time and had been believed to be suffering from colon cancer.

READ ALSO: Oman Govt Swears-in Cousin Of Late Sultan As Royal Ruler

He left no apparent heir. He was unmarried and had no children or brothers.

It is not clear who will succeed Qaboos, whose country has a distinct method of choosing the next ruler.

According to the Omani constitution, the royal family shall, within three days of the throne falling vacant, determine the successor.

If the family does not agree on a name, the person chosen by Qaboos in a letter addressed to the royal family will be the successor.

The sultan should be a member of the royal family, as well as “Muslim, mature, rational and the legitimate son of Omani Muslim parents”.

Local experts say that more than 80 men meet the criteria, but one name stands: Asad bin Tariq.

Tariq, 65, had been appointed deputy prime minister for international relations and cooperation affairs in 2017.

The move was seen as a clear message of support to the sultan’s cousin and “special representative” since 2002.

Qaboos transformed the Arabian Peninsula nation from a backwater into a modern state while pursuing a moderate but active foreign policy.

Having played a role in Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers while preserving its membership in the Saudi-led Gulf Cooperation Council, Oman has emerged as the Gulf’s discreet mediator.

It remains to be seen whether the next ruler will take the same moderate approach in a region often in turmoil.

AFP

3.2 Billion People At Risk Of Malaria Globally – Who Report

malaria attack The World Health Organisation (WHO), says about 3.2 billion people remain at risk to malaria attack globally.

A WHO report released on Monday on World Malaria Day entitled: “Eliminating Malaria”says that in 2015 alone, 214 million new cases of the disease were reported in 95 countries and no fewer than 400,000 people died of the disease.

The report is coming a year after the World Health Assembly resolved to eliminate malaria from at least 35 countries by 2030. The report shows the goal, although ambitious, is achievable.

In 2015, all countries in the WHO European Region reported, for the first time, zero indigenous cases of malaria, down from 90 000 cases in 1995. Outside this region, eight countries reported zero cases of the disease in 2014 – Argentina, Costa Rica, Iraq, Morocco, Oman, Paraguay, Sri Lanka and United Arab Emirates.

A statement by a spokesperson for WHO, Christian Lindmeier, said, the “Global Technical Strategy for Malaria 2016-2030”, approved by the World Health Assembly in 2015, calls for the elimination of local transmission of malaria in at least 10 countries by 2020.

WHO’s estimates show that 21 countries are in a position to achieve this goal, including six countries in the African region, where the burden of the disease is heaviest.

“Our report shines a spotlight on countries that are well on their way to eliminating malaria,” the Director of the WHO Global Malaria Programme, Dr Pedro Alonso said.

“WHO commends these countries while also highlighting the urgent need for greater investment in settings with high rates of malaria transmission, particularly in Africa. Saving lives must be our first priority.”

Since the year 2000, malaria mortality rates have declined by 60% globally. In the WHO African Region, malaria mortality rates fell by 66% among all age groups and by 71% among children under five years.

WHO pointed out that reaching the goals of the “Global Technical Strategy” would require a steep increase in global and domestic funding—from $2.5 billion today to an estimated $8.7 billion annually by 2030.

“Through robust financing and political will, affected countries can speed progress towards malaria elimination and contribute to the broader development agenda as laid out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” it stressed.

US Strike Kills 150 Somali Militants

Somali MilitantsThe Pentagon said that over 150 Al-Shabab militants in Somalia have been killed in a US air strike.

Spokesman, Captain Jeff Davis, said that the strike hit a training camp where a “large-scale” attack was being planned.

The strike launched on the militants by both drones and manned aircraft, took place on Saturday and targeted Raso Camp, a training facility about 120 miles north of the capital, Mogadishu.

Mr Davis said that the camp had been under surveillance for some time.

The group has said it carried out a string of recent attacks including a twin bomb at a busy restaurant in the Somali city of Baidoa last month.

Also on Monday, the Australian navy said it had seized a huge cache of weapons on a fishing boat off the coast of Oman that was apparently heading for Somalia.

Grenade launchers, machine guns, and 2,000 assault rifles were concealed under fishing nets, a Navy spokesman said.

Al-Shabab, an affiliate of Al-Qaeda, was pushed out of Mogadishu by African Union Peacekeeping Forces in 2011, but has continued to launch frequent attacks in its bid to overthrow the western-backed government.

Buhari To Lead Nigeria’s Delegation To Forum Of Gas Exporting Countries

BuhariPresident Muhammadu Buhari will depart Abuja on Sunday for Tehran where he will participate in the 3rd Gas Exporting Countries’ Forum (GECF) opening in the Iranian capital on Monday, November 23, 2015.

President Buhari and the leaders of Iran, Russia, Qatar, the Netherlands, Venezuela, Oman, Algeria, the United Arab Emirates, Bolivia and other member-countries of the GECF are expected to  review the current market outlook on gas and discuss strategies for boosting gas production during their meeting in Tehran.

Nigeria and other GECF members currently account for 42 percent of global gas production‎, 70 percent of global gas reserves, 40 percent of pipeline transmission of gas and 65 percent of the global trade in Liquefied Natural Gas.

President Buhari, who is scheduled to hold bilateral talks with other participating Heads of State and Government on the side-lines of the GECF summit, will also meet with Nigerians resident in Iran.

The President will be accompanied on the trip by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr  Geoffrey Onyeama, the Minister of Power, Works & Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr Ibe Kachikwu and the National Security Adviser, Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno (Rtd.).

He is due back in Abuja on Tuesday, November 24, 2015.

Solar Impulse-2 Plane To Fly Around The World

solarA solar-powered plane aircraft called solar impulse-2  took off from the Emirates, heading east to Muscat in Oman in what is planned to be a world tour.

Over the next five months, solar impulse-2 would skip from continent to continent, crossing both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans in the process.

The plan is stop off at various locations around the globe, to rest and to carry out maintenance, and also to spread a campaigning message about clean technologies.

Monday’s leg to Oman would cover about 400km and take an estimated 12 hours.

The project has already set a number of world records for solar-powered flight, including making a high-profile transit of the us in 2013.

The round-the-world venture is altogether more dramatic and daunting and had required the

construction of an even bigger plane than the prototype, solar impulse-1.
It’s a deep-breath moment in the history of technology as Solar Impulse soars to the skies.

The price of solar electric panels fell 70% in recent years and costs are expected to halve again this decade.

Deutsche Bank forecasts that, based on current fossil fuel prices, solar would produce power as cheaply as gas in two thirds of the world before 2020.

In the UK, the solar industry thinks it could compete with wind within 18 months and with gas in the near future while in the USA, solar jobs already outnumber coal jobs.

The solar revolution was sparked by government subsidies, which attracted venture capitalists to fund innovation and created a huge market that Chinese manufacturers are battling to exploit.

The solar boom is a huge help in the battle against climate change, but scientists warn it’s not nearly enough. And we must find ways of storing that mighty but capricious power, and making it work with the grid.