Dubai: Expo 2020 Dubai announced that visit figures reached more than 4.8 million since its launch.
According to the figures released by Expo 2020, numbers show an increase to 4,766,419.
The announcement followed weeks driven by music, sporting stars and high numbers of visitors showing interest in the November Weekday Pass.
The Jubilee stage hosted an array of performances, including Kuwaiti singer Abdullah Al-Ruwaished and Egyptian artist Mohamed Hamaki.
The Dubai Millennium Amphitheatre saw artists from the Accademia Teatro alla Scala while Ireland’s Grammy Award-winning Riverdance ended its toe-tapping run with a series of performances.
Other activities included the FIDE World Chess Championship, which was launched on Nov. 24, gaining the interest of both players and fans. The tournament, which runs until Dec. 16, will award the overall winner with $2.25m in prize money.
Expo 2020 Dubai runs until Mar. 31 next year, with Christmas festivities and a performance by 15-time Grammy Award-winner Alicia Keys lined up for December.
JERUSALEM: The Israeli military said Sunday that its forces apprehended four Palestinian suspects believed to have taken part in a deadly shooting in the occupied West Bank.
In Thursday’s incident, at least one Palestinian gunman opened fire on a car filled with Jewish seminary students next to a West Bank settlement outpost. Yehuda Dimentman, 25, was killed and two others were wounded near Homesh, which is considered illegal by the Israeli government.
The army said the suspects were arrested in the northern West Bank village of Silat Al-Haaretia, near Jenin, and “were transferred to the security forces for further investigation and the weapon of the suspect who carried out the shooting was captured.”
The Israeli authorities did not immediately identify the suspects.
The Israeli border police released a photo of a cache of assault rifles and ammunition it said belonged to the suspects.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett congratulated the security forces for the arrest, adding that “every terrorist should know that the state of Israel will settle the score with him.”
The developments come after weeks of spiking Israeli-Palestinian violence. Earlier this month, a Palestinian attacker stabbed and seriously wounded an ultra-Orthodox Jew outside Jerusalem’s Old City. And just over a week before that, a Hamas militant opened fire in the Old City, killing an Israeli man.
At the same time, settler violence against Palestinians has risen, particularly in the northern West Bank.
Israel captured east Jerusalem and the West Bank in the 1967 Mideast war, and the territories are now home to over 700,000 Israel settlers. Most of the international community considers Israeli settlements illegal obstacles to peace.
The Palestinians seek east Jerusalem and the West Bank as parts of a future independent state.
ANKARA: Fatih Yuksel is one of thousands of Turks rushing from one pharmacy to another in search of imported drugs that are disappearing as quickly as the lira is losing value.
“Sometimes I have periods where I don’t have the drugs I need and my illness gets worse. I suffer pains,” said the 35-year-old, who has been taking pills to relieve a rare autoimmune disorder known as Behcet’s syndrome, for the past nine years.
“It can be hard but I have to work,” said the shop attendant.
Turks have been rattled by a currency collapse that accelerated when President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last month launched a self-declared “economic war of independence” that defies conventional market theory.
The veteran Turkish leader is trying to fight spiralling inflation by bringing down borrowing costs — the exact opposite of what countries usually do in similar situations.
The results have been frightening for people such as Yuksel.
The Turkish currency has lost more than 40 percent of its value since the start of November alone. A lira could buy 13 US cents in January. It was worth less than half that this month.
The crisis has wiped out the value of people’s savings and made basic goods prohibitively expensive, plunging swathes of the population below the official poverty line.
It has also made a whole gamut of imported drugs for a range of illnesses — from diabetes to cancer, heart disease to flu — nearly impossible to find across Turkey’s 27,000 pharmacies.
Drug makers blamed
Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca has deflected the blame, accusing drugs manufacturers of “trying to sell expensive drugs to Turkey.”
“News that ‘medicines cannot be found in Turkey’ is not based on reality,” said Koca.
Vedat Bulut, the Turkish Medical Association’s secretary general, said it was “pitiless” to accuse companies of trying to sell expensive drugs when the lira had lost so much value.
Medical professionals said a long-term solution involved developing Turkey’s health industry to wean it off its dependence on imports.
But today, pharmacists describe receiving heart-rending notes from patients on messaging apps with photographs, pleading to know where they can find their medication.
The Turkish Pharmacists’ Association said in November that 645 drugs were affected but as the situation grew worse, pharmacist Berna Yucel Mintas told AFP around 1,000 medicines were difficult to find.
“The situation deteriorated because of the lira,” said Taner Ercanli, head of Ankara Chamber of Pharmacists.
“Imagine it like a fire, and gasoline was poured over it.”
Pharmacists seek reassessment
Part of the problem stems from the way Turkey procures medications.
The health ministry sets the standard price for drugs every February based on an exchange rate agreed by the government.
It set an exchange rate of 4.57 lira to the euro for this year. But it now takes nearly 20 liras to buy a euro on the market.
That meant drug manufacturers had “unfortunately” decided against selling medicines to Turkey, Ercanli said, because they made more money in other markets.
Pharmacists want the government to reassess drug prices against the euro at least three times a year.
But there are wider problems.
Global supply chain bottlenecks caused by the coronavirus pandemic have resulted in jumps in the price of most raw materials, which make domestically produced medicine more expensive.
Turkish drug suppliers are also angry with the government over delayed payments, which are doubly painful as these are settled in liras according to the exchange rate agreed at the time.
Employers’ associations warn some companies will be forced to close.
Children’s syrups have been especially hard to find, as grandfather Emin Durmus discovered while trying to treat his five-year-old grandson’s cough.
“They don’t have that medicine so I go back and get a new prescription. Then I come to this pharmacy and that drug is also not available,” said Durmus, 62.
Erkan Ozturk, who manages a private medical center in Ankara, described similar issues finding drugs to address fever, nausea and stomach aches.
“There are major sourcing issues for drugs used to lower children’s temperatures,” the center’s chief doctor said.
“We’re starting to not be able to find medicines needed to treat diabetes, hypertension, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease,” pharmacist Gokberk Bulmus said.
“This is going toward becoming a drugs shortage. Whatever is left in our hands, this is all of our stock because we can’t replace it.”
WASHINGTON: Newly obtained Pentagon documents show that the US air wars in the Middle East have been marked by “deeply flawed intelligence” and resulted in thousands of civilian deaths, including many children, the New York Times reported Saturday.
It said a newly obtained trove of confidential documents covering more than 1,300 reports of civilian casualties undercuts the government’s portrayal of a war fought with precision bombs.
Pledges of transparency and accountability, it said, had regularly fallen short.
“Not a single record provided includes a finding of wrongdoing or disciplinary action,” the paper reported in what it said was the first of a two-part series.
While several of the cases mentioned by the Times have been previously reported, it said its investigation showed that the number of civilian deaths had been “drastically undercounted.”
Among three cases cited was a July 19, 2016 bombing by US special forces of what were believed to be three Daesh group staging areas in northern Syria. Initial reports were of 85 fighters killed. Instead, the dead were 120 farmers and other villagers.
Another example was a November 2015 attack in Ramadi, Iraq after a man was seen dragging “an unknown heavy object” into an IS position. The “object,” a review found, was a child, who died in the strike.
Poor or inadequate surveillance footage often contributed to deadly targeting failures, the report said.
More recently, the United States had to retract its claim that a vehicle destroyed by a drone on a Kabul street in August had contained bombs. Victims of the strike, it turned out, were 10 members of a family.
Many civilian survivors of US attacks, the report says, were left with disabilities requiring expensive treatment, but condolence payments numbered fewer than a dozen.
Asked for comment, Captain Bill Urban, spokesman for the US Central Command, told the Times that “even with the best technology in the world, mistakes do happen, whether based on incomplete information or misinterpretation of the information available. And we try to learn from those mistakes.
“We work diligently to avoid such harm. We investigate each credible instance. And we regret each loss of innocent life.”
The US air campaign in the Middle East grew rapidly in the final years of former president Barack Obama’s administration, as public support waned for the seemingly endless ground wars.
Obama said the new approach using aircraft controlled from far away represented “the most precise air campaign in history,” able to keep civilian deaths to a minimum.
But over a five-year period, US forces executed more than 50,000 airstrikes in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, the report said.
In compiling its report, the Times said its reporters had “visited more than 100 casualty sites and interviewed scores of surviving residents and current and former American officials.”
BAGHDAD: Two rockets targeted Baghdad’s ultra-secure Green Zone that houses the US embassy early Sunday, Iraq’s security forces said in a statement.
“The Green Zone in Baghdad was the target of two Katyusha rockets. The first was shot down in the air by C-RAM defense batteries, the second fell in a square, damaging two vehicles,” the statement said.
A security source told AFP that the shot down rocket fell near the US embassy, while the second came down roughly 500 meters (1640 ft) away.
Previously, the source told AFP that two rockets had been shot down near the US embassy.
No one claimed responsibility for the attack.
In recent months, dozens of rocket assaults or drone bomb attacks have targeted US troops and interests in Iraq.
The attacks are rarely claimed but are routinely pinned on pro-Iran factions in Iraq.
The latest rocket salvo comes after the country this week announced the end of the “combat mission” on its territory of the anti-jihadist coalition led by Washington.
But roughly 2,500 American soldiers and 1,000 coalition soldiers deployed in Iraq will remain in the nation to pursue a role of training, advice and assistance.
Pro-Iran factions in Iraq are calling for the departure of all US forces stationed in the country.
The attack also coincides with the 10th anniversary of the departure of US troops from Iraq on December 18, 2011, after the invasion and overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003.
Washington then deployed its troops to the country to fight the Islamic State (IS) group, which had captured large swathes of the nation in a lightning offensive.
At the beginning of November, Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi escaped unharmed from an unclaimed drone bomb attack, which targeted his official residence in the Green Zone.
In September, an “armed drone” attack targeted Irbil international airport in Iraqi Kurdistan, where there is a base hosting coalition troops.