Monday, April 27, 2009

Obama Naik Haji Tahun Ini

Minggu lepas bertemu dengan Dr. Sulaiman dan berbual panjang. Memang dia seorang yang peramah.

Tidak terkejut membaca berita dibawah mengenai nenek Presiden Barrack Obama, Mama Sarah Obama akan naik haji bersama Dr. Sulaiman!

Menarik sekali berita ini, terutama bagaimana media USA akan menjadikan isu....

Hydra chief to accompany Obama’s grandmother on Hajj

by Anil Bhoyrul on Monday, 27 April 2009
HAJJ TRIP: Sulaiman Al Fahim (right) invited Mama Sarah on his family's Hajj pilgrimage during a UN trip to Kenya, where he was accompanied by  Remigo Maradona (left), brother of the Argentinean soccer legend.
HAJJ TRIP: Sulaiman Al Fahim (right) invited Mama Sarah on his family's Hajj pilgrimage during a UN trip to Kenya, where he was accompanied by Remigo Maradona (left), brother of the Argentinean soccer legend.

Property tycoon Dr Sulaiman Al Fahim is to accompany Barack Obama’s grandmother Mama Sarah to Makkah this year for the Hajj, Arabian Business can reveal.

Hydra Properties CEO Al Fahim – now also working as a UN Ambassador – met Obama’s grandmother during a trip to Kenya last week.

Al Fahim was in the country to help combat the spread of malnutrition, as part of his UN role.

“I found out that she had not been to the Haj, and that she very much wants to go. As my own mother is no longer with us, our family has a spare place, so I invited her and she has accepted. I’m very much looking forward to it,” he said.

Al Fahim was touring Kenya with Remigo Maradona, brother of the Argentinean soccer legend, to launch an anti-malnutrition campaign in the region.

He has just been appointed full UN Ambassadorial status.

“It’s something I’m going to be doing a lot more of. I have been very fortunate with my own career and business, and I feel it is time to give something back and try and do something for those less fortunate," Al Fahim added.

"We are planning several more trips to Africa, and hopefully we will soon announce the building of a soccer training camp for underprivileged children," he said.

UN officials are already making travel arrangements for Obama’s grandmother to visit Mecca with Al Fahim later this year.

Nikah mesyar is legitimate according to Egypt's Grand Mufti

Says they are legitimate unless banned by the state
Egypt's Mufti sanctions travelers marriage

Egypt's Grand Mufti Dr. Ali Gomaa (File)

CAIRO (Ahmed al-Sayed)

Egypt's Grand Mufti announced that "travelers marriages,” known as nikah mesyar in Arabic, are legitimate unless banned by the state.

Nikah mesyar is a Sunni Muslim marriage contract in which the woman gives up many of the rights she would be afforded under a traditional marriage contract. Although the marriage is official, the couple does not live in the same house and the husband is not required to provide for the wife or for any children they may have.

Such marriages are considered an alternative for people who wish to get married but cannot afford a traditional marriage. It is called the “travelers marriage” since it often takes place when men are away from their wives and wish to have relations with another woman.

On the contrary, this type of marriage proves the flexibility of Islamic laws in catering to a wide scope of needs and circumstances by offering religiously valid solutions that protect Muslims from committing sins

Dr. Ali Gomaa

A study by the Dar al-Iftaa, the institution in charge of issuing fatwas or religious decrees in Egypt, concluded that such marriages are valid as long as they meet the necessary religious conditions, said Dr. Ali Gomaa in an official statement.

"As long as both agreed to the conditions of the marriage and the wife accepts that the husband doesn't live with her, it is a valid marriage," the statement said.

The study argued that if the woman chooses to give up several of her rights by her own free will -- such as living with the husband or financial support -- this does not invalidate the marriage.

According to Gomaa, the Mesyar marriages are neither degrading to women nor a violation of human rights since they are based on mutual consent.

"On the contrary, this type of marriage proves the flexibility of Islamic laws in catering to a wide scope of needs and circumstances by offering religiously valid solutions that protect Muslims from committing sins,” he explained. “This shows Islam's capability to adapt to social changes."

Now the divorce rates are higher than the marriage rate. This makes us wonder how people live. And what do youths do to face the circumstances they are subjected to

Dr. Soheir Abdul-Aziz, Dean of the al-Azhar School of Humanities

Right to ban

However, the study acknowledged that individual countries have the right to ban this type of marriage. Some fear travelers marriages could become a regular alternative to traditional marriage and potentially lead to societal instability.

But considering the difficult economic and societal conditions that prompt some young people to resort to these types of marriages, nikah mesyar offers a route to marriage that may be out of reach for many, said Dr. Soheir Abdul-Aziz, Dean of al-Azhar's School of Humanities in Cairo.

"They are unemployed and don't have homes for when they get married," she told "Now the divorce rates are higher than the marriage rate. This makes us wonder how people live. And what do youths do to face the circumstances they are subjected to?"

Some traits of the mesyar marriage are reminiscent of the nikah mutah, practiced by Shiite Muslims. The differences are that the mutah is based on a contract with a fixed date of expiry and it does not require witnesses while a mesyar is open-ended and requires two witnesses to be present.

(Translated by Sonia Farid, written by Sara Ghasemilee)

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Is it safe to go for holidays in Muslim countries?

Time to plan for summer holidays again irrespective of concequences of the current job cutting exercise across the company.....balik kampung is compulsory....

Malaysia' crime rate last year increased by 15.74 per cent. Every state reported an increase except Kedah.

Commercial crime increased from 171,604 to 198,622 cases. Commercial crime was 10% of all cases last year, while property crime took up almost 70%. Motorcycle and lorry thefts were the most common property crimes committed, and half of such culprits were the unemployed and drug addicts.

The crime index have included ten more categories of crime, including outraging modesty, causing hurt and criminal intimidation, rioting, cheating, extortion, criminal breach of trust, computer crime, and trafficking in and possession of dangerous drugs.

Holidaying in the Muslim world

Jonathan Power (POWER’S WORLD)

My eighteen-year-old daughter asked me where she can safely travel to when she finishes school in June and has three months holiday before going to university in September. “The Muslim countries or Japan”, I replied.

She was quite taken aback. At school they talk about the USA, Australia, Thailand and South America. “No”, I said very empahtically, “I don’t want you to go there”, and then set about explaining to her and her mother why I felt so strongly.

I pulled out the figures from the new 2009 UN World Development Report. After a lot of research into different types of measurement, the UN decided that the only accurate one was the homicide rate. If you try to compare rape, theft, break-ins etc. There is confusion—every country, apart from those in European Union, measure these in different ways. Some figures are accurate, some seem like they’ve been drawn out of a hat.

But most countries report their murder rate pretty accurately. There may be under counting where there is civil strive, as in Sri Lanka, where murder and the killings of war can blur into each other. But in most difficult cases, like Russia, press reports can help balance the official figures.

To cut a long story short, I would gladly let her go to Egypt, which has the world’s lowest murder rate—at 0.4 per 100,000 population. Although it is closely followed by Japan at 0.5, other Muslim, mainly Arab, countries follow next, all with less than 1 murder per 100,000 of population. The United Arab Emirates, including that hot bed, Dubai, is at 0.6; Oman at 0.6; Saudi Arabia at 0.9; Bahrain at 1; and Jordan at 0.9. Even Indonesia, with all its political troubles, comes out at 1.1. Outside the Arab countries, the Scandinavian countries are the safest. Norway is at 0.8, Denmark at 0.8 and Iceland at 1. But Sweden breaks the Scandinavian success rate with a poor 2.4. Holland and Ireland do well, too.

So daughter, there is your list that I approve and your mother has been persuaded to approve. None of the others you mention or think about are safe, so forget about them. Ironically for us, they are countries with a Christian heritage- the US at 5.6; Mexico at 13; Russia at 19.9; South Africa at 47.5; and Columbia at 62.7.

OK, we can put India on the positive side of the ledger. It is at 3.7. But it is a big, very diverse, country and parts of it, like West Bengal and its capital, Calcutta, are very safe.

Your “mad dad” has been to them all, I know, but journalists have a name for being stupid and taking too many risks.

The murder rate can change, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse. South Africa, which gets a bad press, has statistics that are reliable over a range of crimes. Its murder rate has fallen since 1996 -- from 70 to 38 last year. (Since these figure come from the South Africa Police Department they are more up-to-date than the UN’s.)

Also interesting, if very worrying, is the situation in Britain, a country with good statistics.

The murder rate is higher than other European countries. And with non-deadly violence Britain soars alarmingly ahead of the rest of Europe, with a rapid increase since 1988. A New Yorker visiting Britain is less likely to be murdered than he would be at home, but he is more likely to be beaten up. Doctors say that they see more stabbing victims than before and injuries from guns have more than trebled since 2000. Although over 35-s are being murdered less frequently, those under 17 are being murdered more often. Indeed, the increase has been fast.

Why? Take a look at any British city and stand and watch the pubs empty out on a Saturday night—many young men come out ready for a fight and it doesn’t take much for them to start one. A government study reveals that both the killer and the victim are drunk in about half all male-on-male murders.

Britain, an old civilisation, has been keeping murder statistics since the 17th century. From then until the late 18th century, when industrialisation got under way and peasants were forced into urban jobs, the murder rate dropped dramatically from 8.1 to 0.9. But land enclosures, the “satanic mills” and the “Gin Lanes” of Dickens’ nineteenth century England inflicted a massive social wound, which has led to an alienated working class (how few working class people will call in the police when there is a beating up) and produced a sub-culture in which knife and gun fighting are part of youthful bravado.

Over 150 years, the murder rate has increased sharply, although in fits and starts. The recent jump is partly a legacy of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher who, in the name of free market reforms, encouraged policies that led to a more socially divided society. At the same time, because of renewed economic growth, working class young men had growing purchasing power, which enabled them to spend more on beer. These are probably the main causes of heavy drinking and heavy violence.

I live partly in Britain. I’m not sure I want my daughter to visit her father’s homeland any more, but I do want her to have an interesting and safe holiday in Egypt, Oman or Dubai.

Dubai - Are we there (rock bottom) yet?

Yesterday, we lost about 100 colleagues.....the rest is counting days!

Dubai Property Prices Plunge Up to 70pc; may Recover by 2011

Freehold property prices in Dubai have plunged by as much as 70 per cent since March of last year but are poised to bottom out in another six months, real estate brokers said on Sunday.

Dubai’s once-booming property sector will see its ongoing sharp correction continue until the start of this year’s fourth quarter. Prices will remain flat through 2010 but show signs of recovery by 2011, these brokers said.

“We have already seen prices plummet across Dubai’s property sector by 50 to 70 per cent to the level of 2005. We expect the plunge to continue for the next six to eight months to bring prices down to their original level five years ago,” said Mohammed Khan, Managing Director of New World Capital, a Dubai-based real estate brokerage.

Dubai’s property prices, propelled by a swelling expatriate population, speculative investments and rising construction costs, surged by 25 per cent in the first half of 2008 over the first half of 2007.

The drastic downturn in the last quarter of 2008 and first quarter of this year is evident in varying degrees across most developments in the emirate.

The average price for a villa at the Garden Homes project crashed from a high of Dh15 million one year ago to Dh6 million — down 60 per cent. The average price of a home in Signature Villas on Palm Jumeirah dropped to Dh12 million from a range of Dh22-25 million, 12 months ago. Apartments in Jumeirah Lake Towers that were selling last year at Dh1,500 per square foot are available now for Dh700 per square foot, Khan said.

The price decline has been less severe for low-cost developments. A one-bedroom apartment at International City dropped from Dh700,000-750,000 range to Dh400,000 while the price of a studio unit there fell from Dh500,000 to Dh275,000.

Khan and other property brokers spoke on the sidelines of a seminar on “Selling in a difficult market” conducted by Judy LaDeur, a US-based property consultant. They painted a market scenario that was starker than the latest study by investment bank EFG-Hermes, which said on Saturday that the Dubai market had entered a period of correction after a sustained period of buoyant activity. The bank forecast overall price declines of 50-60 per cent from peak prices in 2008.

A drop in residential as well as commercial rents is also evident, brokers said. The slide has been more pronounced in areas of New Dubai, where rents have fallen by up to 40 per cent. A. Najeeb, Sales Manager of M.S. International Property, said apartment rents in the more established area of Al Ghusais were also declining fast. A flat that rented for Dh120,000 last year is available now for Dh70,000 at a discount of more than 40 per cent.

More drastic has been the decline in commercial property rents — almost 60 per cent across Dubai. “We are expecting further rent drop by May-June, when a lot of expatriate families will be going back,” Najeeb said.

Hafiz Sohail Ijaza, Property Consultant at Wood Bridge Real Estate, expects the property market will remain balanced in terms of supply and demand through 2009. “We don’t see a recovery for the off-plan property sector till 2010.”

Bank finance is critical to market recovery, as several projects are on hold or delayed for lack of liquidity. Brokers said their main concern was about a buyers’ strike, which would drive down transaction volumes.

Developers have taken steps to try to revitalise the sector. Emaar, for instance, offers a 25 per cent price discount on its Standpoint projects.