Month: August 2007

Happy Raksha Bandhan

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Happy Raksha Bandhan… Artist Sudarsan Pattnaik makes a sculpture of Rakhi, with a message against terrorism inscribed on it, at Puri beach in Orissa on Monday.

And this special one to all my sisters……… Please select the one you like and wish for me Good luck. Team 1 protection is all yours.

Taqa readies $4b buyout plan

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Taqa readies $4b buyout plan
By Himendra Mohan Kumar, Staff Reporter/GULF NEWS Published: August 27, 2007, 23:06

Abu Dhabi: The Abu Dhabi National Energy Company (Taqa), plans to invest Dh14.68 billion ($4 billion) in new energy acquisitions over the next 12 months, the company’s chief executive said yesterday.

“We are looking at opportunities in Algeria, Libya, Tunisia, Norway, The Netherlands, UK, Canada and possibly, the US,” Peter Barker-Homek told Gulf News.

At present, Taqa has investments, assets and operations in 10 countries – UAE, Canada, Ghana, India, Morocco, The Netherlands, Russia, Saudi Arabia, the UK and the US.

Barker-Homek said Taqa’s latest upstream acquisition – Pioneer Canada – will go through the normal regulatory approval process and is expected to be completed “probably in November this year.”

Taqa said last week that it will acquire the Calgary-based upstream petroleum exploration company for $540 million from Pioneer’s parent – the US-based Pioneer Natural Resources Company.

Pioneer Canada, which has operations in the western Canadian sedimentary basin, would be Taqa’s fifth overseas acquisition since November 2006.

Post acquisition of Pioneer Canada, Taqa’s debt-to equity ratio would be 80 per cent debt and 20 per cent equity.

Talking about the company’s debts, he said: “We have $3.5 billion in bonds that we have issued to the global financial community. In addition, we have, through a syndication of banks, about $6.5 in project finance in our subsidiaries in the UAE.” Barker-Homek said Taqa’s assets are worth $16 billion.

Output

The combined output of Taqa’s upstream assets is currently a little more than 60,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day.

Even if there are no further acquisitions by the company, Taqa can sustain its current production level for several years, said Barker-Homek. “Right now, the average reserve life of our oil and gas properties is 12 years,” he said.

Barker-Homek said Taqa plans to invest $300 million in 2007 to boost output at its oil and natural gas producing assets. “Since January this year, we have invested about $200 million.”

Barker-Homek felt Taqa is grossly undervalued on the Abu Dhabi Securities Market.

“The earnings potential of the company is currently not reflected in the share price. I think the market is probably waiting to see if our acquisitions will add value to shareholders. We plan to maintain and increase the dividend that we established last year,” Barker-Homek added.

New masterplan to offer growth roadmap

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New masterplan to offer growth roadmap
By Saifur Rahman, Business News Editor GULF NEWS Published: August 27, 2007, 23:06

Dubai: The newly announced Dubai Urban Development Framework (DUDF) will offer a comprehensive roadmap for Dubai’s future up to 2020 and beyond, according to a top government official, that would solve the main concerns of today’s urban life.

“The DUDF is our roadmap for the future of Dubai in offering sustainable growth that will look into environmental and social aspects of the urbanisation,” Ahmad Bin Bayat, secretary-general of Dubai Executive Council, told Gulf News in an interview.

Dubai, which has witnessed an explosive growth over the last half-decades due to government’s major economic initiatives, has been trying to cope with the rapid-fire expansion, leading to inflationary pressures.

The emirate’s GDP grew 16 per cent year-on-year over the last few years while the foreign trade skyrocketed in recent years.

More than 80 per cent of the UAE’s Dh510 billion ($139 billion) merchandise trade are conducted through Dubai, while the city’s attractive hard infrastructure is attracting massive investments that is adding further pressure on its capacity, pushing the property and rent prices higher – beyond the reach of the middle income group.

In the recent years, traffic and skyrocketing rents have been identified by the city’s residents as the major cause for concern.

“In 14 months time, the consortium will offer an integrated masterplan that will be based on the future needs of Dubai’s growing population, in terms of land use, traffic impact , water and electricity consumption requirement, etc,” he said.

The government has not yet re-calculate the population growth projections yet.

“The consortium, in its masterplan, will suggest that and the plan will be based on those calculations. We did not give any projections,” Bin Byat said.

The DUDF project will be guided by the Urban Planning Committee (UPC) of Dubai Government and by Ahmad Bin Bayat, a UPC statement said yesterday.

The project falls in line with Dubai’s nine-year vision and is part of the Dubai Strategic Plan 2015 (DSP) announced earlier this year.

“The DSP articulates the collective vision and strategy of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. It focuses on economic development, social development, security, justice and safety, infrastructure, land and environment and public sector excellence,” the statement said.

The UPC has key stakeholders including Dubai Municipality, the Road and Transport Authority (RTA), Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa), Dubai Land Department, and The Executive Office, as well as developers like Dubai Holdings, Emaar and Nakheel.

Technical experts from each of these organisations will be part of a task force which will help prepare the DUDF. The project will be administered by the Executive Council Secretariat and managed and directed by Dubai-based consultants, Halcrow.

“Environment and sustainability will be key in the masterplan as Dubai has now grown to become an international metropolis,” Bin Byat said.

“Therefore, Dubai needs a different approach to its future development and growth where all the aspects will be integrated into the plan so that we no longer face the usual problems like traffic and other issues.”

An Advisory Panel, which will have specialists and representatives from globally-recognised companies as members, will be formed to provide independent guidance to the project.

The long term Vision will provide clear direction and establish shared aspirations for the city-region, particularly in improving environmental, economic and social sustainability and business conditions in the city. It will develop quality of life targets, seeking to firmly position Dubai within the short list of the world’s most ‘liveable’ places.

The Emirate-wide ‘City and Regional Planning Framework’ will seek to establish a strong integration between the increasingly complex governmental, quasi-governmental and private stakeholder relationships of the city. Key elements of the Framework will include: integrated land use and mobility, housing provision, economic and demographic growth, urban character and design, heritage management, integrated community facilities provision, civic harmony and sustainability strategy.

Are Leaders Born?

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Are Leaders Born?

Most people fantasise about being in a leader’s shoes. But many believe this would remain wishful thinking because they are convinced that leaders are born. For them, people who influence their societies and workplaces are the ones who are born into certain families, have a certain pedigree and possess certain traits. According to research at the London School of Economics (LSE), leaders are very rarely born. Instead, they are the ones who are willing to take a decision to lead in situations when it is most expected from them.

Leaders are rarely born because:
They often do not carry any legacy nor are they from great families. People who have initiated and propagated great changes are seldom there because of a birthright. They emerged as and remained great leaders out of their own merit. They began with a decision to take on leadership and a determination to lead a cause that they believed in.

Traditionally, leadership skills were always thought to be something people are born with; that leadership is about being genetically lucky. But as researchers correlated scores on IQ and personality tests, they found only a modest and moderate relationship that did not differentiate leaders from non-leaders in any way. Even a behavioural correlation established the same. So, leaders were proved to be non-distinguishable from other people in terms of their intelligence and other abilities. Even as we study history, leaders seldom appear to have a past where they exhibited some extraordinary physical or mental capabilities, setting them several notches above other people. On the contrary, many of the world’s great leaders had been branded below average or just average individuals at some point in their lives. Each of them emerged as leaders because they took a decision to lead.

Leaders are hardly ever exceptional. And they need not be. Leadership is not something with which you are born, it is not inherited, but it is something you decide to do. Leaders are the ones who are bold enough to take a decision when they are faced with a defining moment.

If we examine corporate leaders, we see that this hypothesis holds good most of the time. Take Henry Ford. He not only revolutionised industrial production, but also had such influence over the 20th century economy and society that his combination of mass production, high wages and low prices to consumers is still called “Fordism”. His parents were poor immigrants from Western England where they were evicted from their land in Somerset. They underwent great tribulations as they came over to America looking for a new start.

As a child, Ford was quiet and inward looking, and spent much of his time around his mother. She died while he was very young, leading him into depression. His father despised him for not showing any interest or skill in farm work and literally wrote Henry off, saying he would never amount to anything. During most of his younger days, Ford apprenticed as a low-level machinist at various places, not even earning enough to lead a decent living. He did not own anything that could make him a born leader — no birthright, no pedigree and certainly no extraordinary attributes. Nobody ever recognised that he could do anything worthwhile. But when he took the decision to lead, he went on to be one of the greatest leaders the corporate world has ever seen. He brought on a new age of industrialisation and urbanisation owing mostly to his leadership in the automobile industry.

Even if we look at India, we see several first-generation corporate leaders who have built and led their empires, devoid of any family legacy. We can either learn from all their success stories and strive to be leaders ourselves, or we can retreat into our shell, presuming leadership to be something beyond our reach, reserved for those born with silver spoons in their mouths.

by Sangeeth Varghese / moneycontrol
The author is a leadership scholar from the LSE and founder of LeadCap. His book, Decide to Lead: Eight Decisions That Can Make You A Leader, will soon be published by Businessworld. He can be contacted at sangeethv@leadcap.org This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it

Shocked into creative living

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Shocked into creative living
27 Aug, 2007, 0253 hrs IST,K VIJAYARAGHAVAN, TNN

The process of “getting tired of being tired”, in a larger context, can also be extended to one’s advantage, through waking up to the shocking realisation that he is drifting and is dissipating his talents and potential. It was rightly noted that even fault finding and impatience can be virtues, provided these are directed upon oneself.

In this manner, the seeker realises his infirmities and limitations — the starting point to laying down a path to emerge into a new world of excellence, right relationships and joie de vivre. This verily is also process of ‘waking up to make one’s dreams come true’.

The immortal Kannada film, Hamsagethe powerfully depicts the progression in the transformation of Venkanna, a gifted singer, who also yearns for moral perfection. In stages, through particular interactions and developments in his life, he overcomes the retarding factors of arrogance, pride, infatuation and overconfidence, which stand in the way of the pursuit of his vision.

Though accomplished and gifted in many ways, he realises that he has miles to go to even comprehend the spark of that divinity, which verily is that power, in all bliss and joy and harmony with all aspects within and without, expressed often as outpourings of true Bhakthi.

The prerequisite, therefore, in many cases, for this awakening, is often that of being shocked into feelings of dissatisfaction, if not disgust, with one’s present state of mind, body, heart and soul. This state within is also reflected in situations, relationships and circumstances which attend upon him. Such wake-up calls, as blessings in disguises, transform, sometimes, even the most ordinary into extraordinary beings, endowed with supreme powers.

The story is often told of a great saint and poet, who once was highly attached to worldly comforts and fiercely infatuated with his newly wedded wife. One day, during the height of his over powering passion, his wife jokingly taunted him, “Why don’t you divert at least a part of this attachment for me to God?” As if instantaneously, the young man experienced a metamorphosis, to realise his mission in life.

Indeed, contentment stays as a virtue, only when applied to material and mundane pursuits. For sublime aspirations, the seeking aspirant should hitch his wagon to the highest star. Only then would he be truly fulfilled and be satisfied in the self by his own self, delighting in himself and be genuinely contended — in the manner conceived of by Bhagawad Gita.

Soap that cleans clothes with less water

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Soap that cleans clothes with less water
27 Aug, 2007, 1131 hrs IST, IANS
MELBOURNE: Wasting water to rinse that extra lather from your clothes may be a thing of the past now. Scientists in Australia have developed a detergent that cleans clothes with less water.

Normal detergents contain surfactant molecules, which are oil-friendly at one end to capture dirt and water-friendly at the other to pull it away. They also tend to form bubbles, which require extra water to rinse.

Researchers at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, have made a surfactant that only forms bubbles under mildly alkaline (that contain soluble mineral salts) conditions.

The unusual product, which is a biological detergent, has been named pepfactant because it is made from peptides (specific acids).

The inventors – Annette Dexter and Anton Middleberg – said the unique aspect of pepfactants is that it can be switched on or off, depending on its intended application.

For example, in laundry detergents there’s a built-in pH (a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of water) change that occurs between the wash and rinse cycles.

Pepfactants designed to respond to that change could be added to the detergent to reduce the rinse time, reports UPI news wire.

Detergents tend to be alkaline, so during a wash cycle the molecules link to form bubbles. The rinse water lowers the pH, breaking the bubbles apart, so less water is needed to wash out the lather.

Soap bubbles that collapse once clothes are clean could reduce the water needed during washing, the scientists said.

Pepfactants could also control the mixing of oil and water in industrial processes, according to a report in the online edition of New Scientist.

Dexter believes the more near-term application might develop in the personal care area, such as a shampoo, conditioner, skin cream or hand wash. There also could be potential applications for eye drops, she added.

Dubai to reshape urban development

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Dubai to reshape urban development
Gulf News Report Published: August 26, 2007, 18:06

Dubai: Dubai’s Urban Planning Committee on Saturday awarded a prestigious contract to a consortium headed by internationally acclaimed Urbis (Australia) to prepare the Dubai Urban Development Framework (DUDF), with support from environmental and engineering experts WSP Group.

The project, expected to be completed in 14 months, seeks to create an innovative, flexible and fully integrated development planning and management framework for Dubai to the year 2020 and beyond. Urbis won the contract out of four consortia which were shortlisted from a total of 39 companies in the race.

A key driver for the vision of Dubai is the Dubai Strategic Plan 2015 (DSP). The DSP articulates the vision and strategy of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

It focuses on economic development, social development, security, justice and safety, infrastructure, land and environment and public sector excellence.

Ahmad Bin Bayat, Secretary General of Dubai Executive Council, said: “Dubai has been globally recognised as one of the most dynamic and fast growing economies. The scale and pace of this development are being fuelled by the launch of spectacular and innovative mega real estate projects and other investment opportunities, which have exceeded expectations.”

“The DUDF is an ambitious plan and places particular emphasis on the need for innovative thinking, while leading to the creation of new and exciting approaches to Dubai’s city planning. The Framework will also serve as the vehicle for translating DSP into an appropriate set of strategies, special plans, policies and guidelines.”

UAE’s top air carriers express keen interest in new airport in Kerala

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UAE’s top air carriers express keen interest in new airport in Kerala
By Ivan Gale, Staff Reporter / GULF NEWS Published: August 26, 2007, 23:40

Dubai: A new airport in Kerala is drawing the interest of local air carriers, as heavy demand on existing routes has led them to schedule additional frequencies.

The Kerala government is in the process of acquiring 1,200 acres of land for the upcoming new airport at Kannur, located in the uppermost portion of the state north of Calicut.

Construction of the airport will take roughly three months once the land has been acquired, local media reported.

Already, Emirates, Etihad and Air Arabia said they harbour hopes of flying there once necessary governmental approvals have been made.

Currently travel between Kerala and the UAE is at all all-time high, due to the large numbers of Indian labourers and professionals working in the UAE as well as leisure travellers.

“Any new airport development in Kerala, and in fact anywhere in India, is of great interest to Etihad because of the strong customer demand for air travel between the country and Abu Dhabi,” said Eain Burns, vice president of corporate communications.

Just three months after launching flights to Kerala, Etihad said it would add more flights there.

“We started flying in May to Kerala and both Cochin and Tiruvananthapuram have performed so well that we will add extra flights to both cities at the end of October,” Burns said.

According to the Kerala government, inbound tourism is expected to grow by 10 per cent once the airport is in operation. In 2006, Kerala took in five million domestic visitors, and 450,000 international travellers.

Emirates airline has been a beneficiary of this rise in air travel, experiencing 85 per cent load factors on its Kerala flights.

Recently, it added three frequencies to Cochin.

“Given the burgeoning Indian market, Emirates is keen to expand its India operation by commencing services to new destinations and increasing flights on existing routes,” an Emirates spokesperson said. Currently, Emirates said it has no firm plans to fly to Kannur.

“Mission impossible”: Beaking the speed of light

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“Mission impossible”: Beaking the speed of light
(DPA)27 August 2007

HAMBURG – Two German physicists from the University of Koblenz claim to have done the impossible and broken the speed of light.

If their claims are confirmed, they will have proved wrong Albert Einstein’s special theory of relativity, which requires an infinite amount of energy to propel an object at more than 186,000 miles per second.

However, Dr Gunter Nimtz and Dr Alfons Stahlhofen, say they have possibly breached a key tenet of that theory.

They say they have conducted an experiment in which microwave photons – energetic packets of light – travelled “instantaneously” between a pair of prisms that had been moved from a few millimetres to up to one metre apart.

When the prisms were placed together, photons fired at one edge passed straight through them, as expected.

After they were moved apart, most of the photons reflected off the first prism they encountered and were picked up by a detector. But a few photons appeared to “tunnel” through the gap separating them as if the prisms were still held together.

Although these photons had travelled further, they arrived at their detector at exactly the same time as the reflected photons. In effect, they had travelled faster than light.

Dr Gunter Nimtz, one of the physicists from the University of Koblenz, told New Scientist magazine: “This is the only violation of special relativity that I know of.”

The duo say being able to travel faster than the speed of light would lead to a wide variety of bizarre consequences.

For instance, an astronaut moving faster than it would theoretically arrive at a destination before leaving, they said.

The scientists said they were investigating a phenomenon called quantum tunnelling, which allows sub-atomic particles to break apparently unbreakable laws.

“For the time being, this is the only violation of special relativity that I know of,” Dr Nimtz told New Scientist magazine.

Happy Onam

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It’s a hot hot sunny day here in Abu Dhabi. Onam 2007 is here and it is being celebrated all over by Keralites today. I take this opportunity to wish all my readers on this special day.
O – Orumayode (with Unity)
N – Nanmayude (with lots of Good will)
A – Agoshangalode (with lots of festivities)
M – Manusharellam (all mankind)

an Onam of joy, peace, happiness, prosperity to all of you.

Wish it rained here in the coming days as the month of Ramadan is nearby and the temperature has to come down a bit to favour all those who religiously follow the holy month.