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Kuwait Hajj quota to remain 8,000: Report – Expats urged to do pilgrimage from home countries

Kuwait Hajj quota to remain 8,000: Report
– Expats urged to do pilgrimage from home countries
KUWAIT: It seems that the Muslim expats living in Kuwait won’t be able to go for Hajj (pilgrimage) this and next year due to the enlarging renovations taking place in Holy Makkah. These renovation works caused that the Saudi authorities responsible for Hajj refused to increase the quota for Kuwaiti pilgrims more than 8,000. So the expatiates were advised to go for Hajj from their home country, as the quota of 8,000 only include 7,000 Kuwaitis and 1,000 Bedoons.

This decision also causes the closing up of some Hajj campaigns, which were only dealing with expats, as this quota will stay the same for at least two years. Mohammed Abdulmaqsoud is a former owner of Hajj campaign who sold the campaign as it was dealing with expats only, who not go for Hajj. “About five or six years ago there was no quota for pilgrims to Hajj, and according to the reports of the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs their total number was between 23-25,000 pilgrims.

About five year ago the Saudi government set a quota for the pilgrims from Kuwait to 8,000 for Kuwaitis and open number for expats,” he told the Kuwait Times. More changes occurred then. “Also about five years ago the Ministry of Awqaf separated the pilgrims into Kuwaiti and foreigners, and each campaign had to choose only one of the two categories, instead the mixed campaign as it was in the past.

So our campaign had chosen the Kuwaitis, and this was for one year only and we had great loses as we had only about 90 pilgrims.

So the year after we changed to expatriates and we were successful, as we had good reputation due to the excellent services that we were providing including food three meals, accommodation, transportation, and others,” added Abdulmaqsoud. The prices hiked dramatically through the years. “About 13 years ago the price was about KD 300 per pilgrim through land, and KD 450 through air transportation.

Every year the prices were increasing for about KD 50 to 100, thus during the last five years the prices increased up to KD 200, so it reached KD1200 for land way and KD 1750 for air way. This was caused due to the price hike of accommodation, transporting and even the food and beverage. Furthermore the Ministry was decreasing the number of expat pilgrims every year, till it reached 130 last year, which was very hard for any camping to handle,” he explained. So the campaign found other solutions. “There are 75 official Hajj campaigns in Kuwait.

50 of them are for Kuwaitis only, while the rest are for expats, and some are for certain nationalities for instance the Pakistani and other who only speak Urdu. Some campaign mixed together, while others sold or rent their campaign to other campaigns. And more campaigns have to do this solution this year, as the Ministry will apply new decision of having a maximum number of pilgrims for each campaign of only 100 pilgrims, which can’t be profitable for single campaign,” Abdulmaqsoud pointed out

By Nawara Fattahova, Kuwait Times Staff
-Kuwait Times

Doctors predict ‘revived’ Filipina to wake up soon

Doctors predict ‘revived’ Filipina to wake up soon
– Husband spots tears, willingness to communicate
KUWAIT: Three days after a Filipina was pronounced ‘clinically dead’ but was then successfully revived by doctors, remains unconscious at the Farwaniya Hospital. Kuwait Times visited her yesterday although she was still admitted to the intensive care unit of the hospital where she underwent a caesarian operation for her second child.

The Filipina woman attracted front-page attention yesterday when the doctors there announced they had successfully performed a ‘premortem caesarean’ on a clinically dead Zuraida. At that time, Zuraida had no pulse or respiratory activity. However, as the metaphor goes, miracles do happen.

The baby was successfully removed from the mother’s womb through caesarian operation and Zuraida was revived. She had reportedly suffered an acute blood pressure condition followed by a cardiac arrest while she was being checked at the casualty section. She coughed and spat blood, and was immediately brought to the emergency room where the baby was successfully removed through cesarean operation. Initially, the doctors noted that they could only save the baby but after one last attempt to revive her, she responded to the resuscitation to the delight of everyone in the operation theater. Zuraida, 36, is from Pikit South Cotabato, married to Marlon Verdadero from Cagayan Valley, Philippines.

The husband requested her wife’s family name to be withheld until her condition improved. “I do not want to cause anxiety to her family back in the Philippines. So please it would be better not to disclose her family name. The baby is my second child with her. The little boy is now alright and was breathing very well without oxygen, but I am worried about my wife because it has been three days now and there has been no change in her condition. She is still unconscious. But when I visited her today, tears were rolling down her eyes.

I felt she could hear me, she could feel my presence and was trying her best to communicate, but she just couldn’t. According to the doctors, she will be fine and will wake up in a few hours’ time,” the anxious husband told this reporter. The ‘miracle’ took place at the Farwaniya Maternity Department where Zuraida was admitted on Friday morning. Farwaniya Hospital Manager Dr Hmoud Al-Zobi said the 36-year-old Filipina who was nine months pregnant was hospitalized at 3:30 am on Friday in a critical condition with extremely high blood pressure. “I brought her to the hospital at about 2:30 am because she experienced blood and the water discharged at that time. Of course I knew that she was already in pain and it was about time for her to deliver our second child. I was very happy.

But my happiness changed to uncertainty when I heard from our friend (a lady who was allowed to accompany her inside the maternity casualty room), that she was vomiting blood and was in danger and only a miracle could save her. According to the doctors, Zuraida’s heart stopped beating and she stopped breathing as well.

I prayed hard for her to survive,” the husband noted. “Declaring her clinically dead, she was immediately rushed to be operated upon to save the baby.

The doctors managed to revive her heart too,” Zobi was quoted as saying, noting that a healthy 3.1-kg boy was born simultaneously as his mother was resuscitated. “This is a scientific miracle at all levels,” beamed Zobi. “As soon as the woman was checked and declared clinically dead, the maternity division of the hospital was put on alert for a caesarean,” said Dr Mohammad Hassan, another doctor who supervised the operation. “The woman and her baby are now in stable condition,” he affirmed. Verdadero is a Kuwait-based truck driver for a company delivering food items to Iraq. “It was a miracle for my wife, too, when she delivered our baby as I was still in Kuwait.

My work sometimes requires me to stay in Iraq for a week. I just came from a two-day stay in Iraq last Wednesday. I brought her to hospital last Friday, so at least I was with her when it all happened and I really pray that she will be okay,” Verdadero concluded.

By Ben Garcia, Kuwait Times Staff
-Kuwait Times

Islamic Monuments of India Photographs by Benoy K Behl

Islamic Monuments of India
Photographs by Benoy K Behl

India is an enchanted land, watered by streams of compassionate philosophies since ancient times. There are flourishing communities here of the Islamic, Christian, Zoroastrian and Jewish faiths, as well as of the Hindu, Buddhist, Jain and Sikh faiths that were born here.  There is a great cosmopolitan heritage of India’s culture and art.  

India has a vast, rich and varied heritage of Islamic architecture. These monuments are a great treasure of our cultural heritage and are of particular value as they reflect India’s artistic and cultural links with many other countries.  

The Mughal monuments are very beautiful and are well known. Besides presenting these, this exhibition also shows the exquisite mosques and dargahs of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Kashmir and other parts of India.  Far more than in the North of India, it was in the Deccan that India received the cultural and artistic influences of Persia and of the Arab world. The many exquisite monuments of the Deccan display the confluence of cultures which took place here.  
A view of the rich Islamic heritage of India is presented in this exhibition through the eyes of renowned photographer Benoy K Behl.  He is a film-maker, art-historian and photographer who is known for his tireless and prolific output of work over the past 31 years. He has taken over 34,000 photographs of Asian monuments and art heritage, made a hundred documentaries on art history, his exhibitions have been warmly received in 24 countries around the world.

His films, including 26 documentaries on ‘The Paintings of India’ and 26 documentaries on ‘The Sculpture of India’ have been nationally telecast on prime time in India. Behl has been invited to lecture by most of the important universities and museums around the world, which have departments of Asian art. His book on ‘The Ajanta Caves’ is published by Thames & Hudson, London and Harry N. Abrams, New York.
Gateway of Akbar’s Tomb, Sikandra
Near Agra, Uttar Pradesh, 17th century
The mausoleum of the great Mughal Emperor Akbar was built by his son Jahangir. The impressive structure was built under his close supervision and was completed in 1613. The entrances are most impressive and present a confluence of Persian and Hindu architectural styles and motifs. The chattris crowning the gateways are Hindu in conception, while the large central Iwan and the wide lateral niches derive from the Persian style. The red sandstone, which was favoured by Akbar, contrasts beautifully with the fine mosaic of white marble and coloured stones.

Emperor Akbar was an enlightened man and ruler. He was a Muslim, but did not impose his faith on his subjects.  He was extremely secular in his personal outlook. He forged matrimonial ties with the Rajput rulers. Some of his closest confidants and advisors belonged to faiths other than his own.

At the new capital which he built at Fatehpur Sikri, he began a series of theosophical discussions, in a special house of worship. Here, he welcomed Christians, Hindus, Parsis, Jainas and others and created a universal faith, Din-i-Ilahi. Fatehpur Sikri was one of the most cosmopolitan places in the world at that time.

Gateway, Taj Mahal
Agra, Uttar Pradesh, 17th century

The most well-known and best-recognised monument of the Indian subcontinent is the mausoleum of Arjuman Banu Begum (also known as Mumtaz Mahal), the wife of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. He was also later laid to rest here. Next to the Yamuna river, built of white Markana marble, the Taj Mahal expresses different moods through the day. The pearly clarity of the marble acquires the hues and shades of the changing colour of light, from sunrise to sunset.

A tracery of black stone inlaid in geometric patterns and with inscriptions from the Quran contrasts with the cool white of the marble. The use of pietra dura, intricate inlay work with coloured precious stones, on the façade and the interiors of the Taj Mahal is remarkable. Shah Jahan’s architectural legacy includes the Red Fort in Delhi that was modeled on red sandstone structures built in Lahore and Agra by his grandfather Akbar.
Agra Fort
Agra, Uttar Pradesh, 16th -17th century
Akbar, one of the greatest Mughal emperors (reigned 1556-1603), was a brilliant intellectual and monarch. A remarkable ruler, whose empire rivalled Ashoka’s, Akbar built a network of fortresses and palaces between 1565-1571. The first of these was the fort at Agra, which superseded Delhi as his main capital. With its fine masonry and its elegant gate made of sandstone inlaid with white marble, the fort came to serve a ceremonial rather than a strategic purpose.

Here, we see part of the white marble section of Agra Fort, which was built during the reign of Shah Jahan.                                     

Buland Darwaza and Jama Masjid, Fatehpur Sikri
Near Agra, Uttar Pradesh, 16th century
In 1571, Akbar decided to build a new capital city. As a site, he chose Sikri, a village on the road between the Mughal’s imperial center at Agra and their spiritual center at Ajmer. This was one of Akbar’s most ambitious projects. It was founded around the shrine of Salim Chishti at Sikri as a thanksgiving to the saint. In 1579, Akbar read the Khutba in the masjid (mosque) here, which consolidated Akbar’s authority as a secular and religious leader. Fatehpur Sikri in its heyday, held about quarter of a million people. It is irregularly laid out on an east west axis, over 8 miles of walls broken only by a natural lake. The layout of Sikri and many of its features reflect the Gujarat – Rajasthan building tradition. The architectural innovations and confluence of styles during Akbar’s reign, echo his political and administrative policies in which people from varied regions, religions and castes were absorbed into the system.

The entrance to Fatehpur Sikri is through the Buland Darwaza a grand gateway made of red sandstone. The Buland Darwaza was built to mark the military victories of Emperor Akbar. Accessed by a lofty flight of steps, the gateway also acts as one of the entrances to the Jami Masjid.

Its crowning parapet, decorated with a row of kiosks, rises 54 m (177ft). Framing the arched opening is a wide ornamental border inlaid with continuous bands of calligraphy of Koranic verses. The magnificent entrance leads into a mosque with an arched façade crowned with kiosks. Within the mosque are three mihrabs that mark the direction to Mecca.

Panch Mahal, Fatehpur Sikri
Near Agra, Uttar Pradesh, 16th century
The Panch Mahal at Fatehpur Sikri is an extraordinary structure. It is made entirely of columns and consists of four storeys of decreasing size that are dispersed symmetrically upon the ground floor that contains 84 columns, a number regarded as highly auspicious by Hindus. The first storey contains 56 columns, the second contains 20 columns and the third has twelve pillars. Panch Mahal is based on the Persian badgir, meant to mitigate the intense summer heat.

Diwan-i-Khas, Fatehpur Sikri
The Diwan-i-Khas or Hall of Private Audience is situated in the northeast corner of the royal complex at Fatehpur Sikri. The interior has a huge and richly carved pillar in the center. The central platform attached to the pillar was the seat of the emperor while the diagonal galleries are believed to be the seat of ministers and nobles that were entertained here. Though the building lacks much ornamentation, the pillar in the center is certainly one of the masterpieces of Mughal architecture.

Qutb Minar
Delhi, early 13th century

In 1206, Mohammed Ghori was assassinated and his realm was divided among his slaves. One them, Qutbuddin Aibak assumed control over Delhi and established Turkish rule in India. He built the Qutb Minar near the Quwwat-ul-Islam or ‘might of Islam’ mosque, which is the earliest extant mosque in India.

The Qutb Minar was originally short and squat in appearance, and acquired its present height under Iltutmish. It was meant to be both a monument of victory and a tower to call the faithful to prayer. It is not named after Aibak, but the Sufi saint Qutbuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki, whom local tradition of the 19th century associated with the Minar.

Lodi Tombs
15th-16th century. Built by Sayyid and Lodi Kings,
Lodi Gardens, New  Delhi
In the 15th century, the Lodi Sultanate was established in Delhi. The monuments of the Lodi dynasty draw heavily from Persian culture and the buildings are characterized by low domes and thick walls, and decorated with local Indian motifs. Numerous mausoleums were built in the Delhi region. While at least three belonged to the monarchs themselves, many were also built for members of the nobility.

Situated in the Lodi gardens is the Shish Gumbad, which is a tomb based on a square plan. A prominent cornice divides the exterior into two storeys and frames the central iwan. The former is decorated with square panels studded with turquoise glazed tiles giving the monument its name (shish means ‘mirror’).

The mausoleum of Mohammad Shah Lodi, is a classic example of an octagonal Lodi funerary building. In terms of style of layout it resembles the Sayyid tombs of Mubarak and Sikandar Lodhi.

Humayun's Tomb

Built in the 16th century by Haji Begum, the eldest widow of the Mughal Emperor Humayun
Near Nizamuddin, New Delhi
Although little survives from the reign of the second Mughal emperor Humayun [ruled 1530-1543 & 1555-1556], with the building of his tomb in Delhi, Mughal architecture came into its own. Its construction was supervised by two architects from Herat, Sayyid Muhammad and Mirak Sayyid Ghiyath who undertook to synthesize Timurid ideas with the local Indian context.

Humayun’s tomb is the first of the grand dynastic mausoleums that came to typify Mughal architecture, with its monumental scale and perfect planning. It is situated in the centre of one of the first surviving examples of a char bagh [four gardens] pattern. The contrasting use of red sandstone and white marble further develops an earlier tradition of the Delhi sultanate, as can be seen in the Alai Darwaza of Alauddin Khalji. The dome is faced entirely with white marble.

Humayun’s tomb is regarded as one of the most perfectly planned octagonal buildings. Its intricate ground plan reflects the nine-fold plan or hasht bihisht. The term hasht bihisht [‘eight paradises’] probably refers to the eight rooms that surround the central chamber. The concept has its roots in late or post-Timurid inspiration. Under the Mughals, this concept of perfect symmetrical planning became a norm.  
Isa Khan's Tomb
Built in the 16th century, near Humayun's Tomb
near Nizamuddin, New Delhi.
Isa Khan was a powerful Afghan minister of Sher Shah Suri. His mausoleum was built in Delhi in 1647. The tomb is built in the usual octagonal plan with an arcaded veranda and a dome surrounded by chhatris. The complex also includes a mosque that appears to have been built at the same time as the mausoleum.

Safdurjang’s Tomb
18th century, New Delhi
Safdurjung was the powerful minister of the Mughal king Muhammed Shah (reign 1719-1748). His tomb built in 1754 is in the late Mughal style of architecture. The façade is decorated with elaborate plaster carvings. Built of red sandstone and marble, it was modelled on Humayun’s tomb and the Taj Mahal.  It was constructed by Safdarjang’s son Nawab Shuja al-Daula. The structure, built in 1753, stands in the middle of a char-bagh. It is two storeys high and has turrets topped by chhatris at the corners. A bulbous dome tops the funeral chamber and the central arch that serves as an entrance is surrounded by smaller niches set on the outside walls. In an effort to project royal grandeur, the monument derives its elements from architectural prototypes developed by the Mughal dynasty.

Red Fort, New Delhi
The Red Fort was the palace in the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan's new capital, Shahjahanabad, the seventh city on the site of Delhi. He moved his capital here from Agra. The fort lies along the Yamuna River, which fed the moats that surround most of the wall.

The Red Fort has walls extending up to 2 kms. in length with the height varying from 18 mts. on the river side to 33 mts. on the city side. The Fort has two main entrances, the Delhi Gate and the Lahori Gate. The Red Fort also houses the Diwan-i-Aam or the Hall of Public Audience, where the Emperor would sit on a marbled paneled alcove, studded with gems, and hear complaints of the common people. The Diwan-i-Khas is the Hall of Private Audience, where private audiences were granted. The Rang Mahal, or the 'Palace of Colours' as it is known, holds a spectacular Lotus shaped fountain, made out of a single piece of marble. The other attractions within this monument are the hammams or the Royal Baths, the Shahi Burj, which used to be Shahjahan's private working area, and the Moti Masjid or the Pearl, Mosque.

The last Mughal emperor to occupy the fort was Bahadur Shah II "Zafar". Even today, the Red Fort (Lal Qila) is an eloquent reminder of the glory of the Mughal Empire.

Red Fort, Diwan-i-Aam
Emperor Shah Jahan's built-in throne in the Diwan-i-Am is one of the glories of the Red Fort. Miraculously surviving the waves of unrest with remarkably little damage, it gives an idea of the original extravagance and supremely high quality of all the Red Fort decoration. Built of white Makrana marble quarried near Jaipur, the platform walls are carved in relief with clumps of flowers set in decorative borders.

Red Fort, Diwan-i-Khas
The Diwan-i-Khas was the hall of private audience of the Emperor. Over the marble pedestal in its centre stood the famous Peacock Throne which was removed in 1739 by Nadir Shah. Through the centre of the hall flowed the Nahr-i-Bihisht. Over the corner arches of the northern and southern walls below the cornice is inscribed the famous verse of Amir Khusraw exclaiming ‘If there be a paradise on the earth, it is this, it is this, it is this’.

Jama Masjid, Delhi
The foundation of the historic Jama Masjid (Friday Mosque) was laid on a hillock in Shahjahanabad by Emperor Shahjahan, on Friday, October 6, 1650 AD. The mosque was the result of the efforts of over 5,000 workers, over a period of six years. The cost incurred on the construction in those times was 10 lakh (1 million) Rupees.
Shah Jahan built several important mosques in Delhi, Agra, Ajmer and Lahore. The Jama Masjid's floorplan is very similar to the Jama Masjid, Fatehpur Sikri near Agra, but the Jama Masjid in Delhi is the bigger and more imposing of the two. Its majesty is further enhanced because of the high ground that he selected for building this mosque.

Tomb of Sher Shah Suri
Sasaram, Bihar, 16th century
Sher Shah Suri (1486- 1545) defeated the Mughal emperor Humayun in 1537 and founded the Suri empire. Even though he reigned for five brief years (1540-45), his re-organisation of the empire laid the foundations for later Mughal emperors. His lasting legacy is the Grand Trunk Road or the ‘Sadak e Azam’ (great road) that stretches across the breadth of the Indian subcontinent from Sonagarh in Bangladesh to Peshawar in Pakistan. Of Afghan origin, Sher Shah was born in Sasaram in Bihar. His original name was Farid ud Din Abul Muzaffar. Sher Shah erected his most magnificent buildings at Sasaram, the place of his birth and youth. It was here that he began his career, and it is here that his final resting place is also located.

Sher Shah’s tomb is situated at the centre of a lake with stone banks and stepped moorings on all sides. The islet on which the tomb stands is connected to dry land by means of a wide stone bridge supported by pillars. The high square platform that supports the building is built entirely in stone and rises from the water on eight shallow steps. The placing of the mausoleum in the middle of an artificial lake is a reference to Paradise with its plentiful waters, as described in the Koran.

The octagonal tomb, like that of Hasan Khan, has three pointed, double and receding arches (of around 2.75 metres in width) on each of its facades. The effect is similar to that of an immense pyramid, with five stages, reaching over 45 metres high with a diameter of about 75 metres.

Imambara Shah Najaf
Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh
Maula Ali, the son in law of Prophet Muhammad was also known as Shah Najaf. He was considered to be a greal warrior and a learned scholar of Islam. He was bestowed the title of Haider-e-Khuda or the Lion of Allah and became the fourth Caliph of Islam. During this time, he governed from Najaf, a town in Iraq, and was given the name Shah Najaf or the King of Najaf. When he died, this became his final resting place.

The Shah Najaf Imambara is dedicated to Ali. The Imambara is a white domed structure situated on the right bank of the river Gomati. It was constructed by Nawab Ghazi ud Din Haider as his mausoleum. His silver tomb lies at the centre of the mausoleum and is flanked by a silver and gold tomb of his wife Mubarak Mahal.

Ibrahim Rauza Complex
Bijapur, Karnataka, 17th century
While the imperial Mughals ruled over most of the country, in the Deccan, independent Muslim kingdoms were set up. They established a culture and identity that was distinct from that of the Mughals. The architectural styles that are seen in Bijapur, Bidar, Gulbarga and Hyderabad are a result of the Deccani Sultans looking directly to Persia and Turkey for models and inspiration. The courts and the market places of the Deccani kingdoms were cosmopolitan places where tradesmen, craftspeople, merchants, soldiers and courtiers from varied regions across the world rubbed shoulders. This rich confluence of cultures is reflected in the architectural styles that developed in the Deccan.

Ibrahim Adil Shah II ruled the kingdom of Bijapur in the Deccan from 1580 to 1627. He was one of the most humane and cosmopolitan kings in history. He was a magnanimous patron of the arts and painting, poetry and music received a great fillip during his reign. In his autobiography, the great Sultan calls himself the “son of Ganesa”, a Hindu deity.

Ibrahim Rauza recalls one of the finest moments in Indian cultural history, when Sufi influences from Persia met the traditions of personalised love of the Bhakti movement.

Gol Gumbaz
Bijapur, Karnataka, 17th century

Though left incomplete, Gol Gumbaz is one of the most impressive monuments in the Indian subcontinent. It was built during the reign of Muhammad Adil Shah in the mid 17th century. The Gol Gumbaz, literally ‘Round Dome’, is the mausoleum of the ruler. The sovereign probably realised that he could not surpass the ornamental beauty of the Ibrahim Rauza made by Ibrahim Adil Shah II. He decided instead to build one of the largest monuments in the country. The building presents a harmonious whole, with the mausoleum’s design consisting of a simple large cube, surmounted by an immense dome.

Mahmud Gawan Madarsa
Bidar, Karnataka, 15th century
The capital of the Bahamanid dynasty was shifted to Bidar in 1429 by Ahmad I Wali. In this time of peace, the Deccani idiom of architecture flowered with Iranian and Central Asiatic influences. The Mahmud Gawan Madrasa founded in 1472 by Mahmud Gawan, the Persian minister of Muhammad Shah III, was built by engineers and craftsmen from Gilan on the Caspian Sea. The madrasa resembles the imposing university buildings in Persian cities like Samarqand.

Founded in 1472 by Mahmud Gawan, the Persian minister of Mahmud Shah III, the madrasa is one of the most interesting  buildings of Bidar. The minister brought craftsmen and engineers from his own homeland in Gilan to work on this monument under the patronage of the Bahamanid dynasty. This structure replicated many Iranian Central Asian prototypes and resembles the imposing university buildings in Persian cities. In its heyday, the madrasa had a library that contained over three thousand manuscripts.

Bidar Fort
Bidar,  Karnataka, 15th -16th century
Completed in 1532, the Bidar fort was the largest architectural undertaking of the Bahamanid  dynasty. It has palaces, two mosques, a madrasa and various royal tombs. Apart from the structures, there are ponds and fountains in ornamental gardens, as well as hammams.
The Turkash Mahal has several storeys and was constructed under the aegis of Ahmed III ( 1461-3) and Muhammad ( 1463-82). It was renovated under the Barids at a later stage.

Ashtur, Bahamani Tombs
Near Bidar, Karnataka, 15th century
The tombs of the Bahamani sultans and their families are located at Ashtur, 3km east of Bidar. Dating from the 15th century, these include the mausoleum of the son of the ruler who first decamped from Gulbarga, Alauddin Shah I. The structures are distinctly influenced by Persian structural and decorative elements; as can be seen in the higher and more bulbous domes.

Solah Khamba Mosque
Bidar, Karnataka, 14th century
The Solah Khamba Mosque, or sixteen-columned prayer hall, is the oldest Islamic building in Bidar. It is also one of the largest prayer halls in India. Built in 1327, the prayer hall of the Solah Khamba Mosque in the Bidar Fort has nineteen passageways.
The mosque measures 295 feet (90m) x 77 feet (23m).

Barid Mausoleum
Bidar, Karnataka, 16th century
The tombs of the Barid kings are situated to the west of Bidar. The architectural styles of the tombs further develop the models established during the Bahamanid period. The tomb of Ali Barid (died 1580) is one of the masterpieces of the group. It is situated at the centre of a huge square enclosure, which would have once been a garden. Of the original four monumental entrances, only one survives. The funeral chamber has large central archways on four sides. Above these are five horizontal bands. The hemispheric dome rises from a double border of an intricately worked leaves and is mounted at the apex with an octagon.

The architectural roots of the arches used in the structure can be traced back to Central Asian prototypes. The interior is richly decorated with bands of colored tiles while the dome-joint is decorated with stucco arabesques.

Bibi ka Maqbara
Aurangabad, 17th century
The mausoleum of Emperor Aurangzeb’s wife Rabia ul Daurani, (also known as Dilras Banu Begum) was built by her son Prince Azam Shah. It was made between 1651 and 1661, the architecture of the mausoleum is ascribed to Ata Ullah, an architect, and Hanspat Rai, an engineer. Set at the centre of a charbagh enclosure, the white marble mausoleum was inspired by the Taj Mahal and is known as the ‘Taj of the Deccan’. Marble was brought form mines near Jaipur for its construction.

Tomb of Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah, Qutb Shahi Tombs
Near Golconda, Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, 17th century
The tombs of the rulers of the Qutub Shahi dynasty are located to the north-west of Golconda. The complex comprises seven royal tombs as well as those of others of the imperial family and members of the royal court.

The structures are similar to the Bahamanid tombs at Bidar. There are however decorative additions such as floral details.  The domes are characteristic, with a bulbous form arising from a chalice shape at the base. The corner minarets end with miniaturised arcaded galleries, a typical Qutb Shahi feature.


Built by Sultan Muhammed Quli Qutub Shah
Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, 16th century
Muhammad Quli founded the city of Hyderabad in 1589. Located in the city is the Char Minar which is a triumphal arch, along the lines of the Tin Darwaza of Ahmedabad. The structure has a square plan with four minarets, one at each corner, each over fifty-five metres in height. Each pillar is decorated with a double-arched balcony and culminates in a bulbous cupola with a foliated base, all characteristic features of the Qutb Shahi style of architecture.
Jami Masjid
Champaner, Gujarat, 15th century
& Sikander Shah Ka Roza, Halol, near Champaner
A new capital was built at Champaner by Sultan Mahmud Begarha towards the end of the 15th century. The Jami Masjid is one of the most striking buildings here and presents a perfect unison of the symmetrical appearance of the whole with the exquisite details of its parts. The surface is profusely decorated with fine carvings. It is one of the most exquisite monuments of Gujarat.
Mosque of Sultan Ahmad Shah
Ahmedabad, Gujarat, 15th century
In the west of India, in the coastal state of Gujarat, there was a wave of Islamic incursions beginning with Mahmud of Ghazni, Ghauri and Qutb al Din Aibak. Under Ghiyas al Din Tuglaq, Gujarat came under the governorship of Taj al Din Jafar and then Muzaffar Khan who declared independence. The city of Ahmedabad was founded in 1404 by his grandson Ahmed Shah.

This structure was built in 1414 AD and has a façade opened by five pointed arches of which the central one is much higher and wider than the others. The entire structure is flanked on both sides by two towers that rise to a height of about a metre above the wall.

The Islamic heritage of Gujarat was a result of the rich confluence of earlier Hindu and Jaina traditions. In fact, the same craftsmen now adapted their skills for the new Muslim patrons.

Durgah of Ganj Baksh, Sarkhej, Gujarat
15th century
The durgah or shrine of Sufi saint Ganj Bakhsh was constructed along with a mosque during the reign of sultan Muhammad Shah II (1451-58) and completed by his successor Qutb al-Din Ahmad Shah II. After their completion, many mausoleums, gardens and other constructions were built in the area to honor the saint. This entire group is now called the Sarkhej group of monuments.

Tomb of Sultan Muhammad Begarha
Sarkhej, Gujarat, 16th century
& Bilal Khan Qazi Mosque
Dholka, Gujarat,14th century
All the buildings of the initial period of the Indo Islamic architecturein Gujarat had some common features. In 1333 CE, the Masjid of Bilal Khan Qazi at Dholka introduced a new style in the prevailing architectural idiom. This was a smaller and even simpler structure. The façade is constructed in the shape of a pair of tall ornamental turrets, one on each side of the central archway. These turrets were constructed in the indigenous style, with no traces of Islamic influence. After their introduction here, the use of minarets became very common in mosques in Gujarat.

Medieval Islamic architecture, spread across the Deccan, western and northern India, provides a rich and varied heritage.  The walls of the tomb, made of pierced stone screens or jaalis, have an exquisite variety of designs.  As the sun changes direction, the light filters in transforming the interior into an ethereal vision.

Stone Jali
Mosque of Sidi Saiyyad, Ahmedabad, Gujarat, 16th century

One of the unique characteristics of Islamic architecture in Gujarat is the use of intricate stone jaalis with exquisite open carving. Naturalistic carvings of foliated designs with delicate leaves and shoots derive directly from earlier indigenous traditions.
Built around 1510-1515, the walls of this mausoleum are composed largely of perforated stone screens. The jaalis (screens) here are amongst the masterpieces of the Islamic art of the subcontinent. Instead of the more frequently seen geometric patterns, this beautiful screen consists of a palm tree and weaving foliated creepers.

Jama Masjid  
Junagarh, Sourashtra, Gujarat
originally made in the 13th century
Junagarh is located at the foothills of the Girnar Hills in Gujarat. The name literally translates to Old Fort. The structure pre-dates the conquest of Gujarat by the Delhi Sultanate. It was built from 1286 to ‘87 by Abu al-Qasim bin Ali al-Iraji, who was not only the head of the traders community but also was a local religious leader of Iranian origin. The central prayer hall of the structure consists of four columns at the centre and four pilasters against the wall. At the front of this hall is a wide colonnaded portico. The mihrab has a semi-circular plan and is decorated with small columns which support a stone architrave carved with a triple-arched motif. The plan of this particular mosque, in the Arab style, was not repeated in Gujarat after its conquest by the Sultanate.

Durgah of Sabutra Baba, Lakhpat, Kachchh Gujarat
The small fort town of Lakhpat is in the Kachchh district of Gujarat. The name literally means the city of millionaires, but today it survives as a ghost town, an abandoned city in with ruined buildings and the remnants of a magnificent fort. Historically, it was an important port on a trade route that connected Gujarat and Sind. A change in the course of a distributory of the Indus river rendered it unusable as a port in recent times. A mosque here is notable for its fine carvings. Other monuments here include this durgah of a Sufi saint. 

Ziarat of Shah Hamadan
Srinagar, Kashmir
In the mountainous kingdom of Kashmir, Islamic architecture was heavily influenced by ancient Hindu and Buddhist stone architecture, combined with influences from Persia and Turkistan. Wood was used extensively in the mosques and tombs of the Kashmir Valley.

Shah Hamadan from Persia is known to have laid the foundations of Islam in the Kashmir Valley. The saint is deeply revered by the people. Built on the right bank of the river Jhelum, the ziarat is a beautiful example of Kashmiri wooden architecture.

It is in the ziarats  of the saints of Kashmir, that the people of that valley worship. Best of all, over the centuries, both Hindus and Muslims have equally revered the ziarats.

Ziarat of Dastagir Saheb
Srinagar, Kashmir, 19th century
The shrine dedicated to Pir Dastgir Sahib, a Sufi saint is located in Khanyar, in the old part of Srinagar. With a graceful white and green exterior, the shrine has a papier mache interior with scroll work, floral motifs and inscriptions in the Arabic script. Sayyed Abdul Qadir Jeelani from Baghdad was the founder of the Qadariya order of Sufism. He was also Dastgir Sahib (the saint who extends the hand of help). He never visited Kashmir, but after his death, a hair of the revered saint was brought to Srinagar by a follower. The hair of the saint is kept in the Ziarat and is taken to the balcony of the shrine for display on auspicious days.
This ziarat is one of the most important monuments of Kashmir . The Indo-Saracenic architectural style typifies many of the older mosques and Muslim shrines of Kashmir, especially Srinagar.

 Profile of Mr. Benoy K Behl

Benoy K Behl is a film-maker, art-historian and photographer who is known for his tireless and prolific output of work over the past 34 years. He has taken over 36,000 photographs of Asian monuments and art heritage, made a hundred documentaries on art history. His exhibitions have been warmly received in 29 countries around the world and he holds the Limca Book Record for having travelled to all corners of India.

In January, 2008, National Geographic magazine carried an 18-page story about ancient Indian art revealed through Behl’s photography to the world which can be accessed on http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/2008-01/india-ancient-art/interactive-map.html.

BBC World News has also carried 3 major stories about Behl’s pioneering work in India and Vietnam.

His films, including 26 documentaries on ‘The Paintings of India’ and 26 documentaries on ‘The Sculpture of India’ have been nationally telecast on prime time in India. These have also been screened at scores of universities and museums in several countries around the world.   

The vastness of Behl’s documentation presents a wide and new perspective in understanding the art of India and Asia. His photography of ancient murals in remote places has clearly established the continuous tradition of painting in India, from ancient times through the medieval period. This is significant, as earlier, the Indian tradition of painting was believed to have begun in medieval times.  

He has been invited to lecture by almost all important universities and museums around the world, which have departments of Asian art. His book on ‘The Ajanta Caves’ is published by Thames & Hudson, London and Harry N. Abrams, New York.  His book on ‘The History of Indian Art: Sculpture and Mural Paintings’ is expected to be released shortly.

‘Need to apply laws equally on all firms regarding expat employees’

‘Need to apply laws equally on all firms regarding expat employees’
Opposition holds 1st weekly Saturday gathering

KUWAIT CITY, May 11: MP Saad Al-Boos urged the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor on Saturday to correctly implement existing laws pertaining to foreign workers on all companies equally, as a means to address the issues of marginal labor.

In a statement to the press, Al-Boos said the ministry’s decision to reduce 100,000 workers annually must be done using measured methods that differentiate between law-abiding companies and those who violate the employment laws. “For example, there shouldn’t be a small restaurant which has 60 workers, while restrictions are applied on large-sized companies,” he stated.

Al-Boos called for serious oversight on all companies to identify those that practice visa trading and trafficking in order to pump more marginal employment into the country. He warned that reducing labor will lead to exponentially higher wages, but stressed it will ensure that only the required labor is retained in Kuwait.

Al-Boos further suggested the formation of a Ministry of Interior team to supervise visitors entering and leaving the country.

“Foreign visitors arriving to the country on short-term visas should have their dates of arrival and departure and locations registered with the Interior Ministry. Once the specified period expires, the task team should make sure the visitors have left or else pick them up for deportation for violation of residency laws. This is the case in the countries of the civilized world,” he said.

Al-Boos further called on the Interior Ministry to revise visa restrictions on certain nationalities, saying that it has harmed the process of transforming Kuwait into a regional financial and trade hub.

He compared the experience of Dubai and Bahrain, and Spain that receives more than 70 million tourists annually and tourism becoming one of the main income resources for the country.

In other developments, oppositionist movements held their first weekly Saturday evening gatherings at Al-Erada Square which they intend to do every Saturday until June 16, when the Constitutional Court is expected to issue a verdict on the one-vote electoral system. The gatherings will be attended by oppositionist former lawmakers and activists who expressed their hopes for the scrapping of one-man one-vote decree under which the current National Assembly was elected

Speaking at the seminar were former MPs of the nullified parliament Obaid Al-Wasmi, Osama Al-Munawir, Faisal Al-Yahya, Abdullatif Al-Omairi, Osama Al-Shaheen and Muhammad Al-Dallal.
Also present were several former MPs, among them Ahmad Al-Sadoun, Musallam Al-Barrak, Falah Al-Sawagh, Faisal Al-Muslim and Waleed Al-Tabtabaei.
-Arab Times

Car bombs kill 40 in Turkey

Car bombs kill 40 in Turkey
REYHANLI, Turkey: Twin car bombs killed around 40 people and wounded many more in a Turkish town near the Syrian border yesterday and Turkey said it suspected Syrian involvement. The bombing increased fears that Syria’s civil war was dragging in neighbouring states despite renewed diplomatic moves towards ending fighting in which more than 70,000 people have been killed. The bombs ripped into crowded streets in the early afternoon in Reyhanli, scattering cars and concrete blocks in the town in Turkey’s southern Hatay province, home to thousands of Syrian refugees.

President Bashar Al-Assad’s administration was the “usual suspect” in the attacks, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said. “We know that the people taking refuge in Hatay have become targets for the Syrian regime,” Arinc said in comments broadcast on Turkish television. “We think of them as the usual suspects when it comes to planning such a horrific attack.” There was no immediate claim of responsibility. Nor was there any comment from Damascus. NATO member Turkey supports the uprising against Assad and violence has crossed the border before, but not on the same scale.

Turkey is far from alone in fearing the impact of Syria’s war, which is already helping inflame the Middle East’s tangle of sectarian, religious and nationalist struggles. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said it was no coincidence the bombings came as diplomatic moves to end the Syrian conflict intensify. “There may be those who want to sabotage Turkey’s peace, but we will not allow that,” Davutoglu told reporters during a trip to Berlin. “No-one should attempt to test Turkey’s power.”

Prospects appeared to improve this week for diplomacy over the civil war, now in its third year, after Moscow and Washington announced a joint effort to bring government and rebels to an international conference. But a Russian official said yesterday that there was already disagreement over who would take part and he doubted whether a meeting could happen this month. As well as disputes over who would represent the rebels and government at any talks, there have also been questions over possible participation by Assad’s Shiite ally Iran. The rebels are backed by the largely Sunni Gulf states. Diplomats in New York said the Syria meeting would likely slip into June and it was unclear who would participate.

In Reyhanli, smoke poured from charred ruins after the blasts outside administrative buildings. “My children were so scared because it reminded them of the bombings when we were in Aleppo. God help us,” said one refugee, a mother of three who gave her name as Kolsum. Arinc said around 40 people had been killed, while Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan warned the toll could rise with many more seriously injured. Erdogan said the bombings might have been related to Turkey’s own peace process with Kurdish militants of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), who began a withdrawal this week to end a three decade conflict.

But he said the blasts could also have been aimed at provoking sensitivities in the region that is home to so many Syrian refugees. Turkey is sheltering more than 300,000 Syrians, most of them in camps along the 900-km frontier, and is struggling to keep up with the influx. Erdogan said this week Turkey would support a US-enforced no-fly zone in Syria and warned that Damascus crossed President Barack Obama’s “red line” on chemical weapons use long ago. A no-fly zone to prohibit Syrian military aircraft from hitting rebel targets has been mentioned by American lawmakers as one option the United States could use to pressure Assad. Erdogan is due to meet Obama in Washington on May 16.

Violence also crossed the border in February, when a minibus blew up at a border crossing near Reyhanli, killing 14 people. The Syrian opposition said one of its delegations appeared to have been the target of that attack, but there has been no confirmation of this from the Turkish authorities. In October, five Turkish civilians were killed in Akcakale when a mortar bomb fired from Syria landed on their house, prompting Turkey to fire back across the frontier. – Reuters
-Kuwait Times

'Dead’ woman returns to life after delivery – Doctors hail ‘miracle’

Dead’ woman returns to life after delivery – Doctors hail ‘miracle’

KUWAIT: Farwaniya Hospital yesterday announced its doctors performed a successful perimortem caesarean section on a clinically dead woman with no pulse or respiratory activity, delivering a healthy baby and reviving the mother. Farwaniya Hospital Manager Dr Hmoud Al-Zobi said a 36-year-old Filipina who was nine months pregnant was hospitalized at 3:30 am on Friday in a critical condition with extremely high blood pressure.

He said the woman suffered a cardiac arrest while being examined in the casualty department after she coughed and spit blood.

Her heart then stopped beating and she stopped breathing. “Declaring her clinically dead, she was immediately rushed to be operated on to save the baby, where doctors managed to revive her heart too,” Zobi said, noting that a healthy 3.1-kg boy was born simultaneously with his mother’s resuscitation. “This is a scientific miracle at all levels”, beamed Zobi. “As soon as the woman was checked and declared clinically dead, the maternity division of the hospital was put on alert for a caesarean,” said Dr Mohammad Hassan, who supervised the operation. “The woman and her baby are now in stable condition,” he affirmed. — KUNA

-Kuwait Times

Campaign against law violators

Campaign against law violators
KUWAIT: Security personnel carried out an extended campaign against residency law violators and outlaws on Friday that resulted in the arrest of five people wanted in criminal cases and as many wanted in civil cases, 19 people reported absent, 158 people found in violation of residency law and 310 people found without identification documents.

The personnel also detained 10 wanted vehicles. A vendor, a beggar and 50 free laborers were also apprehended. They also confiscated four cases of liquor related to 16 instances of fights, 10 cases of theft and 204 traffic citations. They dealt with 89 traffic accidents and detained five vehicles besides dealing with 66 cases that needed help. Security sector indicated that campaigns will continue to check all outlaws and violators.
-Kuwait Times

Annual pearl diving trip date set after Ramadan – ‘Riqqa Battle’ race returns this year

Annual pearl diving trip date set after Ramadan
– ‘Riqqa Battle’ race returns this year
KUWAIT: The 25th annual pearl diving trip is set to take place between August 15-22, 2013 under the patronage of HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al- Sabah, the Kuwait Sea Sports Club announced in a statement yesterday.

Head of the heritage committee in the KSSC Ali Al-Qabandi explained in the statement that the period for the annual event was chosen to take place after the holy month of Ramadan, mainly due to the short period between the end of the schools’ final exams and the beginning of the holy month on July 9. Preparations for the annual trip are scheduled to take place before Ramadan however, with the training course for debuting sailors set to start on June 18 which marks the beginning of registration.

The divers’ training camp is set to begin on June 22, while July 6 is set to feature the 10th annual Public Authority for Youth and Sports race between the diving ship. Al-Qabandi further indicated that the ships which are presented by HH the Amir as well as the late Amir Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah are set to be moved into the waters on August 11, followed by the ‘Habab and Shouna’ ship maintenance works two days later. The official ‘Dasha’ ceremony which signals the beginning of the pearl diving trip takes place at 8:30 am on August 15, while the ‘Qufal’ closing ceremony is set for Thursday, August 22.

Media outlets will also get a chance to cover diving activities during trips to the pearl diving spots on August 18 and 19. Meanwhile, Al- Qabandi announced that this year’s event is set to feature the return of the ‘Riqqa Battle’ race, which takes place on August 24, while adding at the same time that the 40th Kuwait Fishing Competition will be organized on October 26
-Kuwait Times

Electronic and print media kickstart credibility debate

Electronic and print media kickstart credibility debate
KUWAIT: In the modern age where cyber media is seemingly playing a prominent role in the daily lives of people around the globe, print media seems to be taking a backseat in terms of bringing the latest news and its reach.
However, such an argument is challenged by media experts, academics, as well as journalists who claim that both the media interact in a way that makes them both necessary for the future development of media.

Professor of Media Studies at Kuwait University (KU) Dr Khaled Al-Gahas told KUNA that any media outlet, whether online or in a paper format, should base its success on credibility and professionalism. Making sure that credibility remains on the forefront of any media institution’s agenda will eventually deliver the correct message to the public, argued Al-Gahas.

The Kuwaiti academic agreed that cyber medium has an edge over its print counterpart because of its reach as it goes beyond borders and reaches larger audiences. This ability to reach wide lured many print media outlets to either use cyberspace as an extension of their output while several others, especially in the North America and Europe, opted for a complete conversion online, abandoning the original paper format.

Benefiting from the reach of the cyber media is a way to develop classical outlets, said Media Studies Professor at KU Dr Ahmad Al-Shareef. He indicated that the tough competition posed by cyber media and the fact that it attracts a vast majority of the youth is forcing the print media to step up the rivalry.
With all the benefits and temptations provided by cyber media, its print counterpart has an upper-hand when it comes to professionalism and accuracy, said Al-Shareef, adding that without being organized, cyber media tends to lose some focus and vision when trying to convey information to the audience.

Taking things into consideration, one could not disregard the psychological impact of media as a whole and, with the advent of cyber media, this impact somehow seems to have more influence on the masses. Professor of Psychology at KU Dr Khuder Al-Baroun affirmed that cyber media has demolished the boundaries between cultures and races, providing information to whoever is willing to seek it, without any discrimination.

In contrast, said Al-Baroun, living within the context of cyberspace might lead individuals to become isolated, leading to less direct conversations amongst the people. Some cyber media are contributing to the spread of rumors and chaos, said Al-Baroun, adding that when in cyberspace, it is hard to filter what is false from the truth. Putting things into a context, the argument of who is superior might lie within the hands of those involved directly in the news and information business.

Journalist Fahad Al-Turki affirmed that the relationship between cyber and print media is not about who will eliminate whom but rather about integration. Both types are important to deliver the message to the masses, said Al-Turki. The professionalism provided by print media could be extended to the cyberworld, thus providing a solid mix that would be both efficient and credible. Expressing different views, journalists Nour Al-Abdullah and Musaad Al-Mutairi said that traditional newspapers had various restrictions that prevented them from competing with their cyber counterparts.

They both argued that the topics discussed in cyber media were more diverse and the cost to bring news online was lesser than trying to print a story via traditional methods. They indicated that in order for print media to challenge its cyber counterpart, it should work on measures to update itself, reconsidering policies and methods in which information in today’s world is handled. The ongoing debate about cyber versus print media might not reach a decisive conclusion, but it would surely contribute to the evolution of how media is handled and someday a new type of medium will challenge both to reevaluate and consider their approach to information.
-Kuwait Times

Eight dead, 11 missing in Mizoram thunder squall

Eight dead, 11 missing in Mizoram thunder squall
Aizawl: Thunderstorm and landslides have claimed eight lives, rendered 11 missing and left 25 others injured in the state capital, police said Saturday.

Nine houses in Laipuitland locality here were swept away in a massive landslide early this morning, killing eight persons, Superintendent of Police (Traffic) Lallianmawia, who was supervising the rescue work, said. Eleven persons were missing and 9 others injured in the landslide, he said.

Rescue work was underway with volunteers and policemen searching the debris for bodies and survivors, he said.

Lallianmawia said that six bodies have been recovered and two bodies were being dug out adding that the number of missing persons might rise.

Thunderstorm accompanied by strong squall hit the Mizoram capital last night. At least 16 people across the city suffered minor injuries in the storm and were given first aid at the Civil Hospital here, the SP said.
-Manorama Online

Strong quake causes damage, injuries in southern Iran

Strong quake causes damage, injuries in southern Iran
Tehran: A strong earthquake of 6.2 magnitude hit southern Iran this morning, the US Geological Survey said, with local media reporting of damaged villages and several injuries.

The epicentre of the quake was measured at 85 kilometres southeast of the southern town of Minab at 0208 GMT (0738 IST), the USGS said in a statement. It was at a depth of 36.44 km.

Head of Iran's Red Crescent rescue corps Mahmoud Mozafar told the Fars news agency that at least 11 people had been injured in five villages which were "severely" hit by the quake.

The Mehr news agency, quoted him as saying that "several houses were leveled" based on preliminary reports. The reports said rescue teams were dispatched to the affected area.

The USGS said there was a 35 percent chance of fatalities from the quake which the Hong Kong Observatory measured at 6.1 magnitude.

Iran's Seismological Centre has registered a series of aftershocks, measuring between 4.1 and 5.2.

Iran sits astride several major fault lines and is prone to frequent earthquakes, some of which have been devastating.

Last month, the biggest earthquake to hit the country in 50 years, measuring 7.8, killed a woman and injured more than a dozen other people in the southeast.

At least 40 people were killed across the border in Pakistan where hundreds of mud homes were leveled.

A double earthquake, one measuring 6.2 and the other 6.0, struck northwestern Iran last August, killing more than 300 people and injuring 3,000.

In December 2003, a massive quake struck the southern city of Bam. It killed 26,271 people -- about a quarter of the population -- and destroyed the city's ancient mud-built citadel.
-Manorama Online

Antony commissions MiG-29 K fighter planes into Navy

Antony commissions MiG-29 K fighter planes into Navy
Panaji: Defence Minister A K Antony Saturday commissioned warfare aircraft MiG-29 K Black Panther squadron into the Indian Navy here.

The commissioning was held at INS Hansa which would be the base for Black Panther squadron along with other fighter aircraft squadrons of Indian Navy.

The squadron initially comprising 16 aircraft would be known as IANS 303.

The aircraft tagged as new era fighter were inducted into the Indian Navy in February 2010 following which it underwent trials before the actual commissioning.

Naval officials said that MiG-29 K is a potent carrier borne fighter, which, once integrated with INS Vikramaditya will bolster the Navy's punch with its multi-role capability.

The aircraft is armed with its arsenal of weapons including advanced anti-aircraft and anti-ship missiles, precision bombs and sophisticated system to support weapon delivery.

Aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya is likely to be commissioned later this year.
-Manorama Online

Kuwait launches sports clubs for women

Kuwait launches sports clubs for women


KUWAIT: Muneera Al-Shatti has loved playing basketball since she was a child but it wasn’t until Thursday that she had chance to show off her skills at a public arena in Kuwait. As part of a new initiative launching sports leagues for women, Shatti and her teammates from Salwa Al-Sabah club downed Qadsiya club 63-13 in a game that attracted several hundred men and female fans. The initiative to launch basketball, table tennis and athletic leagues for the first time in Kuwait illustrates how the landscape for women athletes is improving across the Gulf where hard-liners have long opposed women playing sports.

Several of the players, in deference to the conservative Muslim culture that is common across the Gulf, wore leggings and covered their heads with hijab. Others, however, wore shorts and T-shirts. “A competition like this should have happened a long time ago,” said Shatti, who has played in tournaments overseas and only heard about the league in her home country while playing in neighboring Bahrain. “But I am glad it finally took place. We’ve been trying to do this for a long time and they have promised that more sports will be included in future leagues.”

Helped by government support, increased education and erosion of traditional values, football leagues for girls in the Gulf have started up in Qatar and United Arab Emirates. Saudi Arabia – which long barred girls from playing any sports – recently announced it would allow sports in private schools as long as they abide by the rules of sharia, or Islamic law.

Saudi Arabia’s decision is part of a wider package of reforms targeting women with the aim of ending discriminatory practices that have contributed to a host of health problems, including obesity and diabetes. The private schools’ announcement also follows a decision last year in the kingdom to allow two female athletes to compete in the London Olympic Games following months of intense pressure from the International Olympics Committee.

Still, women’s sports remain nearly an underground activity in the kingdom, which is home to Islam’s holiest site in Makkah. Only the largest female university in the kingdom – Princess Nora Bint Abdul Rahman University – has a swimming pool, tennis court and exercise area for its students. No other university in Saudi Arabia has sports facilities for female students and staff. Women are also bound by strict rules when it comes to their attire, so they cannot, for example, be seen by men while jogging in sweat pants. Female athletes cannot register for sports clubs or league competitions. They are banned from entering national trials, making it impossible for them to qualify for international competitions.

Kuwait is typical of the struggle women have endured in the Gulf. The 1970s were described as the golden era where women were allowed to freely participate in sports in Kuwait, according to Naeema Al-Sabah, the head of the Women’s Sports Federation. But in the ensuing decades, the influence of Islamic hardliners grew in the country and sports for women all but disappeared. Hardliners believe that sports will promote immoral behavior and uniforms inappropriately reveal female bodies. The low point came a few years back when a Kuwaiti women’s football team was publicly denounced after returning from playing a regional tournament in neighboring United Arab Emirates.

“We’re taking baby steps toward progress,” Sabah said. “As with any society that is religiously strict, we need to test the waters and take small steps. Everyone in Kuwait now values sports. You see people walking and jogging every day. There is this increasing interest in playing sports in general.” Shatti said the best sign that things are changing was the number of women and girls who turned out for the basketball game. A music teacher who also cycles and jogs with her husband, Shatti is only hoping to get more chances to play. “It felt like the first step toward a better future for sports for us here in Kuwait,” she said after her team’s victory. – AP
-Kuwait Times

Ministers congratulate HH Crown Prince on recovery from surgery

Ministers congratulate HH Crown Prince on recovery from surgery


KUWAIT: A number of Kuwaiti ministers visited His Highness the Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah yesterday to congratulate him on recovery from a successful surgery. HH the Crown Prince underwent a successful minor back surgery in Germany on May 4. HH Sheikh Nawaf received the well-wishing ministers at his residency in the German city of Munich with the attendance of National Guard Deputy Commander Sheikh Meshaal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah.

The visiting ministers – namely Minister of State of Cabinet Affairs and Minister of State for Municipal Affairs Sheikh Mohammad Al-Abdullah Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah, Minister of Communications and Minister of State for Housing Affairs Salem Mutheeb Al-Utheina and Minister of Commerce and Industry Anas Khaled Al-Saleh-congratulated HH the Crown Prince on the success of the surgery and wished him everlasting health and well-being.

The meeting was attended by HH Crown Prince Diwan Chief Sheikh Mubarak Faisal Saud Al-Sabah, Sheikh Ahmad Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and Kuwait Ambassador to Germany Musaad Rashid Al-Haroun. – KUNA
-Kuwait Times

Kuwait govt planning to execute mega projects

Kuwait govt planning to execute mega projects
LONDON: State of Kuwait plans to execute mega projects in  various sectors in the coming decade in coordination with local and foreign entrepreneurs, affirmed Kuwait’s Minister of Communications and Minister of State for Housing Affairs Salem Al-Utheina. The Kuwaiti Government is seeking to carry out guidelines of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah rapidly with respect of execution of a number of development ventures that directly affect citizens’ daily living, said Al-Utheina during a meeting with a group of Kuwaiti students studying in the United Kingdom, late on Thursday.

Al-Utheina is a member of a high-ranking Kuwaiti delegation including Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs and Minister of State for Municipal Affairs Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah and Minister of Commerce and Industry Anas Al-Saleh. Also present at the meeting was the head of the Kuwaiti Cultural Office, Dr. Mohammad Al-Hajeri. The Kuwaiti ministerial delegation took part, on Wednesday, in a convention on investment opportunities in Kuwait, aimed at promoting recently-endorsed legislations intended to encourage investments and lure external capitals.

Elaborating, Al-Utheina stated that the government is also seeking to privatize a number of sectors, indicating in particular at Kuwait Airways, fleet of which would be upgraded very soon. Also in this vein, the minister indicated that the government would not neglect rights of the employees serving in the sectors that would be privatized. Moreover, the State of Kuwait will impose on companies that win investment tenders to employ Kuwaiti youth, he said, adding that the government will privatize several sectors in coordination with local and international mega companies, noting that the process would target, in the near future, communications, transports and air navigation.

Al-Utheina expressed optimism that the privatization process would be successful, particularly in light of enactment of several legislations. For his part, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah said in a statement to KUNA meeting of the ministers with the students was held in line with guidelines of the political leadership to listen to them about their problems. Remarks that were made by a number of students would be referred to the relevant authorities, he said, noting that some students protested high cost of living in the UK, others requested higher monthly financial allocations and a number asked for lower airfares.

The government, according to instructions of His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, will spare no effort in tackling any obstacles that may face the students with scholarships to study abroad, he affirmed. Minister Al-Saleh made identical remarks urging the students to do their best to enhance their skills and serve Kuwait. – KUNA
-Kuwait Times

Malabar Gold & Diamonds hits 90th Mark- Second outlet in Kuwait

Malabar Gold & Diamonds hits 90th Mark- Second outlet in Kuwait

Malabar Gold & Diamonds opens its 90th outlet in Souk Al Watya, Kuwait on 11th May 2013 at 5 pm. This will be the group’s 2nd outlet in Kuwait and 29th in the Middle East.
The showroom displays an extensive collection of gold, platinum and diamonds in exquisite designs and styles to suit the tastes of today’s international customers. Their latest range of jewellery in gold & diamonds specially designed for the festive season will also be available at this showroom.  
The group also announced their inaugural offers that last until 17th May 2013. On every purchase of gold jewellery worth KD 250, the customers can avail a gold coin absolutely free and on buying any of their timeless and elegant diamond jewellery worth KD 250, 3 gold coins can be gained.
Old ornaments purchased from any of the jewellers in GCC can be exchanged with the brand new enchanting collection of Malabar Gold & Diamonds without any loss. Any 22 ct old gold ornaments purchased from GCC can be exchanged with Malabar Gold & Diamonds designs by paying only making charges ensuring they don’t lose any value on the rate of gold.  
The customers also get a fantastic opportunity to buy 8 gms of gold coin with absolutely no making charges. All these offers are valid until 17th May 2013.
To mark this occasion, the jewellery chain has unveiled more designs in their branded jewellery segment; Era- Uncut Diamond collection, Mine- Diamonds Unlimited, Ethnix- hand crafted designer jewellery, Divine- heritage jewellery, Precia- precious gem jewellery and Starlet- kids jewellery to suit any budget and occasion.   
Malabar Gold & Diamonds, one of the world’s fastest growing jewellery chains, has seen rapid growth in just 20 years of operations, currently operating 89 retail outlets, manufacturing facilities and supply chain divisions spanning 7 countries. Targeting to have 220 outlets by 2015, the group is planning for an aggressive expansion and intends to open its 100th outlet in Kolkata in the month of August. In Kuwait, they are all set to open another outlet in Lulu Hypermarket, Dajeej shortly.
This year, Malabar Gold & Diamonds has marked another milestone by declaring its latest CSR policies during its 20th anniversary celebrations. The group will allocate 10% of its profits for the benefit of the needy and several projects including environment conservation, women empowerment as well as to support the medical and educational sectors for the less fortunate in the society.
-Malabar Gold & Diamonds

Nitaqat: Emergency exit papers of 18,000 Indians processed

Nitaqat: Emergency exit papers of 18,000 Indians processed
Dubai: About 18,000 Indian workers in Saudi Arabia, who had applied for emergency exit papers amid concerns about possible job losses after a new labour law, have got their travel documents processed.

An estimated 18,000 Indian workers, out of about 60,000 applicants, have had their emergency travel documents processed, an Indian Embassy official was quoted as saying by the Arab News.

Sibi George, deputy chief of the mission, was responding to figures released in the Indian Parliament on Wednesday by Overseas Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi.

“Actually this number of 18,000 represents those whose cases have been processed by the Indian diplomatic missions in Saudi Arabia,” George said.

George said over 60,000 Indian workers are seeking emergency travel documents. He added that many workers from other countries are also seeking emergency travel documents.

Sharif Alam, an Indian community leader, said, “Indian workers have been approaching the embassy and the Jeddah-based consulate on a daily basis for travel documents.”

He said centers across the Kingdom are helping workers submit their applications.

A delegation led by Ravi visited the Kingdom two weeks ago to raise concerns about the country's Nitaqat programme.

During the talks, both sides had agreed to set up a joint working group to address “all immediate problems” facing the Indian community, including issues related to overstaying workers.

The 'Nitaqat' law makes it mandatory for local companies to hire one Saudi national for every 10 migrant workers. There has been widespread perception that the new policy will lead to denial of job opportunities for a large number of Indians working there.

Over two million Indians are currently working in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi government was implementing the Nitaqat law to cut unemployment in the country.

More than 200,000 foreigners have been deported from the country over the past few months as part of labour market reforms aimed at putting more Saudi nationals into private sector jobs, where they now make up only a tenth of the workforce.
-Manorama Online

Space station power system radiator leaking

Space station power system radiator leaking
The International Space Station has a radiator leak in its power system. The outpost’s commander calls the situation serious, but not life-threatening.

The six-member crew on Thursday noticed white flakes of ammonia leaking out of the station. Ammonia runs through multiple radiator loops to cool the station’s power system. NASA said the leak is increasing from one previously leaking loop that can be bypassed if needed. NASA spokesman Bob Jacobs said engineers are working on rerouting electronics just in case the loop shuts down. The Earth-orbiting station has backup systems.

Space station Commander Chris Hadfield of Canada tweeted that the problem, while serious, was stabilized. Officials will know more Friday.

The space station always has enough emergency escape ships for the crew, but there are no plans to use them.
-The Hindu

Fear grips Kuwait Expats as crackdown intensifies

Fear grips Kuwait Expats as crackdown intensifies
– Businesses feel the pinch – Illegal residents go into hiding
KUWAIT: A growing number of expatriates in Kuwait appear jittery today after the government intensified its crackdown on foreign workers even as many in the marginal labor sector have reportedly gone into ‘hiding’ to avoid being caught or deported. Interestingly, motorists in Kuwait began to breathe a sigh of relief as the traffic on Kuwait roads, especially in peak hours, has become more regulated as a result of the campaign by the traffic department. “No doubt, there is a daunting fear among expatriates today, especially in the unskilled labor sector.

I think the fear is justifiable considering the way the government has gone about it to drive the illegal residents out of the country,” a university professor told Friday Times on condition of anonymity. Expatriates in Kuwait make up about two-thirds of the country’s population which is numbering around 3.8 million.

According to the statistics issued by the director general of immigration for 2012, there are around 93,000 illegal residents in Kuwait. Out of these, 38,000 are domestic workers. “We are worried. Two of my friends have been deported last week. Tomorrow it can happen to me also,” said Majeed, an Asian taxi driver, who believes that the authorities had been too harsh on his friends.

While Majeed echoes the sentiment of many other Asian taxi drivers, his words also reflect the fear that has gripped the foreign workers in the country. Commenting on the ongoing traffic campaign, Boushra Mohammad Al-Barqawi, a Kuwaiti teacher in a bilingual school, told Friday Times, “It has two aspects. On the one hand, the people of Kuwait have to be safe and with the current road rash nobody is. It looks like there is car race everywhere including school zones.

Regulations on who gets a driving license or who loses it must be fair and clear and applied to all, be it citizens or expatriates. All have equal rights to drive. Terms and conditions only for expatriates make them nervous and they don’t feel secure,” she pointed out.

The growing feeling of uneasiness and fear among the expat population can be very well gauged by the fact that there is a sharp drop in peak-hour traffic on Kuwait motorways. At the same time, many office-goers admit that the crackdown has become a blessing in disguise as it has helped ease traffic congestion on roads. “Kuwait roads look better now, after the government action.

I think once the campaign is over, there will be better traffic flow on the roads,” said Ranith Abraham, a sales executive working in an automobile showroom in Shuwaikh. Many others who shared Ranjith’s view feel that the campaign would go a long way in regulating the labor market. “It is imperative to stamp out illegal residents. In fact, their presence will only jeopardize the position of other legitimate foreign workers in the country,” said Stanley D’Souza, an Indian expat, who works in Kuwait City.

The Kuwait government has initiated several measures including suspension of issuing new work permits to reduce the number of expatriates by 100,000 every year over the next ten years. Many observe that some of these measures taken by the government to balance the demographics of the country are unprecedented, especially the indiscriminate rounding up of traffic violators and their immediate deportation, sending shockwaves across the foreign population in the country. “We get lesser customers these days. People are scared of police checking,” said Rajamani, an Indian taxi driver.

He also admits that taxi drivers would try to avoid certain ‘vulnerable locations’ such as Shuwaikh, Mirqab, Hasawi, Jleeb Al-Shuyoukh, Sulaibiya etc when they engage passengers. “I think most of those people without proper residency status would have already gone into hiding. They will resurface only when things get a little bit better,” commented Fakruddeen Ali, an Indian engineer. While some opine that the measures will help the country purge illegal residents and fake manpower recruiting agents and streamline the labor market, many think that the random raids and deportation will only damage the reputation and goodwill of the country. “It is a two-pronged strategy. Number one, the aggressive crackdown you see around you today. Number two is the slew of new measures that are proposed to force the expatriates out of the country.

If the new rules come into force, many of the middle class expat families will not be able to balance their family budgets, compelling them to leave the country,” the professor explained. The new laws that target expats under consideration include restrictions in healthcare services and scrapping of subsidies for services such as water, electricity and gas. There is also a growing fear that visas of many workers will not be renewed on expiry.

While authorities insist that the measures are part of the government’s efforts to regulate the labor market, especially the marginal labor, many small and medium businesses in the private sector are already worried about the cascading effect of the new measures on their businesses. Many sales executives and shop-keepers admit that there is a significant drop in their businesses in the last few weeks since people tend to avoid public places in fear of police crackdown. “Our sales have fallen at least by 10 percent in April over March,” said Imthias Hussain, a sales manager working at a department store in Farwaniya.

According to him businesses are hurt because people do not frequent shopping malls or supermarkets as they did in the past. “Not because all are illegal residents or traffic violators. People want to avoid police questioning and harassment,” said Shajahan, a salesman with a well-known supermarket in Shuwaikh.

Many small and medium businesses are already feeling the pinch of labor shortage after several of their workers failed to report to work due to fear of arrest and subsequent deportation as they are not permitted to work with anyone other than their sponsors. Grocery shops, restaurants, bakeries, textile shops, beauty salons, transportation services et al bear the brunt of the staff shortage.

Several sub-contracting companies report that they find it difficult to supply unskilled workers to various construction and industrial jobs. Similarly, many report shortage of housemaids after the authorities intensified checking in residential areas. “In a way, it is good if the crackdown helps the country clear of illegal residents.

The government must also target visa traders and fake recruitment companies,” said Valero Fernandez, an executive with a travel agency in Kuwait city. His words underscore the importance of curbing the mushrooming of illegal manpower companies in Kuwait that continue to recruit and cheat hundreds of job-seekers, especially from Asian countries every year with the help of their ‘agent counterparts’ in those countries.

However, many people view that the government is a little harsh on people. “No doubt the illegal residents and law violators must be penalized. But every day we hear different stories… stories of detention, deportation and all. I don’t think it is a good thing,” said Yusuf, a Syrian taxi driver. Al- Barqawi, expressing a balanced view of the situation commented that the current crackdown does not reflect the real image of the country. “Laws must be for everyone, it is not right to punish some people by deporting them,” Al-Barqawi added.

By Sajeev K Peter
-Kuwait Times

Kajukenbo: The answer to women’s fear – Martial arts rebuild women’s fear

Kajukenbo: The answer to women’s fear
– Martial arts rebuild women’s self-confidence and strength
An attack abroad prompted Salmeen to take up a sport that would prepare her to defeat an attacker in the future. Three years later, she has helped women boost their confidence, fitness and strength. “I was attacked when I was studying abroad. I needed to be prepared in case it happened again.

I don’t want to be scared while leaving the house,” said Maali Salmeen, the only Kuwaiti woman trainer in Kajukenbo (a martial arts sport) in Kuwait. Kajukenbo, a self-defense art that improves body and spirit, seemed like the natural choice. It builds muscles, improves the body that becomes better honed and stronger.” We don’t want big muscles as we are girls, and this sport makes my body stronger rather than bigger. With this sport, my selfconfidence has gone up.

I walk with my chin up and without any fear,” explained Salmeen before her class this week. Maali Salmeen started training Kajukenbo three years ago. Since then Kajukenbo has been attracting more women in Kuwait. Currently, there is only one place that holds training courses in Kajukenbo for women, and that is the Australian College of Kuwait (ACK). Salmeen trains women at the ACK three times a week for an hour and a half in a session. Today there are about eight women in the class. “This class requires a lot of discipline, so students should come on time. For every delay there is punishment, and they have do squats up to 100.

The punishment will only help them become stronger. Outside the hall, I am their best friend, but in the ring I am a trainer. They have to work hard,” she said. There were only a few girls in the beginning and they used to train together in the same hall with men, but separately. “Most women were not comfortable with this scheme of things and they left the class. I was the only one who remained behind and was trained with men for six months, after which they closed the club. I continued my training till I received the black belt. Then, I became a trainer, but I am still receiving further training so that I reach the highest level.

There are ten levels in Kajukenbo, and black is the first level or Dan,” noted Salmeen. Shahad Salmeen is a new student of Kajukenbo who started taking the classes about a month and a half back. “Kajukenbo gave me selfconfidence, and I have changed in many ways, including my gait. Also, it has enabled me to channelize my anger and energy into training. Nothing is worthy to be angry. I become a weapon when I achieve a certain level as that changes me deep inside as well as on the outside. Also I become fitter, stronger and have more tolerance and resistance. It is all in your head to be stronger.

I benefited mentally and physically. Earlier I was scared if somebody walked behind me, but now I feel much stronger and don’t look back much,” said Shahad Salmeen. Kajukenbo is the original hybrid martial art, developed in Hawaii in 1947. It combines a series of moves taken from Boxing, Judo, Jujutsu, Kenpo Karate, Eskrima, Tang Soo Do and Kung Fu. “The martial art itself focuses on self defense in everyday situations, and I personally feel it has been responsible for my success and overall well-being as it helped me keep fit and build self confidence besides relieving me of much of my life’s stresses.

There is a common misconception that martial arts are violent, and I would like to personally stress that much of our art is founded on the concept of peace and only striking when attacked,” stressed Maali Salmeen. “Kajukenbo for women in Kuwait is a relatively new concept and our club is the only one that offers classes for women, only by a woman coach. We are under Sifu Abdullatif Al-Rujaib from Kuwait Kajukenbo Brothers. I believe many more girls will be joining our already expanding group of female Kajukenbo artists. The dojo is a place of personal growth and release, and I hope others will understand how it feels to be at total peace,” she further said.

Kajukenbo was created between 1947 and 1949 at Palama Settlement on Oahu, Hawaii. It developed through a group calling themselves the “Black Belt Society,” which consisted of black belt holders from various martial arts backgrounds who met to train and learn with each other. This was the beginning of an evolutionary, adaptive style designed to combine the most useful aspects of the arts. Kenpo emerged as the core around which this new art was built.

Although unaccredited by name, other influences included American Boxing (Choo was Hawaiian Welterweight Champion) and Escrima (Emperado also studied Kali and Arnis Escrima). In the late 1940s, Palama Settlement was a community center in a violent area of Oahu where fistfights or stabbings were commonplace. In this environment, the founders of Kajukenbo wanted to develop an art that would be readily useful on the street. As they trained and fought in and around Palama Settlement, the founders of Kajukenbo quickly gained reputations as formidable street-fighters. In 1950, Adriano Emperado, along with his brother Joe Emperado, began teaching the new art in an open class.

They called the school Kajukenbo Self Defense Institute (KSDI). This sport entered Kuwait in 1993, when one American trainer brought it here and was providing courses in Kajukenbo. He then handed it over to Captain Ahmad Zakariya Hussein, who was then giving the training from 1998 till 2010 when he died, and here this game stopped for few months. One of Captain’s Zakariya best students is Captain Abdullatif Al-Rujaib, who brought the game again to Kuwait.

By Nawara Fattahova, Kuwait Times Staff
-Kuwait Times