Iran state media say 13 arrested over Tehran bank heist

In this photo provided by Iranian Students’ News Agency, ISNA, men arrested by police and accused of bank robbery face the wall at a police precinct in Tehran, on Friday. (AP)
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Updated 10 June 2022
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Iran state media say 13 arrested over Tehran bank heist

  • Three of the suspects were arrested in an undisclosed country abroad
  • A car containing stolen property was found abandoned at Imam Khomeini Airport

TEHRAN: Iranian authorities said Friday they have arrested 13 burglars who cut into the vault of a Tehran state bank from a neighboring building and stole 168 safe deposit boxes.
Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency quoted Tehran Prosecutor Ali Salehi as saying that three of the suspects were arrested in an undisclosed country abroad, while the rest were apprehended in the Iranian capital and the north of the country. A car containing stolen property was found abandoned at Imam Khomeini Airport, the prosecutor added.
The TV report showed footage of jewelry, gold coins and bundles of dollar bills laid out on a long table.
The gang also allegedly stole surveillance cameras and other monitoring items from the bank, which is located on a major thoroughfare near Tehran University, and within walking distance of a police station.
Bank robberies are rare in theocratic Iran. If convicted, the suspects face lengthy prison sentences.


Leading VPN brand raises censorship concerns as Pakistan faces fifth Internet restriction in 2024

Updated 21 min 59 sec ago
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Leading VPN brand raises censorship concerns as Pakistan faces fifth Internet restriction in 2024

  • Surfshark says Pakistan willing to take any measure ‘to cut citizens off from each other and the rest of the world’
  • It mentions a spike in censorship, saying Pakistan witnessed four Internet restrictions in 2023 and three in 2022

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s recent restriction on social media platform X marks the country’s 5th Internet restriction in 2024 alone, said a leading virtual network (VPN) brand on Friday, raising concerns about growing Internet censorship in the country.
The social networking website has largely remained inaccessible to users in Pakistan for nearly a week since a senior bureaucrat last Saturday accused the country’s chief justice and top election commission official of rigging the controversial February 8 election.
The blockage has raised widespread concerns about democratic expression and media freedom, with the United States and several international organizations urging the government to provide unhindered Internet access to people.
Surfshark, a leading VPN brand, said Pakistan witnessed three restrictions in February that were “directly related to the election, while the remaining two happened in January during virtual events organized by the opposition [Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party].”
“These new cases mark a worrying spike in Internet censorship in Pakistan,” it said in a statement. “2024 has only started but has already exceeded both 2023 and 2022 in new restriction count — there were 4 Internet restrictions in 2023 and 3 in 2022.”
It added Surfshark had witnessed an increase in VPN usage in Pakistan since February 18.
“Daily new user acquisition rates have grown three to four times compared to the previous month, indicating a growing reliance on these services for Internet access and privacy,” it added.
The company noted that Pakistan had imposed restrictions on VPNs which could lead to difficulties when connecting to the circumvention tools.
“Pakistan’s Internet censorship efforts have been alarmingly increasing, and 2024 may be a record year for the country regarding Internet restrictions,” Lina Survila, Surfshark spokeswoman, said. “With reports of VPN restrictions coming to light as well, it seems that the country is prepared to take any means necessary to cut its citizens off from each other and the rest of the world.”
Earlier, NetBlocks, an Internet monitor based in the United Kingdom, said that restriction on platform X had entered the sixth day, making Pakistan join “a handful of countries that ban access to international social media platforms.”


Global industry leaders to descend on Riyadh for entertainment, amusement summit, expo

Updated 22 min 16 sec ago
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Global industry leaders to descend on Riyadh for entertainment, amusement summit, expo

  • The event will showcase innovation and industry trends, bringing together global experts and sector leaders
  • This year’s SEA Expo aims to highlight the Kingdom’s entertainment and leisure plans

RIYADH: The Saudi Entertainment and Amusement Summit and Expo is set to return to Riyadh from May 7 to 9 with exhibitors from around the world showcasing the latest advances in the sector.
Organized by dmg events, SEA 2024 will run alongside the Saudi Light and Sound Expo and will be held at the Riyadh Front Exhibition and Conference Center.
The event will showcase innovation and industry trends, bringing together global experts and sector leaders.
At a recent advisory board meeting in Riyadh, members identified key trends for 2024 that would be used to shape the agenda of the SEA Expo. These included exploring global investment strategies, understanding the next-generation market, empowering the Saudi workforce, embracing green entertainment, and examining crypto tech.
Developing next-generation talent emerged as a priority, recognizing the sector’s potential to contribute more than $23 billion (3 percent) toward the Kingdom’s gross domestic product by 2030 while creating at least 100,000 jobs.
Advisory board member and executive director of attractions at Saudi Entertainment Ventures, Doug Stagner, said: “What’s happening in Saudi Arabia has never been done before in the attractions industry.
“There are ground-breaking attractions and rides that have never been built before, and there are new concepts and ideas that will come out of Saudi Arabia, including discussions at this year’s Expo which will end up in other parts of the world, so what’s happening here has a much larger impact that extends beyond the borders of Saudi Arabia.”
This year’s SEA Expo aims to highlight the Kingdom’s entertainment and leisure plans and create opportunities in the industry to drive the country toward achieving its goals under Vision 2030.
With hundreds of international and local brands from more than 40 countries, SEA Expo will act as a platform to showcase new and innovative products from its 350 exhibitors.
Advisory board officials noted that the SLS Expo 2024 would focus on tourism, curating events that capture Gen Zs, and deep diving into the potential of technology.
The SLS Summit, a focal point of the Expo, will delve into the impact of tourism on the entertainment and events realm, looking at how the influx of global visitors was reshaping the industry and inspiring innovation.
Sarkis Kahwajian, portfolio director at dmg events, said: “We are witnessing exponential growth in the entertainment and live events’ space industry in the Kingdom, and it’s driving a demand for the latest technology coupled with a hunger to understand changing market dynamics in the pro light and sound landscape across the country.
“This year, the SLS Expo will set the stage for innovators, manufacturers, and lighting and sound professionals as they generate leads, forge connections, and usher in a new era in our industry.”


Five migrants die as boat capsizes during rescue off Malta

Updated 59 min 51 sec ago
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Five migrants die as boat capsizes during rescue off Malta

  • Some 21 migrants were rescued and taken to a migrant center
  • They are believed to be from Syria, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Egypt

VALLETTA, Malta: Five migrants, including a woman, died when their boat capsized as they were being rescued off Malta on Friday, the island’s armed forces said.
Another eight were injured and taken to hospital, including two who swallowed a considerable amount of seawater and fuel.
Armed Forces of Malta deputy commander Col. Edric Zahra told reporters that the incident happened at about midday when the eight-meter (26-ft) boat was four miles (6.5 km) south of Malta.
Some 21 migrants were rescued and taken to a migrant center. They are believed to be from Syria, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Egypt.
Mediterranean sea crossings from North Africa to Italy or Malta are among the most dangerous migration routes in the world. Last year almost 2,500 migrants died or went missing on those routes, the International Organization for Migration says.
The vast majority of migrants head for Italy. Malta’s armed forces rescued 380 migrants at sea last year, Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri said in parliament in January.


Hamilton insists Mercedes story can end on a high

Updated 23 February 2024
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Hamilton insists Mercedes story can end on a high

  • The 39-year-old Briton has been with Mercedes since 2013
  • “An opportunity came up in the New Year and I decided to take it,” Hamilton said

SAKHIR, Bahrain: Seven-time Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton says his switch to Ferrari programmed for 2025 will add a brand new chapter to his sparkling career, but insisted he hopes to leave Mercedes on a high.
The 39-year-old Briton has been with Mercedes since 2013, but recently activated a break clause to seal a move to the Italian team in 2025.
“An opportunity came up in the New Year and I decided to take it,” Hamilton said, describing the decision as the hardest he’d ever faced.
“We have had an incredible journey together, created history within the sport and it is something I take a lot of pride in,” he said.
Hamilton — without a win in two years — won six of his record-equalling seven world championships with the Silver Arrows.
“This chapter is still not finished and I am still 100 percent focused on delivering for this team,” he insisted Friday.
Mercedes have struggled to match their rival Max Verstappen of Red Bull since Hamilton missed out on what would have been a record eighth world championship in 2021 in controversial fashion.
Current Formula One world champion Verstappen won 19 out of last season’s 22 races as he surged toward a third consecutive Drivers’ Championship.
The opening Grand Prix of the F1 season is set for Bahrain on March 2.


Saudi Arabia’s homebuilding will have reduced carbon footprint: ROSHN CEO

Updated 23 February 2024
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Saudi Arabia’s homebuilding will have reduced carbon footprint: ROSHN CEO

  • ROSHN seeking to source concrete with less pollutants, says David Grover
  • Kingdom-owned firm is seeking partnerships with environmentally-friendly suppliers

MIAMI: Saudi Arabia’s construction of homes between now and 2030 will have a reduced carbon footprint compared to current traditional developments.

This is according to David Grover, group CEO of ROSHN, who was speaking at the FII Priority Summit on Thursday in Miami.

“Google tells me that there are 211,000 homes in Miami. We’re developing 400,000 homes between now and 2030 — twice the amount of residential that Miami has,” said Grover who leads the multi-asset class real estate developer, which is a giga-project wholly owned by the Kingdom’s Public Investment Fund.

“We know that we need 75 million cubic meters of concrete in the next seven years, just for our core residential program” and so, “we definitely have a big obligation, as a developer, in terms of how we can minimize the carbon footprint,” he told the audience.

Making concrete causes a lot of pollutants and so ROSHN is committed to finding partners that can reduce the need for cement and concrete, said Grover.

Partanna, for example, which is the brainchild of former NBA champion Rick Fox, produces alternatives to Portland cement that are made with recycled ingredients.

“We take industry waste and combine them together at room temperature and through the process of our patents, we absorb CO2 at a very alarming rate, which is positive for our environment,” Fox explained.

ROSHN wants to be an “investor” and “contribute towards the supply chain bringing forward technology,” said Grover.

For example, it has invested in a company that makes environmentally friendly carbon-capture paint, which means that painting a home with this product is equivalent to planting 12 oak trees around that property in terms of its capacity to absorb carbon dioxide.

The construction and real estate industry can be a bit “dull” and “a bit of a dinosaur industry” so, “we’re a bit slow globally in terms of actually bringing in technology, best practice and AI,” said Grover.

He added: “It’s a real obligation we have as a company to be seen as a leading light not just within Saudi, but also as a global player.”

As part of this effort, next year, ROSHN will open an innovation center in Riyadh that will see it invest in startups as it looks to bring in young talent and fresh ideas.

For Fox, the partnership with ROSHN and the Kingdom is built on shared values.

“It’s not just talk, it’s actual action,” he said. Moreover, its scale “provides the opportunity to attract the right partners and investment that understand this is for the long haul,” he added.

“We’re going to go on a journey here and we’re not going to be for everybody to begin with; we’re going to be the right teammate and the right partner for those that care about changing the world,” said Fox.