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Once propped up by Qatari high-rollers, Saudi city prays for truce [ARTICLE]

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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has downplayed the dispute with Qatar — which led to a Riyadh-led embargo on the neighbouring emirate and shuttered their land border in mid-2017 — as a trivial matter with limited impact on the kingdom.

But it is anything but trivial for Al-Ahsa, a desert oasis near the border where Qatari shoppers once kept the local economy humming, crossing over to buy relatively cheaper provisions — from herbs and eggs to milk and camel meat.

The deep-pocketed residents of gas-rich Qatar — one of the wealthiest countries per capita — also pumped millions of riyals into local hotels, date plantations and other real estate.

But the Qatari money dried up when the embargo shut them out, unleashing economic pain and dividing extended families on both sides, an unintended consequence of a policy meant to hurt Doha’s government.

The Saudi-led bloc accuses Qatar of backing radical Islamists including Muslim Brotherhood and seeking closer ties with Riyadh’s arch nemesis Iran — charges Doha denies.

“The blockade had a negative impact on towns near the border and complicated investments at a time when Saudi Arabia’s economy is struggling with large deficits,” said Samuel Ramani, a doctoral researcher at Oxford University.

Official statistics are hard to come by but the tell-tale signs of the economic impact are everywhere in Al-Ahsa, home to more than a million people.

Its malls and traditional souks are emptier, multiple gas stations leading up to the border have shuttered, and even salesmen of bisht, traditional gold-trimmed robes, complain of depressed sales.

Shells of three Qatari-funded luxury hotels lie abandoned after construction was halted abruptly in 2017, a long-term investment some believe was intended to accommodate any surplus guests of Qatar’s 2022 football World Cup.

The manager of another Al-Ahsa hotel pointed at his vacant parking lot, once full of cars with Qatari plates. The hotel’s occupancy rate tanked after the embargo, and it has barely managed to cover its electricity bill, he told AFP.

But the fact that the majority of Qatari investors have not liquidated their investments in Al-Ahsa despite the embargo gives some hope it will be business as usual if relations are restored.

Hopeful signs

The feud is not irreconcilable, residents say, describing it as a spat between squabbling cousins. And amid signs of a thaw, many are betting on the return of Qatari high-rollers.

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“The rift is between governments, not the people,” said an Al-Ahsa businessman who asked not to be named.

“We are not different countries, we are one big family.”

Arab diplomats say both sides are closer than ever to bringing the dispute to an end.

Raising hopes is recent “sports diplomacy”, which saw football teams from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain travel to Qatar for the Gulf Cup despite earlier indications that they would boycott the tournament.

State-funded media networks on all sides recently appear to have toned down the shrill rhetoric against each other.

Qatar’s foreign minister, who travelled to Saudi Arabia last month for talks, has spoken of “some progress” in negotiations.

But the real bellwether will be the level of Qatari representation at the Gulf Cooperation Council summit in Riyadh on Tuesday. The Saudi king has personally invited Qatar’s emir, but it remains unclear whether he will attend.

Two sources familiar with the negotiations, including an Arab diplomat, told AFP that hardliners in Abu Dhabi — Riyadh’s principal ally — are opposed to a restoration of ties.

This has raised the prospect of a “bifurcated peace”, implying Qatar could possibly normalise ties with only some blockading nations including Saudi Arabia, with whom it shares its only land border.

‘Punishment’

Saudi Arabia appears to be adopting a de-escalatory approach after a series of what observers describe as foreign policy “missteps” that have spooked investors.

A cool reception by global investors to state energy giant Aramco’s stock sale has highlighted the downside of its aggressive stance, they say.

Ramani said the rapprochement appears to be shaping up “without major concessions from Doha”, after the blockade boosted its self-reliance.

Once heavily dependent on food imports, it has developed new trade routes, flown in thousands of dairy cows and developed poultry farms to beat the embargo.

“Qatar is like a newborn baby kicked out of a house as punishment,” the Arab diplomat — who is from outside the Gulf — told AFP.

“You thought it would come back crying to you, but it has stood on its feet and does not need you anymore.”

bur-ac/sls/dr

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Singer speaks after attacking lover at WCB signee Zuchu’s star-studded concert

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By Standard Entertainment



56 minutes ago

Controversial singer Gigy Money turned WCB signee Zuchu’s concert into a fight club, hurling shoes at her lover.

On 18 July, there was fanfare at the Mlimani City Hall in Dar es Salaam as WCB signee Zuchu held a thanksgiving concert months after her debut EP, I Am Zuchu. The event dubbed ‘Ahsante Nashukuru’ mainly featured performances by artistes from the WCB stable and attracted the whos-who in the Tanzanian entertainment and political scenes. 

READ ALSO: I’m not behind Diamond, Tanasha split- WCB’s Zuchu sets record straight

However, singer Gigy Money who also performed made the headlines for the wrong reasons after getting into a scuffle with her lover during the much-publicised concert.

READ ALSO: I was bewitched by a friend – Gigy Money

Peaceful arrival, later chaos

Moments earlier, Gigy and her Nigerian man were seen arriving arm in arm at the event whose highlight featured Zuchu receiving a brand new car from WCB head honcho Diamond Platnumz. Donning matching outfits, the couple was spotted on the red carpet as the paparazzi scrambled to capture the moment.  However, all hell breaks loose later and viral videos depict the visibly angered Nigerian arguing with a bouncer at the entrance. After a tense confrontation, Gigy’s man is seen being led by the screaming bouncer towards the exit. Shortly after, a similarly irritated Gigy emerges and follows the pair.

“Gigy! Wewe Gigy wewe!” a woman in the background is heard dissuading the singer from pursuing them but the singer pays no heed and heads for the pair.

“You want to beat me?” the boyfriend is heard asking an approaching Gigy as the bouncer acts as a barrier between them. The bouncer manages to steer the incensed man towards the exit as Gigy follows behind, hurling obscenities.

READ ALSO: I will get a baby with your eldest son – Gigy Money warns Zari

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At some point, a barefoot Gigy turns into a sprint before throwing one of her shoes which hits the man who then responds with an insult. Another bouncer finally intervenes and the two are separated. Gigy then asks for her vehicle so she can head home before warning the press against sharing videos of the incident.

Addresses incident

Though the cause of their tiff is still unknown Gigy later made reference to the shocking incident in a social media post, hinting that alcohol had a part to play in the fracas.  In another post, Gigy shared a photo alongside her estranged lover writing: “My mad man looked handsome before his demons arose and mine arose too.”

‘Running over Ali Kiba’

Gigy is not new controversy and recently said she’d run over her ex, singer Ali Kiba for breaking her heart.

“I will knock all of them down, I mean I will kill them. In fact, I will flatten them like chapatis. The first person I will knock down and kill is Ali Kiba.  Actually, I don’t need a weak car, I need a Fuso so that when I knock him down I will be sure he doesn’t survive,” Gigy told Ayo TV.

READ ALSO: Gigy Money under fire for dirty-dancing with married singer

Dating Kiba brothers

Gigy had in the past admitted to dating both Ali Kiba and his younger brother, Abdu Kiba. She solely laid the blame on Chekecha singer for pursuing her despite knowing that she’d been with his younger brother. Abdu expressed being heartbroken after learning the two had a fling, prompting him to marry.

“I was very hurt on hearing that Ali was dating Gigy Money because I dated her first before she became famous. But it’s alleged that Ali didn’t know. It hurt me for a while till when I married,” said Abdu.

 

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Defunct Nairobi County Council  Nurses Go On Strike, Citing Discrimination By The Government

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Defunct Nairobi County Council  Nurses Go On Strike, Citing Discrimination By The Government

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Why Jahmby Kokai is happy her TV anchor dream never came true

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By Diana Anyango



37 minutes ago

Jahmby Koikai is glad her dream of being a TV anchor never came true.

Popular media personality Jahmby Koikai narrated how her first attempt at auditioning as a TV host backfired and she was sent home on the first day of the audition. Reliving her prime days, Jahmby narrated how she was determined to follow her dream of becoming a news anchor after completing her degree.

“There was a reality show that was running on one major TV channel here in Kenya, searching for the next top news anchor. I’ve always had the knack for news. At the time, I was working at Metro FM. Walked to my boss and asked him if he was ok with me participating in this competition. He agreed to it.

“Auditions were at Film Studios. The queue stretched all the way to the showground. I was at the back kabisa. Imagine 300 people before you. Then we got the briefing paper and it indicated, ‘no persons with experience in a media house allowed to participate in this audition’. Mimi Jahmby Koikai, nirudi home after watu 300 kukuwa mbele yangu?” she posed.

READ ALSO: Jahmby Koikai back in Kenya after a year of treatment abroad

According to the endometriosis survivor, she went ahead to audition for the position despite the warning and was the first contestant to be sent packing.

“So I stayed in line until I got to the audition room. The judges were a few people I was in campus with. I felt a wave of despair. Like I’m here auditioning, yet my classmates will be judging me? I did my thing and I was considered. We got into the house and we were assigned to different groups. I was the group leader and we won the challenge. Later that evening, we were driven back to Film Studios for a briefing. The presenter of the show said some of us have to go home.

“My name was called out first amongst other great people. We were dropped home. I cried. It felt like I’d lost such a great opportunity. My mom and late grandma were so sad cos they loved to watch me do the news,” she narrated.

READ ALSO: Why I’m walking around with a mask- Jahmby Koikai

Second audition

Later, Jahmby auditioned for another TV opportunity only to miss out as well.

“Then came another opportunity over 10 years ago, I saw a TV ad and decided to apply for the news anchor position. I didn’t get the job.”

However, due to endometriosis, Jahmby was forced to put her dreams on hold and concentrate on getting better. According to her, it is as though God had better plans for her and is grateful to not have gotten the jobs.

“I battled severe endometriosis in silence for over 19 years. I think of how engaging the newsroom is and I’m grateful I wasn’t in that space. I’d have utilized all my sick-leaves and off-days and just declared redundant.”

 

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There was a reality show that was running on one major TV channel here in Kenya, searching for the next top news anchor. I’ve always had the knack for news. At the time, I was working at Metro Fm. Walked to my boss and asked him if he was ok with me participating in this competition. He agreed to it. Auditions were at Film Studios. The queue stretched all the way to the showground. I was at the back kabisa. Imagine 300 people before you. Then we got the briefing paper and it indicated, ‘no persons with experience in a media house allowed to participate in this audition’. Mimi Jahmby Koikai, nirudi home after watu 300 kukuwa mbele yangu? Nikasema zi. So I stayed in line until I got to the audition room. The judges were a few people I was in campus with. I felt a wave of despair. Like I’m here auditioning, yet my classmates will be judging me? I did my thing and I was considered. We got into the house and we were assigned to different groups. I was the group leader and we won the challenge. Later that evening, we were driven back to Film Studios for a briefing. The presenter of the show said, some of us have to go home. My name was called out first amongst other great people. We were dropped home. I cried. It felt like I’d lost such a great opportunity. My mom and late grandma were so sad cos they loved to watch me do the news. Then came another opportunity over 10years ago, I saw a TV ad and decided to apply for the news anchor position. As you see in this pic, I got my hair done at Ralph’s Hair Salon, new suit etc. I didn’t get the job. After KBC, I never got to anchor the news again. I’m grateful I did not get the job even though I felt dejected at the time. I battled severe Endometriosis in silence for over 19years. I think of how engaging the newsroom is and I’m grateful I wasn’t in that space. I’d have utilised all my sick-leaves and off-days and just declared redundant. There are many people like me who are bound by chronic illness and cannot do the things they love. I share your pain. But there’s hope. I’m grateful to God for His reminder that He will restore to you all the years that the locusts have eaten. Also Jer 29:11

A post shared by Jahmby Conqueror (@jahmbykoikai) on

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