Ticket prices announced for Expo 2020 Dubai

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Ticket prices for Expo 2020 Dubai were announced on Saturday, opening doors to a six-month global event that will feature cultural highlights, entertainment, and innovation.

Organizers announced two options for individuals interested in exploring Expo 2020, with single-day or three-day passes. A single-day adult (18 and over) ticket will cost AED120 (US$33), while a three-day pass, which can be used on any three days during the 173 days of the Expo, will be priced at AED260 (US$71).

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Expo 2020 will also offer a range of concessions, including free access for children aged five and under and seniors aged 65 and over. Youth aged six to 17 and students of any age will receive a 50 percent discount, while people of determination (persons with disabilities) will be granted complimentary access, with their carers entering for half price. The Expo School Programme also will offer specially-curated journeys for school students of all ages to excite and educate them on the Expo sub-themes.

Commenting on the announcement, Sanjive Khosla, Deputy Chief of Sales and Marketing at Expo 2020 Dubai, said, “With less than 550 days to go before the biggest event ever to be held in the Arab region, excitement is building fast. We aim to be a World Expo that is accessible to all and believe the ticket prices and concessions will help us achieve that ambition. We can’t wait to welcome millions of visitors from around the globe, as we make every effort to ensure that our welcome is warm and reflective of the rich Arabic tradition of hospitality.”

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Kingdom of Saudi Arabia unveiled the design of its pavilion at the Expo 2020 Dubai.

With three thematic districts – which explore Expo’s subthemes of Opportunity, Mobility, and Sustainability and include the 192 Country Pavilions – one visit will not be enough to see, hear and taste all that Expo 2020 has to offer.

Gillian Hamburger, Senior Vice President of Programming at Expo 2020 Dubai, said, “Every day at Expo 2020 there will be more than 60 live events, including parades, performances, global music shows, hands-on workshops and other diverse entertainment for all to enjoy. There will be site-wide celebrations on special days such as Diwali, UAE National Day, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, Chinese New Year and International Women’s Day. At Expo 2020, we’re not only welcoming the future, but also welcoming the fun.”

Expo 2020 also will be a foodie destination in its own right, serving up 50 global cuisines, innovative culinary experiences, future-shaping food tech, old classics, new favorites, street bites and gourmet delights to suit every palate and every budget.

In line with Expo 2020’s subtheme of sustainability, the F&B programme will showcase the latest in sustainable practices and dining trends, with plenty environmentally-conscious and organic options and a focus on using ethically and locally-sourced products, as well actions designed to minimize food and packaging waste and energy use.

Single-day and three-day tickets will be offered to international travelers in bundled packages to be sold by authorized ticket resellers, contracted with Expo 2020 starting next month. These tickets will go on sale to the general public in April 2020, although visitors will be able to buy monthly and season passes directly from Expo from Q4 2019.

Expo 2020 Dubai expects to attract 25 million visits to explore its theme of ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’ in the six-month event starting October 2020. More than 70 percent of visitors are projected to come from outside the UAE – the largest proportion of international visitors in the 168-year history of World Expos.

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Salman Khan’s ‘Dabangg 3’ gets the release date

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Salman Khan’s Dabangg 3 is set to hit the theatres on 20th December 2019. The Dabangg franchise which has been a favorite for all action flick lover will get its third installment this year.

The action star, Salman Khan announced this by sharing his recognizable uniform cropped, saying, “Chulbul is back….. #Dabangg3 @sonakshisinha @arbaazSkhan @Nikhil_Dwivedi @PDdancing @SKFilmsOfficial”

Chulbul Pandey has earned an iconic status in Bollywood ever since the first look hit the nation. Salman Khan has filled the character’s life and individuality that no other actor can ever take its cult place. The action comedy has begun its shoot at various locations of Madhya Pradesh.

‘Dabangg 3’ is being helmed by Prabhu Deva. The film marks the second collaboration of Salman and the director. The two have previously worked together in ‘Wanted’.

The upcoming film also stars Sonakshi Sinha, reprising her role of Rajjo in the film. Sonakshi made her acting debut alongside Salman in ‘Dabangg’, which released in 2010.

This is the third film in the ‘Dabangg’ series. The movie is being produced under the banner of Salman Khan Films and Arbaaz Khan Production. It is expected to release around Christmas this year

60 Palestinians injured in clashes with Israeli soldiers in eastern Gaza: medics

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At least 60 Palestinian demonstrators were injured on Friday afternoon during clashes with Israeli soldiers in the eastern Gaza Strip close to the border with Israel, medics said.

The clashes between the Palestinian demonstrators and the Israeli soldiers were part of the weekly anti-Israel rally, better known as the Great March of Return, which started in late March of 2018.

Ashraf al-Qedra, a spokesman of the Health Ministry in Gaza, told reporters that 60 demonstrators were hospitalized, including 19 children, a paramedic, and a photojournalist.

At least 25 were shot and wounded by Israeli gunfire in eastern Gaza, he added.

Dozens suffered suffocation after inhaling tear gas fired by the Israeli soldiers on the border between the eastern Gaza Strip and Israel, the Gaza spokesman noted.

The Highest Commission of the Great March of Return earlier called on the Gazans to join the weekly protests in the eastern Gaza Strip for the 56th Friday rally, which also called for ending the internal Palestinian division.

“Gaining Palestinian unity is the best option for the Palestinians to face the current critical political situation,” said the commission.

Meanwhile, the Hamas spokesman Abdullatif al-Qanou said in an e-mailed press statement that the participants in the weekly protests “reflect the eagerness of the Palestinians to end the internal division and achieve unity.”

The Palestinians have been divided since 2007 when Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip while the West Bank remained under the rule of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah Party.

The Israeli blockade and the internal Palestinian division between Hamas and Fatah have been negatively influencing all aspects of life, mainly in the Gaza Strip.

During more than a year of weekly protests in the eastern Gaza Strip, the health ministry in the coastal enclave said the Israeli army has shot and killed 272 Palestinians and wounded more than 16,000 others.

U.S agrees with Russia, China on pulling troops from Afghanistan

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The United States on Friday found backing from rivals Russia and China on the key formula of a peace deal it is negotiating in Afghanistan: withdrawing troops in return for Taliban pledges not to welcome foreign extremists.

Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. envoy who is set shortly to hold his latest round of talks with the Taliban, called the consensus a “milestone” in efforts to end the war after he met Russian and Chinese representatives in Moscow.

A joint statement by the three countries called for an “inclusive Afghan-led” peace process and outlined points expected to feature in an eventual agreement.

“The three sides call for an orderly and responsible withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan as part of the overall peace process,” said the statement issued by the U.S. State Department.

They also said that the Taliban have made a “commitment” to fight the extremist Islamic State group and sever ties to al-Qaida.

The Taliban have promised to “ensure the areas they control will not be used to threaten any other country,” the statement said, calling on them to prevent any “terrorist recruiting, training and fundraising.”

Khalilzad said that the statement, along with his talks earlier in the week in London with European envoys, “means we have an emerging international consensus on U.S. approach to end the war and assurances terrorism never again emanates from Afghanistan.”

“More to do but important milestone,” he tweeted.

U.S. President Donald Trump is eager to end America’s longest-ever war, which was launched in response to the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, when the then-Taliban regime gave shelter to al-Qaida.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is accelerating a plan to cut up to half of the workforce at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul starting at the end of next month, sparking concern it will undermine the fragile Afghan peace process, U.S. officials and congressional aides said.

Pompeo’s order for the largest U.S. diplomatic mission comes about a year earlier than expected, a surprise development given the meager progress in talks with the Taliban.

The Taliban, their negotiating leverage bolstered by Trump’s public impatience to end the war, could dig in further because they would regard a large embassy drawdown as more confirmation of his eagerness to reduce the U.S. role in Afghanistan.

The Kabul embassy is a testament to the size of America’s investment in Afghanistan since it went to war there. With a workforce of about 1,500, the heavily fortified compound underwent an $800 million expansion four years ago and now includes 700 beds for staffers.

A drastic embassy workforce cut will likely reverberate throughout Afghanistan.

It could erode a strained U.S. relationship with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s government a month after the allies publicly clashed over Kabul’s exclusion from the negotiations with the Taliban in Doha, Qatar.

Ghani “would see this as another step in a betrayal,” said Thomas Lynch, a U.S. National Defense University fellow focused on Afghanistan and former adviser to the U.S. military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff.

U.S. officials and congressional aides said that among the concerns about a major drawdown was the risk that it could alarm NATO allies, already at odds with Trump over a host of issues, and ordinary Afghans.

Russia and China both have strong interests in Afghanistan. Some 14,000 Soviet soldiers were killed in Afghanistan from 1979 to 1989 in a conflict with U.S.-backed Islamic guerrillas.

China has been stepping up its involvement in Afghanistan both militarily and economically as it voices worries that militants could sneak into its restive Muslim-majority Xinjiang region.

Khalilzad will also hold separate talks during his latest trip with Pakistan and India, which have strongly different views on Afghanistan.

One major sticking point is the Taliban’s refusal to negotiate with the government of Ghani, which has wide-ranging international support.

The United States, Russia and China called on the Taliban to speak as soon as possible with a “broad, representative Afghan delegation that includes the government.”

One country that has criticized the U.S. approach is Iran, whose foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, recently said that the United States had alienated Afghans by turning the Taliban into kingmakers.

Poland to receive four AW101 maritime multirole helicopters from Leonardo

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The Polish Ministry of National Defence (MoD) and Italian aerospace company Leonardo announced on Friday an agreement worth about 380 mln EUR for supply AW101 maritime multirole helicopters.

The long-awaited contract provides supply four AW101s and a comprehensive integrated logistics and training package to the Polish MoD.

PZL-Świdnik, acting as the prime contractor and responsible for the entire contract execution, was selected in a multi-stage process, meeting all the requirements of the Polish MoD, and will deliver and support the most capable maritime multirole helicopter available on the market today. The helicopter is already in service in some of the most important NATO nations among others. The Świdnik facility plays a significant role in the production of all the AW101s ordered worldwide.

With deliveries expected to be completed by 2022, the AW101 will perform a range of missions including Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) and Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR). This contract signing for the AW101s and the relevant support package follows the Offset Agreement, valued at approx. 400 mln PLN (90 mln EUR) recently announced.

The contract was signed today in the presence of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Poland Mateusz Morawiecki, the Polish Minister of National Defence Mariusz Błaszczak and Leonardo CEO Alessandro Profumo, during a ceremony at Leonardo’s facility in Świdnik.

Alessandro Profumo, Leonardo CEO, said, “We are proud that the Polish MoD has confirmed its trust in Leonardo as one of its key partners to collaborate on national defense, to support the modernization of the Armed Forces and boost technological and industrial growth. We are committed to further reinforcing our presence and contribution to Poland, one of Leonardo’s home countries where we see significant collaboration opportunities in the future.”

Gian Piero Cutillo, Leonardo Helicopters MD, added: “The supply of the best-in-class maritime AW101s will allow the Polish Navy to meet its rigorous requirements for the protection of national security in the Baltic Sea and for NATO operations. It will also enable life-saving missions in demanding conditions with second-to-none effectiveness, leveraging Leonardo’s leading role in the maritime helicopter field. Also, the broad scope of industrial collaboration under the Offset Agreement will guarantee secure and independent fleet management.”

To further consolidate its presence and develop its business in Poland, Leonardo is establishing a new legal entity headquartered in Warsaw. Leonardo Poland will represent and promote the entire technological and product portfolio. It will support the customer during the programs’ life cycle to develop partnerships with Polish industry, ensuring closeness to the customer and local stakeholders. Marco Lupo has been appointed President of Leonardo Poland, with the objective of tightening relations with Polish customers and stakeholders and reinforcing the already well-established position of Leonardo in the country.

According to Leonardo, AW101 is the most advanced, versatile and capable multi-role helicopter available today. As an evolution of the highly successful EH101 the AW101 delivers new capabilities, whilst building on customer operational experience gained in the Deep Water, Littoral and Land environments.

Designed for operations in the harshest climatic conditions the helicopter has proven itself in a wide range of operational theatres around the world.

With a common platform at its heart, AW101 provides customers with the capability to configure the helicopter for a wide range of primary and secondary roles with many configurations achieved through the use of modular role equipment.

Yemen army kills dozens of Houthi militia

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The Yemeni army killed at least 70 Houthi militia in Al-Dhale province south of the country, Saudi state agency SPA reported on Friday.

The clashes in Morais district killed a field commander and injured other militants.

Meanwhile, senior diplomats from Saudi Arabia, UAE, Britain, and the US met in London to discuss the situation in Yemen.

The Yemen Quartet “agreed on the need for the withdrawal of Houthi militias from the ports and the implementation of the Stockholm Agreement,” Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir.

The warring parties in Yemen agreed on a ceasefire at the Hodeidah port in December, but the implementation of the truce was stalled. The Arab Coalition, which supports the Yemeni government, accused the Houthi militants of violations against the agreement.

Sri Lanka: 15 dead in an overnight gun battle with bombing suspects

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The bodies of 15 people, including six children, have been discovered at the site of a fierce overnight gun battle on the east coast of Sri Lanka.

A police spokesman on Saturday said three suspected suicide bombers were among the 15 dead in the shootout, which came six days after the killing of 253 people on an Easter Sunday.

The three men set off explosives, also killing three women and six children, inside what was believed to a safe house near the eastern town of Kalmunai on Friday night.

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Sri Lanka bombings: All the latest updates

The town is to the south of Batticaloa, site of one of the Sunday blasts at three churches and four luxury hotels. One child caught in the crossfire was admitted to the hospital.

Military spokesman Smith Atapattu said in a statement that as troops headed towards the safe house, three explosions were triggered and gunfire began.

“Troops retaliated and raided the safe house where a large cache of explosives had been stored,” he said in a statement.

He said the fighters were suspected members of the domestic group, National Thowheed Jamath (NTJ), which has been blamed for last Sunday’s attacks.

Bomb-making materials, dozens of gelignite sticks and thousands of metal balls were found in a search of a separate house in the same area, the military said.

Reporting from capital Colombo, Al Jazeera’s Florence Looi said the search operation by the security forces was one of the many they had been conducting across the island over the last week.

“It turned into a gun battle and went on for more than an hour. Search operations are still underway for more gunmen,” she said.

The government said nine homegrown, well-educated suicide bombers carried out the Easter Sunday attacks, eight of whom had been identified. One was a woman.

Police said on Friday they were trying to track down 140 people they believe have links with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also called ISIS), which claimed responsibility for the suicide bombings.

Police have detained at least 76 people, including foreigners from Syria and Egypt, in their investigations so far. Twenty were arrested in the past 24 hours alone, they said.

Sri Lanka’s security personnel inspect seized items after they raid what was believed to be a safe house in the eastern town of Kalmunai [AFP]

More attacks feared

ISIL provided no evidence to back its claim that it was behind the attacks. If true, it would be one of the worst attacks carried out by the group outside Iraq and Syria.

The group released a video on Tuesday showing eight men, all but one with their faces covered, standing under a black ISIL flag and declaring their loyalty to its leader, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi.

Muslims in Sri Lanka were urged to pray at home on Friday after the State Intelligence Services warned of possible car bomb attacks, amid fears of retaliatory violence.

Fears of retaliatory sectarian violence have already caused Muslim communities to flee their homes amid bomb scares, lockdowns and security sweeps.

The US embassy in Sri Lanka urged its citizens to avoid places of worship over the weekend after authorities reported there could be more attacks targeting religious centres.

Archbishop of Colombo Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith told reporters he had seen a leaked internal security document warning of further attacks on churches and there would be no Catholic masses this Sunday anywhere on the island.

Nearly 10,000 soldiers were deployed across the Indian Ocean island state to carry out searches and provide security for religious centres, the military said.

Authorities have so far focused their investigations on international links to two domestic groups they believe carried out the attacks, NTJ and Jammiyathul Millathu Ibrahim.

Intelligence failure

Officials have acknowledged a major lapse in not widely sharing intelligence warnings from India of possible attacks.

President Maithripala Sirisena said on Friday that top defence and police chiefs had not shared information with him about the impending attacks.

He blamed Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s government for weakening the intelligence system by focusing on the prosecution of military officers over alleged war crimes during a decades-long civil war with Tamil separatists that ended in 2009.

Sirisena fired Wickremesinghe in October over political differences, only to reinstate him weeks later under pressure from the Supreme Court.

Opposing factions aligned to Wickremesinghe and Sirisena have often refused to communicate with each other and blame any setbacks on their opponents, government sources say.

The Easter Sunday bombings shattered the relative calm that had existed in Buddhist-majority Sri Lanka since the civil war against mostly Hindu ethnic Tamil separatists ended.

Sri Lanka’s 22 million people include minority Christians, Muslims and Hindus. Until now, Christians had largely managed to avoid the worst of the island’s conflict and communal tensions.

Most of the victims were Sri Lankans, although authorities said at least 40 foreigners were also killed, many of them tourists sitting down to breakfast at top-end hotels when the bombers struck.

They included British, US, Australian, Turkish, Indian, Chinese, Danish, Dutch and Portuguese nationals. Britain warned its nationals this week to avoid Sri Lanka unless it was absolutely necessary.

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES