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Syrian wins Arab song contest, keeps clear of politics BEIRUT: A Syrian from war-torn Aleppo was declared the winner of this year's "Arab Idol" singing contest at the grand finale of the gruelling four-month television competition in Beirut this weekend.The audience at Saturday's finale broke into applause and cheers, chanting "Syria! Syria!" and "Hazem!" when the jury of the pan-Arab song contest announced Hazem Sherif as the winner.The 21-year-old kept clear of politics, avoiding taking sides in the nearly four-year conflict that has divided his country and killed more than 200,000 people."I would like to thank everyone, every Syrian citizen, who voted for me... I would like to thank the Syrian people," Sherif, who lives in Lebanon, said after his win.Handsome in a dark suit and black tie, his hair done up in a trendy quiff and sporting a close-shaved beard, Sherif told reporters: "I am 21; I don't want to link my artistic career to politics."The competition, organised ...

New Bond script stolen in Sony hack LONDON: An "early version" of the screenplay for the new James Bond film was the latest victim of a massive hacking attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment, its producers said in a statement on their website Sunday.The news came less than two weeks after details of the new Bond movie "Spectre", starring Daniel Craig and Christoph Waltz, were unveiled.Eon Productions confirmed "that an early version of the screenplay for the new Bond film SPECTRE is amongst ...

Cryptic Cosby comments on sex assault claims NEW YORK: Comedian Bill Cosby who has stayed mum on allegations of having drugged and sexually assaulted numerous women, in cryptic comments urged US media to remain "neutral" in its reporting on the scandal, news reports said Sunday.His comments were directed in particular at America's black media, with which he has had a hot-and-cold relationship over the years."Let me say this. I only expect the black media to uphold the standards of excellence in journalism ...

Miss South Africa crowned Miss World LONDON: Miss South Africa, 22-year-old Rolene Strauss, was crowned Miss World 2014 at the contest's glitzy final in London on Sunday, with an estimated billion viewers watching on television around the globe.Miss Hungary, Edina Kulcsar, was judged the runner-up and Miss United States, Elizabeth Safrit, came third in the 64th annual competition, contested by women from 121 countries.Medical student Strauss clasped her hands together in surprise and was crowned by the outgoing Miss World, Megan ...

Miss World set to be crowned in London LONDON: More than 120 beauty queens from around the world are hoping to be crowned 2014's Miss World at a glitzy pageant in London on Sunday watched by millions on television worldwide.The event has been overshadowed by the murder of Miss Honduras, 19-year-old Maria Jose Alvarado, shot dead with her sister in their homeland last month on the day she was due to travel to London.Police in Honduras accuse her sister Sofia's boyfriend of shooting ...

Angelina Jolie comes down with chicken pox LOS ANGELES: Hollywood queen Angelina Jolie said she will miss upcoming press events for her film "Unbroken" because she's come down with a rather unglamorous illness: chicken pox.A red-spotted Jolie appeared in a short YouTube video Friday to tell her fans that she will stay home after being diagnosed with the viral infection, which causes itchy spots all over the body and is most common among children. "I just wanted to be clear and honest ...

Nigerian luxury handbags: making a mark overseas LAGOS: Mention northern Nigeria and the first thing that may spring to mind is Boko Haram. Zainab Ashadu is hoping to change that -- by selling designer handbags.The Nigerian designer is the brains behind the Zashadu brand, whose modern, colourful creations use the ancient art of tanning and leather-dyeing from the country's north."I think people like the story behind the bags. They like the fact that the bag has roots and origins," the 32-year-old told ...


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ICT 2014

Foreign Debt $61.805bn
Per Cap Income $1,386
GDP Growth 4.14%
Average CPI 8.6%
Trade Balance $-2.309 bln
Exports $1.957 bln
Imports $4.266 bln
WeeklyDecember 18, 2014
Reserves $14.04 bln