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Blinken to name new diversity chief to recruit minorities, Arabs

RAWALPINDI: For a few hours twice a month, young explorers and cultural enthusiasts follow Hassan Tauseef as he takes them through the narrow alleyways and forgotten streets of Rawalpindi to discover some of the most interesting and little-known aspects of Pakistan’s fourth-largest city. “I wanted to start giving people tours because there is so much hidden…

RAWALPINDI: For a few hours twice a month, young explorers and cultural enthusiasts follow Hassan Tauseef as he takes them through the narrow alleyways and forgotten streets of Rawalpindi to discover some of the most interesting and little-known aspects of Pakistan’s fourth-largest city.

“I wanted to start giving people tours because there is so much hidden in plain sight here,” Tauseef, a 20-year-old architecture student from capital Islamabad, told Arab News.

He has been arranging the Pindi Heritage Walks since January this year to discover and document Rawalpindi with other young people.

Neglected for decades despite its unique cultural and architectural heritage, Rawalpindi is back on the radar as young people seek to learn more about the centuries-old city, and retell stories that shaped the town’s history to what it is today.

Known as Islamabad’s twin city, Rawalpindi’s history is not widely celebrated, although it spans rich and diverse traditions. It falls within the bounds of the ancient kingdom of Gandhara, which stretched across parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Its earliest settlement dates back to when Mahmud of Ghazni, the first independent ruler of the Turkic dynasty of Ghaznavids, destroyed Rawalpindi in the early 11th century.

During the Mughal era, Rawalpindi remained under the rule of the Ghakhar clan until it was captured in the 1760s by Sikh rulers, and then finally by the British East India Company, which transformed it into a commercial center and garrison city.

Today, Rawalpindi’s history is reflected in the unique, decaying beauty of its buildings and streets, which bear the signs of all the hands the city has passed through.

The Pindi Heritage Walks have quickly gained popularity as people come to find new treasures, but also to see some of the city’s famous religious (mainly Hindu) sites such as the Krishna Mandir, Kalyan Das Temple and the old temple in front of Narankari Bazaar, built in 1880 by Shirimati Devi in memory of her husband.

On a morning walk last Saturday, Tauseef said he had come across some remarkable new offerings — a statue of a deity atop a residential home, small Hindu and Sikh temples tucked away in alleyways, and centuries-old mosques.

“I hope with the tours we can build a wider acceptance of Rawalpindi as a religious tourist destination in Pakistan and do away with the erasure of the religious significance of the place,” Tauseef said.

His research into Rawalpindi’s architecture focuses on the buildings left behind by the religious communities that lived in the city before the partition of the Indian subcontinent, when Muslim Pakistan came into being in 1947.

Before that, the city was dominated by the Hindu community, which largely migrated to India. The homes Hindus left behind were then inhabited by Muslims who, in similar circumstances, had left India to settle in Pakistan.

Tauseef was inspired, he said, to look into communities “whose history has been lost” over the years.

“The city of Rawalpindi has a unique and diverse history that is unfortunately no longer known even to most of its residents,” Mariam Saleem Farooqi and Rida Arif wrote in a 2015 journal article titled ‘The Lost Art of Rawalpindi.’

“Even today, deep in the heart of Rawalpindi, families reside in original buildings dating back to the pre-partition era, many of which still carry remains of carvings and decoration put in place by the original inhabitants. These old buildings are now in a state of disrepair and need proper maintenance and upkeep.

“Encroachment, demolition, vandalism, extremism — there is no shortage of problems for heritage sites,” Farooqi and Arif wrote.

But Tauseef said interest in preserving Rawalpindi was picking up: “People want to preserve something which is ours.”

Shiraz Hassan, a journalist who often documents Rawalpindi and its history, said he believed the city’s heritage tourism could grow with proper investment.

“Narrow streets, beautiful doors and balconies and the architectural jewels of the city give us a glimpse of its rich history and culture,” he told Arab News. “Even today, many people living in the twin cities are unaware of the historical landmarks located in the old city.”

Tauseef said he was working with a friend to get access to documents, maps and details of historical sites to build a database.

“If we, with government support, can have access to the information, we can build a database so that others don’t have to go through what we did,” he said. “We can preserve the history here and build on the religious tourism already growing in the country.”

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India-Dubai travellers must get Covid test 48 hrs before flight

Currently, passengers are required to undergo RT-PCR 72 hours before departure. Passengers flying from India to Dubai will now have to follow revised regulations on PCR Covid-19 tests, Indian airlines announced on Monday. Starting April 22, at 12am, all passengers travelling from India to Dubai airports must hold a valid Covid-19 test certificate issued within…

Currently, passengers are required to undergo RT-PCR 72 hours before departure.

Passengers flying from India to Dubai will now have to follow revised regulations on PCR Covid-19 tests, Indian airlines announced on Monday.
Starting April 22, at 12am, all passengers travelling from India to Dubai airports must hold a valid Covid-19 test certificate issued within 48 hours from the time of collecting the sample, budget carrier Air India Express stated. A similar advisory was issued by India’s flag carrier Air India and private airline Spice Jet.
Currently, passengers are required to undergo RT-PCR 72 hours before departure.
Passengers must also ensure that the ‘date and time’ of sample collection and time of reporting (result date and result time) are accurate. “The certificate must indicate a ‘negative’ test result, described either in Arabic or English, issued from a certified lab at the original point of destination where the passenger is travelling from,” read the advisory from the airlines.
Furthermore, it is mandatory that the report includes a QR code which is linked to the original report for verification by the airline. “At arrival, the Dubai Health Authority will verify the same,” said the airlines.
At present, only India’s flag carriers and Spice Jet have issued revisions to the existing pre-departure testing policies, according to travel agents in the UAE. Other Indian airlines and UAE carriers continue to have the PCR test validity at 72 hours before departure.
The Spice Jet advisory said: “The PCR test will be valid no later than 72 hours, 48 hours in case of Dubai, with effect from April 22, 2021, before departure. The stipulated time frame for accepting the negative Covid-19 reports should start from the date of sample or swab collection, and not the issuance date of the report.”
TP Sudheesh, general manager of Deira Travel and Tourist Agency, said: “The change in timing does make travel a little more complicated for the traveller as 48 hours is too less a time in case the passenger has any kind of last-minute emergencies.”
“All passengers must carry the printed copy of their negative Covid-19 reports and the test reports must be in typed form and not hand-written. Handwritten reports will not be accepted,” Spice Jet stated.
Furthermore, all negative Covid-19 reports should have the name and contact details of the providing laboratory or the health institute. “Information should be typed preferably in block letters, so it’s clear and easily understood,” the advisory added.
dhanusha@khaleejtimes.com
Dhanusha Gokulan
Originally from India, Dhanusha Gokulan has been working as a journalist for 10 years. She has a keen interest in writing about issues that plague the common person and will never turn down a human interest story. She completed her Bachelor in Arts in Journalism, Economics and English Literature from Mangalore University in 2008. In her spare time, she dabbles with some singing/songwriting, loves travelling and Audible is her favourite mobile application. Tweet at her @wordjunkie88

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Mo Salah announced as new Egypt captain

5 talking points from Saudi clubs’ return to form in AFC Champions League group stage RIYADH: Two down and four to go. The group stage of the AFC Champions League is starting to take shape and already there are teams that have an awful lot to do if they are to maintain their presence in…

Mo Salah announced as new Egypt captain

5 talking points from Saudi clubs’ return to form in AFC Champions League group stage

RIYADH: Two down and four to go. The group stage of the AFC Champions League is starting to take shape and already there are teams that have an awful lot to do if they are to maintain their presence in the tournament going into the knockout stage.

Some are looking good and the feeling around the Al-Nassr camp has improved massively after a 3-1 win over Al-Sadd, one of the favorites for the competition. Al-Hilal collected three points with a comfortable 2-0 win over Shabab Al-Ahli while Al-Ahli bounced back from their opening game mauling to take a 1-1 draw with Al-Duhail.

Here are five things we learned from the second round of matches.

1. Menezes gives Xavi a coaching lesson

Al-Sadd had not lost for 24 games heading into the clash with Al-Nassr. They won the Qatar Stars League without losing a game and with a goal difference of plus 63, which is incredible enough, but when the season is just 22 games long it really is something special. Yet Al-Nassr fully deserved to win.

Abderrazak Hamdallah scored the opening goal from the spot, but after Santi Cazorla equalized on the hour, the Saudi team’s players kept their nerve, their shape, and their discipline and hit the erratic Qatari team on the counter thanks to the intelligent movement and hard work of their forward line.

With the help of two well-timed substitutions, it was a strategy that bore fruit and two goals followed that put the hosts in with a great chance of the second round.

Al-Nassr coach Mano Menezes has not had much time to work with the players but on this performance, there should be more to come even if fans should not get carried away by being the first team to defeat Al-Sadd this year.

2. Al-Breik stars for clinical Al-Hilal

After a somewhat disappointing opening game, Al-Hilal stepped it up a level against Shabab Al-Ahli.

Star foreign players Bafetimbi Gomis and Andre Carrillo grabbed the headlines with their very well-taken goals in the first half but Mohammed Al-Breik deserves plenty of credit. The Saudi international created both in a perfect example of how a right-back should get forward in the modern game.

The first was a delicious cross that was whipped in behind the Dubai team’s defense with Gomis on hand to sweep home from close range. The second came from deeper but found Carrillo in space just inside the area and the Peruvian international made no mistake with a fine swivel and shot. Both goals were easy on the eye and the defender played a huge part.

3. Al-Owais, Al-Somah give Al-Ahli hope

After seven straight defeats, a 1-1 draw will lift some of the gloom surrounding the Jeddah club. It was snatched in the final minutes against Al-Duhail who had largely dominated proceedings.

The Qataris struggled however to find a way past Mohammed Al-Owais. The goalkeeper dealt with everything that was thrown at him to keep the score line down to a minimum. Shot after shot came in and there he was tipping deflections over the bar and getting down well to push headers around the foot of the post.

It was due to such heroics that Omar Al-Somah’s last-gasp goal, which came after an overhead kick assist from defender Motaz Hawsawi, earned a much-needed point to break that dismal losing streak.

4. Strikers come to the fore

It may well be that none of the Saudi teams are firing on all cylinders at the moment, but it will be pleasing to fans that their star strikers have all scored already.

If Al-Hilal are going to go all the way and get a record fourth title, then they are going to need the goals of Gomis, and the French forward is looking hungry and dangerous.

Hamdallah was one of the stars of the 2020 tournament and while the Moroccan has not looked as lethal this year, to get on the scoresheet will be an immense relief for both player and coach. Al-Nassr need him if they are to get out of a difficult group.

And then there is Al-Somah. There has been a lot written about the Syrian striker this season but whatever has happened behind the scenes, three goals in two games speaks for itself. If one of the best strikers in Asia continues to score, then Al-Ahli have a chance.

5. Next comes the crunch

The next two games can make or break a team’s chances as they come against the same opposition. Al-Nassr are level on four points with Foolad of Iran. If the Riyadh giants can come out on top over these back-to-back clashes, then they really can start to think about the next stage.

Al-Hilal take on Tajikistan powerhouse Istiklol who are going to make things very tough. The new boys in the competition have also managed four points from the opening two games thanks to some solid defending. Al-Hilal have the firepower however and can take control of the group.

And as for Al-Ahli, there are twin games with Al-Shorta of Iraq. These will not be easy, even if Al-Shorta are regarded as the weakest team in the group, but they do offer a perfect chance to pick up a win and start challenging at the top of the table.

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Mahdi Ali praises Al-Hilal after his injury-hit Shabab Al-Ahli Dubai team suffered AFC Champions League loss

5 talking points from Saudi clubs’ return to form in AFC Champions League group stage RIYADH: Two down and four to go. The group stage of the AFC Champions League is starting to take shape and already there are teams that have an awful lot to do if they are to maintain their presence in…

Mahdi Ali praises Al-Hilal after his injury-hit Shabab Al-Ahli Dubai team suffered AFC Champions League loss

5 talking points from Saudi clubs’ return to form in AFC Champions League group stage

RIYADH: Two down and four to go. The group stage of the AFC Champions League is starting to take shape and already there are teams that have an awful lot to do if they are to maintain their presence in the tournament going into the knockout stage.

Some are looking good and the feeling around the Al-Nassr camp has improved massively after a 3-1 win over Al-Sadd, one of the favorites for the competition. Al-Hilal collected three points with a comfortable 2-0 win over Shabab Al-Ahli while Al-Ahli bounced back from their opening game mauling to take a 1-1 draw with Al-Duhail.

Here are five things we learned from the second round of matches.

1. Menezes gives Xavi a coaching lesson

Al-Sadd had not lost for 24 games heading into the clash with Al-Nassr. They won the Qatar Stars League without losing a game and with a goal difference of plus 63, which is incredible enough, but when the season is just 22 games long it really is something special. Yet Al-Nassr fully deserved to win.

Abderrazak Hamdallah scored the opening goal from the spot, but after Santi Cazorla equalized on the hour, the Saudi team’s players kept their nerve, their shape, and their discipline and hit the erratic Qatari team on the counter thanks to the intelligent movement and hard work of their forward line.

With the help of two well-timed substitutions, it was a strategy that bore fruit and two goals followed that put the hosts in with a great chance of the second round.

Al-Nassr coach Mano Menezes has not had much time to work with the players but on this performance, there should be more to come even if fans should not get carried away by being the first team to defeat Al-Sadd this year.

2. Al-Breik stars for clinical Al-Hilal

After a somewhat disappointing opening game, Al-Hilal stepped it up a level against Shabab Al-Ahli.

Star foreign players Bafetimbi Gomis and Andre Carrillo grabbed the headlines with their very well-taken goals in the first half but Mohammed Al-Breik deserves plenty of credit. The Saudi international created both in a perfect example of how a right-back should get forward in the modern game.

The first was a delicious cross that was whipped in behind the Dubai team’s defense with Gomis on hand to sweep home from close range. The second came from deeper but found Carrillo in space just inside the area and the Peruvian international made no mistake with a fine swivel and shot. Both goals were easy on the eye and the defender played a huge part.

3. Al-Owais, Al-Somah give Al-Ahli hope

After seven straight defeats, a 1-1 draw will lift some of the gloom surrounding the Jeddah club. It was snatched in the final minutes against Al-Duhail who had largely dominated proceedings.

The Qataris struggled however to find a way past Mohammed Al-Owais. The goalkeeper dealt with everything that was thrown at him to keep the score line down to a minimum. Shot after shot came in and there he was tipping deflections over the bar and getting down well to push headers around the foot of the post.

It was due to such heroics that Omar Al-Somah’s last-gasp goal, which came after an overhead kick assist from defender Motaz Hawsawi, earned a much-needed point to break that dismal losing streak.

4. Strikers come to the fore

It may well be that none of the Saudi teams are firing on all cylinders at the moment, but it will be pleasing to fans that their star strikers have all scored already.

If Al-Hilal are going to go all the way and get a record fourth title, then they are going to need the goals of Gomis, and the French forward is looking hungry and dangerous.

Hamdallah was one of the stars of the 2020 tournament and while the Moroccan has not looked as lethal this year, to get on the scoresheet will be an immense relief for both player and coach. Al-Nassr need him if they are to get out of a difficult group.

And then there is Al-Somah. There has been a lot written about the Syrian striker this season but whatever has happened behind the scenes, three goals in two games speaks for itself. If one of the best strikers in Asia continues to score, then Al-Ahli have a chance.

5. Next comes the crunch

The next two games can make or break a team’s chances as they come against the same opposition. Al-Nassr are level on four points with Foolad of Iran. If the Riyadh giants can come out on top over these back-to-back clashes, then they really can start to think about the next stage.

Al-Hilal take on Tajikistan powerhouse Istiklol who are going to make things very tough. The new boys in the competition have also managed four points from the opening two games thanks to some solid defending. Al-Hilal have the firepower however and can take control of the group.

And as for Al-Ahli, there are twin games with Al-Shorta of Iraq. These will not be easy, even if Al-Shorta are regarded as the weakest team in the group, but they do offer a perfect chance to pick up a win and start challenging at the top of the table.

Continue Reading
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