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Indian team Velammal Nexus School wins World School Chess Tournament at Expo 2020

DUBAI, 30th November, 2021 (WAM) — The Indian team Velammal Nexus School was proclaimed champion of the World School Chess Tournament after beating the Peruvian School Saco Oliveros during the finals of the competition at Dubai Exhibition Centre of Expo 2020 Dubai.

The Indian player from Velammal School Gukesh Dommaraju, 15 years old and Grandmaster, said, "We were favorites to win the tournament, but the Peruvian team fought, and they were quite close, it was a very interesting game".

The closing ceremony took place on Monday evening at the Spain Pavilion in the presence of Reem bint Ibrahim Al Hashemy, Minister of State for International Cooperation and Director-General of Expo 2020 Dubai; and José Manuel Franco, Spanish Secretary of State for Sports.

During her speech, Al Hashemy said, "I would like to first thank all our friends and our colleagues from Spain for your successful conception and delivery of such a splendid tournament and appropriate celebration of a game that was introduced to the Iberian Peninsula by Arab travelers".

She added that "at Expo, we are honoured to welcome Chess events and activities over the coming weeks, the FIDE World Chess Championship is already taking place at Dubai Exhibition Centre and before the end of December we will also welcome the Dubai Sports Council Cup".

Secretary Franco said, "we are grateful for being able to host the final rounds of this chess tournament on-site, I would like to congratulate and highlight the enormous effort of all the institutions and federations involved".

He added that "chess is a vehicle which allows us to connect the historical relationship between the Arab and the Spanish culture".

During the Award Ceremony, representatives of the Emirati and Israeli teams played a friendly game.

The event concluded with the unconventional flamenco show ‘Con-vivencias’ on the giant chessboard of the Spain Pavilion and performed by the artists Manuel Liñán and David Carpio.

The finals of the World School Chess Tournament were held from 25th to 29th November in the Spain Pavilion at Expo Dubai 2020 with the participation of 118 young people from 10 different countries and 12 teams.

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Security guard killed inside Qatar Embassy in Paris

A security guard was killed in the early hours of Monday inside the Qatar Embassy in Paris in an incident that does not appear to have any links to terrorism, a source close to the investigation said.
The incident took place at around 0630 (0430 GMT), the source said, adding that the suspect had entered the embassy and had a row with the security guard, who died after being punched.

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The Paris prosecutor’s office confirmed the death and said one person had been arrested on the spot.
“I can confirm that an investigation was opened today on the count of murder,” the prosecutor’s office said.

Read more: Iran will ‘avenge’ killing of IRGC colonel: President

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Sandstorm forces closure of Iraqi airports and public buildings

Iraq closed public buildings and temporarily shut airports Monday as another sandstorm — the ninth since mid-April — hit the country, authorities said.

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The capital Baghdad was enveloped in a giant dust cloud that left usually traffic-choked streets largely deserted, an AFP correspondent said.

Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhemi ordered all work to cease in public institutions, with the exception of health facilities and security agencies.

He cited “poor climatic conditions and the arrival of violent sandstorms” in a statement issued by his office.

Iraq is ranked as one of the five most vulnerable nations to climate change and desertification.

The environment ministry has warned that over the next two decades, Iraq could endure an average of 272 days of sandstorms per year, rising to above 300 by 2050.

Air traffic was suspended Monday at international airports in Baghdad, Erbil and Najaf, according to statements issued by each airport, before authorities announced later in the morning that flights were resuming at Baghdad and Erbil.

The previous two sandstorms killed one person and sent nearly 10,000 people to hospital with respiratory problems.

The Middle East has always been battered by sandstorms, but they have become more frequent and intense in recent years.

The trend has been associated with rising heat and water scarcity, overuse of river water, more dams, overgrazing and deforestation.

Oil-rich Iraq is known in Arabic as the land of the two rivers, in reference to the Tigris and Euphrates.

Iraq’s environment ministry has said the weather phenomenon could be addressed by increasing vegetation cover and planting trees that act as windbreaks.

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Sandstorm blankets Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh

Iraq sandstorm forces closure of airports, schools, public administrations

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Oxfam tells Davos: Time to tax growing billionaire club

The COVID-19 pandemic has created a new billionaire every 30 hours and now one million people could fall into extreme poverty at the same pace, Oxfam said Monday as the Davos summit returns.

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The international charity said it was time to tax the rich to support the less fortunate as the global elite gathered at the Swiss mountain haven for the World Economic Forum after a two-year Covid-induced absence.

Oxfam said it expects 263 million people to sink into extreme poverty this year, at a rate of one million every 33 hours, as soaring inflation has added a cost-of-living crisis on top of COVID-19.

By comparison, 573 people became billionaires during the pandemic, or one every 30 hours.

“Billionaires are arriving in Davos to celebrate an incredible surge in their fortunes,” Oxfam executive director Gabriela Bucher said in a statement.

“The pandemic and now the steep increases in food and energy prices have, simply put, been a bonanza for them,” Bucher said.

“Meanwhile, decades of progress on extreme poverty are now in reverse and millions of people are facing impossible rises in the cost of simply staying alive,” she said.

Oxfam called for a one-off “solidarity tax” on billionaires’ pandemic windfall to support people facing soaring prices as well as fund a “fair and sustainable recovery” from the pandemic.

It also said it was time to “end crisis profiteering” by rolling out a “temporary excess profit tax” of 90 percent on windfall profits of big corporations.

Oxfam added that an annual wealth tax on millionaires of two percent, and five percent for billionaires, could generate $2.52 trillion a year.

Such a wealth tax would help lift 2.3 billion people out of poverty, make enough vaccines for the world and pay for universal health care for people in poorer countries, it said.

Oxfam based its calculations on the Forbes list of billionaires and World Bank data.

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Davos World Economic Forum postponed due to COVID-19: Organizers

Quarter of billion face extreme poverty in 2022: Oxfam

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