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News that you need to know! Selected news stories from Qatar, India, Middle East and around the world, with focus on news that matters to Indians in Qatar.

Qatar declares one week govt holiday for Eid

The public sector in Qatar will be given a week off for Eid Al Adha 2014, the Emiri Diwan has announced. Taking into account that Saudi Arabia has declared Eid on Saturday, October 4, Qatar News Agency reports that the holiday will run from Sunday October 5 to Thursday October 9 Regular hours for ministries, authorities and other public government institutions will resume on Sunday, October 12. Below is a tweet from Ministry of Foreign Affairs – Qatar regarding the same. – Eid holiday to start from Sunday Oct.5 and ends onThursdayOct. 9, and the state employees are to resume their work on sunday Oct. 12. — MOFA – Qatar (@MofaQatar_EN) October 1, 2014

ICICI Bank launches ‘Easy NRI Account’

ICICI Bank, India’s largest private sector bank, announced the launch of ‘Easy NRI Account’, a savings bank account specially designed to ensure convenient banking for NRIs (Non Resident Indians) located in the Middle East. The ‘Easy NRI Account’ has been created with the objective of simplifying regular banking activities along with facilitating remittances for customers. Main Features Low monthly average balance requirement of just Rs. 2,000. Nil charges for non-maintenance of minimum balance, as long as the customer has remitted a sum of Rs. 20,000 to ICICI Bank India Easy NRI Account over the preceding three months. This ensures that customers can use the account for remittances without worrying about minimum balance maintenance. Special provision for customers who are more comfortable monitoring their account activity using a passbook. The Easy NRI Account holder or mandate holder for this account is issued a passbook which can be updated by simply visiting…

First look of MS Dhoni Biopic

A special treat awaits fans of Mahendra Singh Dhoni. A biopic on the life of the cricketer is all set for a 2015 release with actor Sushant Singh Rajput playing the lead role. The first poster of the film was tweeted by Dhoni’s wife Sakshi. An excited Sakshi took to Twitter to share the first poster of the film  MS Dhoni – The Untold Story. “Clearing out all those rumours being carried out past few days.It was all false.. Here you go ….BOOM !!!” she wrote on the micro-blogging site. The tweet received a good response from her followers – a clear sign that fans of the Indian cricket captain can’t wait to see his life on the big screen. The project was reportedly shelved due to the enormous cost involved – some estimates suggesting a figure close to Rs 45 crore. Sakshi’s tweet though has put an end to…

Bangalore is India’s Most Vegan-friendly City

Bangalore, which boasts of a wide landscape of restaurants and eateries, added another tag with the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) naming it the “Most vegan-friendly city in India.” In a release on Monday, PETA attributed the tag to pro-vegan initiatives which “reflect the growing hunger for meat-free and dairy-free dining. Apart from local all-vegan menus, the launch of such menus in popular hotels and restaurants has earned the city the label. Vegans are vegetarians who do not eat eggs or dairy products. In addition to vegan and vegetarian restaurants, various groups and forums that campaign for animal rights are active in the city, the PETA release said, including a guide to vegan restaurants, shops and cafés. “According to Google trends, searches for the word ‘vegan’ are on the rise across the country, and most of them come from Bangalore,” the release added. PETA will send Mayor…

Historic Msheireb ground to open for Eid prayers

The historic Eid Prayer Ground located at Msheireb Downtown Doha will be open to the public for Eid Al Adha prayers this week, Msheireb Properties said yesterday. In the last century, the Eid Prayer Ground was located at the edge of the old downtown, adjacent to the Burial Ground and Al Koot Fort. As Doha developed during the oil boom, the space was formalised with an enclosing wall, which can be seen in some of the earliest aerial photographs of the city. Many of the historic buildings within the old town have been rebuilt or refurbished, creating a unique urban townscape that to a large extent defines the historic identity of central Doha. This is the context for the Eid Prayer Ground as part of Msheireb. The prayer ground presents a long, relatively low frontage to the street and is the scale of an entire urban block. It forms a…

Around The World
Bidding farewell to Orkut

Orkut, Google’s first foray into social networking, is closing down today. Announced three months back, Google is going to shut down its early social-networking service, Orkut, on September 30 to focus on its other social networking initiatives. Orkut was launched ten years ago but has failed to put Google ahead in what has become one of the Web’s most popular businesses. Orkut, which is widely used in Brazil and India, was launched early in 2004 – the same year that Facebook, now the world’s No.1 social network, was founded. The company said it would preserve an archive of all Orkut “communities” that will be available from September 30. “If you don’t want your posts or name to be included in the community archive, you can remove Orkut permanently from your Google account,” Google said. After Orkut shuts down on September 30, you will not be able to log in to…

Panneerselvam takes oath as the new CM

O. Panneerselvam, staunch loyalist of AIADMK supremo Jayalalitha, was sworn in as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu for a second time on Monday by Governor K. Rosaiah, followed by the induction of other Ministers. The ceremony was emotionally charged with virtually every member of the new Cabinet breaking down . Mr. Panneerselvam succeeds party General Secretary Jayalalitha after she was convicted in the disproportionate assets case by a Bangalore special court on Saturday. As the Governor invited him to take oath, Mr. Panneerselvam was in tears, but continued to read the pledge. He was seen wiping his tears frequently as his cabinet colleagues began taking oath, most of them also in tears. The ministers sat silently looking down. At the end of an agonisingly long ceremony, the Governor extended his customary greetings by patting them, but to no avail. Excerpts from The Hindu

4 Doha films among 21 recipients of DFI grant

Four film projects from Qatar are among the 21 recipients of Doha Film Institute’s Spring 2014 grants which DFI has announced. In this cycle of the grants programme DFI is supporting 12 projects from the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region, seven projects are from OECD’s Development Assistance Committee list of countries (DAC) and two are from the rest of the world. The four projects by filmmakers in Qatar selected to receive the grants include Parijat (night-flowering jasmine), a feature-length narrative by Qatari director Hend Fakhroo; the first-of-its-kind reality web series Dr. Hamood Show by Qatari production company, Innovation Films; Remembering Ada, another feature film by Qatar-based Jan Xavier Pacle; and the short documentary Concrete Dreams: Some Roads Lead Home by Saba Karim Khan.  The other projects from the Mena region come from Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Palestine and Syria. The Doha Film Institute’s Spring 2014 Grants Programme focused on…

16 die, 2 more in hospital after Jayalalitha verdict

At least 16 people committed suicide or died of cardiac arrest across Tamil Nadu after a special court in Bangalore convicted AIADMK supremo and TN Chief Minister J Jayalalitha in the 66.65 crore disproportionate assets case on Saturday and sentenced her to four years in prison. Two people have been hospitalized with severe burns. Police said three people hanged themselves, one AIADMK supporter committed suicide by self-immolation, one person ended his life by jumping in front of a bus and one person died after consuming poison after the court pronounced its verdict. Ten others died of cardiac arrest, apparently due to shock after Jayalalitha’s conviction, a police officer said. Two people, including a Class 12 student, attempted self-immolation self and have been hospitalised with severe burns. Another ardent AIADMK supporter chopped off his little finger in Tirupur. Ironically, the chief minister had in August written a letter to a woman who…

Modi announces lifelong visas for NRIs

Amid cheers from thousands of Indian-Americans, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday announced several measures to ease travel to their motherland including life-long visas. “Happy?” he asked as the crowd cheered his announcement with chants of “Modi, Modi” at the huge Madison Square Garden community reception for him. “There is even more to come,” he said smilingly as he announced that People of Indian Origin (PIOs) in staying in India for long would not have to report to police. “There is no need for them to do that anymore.” In addition, the Indian missions in the US would grant long-term visas to US citizens and US tourists would get visa on arrival in India. Online visas would be introduced and Visa outsourcing services expanded to reduce current problems. Currently PIO cards, given to those who themselves, their parents or grandparents or their spouse, were one-time Indian citizens, allow for visa-free…