Dr Mohammed bin Hamad al Rumhy, Minister of Oil and Gas of the Sultanate of Oman, yesterday signed an Interim Upstream Agreement with Shell, Total, Oman Oil Company (OOC), and Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) to further explore and develop in 2019 the gas resources of the Greater Barik area.
The upstream agreement covers gas acreage in the northern part of Block 6 located to the west of the existing Saih Rawl gas field that is operated by PDO. The project covers investments in gas exploration and production, in partnership with Total and OOC.
Signing the agreement on behalf of their respective organisations were: Ben van Beurden, CEO — Shell; Stephane Michel, Senior Vice- President Exploration-Production Middle East & North Africa of Total; and Isam al Zadjali, CEO — Oman Oil Company.
The pact is the first step towards the implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding signed by the Ministry with the four upstream players in May 2018 related to the development of an Integrated Gas project.
This integrated project includes an upstream development, in partnership with Shell and OOC, to produce the gas resources of the Greater Barik area and a downstream development by which Total and OOC will supply build and operate a 1 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) LNG plant and develop a LNG bunkering hub in the port of Sohar.
Chris Breeze, Shell’s Country Chairman in Oman, said: “Today’s agreement is a significant step forward. We hope that the development of gas resources destined for the integrated projects will play an important role in generating in-country value and diversifying Oman’s economy. This agreement marks a new chapter in Shell’s close partnership with the government of Oman.”
“Total is pleased by this new step towards the development of an LNG bunkering hub in Sohar and is grateful to the Government of Oman for his continued support. We are confident that the project will help diversify the gas sector in Oman and support the economic development of the port of Sohar and its region,” commented Stephane Michel, Senior Vice- President Exploration-Production Middle East & North Africa of Total. “As a leading integrated gas player, Total is committed to bringing the best of its expertise to develop and operate this one of a kind integrated gas project.”
The parties will continue to work diligently to finalise the definitive agreements which will guarantee the success of those integrated developments.
Oman Infrastructure Fund (Rakiza), set up by the State General Reserve Fund (SGRF) last year, has invited international financial investors to partner with it in the implementation of infrastructure projects across a number of strategic sectors in the Sultanate.
Rakiza’s Chief Executive Officer, Muneer al Muneeri (pictured), said the Fund — the first of its kind in the Sultanate — has been uniquely structured to enable foreign equity investors to explore opportunities in Oman’s infrastructure “growth story”.
“Rakiza has a unique sort of proposition — a fund structure that allows equity investors to come along with us in investing in the opportunities that we have in the country,” said Al Muneeri.
“Today, we have a list of projects that becoming more mature for investors to come on board, and we think for financial investors, it’s always best to do it through funds.”
Speaking at the annual meeting of the Association of Development Financing Institutions in Asia and the Pacific (ADFIAP), which opened at Sheraton Oman Hotel yesterday, Al Muneeri said Rakiza was an ideal partner for prospective equity investors looking at infrastructure options in the Sultanate. “We understand exactly how financial investors look at such opportunities,” said the CEO. “The opportunity to be an equity participant in the coming few years in Oman in all of these initiatives that we have was addressed through this fund structure, will allow us to build the required projects within the country and at the same time meet the targets that we have.”
Earlier, the CEO listed a number of “strategic investment areas” that Rakiza has its sights on. They include Renewables, Oil & Gas, Social Infrastructure, Power and Water, Telecommunications, Transport & Logistics and the Environment.
Notable among the key growth areas that require private finance, he said, is the power and water sector, which is almost 90 per cent in private hands. So is the Ports sector where container throughput capacity is projected to soar from 4.8 million TEUs in 2017 to over 20 million TEU by 2040. Investment in healthcare infrastructure, particularly in new hospitals, has promising potential too, he said. Rakiza, which has a term of 12 years, is “sponsored” by the SGRF, the largest sovereign wealth fund of the Sultanate of Oman.
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MUSCAT: Fresh from a sensational podium result in the snow-filled forests of Russia this past weekend, Omani rally driver Abdullah al Zubair returns to action in a much more familiar climate on Thursday, February 21, for the opening round of the FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup season in Qatar.
Just a couple of days after arriving back from Russia, where Al Zubair and AZ Racing co-driver Faisal al Raisi finished second in class in the first Cross Country ‘Baja’ event of the year, the former is relishing getting his second 2019 championship underway and determined to secure more silverware.
For AZ Racing’s first desert rally of the year, and for the next three events, Qatari co-driver Nasser al Kuwari joins Al Zubair and brings huge experience and knowledge to a rally renowned as providing perhaps the most difficult navigational challenge of any. Importantly, of course, Al Zubair’s talent in desert rallying is proven too having won a shorter ‘Baja’ rally in the state last year.
Getting underway with the initial scrutineering checks tomorrow, the Manateq Qatar Cross Country Rally will reach its conclusion next Tuesday, February 26, where AZ Racing plans to be celebrating more success with its South Racing-built BRP Can-Am Maverick X3 ‘rally raid’ vehicle.
From the freezing cold sub-zero temperatures of Russia mere days ago, Al Zubair is looking forward to the warmth of Qatar and carries an immense amount of confidence into the event after turning a lot of heads on his maiden snow rally last weekend.
Leg One of the first FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup event of 2019 will get underway in Qatar at 11 (local time) on Friday, February 22, with Leg Two following on February 23, Leg Three on February 24, Leg Four on February 25, and the final Leg on Tuesday, February 26.
MUSCAT: Golfing legend and world-renowned course designer Greg Norman has once again expressed his delight with the stunning Al Mouj Golf ahead of the oceanfront course welcoming the European Tour’s finest players from February 28–March 3 for the second edition of the Oman Open.
The Great White Shark, who has overseen the design of numerous Championship courses around the globe, including the Ayla course at Aqaba, Jordan and the Earth course at Jumeriah Golf Estates, the home of the European Tour’s season-ending DP World Tour Championship, knew from the moment he arrived in Muscat it could be the start of a terrific journey.
“When I first visited our site at Al Mouj in Muscat, Oman in 2006, I knew right away that we had the opportunity to create something very special,” said the 14-time European Tour winner. “Not only because of the spectacular seaside location on the shores of the Indian Ocean, but also the natural beauty, history and culture of the entire region.
“Al Mouj Golf is close to my heart and it’s certainly one of the finest golf courses I have ever designed anywhere in the world. There was no doubt in my mind that this would eventually become one of the most unique golf destinations of the world, so we certainly had to build a course that would measure up to that standard.”
Prior to hosting European Tour stars, Al Mouj Golf had first opened its doors to the professional golfing scene in 2013 with the Oman Golf Classic — the penultimate event on the European Challenge Tour schedule. Overwhelming approval from players and fans saw the tournament upgraded to become the Challenge Tour Grand Final just two years later before the European Tour jumped in on the action and added it to their schedule in 2018 with Joost Luiten sealing the inaugural title.
“Having hosted four European Challenge Tour events, including two Grand Finals, and last February’s inaugural European Tour event, I would have to say we more than accomplished our goal’” said the former World No.1 and two-time Major winner.
“It’s been good to read all the accolades the course has received from players and officials over recent years. It’s also been extremely rewarding to see the positive effect it has had on the growth of golf in the Sultanate of Oman and throughout the region. I’m looking forward to many more great things to come at Al Mouj at the 2019 Oman Open.”
The Oman Open gets underway at Al Mouj Golf, Muscat on Thursday, February 28 and will feature a world-class field including 1999 Open Champion Paul Lawrie, Ryder Cup stars Robert Karlsson, Thomas Bjorn, Chris Wood and Stephen Gallacher along with Omani National Azaan Al Rumhy and defending champion Luiten.
In line with its commitment to implement the directives of the Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs (MECA), which include enhancing environmental monitoring in and around the port and promoting effective environmental management, SOHAR Port and Freezone officially launched the Air Quality Monitoring Network (AQMN) Project.
The ceremony took place yesterday, on February 20, under the auspices of Mohammed bin Salim al Toobi, Minister of Environment and Climate Affairs and in the presence of Dr Mohammed bin Nasser al Zaabi, Chairman of the Board of SOHAR Port and Freezone, Shaikh Mohana bin Saif al Lamki, Governor of North Al Batinah and members of the Shura Council. Also in attendance were various representatives from the public sector as well as several SOHAR tenants.
The AQMN project is a first-of-its-kind comprehensive and integrated project in the Sultanate, which specialises in monitoring air quality at the Port and Freezone as well as in the surrounding areas. It was launched by Omani company, Nakheel Environmental and Industrial Solutions, in accordance with the Ministerial Decree 41/2017.
The AQMN project consists of both fixed and mobile stations positioned at critical locations around the Port and Freezone. This is one of the key projects that will help ensure that the development of SOHAR is both sustainable and compliant with national and international environmental standards.
In his speech at the ceremony, Mark Geilenkirchen, CEO of SOHAR Port and Freezone, stated that SOHAR remains staunchly committed to the protection of the environment, and the partnership with MECA was a great extension of this commitment, one that he said SOHAR hoped to continue well into the future.
The event saw the inauguration by the Minister of MECA and showcased the various stages of the project. A visit was also made to one of the stations, where the attendees were able to take a closer look at the advanced technologies used in the monitoring process. These technologies are connected to a central data management system at SOHAR so as to continuously collect data from the stations, including saving and analysing it automatically. The system is being linked with the Environmental Monitoring Centre at MECA to allow the Ministry to directly monitor the environmental situation of the area.
Mohammed bin Salim al Toobi, Minister of Environment and Climate Affairs said, “MECA seeks to develop this model together with other industrial areas in the Sultanate. This is carried out in order to encourage and achieve closer environmental monitoring partnerships within the private sector. Our partnership with the Port and Freezone is a great example of a Public Private Partnership, due to its support from SOHAR tenants and execution by the Ministry. On behalf of MECA, I would like to extend my gratitude to SOHAR, as well as its tenants, for their cooperation in making the launch of this project a great success.”
Commenting on the importance of the launch of this project, Dr Mohammed al Zaabi, Chairman of the Board of SOHAR Port and Freezone said, “At SOHAR we believe that effective environmental management is vital for the sustainable development of any organisation. Therefore, the establishment of the AQMN project will drive integrated environmental monitoring, which will further reinforce our commitment of protecting the environment in and around the Port and Freezone. We are extremely proud to be working alongside MECA, to ensure that this unique solution and the respective technology is put to good use and hope to be a part of similar initiatives in the future.”
Ali al Hussaini, General Manager of Nakheel Environmental and Industrial Solutions noted, “The engineering and technical design of the project’s stations has been implemented as per the standard specifications of the Air Quality Regulation issued by MECA. The installation and the trial operation of the fixed and mobile stations began in the last quarter of 2018 and has been live since the January 1, 2019.”
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MUSCAT: Bank Muscat Money Market Fund recorded the best industry return with 2.97 per cent return during the month of December 2018, higher than the typical call rate of 0.5-1.5 per cent offered by banks in Oman. In addition, the Money Market Fund’s returns remained higher as compared to 3 month average deposit rate of 1.87 per cent based on the quotes received from most of the local banks in Oman.
The Bank Muscat Money Market Fund remains the only one of its kind in Oman offering investors an excellent treasury management tool to manage their day to day cash flows. The Fund offers daily liquidity and does not charge any entry or exit load to investors. The Fund has a track record of more than 6 years and provides daily liquidity.
The Fund, together with bank muscat, provides convenient sweep-in and sweep-out facility from investors’ current account in Bank Muscat. This enables investors to invest and redeem from the Fund in a simple way. The Money Market Fund is managed by Bank Muscat and the minimum investment in the Fund is RO 10,000 with no entry or exit fees.
Abdullah al Hinai (pictured), Chief Wholesale Banking and Strategic Growth Officer of Bank Muscat, said: “The Fund is attracting investors as a result of strong performance, no entry and exit load and daily liquidity. We continue to see strong interest from investors.”
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SOHAR: Sohar Aluminium (SA) held on Sunday, February 17, its annual Mumtaz Club Gala Dinner to celebrate and award the outstanding efforts, hard work and solid performances of its 800 employees, recognizing their contributions to the company’s success in 2018. The event was attended by Sohar Aluminium’s CEO, Eng Said al Masoudi, the Management Team and more than 800 Employees. It also included a special section where the company acknowledge 245 employees who completed 10 years of service with the company.
The Mumtaz Club is an employee incentive scheme that aims to reward individual excellence in realizing Sohar Aluminium’s vision, mission and objectives. Participants receive individual points for coming up with innovative ideas to improve productivity and financial performance. Other avenues include suggesting and implementing ideas for value creation and participation in the Volunteering Program, as well as the health and safety awareness campaigns and events.
The event kicked-off with the recognition of the long serving employees who were awarded certificates by the Executive Committee Members. Eng Said al Masoudi thanked the employees for their dedication, passion and hard work. Al Masoudi said: “Thanks to you, we’re leaders. At this career milestone, we honour you for the significant part you play in elevating our performance standards and unwavering commitment to business excellence.”
High-level executives representing international development banks, financial institutions and non-government organisations began three days of deliberations as part of the 42nd annual meeting of the Association of Development Financing Institutions in Asia and the Pacific (ADFIAP) at the Sheraton Oman Hotel on Wednesday.
The inaugural session was held under the auspices of Shaikh al Fadhel bin Mohammed al Harthy, Secretary General of the Council of Ministers. Also in attendance were a number of government ministers and decision-makers representing public sector organisations in the Sultanate.
Oman Development Bank (ODB), the wholly government-owned Development Financing Institution (DFI) of the Sultanate, is hosting the three-day event. ODB Chairman Abdelsalam bin Naser al Kharusi said it was an honour for the bank to host ADFIAP for the second time in the Sultanate.
“ODB joined the Association in 2005, having since benefited from the collective experience of member-state institutions in the field of development financing,” said the Chairman. “In line with the vision of ADFIAP to provide development financing services to member institutions, the chosen theme of this meeting, viz ‘Role of DFIs in Economic Development’, underscores our belief that development financing is key to sustainable growth.”
Phub Dorji, Chief Executive Officer — Bhutan Development Bank Ltd, who is also Chairman, ADFIAP, said in opening remarks that the Association had evolved from 31 charter-members in 1976 to 106 DFIs in 39 countries this year.
“DFIs — interchangeably known as development banks — have in operation for more than a century at the onset of the first industrial revolution. The structures and processes have evolved over time, but the role and intent in financing development has not changed even to this day.
DFIs have partnered with many stakeholders, particularly governments, in financing or promoting development, which has improved the lives of many,” he said.
The keynote address was delivered by Dr Dhafir al Shanfari, CEO of the Omani Authority for Partnership for Development (OAPFD) and Acting CEO of the Competition Protection and Monopoly Prevention Centre.
Also on the panel of speakers and session chairs from Oman are: Shaikh Salah Hilal al Maawali, CEO — SME Fund Oman; Muneer al Muneeri, CEO of Rakiza, Oman’s infrastructure fund; Sharifa al Barami, Co-Founder of MarkeetEx, an e-commerce marketplace that aims to improve lifestyles; and Khalid Alsafi al Haribi, Managing Director, Impact Integrated.
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Muscat: As the demand for Internet access increases, Omantel, the first and leading integrated telecommunication services provider in the Sultanate, introduces first of its kind data only Baqati post-paid plans. Allowing Baqati subscribers up to 50GB of Internet data upon signing 12 and 24 month contracts.
Musbad Madi, Senior Manager, Segment Management at Omantel’s Consumer Business Unit, said: “We are committed to providing our customers with an unrivalled Internet experience.
The introduction of Baqati data only plans comes in line with the increasing demand for Internet data amongst every Internet user in the Sultanate. Baqati data only plans, starting from RO 15”. Baqati subscribers can get 50GB of Internet data every month for RO 25 only by signing a 24-month contract or 40GB upon signing a 12-month commitment contract.
On the other hand, customers that want a more affordable plan can subscribe to the RO 15 plan, which allows customers 20GB of Internet data per month upon signing a 24-month contract or 15GB upon signing a 12-month contract. Baqati Data only subscribers can also subscribe to 10 GB data for RO10 only upon consuming their data allowance. Omantel subscribers can subscribe to Baqati data only plans by visiting their nearest Omantel outlet.
“The newly introduced Baqati data only plans are the best option for those who wish to use tablets, portable routers and any smartphone. These plans meet and exceed our customers’ expectations due to their affordable rate,” Madi added.
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Muscat is all set to officially welcome its first Hilton Garden Inn property, offering business travellers, holiday seekers and residents access to Hilton’s globally recognized hospitality in the heart of the city’s bustling hub of Al Khuwair on February 25.
The 232 guest room Hilton Garden Inn Muscat Al Khuwair will offer convenient access to some of the city’s finest restaurants, as well as the Oman Avenues, Panorama and MGM Malls, that are located just five minutes away from the hotel. That’s not all, key destinations such as the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, Royal Opera House Muscat and the Shatti Al Qurum Beach are located just minutes away; with the Muscat International Airport and Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre being a mere 25-minutes’ drive from the hotel.
“We are delighted to be bringing the award-winning upper midscale Hilton Garden Inn brand experience to guests, residents, and the people of the Sultanate of Oman in the exciting capital city of Muscat,” commented, Hendrick Calles, the General Manager. “Muscat offers travellers a sensorial Arabian experience, and we look forward to enriching their time in the city with our renowned approach to bright-hearted hospitality. Whether it is seeking comfort and warmth in our spacious, fully equipped and stylish 4-star guest rooms with stunning views of the Al Hajar Mountains or the picturesque neighbourhood of Al Khuwair, taking advantage of our multiple meeting rooms and banquet facility, or dining at our unique all-day dining restaurant.”
Guests will be able to select from several room types including: standard, family, superior rooms, as well as one and two bedroom suites, ensuring they enjoy a comfortable stay. One of the more technologically advanced aspects of the new hotel will be its digital key option, which will allow guests to unlock their rooms using their smartphones for the first time in the Sultanate.
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MUSCAT: General Automotive Company (GAC), the official distributor of Fuso vehicles in the Sultanate, recently launched the first of its kind 3S Fuso facility in the entire Middle East. The introduction of the new facility is in line with GAC’s efforts to further enhance its presence in the country, while also celebrating its successful journey spanning over four decades.
The launch was organised by GAC on Monday, February 18, and took place at the new Fuso Truck Centre in Al Athaiba. The ceremony was attended by Sebastien Henry, General Manager of Fuso Middle East and North Africa, Venukumar Vasudevan, Head of Customer Services, FUSO Middle East and North Africa, Hani al Zubair, Chairman of the Zubair Automotive Group and Manoj Ranade, the GM of General Automotive Company. Also in attendance were other GAC and Fuso Oman team members, several Fuso customers, and local media representatives. The facility is built on an area of 12,000 square metres as per the latest international standards, capable of handling express service of up to 60 vehicles daily.
The new Fuso Oman integrated centre ensures that customers receive regular maintenance at the highest standards, and provide express service for the delivery of Canter Trucks & Rosa Buses in 90 minutes. It also offers mobile maintenance services facility for clients at their convenient locations, which saves time, effort and operational costs.
QBG Geojit Securities LLC, licensed by the Capital Market Authority (CMA) as a Financial Intermediary dealing in non-Omani securities in the Sultanate, opened its new office in Al Ghubrah yesterday. The new office was inaugurated yesterday by the Indian Ambassador to Oman, Munu Mahawar, in the presence of Shaikh Ahmed bin Sultan Saif al Hosni, Chairman of Qurum Business Group.
QBG Geojit has been providing investment services with the Omani nationals and Indian expatriates for the last 12 years in the Sultanate. The team has been providing guidance for the investors, with an interest to invest in Indian and overseas Capital Market and serve them better with even more accessibility.
C J George, Managing Director of Geojit Financial Services Ltd said, “One of the fastest growing economy in the world is India. The capital market is the only opportunity and an excellent tool where foreigners can get the share of the growth. In Oman we are doing two things one is training the investors if they have any knowledge gap and secondly we facilitate transactions in the stock exchanges in India. We help them to invest in appropriate mutual fund schemes. So we undertake the fund management activity on behalf of the Omani nationals and the NRIs in Oman. We are in the process of reaching out to other cities of various regions in Oman.”
Speaking at the event George said QBG Geojit Securities also helps Indian expats in Oman to dematerialise their physical share certificates from their office in Oman. As per the SEBI circular transfer of physical share will be suspended from April 1, 2019 and the only way to sell them is by dematerialisation.
QBG Geojit Securities operates as a Financial Intermediary dealing in non-Omani securities which include Online Trading in Indian Equities, Mutual Funds — Indian and Offshore, SIP (Systematic Investment Plan), Foreign Portfolio Investment opportunities for Omani nationals, PMS (Portfolio Management Service) and Depository services, and so on. Qurum Business Group Geojit Securities LLC is a tie up between Geojit Financial Services Ltd, one of India’s leading financial services intermediaries and the very reputed Omani company — Qurum Business Group.
Geojit is a leading investment services company in India with a strong presence in Middle East that offers products and services offered ranges from Equities and Derivatives to Mutual Funds. The needs of over 9,50,000 clients are met via multichannel services — a wide network of over 500 offices, phone service, dedicated Customer Care Centre and the Internet. Geojit Financial Services has an extensive presence in the Middle East region via joint ventures and partnerships: Barjeel Geojit Securities in UAE, BBK Geojit Securities KSC, in Kuwait and QBG Geojit Securities LLC in Oman. The company also has a presence in Bahrain through a business partnership with Bank of Bahrain and Kuwait.
SAO PAULO/DETROIT: Ford Motor Co said it will close its oldest factory in Brazil and exit its heavy commercial truck business in South America, a move that could cost more than 2,700 jobs as part of a restructuring meant to end losses around the world.
Ford previously said the global reorganisation, to impact thousands of jobs and possible plant closures in Europe, would result in $11 billion in charges.
Following that announcement, analysts and investors had expected a similar restructuring in South America. Ford Chief Executive Jim Hackett said last month that investors would not have to wait long for the South American reorganisation plan.
The factory slated for closure is in Sao Bernardo do Campo, an industrial suburb of Sao Paulo that has operated since 1967. It first produced a number of auto models before being switched predominantly to trucks in 2001. It makes the F-4000 and F-350 trucks, as well as the Fiesta small car, a sales laggard.
The factory closure may mean Ford is refocusing on the core of its car business in Latin America’s largest economy, based in a much newer factory in the northeastern state of Bahia. But the job cuts in Brazil’s industrial heartland represent a psychological blow for the new administration of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, which is battling an unemployment rate above 11 per cent.
Ford’s latest cuts come as investors watch for signs of progress on the company’s alliance with Volkswagen AG, which already encompasses commercial vans and pick-up trucks but may soon expand into electric and self-driving cars. The two automakers have also pledged to work together on other projects, which could include combining capacity in regions like South America.
Ford shares closed up 3.4 per cent at $8.83 in New York.
“You can’t cost cut your way to prosperity in the long-term,” said David Kudla, who heads Michigan-based Mainstay Capital Management, a firm that previously owned Ford stock.
“We want to hear about the future, what you’re doing for mobility services and autonomous vehicles.” The closure is also a blow to the industrial outskirts of Sao Paulo, where Brazil’s automotive industry was born and which long drove its industrial growth. It is also where imprisoned former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva came to fame as a union leader who organised massive strikes that helped harken the end of the military dictatorship.
The union in Sao Bernardo did not have an immediate comment. But Sao Bernardo Mayor Orlando Morando complained angrily that Ford gave no warning and failed to discuss the closure with the workers.
“The 2,800 families directly affected and another 2,000 indirectly affected deserved a chance to react. This is an act of cowardice,” Morando’s office said in a statement. — Reuters
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BARCELONA: Bayern Munich held Liverpool to a 0-0 draw at Anfield while Barcelona and Olympique Lyon were tied in another goalless draw in Champions League last 16 first legs on Tuesday.
Liverpool shaded the first half but Bayern looked dangerous with Serge Gnabry and Kingsley Coman on the counter.
In France, Lyon came closest in a frantic first half, with Martin Terrier’s effort tipped onto the bar by Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez spurned good chances at the other end as Barcelona dominated the ball but could not break the deadlock.
Bayern Munich left Merseyside pleased with their night’s work,frustrating Liverpool in attack.
Senegalese winger Sadio Mane might have scored in the first half but fired narrowly wide, and headed off-target in the final stages too.
Bayern mopped up Liverpool pressure comfortably in the second half,albeit without threatening too much themselves either.
Given Liverpool were missing key defender Virgil van Dijk through suspension, this might go down as a missed opportunity to grab an away goal for Niko Kovac’s men.
Midfielder Fabinho partnered Joel Matip at the back but kept Robert Lewandowski quiet all night long, while Arjen Robben and Thomas Mueller were missing through injury and suspension respectively.
“We’ll need to score if we want to get into the next round. I hope we can play better at home,” said Polish striker Lewandowski, who barely touched the ball.
Bad news for the Bundesliga side came in the form of a booking for Joshua Kimmich, who will be suspended for the second leg, although Bayern will be slight favourites to progress to the quarterfinals.
“If Bayern had been full of confidence we might have had more space,” said Liverpool coach Juergen Klopp.
“Not a lot of things happened. We had our moments and in those moments you have to score.
“It was an intense game for both sides. It is not a game we will remember in 30 years. It’s the result we have and we will work with that.”
In Lyon, Barcelona took 25 shots at goal but failed to beat Anthony Lopes.
The stopper did well to deny Messi in the second half, although Suarez fired off-target when well placed.
The Uruguayan had another chance when Messi’s volley flew in his direction but he could not head the ball in from close range.
Suarez has now failed to score away from home in the Champions League for over 24 hours, last doing so in September 2015, while he has scored one goal in his last 17 matches in the competition.
Memphis Depay had the chance to earn Lyon a famous victory but fired wide in the second half, while Lopes tipped over a long range effort from Sergio Busquets.
“It was a good performance. We were keen to get a good result but we lacked the goal that would have changed the sensation of the game,” said Barcelona defender Clement Lenglet.
“It’s good to have so many chances but you have to take them. When you have so many it means you’re playing well. It was a good game, we pressed well, but we lacked that precision.”
The second legs take place on March 13. — dpa
Muscat: Oman Football Association (OFA) has appointed Dutchman Erwin Koeman as the new head coach of the national football team for a two-year period.
The post was vacant after Dutch coach Pim Verbeek quit recently.
Earlier OFA held meeting held by the Board of Directors, headed by Salim bin Said Al Wahaibi, Chairman of the Board of Directors, to approve the appointment of Koeman.
Koeman was a midfielder for the Netherlands that won the Euro 88 and featured in the 1990 World Cup.
Koeman finished his playing career with Groningen in 1998 and became youth coach at PSV.
In May 2008, Koeman became the coach of the Hungary national football team and continued at the post until 2010.
SINGAPORE: Oil prices slipped away from 2019 highs on Wednesday, with surging US supply and slowing economic growth tempering upward pressure from supply cuts led by producer club Opec and from Washington’s sanctions on Iran and Venezuela.
US West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures hit 2019 highs of $56.39 per barrel on Wednesday but had slipped back to $56.16 per barrel by 0746 GMT, which was slightly above their last settlement.
International Brent crude futures were at $66.41 per barrel, down 4 cents from their last close, though still not far off their 2019 high of $66.83 per barrel, hit on Monday.
Oil prices have been supported by supply cuts led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec).
Opec-member and top crude exporter Saudi Arabia is expected to reduce shipments of light crude oil to Asia in March as part of the effort to tighten markets.
Opec as well as some non-affiliated producers such as Russia agreed late last year to cut output by 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) to prevent a large supply overhang from swelling.
“We have lowered Saudi crude oil output in line with announcements… (and) are now assuming that Saudi Arabia will produce in the first three quarters of 2019 less than the 10.31 million bpd target it agreed to at the December 7 Opec, non-Opec meeting,” French bank BNP Paribas said in a note. — Reuters
DUNEDIN, New Zealand: Tim Southee snared a six-wicket haul and Ross Taylor tore up the record books as New Zealand dominated Bangladesh to seal a 3-0 series whitewash with an 88-run victory in the final one-day international in Dunedin on Wednesday.
Sabbir Rahman’s gallant maiden ODI century saved Bangladesh from total humiliation after they lost three wickets with just two runs on the board chasing New Zealand’s imposing target of 331.
The tourists were 242 all out in 47.2 overs after the Black Caps were sent into bat and made 330 for six at University Oval.
It was final New Zealand outing before the Cricket World Cup and players were desperate to impress coach Gary Stead even though the fixture was a dead rubber.
Paceman Tim Southee, overlooked in New Zealand’s past six ODIs, took six for 65 to guarantee himself almost certainly a berth at the tournament.
Henry Nicholls looks to have secured an opening batting slot with a sparkling 64, but out-of-form rival Colin Munro was dismissed for eight.
“Henry’s shown he’s a versatile player for us… he’s a key component of our batting line-up,” Black Caps coach Gary Stead said, adding that Munro might make the trip as injury cover.
Ross Taylor became New Zealand’s highest-scoring one-day international batsman as his 69 off 81 balls took him past 8,000 runs in the 50-over format.
His 47th ODI half-century saw Taylor reach 8,026 runs, overtaking Stephen Fleming’s previous record of 8,007. The 34-year-old, who made his ODI debut in 2006, reached his milestone in 203 innings with a superb average of 48.34.
‘Got a few years left’
“I definitely would have taken that when I played my first match donkey’s years ago,” he said. “If you play long enough I guess these records come along but it’s nice to set the bar for the next guy. I’m still enjoying myself and hopefully I’ve still got a few years in me.”
Tom Latham pressed his claim for a World Cup spot with a solid 59 while Colin de Grandhomme and Jimmy Neesham both scored 37 as they seek all-rounder berths. — AFP
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Muscat: The Royal Oman Police detained a citizen for murdering an Omani woman in the Wilayat of Samail. The accused has been referred to the prosecution for further actions. said the Royal Oman Police
Musandam: The Royal Army of Oman (RAO), represented by the Musandam Security Force and the Sultan of Oman Parachutes (SOP), executed the Omani-British joint exercise (Mountain Storm) with the participation of British Royal Army units under the auspices of Maj Gen Matar bin Salem al Balushi, RAO Commander.
The joint training exercise took place at RAO the Mountain Areas Combat Training Unit in the Governorate of Musandam, where the Omani-British participating forces carried out the desired plans, in order to achieve the training objectives envisaged by the exercise activities, during which the participants showed a high level of performance and spirit.
The implementation of such exercises comes within the framework of the RAO training plan to maintain the high level of performance, training and combat efficiency among RAO personnel, as well as within the annual programmes implemented by the RAO with the friendly countries.
The joint Omani-British exercise was attended by Brig Naseer bin Nasser al Jamoudi, Commander of the Musandam Sector, Brig Simon Graham of the Royal British Forces, and a number of senior officers and officers from both sides. –ONA
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Muscat:Muscat Municipality’s food inspectors seized 33kg of bad food and 40 utensils from five restaurants in Ghala Industrial Area. Fines were slapped on the operators.
In another raid in Al Qurm, a firm was booked for running unlicensed store.