Khaleej Times brings you a recap of some of the hottest stories of the year.
What was in the news, you say?
When you look back at 2018, on a global scale, would you remember anything especially? Yes, Trump always had our attention. Yep, there was a FIFA World Cup this year – and don’t things look very different in France now than they did in July! Our point being, in case you’ve forgotten, we’re giving you a run through of events we reported about throughout the year. Not surprisingly, 2018 had somber news There were bombings, explosions shootings, natural disasters. Then there was stuff (hey Zuckerberg!) that wasn’t calamitous but significant nonetheless.
Royal wedding, check. Waiting now for the stork to land in 2019
May 18: Prince Harry and former American actress Meghan Markle (now the Duchess of Sussex) got married at Windsor Castle. About 600 guests attended. Markle wore a dress by British designer Clare Waight Keller and was walked down the aisle by Prince Charles (her father wasn’t at the wedding). In October we learnt the couple is expecting a baby in spring – seventh in line to the throne. The family of royals was kicked to bits. As the BBC reported, “The Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the Duchess of Cornwall are all said to be ‘delighted’ for the couple after learning of the pregnancy.”
Ambulance massacre in Kabul
January 23: A Taleban attacker driving an ambulance filled with explosives through Kabul killed 103 people and wounded 235 others. The attacker got through a security checkpoint near Kabul’s embassies and government buildings including the European Union consulates, after telling the police that he was taking a patient to the nearby Jamhuriat Hospital.
Spies in the family survive poison
March 4: Russian former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were discovered unconscious and poisoned on a bench in Salisbury, England. London pointed fingers at Moscow, and in September, issued arrest warrants for two Russian operatives for attempting to kill the Skripals. Moscow rejected all charges. Eventually, dozens of Western and Russian diplomats were expelled in tit-for-tat reprisals. New sanctions were brought against Russia. The Skripals survived. But in June, a British woman died after coming into contact with Novichok, a series of nerve agents, in a village outside Salisbury. Her partner fell gravely ill.
“I run Facebook… it was my mistake, and I’m sorry.”
April 4: We learnt that the information of 87 million Facebook users was improperly shared. Mark Zuckerberg testified before Congress during a marathon five-hour hearing fielding questions about Cambridge Analytica.
Malaysia swears in its oldest PM
May 10: Mahathir Mohamad, aged 92, became the world’s oldest prime minister. He previously served as prime minister (at age 56) from 1981 to 2003, the office’s longest-serving holder.
Trump abandons the Iran nuclear deal Obama made
May 8: President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the hard-won 2015 accord that limits Iran’s nuclear weapons programme in exchange for an easing of sanctions against the Islamic republic. He said the “one-sided deal” did not go far enough in preventing Iran from creating a nuclear bomb. The remaining parties to the accord – Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China – insisted Iran has abided by its commitments and vowed to keep the deal intact. In August, Washington reimposed a first wave of sanctions on Iran. In November, there was a second round.
The cost of a US embassy in Jerusalem
May 14: The United States opened its new embassy in Jerusalem, infuriating the Palestinians – who also claim the holy city as their capital – and flouting years of international policy. Clashes erupted on the border with Israel and the Palestinian territory of Gaza. Around 60 Palestinians were killed by Israeli gunfire.
Women in Saudi finally get a break
June 23: Saudi Arabia finally permitted women to drive, a first since 1957. It was the most visible of initiatives taken by the Saudi king and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman to strengthen the role of women. Manal al-Sharif started the campaign back in 2011. She was sent to prison after posting a YouTube video of herself driving. Some six million women, or 65 per cent of the female driving-age population, were expected to apply for their licence.
Epic handshake in Singapore…
June 12: Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un met, the first-ever meeting between the leaders of the two countries. In the past, they have exchanged taunts on Twitter. In person, they signed agreement which reaffirmed Pyongyang’s commitment to the “complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula”. But so far North Korea has taken few concrete steps to abandon its nuclear weapons, and the two sides have sparred over the meaning of the vaguely-worded agreement.
… and another rare meeting
April 27: Kim Jong-un crossed into South Korea to meet President Moon Jae-in. A historic event as this was the first time a North Korean leader crossed the Demilitarized Zone since its creation in 1953. In perhaps the only unscripted moment, Kim Jong-un invited Moon Jae-in to step over to the North Korea side, which he did. The moment was met with applause.
Kerala was drowning
August: Severe floods affected the south Indian state of Kerala, due to unusually high rainfall during the monsoon season. Over 483 people died in the worst flood in nearly a century. According to the Kerala government, one-sixth of the total population of Kerala had been affected.
Those brave kids in Thailand
July 10: There was a global sigh of relief when the last of the 12 young football players and their coach were rescued safely from a flooded cave in northern Thailand where they had been trapped 17 days earlier. The fate of the junior football team captured the world’s attention. US and British diving experts joined the rescue effort. A former Thai navy diver lost his life.
Another height scaled
August 2: Apple became become the world’s first public company to be worth $1 trillion. The iPhone maker’s market value reached the figure in New York and its shares closed at a new record high of $207.39.
France, two-time champions of footie world
July 15: France beat Croatia 4-2 in the 2018 FIFA World Cup, emerge as world champions. The player who stood out? Kylian Mbappe. He of the four crucial goals.
Sudan, last male rhino, died at 45
March 19: Sudan, the world’s last male northern white rhinocerous, died in Kenya. He was 45 years old and no longer able to stand up, so his veterinary team decided to euthanise him. Sudan was relocated in 2009 to Kenya along with two northern white rhino females: Najin and Fatu.
Imran Khan became Pakistan Prime Minister
August 8: Former cricketer and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader Imran Khan was sworn in as the 22nd Prime Minister of Pakistan in Islamabad. Khan made his cricket debut for Pakistan in 1976, and played until 1992. This year, Tehreek-e-Insaf won 116 won National Assembly seats. Imran won 176 against Shehbaz Sharif’s 96 votes and was elected Prime Minister.
Climate change deniers need to wake up
September 28: Over 1,940 people died after a major earthquake and tsunami hit the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. Hundreds of people had gathered for a festival on the beach in the city of Palu when waves as high as six metres crashed on to the shores at dusk and swept many to their deaths, following a 7.5 magnitude earthquake. At least 350,000 people lost their homes after water flooded the city.
Dancefloor diplomacy 2018
November 25: After 17 months of negotiations, the European Union and Britain agreed on an accord covering Britain’s exit from the bloc by March 2019. But British Prime Minister Theresa May on December 10 postponed a parliament vote, acknowledging it would be rejected. She survived an internal party no-confidence vote on December 12. Also, she danced in Cape Town. Wasn’t the only time.
A right winger took over Brazil
October 28: Latin America’s biggest country swerved to the right. Former army captain Jair Bolsonaro was elected as Brazil’s president. He’s known for homophobic comments, calls for looser gun laws, attacks on the left and praise for Brazil’s 1964-85 military dictatorship. During a virulent campaign and amid outbreaks of violence, Bolsonaro survived a stabbing in his stomach at a rally in September.
India: A unanimous verdict and a rainbow
September 5: India’s top court threw out the ban on gay sex in a landmark judgement that sparked celebrations across India and elsewhere in South Asia, where activists hoped to push for similar reform. A five-judge bench in India’s Supreme Court unanimously overturned the ban, causing countrywide celebrations, and the usual outcry among members of the extreme right.
They watched that space
November 26: Nasa’s InSight spacecraft landed on Mars to begin its two-year study of our neighboring planet’s core. It’s the first Nasa Mars landing since the Curiosity rover touched down in 2012. After a 300-million-mile journey, the lander touched down around 2:54 pm ET and sent a picture of its landing site.
California fires have never been so bad
In November, California was ravaged by its deadliest fire ever, with 85 people dying before it came under control after two weeks. The 2018 wildfire season was the most destructive and deadly wildfire season on record in California, with a total of 8,434 fires burning an area of 1,890,438 acres, the largest amount of burned acreage recorded in a fire season, as of December 6. The fires caused more than $3.5 billion (2018 USD) in damages, including $1.792 billion in fire suppression costs.
Fire in Rio destroys National Museum and priceless art
September 2 :A fire ravaged the stately, 200-year-old museum in Rio de Janeiro. Nobody was injured but it destroyed an archive of 20 million; 1.5 million items were stored in a separate building, which were not damaged. Since 2014, the museum had not received the R$ 520,000 per year necessary for its maintenance, and it closed temporarily in 2015 when cleaning and security staff could no longer be paid. Repairs to a popular exhibit hall had to be crowd-funded, and the museum’s maintenance budget had been cut by 90 per cent by 2018.
Lo and behold: Eritrea and Ethiopia stopped fighting
July 9: Horn of Africa neighbours Eritrea and Ethiopia ended their 20-year war. Embassies and borders reopened, flight links and trade ties were re-established. This happened after Ethiopia’s new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said in June that his government would drop claims to a disputed border territory.
France: and it was all yellow
November 17: Protests flared across France in opposition to rising fuel taxes and living costs, swelling into a movement against the policies of the government of President Macron. The “yellow vest” protests, named after the fluorescent safety jackets worn by protestors.
Long arm of the web
December 7: The UN’s International Telecommunication Union reported that by the end of 2018 more than half of the world’s population would be using the Internet.
Rahul Gandhi’s fab 1 year anniversary
December 11: India’s Congress Party made a comeback with a victory in three states (sweeping Chhattisgarh) marking party president Rahul Gandhi’s one year anniversary as party leader.
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