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 Wife Andrea will co-drive in French star’s new victory bid; Sunderland leads chase for bikes title

Stéphane Peterhansel, the most successful competitor in the history of cross country rallying, will take his place in a star-studded line-up for the 29th edition of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge powered by Nissan.

Driving an X-raid Mini John Cooper Works buggy the Frenchman, who has won the event five times as a driver and once as a rider, will be partnered by his wife, Andrea (née Andrea Mayer), who has previously finished the rally on two and four wheels and returns as a navigator for the first time.

They are among 119 competitors from 34 countries in the official entry list issued today by the Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE (ATCUAE), the rally organisers, who are now busily preparing for the start on Saturday (30 March) at Yas Marina Circuit, the event’s official HQ.

From there the next morning 80 cars, buggies, bikes and quads will set off for five spectacular desert stages across the giant dunes and sabka plains of the Al Dafrah Region.

Peterhansel, who won the Desert Challenge bikes title in 1996 and secured the last of his five cars victories in 2011, is among 39 drivers contesting the second round of the 2019 FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies for cars and buggies. The line-up includes 16 T1 prototype vehicles.

Heading the seedings list are the top two from this year’s FIA World Cup standings after the first round in Qatar, Saudi Arabia’s Yazeed Alrajhi in a Toyota Hillux Overdrive and Russia’s 2014 and 2015 Desert Challenge winner Vladimir Vasilyev in a BMW X3.

Czech defending champion Martin Prokop is back at the wheel of a Ford Raptor RS, Poland’s Jakub Przygonski returns to action in the Mini John Cooper Works Buggy which took him to a second victory in a row in the recent Dubai International Baja while the UAE’s Khalid Al Qassimi chases his second Desert Challenge triumph in his Abu Dhabi Racing Peugeot 3008 DKR.

Frenchman Cyril Despres, a five-times Desert Challenge bikes winner, drives another X-raid Mini John Cooper Works buggy while Yasir Seaidan in a Nissan Navara is one of five Saudis entered.
Another Saudi, Khaled Al Feraihi at the wheel of a Nissan Patrol Pick Up, will be aiming to succeed fellow-countryman Ahmed Al Shegawi as winner of the T2 production cars category.

Starting his 29th consecutive Desert Challenge in a Nissan Pick Up is Yahya Al Helei, one of five drivers carrying the UAE flag. Spain’s Jose-Luis Pena Campo returns to UAE action in a Polaris looking to retain his buggies title.

Sam Sunderland, the 2017 Desert Challenge bikes champion, is the top seed among 41 riders for the opening round of this year’s FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship.

His biggest challengers this time include last year’s third-placed Argentinian Kevin Benavides and his Honda team-mates Joan Barreda Bort of Spain and Chile’s Jose Cornejo, as well as KTM’s Argentinian rider Luciano Benavides and American Husqvarna rider Andrew Short.

Taking place under the patronage of HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Ruler’s Representative in Al Dafrah Region, the Desert Challenge is supported Abu Dhabi Aviation, Abu Dhabi Police, ADNOC, Al Ain Water, Al Dhafra Region Ruler’s Representative Court, National Ambulance, Nissan, United Arab Emirates Armed Forces and Yas Marina Circuit. The Nissan Patrol is the official car for the event.

The most celebrated competitor in Dakar Rally history, with six bikes triumphs between 1991-1998 and seven cars victories from 2004-2017, Peterhansel first competed with his wife beside him in the 2016 Italian Baja – while on honeymoon.

Like her husband, Andrea progressed from bikes to cars in cross country rallying, finishing sixth in the 2001 Desert Challenge on a KTM and fifth in a Mitsubishi Pajero in 2013, a year before securing a top ten Dakar finish.

“Stéphane and Andrea are great friends of the Desert Challenge and we’re very happy to welcome them back,” said ATCUAE President Mohammed Ben Sulayem, the FIA Vice President for Sport.

“They’re both fantastic competitors and it will be interesting to see how they complete as a team against some of the best driver / co-driver partnerships in the world.”

Following the 7.30pm ceremonial start at Yas Marina Circuit on Saturday, the powerful assembly of rally cars, buggies, bikes and quads heads out from Abu Dhabi for the first of five demanding desert stages in the Al Dafrah Region.

For five nights the 800-strong contingent of competitors, technicians, officials, medical staff, volunteers and media will be encamped at a purpose-built bivouac close to the Qasr Al-Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara. The event finishes at 5pm on Thursday 4 April back at Yas Marina Circuit which hosts the official prize giving the same evening.

Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge powered by Nissan, rally itinerary:

30 March:        Ceremonial start at Yas Marina Circuit – 7.30pm

31 March:        Yas Marina Circuit Stage 1 (261.97km) – starting 9am

1 April:            Al Ain Water Stage 2 (222.80km) – starting 6.00am

2 April:            Nissan Stage 3 (297.97km) – starting 6.15am

3 April:            ADNOC Stage 4 (286.10km) – starting 6.00am

4 April:            Abu Dhabi Aviation Stage 5 (214.47km) – starting 6.25am

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ATCUAE research, Al Ain Water stations help competitors fight off threat of dehydration

When Sam Sunderland sets off in pursuit of a second bikes crown in the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge Powered by Nissan, the British rider faces a number of battles over five days in the deserts of the UAE.

Taking place under the patronage of HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Ruler’s Representative in Al Dafrah Region, the Desert Challenge is also supported Abu Dhabi Aviation, Abu Dhabi Police, ADNOC, Al Dhafra Region Ruler’s Representative Court, National Ambulance, Nissan, United Arab Emirates Armed Forces and Yas Marina Circuit. The Nissan Patrol is the official car for the event.

Sunderland, winner in 2017 shortly after capturing the Dakar Rally title, will be up against the cream of cross country rallying talent in a line-up of 41 riders for the opening round of this year’s FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship.

None of them know the demanding terrain better than the KTM star for whom Dubai became his adopted home 10 years ago, and when the rally breaks out in to the Al Dafrah Region on Sunday morning, no-one will be better prepared for the gruelling test ahead.

For bike and quad riders, particularly the amateurs sharing the stage with the world’s best, the threat of dehydration is ever present in the desert heat, with many facing the exhausting task of digging themselves free from the soft sand traps along the five-day route from 31 March.

“All of our races are in extreme environments and it’s necessary to take care about your fluid and electrolytes, but I think most of the top riders have this under control,” said Sunderland, speaking from the KTM training camp in Morocco.

“It’s normally new riders that aren’t used to the heat or exertion for long periods of time that come unstuck. I’m in very good shape, which is important at the start of a new season, of course once you have won the race once it has to be your goal to do it again and that’s what I will be aiming for. We will just have to see how the strategy plays out without a prologue.”

Research carried out by the Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE, the rally organisers, in conjunction with Al Ain Water has spotlighted the risks, and effects of dehydration.

“It’s a very serious threat to both competitors and volunteers working in high temperatures,” said ATCUAE President Mohammed Ben Sulayem, the FIA Vice President for Sport. “Dehydration affects physical and mental performance, and even at low levels can have severe physiological effects. Side effects include poor concentration, co-ordination and reaction time and that can lead to accidents. So keeping competitors and volunteers hydrated is a major priority.”

With Al Ain Water stations set up along the five-day rally route, competitors, officials, and the volunteer marshals working out in the desert for hours on end never run short.

“This has been our mission for the past 14 years as the official supplier of Al Ain Water,” said Eng. Tariq Ahmed Al Wahedi, CEO, Agthia Group PJSC. “We’re proud of our record in making sure that everyone involved in the rally is properly hydrated throughout the five days.”

Runner up last year, Sunderland faces top opposition this time from a succession of factory team stars, including the rider who finished just behind him Argentinian Kevin Benavides and his Honda team-mates Joan Barreda Bort of Spain and Chile’s Jose Cornejo, as well as KTM’s Argentinian rider Luciano Benavides and American Husqvarna contender Andrew Short.

“I always tried to ride in the dunes the months before Abu Dhabi and it’s a very specific terrain and requires a different set up and riding technique than the other rallies,” said Sunderland. “We have just finished here in Morocco testing and training for Abu Dhabi.”

The Desert Challenge rider line-up has a family flavour, with the Dubai-based Irish father and son combination of David and William McBride trying to outdo each other again after William finished ahead in the recent Dubai International Baja.

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Make Mothers Day extra special with Anker

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  • Eye catching fun accessories to make your mum stand out and stay in touch

Mother’s Day is the perfect occasion to thank and celebrate our heroic mums who have loved and nurtured each member of the family unconditionally through good times and trying times. To ensure we stay in touch with our mothers through calls and make their lives easier, Anker introduces a selection of gadgets and accessories that will reflect our boundless appreciation to the queen of the house.

RoboVac 30C

Instead of cleaning the house, we would like to see our mothers relax with a cup of tea watching their favorite programmes or out for a walk to enjoy some fresh air. Stronger, slimmer, and the most convenient RoboVac to use, the RoboVac 30C makes a perfect gift for your mother as it comes with Wi-Fi, Amazon Alexa, and the Google Assistant-compatibility, meaning it is 100% hands-free cleaning.

The slim 2.85in profile glides under sofas and beds with super-strong 1500Pa suction power and three brushes that effectively cleans up dust and furs for up to 100 minutes, leaving the house spotless.

RoboVac uses drop-sensing technology to avoid falling down stairs and specialized dual-hall sensors detect Boundary Strips that ensures RoboVac only cleans the areas you want. Nine anti-collision infrared sensors helps RoboVac avoid bumping into obstacles and clean non-stop.

PowerCore II 10000 – White A1230H21

We often get anxious when we call our mums and their phone is off because they have run out of charge. What she needs is the sleek and ultra-compact 10000mAh portable charger that provides high-speed charging with PowerIQ 2.0.

Providing three phone charges with Anker’s new generation advanced smart-charging technology, the Powercore II adapts to your device’s unique charging protocol to deliver a tailored, blazing-fast charge. Mum’s can get fully charged up in between school runs in as little as 4 hours using a Quick Charge charger and stay in contact with the family all day long.

PowerLine II 3ft Lightning – red color A8453H91

Having frayed wires wrapped up amongst wallets and makeup in hand bags can be a drag for busy mums but with PowerLine II 3ft Lightning, the world’s most durable cable, worry about wires becomes alien as it is not only safe to use and walk around with but comes in a red colour that is easy to spot in the handbag and not easily mixed with the cables of other family members.
PowerLine’s cable tolerates being bent over 12000 times along with any knocks, drops, twists or yanks thrown at it. The MFi certification means total peace of mind because it is designed to work flawlessly with devices having a Lightning port. Lasting for an entire lifetime, it really will be a cable that helps keep you and your mum in touch at all times.

PowerCore+ 10050 – A1311H51 (Pink) and A1311HB1 (Gold)

Ladies like to have fun with colours when it comes to accessories. Anker’s high-speed, high-capacity portable charger, PowerCore+ 10050 – A1311H51 comes in pink while the A1311HB1 comes in gold for the woman on the go.

The small sized premium Aluminum Portable Battery Charger with Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 combines three distinct fast-charging technologies to ensure devices are charged in the shortest time possible and comes with a look that matches the most advanced phones and tablets.

Liberty Air

For mothers who like to be on the move without wires holding them down as they work out or enjoy music to wind down, Liberty Air is the answer – it is a true wireless in-ear headphones that comes with two built-in microphones with uplink noise cancellation and filters out ambient noises to ensure you sound crystal-clear even in noisy spaces.

The latest Bluetooth 5.0 technology and a FPC antenna create a rock-solid connection for skip-free music. One-Step Pairing ensures automatic connection to your mum’s device while a seamlessly concealed sensor in both the earbuds allows her to effortlessly answer calls or adjust music without reaching for the phone. The charging case provides a longer battery life on the go for the earphones.

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  • Power-packed show to have the likes of Sehwag, Harbhajan, McCullum, Russell, amongst others playing cricket over iB Cricket – The New Age VR Cricket
  • Viuers in India and Middle East will have live access to the league as it happens

Leading OTT video service Viu today announced the launch of the first of its kind virtual cricket tournament “iB Cricket Super Over League”. After Viu’s franchise show on cricket, “What The Duck,” which recently aired its third season, it is set to continue to entertain millennial and Gen Z audiences with yet another format with virtual gaming.

The show which is being produced by renowned Ashvini Yardi, founder of Viniyard Films, will see players compete against each other in a virtual reality setting of cricket. It promises to pack a punch with a legendary lineup of cricketers, both past and current, with the likes of Virender Sehwag, Brendon McCullum, Harbhajan Singh, Andre Russell, Suresh Raina, Herschelle Gibbs, Prithvi Shaw, Shubman Gill, Christopher Lynn, Mohammad Kaif, Tillakaratne Dilshan and VVS Laxman, playing it out between themselves in this completely fun-filled new format of cricket. The show will be hosted by famous television actress, Nia Sharma and witty cricket commentator Gautam Bhimani. That’s not just all, cricket fans are in for a treat as the game will soon be available in stores with the product being titled, “iB Cricket”.

Come Mid-March, this brand-new series, with 12 episodes, will be shown exclusively on Viu. Each episode will show two cricket stalwarts competing against each other, while the other cricketers give their comments and offer tips on how to play the game. There will be four teams competing for a slot in the playoffs and eventually the grand finale. The winner of the grand finale will win the coveted trophy and will be crowned winners of the first season of iB Cricket Super Over League. Viuers in India and Middle East will have live access to the league as it happens.

Speaking about the announcement of the show, Sameer Gogate, Head of distribution and monetization – Viu India, said, “We are very excited to offer Viu-ers and cricket lovers around the globe a fresh format to experience. This show is the perfect mix of two things Indians absolutely love – technology and sports. We’re launching this at a time when excitement for the game is at its all-time high and we expect the audience engagement for iB Cricket to map to this.”

Ashvini Yardi, Producer – Viniyard Films commented, “I have always wanted to associate with concepts that are unique and exciting. I am really proud to partner with Viu for this innovative show that is the stepping stone to a whole new world of shows based on Virtual Reality.”

Trivikram, Co-founder & CEO of ProYuga said “iB Cricket is built with a passion to realize every cricket fan’s dream of playing in world-class stadiums. It’s built as a virtual sport and is making its way into the gaming community swiftly. Many eminent cricket stars have played iB Cricket and are equally enjoying and appreciating this vSport which stands as a testimony to its immersiveness. ‘iB Cricket Super Over

League’ is definitely going to excite the cricket lovers. We are very pleased to work with Viu and we are confident that this season would give us a leap in our esports journey.”

Apart from this latest release, cricket fans have more shows to watch on Viu. The platform is the homeground for cricket comedy chat shows like What the Duck, Googlies and Virender Sehwag’s micro-original VirukeFunde.


Vuclip is a leading global technology-driven media company delivering on demand entertainment to emerging markets including India, Southeast Asia, Africa and the Middle East. As a PCCW Media Company, Vuclip properties include Viu, Vuclip Videos, Viu Life and Vuclip Games. Vuclip’s market success in on demand entertainment is built on its leadership at the intersection of technology, consumer insights and media. Run by a world class team, Vuclip, Inc. and affiliate companies are headquartered in Silicon Valley in the US and have a presence in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Mumbai, Delhi, Pune, Dubai and Jakarta.


Viu is a leading OTT Video service by PCCW and Vuclip available in 17 markets including Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Myanmar, South Africa and Middle East countries of UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar. Viu’s unique value proposition of fresh and localized regional and local premium TV shows, movies and originals entertains millions of consumers every day. Viu Originals bring to light compelling stories with world class production quality, also providing the opportunity for local talent to showcase their skills on a world stage. The service can be accessed via the Viu app available for free on the App Store and Google Play, on connected devices such as smartphones and tablets, as well as on the web at

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Lively Islamabad down Karachi to get a shot at HBL PSL final

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Islamabad United kept their hopes of defending the HBL PSL title alive with a hard fought four-wicket win over Karachi Kings in the Eliminator 1 at National Stadium, Karachi on Thursday.

Kings journey in the HBL PSL 2019 has ended with the side failing to get past the play-off stage for the fourth successive year.

Needing 18 off the last two overs and six in the last, Islamabad got four leg byes off Mohammad Amir to chase down a target of 162 in 19.3 overs before a full house at the National Stadium.

Karachi Kings spurned a brisk start of 61 runs in five overs as they lost eight wickets off 58 ball for 59 runs to derail from 102-1 to 161-9 in their 20 overs. Babar Azam (42), Colin Munro (32) and Liam Livingstone (30) were their main run getters.

The two times winners Islamabad (titles in 2016 and 2018) face Peshawar Zalmi in the Eliminator 2 on Friday. Quetta Gladiators have already qualified for the 17 March final.

Alex Hales (42-ball 41) had set the platform for a successful chase but Karachi Kings pulled that back to bring the target to 47 in the last four overs.

Asif Ali (10-ball 24 not out with two sixes and a four) benefited from a drop catch off the first ball of Amir Yamin’s penultimate over. Faheem Ashraf (eight-ball 17) helped Asif take 18 in the 18th over and 12 in the 19th to bring their team closer to the victory.

Yamin finished with 2-27.

Islamabad had lost Luke Ronchi early for just five before Cameroon Delport and Hales added 44 for the second-wicket. Delport wasted a good start as he lofted spinner Umer Khan straight into the hands of Babar Azam. He made 27-ball 38 with two sixes and four boundaries.

Umer, who finished with 2-16 in his four overs, further jolted Islamabad by dismissing Chadwick Walton for a second ball duck.

But Hussain hit a six off Umer’s last ball as he and Hales added 51 for the fourth-wicket but both fell in the same style, caught in the deep with 33 needed in the last three overs.

Hales, playing his first match this year after joining from England’s tour of the West Indies, was declared man-of-the-match.

“It was a tricky chase,” said Hales. “I thought that it was a belter of a wicket but it slowed down, Umer bowled very well. I knew that we have Hussain and Asif so they could take us to the win.”

Islamabad captain Mohammad Sami credited fight back in bowling.

“They were running away but our bowlers put them back and that became the turning point,” said Sami. “Chase is always difficult but all the players showed character and contributed.”

Karachi skipper Imad Wasim termed death bowling as the difference.

“We were 20-30 runs short and the difference was in both teams’ death bowling,” said Imad. “I think their bowlers bowled very well and pulled us back.”

It was a roller coaster innings for Karachi Kings who won the toss and opted to bat — only the second time in 32 matches in this HBL PSL that a team batted after winning the toss. It was also Karachi who batted against Multan Sultans in Dubai after winning the toss.

Colin Munro smashed three boundaries in Mohammad Sami’s first over as Karachi reached 50 in just 3.2 overs. Munro was finally caught behind off Mohammad Musa for 32 which came off just ten balls, spiced with six boundaries and a six.

Liam Livingstone (25-ball 30 with a six and three fours) and Babar took the total to 78 in the Power-Play, equaling the highest in all HBL PSL Power-Plays of Multan against Lahore Qalandars in Dubai this year.

Karachi reached 100 in 10 overs but then Shadab Khan pulled them back with 11 runs in the first two overs and then had Livingstone caught in the deep.

Babar fell in the 12th over as he edged Rumman Raees but it was only on Shadab’s insistence that skipper Sami took a review which proved Shadab was right in his judgment.

Colin Ingram threatened with his 15-ball 23 (two fours and a six) but the innings fell apart once he was caught off a miscued pull off Musa who finished with 3-42.

Islamabad United beat Karachi Kings by four wickets in HBL PSL Eliminator 1

Brief Scores:

Karachi Kings 161-9 in 20 overs (Babar Zaman 42, Colin Munro 32, Liam Livingstone 30; Mohammad Musa 3-42)

Islamabad United  164-6 in 19.3 overs (Alex Hales 41, Cameron Delport 38, Umer Khan 2-16)

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  • Tickets on sale now for four performances only April 24 – April 27, 2019

Chicago Theater Works is pleased to announce a limited run engagement of  EXPOSED starring Leslie Jordanstarting Wednesday, April 24th through Saturday, April 27th at 8:00pm. The theater is located at 1113 W. Belmont Avenue in the Belmont Theater District.

Jordan, an Emmy Award-winning actor and comedian, is best known for his standout roles in “Sordid Lives,” “American Horror Story,” “The Help” and as Beverly Leslie on NBC’s  hit series, “Will & Grace.”  He is also now playing a leading role in the new comedy series, “The Cool Kids” on FOX.

“We are thrilled to continue to expand the offerings at Chicago Theater Works,” says Bill Collins, General Manager of the venue.  “Leslie Jordan’s personal and hilarious stories will have guests captivated from the moment he walks onstage.  And the charming surroundings of Chicago Theater Works makes the experience all the more intimate.”

Mr. Jordan has been entertaining guests for over four decades.  In EXPOSED, Leslie invites his audience behind-the-scenes of his childhood and career.  His memoirs include his life experience as a flamboyant youth raised as a Southern Baptist as well as his treasured anecdotes from his renowned stage and television performances.  His show is laughter-inducing but at times also comes with a hint tears.

Tickets for EXPOSED are priced at $50 for Reserved Cabaret Table Seating and $35 for General Admission.  A full bar is available for beverage purchases.

For high resolution photos and a full bio for Leslie Jordan, please visit:

Tickets for Leslie Jordan may be purchased online at:

EXPOSED Performance Schedule:

Wednesday, April 24           8:00pm

Thursday, April 25                8:00pm

Friday, April 26                      8:00pm

Saturday, April 27                 8:00pm

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  • In Advance of the Final Season of Game of Thrones, Fans Will Be Able to Take a Trip to Westeros and Live Their Ultimate Fandom Fantasies

The countdown to Game of Thrones’ eighth season premiere is on, and Replay Lincoln Park, 2833 N. Sheffield, Chicago’s favorite arcade bar, has announced it will extend its most ambitious transformation to date, a Game of Thrones pop-up experience for fans to enjoy in advance of the final season. Admission to the pop up is free, but guests may purchase a VIP Bucketlist Experience, which includes a glass of Ommegang Witte, Ommegang King in the North or Queen of the Seven Kingdoms or $10 towards a beverage of choice, a commemorative print, a commemorative t-shirt and express entry to the bar for $30.

Filled with charismatic-but-flawed warriors, ruthless monarchs, and a whole bunch of wonderful, likable, good-hearted characters that are sure to be killed off in heartbreaking fashion, Replay has been transformed into the seven kingdoms of Westeros, providing guests a variety of photo opportunities. Fans can explore Winterfell, Casterly Rock, Highgarden and other houses, take pictures with Dire Wolves, a Dragon-Slaying Ballista and more, in addition to the original Throne Room, the Wall of Faces, White Walkers and majestic dragons.

With the pop-up extension, Replay is hosting a variety of Game of Thrones events, including:

  • Game of Thrones Trivia: 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Sunday, March 17.
  • “For the Throne” Ommegang beer release: Ommegang is hosting an official beer release and raffling off prizes at 8 p.m. Thursday, March 28.
  • Cosplay Karaoke: For the duration of the pop up, guests are invited to show up in cosplay, sing a song, and get a t-shirt. Karaoke kicks off Wednesday, March 20.
  • Crimson Wedding Feast: Guests are invited to experience a Crimson Wedding Feast, featuring bottomless Ommegang beers, Dornish wine and cider from 7 – 9 p.m. Sunday, March 31. Tickets to participate are $60 and may be purchased here.
  • The Wight Walk 5k: On Saturday, April 6 at 11:30 a.m., Replay will host a 5k race from Oak Street Beach to Replay Lincoln Park. Guests are invited to choose between being on team Zombie or Human, receive a t-shirt, a free beer, and some protein packed dragon jerky upon their arrival at the pop-up. Tickets to participate can be purchased for $25 here.
  • Game of Thrones Bingo: Cersei will host a free, themed Bingo at 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 3. Guests can enjoy themed prizes, challenges, and Game of Thrones swag.
  • A Thong of Ice and Fire Remount: With a new cast and several new Game of Thrones-themed performances, Replay is hosting its second Burlesque show at 8 p.m. Thursday, April 11.
  • Finale Preshow Party!: Guests are invited to join Replay on Sunday, April 14 to toast the new season and petition George R. R. Martin to complete the book he’s been working on for literally eight years in the only language he understands – a screed hand-written on a gigantic scroll! Replay artists have handcrafted a wonderful petition that guests can sign before it is strapped to a flock of ravens and dropped in Martin’s P.O. box.

Specialty cocktails, including a “Dothaquiri” and mead on tap are available throughout the pop-up, and the bar is also collaborating with Ommegang Brewery, offering limited quantities of their exclusive King in the North (barrel aged stout), Queen of Seven Kingdoms (sour blond ale), Hand of the Queen (barleywine) and Mother of Dragons (smoked porter blended with cherry kriek).

Replay Lincoln Park’s Pop Up Squad, a group of artists that create the concept, décor and artistic elements of Replay’s popular pop-ups, is behind the design for the Game of Thrones pop-up. The team for the pop-up includes Jeremy Steffen, Raquel Hung, Luis Colindres, Tom Molloy, Tristan Young and Adam Michaels with the help of special guest artists Hokulani Cabebe, Bryn Gleason, Olivia Love and Justin Jezewski.

Replay offers guests over 60 free vintage arcade games, including pinball, air hockey and more. They also have skeeball and billiards. With no cover or tokens needed, Replay invites guests for great fun 5 p.m. – 2 a.m. Monday – Thursday, Friday 3 p.m. – 2 a.m., 12 p.m. – 3 a.m. Saturday, and 12 p.m. – 2 a.m. Sunday.

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The city of lights has lit up with HBL PSL

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  • “I have not seen such scenes before and enjoyed the moment to the hilt,” says Colin Ingram
  • “When you walk up to the wicket, there are so many people who love the game as I do and that’s very special,” says Shane Watson

The official capacity of the National Stadium is around 32,400. Since the Pakistan-leg matches of the HBL Pakistan Super League 2019 have moved to Karachi, the glamorous city of lights, five matches have been played and each match has seen almost a full-house. Same is the story for the remaining three matches, including the 17 March final (Eliminator 2, 15 March and Final sold-out).

What a great story it is for the game, a proud nation and the league, which has become one of the most followed leagues in the world in a very short span of time.

The Pakistan-leg matches started on Saturday and even on working days of Monday and Wednesday, people thronged the stadium and created a buzz which has matched last year’s final in the city of the Father of the Nation.

The Government of Sindh had declared the HBL PSL days as “Festival of cricket” and as soon as the teams started to descend on the city from March 6, the festival began. All the teams have been warmly greeted and well looked after, something which has been acknowledged, applauded and appreciated by all the players.

“I love cricket”, was the theme of these matches with walls and hoardings spreading the message throughout the nook and corner of the city. Life size cut-outs of most of the famous cricketers from all six teams adorned the city, leading up to the National Stadium.

The refurbished National Stadium stands have given a wonderful look with some parts filled with the supporters of one team and the other with the rival teams, supporters have chanted slogans to back their players and teams all in an incredibly friendly manner.

The spectators, dressed in all sorts of stunning and attractive attires, have been dancing to the rocking music tunes and enjoying to the core, and time and again reflecting their love for cricket, peace, solidarity and one sport one nation philosophy.

“I am hugely impressed with the changes at the National Stadium,” PCB Managing Director Wasim Khan said, adding: “The fans are symbolic of the vibrancy and passion of the real Pakistan – they are the lifeblood of the game. They have turned up in their thousands from all over the country, to support their teams. There is no clearer message to the world with regards to what the HBL PSL and cricket in general means to the nation.”

“This is highly enjoyable,” said Sameena Ahmed, a student of near-by Economics College who had come with her parents. “I went to see Shahid Afridi’s match and had a lifetime experience when he came close to our stand and I got a selfie with him. These are wonderful moments of our lives as cricket has come back to our city in a big way.”

When action began on Saturday evening, the crowd at the National Stadium was at its feet and got their money’s worth when South Africa’s Cameroon Delport hit the second century of the season four off just 49 balls. The local boy Asif Ali further enthralled the crowd with a quickfire 17-ball half-century during his knock of 55 not out laced with half a dozen sixes.

The buzz on Sunday was even more enchanting as local team Karachi Kings outlasted Quetta Gladiators by one-run in a last-ball thriller.

Fans were on the edges of their seats, chanting “Karachi, Karachi” in a cacophony with high-pitch music creating an atmosphere which people had not witnessed for years.

It reached a crescendo when fast bowler Usman Shinwari defended three off the last ball. Home team’s one-run-win was celebrated throughout the city as if they had won the league.

All the 43 foreign players who are in Karachi were amazed, if not spellbound.

“It was amazing,” said Karachi’s vice-captain Colin Ingram. “I have not seen such scenes before and enjoyed the moment to the hilt.”

Australia’s all-rounder Shane Watson must have realized what he had missed by not coming to Pakistan for the last two HBL PSL seasons in 2017 and 2018. This time around, he changed his mind and admitted he was caught up in the love of the game.

“It’s very special to be here,” said Watson. “I am really caught up in the love of the game of cricket. That is as simple as it is.  When you walk up to the wicket, there are so many people who love the game as I do and that’s very special.

“It’s incredibly special to be able to play in front of incredible atmosphere and fans. There is no question since I arrived in Karachi, I am enjoying. The people of Pakistan are warm and welcoming as I have experienced them whether they are in Australia or anywhere in the world.

“To be able to play in this atmosphere is great and I would always cherish the opportunity.”

Despite being a working day, Monday saw almost a full-house at the National Stadium. Naturally, because Pakistan’s most popular cricketer Shahid Afridi was in action. It was the only match Shahid featured in as his team bowed out in the first round. The stadium was filled to capacity in the second game on the double-header Monday as Kamran Akmal’s 86 inspired Peshawar Zalmi to a 61-run win over the Kings.

Wednesday saw the Qualifier and no wonder the stadium was filled to capacity, an hour before the start of the match.

Quetta’s opener Watson gave crowd moments to savour with his lusty hitting during his match-winning knock of 71. The crowd responded to the call of the announcer as he called, “Shane” and the crowd followed it with the chants of “Watson”.

Fans were on the beck and call of the announcer as they opened the torches of their mobile and moved it as per the orders, a routine sight every day.

It will be a double joy for the fans on Thursday when local team Karachi takes on defending champions Islamabad United in Eliminator 1. The local support is likely to inspire the Karachi team and if they win, the home fans will have another party come Friday when Peshawar Zalmi will be their next opponents.

The climax is expected on Sunday, the day when the champions of the HBL PSL 2019 will be decided in the final. Tickets are already sold-out as a royal battle is expected.

Whoever wins the HBP PSL 2019, the winner remains Pakistan cricket, the fans and the nation.

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  • The sport has seen significant growth in key markets including conference host Germany
  • Member Board figureheads challenged to ‘Lead the game like it has never been led before”

‘Lead the game like it has never been led before‘ was the action call in Munich this week, as 30 cricketing nations of the ICC joined forces to continue to build momentum for the sport across the continent.

Germany which hosted the three-day conference, is one of cricket’s success stories having seen significant development, expanding from 80 cricket teams in 2012 to 350 today. The main focus of the conference was to consider how to meet the increased appetite for the sport in Europe and the role each national federation can have in driving more people to play the game.

The conference provided an environment for collaboration and how the region can unite to support each other in achieving their individual and collective strategic goals.  The conference introduced new ICC products and services to all countries to help them reach new audiences.

ICC Regional Development Manager, Ed Shuttleworth who heads up the ICC team in Europe was delighted with the conference. “It has been a real privilege to witness ICC European Members unite, inspire and commit to leading the game like it has never been led before.

“We are in an exciting period of growth for the sport in our region and we believe that collaboratively we can reach new audiences and engage a new generation of cricket enthusiasts.”

Deutscher Cricket Bund, Vice President, Monika Loveday said, “On the back of the hugely successful ICC Cricket World Cup Trophy Tour driven by Nissan in Germany it was our pleasure to host the ICC Development Conference Europe in Munich this week.  The DCB would like to thank all of the participants for coming to Germany and contributing so positively to an extremely productive conference.”

Serbian Cricket Federation, General Secretary, Haris Deutsch said, “I’m looking forward to bring the fresh ideas and energy from the European meeting to my Board and to make sure that 2019 will be the year of development for cricket in Serbia. The basis on how I will lead will be marked with openness and more inclusive ideas.”

Cricket Finland, Operations Director, Maija Scamans said, “I will aim to lead the direction that Cricket Finland is heading with clarity and passion for the sport and the community. We have a big emphasis on women’s cricket and 2019 will be the focus of this in Finland.”

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The S Hotel Al Barsha to Debut at Arabian Travel Market

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  • UAE is set to welcome 8.92 million visitors from top five source markets by 2023

Dubai-based hotel chain The S Hotel Al Barsha has confirmed its participation in Arabian Travel Market 2019, the international travel and tourism event unlocking business potential within the Middle East for inbound and outbound tourism professionals. The event will run from April 28 to May 1, 2019 at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Shailesh Grover, General Manager of The S Hotel Al Barsha, said: “We are glad to take part in Arabian Travel Market.  As the region’s leading travel fair, ATM offers us a fabulous platform to introduce and showcase our first The S Hotel in the Middle East, The S Hotel Al Barsha.”

“As the global meeting place for the travel trade, it is a must for us to be present. We are excited to meet our peers, share ideas with trade professionals as well as investors and developers. We also have a unique opportunity to touch base with our key partners who have been supporting the inbound traffic and to get the right mix of business share in the ensuing period.”

A recent research report released by Arabian Travel Market ahead of the major event reveals that the UAE is set to welcome 8.92 million visitors from top five source markets by 2023. The report says that the country’s top three source markets for inbound tourism are India, KSA and UK. The number of Indian visitors travelling to the UAE will increase at a CAGR of 7% to 3.01 million in 2023, while arrivals from Saudi Arabia and the UK will witness an increase of 2% and 1% to 1.76 million and 1.28 million respectively over the same period.

“Our marketing efforts are geared towards attracting guests from these high-growth segments. Our focus is to get a bigger slice of the inbound tourists from India, KSA, UK, China and Russia. We’re also targeting the GCC & Middle East, Southeast Asia, Far East Asia, Europe and Latin America,” Grover explains.

It is the first-time for The S Hotel Al Barsha to participate in ATM. The UAE-based hospitality group recently had its grand opening and media launch of its first four-star property in Dubai in February 2019. It is quickly emerging as a preferred accommodation among the regional hospitality brands with 70% occupancy rate for its first three months of operation.

The midscale property features 234 well-equipped rooms, 12 stylish suites, three distinctly themed restaurants and a first-class spa with a relaxing and modern ambience.

“With the robust growth of tourism and the UAE government’s full support as well as the Expo 2020 next year, it is the right time to grow our midscale properties. Under S Hotel, we have upcoming properties

that are being built in key locations in the UAE & GCC which are in line with our aggressive expansion strategy. Though we are just starting our foray into hospitality we have seen a positive response from our guests, coming from business and leisure travelers,” Grover adds.

The S Hotel Al Barsha combines world-class facilities with the very best in Middle Eastern charm and hospitality. The hotel looks forward to welcoming its trade partners and business associates and have them experience a touch of local culture and warm hospitality.

World-class tourism destinations from around the world will showcase a diverse range of accommodation options, breath taking tourism attractions, travel technology and key airline routes at Arabian Travel Market.

To know more about The S Hotel Al Barsha, please call (+971) 4 871 2222 or email

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World Chambers Federation Chair calls for new solutions to address climate change impact on global trade

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  • Speaking at the 5th ICC Asia Pacific CEO Forum in Jakarta, WCF Chair H.E. Hamad Buamim says public and private sector stakeholders should align their efforts on climate change to maxmise their impact

Jakarta, Indonesia: Climate change is having a clear and direct economic impact on a global level and this pressing issue requires solutions and actions from all segments of the global community, including chambers of commerce, and public and private sector stakeholders, according to H.E. Hamad Buamim, Chair of the ICC – World Chambers Federation and President and CEO of Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry.

H.E. Buamim made the comments during a panel discussion entitled “Transforming the Future: Trade and Climate Change” that took place at the 5th ICC Asia Pacific CEO Forum which was held recently in Jakarta, Indonesia.

During the discussion, H.E. Buamim noted that consequences resulting from climate change are being felt in several economic sectors, including international trade, transport, tourism, and agriculture where rising sea levels and extreme weather conditions have had a direct impact on supply and demand, while environmental and infrastructure damage have also been identified as related issues.

Considerable headway has been made in achieving the targets of the Paris Climate Agreement which the UAE ratified in 2016. H.E. Buamim explained, adding that the agreement served as a catalyst for boosting global cooperation in tackling environmental challenges and developing sustainable solutions to address such obstacles.

“There is always room for improvement and more should be done on the part of the international community in adopting a more holistic approach to tackling climate change. Several studies have concluded that even ambitious emission targets can be achieved through the use of existing technologies and practices” said H.E. Buamim.

Some of these technologies that have been proven to be effective include energy efficient transport, green buildings and industry; switching to zero or low-carbon energy technologies; reducing deforestation and improving land and farming management practices; and improving waste management, he pointed out. H.E. Buamim called for removing barriers to the trade of environmentally friendly goods and services, stressing that the ICC – World Chambers Federation has played an active role by making policy recommendations that promote sustainable development and growth.

The panel was moderated by Nikolaus Schultze, ICC Global Policy Director and joined by H.E. Buamim; John W.H. Denton AO, ICC Secretary General; Ilham Akbar Habibie, President, ICC Indonesia; and Mari E. Pangestu, President United In Diversity Foundation.

World Chambers Federation (WCF) is ICC’s unique and truly global forum uniting the global network of 12,000 chambers and their respective business communities. As well strengthening links among chambers, WCF also helps individual chambers become more productive.

As a non-political, non-governmental body, WCF is the backbone of the chamber community providing a platform for chamber leaders to communicate and collaborate with each other on matters of mutual interest and facilitating beneficial partnerships.

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Culinary experiences at Armani/Ristorante

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Take it alfresco at Armani/Ristorante

Stop by for sundowners, dinner or a nightcap this season and enjoy a premium view plus signature al fresco Italian hospitality on the Armani/Ristorante terrace. Now open from 5pm to 1am daily, make an evening of it and relax in Armani Casa-designed comfort while sampling bespoke cocktails and award-winning cuisine against a backdrop of exclusive fountain views.

Date: Daily

Time: 5pm – 1am

Price: À la carte

Cook like a master at Armani/Ristorante

Learn a new skill or sharpen your existing culinary knowledge with a season of weekend master classes at Armani/Ristorante led by our gourmet guru, Chef Federico Sanna. This March, learn to recreate a five-star asparagus-inspired menu and moving into April, get creative with seafood salad, duck bacon, and lamb ribs.

Date: Asparagus – 16 March 2019 and Easter – 21 April 2019

Time: 11.30am – 3.30pm

Price: AED 700 per person and AED 1200 per couple, includes four-course lunch with pairing beverages

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