Ronaldo makes history as Portugal beat Ghana 3-2

The Portuguese star has become the first male player to score in five World Cups.
 
Cristiano Ronaldo became the first male player to score in five World Cups as Portugal opened its campaign against Ghana, the lowest-ranked team in the tournament.

Despite his recent struggles and controversies at the club level, Ronaldo spectacularly led the line for his national team in the game on Thursday, which ended in a 3-2 victory for Portugal.


After a scoreless first half, Ronaldo converted from the spot in the 65th minute to give Portugal a 1-0 lead against Ghana.

Ghana’s Andre Ayew then scored an equaliser, after which Portugal got two goals in quick succession to make the score 3-1. A goal by Ghana’s Osman Bukari made it 3-2 in the 89th minute.

Portugal’s victory puts the team at the top of Group H ahead of their next match against Uruguay on Monday. Ghana’s next match is against South Korea on Monday.

( curtesy Al Jazeera)

Saudi Arabia jubilant after World Cup win over Argentina, declares public holiday

Saudi Arabia has said Wednesday will be a national holiday as on the Jeddah Corniche by the Red Sea, in the heart of the capital Riyadh and in towns and villages across the country its seismic 2-1 World Cup win over Lionel Messi’s Argentina was celebrated as a coming of age.

The national football side’s remarkable victory is being seen as both a triumph on the pitch and an epochal moment on a global stage, where a regional power has long sought a place in the spotlight.

Outsiders against an Argentine team on a 36-match winning streak surely delivered that and, on Tuesday afternoon and evening, it was all that mattered to Saudi leaders and the fans who circled public squares in convoys of cars, waving the country’s green flag and proclaiming a new era of international football.

The public holiday will be for all state employees “and the private sector, and male and female students in all educational stages” the government announced on Tuesday evening.

“We are so happy about the result. It was an exceptional match from our falcons,” said Ghassan Alwan, 42, marketing director at the Saudi Ministry of Housing. “Our faith in our players was in the right place. We wrote history tonight.”

“Incredible, massive, amazing, fantastic,” added Abdulrahman Abed, a sports editor. “Congratulations to everyone. This means a lot to every Saudi. This will give a huge boost to every Arabic team in the World Cup.”

Euphoria reached the inner circle of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who was pictured embracing his brothers after the full-time whistle, as well as sports cafes and public parks across the country.

Universities were given the afternoon off for students to watch the game. City streets were almost abandoned. Women joined men in many cafes and restaurants – a new phenomenon in the desert kingdom – to take in the most unlikely of victories.

“What an amazing win for the Saudi national team,” said Adel Al-Akeely, a Riyadh doctor. “There’s a lot that’s been changing in our country, many new achievements and an ambitious drive to become the best that we can be. Moments like this materialise these changes and remind you of how proud we are of our youth.

Saudis have long bristled at the notion that a love of sports and a keenness to attract global events amounted to image laundering, with many sports fans insisting that they too wanted to experience international competition and pitch their national teams into the mix.

Ahead of the match, Prince Mohammed told the national team: “All I want to tell you is stay relaxed, play your game and do your thing.” Few believed that this was just another game, however. In a country battered by criticism over human rights and geopolitical positions, this was a nation-building moment, a chance to turn a political tide.

After full-time, regional rivals embraced the Saudi win. Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, tweeted congratulations. Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, meanwhile, briefly draped himself in the Saudi flag – an image that put to rest five years of enmity in the lead-up to the World Cup, in which Prince Mohammed had boycotted Qatar and severed ties.

That row is now firmly over and the Saudi victory was being received around the region as an achievement the Arab world could swing in behind. In South America, though, the reaction was markedly different.

There was shock and despair in Argentina as the final whistle went nearly 14,000km away in Qatar. The Argentinian football magazine Olé lamented what it called “a world-wide whammy”.

The newspaper Clarín said Argentina’s players had suffered “a historic walloping” after becoming “entangled in Saudi Arabia’s spider’s web”.

“Incredible,” Olé announced beside a photograph of Lionel Messi cradling his face in his hands.

The football writer Diego Macias called the result “a hammer blow … the likes of which will leave a long-lasting mark”.

“Argentina lost much more than a game against Saudi Arabia,” Macias wrote. “It forgot its footballing principles in the changing room and began the World Cup in the worst possible way.”

In neighbouring Brazil, fans rejoiced over their arch footballing rival’s dismal performance. A reworked version of Argentina’s triband flag – in which the yellow sun at the centre wept uncontrollably – went viral on social media.

“What an embarrassment, Argentina,” tweeted the football commentator Luis Felipe Freitas.

Brazilian newspapers pronounced Argentina the World Cup’s first “zebra” – a Portuguese expression that roughly translates as an unfathomable upset. “Pigs flew!” said Rio’s O Globo newspaper.

Allies of Brazil’s far-right president Jair Bolsonaro, meanwhile, blamed the fiasco on Argentina’s leftist leaders.

“Socialism in Argentina has shattered the behaviour of its citizens to such an extent that they lost to Saudi Arabia in the cup,” tweeted the congressman and broadcaster Bibo Nunes. “What you get with socialism/communism is a wasteland.”

FIFA World Cup Shocker: Saudi Arabia crush mighty Argentina 2-1

Saudi Arabia shocked the football world Tuesday (22) when they defeated 2-time world champions Argentina 2-1 in the FIFA World Cup at Lusail Stadium, Qatar.

Saudi Arabia had never beaten Argentina before and the South Americans looked set to extend their domination when star Lionel Messi opened the scoring when he converted a penalty in the 10th minute of the game.

Argentina almost made it 2-0 in the 27th minute. However, an attacking player was found offside and the goal by Lautaro Martines was disallowed. At half-time Argentina led 1-0.

The Saudis came back strong in the second half and equalized with a Saleh Alshehri goal in the 48th minute.

Salem Aldawsari then scored in the 53rd minute for Saudi Arabia to take the lead in the game and held on until the end.

Australia’s David Warner considers Test retirement after next year’s Ashes

Australia opener David Warner has hinted he will quit test cricket after next year’s Ashes series in England but plans to continue playing white-ball cricket at least until the 2024 Twenty20 World Cup.

Defending champions Australia could not make the last four in the home T20 World Cup, which England won on Sunday, and it was a particularly subdued tournament for Warner.

“Test cricket will probably be the first one to fall off,” Warner said on Triple M’s Deadset Legends show.

“Because that’s how it will pan out. The T20 World Cup is in 2024, (one-day) World Cup next year.

“Potentially it could be my last 12 months in Test cricket.”
“But I love the white-ball game; it’s amazing.”

Australia’s test schedule next year includes trips to India and England before they return to India for the 50-overs World Cup.

West Indies and the United States co-host the 20-overs World Cup in 2024.

Australia could potentially lose Warner and fellow batter, Usman Khawaja, next year when both would turn 36.

Warner endured a horrid run in the home T20 World Cup with three single-digit scores followed by 25 against Afghanistan though he remains a sought-after name in franchise cricket.

“T20 cricket – I love the game. I will be looking to get to 2024,” the left-handed batter said.

“For all those people saying I am past it and a lot of those old people are past it, look out. Be careful what you wish for.”

Australia will engage with West Indies in a two-test home series beginning on Nov. 30, before hosting South Africa for three tests and an equal number of one-day internationals.

Prizemoney distribution confirmed for T20 World Cup teams

England will receive USD 1.6 million as prize money after beating Pakistan in the T20 World Cup 2022 final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) on Sunday.

The thrilling T20 event came to a thrilling climax at the MCG over the weekend and just how the total prize pool of $5.6 million will be distribution among the teams is now known.

While Jos Buttler's victorious side will receive the highest amount, all 16 teams will be rewarded for their efforts in Australia with a payout.

Runners-up Pakistan will receive exactly half the amount that England got ($800,000), while the two losing semi-finalists - India and New Zealand - will collect $400,000 apiece.

The eight teams that exited at the Super 12 stage will receive $70,000 each. Like last year at the ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2021, a win in each of the 30 games in the Super 12 phase is worth $40,000 to each team.

The four teams that were knocked out in the first round - UAE, Scotland, Namibia and West Indies - will get $40,000 each, but each side will also receive an additional $40,000 for each win they picked up during the First Round.

The eight teams (Australia, Sri Lanka, Ireland, Afghanistan, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Netherlands, Bangladesh) that exited in the Super 12 stage will take home USD 70,000. Every win in the Super 12s is worth an additional USD 40,000.

Accordingly, the value of the total prize money received by the Sri Lankan team in this year's World Cup is USD 230,000.

The four teams (West Indies, Namibia, Scotland, UAE) that were knocked out in the first round will receive USD 40,000 each, with an additional USD 40,000 for every victory registered during the round.

Donald Trump announces he is running for president in 2024

Former President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he will mount a third White House campaign, launching an early start to the 2024 contest. The announcement comes just a week after a disappointing midterm showing for Republicans and will force the party to decide whether to embrace a candidate whose refusal to accept defeat in 2020 sparked an insurrection and pushed American democracy to the brink.

“In order to make America great and glorious again, I am tonight announcing my candidacy for president of the United States,” Trump said to an audience of several hundred supporters, club members and gathered press in a chandeliered ballroom at his Mar-a-Lago club, where he stood flanked by more than 30 American flags and banners bearing his “Make America Great Again” slogan. “I am running because I believe the world has not yet seen the true glory of what this nation can be.”

“We will again put America first,” he added.

Another campaign is a remarkable turn for any former president, much less one who made history as the first to be impeached twice and whose term ended with his supporters violently storming the Capitol in a deadly bid to halt the peaceful transition of power on Jan. 6, 2021.

Trump enters the race in a moment of political vulnerability. He hoped to launch his campaign in the wake of resounding GOP midterm victories, fueled by candidates he elevated during this year’s primaries. Instead, many of those candidates lost, allowing Democrats to keep the Senate and leaving the GOP with a path to only a bare majority in the House.

Far from the undisputed leader of the party, Trump is now facing criticism from some of his own allies, who say it’s time for Republicans to look to the future, with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis emerging as an early favorite White House contender.

The former president is still popular with the GOP base. But other Republicans, including former Vice President Mike Pence, are taking increasingly public steps toward campaigns of their own, raising the prospect that Trump will have to navigate a competitive GOP primary.

He’s launching his candidacy amid a series of escalating criminal investigations, including several that could lead to indictments. They include the probe into dozens of documents with classified markings that were seized by the FBI from Mar-a-Lago and ongoing state and federal inquiries into his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

But Trump, according to people close to him, has been eager to return to politics and try to halt the rise of other potential challengers. Aides have spent the last months readying paperwork, identifying potential staff and sketching out the contours of a campaign that is being modeled on his 2016 operation, when a small clutch of aides zipping between rallies on his private jet defied the odds and defeated far better-funded and more experienced rivals by tapping into deep political fault lines and using shocking statements to drive relentless media attention.

Even after GOP losses, Trump remains the most powerful force in his party. For years he has consistently topped his fellow Republican contenders by wide margins in hypothetical head-to-head matchups. And even out of office, he consistently attracts thousands to his rallies and remains his party’s most prolific fundraiser, raising hundreds of millions of dollars.

But Trump is also a deeply polarizing figure. Fifty-four percent of voters in last week’s midterm elections viewed him very or somewhat unfavorably, according to AP VoteCast, a survey of more than 94,000 voters nationwide. And an October AP-NORC poll found even Republicans have their reservations about him remaining the party’s standard-bearer, with 43% saying they don’t want to see him run for president in 2024.

Trump’s candidacy poses profound questions about America’s democratic future. The final days of his presidency were consumed by a desperate effort to stay in power, undermining the centuries-old tradition of a peaceful transfer. And in the two years since he lost, Trump’s persistent — and baseless — lies about widespread election fraud have eroded confidence in the nation’s political process. By late January 2021, about two-thirds of Republicans said they did not believe President Joe Biden was legitimately elected in 2020, an AP-NORC poll found.

VoteCast showed roughly as many Republican voters in the midterm elections continued to hold that belief.

Federal and state election officials and Trump’s own attorney general have said there is no credible evidence the 2020 election was tainted. The former president’s allegations of fraud were also roundly rejected by numerous courts, including by judges Trump appointed.

But that didn’t stop hundreds of midterm candidates from parroting his lies as they sought to win over his loyal base and score his coveted endorsement. In the end, many of those candidates went on to lose their races in a sign that voters rejected such extreme rhetoric.

While some Republicans with presidential ambitions, like former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, have long ruled out running against Trump, others have said he would not figure into their decisions, even before his midterm losses.

They include Pence, who released a book Tuesday, and Trump’s former secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, as well as former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who ran against Trump in 2016. Other potential candidates include Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott and Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin. Trump is also likely to face challenges from members of the anti-Trump wing of the party like Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, vice chair of the House committee that has been investigating Jan. 6.

But the person who has most occupied Trump and his allies in recent months is DeSantis, whose commanding reelection as governor last week was a bright spot for Republicans this cycle. The former congressman, who became a popular national figure among conservatives during the pandemic as he pushed back on COVID-19 restrictions, shares Trump’s pugilistic instincts and has embraced fights over social issues with similar zeal.

Even some enthusiastic Trump supporters say they are eager for DeSantis to run, seeing him as a natural successor to Trump but without the former president’s considerable baggage.

Trump has already begun to lash out at DeSantis publicly. On Tuesday, the Florida governor shot back.

“At the end of the day, I would just tell people to go check out the scoreboard from last Tuesday night,” DeSantis told reporters.

A crowded field of GOP rivals could ultimately play to Trump’s advantage, as it did in 2016, when he prevailed over more than a dozen other candidates who splintered the anti-Trump vote.

Trump’s decision paves the way for a potential rematch with Biden, who has said he intends to run for reelection despite concerns from some in his party over his age and low approval ratings. The two men were already the oldest presidential nominees ever when they ran in 2020. Trump, who is 76, would be 82 at the end of a second term in 2029. Biden, who is about to turn 80, would be 86.

If he is ultimately successful, Trump would be just the second U.S. president in history to serve two nonconsecutive terms, following Grover Cleveland’s wins in 1884 and 1892.

But Trump enters the race facing enormous challenges beyond his party’s growing trepidations. The former president is the subject of numerous investigations, including the monthslong probe into the hundreds of documents with classified markings found in boxes at Mar-a-Lago.

Meanwhile, Trump is facing Justice Department scrutiny over efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. In Georgia, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is investigating what she alleges was “a multi-state, coordinated plan by the Trump Campaign” to influence the 2020 results.

And in New York, Attorney General Letitia James has sued Trump, alleging his namesake company engaged in decades’ worth of fraudulent bookkeeping by misleading banks about the value of his assets. The Trump Organization is also now on trial, facing criminal tax fraud charges.

Some in Trump’s orbit believe that running will help shield him against potential indictment, but there is no legal statute that would prevent the Justice Department from moving forward — or prevent Trump from continuing to run if he is charged.

It wasn’t any secret what he had been planning.

At a White House Christmas party in December 2020, Trump told guests it had “been an amazing four years.”

“We are trying to do another four years,” he said. “Otherwise, I’ll see you in four years.”

Huawei’s Guo Ping: Reshaping the technological paradigm in three areas to secure mid- to long-term competitiveness

During MWC Barcelona 2022, Huawei's Rotating Chairman Guo Ping spoke on the company's plan to continue its globalization strategy and increase its strategic investment into foundational technologies. Through this investment, Huawei hopes to reshape the fundamental theories, architecture, and software that underpin its industry, increase its mid-to long-term competitiveness, and ensure the longer-term sustainability of the ICT industry.

In the keynote speech he delivered online, titled "Just Look Up, Let's Light Up the Future," Guo focused on two major sources of both challenge and opportunity in the world: digitalization and carbon neutrality.

Existing theories and architectures are unable to support explosive growth in digital demand.

Forecasts show that over 50% of global GDP will be digitalized in 2022. As the global digital economy develops rapidly, the demand for digital products and services has exceeded expectations. Guo explained that as Shannon's theorem and the von Neumann architecture continue hitting severe bottlenecks, the industry must explore new theories and architectures to reshape the technological paradigm to achieve digital sustainability.

Carbon reduction impacts the long-term vitality of the digital economy.

On carbon neutrality, Guo said, "Connectivity density and computing power determine the strength of the digital economy, but it should also maintain long-term vitality. So, we need to consider a new dimension, carbon reduction."

Huawei currently adheres to a "More Bits, Less Watts" strategy in this area. In addition to improving its fundamental digital capabilities, Huawei has committed to making its products 2.7 times more energy efficient by making breakthroughs in areas like theories, materials, and algorithms. Through advances like these, the ICT industry is able to help other industries reduce their own carbon footprints. In fact, this reduction will be 10 times larger than the carbon footprint of the ICT industry itself.

    Huawei is increasing strategic investment into foundational technologies to reshape the technological paradigm.

Guo also said that Huawei is significantly increasing strategic investment into foundational technologies and working with its partners to reshape the technological paradigm in three areas: fundamental theories, architecture, and software. This investment will gradually be reflected in the competitiveness of the company's products, which they hope will support the long-term and sustainable development of both the company and the ICT industry as a whole.

This investment is also notably focused on helping the company get closer to and maybe exceed Shannon's Limit. By exploring new theories and technologies, like next-generation MIMO and wireless AI, Huawei is able to push its technologies ever closer to Shannon's Limit. At the same time, Huawei's research into new theories like semantic communications will provide the industry with guidance on new fundamental theories.

Huawei is also developing exciting new architectures. Huawei is currently integrating photonic and electronic technologies and design peer-to-peer architectures to solve technological challenges or technique bottlenecks.

In terms of software, Huawei is building AI-centered, full-stack software and a new software ecosystem to meet the drastically rising demand for computing capacity caused by explosive growth of AI

    "Software-hardware synergies" will be the way forward.

Guo finally explained that great user experience comes from software-hardware synergies. He used two examples to show how Huawei applies this concept to ICT product development and technological innovation for network evolution. First, optimized algorithms for AHR Turbos are helping MetaAAUs consume less energy and improve performance. Second, algorithm breakthroughs in holographic optics have enabled OXCs to achieve one-hop connections.

    Huawei is the company with the most complete suite of ICT capabilities in the digital industry.

Over the last 10-plus years, network evolution has been a process of introducing the latest IT practices to CT, ranging from IP, to cloud, and then to AI today. As the company with the most complete suite of ICT capabilities in the digital industry, Guo said that Huawei is confident it will be able to gain a head start in the evolution towards future AI-native networks.

Closing out his speech, Guo said, "Huawei will continue its globalization strategy, in standards, talent, supply chain, and more. Huawei is committed to helping customers who choose it to achieve the greatest business success."

Abans offers interest free promotions for Avurudhu season

Abans offers exciting promotions this Avurudhu season for their world’s leading brands. Enjoy interest-free installment plans, fabulous discounts, along with extended warranties on a wide range of their products from the world’s best brands.

Upgrade your home with an extensive range of recently introduced hand-picked products to make life easier and more convenient.

These products help you beat the hectic daily schedules and busy lifestyles of today. At a time when it is difficult to make time to complete their household chores, getting them done in the shortest period of time with minimum effort is a priority. Abans has always served the needs of customers by providing relevant solutions to these challenges, in the form of advanced technology that is easy to use yet highly effective and durable.

This Avurudhu season, choose from a wide array of televisions, audio systems and other options to enter a new dimension of entertainment. The laptop range brings you innovative features and convenience at your fingertips. The smart inverter technology that can be found in air conditioners, refrigerators, washing machines, and microwave ovens help to reduce electricity bills and save energy while conserving the environment and help sustain the planet for a greener tomorrow.

Refrigerators, washing machines, televisions, audio systems, vacuum cleaners, microwave ovens, air fryers, freestanding cookers, built-in ovens, cooker hobs and hoods, mobile phones, Apple products, air conditioners, laptops, and home appliances are amongst best-selling products on offer this Avurudhu. Prestigious brands such as Apple, LG, Electrolux, Elba, Haier, Hoover, Mistral, Mitsubishi, Titan, Pyrex, Corningware, JBL, Acer, HP, Lenovo, Oppo, Vivo, Realme, Black and Decker, Sanford, Tefal, Meyer, Russell Hobs, Ignis, Westinghouse, Circulon, Orient, Havells, Frigidaire, Jaipan, Premier, Remington, Philips, Panasonic are available during this promotion. Selected items are also available on interest-free instalments up to 12, 15, and 18 months, while you can use selected credit cards to enjoy up to 48-month interest-free instalments.

Celebrate this Avurudhu with your loved ones and enjoy buying world renowned brands all under one roof at exciting discounted prices and easy payment terms. Visit your nearest Abans or Abans Elite showroom today.
 

Eser Marketing Fitness HQ showroom to Bambalapitiya

 
Eser Marketing Fitness headquarters and main showroom is newly established at Bambalapitiya. It is the largest fitness equipment outlet in Sri Lanka and the largest and premier retail outlet of the Eser Marketing Fitness showroom network.

Treadmill, home gym, cross trainer, weight benches, exercise bikes, recumbent bikes, rowing machines, dumbbells and all kinds of fitness equipment are available at a very reasonable price at this showroom. It is a two-story building of about ten thousand square feet and has all the equipment (such as leg press, cable cross-over, shoulder press, lat pulldown, leg curl extension, chin dip) required for a fitness center/gym. If you are planning to start a fitness center, gym or in need of any other bodybuilding equipment you should definitely visit the Eser Marketing head office & main showroom in Bambalapitiya. Whether you need to purchasefitness equipment Sri Lanka or not, Eser marketing Managing Director Harindra Eladetta invites all customers to visit this showroom to gain some insight into gym equipment.

Bodybuilding equipment which is made in China, Taiwan, USA, and Italy is also on display, so you can get a good understanding of it by using the equipment and making a very good decision by comparing its performance status with other brands.

Eser Marketing Fitness is the Sri Lankan exclusive distributor for the world's leading brands such as Spirit Fitness, Body-Solid, Concept 2 Rowing. Eser Fitness staff will also be able to deliver items purchased from the Eser Marketing Fitness showroom to any part of the island. Eser Marketing Fitness also has an experienced, well-trained set of technical officers who are capable of giving solutions for any kind of technical issues that arise during the usage of the equipment.
 

Huawei launched new devices available now for pre-order in Sri Lanka

 
Huawei, a global innovative smartphone manufacturer unveiled Huawei Nova 8i along with many other innovative products at an exclusive launch event held recently,  adding yet another feature-packed device to the Nova line of smartphones that offer more value for a convenient price. The event was held at Hilton Colombo under the patronage of representatives of the Huawei Management Team along with Media Outlets.

Atlas Recognised by SLIM for Facilitating Learning During the Pandemic

Atlas, the nation’s most loved stationery and learning brand, was honoured with the ‘CSR Brand of the Year' Bronze award at the SLIM Brand Excellence Awards 2021 held, recently. The company reaffirmed its position as a socially responsible corporate citizen by winning the award for the second consecutive year for their purpose led initiatives.

The organisation was recognised for its significant endeavours in creating equal learning opportunities of over 480,000 children for the financial year 2021 amidst the pandemic, where education had come to a standstill. Soon after identifying various obstacles faced by parents to keep children engaged at home, and teachers having to adapt to new ways of teaching with limited resources, Atlas altered its strategy and kickstarted initiatives to help overcome these challenges by collaborating with educators, the Ministry of Education, and other authorities.

“It is imperative that every child has the right to a quality education and so we are overjoyed to have impacted over 480,000 children, 3,500 teachers, and 175,000 parents by adding value and purpose to education. Most importantly, we helped children smoothly advance through their grades during these trying times, but our efforts won’t stop here. We have utilized technology to reach wider stakeholders in an isolation environment and continue to make learning fun, productive and accessible for every child across Sri Lanka,” said Asitha Samaraweera, Managing Director, Atlas Axillia Co. Ltd.

During the past year, Atlas successfully completed various initiatives including comprehensive teacher engagements to support the timely adaptation of online teaching through techniques to make learning interactive and effective in a virtual setting. The company also undertook to provide free online learning content, especially to support grade 5 scholarship students and creative activities such as ‘Learn Creative Skills with MyCrafts’ to keep children engaged during lockdown. Additionally, Atlas partnered with the Ministry of Education to implement the ‘Safety in Back-to-School’ Programme to ensure safety protocols were in place when schools re-opened.

“It is an honour to win the CSR Brand of the Year award, and we are grateful to SLIM for the recognition. Receiving this title would not only set the bar for Atlas in terms of brand performance, but it will also validate the brand's efforts in helping the country and its children. We are proud to be a brand that is precious to the hearts of millions of Sri Lankan children, an essential component of school life, and a helpful companion at every stage of their learning journey,” added Samaraweera.

Atlas Axillia Co. (Private) Limited, formerly known as Ceylon Pencil Company (Private) Limited, was founded in 1959 and has since grown to become Sri Lanka’s market leader in school stationery manufacturing. Fuelled by a passion for making learning fun, “Atlas” has created a strong connection with Sri Lankan consumers, being voted No. 1 School Supply Brand of the year 2020 at the People’s Choice Awards and has also recently won many national and international awards for excellence including the National Quality Award 2018 and the Global Performance Excellence Award 2019.

Microsoft leads charge to inspire employment diversity in Sri Lanka

The Microsoft Enabler Program is proving that with strong support and equal access to employment, Persons with Disabilities can contribute fully to economy and society. The program aims to pioneer disability-inclusive workplaces across the region by removing barriers for a more diverse workforce. It was piloted in Korea, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand before it expanded to Sri Lanka in 2020.

AIA Insurance receives multiple GPTW awards in 2021

This year has been a remarkable year for AIA Insurance with the company clinching the Best Workplace award for the 9th consecutive year.

Best Workplaces in Asia list – large category award for the first time, the Best Workplaces for Millennials which is another first-time award and the Best Workplaces for Women award for four consecutive years by the independent analysts at Great Place to Work in Sri Lanka.

In 2021, AIA passed the rigorous measurements through analysis of results of the Great Place to Work Trust Index and Culture Audit questionnaire and scored among the best in the country, thus differentiating itself as a great workplace for all employees, having established AIA as a superlative employer of choice.

AIA’s CEO Nikhil Advani said, “For us at AIA, employee’s trust and pride towards the workplace are of primary importance – to that end we focus on ensuring an equal opportunity, safe environment where people can enjoy a balance between personal wellbeing, career growth, sense of community and adding value to themselves and our shareholders. Being awarded multiple GPTW awards are testament that we are doing this right.”

AIA’s Director HR Thushari Perera notes that “we are delighted to add these world class accolades to our credentials as we continue to prioritize employee happiness, care, development and wellbeing. Further, winning these prestigious awards, both locally and internationally is recognition of all the hard work and focus we put into gender equity and parity. We will continue to place significant emphasis on creating a work environment where everyone has a fair opportunity to learn, grow and fulfill their career dreams as competent professionals.  Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, AIA continues to thrive with our employees at the very heart of our success.” 
 


Used cars turn to gold as Sri Lanka economy skids on the edge

AFP - Supermarket shelves are bare and restaurants can't serve meals, but Sri Lanka's economic crisis is a bonanza for used car dealers, with vehicle shortages pushing prices higher than a house in a nice area.

The island nation of 22 million is on the brink of bankruptcy, inflation is red hot and the government has barred a range of "non-essential" imports to save dollars needed to buy food, medicine and fuel.In the car market, this two-year ban has kept factory-fresh automobiles off local roads, forcing desperate buyers to pay some of the world's highest prices for beaten-up compacts and no-frills family sedans.

Anthony Fernando spent a recent weekend coursing through sales lots in the Colombo outskirts on behalf of his daughter, who has tried to find an affordable set of wheels for nearly a year.

"She was thinking that prices will come down," the 63-year-old told AFP, but now she is "paying for procrastinating".

Prices have gone "beyond the reach of a common person", he said.

A five-year-old Toyota Land Cruiser was on offer online for an eye-watering 62.5 million rupees ($312,500) -- triple the pre-ban rate, and enough to buy a house in a middle-class Colombo neighbourhood or a new luxury apartment in the city centre.

A decade-old Fiat five-seater with a busted engine that might be stripped for parts elsewhere was listed at $8,250 -- more than twice Sri Lanka's average yearly income.

"A car and a house are symbols of success," said a grinning Sarath Yapa Bandara, the owner of one of the capital's biggest dealerships.

"That is why most people are willing to buy even at these high prices."

Out of this world

Car ownership remains a virtual necessity in the traffic-snarled streets of Colombo, where a ramshackle bus and rail network was already struggling with overcrowding.

The number of taxis has also fallen sharply, with drivers selling their cabs to cash in on the dizzying prices, and those still working charging double their old fares or more.

"You must have your own car," said Udaya Hegoda Arachchi, another buyer preparing to bite the bullet at a dealership.

"We can't expect prices to come down anytime soon, given the economic situation in the country," he told AFP.

Covid has sent Sri Lanka into a tailspin, drying up all-important earnings from tourism and foreign remittances.

In March 2020 the government brought in a wide-ranging import ban -- including for new cars -- to stop foreign currency from leaving the country.

But the policy has not been able to staunch the outflow of dollars, and has instead left the nation struggling to source critical goods.

Food retailers have rationed rice, restaurants have shuttered because they cannot find cooking gas, and cash-strapped power utilities unable to afford oil have imposed rolling blackouts. Farmers have run out of fertiliser.

Chinese debt

Rating agencies have warned that Sri Lanka might default soon although the government says it will meet its commitments. It is trying to renegotiate its Chinese debts with Beijing.

The import ban has also left car parts in short supply, meaning drivers are at risk of being stranded after a breakdown.

Ravi Ekanayake told AFP that his Colombo repair garage was doing a roaring trade from owners unable to afford the astronomical costs of switching to a new vehicle.

"But parts are scarce. It is a catch-22: You either get caught with an old car without parts or you don't have the money to buy a new car."

Financial analyst Murtaza Jafferjee said the prices also underscored a problem caused by excessive money printing by a cash-strapped central bank, with "too much money chasing too few goods".

He said the prices were also increasing transport costs and adding to inflation, which hit a record 14 percent in December.

"When vehicles become unaffordable for a segment of society, their activities will be limited. Then we will also see a loss of economic output," the CEO of JB Securities said.

"We are about to collapse and not many people appreciate the depth of the problem."

Singer partners country’s biggest gaming community to elevate cyber talent to global standards

 
Singer Sri Lanka PLC recently entered into a ground breaking partnership with Maximum Esports - Sri Lanka’s largest gaming community - as its primary sponsor and partner in a bid to support local cyber talent and advance the overall standards of Sri Lanka’s gaming industry. This pioneering endorsement by Singer supports Sri Lanka’s thriving gaming community, and their participation in the world of competitive, organized video gaming.The partnership follows Singer’s recent title sponsorship of the Singer Esports Premier League with a prize pool of LKR one million that saw 12 promising teams vying for the honors. With esports being declared as an official sport in Sri Lanka by the National Olympic Committee (NOCSL) and the Ministry of Sports, Singer’s sponsorship will enable Maximum Esports as well as other Sri Lankan gamers to enhance their skill sets through global exposure in their bid to participate in the 2022 Asian Games, where esports will debut as an eight-category medal event.

“Singer Sri Lanka PLC is thrilled with our promising partnership with Maximum Esports,” stated Shanil Perera, Marketing Director at Singer Sri Lanka PLC. “While Singer has been at the forefront in empowering and endorsing local sporting events and athletes in cricket, rugby and other sports, we are excited with our official foray into the virtual gaming world, and look forward to tapping its unlimited future potential. This partnership continues to strengthen our renewed focus on Sri Lankan youth, appealing to the mass a progressive brand that understands their consumer needs, while also leveraging our brand equity to empower them through such endorsements. Being voted the SLIM People’s Youth Choice Brand of the Year 2021 has been a clear indication of their appreciation for our efforts, and we are encouraged to continue nurturing these partnerships across new avenues of interest.”

Maximum E-Sports is a Sri Lankan multi gaming esports community or clan established in 2008 to offer gamers of all ages and skill levels a unique opportunity to experience a pro level, competitive playing environment. It also creates an opportunity for less experienced gamers to learn from more seasoned veterans. The clan currently has approximately 6,000 members who compete in gaming events as a team, with a number of tournament victories under their belt.

“We are excited to partner with and be endorsed by Singer Sri Lanka PLC in the coming year, as esports continues to expand and be recognized as an official sport globally,” commented Shihan Morais, Founder and Co-owner of Maximum Esports. “With many major global sporting events declaring esports as an official medal event, we can enhance our talent locally in order to represent Sri Lanka on a global scale, and erase traditional stigmas about gaming. We thank Singer for recognizing our potential and look forward to leveraging this highly beneficial partnership.”

A new vision to help Sri Lankan apparel rise to the challenges of 2022

Despite having faced down another tumultuous year, the Sri Lankan apparel industry has shown remarkable resilience in 2021, and we believe the advances we have made over the past year have put the entire sector in a much stronger position to weather the escalating challenges of 2022. A review of the data from 2021 and the measures that firms in the industry have taken indicate how the industry is poised.

ASUS Vivobook Pro 15 laptops unveiled

ASUS has officially launched Vivobook Pro 15 OLED (M3500), two freshly-styled, powerful new laptops designed for the daily creative and entertainment needs of today’s young generation of creators. Given the pandemic situation and the need to adhere to the health guidelines in the country, the two laptops were launched through a virtual event that was witnessed by a large online audience.

The ASUS Vivobook Pro 15 OLED laptops help to accelerate the progress of young creators on their journey of creativity and discovery. Whether they need to browse, create or play, the laptops deliver all the horsepower needed to realize their burgeoning visual creativity through the up to the latest AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX CPU, pro-grade NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 graphics, up to 16GB of DDR4 memory, and a 1TB PCIe® SSD.

They employ a highly efficient dual-fan cooling system with ASUS IceCool Plus technology, which gives the user three cooling modes to choose from via the MyASUS app. This advanced cooling design ensures that these thin and light laptops stay cool for maximum performance, anytime and anywhere. The laptops are ready to provide non-stop creativity thanks to the powerful 63 Wh battery.

ASUS OLED displays reproduce colors with superb real-life accuracy for professional-grade visuals, making them perfect for creative work. Vivobook Pro 15 OLED features an amazing 16:10 aspect ratio of up to a 2.8K OLED NanoEdge display that provides an expanded visual workspace compared to a traditional 16:9 display. The display is super-bright – up to 600 nits – and has an 84% screen-to-body ratio, along with a cinema-grade 100% DCI-P3 color gamut for ultra-vivid colors. It’s also PANTONE® Validated for professional-grade color accuracy and TÜV Rheinland-certified for low blue-light emissions.
 
 
 
 

HNB Finance introduces auto loan facility for motor vehicle purchases

Spearheading innovative customer-centric financial services, HNB Finance PLC recently announced its ‘Auto Loan’ scheme, enabling customers to obtain a loan to purchase a motor vehicle.

As the motor vehicle serves as a collateral for the loan, customers will be able to pay off the loan in fixed instalments.

Abans authorized reseller, service provider for Apple Watch products

 
Abans, the authorized reseller and service provider for Apple products in Sri Lanka brings you the Apple Watch Series 7 featuring the most advanced Apple Watch display ever a re-engineered Always-On Retina display with significantly more screen area and thinner borders.

People’s Leasing and Indra Traders sign MOU to offer better deals to customers

 
Sri Lanka’s leading non-bank finance sector company, People’s Leasing & Finance PLC signed a MOU with Sri Lanka’s leading vehicle importer, distributor and dealers of motor vehicle spare parts, Indra Traders (Pvt) Ltd to launch a special business promotional program.