London Steps Up Islamic Finance Ambitions

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According to The Guardian, no one knew of her surprise appearance and thus only 40 people were in attendance for the concert. Also on HuffPost: Loading Slideshow Celebrity Photos: September 2013 Lea Michele left the Meche Salon after getting her hair done in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Sept. 19. Celebrity Photos: September 2013 Eva Mendes returned to her hotel after a morning out in New York City on Sept. 19. Celebrity Photos: September 2013 Ben Affleck and Justin Timberlake posed together at the world premiere of Twentieth Century Fox and New Regency’s film “Runner Runner” at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino on Sept. 18 in Las Vegas, Nev. Celebrity Photos: September 2013 Blake Lively attended Milan Fashion Week in Milan, Italy on Sept. 18. Celebrity Photos: September 2013 George Clooney was spotted on set of “Tomorrowland” on Sept. 18 in Vancouver, Canada. Celebrity Photos: September 2013 Jay Z, casually dressed in a dark sweater and jeans, headed into an office building in New York City on Sept. 18. Celebrity Photos: September 2013 Paula Patton was seen arriving at the “Today Show” in New York City on Sept. 18.

Crossrail transit project unearths London’s macabre past

Swami Ramdev, who heads a global yoga empire, was detained Saturday at London’s Heathrow airport and questioned for six hours by British customs officials, the Press Trust of India reported.AFP/File NEW DELHI (AFP) Popular Indian guru Swami Ramdev, who heads a global yoga empire, was detained Saturday at London’s Heathrow airport and questioned for six hours by British customs officials, the Press Trust of India reported. Ramdev, a household name among Indian television viewers who tune in regularly to his yoga shows, was quizzed when he arrived at the airport on a visitor’s visa instead of on a business visa, PTI quoted sources as saying. His spokesman, S.K. Tejarawala, said the pony-tailed Ramdev was allowed into Britain after questioning. He dismissed as “baseless” reports the guru was questioned about carrying medicines. “It was not clear why the yoga guru was detained for over six hours at Heathrow. He was not carrying anything with him except a small bag of personal effects,” Tejarawala told PTI. “It is for the British authorities to explain why he was detained.” No immediate comment was available from British authorities. Ramdev, who is customarily dressed in saffron holy man robes, travelled to London to attend a function in the coming days organised by Patanjali Yogpeeth. Patanjali Yogpeeth is a flagship project of Ramdev and one of the largest yoga institutes in India. Ramdev, born in northern India to illiterate parents, is in charge of a huge yoga empire and owns an island off the coast of Scotland and a private jet. He combines spiritualism, yoga and social activism.

“We want to be the leading (Islamic) finance sector outside of the Muslim world,” deputy mayor of London Edward Lister said in a press conference in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday. Islamic finance follows religious principles such as bans on interest and gambling, and is playing an increasingly prominent role internationally as often oil and gas-rich investors from Islamic countries put more of their money to work overseas. Britain’s Islamic finance task force, established in March, is led by several ministers and industry figures as well as top executives from Gatehouse Bank and Oakstone Merchant Bank Ltd. It was launched ahead of London hosting the World Islamic Economic Forum in October and its mandate is to facilitate Islamic financial business, including investment in British infrastructure by Islamic sovereign wealth funds. The forum, which saw 28 billion ringgit ($8.6 billion) worth of deals inked last year, is being held outside an Islamic city for the first time. Islamic finance has already played a role in several major deals in London, with Qatari investors taking part in funding the city’s Shard tower, Harrod’s department store and the athletes’ village used for last year’s summer Olympics. A Malaysian consortium is also spearheading the redevelopment of London’s Battersea power station, after acquiring the site for 400 million pounds last year. Malaysia is the second largest investor in London’s real estate market behind the United States. “The task force has just started and its aim is to make it easier for banks in London to have Islamic products, which is still quite a new concept to any of them,” Lister said. “Only now people are beginning to understand what the products actually mean and how they comply … What you will see is a lot of companies introducing those products.” Maybank Islamic, an arm of Malaysia’s largest bank Malayan Banking Bhd, has launched a sterling-denominated and sharia-compliant mortgage product for high net-worth Malaysians looking to invest in London’s real estate market.

Indian yoga guru detained at London’s Heathrow: reports

And in this neck of the global woods, nothing brings the light of discovery quite like the building of a transit system. In Rome, which makes London look like a rank newcomer, engineers building a subway line have hit major delays after tripping over the likes of a second-century auditorium just yards from the Forum. In Cologne, Germany, where a 21 / 2-mile railway is under construction, archaeologists found the remains of a 2,000-year-old Roman harbor. In the groaning earth under Istanbul, a new rail tunnel going under the Bosporus ran smack dab into a Byzantine shipwreck. In Thessaloniki, Greeces second-largest metropolis, excavations for a new rail project did not so much hit a brick wall as an entire lost city, some 1,800 years old. Today, in the dark recesses of London, much of the focus is on waking the dead. More than 100 archaeologists have fanned out at 40 excavation sites over the length of the $24billion Crossrail project, an ambitious line linking points east and west in what is already one of the worlds most dizzyingly vast transit systems. Until the 1970s, archaeologists here say, relatively little emphasis was put on history when building out transport tunnels. Many finds, typically discovered in the top five yards of soil, were seen as mild curiosities or undesired obstacles. But urban archaeologists planned for half a dozen years for the Crossrail project . They created computer models that examined the new 73-mile network in the light of historical records and ancient maps to target the most tantalizing sites for digs. And thus far, going underground in a city with a decidedly checkered past has not been for the fainthearted. A stones throw from Londons Smithfield meat market, for example, excavation crews in March made an unappetizing discovery what is believed to be one of the citys two great graveyards for victims of the 14th-centurys Black Death. The victims buried near Smithfield once lived in a cesspool of a city ridden with rats, fleas and open sewers before dying in the first wave of a plague that would depopulate Europe for centuries. Now, their remains are being analyzed by British scientists, who are attempting to map the DNA of the London plague and establish whether it matches the strands that brought a horrific, early end to millions on the continent.