While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Jan 9

Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun (left) chatting to Thai Immigration Police Chief Surachet Hakparn (right) at the airport in Bangkok.
Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun (left) chatting to Thai Immigration Police Chief Surachet Hakparn (right) at the airport in Bangkok.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Saudi asylum seeker is still 'scared', says friend

An 18-year-old Saudi Arabian asylum seeker whose Tweets about resisting deportation from Thailand roused a social media storm remains terrified, even though she is now under the care of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees staff in Bangkok.

Ms Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun, who was stopped by officials after landing at Thailand’s Suvarnabhumi airport on Sunday, holed herself up in an airport hotel room until she was allowed to enter the Kingdom on Monday evening for her asylum claim to be processed.

“I spoke to her a few hours ago. She’s actually scared because she is still in Thailand. And she knows that Thailand is not a safe country,” her friend, who identified herself as “SH”, told The Straits Times by phone early on Wednesday morning.

“Any moment she could be dead. She could be taken to Saudi Arabia.”


Drone reports temporarily halt flights from London's Heathrow

Flights from London's Heathrow airport were halted for about an hour on Tuesday after reports of a drone sighting near Europe's busiest air hub, raising fears that the chaos that affected rival Gatwick last month could be repeated on an even larger scale.

"We are responding to a drone sighting at Heathrow," the airport said. "As a precautionary measure, we have stopped departures while we investigate. We apologise to passengers for any inconvenience this may cause."

London's Metropolitan Police said they had received reports of a drone near the airport at about 1705 GMT on Tuesday (1.05am on Wednesday, Singapore time), which they were investigating with airport authorities.


World Bank warns brewing US-China trade storm jeopardises global economy

Trade conflict between the world's two largest economic powers already is inflicting collateral damage and threatens to do yet more harm to the global economy, the World Bank warned on Tuesday.

And the global slowdown is beginning as government and corporate debt rise, especially among the poorest countries, while mounting interest rates increase borrowing costs, the bank said in its semi-annual Global Economic Prospects report.

The report was markedly more pessimistic than a year ago - when the outlook was for synchronised global growth - and peppered with exhortations to take "urgent," "imperative" or "critical" action.


Mohamed Salah retains African award to seal great day for Egypt

Mohamed Salah completed a memorable day for Egyptian football by retaining his African Player of the Year title in Senegal on Tuesday.

The 26-year-old Liverpool star finished first with club-mate Senegalese Sadio Mane and Arsenal and Gabon striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang the other finalists.

It was an identical outcome to last year when Salah became only the second Egyptian after 1983 winner Mahmoud al Khatib to be voted the best footballer in Africa.


Mattel is making a live-action Barbie movie starring Margot Robbie

After more than a decade of trying, Mattel is making another run at taking Barbie to the big screen.

A live-action film based on the toymaker's biggest brand will star Margot Robbie, who was nominated for an Academy Award last year for her role in I, Tonya.

Mattel Films - a division created in 2018 - and Robbie's LuckyChap Entertainment Banner will co-produce the movie.