Saudi Arabia Breathes Life into Newcastle Tourism

Newcastle: The City of Bridges (Shutterstock)
Newcastle: The City of Bridges (Shutterstock)
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Saudi Arabia Breathes Life into Newcastle Tourism

Newcastle: The City of Bridges (Shutterstock)
Newcastle: The City of Bridges (Shutterstock)

In a monumental occurrence within the sports world, the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) finalized its acquisition of Newcastle Football Club on October 7, 2021, for an astounding £240 million.

 

Saudi Arabia saw in this move a tremendous opportunity to restore the glory of one of England’s most prestigious clubs, which clinched the English Premier League title in seasons spanning from 1904 to 1909 and last claimed it in 1926.

 

The club has also lifted the FA Cup on six occasions but has failed to secure any official championships since their FA Cup triumph in 1955.

 

Two years after the club’s ownership transferred to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the renowned “Black and White Army,” also known as the Magpies, is reclaiming its glory. This week, they reached the cup final for the first time in 47 years, securing a spot in the Champions League.

 

With hopes set high, the city of Newcastle, along with its residents, anticipates a promising future encompassing sports, economic growth, and tourism.

 

Saudi Arabia's involvement has played a pivotal role in breathing new life into this northeastern English city, propelling it towards the status of an appealing destination for tourists hailing from the Gulf nations and beyond.

 

Presently, diligent endeavors are in progress to establish state-of-the-art training facilities, accompanied by significant investments in the construction of opulent hotels.

 

This ambitious development plan not only aims to elevate the city’s allure but also holds the potential to generate a multitude of employment opportunities for both local inhabitants and surrounding communities.

 

Newcastle, often hailed as the “City of Bridges,” owes its title to an impressive assortment of seven bridges, each boasting a distinctive and diverse design. Among these architectural marvels, the Tyne Bridge claims the status of an iconic landmark.

 

Moreover, Newcastle is renowned for its vibrant nightlife, rivaling that of London. It is also celebrated as a city with prestigious universities, particularly in the field of medicine. Institutions such as Newcastle University and Northumbria University attract students from all corners of the globe, including Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries.

 

The people of Newcastle are widely known for their remarkable hospitality but speak a dialect that can be quite challenging even for native English speakers, as it incorporates terms not found in the English dictionary.

 

Newcastle also became renowned for its coal trade, serving as a prominent industrial hub for coal mining and exporting it to London and neighboring cities. Additionally, the city played a pioneering role in shipbuilding, engineering, weapon manufacturing, and even witnessed the birth of railways.

 



China Prepares to Send First Civilian into Space 

A member of People's Liberation Army (PLA) runs on the site of Shenzhou-16 manned space flight mission on the eve of launching in Jiuquan, Gansu province, China, 29 May 2023. (EPA)
A member of People's Liberation Army (PLA) runs on the site of Shenzhou-16 manned space flight mission on the eve of launching in Jiuquan, Gansu province, China, 29 May 2023. (EPA)
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China Prepares to Send First Civilian into Space 

A member of People's Liberation Army (PLA) runs on the site of Shenzhou-16 manned space flight mission on the eve of launching in Jiuquan, Gansu province, China, 29 May 2023. (EPA)
A member of People's Liberation Army (PLA) runs on the site of Shenzhou-16 manned space flight mission on the eve of launching in Jiuquan, Gansu province, China, 29 May 2023. (EPA)

China will send its first civilian astronaut into space as part of a crewed mission to the Tiangong space station on Tuesday as it pursues its ambitious plans for a manned lunar landing by 2030.

The world's second-largest economy has invested billions of dollars in its military-run space program, trying to catch up with the United States and Russia after years of belatedly matching their milestones.

Until now, all Chinese astronauts sent into space have been part of the People's Liberation Army.

Gui Haichao is a professor at Beijing's Beihang University, and will manage scientific experiments on the station during the mission, China Manned Space Agency (CMSA) spokesperson Lin Xiqiang told reporters on Monday.

His mission will "carry out large-scale, in-orbit experiments... in the study of novel quantum phenomena, high-precision space time-frequency systems, the verification of general relativity, and the origin of life," Lin said.

"I've always had this dream," Gui told a press conference on Monday.

His university said he hailed from an "ordinary family" in the southwest province of Yunnan.

He had "first felt the attraction of aerospace" listening to the news of China's first man in space, Yang Liwei, on campus radio in 2003, the institution said in a post on social media.

Gui's addition is "particularly significant", independent analyst Chen Lan told AFP, given previous missions only carried astronauts trained as pilots responsible for more technical tasks and not specialist scientists.

"It means that, from this mission on, China will open the door to space for ordinary people," he said.

Gui is set to take off onboard the Shenzhou-16 spacecraft from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China on Tuesday at 9:31 am (0131 GMT), the CMSA said.

The commander is Jing Haipeng -- on his fourth mission into space, according to state media -- and the third crew member is engineer Zhu Yangzhu.

Jing said he hadn't gone home for nearly four years because of fears travel could disrupt his training.

"As astronauts going into space... our main responsibility and mission is striving for glory for our country," he said at a press conference on Monday.

The three will stay in Earth's orbit for around five months.

'Space dream'

Under President Xi Jinping, plans for China's "space dream" have been put into overdrive.

China is planning to build a base on the Moon, and CMSA spokesman Lin on Monday reaffirmed Beijing's plan to land a manned mission there by 2030.

"The overall goal is to achieve China's first manned landing on the Moon by 2030 and carry out lunar scientific exploration and related technological experiments," he said.

The final module of the T-shaped Tiangong -- whose name means "heavenly palace" -- successfully docked with the core structure last year.

The station carries a number of pieces of cutting-edge scientific equipment, state news agency Xinhua reported, including "the world's first space-based cold atomic clock system".

The Tiangong is expected to remain in low Earth orbit at between 400 and 450 kilometers (250 and 280 miles) above the planet for at least 10 years.

It is constantly crewed by rotating teams of three astronauts.

While China does not plan to use Tiangong for global cooperation on the scale of the International Space Station, Beijing has said it is open to foreign collaboration.

China "is looking forward to and welcomes the participation of foreign astronauts in the country's space station flight missions," Lin said Monday.

China has been effectively excluded from the International Space Station since 2011, when the United States banned NASA from engaging with the country.


City Walk Jeddah’s Carnival...a Place for Fun, Enjoyment

The Carnival entertainment zone embodies excitement and challenge, including kinetic game - SPA
The Carnival entertainment zone embodies excitement and challenge, including kinetic game - SPA
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City Walk Jeddah’s Carnival...a Place for Fun, Enjoyment

The Carnival entertainment zone embodies excitement and challenge, including kinetic game - SPA
The Carnival entertainment zone embodies excitement and challenge, including kinetic game - SPA

The "Carnival" zone at City Walk is offering a number of events within the Jeddah Events Calendar 2023, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The Carnival entertainment zone, which embodies excitement and challenge, including kinetic games, also comprises various games for different ages.

The City Walk zone offers a variety of options for visitors, as it features a unique atmosphere for ten different sub-zones, offering its distinctive experiences, many other daily shows, watching entertainment events, experiencing adventures and exciting shows, and various games.


Eastern Canada’s Halifax Declares Emergency Over Wildfire 

Thick plumes of heavy smoke fill the Halifax sky as an out-of-control fire in a suburban community quickly spread, engulfing multiple homes and forcing the evacuation of local residents, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Sunday May 28, 2023. (The Canadian Press via AP) 
Thick plumes of heavy smoke fill the Halifax sky as an out-of-control fire in a suburban community quickly spread, engulfing multiple homes and forcing the evacuation of local residents, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Sunday May 28, 2023. (The Canadian Press via AP) 
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Eastern Canada’s Halifax Declares Emergency Over Wildfire 

Thick plumes of heavy smoke fill the Halifax sky as an out-of-control fire in a suburban community quickly spread, engulfing multiple homes and forcing the evacuation of local residents, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Sunday May 28, 2023. (The Canadian Press via AP) 
Thick plumes of heavy smoke fill the Halifax sky as an out-of-control fire in a suburban community quickly spread, engulfing multiple homes and forcing the evacuation of local residents, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Sunday May 28, 2023. (The Canadian Press via AP) 

The eastern Canadian city of Halifax declared a state of local emergency late on Sunday after a wildfire caused evacuations and power outages.

"Emergency responders are working around the clock to keep people safe and reduce the threats posed by the fires," the municipal authority in the capital of Nova Scotia province said in a press release.

The fire sent a huge pall of smoke over the port city.

The state of emergency would be in effect for seven days, unless lifted or extended, the municipality said.

Nova Scotia Power had temporarily disconnected power in the affected area, it said on Twitter.

Telecommunications firms including Rogers and Bell Canada's Bell Aliant said in posts on Twitter that some customers in communities evacuated due to wildfires may experience services disruption.

This month, the western province of Alberta declared a provincial state of emergency after tens of thousands of people were forced from their homes as unprecedented wildfires raged.


Venice’s Waters Turn Fluorescent Green Near Rialto Bridge

Gondolas navigate by the Rialto Bridge on Venice's historical Grand Canal as a patch of phosphorescent green liquid spreads in it, Sunday, May 28, 2023. (AP)
Gondolas navigate by the Rialto Bridge on Venice's historical Grand Canal as a patch of phosphorescent green liquid spreads in it, Sunday, May 28, 2023. (AP)
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Venice’s Waters Turn Fluorescent Green Near Rialto Bridge

Gondolas navigate by the Rialto Bridge on Venice's historical Grand Canal as a patch of phosphorescent green liquid spreads in it, Sunday, May 28, 2023. (AP)
Gondolas navigate by the Rialto Bridge on Venice's historical Grand Canal as a patch of phosphorescent green liquid spreads in it, Sunday, May 28, 2023. (AP)

The waters in Venice's main canal turned fluorescent green on Sunday in the area near the Rialto bridge and authorities are seeking to trace the cause, Italy's fire department said.

The regional environmental protection agency has received samples of the altered waters and is working to identify the substance that changed their color, the department said in a tweet.

The Venice prefect has called an emergency meeting of police forces to understand what happened and study possible countermeasures, the Ansa news agency reported.

The incident echoes recent episodes in Italy where environmental groups have been coloring monuments, including using vegetable charcoal to turn the waters of Rome's Trevi fountain black in a protest against fossil fuels.

However, unlike previous cases, no activist group has come forward to claim responsibility for what happened in Venice.


70 Years after First Summit, Everest Keeps Giving

In this photograph taken on May 20, 2023, a painting of late mountaineer Sherpa Tenzing Norgay's Everest summit is on display at the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute museum, in Darjeeling. (AFP)
In this photograph taken on May 20, 2023, a painting of late mountaineer Sherpa Tenzing Norgay's Everest summit is on display at the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute museum, in Darjeeling. (AFP)
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70 Years after First Summit, Everest Keeps Giving

In this photograph taken on May 20, 2023, a painting of late mountaineer Sherpa Tenzing Norgay's Everest summit is on display at the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute museum, in Darjeeling. (AFP)
In this photograph taken on May 20, 2023, a painting of late mountaineer Sherpa Tenzing Norgay's Everest summit is on display at the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute museum, in Darjeeling. (AFP)

When Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa first climbed Everest 70 years ago, they paved the way for thousands of foreign climbers to try to follow in their footsteps.

The eight-day trek to the Everest base camp is among the most popular multi-day hikes in Nepal, with tens of thousands of tourists making the journey every year.

What were small agrarian villages when the British expedition passed through in 1953 have since been transformed into tourist hubs with hotels, tea houses and equipment shops, boosting the livelihoods of local communities.

In many homes, three generations have found employment in mountaineering -- a far more lucrative occupation than farming or yak-herding.

The work is hazardous by definition, but in a climbing season of about three months, an experienced guide can make up to $10,000 -- several times the country's average annual income.

And other Sherpas and Himalayan community members have opened restaurants and guesthouses that line Everest's money trail.

Veteran mountain guide Phurba Tashi Sherpa was born and raised in Khumjung, a village about 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) from base camp.

He grew up watching his father and uncles go to the mountains for work, and soon joined them on expeditions, eventually climbing Everest 21 times before he retired.

"There would be just a few expeditions before but now there are so many every year," he said.

"That means an increase in income. It has helped improve the lifestyle here. A lot has changed."

Since the first British teams set their sights on summiting Everest in the 1920s, Nepali climbers -- mostly from the Sherpa ethnic group -- have been by their side.

"Sherpa" became synonymous with high-altitude guiding as they became the backbone of the multimillion-dollar industry, bearing huge risks to carry equipment and food, fix ropes and repair ladders.

Now local expedition groups -- instead of playing second fiddle to foreign climbing agencies -- bring the bulk of paying clients into Nepal.

And a younger generation of Nepali climbers is slowly being recognized in their own right.

Renowned Italian climber Reinhold Messner told AFP in a 2021 interview that it was a well-deserved climb up the ladder.

"It is an evolution," he said. "And this is also important for the future economy of the country."

'Gift of the mountains'

The first ascent of Everest brought Nepal to the world's attention and its mountains have since captivated adventurers and tourists alike.

That has played a crucial role for Nepal's branding as a destination, according to tourism writer Lisa Choegyal.

"Through Covid and earthquakes and all the other setbacks, the insurgency even, that Nepal has suffered over the decades, mountaineering has really endured," she said.

The Khumbu region welcomes more than 50,000 trekkers a year.

"It is a gift of the mountains and we have to thank the first summit for opening this region to tourism," said Mingma Chhiri Sherpa, chairman of the local municipality.

"Education and modern amenities have come here because of it."

Driven to help the community he worked with, Hillary funded the region's first school in Khumjung and is said to have hauled timber himself to help build it.

One of its first students, Ang Tsering Sherpa, now owns an expedition company.

"It is because of mountaineering that the young Sherpas today have higher education," he said. "It has brought a wave of economic prosperity."

More than 10 percent of Nepalis are employed in tourism and the government this year collected over $5 million in Everest permit fees alone as a record number of summit hopefuls arrived.

Tenzing Chogyal Sherpa, 30, whose grandfather Kancha Sherpa was part of the 1953 expedition, is a glaciologist and said that education had opened up options for Sherpa youths.

"A Sherpa can now be a doctor, engineer or a businessman, anything they want to be. That is very good," he said.

"And if they want to be a mountaineer, they can."


Indian Official Suspended after He Drains Reservoir to Retrieve Phone He Dropped While Taking Selfie

Indian villagers collect water for drinking from a well running dry at Padal village of the district of Samba on June 2, 2019. (AFP/Getty Images)
Indian villagers collect water for drinking from a well running dry at Padal village of the district of Samba on June 2, 2019. (AFP/Getty Images)
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Indian Official Suspended after He Drains Reservoir to Retrieve Phone He Dropped While Taking Selfie

Indian villagers collect water for drinking from a well running dry at Padal village of the district of Samba on June 2, 2019. (AFP/Getty Images)
Indian villagers collect water for drinking from a well running dry at Padal village of the district of Samba on June 2, 2019. (AFP/Getty Images)

A government official in India has been suspended from his job after he ordered a water reservoir to be drained so he could retrieve his smartphone, which he had dropped while taking a selfie.

Food inspector Rajesh Vishwas dropped his Samsung smartphone in Kherkatta dam in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh last week, The Times of India newspaper reported.

Vishwas first asked local divers to jump into the reservoir to find the device, claiming it contained sensitive government data. But after the initial efforts to retrieve his smartphone failed, he asked for the reservoir to be emptied using diesel pumps.

Over the next three days, more than 2 million liters of water were pumped out from the reservoir, which is enough to irrigate at least 1,500 acres of land during India’s scorching summer, local media reported.

In videos that went viral on social media, Vishwas is seen sitting under a red umbrella as diesel pumps run to drain water from the reservoir.

Vishwas told local media the water in the reservoir was unusable for irrigation and that he had received permission from a senior official to drain it.

The smartphone was eventually retrieved but wouldn’t even start because it was waterlogged.

Authorities later suspended Vishwas after he was widely criticized for wasting water resources.

India is one of the most water-stressed countries and extreme temperatures had led to severe water scarcity, causing crop losses, forest fires and cuts to power.


Saudi Space Experiment to Increase Artificial Seeding

The Saudi astronauts aim to carry out 14 scientific research experiments in several fields during their mission to the ISS.
The Saudi astronauts aim to carry out 14 scientific research experiments in several fields during their mission to the ISS.
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Saudi Space Experiment to Increase Artificial Seeding

The Saudi astronauts aim to carry out 14 scientific research experiments in several fields during their mission to the ISS.
The Saudi astronauts aim to carry out 14 scientific research experiments in several fields during their mission to the ISS.

Saudi Astronaut Ali al-Qarni began an artificial seeding experiment in space, which will contribute to the development of the technology used on the earth and raise its efficiency by more than 50%.

His colleague, Rayana Bernawi, shared a video of the Grand Mosque in Mecca from the International Space Station (ISS), to which they arrived on Monday, where they joined seven other astronauts who are already on board.

The Saudi astronauts aim to carry out 14 scientific research experiments in several fields during their mission to the ISS, which will include human medicine, biomedicine, and physics.

Al-Qarni appeared in a video he posted on his Twitter account, carrying a green box inside the Columbus unit, which he said was an artificial seeding experiment and prepared by Saudis.

“The cloud seeding will help us to raise the artificial raining rate by 50%,” he stated.

King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, headed by Dr. Ashraf Farhat, and in cooperation with the Saudi Space Authority, is supervising this experiment, which aims to simulate the cloud seeding process that is used in Saudi Arabia and many countries to increase precipitation rates.

The experiment aims to help scientists and researchers to devise new ways to provide conditions suitable for humans - including artificial rain - to live in space colonies on the surface of the Moon and Mars. It will also contribute to improving researchers’ understanding of rain seeding technology, which will help to increase rainfall rates.

Saudi Arabia seeks to enhance water resources, develop vegetation, and benefit from renewable sources through the artificial cloud seeding program, which was approved by the Council of Ministers in February 2020.

The operational work of the program, which already completed three phases, has achieved a success rate of more than 97 percent. Preliminary studies of rainfall point to precipitation amounts amounting to 3.5 billion cubic meters of water in the targeted areas, according to Dr. Ayman Ghulam, CEO of the National Center for Meteorology, the program supervisor.

For her part, Bernawi shared a video clip on Twitter showing the Holy Mosque of Makka from the ISS.

“After I finished my experiments for today, we happened to pass over Makka Al-Mukarramah,” she said.

On Thursday, Bernawi began her first scientific experiment, by testing the response of immune cells to infections using the live experiment box.


Arian Moayed Plays Creepy Men for Thoughtful Reasons

Arian Moayed. EPA
Arian Moayed. EPA
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Arian Moayed Plays Creepy Men for Thoughtful Reasons

Arian Moayed. EPA
Arian Moayed. EPA

By Laura Collins-Hughes

The actor Arian Moayed has an old passport photo that he usually keeps in his wallet: a black-and-white image of a small, darling boy with big dark eyes, wearing a whimsical sweater.

We had been talking for nearly 90 minutes when he mentioned it. I’d asked if he remembered anything from his earliest childhood, in Iran in the 1980s.

“The thing that I remember the most is fear,” he said. “The feeling of fear. Everywhere.”

Then he told me about the picture. It’s him at 5 or so, shortly before his family immigrated to the United States in 1986. He described the look on his face — “real angry” — and his memory of sitting for the photo: how his mother, her hijab slipping, kept urging him in vain to smile.

At 43, Moayed is a million miles from the fraught reality of that frightened child. He is widely known to fans of the HBO drama “Succession” for his recurring role as Stewy Hosseini, Kendall Roy’s old friend. And he is currently starring on Broadway as the ultra-controlling husband Torvald Helmer in “A Doll’s House,” opposite Jessica Chastain as Nora, the wife who walks out the door.

Still, Moayed likes to keep the photo close.

“I always want to remind myself that this is where it all came from,” he said.

It was late April when we spoke at the Hudson Theater, on West 44th Street in Manhattan, and the show’s six Tony Award nominations were yet to come — the one for him, for best featured actor in a play, his second. His first was for his Broadway debut, as a sweet Iraqi topiary artist turned wartime translator, opposite Robin Williams in “Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo” in 2011.

Moayed’s Torvald could not be more different. A lawyer tapped to run a bank, he micromanages his wife, monitoring what she eats and spends. At once chilling and comical, he speaks to Nora in a voice soft as a cat’s paw, muscles and claws hidden just beneath the fur. He does not take her seriously as an adult human being, ever, yet he seems totally unaware of his own fragile vanity. He is the kind of man it is dangerous to laugh at, because ridicule infuriates him.

It is an insidiously knowing portrayal of one of the great terrible husbands of the stage. But Moayed, who grew up in a suburb of Chicago and spent most of his career pigeonholed into Middle Eastern roles, hadn’t been sure he wanted to play Torvald at all.

“I had no relationship with ‘A Doll’s House,’” he said. “When I moved to the city in 2002, the only roles available for me were being an ensemble member in some sort of Shakespeare regional theater thing, or playing a terrorist. ‘A Doll’s House’ and Ibsen was like: Oh, that is a category of things that’s never going to happen for me.”

The British director Jamie Lloyd had other ideas. After seeing Moayed in “Bengal Tiger,” he noticed him over the years consistently giving standout performances — as the scheming Stewy in “Succession,” of course, but also in YouTube clips of the Off Broadway two-hander “Guards at the Taj” (Moayed won an Obie for that, in 2016), and in the film “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” as Peter Parker’s enemy Agent Cleary.

Gearing up to stage Amy Herzog’s “A Doll’s House” adaptation on Broadway, Lloyd spotted Moayed on a list of possible actors for a different role, but sensed that he was “more of a Torvald than anything.”

“My feeling was that he’s clearly someone who doesn’t mind being unlikable,” Lloyd said by phone. “Because he knows that there’s a reason for it. And he’s so compelling as these unlikable characters.”

The New York Times


PIF Establishes Badael to Reduce Smoking Prevalence in Saudi Arabia

Badael’s vision is to curb smoking and deliver on PIF’s strategy to improve the quality of life for all
Badael’s vision is to curb smoking and deliver on PIF’s strategy to improve the quality of life for all
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PIF Establishes Badael to Reduce Smoking Prevalence in Saudi Arabia

Badael’s vision is to curb smoking and deliver on PIF’s strategy to improve the quality of life for all
Badael’s vision is to curb smoking and deliver on PIF’s strategy to improve the quality of life for all

Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund has announced the establishment of the Badael Company, which aims to reduce the prevalence of smoking and promote a healthier lifestyle in the Kingdom.

The initiative has been launched in the run-up to the World Health Organization (WHO) World No Tobacco Day on May 31, PIF said in a statement released Thursday.

According to PIF, the initiative is in line with Saudi Arabia’s focus on improving the quality of life for its citizens as part of Saudi Vision 2030.

“The company’s products are expected to help nearly one million people switch from smoking by 2032, representing approximately 25% of all smokers in Saudi Arabia,” said the statement.

This has the potential to deliver direct annual savings of more than SAR6 billion ($1.6 billion) on healthcare expenditure by 2032.

“Badael will also aim to deliver on PIF’s localization mandate by supporting domestic manufacturing, sourcing raw materials, knowledge transfer and development of intellectual property (IP).”

“Badael intends to make its tobacco-free nicotine delivery products available across Saudi Arabia by the end of 2023, with the aim of expanding its reach to regional and international markets in the longer term,” the statement said.

It added that the company’s products will be manufactured in Saudi Arabia, ensuring the highest level of product quality and safety. This move will provide new jobs opportunities through a partnership with the local private sector and world-class global partners.

“Badael’s vision is to curb smoking and deliver on PIF’s strategy to improve the quality of life for all, and is part of Saudi Arabia’s broader efforts to diversify the economy, localize manufacturing and drive economic transformation as well as job creation,” the statement added.


Madeleine McCann Search Wraps up with Slim Chance of Breakthrough Seen

Portuguese Judicial Police (PJ) criminal investigation unit members leave the base camp set near the Arade dam in Silves on May 25, 2023, after the search operation in the investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann has been declared over. (AFP)
Portuguese Judicial Police (PJ) criminal investigation unit members leave the base camp set near the Arade dam in Silves on May 25, 2023, after the search operation in the investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann has been declared over. (AFP)
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Madeleine McCann Search Wraps up with Slim Chance of Breakthrough Seen

Portuguese Judicial Police (PJ) criminal investigation unit members leave the base camp set near the Arade dam in Silves on May 25, 2023, after the search operation in the investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann has been declared over. (AFP)
Portuguese Judicial Police (PJ) criminal investigation unit members leave the base camp set near the Arade dam in Silves on May 25, 2023, after the search operation in the investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann has been declared over. (AFP)

A German prosecutor played down hopes of an imminent breakthrough in the 16-year-old hunt for missing British girl Madeleine McCann on Thursday, as police wrapped up the search on the shoreline of a reservoir in Portugal and began pulling out.

A source close to the investigation told Reuters there was "nothing to report" after three days of searches. Portuguese police running the command center, already partially disassembled, declined to comment.

German authorities, who have named a suspect in the case, have been helping Portuguese crews comb the remote area inland from the Algarve coastal resort where McCann - then aged three - went missing during a family holiday in 2007.

"Of course there is a certain expectation, but it is not high," prosecutor Christian Wolters told Reuters. It was important to show that authorities were investigating the case, he added.

German prosecutors last year named Christian Brueckner an official suspect in McCann's disappearance. The convicted child abuser and drug dealer is behind bars in Germany for raping a 72-year-old woman in the same part of the Algarve.

Brueckner has denied any involvement in the disappearance. No body has been found.

"Of course we are still looking for the body," Wolters said. "We're not just looking for that, of course. There are other things too."

Any discovery of clothing could help the investigation, he said. "A lot is conceivable."

According to Wolters, authorities had yet to call time on the search, but witnesses said British police who assisted their Portuguese and German counterparts at the reservoir had left by early Thursday afternoon and then German investigators packed up their tents at a camp on a hill.

A tractor-mounted tree-cutter deployed earlier has also been removed and Portuguese police started disassembling the command center's two large blue tents.

Sources said any samples collected would be analyzed in Germany.