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Ring in ’15 at Dubai’s most extravagant affair at Atlantis, The Palm
posted on 20/12/2014

Live music from a 26-piece band. Glamorous gowns and the finest of suits. The most delicious delicacies as far as the eye can see. Visitors and residents of Dubai searching for the most sophisticated of locales to say goodbye to 2014 and embrace 2015 will be at one place on New Year's Eve — The Royal Gala Dinner at Atlantis, The Palm.
The annual extravaganza under the stars on the Atlantis Beach has become the place to ring in the New Year, a celebration to rival all others around the world.
With the Dubai skyline as the backdrop, the evening at the Royal Gala begins at 7:30pm with canapes, champagne and welcome drinks before the live entertainment kicks off at 8pm, playing through until 3am. The party continues with unlimited drinks. The luxury buffet is sure to satisfy any palate, with an incredible arrangement from lobster and caviar to shawarmas and fajitas.
The highlight of the night — the front row seat to the spectacular, highly-anticipated fireworks show.
Reservations for the Royal Gala dinner are Dh3,200 for adults, Dh2,400 for guests 12-17 years, Dh1,600 for guests 11 years old and under, with children zero to three years old free.
In addition to the Roya Gala Dinner, Atlantis also offers three incredible NYE dining packages across its award winning 23 restaurants, bars and lounges.
Gold Package
For guests wanted to spend NYE in some of most exclusive of outlets, the Gold Package is the undeniable choice. Dine in an elegant, underwater environment, with divine seafood and Mediterranean flavours at Ossiano, or mingle among Dubai's most stylish over cutting edge Japanese at the celebrity hotspot Nobu. The NYE Gold Package, which includes unlimited premium beverages, is Dh2,730 for adults, Dh2,045 for guests 12-17 years, and Dh1,365 for 10-11 years.

Silver Package
The Silver Package presents a wide and varied selection — from traditional Lebanese to modern Chinese, and even a celebrity chef's homegrown Italian flavours. Choose from a modern steakhouse with classic New York-style at Seafire or traditional Cantonese/ Szechuan cuisine with a contemporary twist at Yuan, the newest hotspot that has recently welcomed celebrity guests including the world's most recognisable face, Kim Kardashian, and supermodel Jourdan Dunn. For those wanting a taste of the outdoors, Nasimi Beach is the perfect option and for a traditional twist, Levantine offers a taste of Arabia with a delicious gala menu, complemented by live music and belly dancing. Celebrity chef Giorgio Locatelli's second outpost, Ronda Locatelli, will offer sophisticated Trattoria-style Italian cooking and a warm and friendly ambience. The NYE Silver Package, which includes unlimited, select beverages, is Dh2,365 for adults, Dh1,775 for guests 12-17 years and Dh1,185 for guests four to 11 years, with children zero to three years old free.
Bronze Package
Bringing in the New Year with loved ones? The Bronze Package offers the perfect family-friendly option. Partake in the award-winning buffets at Saffron, with 20 live theatrical cooking stations, or Kaleidoscope with culinary treats on offer from around the world. For a more international flair, La Brasserie, the traditional French restaurant and bar, will offer a set menu amidst perfectly-chilled atmosphere. The NYE Bronze Package, which includes unlimited, select beverages, is Dh1,210 for adults, Dh910 for guests 12-17 years and Dh605 for guests four to 11 years, with children zero to three years old free.
For more information or reservations, visit or call 044262626. - Khaleej Times -§ion=uaebusiness


Christmas, gold at Dubai Dolphinarium
posted on 20/12/2014

Celebrate Christmas at Dubai Dolphinarium from until January 1 and win gold and more at every show.
If your are sat in a lucky seat during any of our daily dolphin and seal shows at 11am, 3pm and 6pm, then you could be going home with one of many incredible prizes from gold from Joyalukkas, Mumzworld and Centrepoint vouchers, to yacht trips, limo trips, dhow cruises, desert safaris from Rayna Tours or balloon rides with Balloon Adventures.
That's not all; meet the new star of our exotic bird show including our beautiful toucan, the only one in the UAE. Meet Father Christmas and be entertained by our acrobats, face-painters and mascots.
Tickets start from as little as Dh40 and will sell out fast. For more details and to book tickets online, visit
The dolphin and seal show extravaganzas showcase the amazing dolphins' astounding skills. Watch in wonder as the dolphins and seals perform amazing acrobatics, dance, sing, juggle, play ball, jump through hoops and even paint. The 3pm and 6pm performances are Aladdin; be taken on a magical journey of music, illusion, acrobatics and adventure before being entranced by our fabulous dolphins and seals.
Tickets start from Dh40 per child and always sell out fast. To book, visit
Dubai Dolphinarium is home to the UAE's only exotic bird show. Join in the fun at this action-packed experience with over 20 species of birds and parrots. Become a part of the show as the birds fly over- head and interact with the audience. Learn about the intelligence of these fascinating birds; the saying "bird brain” is most certainly not true.
Guests can try and navigate the UAE's only mirror maze — a dizzying, labyrinth with a visual size of over 10,000 sqft. Visitors are challenged to find their way through a baffling and disconcerting maze of mirrors, finding themselves disoriented in a bewildering network of endless corridors achieved by a complex arrangement of reflecting glass. Once within the mirrors, they won't be able to work out which way to go and will have to use their senses of touch and adventure to work out the way.
Dubai Dolphinarium is home to a number of unique attractions in the region — the UAE's only dolphin & seal show, exotic bird show and mirror maze. We welcome over 30,000 guests per month and we are much loved by residents and tourists alike. We are based in Dubai's beautiful Creek Park where we have a 1,250-seat capacity indoor arena.
For details and to book tickets, visit or call 043369773. – Khaleej Times -§ion=uaebusiness


Global village: Around the world in a day
posted on 20/12/2014

Once a ticket has been purchased to enter the cultural wonderland; senses are heightened as they are put to the test.
With the winter breeze brushing against one's skin as the stroll around Global village begins, a noticeable increase in greenery and open space allow greater masses of people to fit in one place without feeling crowded.
Synergy of the distant sound of the rippling water from the gondolas, African drums pounding the chest, the voice of stall vendors inviting people into pavilions, chatters in different languages and Arianna Grande's music blasted near the rides in Fantasy Island allows these, otherwise known as noise, different sounds to serve as the atmospheric soundtrack of the place known as the ambience.
Though one's eyes are overwhelmed with the lights beaming from the pavilions, rich aroma of spices from available cuisines invade the lungs inviting visitors in to try the different savoury dishes.
The mist from the dancing fountain, splashing away to the Pirates of the Caribbean song, rests on one's arms and face while walking from one pavilion to another. The sound of giggly children's footsteps fill the place as they rush to their parents by crossing the bridge that connects the Fantasy Island theme park area with the food court area.
Given that Global Village brings together an array of pavilions from around the world in one location, visitors have native products available for them at the tips of their fingers.
Walking into the Indian pavilion, colors shine on every corner with artistically beaded shoes, soft cashmere scarves with intricate stitching and uniquely patterned native attire.
As for the Afghanistan pavilion, one cannot help but notice the sweet scents conquering the open space. Known for its honey, the pavilion offers visitors a quick taste of Afghani honey, also known as their signature product.
"A lot of people, both local and international, come to our pavilion to taste our honey and then they buy it,” said Mohammad Ashraf, a stall vendor in the Afghanistan pavilion. "They come for it because we get the honey from small bees in the mountain areas.”
However, Ashraf adds that although honey seems to be the key selling product, Afghanistan is also well known for its dried fruits. Another pavilion in Global Village well known for its honey would be the Yemeni pavilion with a wider variety available in stalls.
Egypt, the pavilion that won the Best Pavilion title last year, has a man standing at the entrance in a pharaoh costume to welcome the people entering. While the Indian pavilion proudly displays its cashmere variety, the Egyptian pavilion has a wide consumer base in terms of its cotton goods.
Upon entering, 100 per cent cotton made pajamas and clothing are showcased making them their best seller.
Mohammad El Sayed "There are products that aren't provided all year long anywhere except during the period of time in which Global Village takes place,” said Mohammad El Sayed, stall vendor in the Egyptian Pavilion. "Our products such as our 100% cotton clothing and Egyptian nuts are widely popular especially among the local people of the country.”
Nerien Rophail, a Canadian pharmacist currently living in Dubai, expressed her fondness of Global Village in an educational sense. Rophail, who has traveled to several countries in the past, explains that visiting the different pavilions resembles traveling to the different countries.
With a facility such as Global Village available to the public, she was able to discover more about the countries she has visited and the ones she aspires to visit someday.
"For instance, I had no idea that Afghanistan was famous for their honey, carpets, jacket and dried fruits,” she explained. "And that's why by watching native performances, tasting the food they have to offer and interacting with the natives in the pavilion teaches you about the culture of the place.”
Visiting Global Village allows visitors, like Nerien, to travel the world in one night. It allows people to move from one country to another a, couple of steps apart, saving the price of a plane ticket. – Gulf News Agency, WAM -


UAE stands out among GCC peers: Barclays
posted on 20/12/2014

The UAE stands out among its GCC peers as best equipped to cope with potentially prolonged weakness in oil prices given its diversified economy and solid buffers, Barclays said.
The impact of falling oil prices on the UAE's external and fiscal positions is likely to remain manageable with the current account surplus to remain at 12.3 per cent and 6.8 per cent of the country's gross domestic product respectively, in 2014 and 2015, the bank said in an analytical study.
The diversification of the economy and the composition of its resource base have allowed the UAE to keep its external breakeven oil price around $64 per barrel, based on exports of 2.6 mbpd in 2014, while its fiscal breakeven oil price has fallen from $93/bbl to $79/bbl over the past three years, it said
"In other words, and assuming UAE's oil export volumes over 2014/2015 remain constant, we estimate that the country will still enjoy a large current account surplus as long as the average oil price remains above $64/bbl.”
Barclays said in its Economic Research report that the ongoing official efforts to diversify the UAE's economic structure and encourage the expansion of the non-hydrocarbon sectors have seen the share of the non-hydrocarbon sector increase substantially.
Barclays analyst Alia Moubayed observed in the report that the renewed possibility of a prolonged period of low oil prices highlights the key challenges posed by the limited progress on diversification of export and fiscal revenue bases in many GCC countries, and their vulnerabilities to extreme oil price volatility. "Among those countries, we think the UAE stands out as the best equipped to face oil price headwinds and is the most capable of adapting to the structural changes in the global oil markets.”
The banking sector liquidity may be affected, but loan deposit ratio (LDR) is below 100 per cent, while sovereign support and continued deleveraging in the corporate sector should help.
The share of the non-hydrocarbon sector in the UAE increased from 44.7 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) in 2000 to 61.1 per cent of GDP in 2013. Diversification efforts have also contributed to containing the role of the public sector in driving non-oil GDP growth. After rising sharply in 2009 to 30.6 per cent of non-oil GDP, the share of public-sector consumption and investment in total non-oil GDP fell back to 25.3 per cent by 2013. This compares with 56.6 per cent of non-oil GDP in Saudi Arabia and underscores the reduced role of the public sector in steering UAE's economic activity, although it remains important, said the report.
"This reduced reliance on oil revenues is reflected in the increasing share of non-hydrocarbon in the UAE's exports and fiscal revenues. This is partly explained by the growing share of investment income earned on net foreign assets, as well as the rapid expansion in non-oil exports of goods and services, notably from Dubai,” it said.
On the fiscal front, Barclays expects the Abu Dhabi government to slow its expenditure growth through announced subsidy cuts and the review of some investment projects and possibly revisit and scale back its generous aid to neighbouring countries. "This would allow the UAE's consolidated budget to maintain a modest fiscal surplus of 6.1 per cent and 5.4 per cent of GDP in 2014 and 2015 respectively.”
The report said the UAE's fiscal capacity has been bolstered and its financial buffers strengthened significantly. The accumulation of large external and fiscal surpluses over the past decade and strategic management of its net foreign assets helped to increase foreign exchange reserves at the central bank and expand the asset base of Abu Dhabi's Sovereign Wealth Fund (ADIA) to almost 120 per cent of the UAE's GDP.
"UAE's overall public debt remains low at less than 12 per cent of GDP providing ample fiscal space if necessary to meet additional financing needs. Banking liquidity will likely to support growth despite falling oil prices. Recent improvements in the performance of the banking sector supports our view on the likely limited impact of lower oil prices on the UAE economy. The latest available data reported by Moody's highlight slight improvement in the banks' profitability on the back of higher asset growth and more moderate pace of provisioning,” said Barclays. – Khaleej Times -§ion=uaebusiness


Emirati filmmaker debuts UAE’s first interactive film at Diff
posted on 20/12/2014

Watching TV and films is a much more social experience in the age of social media. Many people now view a show on one screen, while simultaneously tapping on another about their reactions to what's happening.
But what about a film that allows the viewer to pick their own beginning, middle or end?
That's what the Emirati director Hassan Kiyany has just made.
His first interactive film, also billed as the country's first interactive film, received its premiere at the Dubai International Film Festival and on Wednesday it went live for the world to see.
Zaabil iDoc, a documentary showing efforts to photograph the now abandoned Zabeel Secondary School for Girls in Deira, Dubai, allows viewers to pick and choose the order in which they watch the scenes, and to click through to extra content.
"We as viewers usually sit and watch the movies and shows,” says Kiyany, from Dubai. "But in the world of the internet there are many more possibilities. We don't necessarily need to stick to the director's choice of sequences. We can choose our own.”
Kiyany, 32, has been making films for a decade. His most recent offering, a documentary titled Marwan the Boxer about a female Emirati pugilist, won first prize in the short documentary competition at this year's Abu Dhabi Film Festival.
"With this project, it was a story that I wanted to tell.”
Zabeel Secondary School was built more than 35 years ago but has been vacant since 2011. The school taught a lot of orphans and children from very low income families. It was one of the emirate's oldest schools and catered for about 300 pupils.
"We don't know what the future holds for it,” Kiyany says.
The buildings and courtyards of the school are eerily empty. The film shows dirty whiteboards with faint writings and drawings.
There are trees and shrubs growing in the courtyards and graffiti dotted around the walls including a typical teenage scrawl of "Jamila my love, I love you so much and for ever”.
"A friend of mine, Ammar Al Attar, likes to go to these old sorts of places, abandoned places, to capture through analogue photo¬graphy the details that remain before the buildings go away forever.”
Al Attar, who was born in Dubai and now lives in Ajman, uses a Linhof Super Technika III camera, dating back to the Second World War, to capture the abandoned school. Viewers can click on info buttons in certain scenes to view Al Attar's biography, and also learn more about the camera. He speaks in Arabic but there are English subtitles.
There are also pop-ups to Wikipedia pages for Sheikh Zayed, the founding President, and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, the Vice President and Ruler of Dubai.
"You don't need any apps or plug-ins – it's very simple for people to watch and interact with,” says Kiyany. The film went live on the internet on Wednesday, which he says is just the beginning. "In the film we will ask viewers if they or their families studied at the school and if they can share these ideas and memories.” Tweets marked #Zaabil¬iDoc can be sent or viewed at any time during the film.
Interactive movies have existed for more than 20 years. One of the first was the 1992 short film I'm Your Man. This was the first offering from director Bob Bejan's interactive cinema company Interfilm and centred on a plot to expose someone to the FBI for extortion.
Cinemagoers were asked to use controlpads to choose one of three directions the story should take, every couple of minutes.
According to an article in The New York Times written shortly after the film's release, the filmmakers had to generate about 90 minutes worth of film, with about 68 different scene variations. The audience saw about 20 minutes of footage.
The writer describes a key moment where the audience was asked to decide whether a central character should try to escape from the roof on which he is trapped by running through an open door, jumping to the roof of the next building or revealing his identity as an FBI agent.
"This being New York, the audience screams out in unison ‘Jump! Jump!' while pressing the buttons. The votes are electronically tallied, and Jack, after deliberating for a few moments, responds to the will of the people. The audience whoops with delight.”
Kiyany is not expecting his audience to be as excited as the viewers of I'm Your Man, but he does hope his documentary sparks more interest in interactive films. "It is the first for the UAE, and first for us. There are so many possibilities with interactive and this is a different approach to interactive stories.”
• Watch Zaabil iDoc at – The National -


FNC's Human Rights Committee discuss domestic violence against women and children
posted on 20/12/2014

The Federal National Council's Committee on Human Rights held on Thursday its second meeting to discuss the government policy on prevention of domestic violence against women and children.
Ali Jasim, Chairman of the Committee, said the meeting had reviewed the concept of family violence in the local community, its definition in international laws and forms and categories of domestic violence. The panel also had looked into cases of domestic violence examined by courts between 2010 and 2014.
He added that the committee took note of causes leading to domestic violence both locally like lack of sound upbringing, work of women, family disputes, social problems. He noted that negative impact in visual and electronic media can sometimes affect family relations, in addition to diversity of cultures in one community and high costs of living.
The committee reviewed an analytical study on the issue and its proposed action plan and schedule of field visits to federal and local competent entities. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -