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Mohammed bin Rashid launches Dh 50 billion Dubai Clean Energy Strategy to produce 75% of its energy from clean sources by 2050

posted on 29/11/2015

Dubai, 29th November, 2015 (WAM) - His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, yesterday launched Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050, which aims to make Dubai a global centre of clean energy and green economy.

His Highness said that the UAE, through its diverse strategies and investments in clean and renewable energy, is now leading global efforts in this area despite having the second-largest oil reserves in the world.

"The strategy that we are launching today will shape the energy sector in Dubai over the next three decades. It aims to provide 75% of the emirate s energy through clean energy sources by 2050, reflecting our commitment to establish a sustainable model in energy conservation which can be exported to the whole world, and support economic growth without damaging the environment and natural resources. Our goal is to become the city with the least carbon footprint in the world by 2050," His Highness Sheikh Mohammed said.

His Highness added: "Every investment in the development of clean energy sources is at the same time an investment to protect the environment for future generations. It is an effort to build our sustainable economic sectors which do not depend on non-renewable energy resources and are unaffected by volatile energy prices. Through this strategy, which is based on innovation, research and development, we aim to explore the future of the energy sector to unveil initiatives that will make use of the scientific and technological developments in this sector and take the lead in their development and application."

His Highness asserted that the UAE is keen to become a global reference platform in sustainability practices by transforming concepts into real applications. His Highness called on international companies and R&D centres to make Dubai a base for testing and applying the next generation of clean energy technologies to create a global model that can benefit the world.

His Highness stated this during the inauguration of the second phase of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park at Al Marmum area in Dubai. The solar park is considered as the largest of its kind in the world, which will produce 5,000 megawatts in a single location by 2030, and involves total investments worth Dh 50 billion.

His Highness also inaugurated the construction works of DEWA Innovation Centre, which includes under its umbrella a group of research and development laboratories in the field of clean energy with a total investment of Dh 500 million.

During the inauguration, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum was accompanied by H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, H.H. Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Technology and Media Free Zone Authority, H.H. Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority and Chairman of Emirates Group, Mohammed bin Abdullah Al Gergawi, Minister for Cabinet Affairs, Dr. Sultan bin Ahmed Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of State, Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, Managing Director and CEO of Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA), Khalifa Saeed Sulaiman, Director-General of the Dubai Protocol Department, and a crowd of social and economic personalities and senior officials.

A strategy with ambitious goals and clear pillars Dubai Clean Energy Strategy aims to provide 7% of Dubai s energy from clean energy sources by 2020. It will increase this target to 25% by 2030 and 75% by 2050.

The strategy consists of five main pillars: Infrastructure, legislation, funding, building capacities and skills, environment friendly energy mix.

Infrastructure: The infrastructure pillar includes initiatives such as Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, which is the largest generator of solar energy in the world from a single location with a capacity to produce 5,000 MW by 2030, and total investment of Dh 50 billion. The first phase of this project began operations in 2013. The second phase will begin operations in April 2017 with a capacity of 800 MW , the third phase will begin operations in 2020 with a capacity of 1000 MW, while the fourth phase will begin operations in 2030 with a capacity of 5000 MW, which is 25% of the total energy production in the emirate of Dubai as estimated.

The infrastructure pillar also includes a comprehensive innovation centre which will be built using 3D printing technology. The innovation centre features a group of research and development centres specialised in the next generation of clean energy technologies such as solar energy technology test centre, drones research centre, 3D printing technology, and solar energy based desalination tests centre. Dh 500 million will be invested in research and development in areas such as integration of smart grids, energy efficiency and electricity generation from solar energy.

The infrastructure pillar also includes the establishment of a new free zone under the name Dubai Green Zone dedicated to attracting research and development centres and emerging companies in the field of clean energy.

Legislation The second pillar focuses on the establishment of a legislative structure supporting clean energy policies in two phases. The first phase will be implemented through Shams Dubai initiative which aims to encourage building owners to place solar panels on the roofs and link them to the main network of Dubai Electricity and Water Authority. The second phase includes coordination with Dubai Municipality to issue a set of decisions on the integration of consumption rationalisation technology and energy production and the requirement to install solar panels on the roofs of all building in Dubai by 2030.

Funding through the Dubai Green Fund The third pillar is related to financing solutions for investment in research and development on clean energy and its application. This pillar includes the establishment of Dubai Green Fund worth of Dh 100 billion which will contribute through its financial resources easy loans for investors in the clean energy sector in the emirate at reduced interest rates. Dubai Electricity and Water Authority will ensure the demand management and economic value of the project.

Building capacities and skills The fourth pillar aims to build human resources capabilities through global training programmes in the field of clean energy in cooperation with international organisations and institutes such as International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) as well as international companies and R&D centres. The pillar will contribute to the creation of a sustainable model for research and development in the area of clean energy based on specialised human capabilities in this field.

Environment friendly energy mix The fifth pillar is focused on creating an environment friendly energy mix comprising solar energy 25%, nuclear power 7%, clean coal 7%, gas 61% by 2030. The mix will gradually increase the employment of clean energy sources to 75% by 2050, making Dubai the city with the least carbon footprint city in the world. This pillar also activates energy generation mechanisms through waste by employing state-of-the-art technologies in this area that will contribute to turn 80% of the emirate waste to energy by 2030. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Emirates Post Group, Martyrs' Families' Affairs Office issue first stamp in honour of country's heroes

posted on 29/11/2015

As part of various activities organised to honour the heroes who sacrificed their lives to serve the country, and in line with the first Martyrs' Day (UAE Commemoration Day), the Emirates Post Group joined hands with The Martyrs' Families' Affairs Office at the at Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Court to issue the first postage stamp as a tribute to the country's heroes.

This initiative is part of the activities marked by the office in cooperation with all government and private agencies and individuals in the country to honour the sacrifice and heroism of the martyrs who serve as a role model for present and future generations.

The new stamp represents the values of respect, appreciation, honour, courage and loyalty and highlights the pride the United Arab Emirates takes in the sacrifices of the heroes of the nation.

The stamp that carries the slogan "Commemoration Day" will be available at all post offices as of 30th November.

"Emirates Post Group is proud to issue the first postage stamp and postage card carrying the distinctive Commemoration Day logo. This marks our expression of gratitude and appreciation to the families of the national heroes, who are the sons of the entire UAE society and deserve all the honour for their ultimate sacrifices. On this occasion the stamps will be distributed to all postal areas in the country," Ibrahim Bin Karam, Executive Commercial Director, Emirates Post Group, said. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Mohammed bin Rashid pays his respect to nation's martyr Nasser Ali Hassan Al Baloushi

posted on 29/11/2015

Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, has offered condolences to the family of martyr Nasser Ali Hassan Al Baloushi, who succumbed to the injuries he sustained while participating in the Saudi-led Arab coalition's ‘Operation Restoring Hope' in Yemen.

Sheikh Mohammed was accompanied by H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, Khalifa Saeed Suleiman, Director-General of the Department of Protocol and Hospitality in Dubai and others.

While visiting the mourning Majlis at Muraisheed Area, Fujairah, Sheikh Mohammed expressed his heartfelt sympathy and solace to the martyr's family, praying to Allah Almighty to grant rest to his soul in Paradise.

Sheikh Mohammed deemed the martyr and other martyrs as sons of every UAE citizen, and said they are appreciated by their leadership and people for their sacrifices to preserve the country's sovereignty and national and cultural gains.

'All UAE citizens are doing their best in all national work fields. They are showing acts of heroism in wars and at the same time, they are being innovative in science, technology, economy and finance fields as well," he said. He also stressed that the UAE's leadership and government are proud of Emiratis as the country is powered by their innovations and acts of heroism. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Mohamed bin Zayed receives Ethiopian Prime Minister

posted on 29/11/2015

His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, yesterday received Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn who is visiting the UAE to attend F1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2015.

Sheikh Mohamed and the Ethiopian prime minister exchanged cordial talks and discussed areas of joint cooperation. They also highlighted the importance of bolstering friendship in a manner that serves the mutual interests of the countries and their peoples.

Mohammed Mubarak Al Mazrouie, Undersecretary of the Crown Prince's Court, and Juma Al Bowardi, Military Advisor to the Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, attended the meeting. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Mohamed bin Zayed receives Russian industry minister

posted on 29/11/2015

His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, yesterday received Denis Manturov, Minister of Trade and Industry of the Russian Federation, who is in Abu Dhabi to attend the fifth meeting of the UAE-Russia joint ministerial committee, held yesterday at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The meeting tackled ways of enhancing bilateral friendship and cooperation ties, particularly in the areas of economy and trade and how to seize opportunities available in both countries.

Sheikh Mohamed wished all success to the committee in its task of finding new avenues for broader joint cooperation and establishing joint strategic projects, initiatives and partnerships that highlight the distinguished ties.

For his part, the Russian minister said he was delighted at visiting the UAE, lauding the growing ties which reflect the commitment of the leaderships to further advance them. He added that the outcome of the committee meeting would also serve mutual interests.

Ali Al Shamsi, Deputy Secretary-General of National Security Council, Mohammed Mubarak Al Mazrouie, Undersecretary of the Crown Prince's Court, and Juma Al Bowardi, Military Advisor to the Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, attended the meeting. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Gargash receives Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for Yemen

posted on 29/11/2015

Dr. Anwar bin Mohammed Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, yesterday received Dr. Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for Yemen, at the ministry.

Cheikh Ahmed reviewed the latest development during his recent discussions in Muscat and the consultations held in Riyadh, as well as preparations for the Yemeni-Yemeni Dialogue to be held in Switzerland.

On his part, Gargash emphasised that the UAE welcomes the approval accorded by the Yemeni government and other Yemeni parties to the implementation of the UN Security Council resolution No. 2216.

He said that this shows that the political route has become matured, adding, "We look forward to building on the upcoming Yemeni-Yemeni dialogue to find a political framework based on the Gulf initiative and the Yemeni dialogue's outputs.

He also renewed the UAE's support to Cheikh Ahmed, as well as to the political solution based on basic references. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


UAE: Any agreement between IRENA and Israel does not represent any change in UAE position

posted on 29/11/2015

ABU DHABI, 28th November 2015 (WAM): Maryam Al Falasi, the Director

of Communications at the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said yesterday that the International Renewable Energy Agency, IRENA, is an international, independent agency that works according to the laws, regulations and norms that govern the work of such organisations. Accordingly, she stressed, any agreement between IRENA and Israel does not represent any change in the position of the UAE or its relations with Israel.

The functions of missions accredited to IRENA, she concluded, are limited to affairs related to their communications and dealings with the Agency. They do not, under any circumstances, cover any other activities and do not involve any obligation upon the host country with regards to its diplomatic relations or any other relations.

The IRENA Council held its 10th meeting in Abu Dhabi on 24th and 25th November. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Sheikha Lubna praised UAE leaders for continuing the late Sheikh Zayed's humanitarian legacy

posted on 29/11/2015

Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid Al Qasimi, Minister of International Cooperation and Development (Micad), and head of the UAE Committee for the Coordination of Humanitarian Foreign Aid, praised the UAE leaders for continuing to walk in the footsteps of the founding father of the UAE, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, in the area of humanitarian and development aid to underprivileged people.

In statements to WAM on the occasion of the 44th National Day, Minister Sheikha Lubna said the UAE provided more than Dh91.2 billion in development aid to developing countries between 1971-2004, during the presidency of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan.

She said 117 countries from benefited from the UAE's foreign aid in this period.

Building on the humanitarian legacy of the late Sheikh Zayed, the UAE, led by President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, expanded its global humanitarian outreach from 2004-2013 providing Dh59.3 billion in foreign aid of which Africa received the lions share (Dh29.6 billion), followed by Asia (Dh25.54 billion).

In the same period, Egypt alone received Dh19.7 billion in aid from the UAE, while Morocco was he second largest recipient of the UAE's aid with Dh4.1 billion.

The late Sheikh Zayed established the Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Charitable and Humanitarian Foundation in 1992 with a capital of Dh3.67 (US$1 billion), and before that, in 1971, he launched the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development which provided Dh9.7 in loans to other countries up to 2004, she noted.

By the end of 2004, the Emirates Red Crescent provided more than Dh1.2 billion in assistance to 61 countries.

Building on this legacy, Minister Al Qasimi noted, the UAE became the world's largest donor country of official development assistance (ODA) in 2013 with the highest Official Development Assistance/Gross National Income ratio (ODA/GNI ratio) making a historic record leap in the history of foreign aid from its 19th position in 2012. The country's development assistance in 2013 amounted to US$ 5.2 billion, according to the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The Minister further noted that the UAE was ranked first globally as the largest donor to the humanitarian crisis in Yemen during 2015, providing 31 percent of the total aid provided by countries around the world. Figures released by the Financial Tracking Service (FTS), a UN-managed database which records all reported international humanitarian aid contributions, found that the total value of humanitarian aid provided by the UAE to Yemen was Dh508.7 million (US$138.5 million) out of the Dh1.650 billion (US$449.5 million) overall global contributions.

On the occasion of the 44th UAE National Day, Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid Al Qasimi, Minister of International Cooperation and Development (Micad), greeted the UAE leaders, namely President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and Their Highnesses the Supreme Council Members and Rulers of the Emirates. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Nahyan bin Mubarak receives visiting Arab and foreign media delegation

posted on 29/11/2015

Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development, yesterday received a delegation of over 60 Arab and international media persons, who are visiting the UAE at the invitation of the National Media Council (NMC), coinciding with the anniversary of the 44th UAE National Day.

Sheikh Nahyan welcomed the media persons, wishing them a pleasant stay in the UAE and hoping that they would highlight and present the UAE development model in the economic, trade, cultural, tourist and educational domains to the foreign world.

While in the UAE, the media persons will see for themselves the progress the UAE has made and will meet a number of senior officials who will update them on the latest local developments in various vital sectors. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Hazza bin Zayed meets Geneva Canton's security minister, informs him about Abu Dhabi Police's operations room at Yas Island

posted on 29/11/2015

H.H. Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed Al Nahyan, National Security Advisor and Deputy Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council, yesterday met Pierre Maudet, Chief of the Department of Economy and Security of Geneva Canton of the Swiss Confederation, during a visit to the Abu Dhabi Police operations room for the F1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2015 to be held at Yas Marina Circuit.

Sheikh Hazza briefed the Swiss minister about the missions and tasks of the operations room and discussed with him ways of enhancing UAE-Swiss economic and security cooperation.

Sheikh Hazza and the Swiss minister, who were welcomed by Major General Mohammed Khalfan Al Rumaithi, Deputy Commander-in-Chief of Abu Dhabi Police, toured the heritage village, built on the sidelines of the Middle East's biggest international sporting event, and attended the activities for some time. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


RTA awards contract for constructing 400 shelters for Bus Riders

posted on 29/11/2015

The Board of Executive Directors of the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), chaired by Mattar Al Tayer, Director General and Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors, has endorsed the award of a contract for starting the construction of Phase II of Air-Conditioned Bus Shelters Project.

The contract, which covers the construction of 400 air-conditioned and non-air-conditioned bus shelters, has been awarded to Right Angle Media Company on the basis of public-private-partnership (Design-Build-Operate-Transfer Model). The project will be completed by the end of 2017, and will bring the total number of bus shelters to as much as 1295.

Phase II of Air-Conditioned Bus Shelters Project culminates the success of the initial phase of the project, which covered the construction of 895 air-conditioned bus shelters distributed over 656 bus stops. Surveys probing the views of users showed a significant increase in the satisfaction with these shelters amongst bus riders. The project conforms to RTA's continuous endeavours to achieve excellence and leadership through developing quality projects in the Emirate of Dubai.

"The Air-Conditioned Bus Shelters Project is part of a master plan to leverage the public transport sector along with associated infrastructure in the Emirate with the aim of bringing happiness and comfort to riders especially during the blazing summer season. RTA, through this project, seeks to provide an attractive element attracting people to use mass transit means and then push the share of public transport in the daily mobility of persons in the Emirate from 6% in 2006 to 20% in 2020 and further to 30% by 2030. In 2014, RTA succeeded in raising this rate to as much as 14%," said Al Tayer.

Al Tayer stated that the new shelters will cover areas in different parts of Dubai on the bases of population density, and feedbacks received from bus riders. Phase II includes the construction of about 50 smart air-conditioned shelters fitted with free internet service, as well as the Smart Café for selling snacks and refreshments and several smart services. It also includes the construction of about 150 shelters featuring the new design of solar-powered shelters involving a creative solution for providing shelters in areas where electric power is not available. These shelters are fitted with solar panels, which will generate electricity enough to power lights of the Bus Stop as well as billboards.

"Providing electricity to power air-conditioned shelters in some remote areas was one of the key challenges confronting planners at the initial stage of the project. Therefore, RTA has worked on ways and means to overcome this issue by developing cracking solutions to power these shelters through solar power technology. The Public Transport Agency embarked on the experimentation and assessment of the use of solar panels to power these shelters.

"Shelters will be fabricated of reinforced polyester-covered aluminium in order to protect the structures from tough elements. The seats are made of rigorous, low-heat absorption materials for the convenience of users. The protective solar sheets are made of glazed material distributed on the basis of an engineering and technical model preventing the permeation of as much as possible of sunlight to seated users. The solar panels are made of high-quality efficient materials to generate and distribute electricity in such a way enabling maximum exposure and concentration of sunlight to convert it into electric power. LED lights will be used to power billboards to economise on the use of electric power," said Al Tayer.

RTA has started the initial phase of transforming 100 air-conditioned shelters into smart shelters in cooperation with Right Angle Company. 50 of these smart shelters will be completed this year and the remaining 50 will be completed next January. Accordingly, the total number of smart shelters will rise by the end of Phase II to 150 shelters.

This initiative is aligned with RTA's strategic goal of bringing happiness to people and encouraging them to use public transportation. It also involves an improvement of the public transport infrastructure in a creative style to make it similar to metro stations, and a transformation to a smart city. The drive also involves improved passenger information systems, and improved service satisfaction with the services of public transport.

The smart air-conditioned shelter offers a wide range of services to bus riders including a free Wi-Fi internet courtesy of Du, NOL card selling and recharging, mobile phone top-ups, payment of bills of government departments, and power-charging of mobile phones. In addition to the Smart Kiosk, the shelter will display passenger information, offer RTA services as well as interactive and promotional ads, in addition to screens displaying information about RTA services, besides the selling of refreshments and snacks.

The uniquely designed crescent-shaped shelters are manufactured of high quality materials, and using paints resistant to heat, humidity and dust. They will also be fitted with modern air-conditioning systems and eight seats custom-made to give added convenience to users. The shelter, which can accommodate 13 to 16 persons, is also friendly to the use of disabled persons, and will be fitted with screens directly linked with the control room of Public Transport Agency in order to transmit information about journeys and routes available. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


National Day Parade rocks Downtown Boulevard

posted on 29/11/2015

At 2.45pm on Saturday at Downtown Dubai, hundreds of bikers and motorists start their engines — the sports bikes, cruisers and super cars begin sputtering together like thunder.

The motorists then move to the back of the procession that is set to scale the Mohammad Bin Rashid Boulevard. Crowds waving the Emirati flag amassed on both sides of the boulevard. At three o'clock, the drums roll, trumpets sound and the National Day parade begins.

The UAE is celebrating its 44th year of unity on December 2.

Dubai Police lead Saturday's National Day parade with its cavalry team heading the procession. The police marching band followed with the brass and drum section putting the crowd in a festive mood. Super cars from various government departments, such as Dubai Police, Ambulance and Civil Defence were also present.

To display the country's diverse population, the parade also included entertainment with countries represented at the procession. Elephant floats, dances with scimitars and shields, and a percussion group represented India. The group representing Bangladesh carried a model of a Bengal tiger and a cricket-bat float. Chinese dragons, musicians on stilts, people dressed as cowboys and native Americans, djembe drummers, and a bagpipe band also took part in the celebrations.

Traditional clothes from places across the world could also be seen, such as the Indian sari, the Scottish kilt, khaleeji thobes, as well as dresses from Russia, Mexico, Philippines and Romania.

Floats carrying various wonders of the world and unmistakable architecture, such as the Sphinx, the Taj Mahal, Big Ben and Burj Al Arab came in waves to further assert the young country's place in the international scene.

Some favourite heroes and movie icons, such as Sonic the hedgehog, Superman, Marilyn Monroe, Jack Sparrow, and Ronald McDonald could be seen in the procession.

A number of establishments, charities, and schools took part in the event, such as the American International School, Greenwood International School, and We Serve Heroes: An Initiative for Labourers.

"We just wanted to show our love and appreciation for the country,” Ratinder Shah, who took part in the parade on his sports bike, said.

"I first learnt about the parade on social media. A biker group was calling on bikers to take part in the celebrations. Although it doesn't take much to incite a biker to join a procession, as we never miss a chance to ride our bikes in a group, this parade was also a great way to show the country our respect and gratitude.”

Abdullah Aiman, who took part in the parade as a member of the UAE adventures club, also said the parade was a great way to show appreciation to the country.

"We were asked by the Al Futtaim Group to take part in the celebrations in our FJ cruisers, we've decorated them with decals of the Emirati flag and emblem. It's a pleasure to take part in the parade, not to mention a lot of fun,” he said, walking briskly back to his car in the moments before the parade began. – Gulf News -


National Day to be celebrated in air, ground and water

posted on 29/11/2015

The first cars decorated in UAE colours and symbols have already started roaming the capital's street as the fever for the 44th UAE National Day preparations keeps growing.

Shops and private homes are being decorated with Emirati flags and colourful lights. The sky over Abu Dhabi is busy with Al Fursan Aerobatics' jets, practicing for the air show, which will take place on the Corniche on December 1, from 3pm till 6pm.

The Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority has joined forces with several of the emirate's organisations and companies to put together 14 days of celebrations that already started on November 19 and will continue till December 5.

"On this, the country's 44th National Day, we are proud to work together with our partners across the emirate to deliver this impressive and diverse programme of events," said Faisal Al Sheikh, director of Events Bureau at TCA.

"It will be as entertaining as it is inclusive and we are confident we will engage everyone within Abu Dhabi with celebratory events for locals, citizens and visitors alike," he added.

The official ceremony will take place at Zayed Sports City in the Capital on December 2 and it will feature cultural, music, artistic and poetry shows to honour the country and its leaders. Attendance is free, but limited to UAE residents and citizens with Emirates ID, who need to register for the event in advance.

Also on the National Day itself the UAE Armed Forces will have an aerial, naval and ground display on the Abu Dhabi Corniche, as well as a parade of its armoured combat vehicles and a show of its top pilots, parachuting themselves on exact landing spots.

On the same day, Yas Marina Circuit will host its own celebrations, with the popular official Car Parade taking place on December 3, where the public is invited to bring their decorated vehicles to parade on the Circuit.

From December 1 to 3, several live concerts of the most prominent Emirati and Arab singers will take place at the Zayed Heritage Festival in Al Wathba, Abu Dhabi, as well as Hazza bin Zayed Stadium, Hili Fun City in Al Ain and Dalma Island, Al Sila'a and Madinat Zayed in the Western Region.

Complementing the concerts there will be a series of fireworks that will light up the sky every night from December 1 to 3, at the same locations as the concerts.

The waters along the Abu Dhabi Corniche will also be busy with Al Bawanish Dhow Race on December 1 and a traditional 40-feet dhow race on the following day.

The UAE capital will also have a large flower exhibition and parade with 44 artistic floats representing the nation's 44th "birthday", which will be on show at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, as well as on Abu Dhabi Corniche and public gardens in the city.

Falconry, camels, Emirati folklore and handicrafts shows and exhibitions will take place at the Zayed Heritage Festival in Al Wathba throughout next week, but also in Al Ain and various locations in the Western Region.

Heritage-related shows will also be organised by Aldar in Bandar, Muneera, Al Raha Gardens and Al Falah. Most of the emirate's malls will join in the celebrations with competitions, free children's activities and heritage related shows.

Private organisations and clubs are putting together their own events, too.

"For the first time this year we are running an off-roading trip across the seven emirates," said Amro Al Tamimi, one of the UAE Off-roaders founders, a free-for-all off-roading club based in Abu Dhabi.

The full programme for the National Day events in Abu Dhabi are available on – Khaleej Times -


The UAE has played a growing role in world affairs since its formation

posted on 29/11/2015

It is one of the duties of a head of state to welcome foreign dignitaries and leaders, and, in turn, to return those visits overseas.

From the early days of the UAE and even before, these state occasions were crucial to establishing the emerging country's place in the world, forging ties that could bring peace and security, not just at home, but for all mankind.

For Sheikh Zayed, as the Ruler of Abu Dhabi, this was a process that began well before unification in December 1971 and continues to this day with Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, the current President; Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai; and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces. – The National -


Sheikh Zayed cultivated UAE’s international reputation one friendship at a time

posted on 29/11/2015

It was as a young man in the deserts of Abu Dhabi that Sheikh Zayed refined the skills that would serve him and his country so well on the international stage.

"He had what is known as Al Ferasa, a skill where the person can read the other person's facial and body language and understand and know the truth about their character and intention,” explains Zaki Nusseibeh, cultural adviser at the UAE Ministry of Presidential Affairs.

"It is a survival skill in the desert, as one meets wandering strangers all the time. And so when Sheikh Zayed used to meet anyone, and even if he didn't understand their language, he knew. He just knew what their real intention and character was.”

Combined with his other leadership talents and his natural presence, the UAE's first President paved new diplomatic paths and built international relations for a small country that many in the international community doubted would survive long beyond its formation.

As Sheikh Zayed's interpreter in 1968 as well as head of his press office, Nusseibeh witnessed first-hand what went into building the UAE and its reputation on the international arena.

"Many of the diplomatic observers and international media back then were expecting the UAE to fall apart following the withdrawal of British power. Some British diplomats predicted failure. They wrote how it won't work, but the UAE, with Sheikh Zayed as its President, proved them all wrong. Within 10 years, the UAE emerged as a strong and active player in the region and on the international arena,” he says.

And at the heart of this lasting success? "Friendships with everyone, everywhere, was the policy Sheikh Zayed followed all throughout his life.”

Well before the UAE was founded, Sheikh Zayed was travelling abroad and forging friendships with statesmen and officials.

"Abu Dhabi was known abroad as an aid-giver before [the UAE] became a country,” Nusseibeh says. "Sheikh Zayed had a way about him where he always looked for common ground wherever he went, and found ways to build a relationship where both sides were happy and helping each other in one way or another. He believed that for any country to prosper, its neighbour must be prosperous.”

"He also believed that each continent is dependent on the other, and so he put great effort on this front, mediating whenever there was conflict and instability.”

In the 1970s, barely a week went by without a visit from a foreign head of state or their representative. From Africa to Latin America to Asia, officials came to meet Sheikh Zayed and, in turn, he travelled to their countries.

"Because of the great efforts by His Highness, the UAE by the 1980s had established itself as a powerful country with a say in important regional and international issues,” Nusseibeh says.

On one of his first important trips, in 1969, Sheikh Zayed visited Arab countries including Iraq, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon before heading to the UK and Spain.

"He visited many sites in each country, from military bases to schools to museums to government buildings, to learn from them for his own country, and to understand how different nations work and what they offered their nationals,” says Nusseibeh.

While in Spain, he remembers learning something profound about Sheikh Zayed that would stay with him forever.

"We were walking the alleyways of Alhambra Palace in Granada, and it was filled with tourists. I started to push them away to make way for Sheikh Zayed and he stopped me. ‘You must not bother anyone – we are all equal as visiting tourists here, and I do not need any special path made for me among them', he said to me.

"I understood him better that day. It was this confidence – this peaceful air about him and his modesty that helped make this country what it is.”

When Sheikh Zayed met the Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, in 1974, on a state trip to Iran, the Shah offered Sheikh Zayed his army as "protection” from attacks.

"The Shah said that since the UAE is small and doesn't have a proper army, they could draw up an agreement between the two countries.

"You must remember Iran was occupying three of the UAE's islands at the time. Sheikh Zayed with great poise simply thanked the Shah and said we will not need this because the UAE will have a powerful army soon that will be a major contributor to regional stability and peace that is vital to all our nations.

"And of course he would depend on his friends and allies to work together to achieve this,” says Nusseibeh.

Sheikh Zayed also knew how to stand firm when he believed the situation called for it. In 1973, he became "the champion of the Arabs” by reminding the world of their economic power.

"It was a turbulent time; it was following the 1967 Six-Day Arab-Israeli War, the October War of 1973 and pan-Arab sentiment was high.

"The Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries meeting in emergency session in Kuwait took a resolution to reduce their oil production by a blanket 5 per cent a month, impacting all oil importers until the international community applied pressure to bring an end to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

"Sheikh Zayed refused this logic, saying that oil exports should not be reduced indiscriminately to all nations, but that countries that opposed the UN Security resolutions calling for peace should be targeted with a total oil ban, while those encouraging the peace process should continue to receive their normal oil supplies.

"Saudi Arabia followed and did the same. This shocked the superpowers and oil supplies only returned when Egypt, embarking on a peace process, asked the Gulf oil producers to lift the boycott,” says Nusseibeh.

It was at this time Sheikh Zayed spoke these now immortal words: "Arab blood is far more valuable than Arab oil.”

Sheikh Zayed "was a vocal advocate for Palestine and any Arab nation that was in turmoil”, says Nusseibeh.

The President also had his own ways of showing warmth and hospitality.

Wherever he travelled, Sheikh Zayed would take Emirati dates, while developing his own special "Omani halwa”, using honey instead of sugar.

"Whoever came, no matter how high up, he would tell them to have three full spoons. He would tell them it is very healthy. No one refused; they all had three spoons of Sheikh Zayed's special dish,” says Nusseibeh.

Another hallmark of his leadership was to ask in his Majlis a question he already had an answer to, to note the responses. "His mind was always working, even if it appeared like he was just having a sip of coffee,” says Nusseibeh.

In a long and active life of travelling and meeting with world leaders, Nusseibeh remembers two particular men that left a great impression on Sheikh Zayed.

Nelson Mandela "for his deep humanity and wisdom” and Senegal's Léopold Sédar Senghor, for "his intellect and literature”.

At the same time, it was Sheikh Zayed's mother, Sheikha Salamah, whom he always credited for instilling in him the "clear sightedness, the ambition and the vision” to see beyond.

"Sheikh Zayed never forgot where he started and where he came from. He learnt from the challenges and turned them into successes,” says Nusseibeh. – The National -


The UAE’s generosity dates back to the humanitarian vision of founder Sheikh Zayed

posted on 29/11/2015

Five months before the formation of the UAE in July 1971, Sheikh Zayed set out a marker for the new country's foreign policy as a commitment to the stability, prosperity and peace of other nations.

With capital of Dh500 million, the future President, then Ruler of Abu Dhabi, created the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD). Within three years, the fund had spent Dh377 million on 10 aid projects in Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Yemen and Bahrain. Forty-four years later, that sum stands at more than Dh35 billion on 325 projects in 59 countries.

Even more impressive is that ADFD is today just one of more than 45 organisations handing out overseas aid from the UAE. Today the country is the world's largest giver of official development aid relative to its national income, with Dh36 billion provided to developing countries between 2010 and 2014 alone.

In 1983, Sheikh Zayed established the Red Crescent in the UAE. Since then, the authority has responded to emergencies and implemented health programmes in more than 100 countries, maintaining the international principles of non-alignment, non-intervention and independence.

This year, the Red Crescent spent Dh664 million on humanitarian and development programmes in Yemen.

Its Yemen: We Care campaign raised more than Dh500 million in just six days to help rebuild the country. The connection with Yemen goes back many years. The Marib Dam, recently recaptured from the Houthi insurgency, was built with UAE support in the 1980s — just one of many humanitarian projects that ensured fruitful relations between the two states for decades to come.

The Red Crescent is also playing a huge role in the UAE's humanitarian assistance for Syrian refugees — providing Dh600 million of the total Dh2 billion that the country has raised in the past three years.

Support for Arab neighbours is intuitive to the UAE's aim of peace and prosperity across the region. Diplomatic relations go back as far as 1959, when Gamal Abdel Nasser agreed to provide Abu Dhabi with Egyptian teachers, engineers and agricultural experts. From 1971 until last year, the UAE provided almost Dh47.5 billion in humanitarian and development aid to Egypt.

However, the UAE has not just offered support to its Arab neighbours, but to all developing nations. In 1975, it loaned $100 million to support programmes in Pakistan — one of its first diplomatic partners. It has continued to support Pakistan's development; funding educational institutions, hospitals and infrastructure. Numerous complexes, such as the Sheikh Zayed Medical Complex in Karachi, have been named after the Founding President, in recognition of both his and the UAE's generosity.

In times of crisis, the UAE has extended a crucial helping hand. In 2005, Sheikh Khalifa, the President, pledged $100 million and the Red Crescent raised $8 million for earthquake recovery in Pakistan and India. Five years later, when Pakistan was ravaged by floods, the UAE donated more than $30 million.

The Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Bridge on the Swat River — completed by the Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation in 2013 — replaced a crossing washed away in floods. The bridge, the largest in the region, serves 4,000 vehicles a day. Since 2008, the foundation has also worked with the embassies of other countries to help almost 2,000 low-income pilgrims travel to Mecca.

Pakistan has also benefited from a campaign to eradicate polio launched in 2011 by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Though Dh367.3 million was first pledged, two years later the campaign scaled up its ambition, with Dh440 promised towards eradicating the disease by 2018.

Almost 87 million vaccines have been distributed in Pakistan. Vaccinators in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province have given the two-drop oral polio vaccine to more than 20 million children under five. The number of polio cases in Pakistan has fallen to 38 so far this year from 328 in 2014. Afghanistan's number has more than halved, to 13.

Following the attacks of September 11, 2001, Sheikh Zayed cut ties in Afghanistan with the Taliban. After their overthrow, the UAE was ready to work with the new government. Immediately, the Red Crescent sponsored 40,000 refugees, providing them food, shelter and health care.

The UAE first pledged $36 million for the effort at the 2002 Tokyo Donors Conference. However, this soon grew to $550 million by 2008, as the UAE and its leaders grew increasingly ambitious about rebuilding the country's infrastructure and education, health and defence sectors.

The 6,400-student Sheikh Zayed University, in Khost, was named in 2008 in recognition of the UAE's financial support. The UAE also contributed to the construction of 11 schools, six medical clinics for 35,000 patients, 38 mosques, a 7,000-patient hospital, a public library, accommodation for 200 families, 160 wells and other developments.

A further Dh92 million was spent clearing Kandahar of 11,000 mines — making the area safe for commercial, agricultural and residential use. The achievement mirrors the Dh260 million spent under Operation Emirates Solidarity, clearing southern Lebanon of 58,000 mines from 2001 to 2009.

From 2011 to 2013, the UAE raised nearly Dh1 billion in aid for Afghanistan, with 45 per cent coming directly from the Government and 41 per cent from ADFD.

Farther from its borders, in 1998, under Sheikh Zayed's orders, the UAE became the only Muslim country to take part in the UN peacekeeping mission in Kosovo and provided the largest non-Nato contingent.

A refugee camp built by the military in Kukës, an Albanian border town, soon gained the nickname the "five-star camp”, for its provision of three meals a day, cots, blankets and security, with an airport built to ensure more efficient aid delivery to the camp.

When the first child was born in the camp, her parents named her Fatima, after Sheikha Fatima, chairwoman of the General Women's union and widow of Sheikh Zayed, often called the Mother of the Nation. Earlier this year she sponsored a new children's hospital in the capital of Kosovo, and she was awarded the Mother Teresa Humanitarian Medal for her contributions to improving living conditions across the world.

The country's commitment remains as strong today as it did in 1971. Earlier this year, Sheikh Saif bin Zayed, Minister of Interior and Deputy Prime Minister, deployed a UAE search-and-rescue team of 88 people after a series of earthquakes in Nepal, to find survivors of a disaster that killed almost 9,000 and injured 22,000.

In all this is the vision expressed by Sheikh Zayed that "the grace of wealth bestowed upon us by the Almighty must be unfolded to encircle our friends and brethren around the world”. – The National -


Int'l tour operators in pole position to sell Abu Dhabi Grand Prix catalyst to drive industry leaders’ awareness

posted on 29/11/2015

Ten of the world's top tour operators are in Abu Dhabi as part of an intensive campaign led by Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) to leverage awareness of the emirate's culture, experiences and attractions on the back of the season-ending 2015 Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The influential travel leaders from China, Italy, German, the GCC, France, South Africa, India, Russia and the UK are being hosted in the emirate in an effort to stimulate additional Abu Dhabi package development in their tour operator programmes.

"Inviting these powerful influencers is the culmination of an almost year-long programme of international promotional activity to drive increased sales of packages to Abu Dhabi and to increase international visitor numbers, average spend and length of stay during the F1 period," Faisal Al Sheikh, Events Bureau Director, TCA Abu Dhabi, said.

The tour operators are on a four-day destination familiarisation tour of the emirate before experiencing the pinnacle of the Formula 1 season and joining TCA Abu Dhabi for the sell-out 2015 Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on November 29 at the state-of-the-art Yas Marina Circuit.

"Experiencing the sites and attractions of Abu Dhabi at a time when the entire capital is abuzz with activity will undoubtedly leave a lasting impression on our important travel industry guests," Al Sheikh added. "We want to build strong relationships going forward among these key influencers and encourage positive word-of-mouth recommendation."

The tour operator hosted line-up includes China Swan International of China, Dreams Team of Italy, Hotel Beds from Bahrain, Safrans du Monde of France, South Africa's Satguru Travel, Kuoni India Pvt Ltd, Coral Travel of Russia and specialists in luxury worldwide holidays from the UK, Kenwood Travel.

TCA Abu Dhabi is also hosting two heritage-themed Oasis village zones within the north and main grandstands, with race-goers having the opportunity to join daily activities which include traditional Al Ayala dancing and Emirati musical performances.

"Showing off the diversity of our vibrant destination to the travel industry from our priority overseas markets doesn't end at the circuit, and inviting the operators to sample the traditional heritage activities of our Oasis villages allows them to also share the typical experiences that can be enjoyed by their guests," Al Sheikh said. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Rosberg takes sixth consecutive pole of season in Abu Dhabi

posted on 29/11/2015

Nico Rosberg said there's no secret to his revival after taking his sixth consecutive pole position this season at the Formula One Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The Mercedes driver clocked 1:40.237 in Saturday's qualification and finished three tenths of a second ahead of teammate Lewis Hamilton, while Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen qualified in third for Sunday's race.

Hamilton confirmed his third drivers' championship with four races to spare in America last month, but since then Rosberg has gone on to win in both Mexico and Brazil, setting himself up well for a consolatory end of season hat-trick in the UAE capital.

But asked what he thought had prompted the late turnaround in fortunes, the 30-year-old German, replied: "There's no revival, we haven't reinvented anything it's just progress and that's it.

"Before we were always very close and Lewis had that tenth of a second edge, but at the moment it's me who has the edge. It was close in the last two races but I'm the one that's quicker.”

With his latest pole, the 22nd of his career, seventh of the year, and the second here at Abu Dhabi, Rosberg is now just two short of Ayrton Senna's record [eight] run of pole positions heading into the 2016 season.

But refusing to look that far ahead, Rosberg said he was just fixated with ending the season in style at Abu Dhabi.

"Primarily, I would like to win the race because it's a great feeling and would give the whole crew a great end to the season and a reason to party. Of course, what we learn this year helps going into next year.”

Hamilton admitted having difficulties with the car in qualifying, but said he hoped he could still end his championship-winning season on a high at Yas Marina Circuit where the driver with pole has only gone onto win once in six previous editions.

"I've been struggling with the car a little all weekend. We've been working hard to make some changes but Nico was just quick today and he did a really good job in Q3.

"Generally it gets a little bit better for the race, but it's been going on for a while now, I'm struggling while at the edge with the car. I felt a lot more comfortable at the beginning of the year. I've tried to make changes this weekend but have disadvantaged myself a little bit with one of the things I took off the car, which was of benefit, but I'll try to get around it.”

Reminded that his pole position record with Rosberg from this season was now 11 to seven in favour of Hamilton, with Sebastian Vettel taking the other one in Singapore, the 30-year-old Briton quipped: "It doesn't really matter what the number is, at the end of the day all that matters is wins and championships, but I'm happy because it's more in my favour and I've enjoyed it. In the last six [qualifications] Rico has done a good job. I've improvements to make with the car, but I'm sure we'll get there.” – Gulf News -


Wasit Wetland Centre begins welcoming visitors

posted on 29/11/2015

As of Wednesday, November 25th, Wasit Wetland Centre, located within the Wasit Nature Reserve, began welcoming visitors, researchers and those interested in nature and birds to watch and learn about the various species of birds in the nature reserve, and to enjoy its features spread over an area of 4.5 km2.

It is one the most outstanding environmental and natural tourist destinations in the United Arab Emirates.

H.H. Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, has recently inaugurated the Wasit Wetland Centre (WWC), which extends over an area of about 1,500 m2. WWC aims to protect the natural environment in some areas of the emirate, conserve natural resources and develop ecotourism.

Wasit Wetland Centre is an important destination for learning and showcasing a number of birds. It includes world-class service facilities for its visitors, whether they be the public or researchers. It allows visitors to discover different rare species of birds through special telescopes for viewing birds, in addition to state-of-the-art technologies that allow them to enjoy listening to birds in the reserve.

Hana Saif Al Suwaidi, Chairperson of the Environment and Protected Areas Authority (EPAA) in Sharjah, emphasised that the WWC is a gift from Ruler of Sharjah, on the occasion of the selection of Sharjah as the capital of Arab tourism for 2015. Wasit Wetland Centre is the first of its kind for wetland environments in the GCC countries. It is one of the projects adopted by the emirate of Sharjah to improve environmental conditions, and to keep the sustainability of natural life in the emirate for future generations.

Al Suwaidi said, "The black-winged stilt was chosen - from the birds that settled in Wasit Nature Reserve – as the logo for the nature reserve. Large numbers of black-winged stilts exist in the Wasit Nature Reserve, amounting to 3000 birds, in external lakes. They are known for their long legs, which are the longest among birds' legs. They also make their nests near lagoons."

Wasit Wetland Centre contains a number of rare birds, including the: Northern Bald Ibis, Glossy Ibis, grey heron, marbled duck (which is the only threatened species of bird), purple swamphen, pink-backed pelican and greater flamingo.

Both the EPAA and the Wasit Wetland Centre will play a role in protecting these birds, caring for those that are injured and ensuring their survival for the coming generations. Both the WWC and WNR have a complete veterinary team to take care of birds 24/7. They perform their medical, therapeutic and nutritional tasks and prepare the right food for each bird. The WWC provides a medical file for every bird, regarding its case, diseases and a list of its daily food.

The number of birds in cages is 350 birds, from 60 species. They have been obtained through cooperation with the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA). They have been kept in cages for 1.5 months now, and some of them began reproduction. The number of bird species outside cages in the nature reserve varies from 80 to 100. This number varies due to the migration of birds from their original habitats to other places. They come to the reserve, which is considered a basic station in the course of bird migration and journeys. The number of birds outside cages in the reserve is around 33 thousand.

The Wasit Wetland Centre includes a modern cafe that provides foods and drinks to visitors, and overlooks vast areas of the reserve, which allows them to watch a great number of resident and migratory birds throughout the year, such as the greater Flamingo, pink-backed pelican, western reef heron and other species that live near available water and trees in the Wasit Wetland Centre. This allows every visitor to be close to natural life and diverse organisms. The centre also includes a souvenir store, and interactive games for children which enrich their understanding of birds, different species, reproduction and migration.

The Wasit Wetland Centre welcomes visitors from 9:00am to 6:30pm, except for Tuesday, which is a maintenance day. On Friday, the centre welcomes visitors from 2:00pm to 6:00pm and on Saturday, from 11am to 6:00pm. The admission fee for adults is Dh 15, and for children below 12 years it is free. The visit includes a trip inside the reserve aboard environmentally-friendly vehicles. Visitors may move about the Wasit Nature Reserve accompanied by an environmental guide who will provide more information about the reserve and the birds that live there, such as their flights and migrations. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -