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Mohamed bin Zayed reintroduction programme releases 100 Nubian Ibex in Jordan

posted on 20/11/2014

The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi, EAD, earlier this month successfully completed the transfer of a Nubian Ibex herd to the Wadi Rum Nature Reserve, where the herd will remain in a controlled environment that will allow them to adapt to the new habitat before their final release into the wild.

The transfer came following a Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, signed between EAD and the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority, ASEZA, earlier this year with respect to the Nubian Ibex Reintroduction and Release Programme of His Highness General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, at the Wadi Rum Nature Reserve in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. The release programme supports the UAE's efforts in encouraging the conservation of wild species in their natural habitats.

The MoU was signed by Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, Secretary-General of EAD, and Dr. Kamel Mahadin, Chief Commissioner of ASEZA, and will result in the development and adoption of a long-term strategy aimed at engaging local communities and relevant authorities to minimise the risks that may affect the herd's sustainability in Wadi Rum.

Over the last century, the Nubian Ibex has become an endangered species in Jordan. Only a limited number remain in the mountainous areas of the Dead Sea and Wadi Rum due to irresponsible human practices, including illegal poaching and the destruction of the species' natural habitats. EAD's terrestrial bio-diversity team worked closely with the team at Wadi Rum to transfer 100 Nubian Ibex (70 females and 30 males) to a dedicated, protected area. The transfer relied on the participation of Wadi Rum's local community, who praised EAD's efforts in protecting and conserving the region's wildlife and natural heritage.

The signed MoU complements the efforts of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan in protecting the Arabian Peninsula's culture and natural heritage, with the support of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, represented by Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed's Arabian Oryx Re-introduction Project, to release the species in Wadi Rum.

Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, Secretary-General of EAD, said, "This re-introduction project will ensure that Nubian Ibex will roam free in Wadi Rum nature reserve, their natural habitat. Effective programme management coupled with the support of local communities and authorities will ultimately ensure the sustainability of the species within the reserve.

Dr. Kamel Mahadin, Chief Commissioner of ASEZA, highlighted the importance of the Wadi Rum Nature Reserve in protecting the area's biodiversity. Wadi Rum was recently added to the list of World Heritage reserves due to its historical and cultural importance that extends to six thousand years BCE.

Dr. Mahadin praised the continuous support of the government of Abu Dhabi, represented by EAD, in protecting Wadi Rum's biodiversity. Dr. Mahadin also commended EAD's efforts to reintroduce the Nubian Ibex back into the wild, and for the agency's strong support in ensuring the success of this project.

The project is managed by EAD in collaboration with the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority represented by the Wadi Rum Nature Reserve, in addition to the Royal Society for the Protection of Nature. The project will also see the implementation of four set objectives which includes ensuring the herd's sustainability within its natural habitat, and implementing awareness programmes designed to educate the local community and respective authorities on the importance and impact of the project. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Dubai voted world's top city to live and work

posted on 20/11/2014

Dubai is the best city in the world for expatriates and professionals to live and work in, beating New York, London and other most prominent cities, according to a new research.

A survey released on Wednesday by the Alumni Association of graduate business school Insead, which polled nearly 1,000 respondents, has ranked Dubai as the most attractive place to live in in terms of professional and private life. Insead has campuses in France, Singapore and Abu Dhabi.

The survey asked respondents of 35 different nationalities to rate 15 key cities in the world in terms of economic dynamism (quality of labour, access to funding); quality of life (sports and cultural facilities, air quality); cost of living (real estate, dining, entertainment) and overall attractiveness (young talent, access to technology).

Dubai emerged as the overall winner and ranked first in economic dynamism, third in overall attractiveness and fourth in terms of quality of life and cost of living.

Amsterdam came second, followed by Toronto, Singapore, Madrid, Hong Kong and New York. Tokyo occupied the 8th spot, while Shanghai and London came in the 9th and 10th place, respectively.

Insead's findings supports the 2013 Global Talent Competitiveness Index, which ranked the UAE 19th globally for attracting and retaining talent, ahead of other oil-dependent economies in the Gulf and the Middle East.

"To some, it might come as a surprise that Dubai has been ranked as the best place to work globally, but this is not a revelation,” said Miguel Lobo, associate professor of Decision Sciences and Director of Insead Campus Abu Dhabi.

"Today's business leaders and key decision-makers recognize the dynamism of this country, which leads many to choose to live, work and actively immerse themselves in the regional landscape.”

The UAE economy is forecast to grow by 5 per cent this year. Besides its predominantly young workforce, the country boasts of a world-class infrastructure, political stability and sustainability. Human resources experts said it is the tax-free regime, coupled with attractive salary packages, that makes Dubai a desirable place for professionals.

"From an employee's perspective, the combination of competitive remuneration, career opportunities and high quality of life [in the UAE] is particularly attractive,” Olivier Meier at Mercer told Gulf News earlier.

Mercer's Worldwide Survey of International Assignment Policies and Practices 2012 had ranked the UAE as the seventh top destination worldwide for multinational organisations looking to expand their global footprint, attesting to the country's position as an ideal hub not just for employees, but for businesses as well.

Sam Barnett, CEO of MBC group and president of Insead Alumni Association in UAE, said the survey findings are not surprising. "Not only do we see larger numbers of Insead alumni coming to work here each year, but more and more are staying for greater periods of time,” he said.

He said the "excitement of an emerging market and all the perks of an international city” make Dubai desirable to many people. "There are attractive opportunities to build a career with many of the companies that have started here or with the international companies establishing a foothold in the Middle East.” – Gulf News -


Royal Jet bags Business Aviation Operator of the Year

posted on 20/11/2014

Royal Jet has retained its title as ‘Business Aviation Operator of the Year' at the annual Aviation Business Awards.

The Middle East's private charter company, chaired by Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, received the award for the company's consistent delivery of world-class services within the Middle East business aviation sector during the past 12 months.

Sheikh Hamdan said, "It is an honour to be recognised by the Middle East aerospace industry for our ongoing achievements over the past year. It is a highly competitive marketplace and Royal Jet is proud to be a pioneer in the region and we are committed to providing the ultimate, luxury chartered service to our valued clients." In order to meet the growing demands of the industry, Royal Jet announced a fleet development programme at the end of 2013 which will be completed by the year 2020 at a cost of US$700 million. Last year, the Abu Dhabi-based company flew to over 350 destinations in 145 countries and operated over 2,500 flights and is on track to exceed this in 2014. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Etihad Airways’ inaugural flight to San Francisco touches down

posted on 20/11/2014

Etihad Airways' flight EY183 touched down at San Francisco International Airport last night, marking the start of its new nonstop daily service between Abu Dhabi and San Francisco, the airline's fifth destination in the U.S.

Representatives from the diplomatic community, including Abdulla Alsaboosi, Consul-General of the United Arab Emirates in Los Angeles, as well as members of the management teams of Etihad Airways and San Francisco International Airport, participated in a ceremonial ribbon-cutting at the departure and arrival gate. Guests onboard the inaugural flight were also presented with special commemorative certificates.

San Francisco, a global tourism and business centre, is another strong addition to Etihad Airways' growing U.S. network and provides the first direct link between Abu Dhabi and Northern California.

Etihad Airways has said that launch is another example of the successful partnership with Jet Airways since the route is operated using a Jet Airways' Boeing 777-300ER aircraft through a lease agreement. The flights will have a combination of Etihad Airways and Jet Airways cabin crew onboard. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Emirates’ new baggage rules

posted on 20/11/2014

Emirates airline has announced changes to its check-in baggage rules according to which size does matter.

The new rules came into effect on November 15.

An Emirates spokesperson told XPRESS: "Individual items with total dimensions exceeding 300cm (118 inches) cannot be transported as checked baggage, and must be sent as cargo or freight. There are no exceptions to this rule. The standard free baggage allowance for all Emirates destinations (excluding Canada, North or South America) as per the weight concept is 30kg for economy class, 40kg for business class and 50kg for first class.”

For tickets issued before November 15, bags that range 300-400cm may be accepted in exceptional cases. But passengers need to obtain an approval from Emirates at least seven working days before travel. If the free baggage allowance is exceeded, normal excess charges would also apply.

For flights operating to Canada, North and South Americas, the standard free baggage allowance is determined by the piece concept.

Accordingly, two pieces of 23kg each on economy and two pieces of 32kg each on first and business class are allowed.

"Total dimensions (length + width + height) of each piece must not exceed 150cm (59 inches). Customers with individual items exceeding above dimensions up to 300cm (118 inches) will be charged an additional fee. Individual items with total dimensions exceeding 300cm (118 inches) cannot be transported as checked baggage, and must be sent as cargo or freight,” the rules state.

For customers with two pieces of luggage in all three classes, total combined dimensions of both pieces should not exceed 300cm (118 inches).

But for tickets issued prior to November 15, the total dimensions (length+ width+ height) of each piece must not exceed 158cm (62 inches).

The rules state that customers with infants are allowed an additional bag up to 10kg that may not exceed 55 x 38 x 20cm in size where the weight concept applies, or one piece of up to 23kg and with total dimensions (length + width + height) not exceeding 115cm where the piece concept applies. – Gulf News -


Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed Al Nahyan opens Yas Mall

posted on 20/11/2014

H.H. Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed Al Nahyan, National Security Adviser and Deputy Chairman of Abu Dhabi Executive Council, yesterday inaugurated Yas Mall, the largest and latest shopping and entertainment destination on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi.

The inauguration ceremony was attended by H.H. Lt. General Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior , H.H. Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chief of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince's Court, H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, Executive Council Member, Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, a number of Sheikhs and members of the Executive Council of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and senior officials.

The ceremony, which took place in the Town Square, commenced with the arrival of H.H. Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed, accompanied by the UAE national anthem. This was followed by a performance dedicated to the vision of the UAE leadership.

The programme also included an interactive video highlighting Yas Island's present and future. The last performance celebrated the launch of Yas Mall and showcased an extraordinary art installation of six falcons made from steel representing a symbol of force, courage, grace and pride.

The inauguration ceremony included a tour by H.H. Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed around Yas Mall's different sections and facilities. Spanning three floors, Yas Mall includes more than 370 stores, 60 of which are international restaurants, along with 83 unique-concept stores, which further enhance the Mall's retail offer of local and international brands.

The 2.5 million sq. ft. mall, which was developed by Aldar Properties, provides visitors with an exciting range of leading local, regional and international retail brands and entertainment attractions, serviced by nearly 10,000 covered parking spaces.

Yas Mall will open to the public for the first time on Wednesday, 19th November, a few days ahead of the 2014 Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Located on Yas Island, Yas Mall offers a shopping destination for both tourists and residents supported by its easy access from the centre of Abu Dhabi. Yas Mall's proximity to other exciting attractions such as Yas Marina Circuit, Yas Links, Yas Park and Yas Water World as well as its direct link to Ferrari World, adds further value to the leisure and entertainment offer on Yas Island.

Yas Mall includes 20 VOX screens which bring even more excitement to Abu Dhabi, with the Emirate's first 4Dx technology, as well as a family entertainment zone by Fun Works, with the region's first 60,000 sq. ft. area dedicated to playful learning.

Yas Mall was designed to achieve a Two Pearl Estidama rating, Abu Dhabi's sustainable framework for design, construction and operation. It integrates a series of green strategies that make it a forerunner in the next generation of development in the Middle East. Some of these strategies include the use of regionally sourced and durable materials including modular limestone flooring and wall cladding and the use of shading strategies such as vertical glazing that is protected from direct sun via deep insets, canopies and a brise-soleil system, as well as improved outdoor thermal comfort through landscaping and shading devised over exterior parking and primary pedestrian pathways.

Estidama, which means sustainability in Arabic, is Abu Dhabi's own green building guideline. All buildings in Abu Dhabi must meet a minimum of 1 Pearl; Yas Mall is a 2 Pearl Estidama Building. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


UAE welcomes Saudi Royal Court's statement

posted on 20/11/2014

The United Arab Emirates has welcomed the statement made by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, through a statement issued yesterday by the Saudi Royal Court.

The UAE praised the statement which called for turning a new page to push the process of joint GCC and Arab action.

The UAE also expressed its full support to King Abdullah's pledge for collective GCC support and cooperation with Egypt and for the start of a new phase of unanimity and consensus among the brethren.

It also welcomed King Abdullah's appeal to work for the success of the march towards Arab solidarity, especially in current circumstances and challenges that require all brethren to stand as one in the interest of the Arab nation.

The UAE said at the end of its statement that the vision of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, as manifested in his statement, represents a clear approach in circumstances that require of championing the nation's interest and joining hands to achieve stability and prosperity. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


UAE reaffirms commitment to a greener economy

posted on 20/11/2014

SONGDO-KOREA: A delegation from the United Arab Emirates represented by the Directorate of Energy and Climate Change of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs participated yesterday in the annual Global Green Growth Institute's (GGGI) governance meetings – the 3rd Assembly and the 6th Council – in Songdo, Korea as a member country.

The delegation was led by Dr. Thani Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, UAE Permanent Representative to International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and Director of Energy and Climate Change department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

"We are pleased that the UAE has been chosen to continue being a Council member for the next two years, which is a testament of the UAE's leadership and commitment to green growth," said Dr. Al Zeyoudi.

The new Chairman of GGGI and Former Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said: "As always, we appreciated the valuable insight from the delegation from the United Arab Emirates. The UAE has been a crucial partner to GGGI since the organization's inception and continues to play a leading role on the Council." The meetings were attended by ministers and high level government officials from its 22 member states, where they discussed and approved the Institute's 2015- 2020 strategic plan, the work programme, the budget and the council membership for 2015 – 2016.

"We appreciate the UAE's strong support. We have a fantastic program there and in the region. I am especially pleased at yesterday's meeting they lead the strategic discussion on how current Members can help to expand GGGI Membership and mobilize resources. I also congratulate them for receiving another term on the GGGI Council," said GGGI Director-General, Yvo De Boer.

The UAE also participated in a panel discussion on the theme of "Green Growth as a Creative Growth Model" where Dr. Al Zeyoudi shared the UAE's vision on green growth.

"Exploring a green growth pathway means finding new sustainable growth engines in a business friendly, competitive and entrepreneurial economy, which harnesses the full potential of our human capital, creates attractive jobs and effective markets, and these are demonstrated through our Masdar initiatives," said Dr. Al Zeyoudi.

The UAE joined the GGGI in 2011, and have since collaborated with the international organization on developing the UAE's national green growth strategy, as part of its fundamental transition to a diversified, knowledge-based economy built on education and research and development. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


JOC names Jebel Ali world’s most productive port

posted on 20/11/2014

DP World's flagship Jebel Ali Port has added another accolade to its already impressive resume.

The Dubai port has just been named the world's most productive in the latest port productivity report from the highly respected US-based Journal of Commerce (JOC).

The rankings are based on the average moves of containers per ship, per hour, in 2013 as reported by shipping lines themselves, representing more than 75 percent of global vessel capacity. Jebel Ali Port led the industry with an average of 138 moves per vessel hour (MPH).

According to the report, Jebel Ali Port beat 483 ports world-wide, and topped the list of the world's top 25 ports after analysis of more than 150,000 port calls.

Importantly, given the move to larger and larger ships, Jebel Ali also tops the list of ports handling ships with capacity of more than 8,000 TEU (twenty foot equivalent container units), with an impressive 163 MPH.

HE Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Chairman of DP World, said DP World has invested significantly in infrastructure, equipment, technology and training at Jebel Ali to ensure they can serve their customers' efficiently and help them realise the benefits of scale the new, larger vessels bring.

"It is very pleasing to see that this effort is making a difference and we are very proud of our UAE Region team for achieving these excellent results," Bin Sulayem said.

"Customer service is at the heart of everything we do and we constantly invest to ensure we stay ahead of demand so our customers can maximise the efficiency of the supply chain and improve their competitiveness," added the DP World chairman.

Last month, Jebel Ali welcomed the first scheduled vessel at its new Container Terminal 3 as it gears up to serve customers at the state-of-the-art facility, which takes total capacity to 17 million TEU. Once fully operational next year, the world's most modern container terminal will add a further 2 million TEU capacity which will be able to accommodate ten mega vessels of 18,000 TEU simultaneously.

In the first nine months of 2014, DP World's terminals in the UAE handled 11.4 million TEU, representing growth of 12.6 per cent year-on-year. Yet another new record was achieved with 4 million TEU handled in the third quarter.

The JOC report defines productivity as the average of the gross moves per hour for each call recorded last year. Gross moves per hour for a single vessel call is defined as the total container moves (on-load, offload and repositioning) divided by the number of hours for which the vessel is at berth. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


UAE provides Dh553 million to UNRWA and Palestine over 2 years

posted on 20/11/2014

The UAE provided aid valued at Dh121 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, UNRWA, in 2013 and 2014, in addition to direct aid worth Dh432 million sent to Palestine during the same period.

Hazza Al Qahtani, Under-Secretary of the Ministry of International Cooperation and Development, MICAD, Vice-Chairman of the Committee for the Coordination of Foreign Aid, and Head of the UAE delegation to the UNRWA Advisory Committee meeting in Jordan, said that the UAE's total aid during the Gaza crisis amounted to some Dh92 million, and the country had also pledged to provide US$40.8 million to UNRWA through the Emirates Red Crescent.

He pointed out that all the contributions and commitments are efforts to honour the pledge announced by the UAE at the Cairo International Conference on Palestine, "Reconstructing Gaza," to provide US$200 million in aid.

Al-Qahtani stressed that the UAE values its partnership with UNRWA and looks forward to further cooperation and coordination efforts to contribute to providing a decent life for the Palestinian refugees.

He said that the UAE, since its founding by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, had put the Palestinian issue at the top of its priorities, including supporting the Palestinian people and their steadfastness and providing a decent life for them until they overcome their ordeal.

He emphasised the continuation of this generous support by President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and His Highness General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


DFWAC: 123 children out of every 1,000 exposed to abuse in schools

posted on 20/11/2014

The results of a field study conducted by the Dubai Foundation for Women and Children (DFWAC) on "Abuse against children in the UAE society" revealed that 123 out of every 1,000 children in school are exposed to abuse or violence, while such exposure is less in homes where 65 out of every 1,000 children have to suffer such predicament.

The study, conducted on 4,111 students from across the UAE, also showed that male children are the most vulnerable to abuse at home (7.2%), compared to females (5.7%). Similarly, more male children suffer abuse at school (15.1%) than female children (9.3%). Children of the middle stage of education (prep) are the most vulnerable to abuse than children in other stages, whether at home or at school.

The survey results were revealed at a press conference held by the DFWAC on Wednesday morning at its headquarters in Dubai. Her Excellency Afra Al Basti, Director General of DFWAC, and Sheikha Al Mansouri, Assistant Director-General for Corporate Support, Maryam bin Theneya, Communication Director were present on this occasion.

Badriah Al Farsi, Programme and Research Director, and Aisha Al Midfa, Programme and Research Officer, announced the results of the study along with Dr Fakir Al Gharaibeh, Associate Professor at the University of Sharjah.

Afra Al Basti emphasized that this study is an important milestone in the fight against violence towards children. Experts have often been hampered by shortage of sufficient data and studies about violence within the UAE. This study describes ways to deal with this phenomenon by highlighting all the points that require more work and focus in the coming period.

She added that the DFWAC has now presented the results of this study for the benefit of all the stakeholders in the field of care and protection of children since all efforts of the foundation are aimed at serving the UAE and its community members. The foundation is willing to reach out to all those willing to cooperate with it to achieve the same goal.

Al Basti pointed out that the responsibility of confronting the phenomenon of child abuse is one that must be shared by all members of the community, and advocated that all individuals should positively participate by communicating with DFWAC through the helpline 800 111 to report any case of abuse, and educate their children on how to deal with such cases.

Badria Al Farsi said during the press conference that the results of the study indicate that 5.7% of Emirati children are exposed to abuse in the home and 11.5% of them are subjected to abuse when at school.

She added that the death of both parents is one reason that could lead to a child's exposure to abuse, whether at home or school, as the child who lives with his parents is less vulnerable than others. The child who lives with his mother only is more likely to be exposed to abuse at home, while the child who lives with the father only is the most vulnerable to abuse at the school.

Al Farsi explained that the study sample included 4,111 children of Emirati nationals and expatriates in the private schools in the UAE falling within the age group 10-18 years, or from the fifth grade to XII, and included 50.6% males and 49.4% females, studying in a total of 39 private schools.

She added that this study was aimed at determining the prevalence of abuse against the children of citizens and residents in homes and schools in the United Arab Emirates, and to come up with appropriate proposals to ensure protection of children and prevention of various types of abuse.

Al Farsi emphasized that this study is the largest national study in terms of sample size to discuss the subject of child abuse involving wards of citizens and residents of the United Arab Emirates, and is the first study in which the state is seeking to know the magnitude, types and forms of this phenomenon.

She added that the study will prove to be an important reference for decision-makers in the field of child protection in the UAE, and will also pave the way for the first efforts towards the development of education and fight against violence and child abuse programs. It also highlights the efforts of the UAE in the face of this global phenomenon in the light of the UAE's commitment to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its quest to activate the same on the ground. It also highlights the Dubai Foundation for Women and Children's efforts to protect and prevent children and families from violence and not allow such a menace to spread in the community.

Referring to the family, the study recommended preparing family-oriented awareness programs on child rights, making families aware about the most appropriate pedagogical methods of child-rearing and correct upbringing without resorting to violence and abuse. Also, in the school area, it recommended strict laws to deal with all types of abuse within the school.

The study also recommended organising workshops for teachers and specialists to identify the indicators of violence and child abuse to help one intervene in time and help the children, as well urged social workers and school management to take ownership and develop skills to deal with cases of abuse against children and to raise awareness about the importance of reporting these cases, besides formulating a program of action to combat the problem of bullying in schools.

The study called for increased community awareness about the issue of violence and child abuse and about help lines for reporting these cases. It also called for making competent institutions dealing with cases of violence and child abuse more responsive in registering reports of child abuse and taking appropriate action on each such communication to ensure that the child has access to the best and most effective services to protect them from violence and abuse.

It also recommended equipping competent institutions to provide appropriate treatment programmes and training specialists on the best methods and skills to deal with the cases, and put the results of the study before the concerned authorities in all the Emirates and take this up with all those responsible private education institutions to become a pillar for reform and develop radical solutions to these problems.

The study also called for the establishment of a national observatory for the application of child protection legislation and follow-up to receive complaints besides ensuring participation of civil society organizations working in the field of childhood and children's participation and make these a key element in the formation of this observatory. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Amnesty International report on freedom of expression in UAE, is "one-sided and inaccurate," says Ministry of Foreign Affairs

posted on 20/11/2014

The UAE yesterday responded to a recent report issued by Amnesty International about freedom of expression in the country, saying that it had "published a one-sided and inaccurate report." The statement, issued by Amna AI Muhairy, director of the Human Rights department of the Foreign Ministry, notes that the report "repeats familiar politically-motivated allegations from groups seeking to undermine and overthrow the UAE's successful model of a stable, peaceful, tolerant and diverse society which has created economic opportunities for millions of people from all over the world." "It is disappointing that the report completely borrows the narrative of the Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliates in its version of the developments it portrays," AI Muhairy said.

"The UAE is committed to continually improving the implementation of human rights," she said, adding "Unfortunately, issues relating to human rights and political freedoms have been systematically manipulated in our region in order to progress political ends." "In these difficult times in the region, the UAE will continue to protect its stability and security in the face of the Muslim Brotherhood and the campaigns of other extremist groups," according to AI Muhairy.

The full text of her statement follows: The UAE regrets that Amnesty International has published a one-sided and inaccurate report. The report, based in part on anonymous sources, repeats familiar politically-motivated allegations from groups seeking to undermine and overthrow the UAE's successful model of a stable, peaceful, tolerant and diverse society which has created economic opportunities for millions of people from all over the world. We are surprised that Amnesty has decided to publish this report and reject our answers to various questions raised by them. In our view this undermines the report's credibility and the statements made in it. It is disappointing that the report completely borrows the narrative of the Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliates in its version of the developments it portrays. We are surprised that there is no scrutiny of this narrative. A report of this length and magnitude requires time to review and respond thoughtfully, however, a cursory glance highlights many inaccurate and flawed allegations.

The report erroneously begins its narrative with the political petition but does not mention the fact that the majority of signatories have not been affected by State actions as a result.

We, however, must believe that an organization of Amnesty International's stature presents this report in good faith, but persuasive actors seeking to advance a political campaign to impugn the reputation of the UAE have succeeded in putting this version across. In these difficult times in the region, the UAE will continue to protect its stability and security in the face of the Muslim Brotherhood and the campaigns of other extremist groups. Unfortunately, issues relating to human rights and political freedoms have been systematically manipulated in our region in order to progress political ends.

The UAE Constitution enshrines the rights and freedoms of all citizens, including equality, freedom of speech and the press, peaceful assembly and association, freedom of religion and belief, the prohibition of torture, the independence of the judiciary, and the right to a fair trial, including the presumption of innocence and the right to counsel. The UAE is committed to continually improving the implementation of human rights.

The UAE is committed to continually improving the implementation of human rights.

The arrest and detention of the individuals raised in the report resulted from thorough investigations which found that the accused were not part of a peaceful association calling for political debate, but rather were members of an organization aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood whose objective is to seek the overthrow of the UAE Government. No state can simply stand idly by in the face of such a threat to its national integrity. Our replies to Amnesty's questions have reflected this fact and we are disappointed that they were not given due weight The individuals in question were tried in accordance with the due process guarantees under the UAE Constitution and laws.

Representatives of the Emirates Human Rights Association visited the accused on a regular basis and not only found no evidence of any mistreatment. Moreover, the allegations which were raised during the trial were addressed by the Court and found to be without merit. The decisions of the judicial process of any State must be respected.

The threat posed by extremist organizations in our region is all too real, as evidenced by on-going violent conflicts which are causing untold human suffering. The UAE represents an alternative vision of a stable, peaceful, moderate and modernizing society which offers a better life to millions through promoting economic growth.

In a remarkably short period of time, the UAE has made impressive progress in developing its governance institutions and building a tolerant and multicultural society in which people of more than 200 different nationalities live harmoniously together.

The UAE will continue its work to strengthen the protection of human rights. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


RTA launches a smart tourist guide on Dubai Ferry

posted on 20/11/2014

A smart tourist guide service on board the Dubai Ferry was recently launched by The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA).

The service called ‘Nahaam' offers riders explanations about tourist landmarks and also displays information about the scheduled ferry trips, including a route map showing the current position of the ferry as is the case in airline flights.

The Marine Transport Department announced that it has recently fitted four ferry boats with the Nahaam system.

Doctor Yousuf Mohammad Al Ali, Chief Executive Officer of RTA's Public Transport Agency, said the launch of the initiative adds to the smart service offering to various spectrums of the community and responds to the wishes of ferry riders, particularly tourists and visitors.

"The smart tourist guide Nahaam is a dedicated system displayed on board the Dubai Ferry screens showcasing tourist landmarks of the Emirate on the line of the trip using a GPS based display, enriched with promotional information & materials,” Al Ali said.

Al Ali said that the name of the service comes from "an antique heritage practice once prevailed in the UAE where a person accompanying sailors plying the Arabian Gulf in pearl-fishing trips used to chant heritage songs that inspire, entertain and cheer up pearl fishers relegating the woes and risks associated with their profession. Fishermen, in turn, used to repeat these popular songs after the Nahaam”.

"We, in the RTA, are keen on giving heritage-inspired names to the services we offer to the public as part of our endeavours to reinvigorate and revive our glorious past and link it with our current impressive achievements as well as our promising future. Moreover, using traditional and historical names in our services is part of the innovation and creativity we are seeking to realise,” he said.

RTA explained that the Nahaam system is a tablet computer fitted in the ferry's captain cabin and linked with display monitors in passengers' cabins. At the start of the trip, the system displays a short movie about safety tips followed by a pictorial display of key tourist landmarks en route accompanied by an audio commentary.

It also displays other information about Dubai, the formation of the UAE federation, and Expo 2020. - Gulf News -


UAE-wide charity run starts on Friday

posted on 20/11/2014

A 575-km charity run across all seven emirates in the UAE starts on Friday in support of children with limb deformities.

The 7Emirates Run is also held in honour of UAE National Day.

The 12-day run aims to raise at least Dh777,777 for children who have leg deformities or amputations. It is organised in partnership with Al Jalila Foundation for medical research and treatment.

The event is held under the patronage of Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Executive Council.

In the last edition, seven runners covered the seven emirates to raise funds for Sharjah toddler Mohammad Ayoub, suffering from limb deformities. A total of Dh100,000 was raised to fund his surgeries and post-operative care.

Today, Mohammad is able to walk with prosthetic support.

The funds were raised by the runners for Mohammad through the foundation's charitable fund, A'awen, that helps patients in the UAE who cannot afford medical treatment.

This year, multiple children will receive financial support.

Seven core runners will cover the entire course, while seven other runners will take part in a relay. Individuals who register will also be able to traverse a section of their choice.

In the last category, participants can be part of the special UAE National Day marathon limited to 43 runners – symbolic of 43 years of the federation – on the last leg of the run from Sharjah to Dubai.

The 12-day run starts on Friday in Abu Dhabi and ends on National Day (December 2) in Dubai.

It is led by race director Wendelin Lauxen, a German expatriate who is the Guinness World Record holder of the fastest time to complete a marathon in each of the seven continents.

Lauxen founded the run in 2010 as a solo endeavour. In 2013, six runners joined him and now the run will be an annual public event.

"People run with you and ask, ‘why are you doing this?'. It's a great way to raise awareness that though we can run, there are children who can't. We want to help children get back on their feet,” he told Gulf News ahead of the run.

Dutch expat Servee Palmans, who will also cover the entire course, added: "It's for a good cause. It's not easy – I cried a few times last time – but it's worth it.”

Dr Abdul Kareem Al Olama, CEO of Al Jalila Foundation, said: "The expansion of the 7EmiratesRun and the strong support we have received reflects the significant impact that government bodies, corporates, foundations and members of the community can have on people's lives when they all come together.” – Gulf News -