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Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi carries out first vessel-based survey of dolphins in coastal waters

posted on 16/09/2014

The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) has carried out the first vessel-based survey of dolphins in the coastal waters of Abu Dhabi, as part of its new Dolphin Conservation Programme to monitor the emirate's dolphins, study their biology, habitats and geographical distribution, ultimately supporting the long-term conservation of the species.

The Dolphin Conservation Programme's survey, which was carried out by EAD's marine species specialists, included a capacity building component for Emirati marine biologists, and involved volunteers from the Emirates Wildlife Society, in association with WWF, and the U.A.E. Dolphin Project.

The 15-day survey was implemented using a custom-made 45-foot boat fitted with an observation platform, covering over 2,000 kilometres of Abu Dhabi's coastal waters extending from the Sila Peninsula in the west to the border with Dubai in the east.

Ayesha Yousef Al Blooshi, Director of Marine Biodiversity at EAD, said, "Dolphins are excellent indicators of the health and quality of our marine environment. The Dolphin Conservation Programme will help us better understand dolphin populations and their distribution, and identify key threats to help us develop effective conservation initiatives for these species." "The survey was conducted in partnership with the Bottlenose Dolphin Research Institute in Spain, using the latest technologies to ensure that the conservation programme as a whole is being implemented within international standards," added Al Blooshi.

A ‘photo-identification' technology, relying on unique markings on the dolphins' dorsal fins, was used to identify individual animals and effectively act as a tracking system, enabling the team to determine movement patterns and estimate the dolphins' population size. Once again, EAD used drones, equipped with high definition cameras, to confirm the number of animals observed during sightings.

The survey identified two different dolphin species in Abu Dhabi waters, including the Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops aduncus) and the Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphin (Sousa chinensis). 77 Bottlenose dolphins, of which 19 were calves, and 61 Humpback dolphins, of which 10 were claves, were recorded. EAD also spotted two new born calves, indicating that the dolphin calving season may occur in late spring/early summer in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.

The survey results also revealed a distinct regional difference in species composition with the Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphin being dominant around EAD's Marawah Marine Biosphere Reserve, while Bottlenose dolphins were dominant from Al Dhabbaiya to Ras Ghanadah and between Al Sila and Sir Bani Yas Island.

"The data collected from the survey will support us in further developing our conservation initiatives for our marine biodiversity, as well as helping us conserve the natural heritage of Abu Dhabi for future generations. The general public can also support this effort by reporting any sighting of dolphins or stranded dolphins to the Abu Dhabi Government Contact Centre by calling 800-555," Al Blooshi concluded. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


U.A.E. observes World Shark Day

posted on 16/09/2014

The U.A.E. has joined the international community to save the marine wild environment by joining hands with conservationists who have called to observe World Shark Day on Sunday, as a landmark decision to better protect sharks goes into action.

Dr Elsayed Ahmed, International Fund for Animal Welfare - Middle East and North Africa, Regional Director, said, "The Ministry of Environment and Water issued a resolution (500) for the year 2014 regulating the hunting and trading of sharks that took effect on Sept.1.”

"This resolution is a contribution from the U.A.E. to the international efforts to protect the sharks from the illegal practices,” added Ahmad.

It is estimated that up to 100-million sharks are killed each year for the voracious shark fin trade that supports the luxury soup trade in the Far East, while others like the porbeagle shark have been hunted to the point of being "critically endangered in the North East Atlantic” for consumption on European dinner tables.

Dr Ralf Sonntag, IFAW shark expert and director of IFAW Germany (International Fund for Animal Welfare), said, "Shark species are declining all over the world. They are extremely slow breeders and for some species even very low levels of fishing endanger the viability of populations, to the extent that numbers of certain populations have decreased by as much as 80 and 90 per cent.

According to the IUCN 74 species of sharks and 107 species of rays are considered to be threatened. Vigorous enforcement of the new regulations and an end of the shark finning on the high seas, would be an important first step to give certain species of sharks the opportunity to recover from unsustainable fishing practices.

"Creating a special day for sharks, much as has been done so successfully for threatened land-based species like elephants and rhinoceros, will highlight the scale of danger to these remarkable creatures,” said Sonntag.

"Sharks should be revered, not reviled. Protecting marine species like shark is good for coastal communities which can benefit from the tourism based on sharks and from a healthier ecosystem.”

In March 2013, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), announced it would list five commercially profitable shark species (three hammerheads, Oceanic white tip and Porbeagle) as well as both Manta rays, on Appendix II of CITES meaning all are threatened (either vulnerable or endangered).

Implementing the new measures to protect sharks was delayed by 18 months to allow countries to adapt legislation if necessary. So far only basking sharks, whale sharks and great white sharks were listed by CITES. Authorities from now will be compelled to ensure that traded sharks are either not listed on CITES or in the case of listed species, to ensure that only certified sustainably caught specimens are traded. IFAW has supported training and shark conservation workshops to train customs and fishing authorities – particularly in the Middle East – in how to implement the new Appendix II listings. – The Gulf Today -


U.A.E. reiterates commitment to Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer

posted on 16/09/2014

The U.A.E. has reiterated its commitment to the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer and Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer and to the mobilisation of international efforts to implement both agreements.

Dr. Rashid Ahmed bin Fahad, Minister of Environment and Water, in a statement on the occasion of the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, marked on 16 September every year, noted that U.A.E. will host United Nations Envoronment Programme (UNEP)'s meetings of regional networks of national ozone officers in West Asia, between 26-29 October.

"The success of the national programme for the gradual disposal of ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) by 2010 clearly showed the huge efforts made by U.A.E. in this regard, as well as the close cooperation between all stakeholders in the private and public sectors and encouraged us to run a national programme to gradually dispose of hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFCs) by 2040 as per the timeframe set by the 19th meeting of parties to the Montreal Protocol," Minister bin Fahad said noting that the Cabinet in July issued a resolution to further reduce the production and consumption of ozone depleting substances.

The International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, marked this year under the them 'Ozone Layer Protection: The Mission Goes On', commemorates the date of the signing, in 1987, of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.

It is often called a framework convention, because it served as a framework for efforts to protect the globe's fragile ozone layer. The Vienna Convention was adopted in 1985 and entered into force on 22 September 1988, and in 2009 became the first convention of any kind to achieve universal ratification. It is often called a framework convention, because it served as a framework for efforts to protect the globe's ozone layer. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


U.A.E. film to open Abu Dhabi Film Festival

posted on 16/09/2014

The Abu Dhabi Film Festival (ADFF) has announced it will close with Disney film Big Hero 6 on November 1. But in an unprecedented move to champion regional cinema, it will open with an Emirati film.

The October 23 screening of Ali Mustafa's From A to B will mark the first time a locally produced film opens the festival in its eight years of operation.

"It is a privilege to celebrate the world premiere in our capital city and I am proud to have the first Emirati film to ever open the festival,” said Mustafa in a statement. "This is another testament to our growing industry, as the festival has proven to be a great platform for launching Arab films to an international audience.”

Mustafa is known for his 2009 feature film City of Life, a big-budget effort which took in Dh746,305 in its opening weekend, and became one of the most successful Emirati films to see the light of day. In 2010, it opened the Gulf Film Festival.

From A to B, co-produced by Abu Dhabi-based Image Nation and twofour54, is a road trip story that centres around three Arab youths as they embark on a 1,500 mile (2,400 kilometre) journey from Abu Dhabi to Beirut in memory of their late friend who passed away half a decade prior.

The movie was filmed in Abu Dhabi and Liwa in the U.A.E., as well as Amman, Petra and Wadi Rum in southern Jordan. It stars a slew of Palestinian, Saudi, Syrian and Egyptian talents, as well as Hollywood actress Madeline Zima, known for portraying Mia in the hit TV show Californication.

Ali Al Jabri, director of ADFF, said that "high-calibre Arab filmmakers” such as Mustafa point to the vibrancy of filmmaking in the region.

"This year's festival will highlight the growth of the film industry in the region and showcase the best Arab filmmaking talent alongside the best in world cinema,” he added.

In 2013, ADFF hosted another world premiere of a local film when it screened the Emirati-American horror film, Djinn, receiving mixed reviews. In its opening weekend in cinemas across the U.A.E., Djinn broke Dh1 million. However, ADFF's 2013 opening film slot was reserved for the Hollywood crime comedy Life of Crime, starring Jennifer Anniston, John Hawkes and Yasin Bey.


The festival will end its 10-day run with the Disney film, Big Hero 6. Directed by Don Hall and Chris Evans, the animation tells a family-friendly tale about "the special bond that develops between Baymax, a plus-sized inflatable robot, and robotic prodigy Hiro Hamada, who join forces with a team of crime fighters to save San Fransokyo.”

The film, which was created by the same team behind the megahit Frozen, will screen in Abu Dhabi shortly after its world premiere in Tokyo.

"We are very happy to close the festival with a film that is not only a lot of fun, but also brings to superhero movies the same heart-wrenching emotions that Frozen brought to princess stories,” said Al Jabri. "This choice shows the wide range of great films the festival brings year after year.” – Gulf News -


Lights, camera, action on human rights!

posted on 16/09/2014

University students across Dubai and Sharjah are being urged to tap into their creative side in a bid to tackle human rights issues. On Monday, the Community Development Authority's (CDA) Human Rights Sector launched a short film competition inviting higher education students to create a thought-provoking awareness video based on child rights.

With a focus on four main areas within Child Rights, three winners will be selected from each category and the videos could later be used alongside the sector's community awareness campaigns.

Speaking from the CDA's office in Dubai on Monday, CEO of Human Rights Sector Maitha Al Shamsi told Khaleej Times this particular initiative was put forward to encourage community members to help tackle problems within the human rights sector here.

"The department conducts research into areas that require more awareness and greater campaigns and programmes. One of these areas in the U.A.E. is child rights ... (and that is) ... why this competition has been created. But another big area that needs focus is the rights of disabled people,” she said. And with the issuing of the Dubai Law and the ‘My Community' initiatives which champion the country's disabled community, Al Shamsi said disability awareness will be the next big focus for future campaigns.

Public outcry

Newspaper reports often highlight how parents fail to safely seat children in moving vehicles. Instances of abandoned newborn babies are also on the rise.

The most highly publicised child abuse case was that of Wadeema, a young girl tortured and killed by her father and his girlfriend before being buried in the desert. The news caused public outcry in the U.A.E. and when asked whether this renewed focus on child rights has come in light of this tragic case, CDA Director-General Khaled Al Kamda said no. "Child rights has always been a key objective of the CDA and this new focus has not come purely as a result of that isolated incident. That particular case did however push the issue to the fore.”

Short film competition

The short film competition will require students across both emirates to produce a 3-5 minute long video using both visual and sound effects.

With no restrictions in regards to content, Al Shamsi told Khaleej Times that students can shoot real-life cases from real life people, or simply shoot fictional scenes or informational slides. "Students will be free to do whatever they want which means the possibilities are endless. We are expecting some very powerful messages from these videos.”

Launched in a bid to foster a society which knows its human rights, Al Shamsi said the creative initiative will allow students to increase their knowledge of human rights issues while at the same time allowing the sector to feed off the students' own knowledge.

Cash prizes of Dh25,000, Dh20,000 and Dh15,000 will be rewarded to first, second and third place winners, respectively.

Any student across the two emirates can enter the competition, either as individuals or in groups, but only one entry per person can be submitted. A roadshow will be launched later this week where officials from the Human Rights Sector will visit universities across Dubai and Sharjah, including the American University of Dubai and twofour54 Media Training institution, to explain the details of the competition. – Khaleej Times -§ion=nationgeneral


Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum chairs Expo 2020 Higher Committee Meet

posted on 16/09/2014

H.H. Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Expo 2020 Higher Committee Chairman, President of the Department of Civil Aviation and Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Airline and Group, yesterday chaired the meeting of the Dubai Expo 2020 Higher Committee.

The meeting was held in the presence of its vice-chairman, Mohammed Ibrahim Al Shaibani, Director-General of the Ruler's Court, and other Dubai Expo 2020 Higher Committee members to review progress against preparatory plans to deliver the 2020 World Expo event – the first-of-its-kind to be held in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia (MENASA) region.

At the session, Reem Al Hashimy, U.A.E. Minister of State, Managing Director of the Dubai Expo 2020 Higher Committee and Director General of Dubai Expo 2020 Office, presented a detailed update on the setup and operations of the Dubai Expo 2020 Office to the Committee.

Higher Committee Member, Helal Saeed Al Marri, Director General Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing, and CEO Dubai World Trade Centre, presented progress on the masterplan and development of the site for the Dubai Expo 2020.

The Higher Committee then discussed matters pertaining to relevant work-steams and upcoming milestones including the Executive Committee meeting in October followed by the General Assembly in November 2014, both of which will be held in Paris. These meetings form part of the mandatory updates required to be provided to the Bureau of International Expositions (BIE) as Dubai prepares for the submission of all requirements to seek formal approval at the next critical Registration Phase in November 2015.

Site readiness activity is currently underway on the Dubai Trade Centre-Jebel Ali site, which will host Dubai Expo 2020, with full-fledged construction beginning by November 2015, once approval of plans by BIE is granted.

Running October 2020 through April 2021, the Expo will launch the country's Golden Jubilee celebration and serve as a springboard from which to inaugurate a progressive and sustainable vision for the coming decades. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


FANR authorises construction of two additional nuclear power reactors in U.A.E

posted on 16/09/2014

The Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR) of the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) has authorised the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) to begin building two additional nuclear power reactors at the Barakah site in the Western Region of the Abu Dhabi Emirate.

The "Licence for the Construction of Units Three and Four of the Barakah Nuclear Facility and Related Regulated Activities" was approved by the FANR Board of Management at its meeting on Monday 15 September. The licence authorises ENEC to construct two additional Korean-designed, advanced pressurised water reactors of the type known as the APR1400, each capable of producing 1,400 megawatts of electricity. FANR granted a construction licence for Units One and Two at the Barakah site in July 2012; that licence was the first provided to a "newcomer" country in 31 years to authorise the construction of its first nuclear power plant since China did so in 1981.

The licence permits ENEC to construct the reactors but ENEC must apply for a separate operating licence before it can begin to operate them. ENEC is expected to submit an application in 2015 for a licence to operate Units 1 and 2.

"The latest licence approval illustrates the significant progress the United Arab Emirates has achieved in its nuclear energy programme," said, Dr. Ahmed Al Mazrouei, Chairman of the FANR Board of Management.

The granting of the Units 3 and 4 construction licence followed an intensive 18-month review by about 200 FANR and other technical experts. They examined all relevant safety factors including the adequacy of the reactor site, the design of the facility, the safety analysis, management systems and quality assurance for construction, radiation safety measures, physical protection and safeguards.

Furthermore, the review incorporated lessons learnt from the March 2011 accident at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. Throughout its review, FANR has benefited from its close collaboration with both the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and nuclear regulatory officials in the Republic of Korea.

"The FANR team is dedicated to ensuring that nuclear energy in the U.A.E. is pursued safely, securely and peacefully," said FANR's Director General Dr. William D. Travers. "In addition to our detailed review of ENEC's operating licence application, FANR will continue to closely monitor construction at the Barakah site, and will verify that all rules and regulations are followed before it grants any authorisation to ENEC to commence operations." – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


DEWA achieves record 10 percent increase in energy generation in Q2 2014

posted on 16/09/2014

Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) has announced that the second quarter of 2014 has seen a record year-on-year increase in electricity generation to meet customers' needs for economic, social and domestic activities in Dubai.

"DEWA always works to deliver the required electricity and water capacity along with an appropriate surplus margin to achieve with its mission: Meeting customer satisfaction and promoting Dubai's vision through delivery of electricity and water services at world-class level of reliability, efficiency, safety and environment by a competent workforce and effective partnerships; supporting resources sustainability," said Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, MD and CEO of DEWA. "Power generation reached 10,692 GWh in the second quarter of this year compared with 9,739 GWh during the same period last year - with growth rate of around 10 percent.

"In terms of generation peak, it reached 6,845 MW in the second quarter of this year compared with 6,340 MW in 2013, a growth rate of 8 percent. Also, the recorded requirement peak in Dubai in 2014 reached 7,233MW in comparison with 6,857MW in 2013, a growth rate of 5.5 percent. DEWA's installed production capacity is 9,656 MW," he added.

"The great demand for energy is mainly attributed to meeting the requirements of ambitious projects, carried out lately in different areas of development," according to Al Tayer. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Abu Dhabi targets Jordan for tourism growth

posted on 16/09/2014

Abu Dhabi has the potential to become a leading intra-regional tourism destination from Jordan according to a delegation of travel industry leaders on a recent whistle-stop visit to the emirate.

Citing a combination of first-class infrastructural development, high-quality accommodation, an expanding array of family attractions and increasing air access, the Jordanian operators believe the emirate can gain a larger slice of outbound travel from the Kingdom, according to Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority, TCA Abu Dhabi.

The 11-strong trade delegation – guests of TCA Abu Dhabi and Etihad Airways - visited many of the emirate's top attractions including the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque - ranked by TripAdvisor as the world's second most recommended landmark in its recent Travellers' Choice Awards; and Yas Island - the emirate's entertainment destination - for first-hand experiences of the world's largest indoor theme park Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, the award-winning Yas Waterworld aqua park and the iconic Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi, the only hotel in the world to straddle a formula one race track.

"We have seen year-on-year hotel guest arrivals growth from Arab non-GCC markets of 20 percent, and with Jordan's performance outstripping this average, it remains something of a sleeping giant which is prime for further growth," said Mubarak Al Nuaimi, Director of Promotions and Overseas Offices, TCA Abu Dhabi.

"This largely untapped potential persuaded us to stage our first inbound familiarisation of Jordanian travel trade who will help us convert further business from the Kingdom." Abu Dhabi's family attractions are key to attracting the Jordanian traveller, according to Loai Naswari General Manager of Beit Almakdes Travel. "It's clear that you can spend a day at each of Yas Island's theme parks so I will encourage clients to stay longer to enjoy everything else the emirate has to offer. The children will love it!" he said.

Jamila Al-Sadi, Head of Corporate Travel at Amman based International Traders, was left in no doubt about the business potential. "I ‘m excited about opportunities associated with medical and religious tourism which will appeal to travellers from Jordan and think my clients will consider the fact that Abu Dhabi is not over-crowded as a positive factor when compared to other regional tourism hubs," she said.

"I can also see business potential by shifting business into Abu Dhabi to take advantage of the state-of-the-art conferencing facilities we have seen at some of the capital's hotels." Jordan has emerged as one of the emirate's top ten performers in terms of guest arrivals and nights, attracting 64,559 visitors in 2013. According to TCA Abu Dhabi figures, the emirate has welcomed 43,632 Jordanian hotel guests in the first seven months of this year, up 27% on the same period in 2013. Guest nights rose 24% over the same period year-on-year to 119,706, with average length of stay hovering at 2.7 nights. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Investment Corporation of Dubai, Kerzner Int'l reveal US$1.4bn Royal Atlantis development

posted on 16/09/2014

Investment Corporation of Dubai (ICD), the investment arm of the Government of Dubai, and Kerzner International Holdings Limited, the international developer and operator of destination resorts and luxury hotels, have unveiled the US$1.4bn Royal Atlantis Resort and Residences in Dubai.

Located on the crescent of The Palm, next to the Atlantis resort, the project will include nearly 800 new guest rooms with architecture from Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (KPF) and interior design by GA Design.

The 46-storey development will also feature 250 luxury residences, designed by Sybille de Margerie Design.

"This next phase of Atlantis, including the luxury residences of The Royal Atlantis, will continue to drive the growth of Dubai forward," commented Mohammed Ibrahim Al Shaibani, executive director and CEO of ICD and chairman of Kerzner International.

"This investment reaffirms ICD's commitment to support the long-term growth of our domestic hospitality market, a key pillar and growth sector for the Dubai economy." A new sky pool will soar almost 90m above The Palm, offering the ultimate ultra-pool experience with Dubai city views.

"The success of Atlantis, The Palm (the 1,500-room, water-themed resort on The Palm, overlooking the Arabian Sea and mainland Dubai) has continued to exceed our financial performance expectations year on year and the time is right to usher in the next phase of this iconic development," commented Alan Leibman, chief executive officer, Kerzner International.

"The Royal Atlantis Resort and Residences will offer a new resort living experience, completely taking it to the next level, while adding an entirely new dynamic with our ultimate residences.

"As we continue to focus on our global growth strategy, we are thrilled to be making such a significant impact in Dubai, and to be building off the success of the Atlantis brand, which has been so well-received from guests from all over the world." – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Dubai beats 53 global cities, remains world's hottest property market

posted on 16/09/2014

The pace of increase in property prices in Dubai has slowed, but compared to 53 other global cities they are still increasing at the fastest pace in the world, according to Knight Frank.

Dubai continues to top the annual rankings for the fifth consecutive quarter, recording an annual price growth of 24 per cent though it has dipped from 27.7 per cent in the year to March 2014, the latest Global House Price Index reveals.

In the six-month period (Q4 2014 to Q2 2014) prices rose by 7.4 per cent, while in the three-month period (Q1 to Q2 2014) prices were up by 3.9 per cent.

The emirate's mainstream market is outperforming the luxury end of the market due in part to the mortgage rules introduced by the U.A.E. Central Bank which are less restrictive for those buying residential property worth below Dh5 million, the report adds.

"Dubai's strong economic conditions and buoyant labour market continue to attract foreigners in their droves. Since this rising population needs decent (and not always luxurious) accommodation, we expect demand to outstrip supply in the short-term,” Khawar Khan, a Research Manager, Knight Frank Dubai, wrote on the company blog.

"All else equal then, we believe that mainstream residential prices will continue to rise faster than luxury home prices over the next 12-18 months,” he added.

The overall trajectory of the global house price index is upward with 40 of the 54 countries tracked by the index recording flat or rising prices on an annual basis. Two years ago, only 31 countries fell into this bracket The list of 53 countries compared by Knight Frank includes the United States, Hong Kong, India, China, the United Kingdom among others.

"Despite the fact that more countries are seeing positive price growth, the gap between the strongest and weakest performing housing markets has remained relatively constant in the last two years at 30-35 percentage points,” Kate Everett-Allen, International Residential Research, Knight Frank, wrote in the report.

Countries at the bottom of the list (54 countries) are no longer recording double-digit annual price falls, but those at the top are stretching further ahead.

"A few European countries have separated from the pack, and risen up the table in the last quarter suggesting a two speed Europe is emerging.

Turkey, Ireland and the UK are the frontrunners, whilst Cyprus, Greece and Slovenia are firmly lodged at the foot of the list,” Kate added. – Emirates 24│7 -


NBAD among world’s 50 safest banks 2014

posted on 16/09/2014

Global Finance, the prestigious international financial magazine, has ranked NBAD in its World's 50 Safest Banks for the sixth consecutive year. This year, NBAD ranks 25th in the world's 50 safest banks, up 10 positions from the previous year.

Global Finance's annual ranking of the world's 50 safest banks is a recognised and trusted standard of creditworthiness for the entire financial world.

"We are very proud to once again be listed among the world's 50 safest Banks and the safest in the emerging markets and Middle East, especially as we have moved up 10 positions in the rankings during a period of significant change and increasing regulation," said Alex Thursby, the Group Chief Executive Officer of NBAD.

"This recognition reflects the successful execution of our strategy and our continuous focus on safety. NBAD's strong credit ratings, combined with the Bank's ranking amongst the world's 50 safest banks, will serve us well as we execute our strategic growth objectives across the West-East Corridor." Mr Thursby said.

Global Finance selects banks for this list through an evaluation of long-term credit ratings from Moody's, Standard and Poor's, and Fitch and total assets of the 500 largest banks worldwide.

"With geopolitical risk rising in some markets and globalisation continuing apace, it is essential for companies to work with banking partners they know they can trust. This ranking offers companies an objective tool for evaluating the stability and security of the world's banks both globally and by region," says Joseph D. Giarraputo, Publisher of Global Finance.

Regarding the top safest banks in the Emerging Markets, in which NBAD ranked highest, Mr. Giarraputo says, "This ranking is an invaluable tool for companies to evaluate institutional strength in fast-growing, but volatile, emerging markets." James Burdett, the Group Chief Financial Officer of NBAD, said, "NBAD continues to focus on generating solid returns whilst maintaining a conservative approach to banking. Our recognition as one of the safest banks in the world by Global Finance is due to a number of factors, including the strength of our balance sheet, our solid capital position, our high levels of liquidity and our prudent approach to risk management. We will continue to maintain a safe and conservative approach as we execute against our ambitious growth strategy going forward." NBAD's long term ratings are amongst the strongest combined ratings of any financial institution in the world with ratings from Moody's Aa3, Standard and Poor's (S&P) A+, Fitch AA-, RAM (Malaysia) AAA, R&I's (Japan) rating of A+. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Royal Jet finalising new aircraft order

posted on 16/09/2014

Royal Jet, the Abu Dhabi-based private jet operator, is finalising an order for new aircraft with at least two manufacturers, according to its president and chief executive, Shane O'Hare.

Royal Jet announced a tender at the Dubai Airshow last year to replace six Boeing Business Jets (BBJs), two short-range Gulfstream G350s and a medium range Learjet 60.

"We have made our decision,” O'Hare said on Monday on the sidelines of a press conference in Dubai.

Royal Jet was expected to finalise the order for seven aircraft at a cost of US$700 million (Dh2.6 billion) in the second quarter.

”These are very complex deals because we are dealing with large aircraft and smaller aircraft, so there are different manufacturers involved,” O'Hare said.

In February, O'Hare said Royal Jet was in discussions with Bombardier, Boeing and Airbus to replace its long-range fleet.

Part of the fleet announcement will also be an expansion of the company's medevac services, which currently makes up 21 per cent of Royal Jet's total business, O'Hare said.

He also confirmed that the U.A.E. banks will fund Royal Jet's new fleet acquisition. "We are very comfortable with U.A.E. financing,” O'Hare said.

He said earlier this year that he favoured bank financing though was considering leasing options.

On year-to-date performance, O'Hare said that after a "relatively flat” start to the year and a "normal summer pattern not seen since the start of the global financial crisis”, Royal Jet is in line to meet its target of 4 per cent growth this year.

"We are very buoyant,” he said. Royal Jet, a private company, does not release its financials. – Gulf News -


Emirates and Jetstar expand codeshare on more routes

posted on 16/09/2014

Emirates and Jetstar have announced the expansion of their codeshare and frequent flyer relationship, to 30 routes across the Asia Pacific region providing more choice to Emirates customers.

From 26 October 2014, Emirates will grow its codeshare on Jetstar to include Jetstar Airways services between Melbourne and Ayers Rock (Uluru), Christchurch to Wellington in New Zealand and three new destinations in south-east Asia from Jetstar Asia's hub in Singapore.

The new codeshare services from Singapore will connect Emirates passengers to Penang in Malaysia, Yangon in Myanmar and Medan in Indonesia.

The additional destinations complement the current 25 routes announced in February this year.

Effective immediately, Skywards members can now also earn Skywards Miles when they book economy Starter Plus, economy Starter Max or Business Max fares on international routes with Jetstar Airways, Jetstar Asia, Jetstar Japan and Valuair, as well as domestic routes within Australia and New Zealand if they connect to an international flight. .

"The expansion of the codeshare with Jetstar is an important milestone as we continue to expand the destinations available to Emirates' passengers. On Emirates alone we offer 145 destinations and with our partnership with Jetstar we are adding a further 30 routes across the Far East & Australasia region," said Thierry Antinori, Emirates' Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer.

"Today's announcement also benefits our Emirates Skywards members who will now see their miles go even further, be it a holiday in Penang or extra sightseeing in New Zealand," commented Antinori.

"We are delighted to add Emirates Skywards as a loyalty option for Jetstar customers while also adding more routes to our codeshare partnership," Jetstar Group Chief Commercial Officer Lisa Brock said.

Emirates customers travelling on Jetstar will enjoy a range of full service fare features such as food and beverage options and the same luggage allowance they would have on Emirates.

All Emirates' passengers on Jetstar flights will receive boarding passes on check-in at their first international departure point for connecting international service Members must enter their Emirates Skywards membership number during the booking process and Skywards Miles will be awarded within two weeks of completing the journey. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Mohamed bin Zayed receives French Defence Minister

posted on 16/09/2014

His Highness General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the U.A.E. Armed Forces, yesterday met at Mamoura building, the visiting French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, who is currently visiting the U.A.E.

Sheikh Mohamed welcomed Le Drian and his accompanying delegation, and discussed with him friendship and cooperation ties between the two friendly countries.

During the meeting, they also discussed strategic cooperation and coordination in a number of military and defence domains in the light of keenness of leaders of the two countries on promoting cooperation level to broader horizons in the best interest of the two sides.

Sheikh Mohamed and Le Drian also discussed a number of issues of mutual concern, in addition to latest regional and international developments.

Lt. General Hamad Mohammed Thani Al Rumaithi, Chief of Staff of the U.A.E. Armed Forces and a number of officials attended the meeting. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Abdullah bin Zayed participates in International Conference on Peace and Security

posted on 16/09/2014

PARIS: H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Foreign Minister, is attending the International Conference on Peace and Security in Iraq which began yesterday in the French capital, Paris.

About 20 countries are participating in the conference to coordinate efforts within the framework of an international alliance against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, ISIS.

French President Francois Hollande and his Iraqi counterpart, Fuad Masum, opened the conference, which will focus on the coordination of humanitarian aid and international action against the terrorist organisation and to work on ensuring the unity and stability of Iraq. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


U.A.E. highlights role of family at Human Rights panel

posted on 16/09/2014

GENEVA: Obaid Salem Al Zaabi, U.A.E. Permanent Representative to United Nations and Other International Organisations in Geneva, has underlined that the family is a cornerstone of the community in terms of values, love of country and protection.

Delivering the U.A.E.'s speech at the seminar organised by the Human Rights Council on protection of the family, Al Zaabi welcomed the participation of experts, noting that the development of family to keep pace with modernity does not mean to demolish and substitute traditional modes with new ones, decrying plans of some streams to change status quo under the pretext of human rights.

He called on the council to reject such pleas in the name of human rights or global trends, urging the rights body not to open privacies of certain communities.

Al Zaabi added that the U.A.E.'s Arab and Muslim culture protects families and provides welfare to them, citing that the U.A.E. has enacted laws, drawn policies and development plans to protect families and achieve sustainable development. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Hamdan bin Zayed directs provision of urgent humanitarian aid to flood-affected victims in India

posted on 16/09/2014

H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler's Representative in the Western Region and Chairman of Emirates Red Crescent (ERC), has ordered the provision of urgent humanitarian assistance to the victims of the floods, which hit India recently.

He ordered the implementation of humanitarian programme to meet the basic needs and improve lives of people affected by the floods in Indian Kashmir.

Dr. Mohammed Ateeq Al Falahi, Secretary-General of the ERC affirmed that Sheikh Hamdan's directives come in the light of his keenness to alleviate the suffering of the victims and improve living conditions there, indicating that Sheikh Hamdan is closely following the repercussions of floods in India.

He added that ERC would work to ensure delivery of humanitarian aid to the victims from the local market. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Khalifa Foundation distributes food parcels in Iraq

posted on 16/09/2014

ERBIL: The teams of the Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation yesterday continued to supervise the process of aid distribution in Iraq, which amounted to 53,000 food baskets, in addition to thousands of parcels for children and women.

The team arrived to different areas to deliver food and drinking water, mattresses and accessories for displaced women and children.

In spite of the attack by armed groups, the Foundation did not delay in delivering the assistance within the programme of daily distribution, which will benefit almost 500,000 displaced people at the end of the current phase of the aid programme. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Abu Dhabi joins worldwide movement to raise awareness of gynaecologic cancers

posted on 16/09/2014

On 17th September, the Abu Dhabi community will gather together to join a Globe-athon to raise awareness of cancers that affect women.

The initiative is supported by the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, the Fatima bint Mubarak Ladies Sports Academy and Yas Marina Circuit, and is being led by Mafraq Hospital, which is owned and operated by the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company, SEHA. More than 700 Abu Dhabi residents are expected to attend the event at GoYas, Yas Marina Circuit, an event that invites ladies to walk, run and cycle Yas Marina Circuit's F1 track or take part in group fitness activities including Boot-camp, Pilates, and Yoga.

The Globe-athon to End Women's Cancers is a worldwide movement bringing together physicians, patients, caregivers, organisations and everyday people to raise awareness, and ultimately increase early detection and prevention of gynaecologic cancers. These cancers impact women worldwide, accounting for 19 percent of the 5.1 million estimated new cancer cases each year, according to the World Health Organisation International Agency for Research on Cancer.

A problem nearer to home that impacts women in the U.A.E., is cervical cancer, which research indicates is on the rise and is the fourth most common cancer amongst women here, with Emirati women comprising 30 percent of the cases (World Health Organisation). It is also the 4th most common cause of cancer death in women but many cases of cervical cancer can be treated if caught early enough (2010 World Health Organisation paper [United Arab Emirates: Human Papillomavirus and Related Cancers, Fact Sheet 2010]).

"By joining the Globe-athon movement, we are empowering women in the U.A.E. with the knowledge to help prevent and detect gynaecologic cancers early on, when they are more treatable," said Dr. Hessa Al Mazrouei, Senior Resident, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Mafraq Hospital. "These cancers are often difficult to diagnose as most women don't recognise the symptoms. As more women learn and speak about gynaecologic cancers with their friends, loved ones and doctors, we are creating a culture of awareness that could ultimately save a generation of women." As part of the movement, Mafraq Hospital is encouraging residents to take the Globe-athon STEPtember Pledge. The Pledge is an opportunity to further raise awareness about gynaecologic cancers by setting a goal of taking 10,000 steps a day in September, as studies show that gynaecologic cancers are linked to increased obesity rates. In addition, the World Health Organisation recommends that individuals work to take 10,000 steps each day for optimal health.

Abu Dhabi is joining more than 130 communities in more than 60 countries this September that are celebrating the second-annual Globe-athon with local awareness events – from walks to dance performances to rowing competitions to educational seminars. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


MoH issues decision regulating prescription of narcotic drugs

posted on 16/09/2014

Abdul Rahman bin Mohammed Al Owais, Minister of Health has issued a decision, regulating prescription of narcotic and monitoring drugs.

The decision follows the recommendation of U.A.E. Medical Board during its last meeting chaired by the Minister of Health and attended by directors general of Health Authority Abu Dhabi, Dubai Health Authority, the Sharjah Medical City and representative of medical services of the armed forces, representative from the Ministry of Interior in addition to representatives from the private health sector in the country.

Dr. Amin Al Amiri, Assistant Under-Secretary for Public Health Policy and Licensing, Chairman of Pharmaceutical Licensing Committee, said that the ministerial resolution follows monitoring of the observations made by patients with the chronic diseases to avoid frequent intervals of drugs supply and seeing doctors constantly like practices in place in developed countries.

He added that the implementation of this resolution will contribute effectively to reducing various malpractices associated with the disbursement of these types of medicines, and helping patients with the chronic diseases to get their medication according to the instructions of doctors. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


DHA signs historic agreement with Berlin Chamber of Physicians in trauma and orthopaedic surgery training

posted on 16/09/2014

The Dubai Health Authority has signed an historic agreement with the Berlin Chamber of Physicians for collaboration in trauma and orthopaedic surgery training, paving the way for resident doctors in Dubai to complete their six year German board residency training programme in the same field without having to go abroad for the first five years.

This essentially means that the Chamber of Physicians in Berlin and the German Orthopaedic Board have recognised, for the first time, an international health facility to be on a par with the health services provided by German health facilities.

At the end of six years, DHA resident doctors will receive a German Board specialisation after fulfilling the necessary requirements.

Essa Al Maidoor, Director-General of the DHA, said, "This is a moment of pride for us. This is the first time the German Board has signed such an agreement with an international health entity. The agreement opens up the doors for our doctors in Dubai to seek specialisation in trauma and orthopaedic surgery in Dubai while ensuring they get a German Board Qualification. The programme is mirrored to follow the German programme, meaning our doctors will seek an international qualification without having to move abroad for several years." Al Maidoor added, "The Trauma Centre in Dubai provides high-level of quality care and we are proud of this affiliation. For us, at the DHA, human-resource building is of vital importance so that we can keep up with population growth as well as fulfil human resource requirement when the new projects are completed." Gunther Jonitz, President of Chamber of Physicians in Berlin, said, "Human capital is the most valuable resource and cooperation as well as continuous medical education is important to ensure better patient outcomes. This is a pilot project, a new way of cooperation and in future, this can be the blueprint for cooperation in other medical specialities as well.

Dr. Jamal Al Mulla, Director of the programme and consultant trauma surgeon at Rashid Hospital's Trauma and Emergency Centre, said, "The programme is in accordance with German regulations for specialist training of the Berlin Chamber of Physicians and after satisfactory completion of the six year programme, the graduates will be German Board certified and will attain membership to the Berlin Chamber of Physicians. Thus, the programme is equivalent to going abroad and studying there." He added that as part of the programme, German consultants will visit Dubai twice a year from the German Trauma and Orthopaedic Society and that the programme will be audited twice a year as well.

Dr. Bilal El Yafawi, co-director of the programme and consultant ortho-trauma at Rashid Hospital's Trauma and Emergency centre, said, "Our medical residents will spend five years at the Trauma Centre and they will study in Berlin for the last year. The programme offers the right mix of practical and theoretical experience and once the doctors complete their specialisation they will work at the Trauma Centre as a specialist registrar in Orthopaedics and Trauma Surgery." – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


U.A.E. rugby wraps up a successful IRB Superweek

posted on 16/09/2014

Dubai Duty Free's U.A.E. Rugby / IRB Superweek, wrapped up on Saturday and was considered a great success with over 60 individuals participating across the 5 key off-field courses offered.

Ben van Rooyen, UAERF's Development Manager, shared the importance of having IRB accredited courses offered to U.A.E. rugby enthusiasts, who wish to build on their rugby experience and move into off-field aspects of governing and developing the game. "Part of the Federation's vision is to provide an excellent, and comprehensive training and education programme to raise the standard of play in all of its formats. We were very pleased with the attitude of, and commitment from, the participants who were openly eager to learn from our own IRB accredited trainers and coaches as well as visiting leading IRB Instructors." Tim Gresson, Chairman of the IRB's independent Judicial Panel, who facilitated the Judicial Officer refresher course on Friday, was encouraged by the invitees focus and was impressed with the Federation's stance and commitment to strengthening governance. "It was a pleasure working with an enthusiastic and knowledgeable group. U.A.E. Rugby Federation is moving in the right direction by setting high standards in governance." With player safety at the forefront, an invitation-only session was held on Saturday where IRB Instructor Dr. Azril, who oversaw and led the Superweek's medical session, applauded the initiative, "This is a great initiative by UAERF. The IRB Medical level 1 course equips medical support staff with up-to-date and necessary rugby specific knowledge." The pool of qualified and up to date coaches within the U.A.E. will also be given a boost where the level 1 coaching courses (7's and XV's formats) totalled 33 participants.

"Superweek is very important to our development plans, both at the U.A.E. Rugby Federation's level, as well as from the Asian Ruby Football Union's (ARFU) perspective' said Qais Al Dhalai, General Secretary, U.A.E. Rugby Federation and ARFU Executive Member. This region is acknowledged by both ARFU and the IRB as fast growing, and it is our obligation to lead the way in ensuring those that govern the game are given the right tools to effective service the game. We were honoured to welcome 2 distinguished, and experienced instructors to assist with delivering two specialised courses, and we are grateful to the IRB for their commitment in our vision, and especially to Dubai Duty Free for their ongoing support," he added.

Run over two consecutive weekends, Dubai Duty Free's U.A.E. Rugby / IRB Superweek was open to all rugby enthusiasts and covered key off-field areas including; Coaching (level 1), Match Official (level 1), 7's Coaching (level 1), Medical (level 1), as well as a Judicial Officers refresher. Alongside Superweek, U.A.E Rugby Federation was recently seen as a leader of IRB's Get into Rugby (GiR) programme within Asia. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Latifa to lead U.A.E. charge

posted on 16/09/2014

The U.A.E. equestrian squad is determined to better their performance at the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games in Incheon — and have been training hard in a number of overseas camps during the summer.

Sheikha Latifa Al Maktoum led from the front, winning the individual jumping silver and the second place in the team competition the next day as the country came up with its best performance in equestrian at an Asian Games.

In Incheon, all equestrian competitions will be held at the Dream Park Equestrian Venue and the U.A.E. squad of five riders will be in action on September 28 and 30. Sheikha Latifa will lead the country's challenge in the individual and team competitions along with Abdullah Al Marri, Mohammad Al Owais, Muftah Al Daheri and Abdullah Al Muhairi from 9am to 1pm on the first day.

Later in the afternoon, the entire squad will be involved in the team competition between 1 and 3.30pm. On September 30, the top 40 riders will be in action in Round One of the jumping competition with the group getting trimmed down to 25 riders later in the afternoon.

The squad has been training at various locations in Europe including Holland, France, Germany and Austria, and Talib Al Muhairi, General Secretary, Emirates Equestrian Federation is convinced the team is at its best to put up a strong challenge in Incheon.

"Four months of training is a long time and we've made sure we have not disturbed the set-up of the teams. Each rider has his own style and we have allowed each of them to continue with their respective training schedules in Europe during the summer. This way it is better as each rider will be at his or her peak after landing in Korea,” Al Muhairi told Gulf News.

"No doubt, we returned with medals the last time from China. This time will be no different as we will be better prepared. And there will be no additional pressure on us to return with medals as we are confident in our riders,” he added. - Gulf News -


Lighting up Dubai’s longest jogging track

posted on 16/09/2014

Dubai's 14-km long Jogging Track in Jumeirah will be connected to smart, sustainable lighting solutions that integrates smart pole technology with multiple functions, aimed at reducing power consumption.

The poles will be installed by Bahri & Mazroei Trading Company (BMTC) which is part of the Bahri & Mazroei Group. The Roads and Transport Authority's (RTA) multi-million dirham contract mandates implementation of sustainable lighting solutions.

The Managing Director of Bahri & Mazroei Group, Esam R Al Mazroei said they were "happy to implement the very latest solution in urban lighting.” - The Gulf Today -