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UAE strongly condemns terrorist attack in London

posted on 23/03/2017

The UAE on Wednesday strongly condemned the terrorist attack, which took place today outside the House of Parliament in the British capital, London.

Scores of innocent people were injured and killed, including a policeman.

'The UAE stands in solidarity with the Government and people of the friendly United Kingdom in confronting terrorism. It also rejects and denounces any criminal acts, regardless of any justifications,' said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in a statement on Wednesday.

The ministry called on countries of the world to step up their efforts to counter and eradicate the terrorism menace, which threatens international security and stability.

The ministry reaffirmed the UAE's unequivocal position of denouncing terrorism in all its forms and manifestations regardless of their motivations, justifications and sources, and stressed the need to uproot terrorism and dry up its sources of funding.


Gulf Cooperation Council condemns London terrorist attack

posted on 23/03/2017

RIYADH: Gulf Cooperation Council, GCC, countries strongly condemned the London terror attack where four people were killed and several others severely injured near the British Parliament on Wednesday.

Dr. Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, Secretary-General of the GCC, said that GCC member states condemn this attack as a horrific crime that is contrary to all moral and humanitarian values and principles.

Dr. Al-Zayani expressed his confidence in the ability of the security services in the United Kingdom to uncover the circumstances of this cowardly criminal act, stressing the solidarity of the GCC countries and their support for the United Kingdom to maintain its security and the safety of its citizens and residents. The Secretary-General expressed his condolences to the British government and the families of the victims and wished the injured speedy recovery.


Mohammed bin Rashid launches five-decade government plan ‘UAE Centennial 2071’

posted on 23/03/2017

Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, today chaired a Cabinet meeting and launched ‘UAE Centennial 2071', a long-term government plan based on the recent and crucial keynote lecture given by His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.

The plan dissects the UAE of the future, in order to set future generations up for success and prosperity.

‘UAE Centennial 2071' is a comprehensive government plan that encompasses a national strategy to strengthen the country's reputation and soft power; ensure that government revenue is diversified, relying less on oil; introduce education programmes focused on advanced IT and engineering and consistently build Emirati values and ethics for future generations. Enhancing the productivity of the national economy and enhancing community cohesion are also important aspects of the project.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum said, "Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed's lecture has charted a path and laid the foundation for the future of the UAE. Our objective is for future generations in the UAE to live happier lives in a thriving environment with abundant opportunity, more connectivity and global influence."

UAE Centennial 2071 was launched at a Cabinet meeting attended by H.H. Lt. General Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior, and H.H. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs.

The programme focuses primarily on investing in UAE youth, and working toward making the UAE the best country in the world by 2071, the nation's 100th anniversary.

Sheikh Mohammed elaborated, " We have established a clear strategy for 2021; UAE Centennial goes beyond that, with a five-decade vision for future generations that provides the government a clear roadmap for long-term development."

He explained, "We must plant the seeds today for future generations to grow and prosper tomorrow. The world is rapidly changing, and we must equip our youth with the new tools, knowledge and skills needed to thrive in an ever-evolving environment."

"Establishing a long-term strategy based on a vision for happy future generations will guarantee sustainable development and lasting joy for decades in our country," he said.

UAE Centennial 2071 aims to prepare young Emiratis for the future to ensure prosperity, growth and the continuity of the UAE's values. This will create security and happiness, allowing future generations to excel and contribute to making the UAE the best country in the world.

The programme will focus on four main objectives. The first is to develop a flexible government with mindful leadership and a clear vision that prioritises the people and spreads positive messages. The second is to invest in education, focusing on advanced IT and establishing professionalism and ethics in educational institutions. The third is to establish a diversified, globally competitive economy, and the fourth is to consolidate the values of tolerance, social cohesion and respect in society within a comprehensive development plan to make the UAE the best country in the world.

The objectives of the government, under UAE Centennial 2071, include establishing the government of the UAE as the best government in the world, with a long-term vision and inspirational leadership that anticipates, and prepares for, the future. Other objectives include achieving happiness in society and spreading positive messages internally and to the world, developing mechanisms for monitoring long-term variables in various sectors and measuring their impact on future generations, and establishing Youth Advisory Councils to consider young citizens' perspectives when establishing development policies. Importantly, one key objective is to create an effective government mechanism to oversee the implementation and progress of UAE Centennial 2071.

Regarding education, UAE Centennial 2071 highlights the importance of excellent quality of education in ensuring future generations are ready to serve their communities and excel. Certain areas of focus in education include advanced science and technology, space science, engineering, innovation and health sciences. Also included is the importance of teaching students to look ahead and instilling a culture of openness by teaching history, culture, the civilisations of other countries and teaching new languages such as Japanese, Chinese and Korean.

Other educational measures include teaching students mechanisms for discovering their individual talents early. On the institutional level, educational institutions are encouraged to innovate and transform to become international research centres, strengthening the system of continuous learning and ensuring the presence of UAE universities on lists of the best universities in the world to attract globally diversified students, academics and researchers.

In terms of the economy, UAE Centennial 2071 seeks to establish a diversified economy by, among other things, increasing the productivity of the national economy, supporting national companies so they may become competitive on the global stage and investing in research and development in promising sectors. The objective is to establish an economy based on innovation, leadership and advanced industries, developing a national economic and industrial strategy that envisions future sectors and places the UAE among the world's major economies.

In this regard, another objective is to nurture a generation of Emirati inventors and scientists, supporting their contributions, and exporting advanced national products and services to the world through specialised incentive programmes, and supporting the growth of UAE's leading companies globally.

Community development is an integral part of UAE Centennial 2071. Some objectives in this regard include establishing a secure, tolerant, cohesive and ethical society that embraces happiness and a positive lifestyle, and provides a high quality of life (including in health and sports). Investing in people is also important, including consolidating the values of humility and serving the nation through the development of training programmes for students.

The pillar also focuses on developing programmes to prepare future generations to serve as UAE ambassadors and role models, as well as promoting women's participation in all sectors, making the UAE one of the best places in the world to live.


Armenian President announces exemption of UAE’s citizens from entry visa requirements to Armenia from today

posted on 23/03/2017

Serzh Sargsyan, President of the Republic of Armenia, announced the exemption of the UAE's citizens from entry visa requirements to Armenia from today.

While speaking during the UAE-Armenian Investment Forum, organised by the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, President Sargsyan called on the UAE's investors, businessmen and companies to intensify their investments in his country, especially in agriculture, food industries, jewellery making, tourism, innovative technologies and in diamond and jewellery producing free zones, adding that these areas are totally exempt from taxes.

The event was attended by Serzh Sargsyan, President of the Republic of Armenia; Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri, Minister of Economy; Mohammed Thani Murshed Al Rumaithi, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, as well as senior officials and CEOs of 380 companies in the UAE and Armenia.

The Armenian president added that co-operation between the UAE and Armenian has developed in recent years, due to the support of the leaderships of both countries.

He also stressed the importance of the UAE-Armenian Investment Forum, held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, who is keen to develop UAE-Armenian ties and open new horizons for partnerships between investors and businessmen from both countries.

He then pointed out the historic ties of friendship between Arab and Armenian people, which led to the development of co-operation between the UAE and Armenia during the era of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, while highlighting the importance of developing and promoting this rich legacy.

In the opening session, Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri, Minister of Economy, said, "it honours me, first of all, to give the sincerest regards to His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, for his generous patronage of this event that was honoured with the attendance and participation by President Serzh Sargsyan."

He stressed that the patronage and attendance confirmed the strength of the bilateral ties between the UAE and Armenia. It also reflects the common desire for both leaders to develop these ties and elevate them towards a new special stage for activity and big development opportunities, which supports their common interests and their visions for development and flourishment.

He said that the wise leadership of the UAE has adopted, since its establishment, a civilisational course based on the principles of openness with different countries of the world. He gave great importance to building solid economic relations with all partners, based on mutual respect and achieving common benefit in a way that strengthens their competitiveness in external markets and serves commercial and investment interests both regionally and internationally.

Since the founding of diplomatic relations between the UAE and Armenia in January 1998, he explained, these ties have witnessed growth and development, flourishing in different fields based on mutual respect and common interests. There is an increasing interest in developing these ties and strengthening them, especially in economic and trading fields that benefit both countries and its citizens.

He noted that the ties between the two countries have witnessed important stages on the route to its development. Perhaps, one of the most prominent of those stages was the Armenian president's visit to the UAE in November 2016, particularly the meeting with His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed. They discussed means of strengthening bilateral ties in developmental, economic and investment fields as well as increasing commercial exchange and other means of co-operation based on common interests.

This exceptional summit, he stressed, is a practical translation to this direction as it provides a perfect platform to deepen the partnership between the UAE and Armenia, and specify ways of commercial and investment co-operation that harmonises with the economic agendas for both countries.

Al Mansouri pointed that the size of commercial exchange between the two countries witnessed a noticeable development as the total external non-oil trade between UAE and Armenia in 2015 reached around US$102 million, including trade through free zones, while it recorded around $88.3 million during the first nine months of 2016.

This offers an early indication that trade between the two countries is growing, emphasising that the numbers do not correspond with the level of the political ties, does not reflect the available possibilities, and does not meet the hopes of the friendly nations' leadership and people. Highlighting the importance of the summit, he said it should strengthen the ties of economic and commercial co-operation as well as those between the UAE Business community and its Armenian counterpart. It should also increase the commercial and investment momentum through a group of sectors of common interest.


IGCF 2017: Sharjah Ruler attends panel discussion on climate change with Al Gore

posted on 23/03/2017

H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, has attended a panel discussion with Al Gore, former US Vice President and founder-chairman of the Climate Reality Project, as part of the sixth International Government Communication Forum (IGCF 2017), being held at the Expo Centre Sharjah.

Titled ‘Climate Change Are there Real Solutions?' the lively panel discussion was moderated by Sheikh Fahim bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Executive Chairman of the Department of Government Relations in Sharjah. The discussion explored the role of governments in educating society on the existential threat of climate change and raising awareness of sustainable climate changing solutions.

Disturbing numbers pertaining to environmental degradation continue to sound alarm bells across the globe at regular intervals. The World Bank, in collaboration with the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, published a report in September 2016 stating that air pollution costs the world economy over US$225 billion a year due to employee absences from work and the accrued costs of healthcare. The report also noted that an astounding 5.5 million deaths in 2013 were the direct result of air pollution.

Al Gore said, "The climate crisis is very different from any crisis we have ever confronted before. The population has quadrupled, and as technologies continue to become more powerful, the prevailing pattern of short-term thinking does not provide an impetus to make the investments in long-term infrastructure changes that are needed to achieve sustainable reductions in greenhouse gas emissions."

Doomsday projections related to the environment continue unabated. The one silver lining to emerge from such data is perhaps the fact that people are increasingly questioning what they can do to mitigate the conscious as well as the inadvertent environmental impact triggered by human actions.

Hurdles still exist. Convincing the public to change their habits and lifestyles to help reduce global warming and prevent even worse consequences than those already happening is yet another challenge for governance, emphasised the former US Vice President.

Referencing a survey by Pew Research Centre, Sheikh Fahim bin Sultan Al Qasimi noted that while two-thirds of people surveyed believe major lifestyle changes will be needed to limit greenhouse gas emissions, awareness of the solutions that are readily available is still low.

In response, Al Gore said, "Some of the conversation has been dominated by inaccurate information. We cannot afford to allow science and reason to be undermined. Governments are in denial and we cannot continue to let political disagreements impair collective efforts to protect the environment."

Praising the UAE leadership's focus on renewable energy, he added that the country's efforts should be replicated elsewhere. In addition, he expressed hope that governments will develop a solid consensus in the pursuit of environmental goals by highlighting the evidence that is widely available and the consequences that are already occurring.

In closing, Al Gore said, "We see these catastrophes. Connect the dots and make it clear what the causes are. There are three questions about the climate crisis that we must ask ourselves: Must we change? Can we change? Will we change? The will to change in itself is a renewable resource."

Under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohamed Al Qasimi, the sixth International Government Communication Forum (IGCF 2017) runs from 22nd to 23rd March at Expo Centre Sharjah. Themed ‘Societal Participation Comprehensive Development', IGCF 2017 examines how nations around the world can leverage effective government communication to achieve the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that have become the top priority of government programmes, international institutions, media organisations and civil society.

Offering a transparent platform to examine current issues and formulate recommendations to help governments optimise the impact of their communication, IGCF 2017 convenes more than 2,500 local and international personalities from the ranks of government officials, experts, thought leaders, and government communication professionals.


IGCF 2017: Climate change experts highlight role of civil society in effecting meaningful change

posted on 23/03/2017

Day one of the sixth International Government Communication Forum (IGCF 2017) concluded with an insightful panel discussion on the importance of putting civil society at the centre of the climate change dialogue across the globe.

Environmental experts from the public and private sectors concurred on this point at the session themed ‘Environment and Climate Change in Media Policies'. Both segments agreed that media communication needs to be impactful and relay the right messages to civil society to enable them to effect meaningful change.

Mark Schapiro, an author and award-winning journalist specialising in international environmental stories, moderated the discussion. Panellists included His Excellency Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al-Zeyoudi, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment, John Bruton, former Prime Minister of Ireland, former EU Ambassador to the US and Chairman of International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) Ireland, Khaled Issa Al Huraimel, CEO of Sharjah environmental company Bee'ah, Safa' Al Jayoussi, Head of Climate and Energy Campaign in Arab World, Founder and Executive Director for IndyACT in Jordan and winner of the 2016 Young Energy Professional of the Year Award, and Kehkashan Basu, UAE-based student and winner of the 2016 International Children's Peace Prize.

Representing the viewpoint of the public sector, Dr. Thani Al-Zeyoudi said: "The UAE Cabinet has agreed on the UAE Centennial 2071 to make our government the best in the world. This shows that we are well aligned with a long-term vision for the nation. In terms of communicating the effects of climate change, studies show that less than 19 per cent of nations globally are engaged in environmental dialogue, which shows that people are disengaged on this topic.

"We as a government need to convey these complex concepts to our communities, as well as impress upon them the consequences and impact of their actions. In this context, we find the role of the media to be very important, especially in simplifying the concepts for the people. Unfortunately, much of the media reporting today focuses on the catastrophic nature of climate change. Whereas, in my opinion, the media needs to additionally shed light on the positive actions that are being taken to mitigate environmental degradation."

Giving the example of the Heroes of the UAE initiative, he added: "The UAE has effectively used this platform to educate children on the effects of climate change, and to encourage them to enable positive environmental behaviour within the household. Issues such as the impending water crisis in the region need to be conveyed with a sense of urgency to the people to help them become participants in the relevant interventions such as the UAE Energy Plan 2050 to make renewables account for as much as 44 per cent of our nation's energy mix."

In response to Kehkashan Basu's question on how to integrate the youth in the climate change dialogue, Dr. Thani Al-Zeyoudi said: "We need to build up the environmental responsibilities of the youth through the education system. In the UAE, our leaders created a new Ministry of Youth last year, which has also been instrumental in establishing national and local youth councils that seek to get the youth involved in addressing the nation's challenges. The Ministry of Climate Change also worked recently with youth across the region to create Arab Youth Centres that aim to involve the youth in the future dialogue."

Speaking on the role of the private sector in the climate change dialogue, Safa' Al Jayoussi said: "Private sector entities play a major role in communicating the needs of the people to the government, as well as in advocating for change. There is an urgency in this region to create a dialogue between the public and private sector as well as civil society. Unfortunately, climate change does not seem to be a priority, with the UAE being an exception. The steps the UAE has taken, including the establishment of the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, shows that the country cares about environmental challenges. Across the region, we need to be able to communicate the benefits of climate change intervention, especially from a cost-cutting perspective."

Demonstrating the success of public-private partnerships for environmental causes, Khaled Issa Al Huraimel said: "Bee'ah was created as a public-private partnership with the aim of addressing the huge waste management challenge we faced in the UAE, and establishing Sharjah as the environmental capital of the Middle East. Today, seven years after we envisioned this goal, I can safely say we have achieved record rates of over 70 per cent waste management away from the landfills. We are also actively involved in taking our vision across the UAE and the region. To this effect, we have tied up with Masdar to develop renewable energy sources. Our work at Bee'ah, in collaboration with the Sharjah Government and Shurooq, also extends to managing air quality and water quality, all of which will ensure a better future for the region's environment. While most environmental initiatives in the region are fully run by the private sector, we have learnt that there are great benefits to working hand in hand with the government."

Speaking from the perspective of the EU nations, John Burton said: "The success of environmental intervention, such as recycling initiatives and setting of zero-landfill targets, has been largely driven by the fact that these targets are set individually for each country in the EU with clear indications of penalties, such as fines levied in case of violation. This has worked in most EU nations, except in cases such as Poland, which has a coal-driven market, or Ireland, where methane gas from livestock created environmental hazards. Within this framework, however, we find that it is very important to get the people on your side, to make the decision to recycle. Moreover, we need to repeatedly remind the people of the impact their household decisions could have on their own children and future generations."

The IGCF 2017 runs from March 22 to 23 at Expo Centre Sharjah. Under the Theme ‘Societal Participation Comprehensive Development', IGCF 2017 examines how the world's nations can leverage effective government communication to achieve the United Nations' sustainable development goals (SDGs) that have become the top priority of government programmes, international institutions, media organisations and civil society.


Shamma AlMazrui explores best ways to communicate with youth segment at IGCF 2017 special youth circle

posted on 23/03/2017

Sustainable development can be achieved when governments and officials collaborate with the youth to enhance their role and engage youngsters in advancing development policies, said Shamma bint Sohail Faris AlMazrui, Minister of State for Youth Affairs, and Chairperson of Emirates Youth Council, during a special youth circle titled ‘The Role of Government Communication in Motivating Youth to Participate in the Achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals'.

Organised by Sharjah Government Media Bureau (SGMB), in collaboration with the Emirates Youth Council, on the first day of the International Government Communication Forum (IGCF 2017) currently underway at the Expo Centre Sharjah, the panel discussion drew the participation of more than 30 people in the 15 to 30-year age group from diverse specialisations.

Building on the IGCF's theme ‘Societal Participation Comprehensive Development', Shamma AlMazrui encouraged young people to share their opinions on ways to develop government communication tools to achieve better results with regard to societal participation. She noted that youth councils in the country today are building a unified online platform that engages the youth with different government departments and entities.

Aiming to maximise its reach among youth segments, the platform will ensure that all government initiatives are communicated to the youth.

Participants pointed out that government communication enables government entities and diverse social segments to understand one another's points of view and act proactively to achieve sustainable development. They added that today social media channels offer significant opportunities to look at and replicate leading international experiences locally in engaging the youth in development initiatives.

Speakers also highlighted that in a rapidly evolving global socio-economic landscape, where change is the norm, it is imperative that the youth of any country must demonstrate responsible social behaviour and proactively ensure that society and the country at large are shielded from any negative impact as a result of these changes.

The participants pointed out that there is an imbalance in the selection of targeted groups in government communication today. They suggested that government bodies should understand the social, cultural and economic environment of the groups with whom they wish to communicate in order to formulate plans that suit their requirements, respond to their aspirations and benefit from their potential. However, other attendees noted that the diversity of communication platforms and smart applications has become a challenge for institutions when it comes to choosing the most appropriate and effective platforms to speak to the young people.

Youth circle panellists said that while the government plays its role in launching the development plans and initiatives, the youth should work relentlessly to not only follow these initiatives but also interact proactively in communicating their views and suggestions to become real partners in the development process.

Some participants also focused on the importance of government organisations dedicating community hours to employing young people. This would fulfil a dual purpose - in addition to instilling a sense of duty in the youth, it would demonstrate the commitment of the government entities to enhancing the role of the youth in achieving positive change in the community at large. They also underlined the importance of collective action from young people and urged the youth to transition from competing among themselves to competing with themselves in unleashing their true potential.

IGCF 2017 examines how the world's nations can leverage effective government communication to achieve the United Nations' sustainable development goals (SGDs) that have become the top priority of government programmes, international institutions, media organisations and civil society. Offering a transparent platform to examine current issues and formulate recommendations to help governments optimise the impact of their communication, IGCF 2017 convenes more than 2,500 local and international personalities from the ranks of government officials, experts, thought leaders, and government communication professionals.


UAE Federal Government’s revenue from service charges hit AED9.93 billion in first 9 months of 2016

posted on 23/03/2017

The UAE Federal Government's revenue collected from service charges hit AED9.93 billion during the first nine months of 2016.

That accounts for 75.1 percent of 2016's total revenue, estimated at AED13.21 billion, according to latest statistics released by the Ministry of Finance.

Statistics show that the revenue generated from 2016 service charges until September are almost equal to those achieved over the same period in 2015.

The Federal Government's revenue levied through the e-Dirham system reached AED5.16 billion, or 52 percent of the government's total service charges, 16 percent of which were collected manually and 32 percent automatically, with the manual collection of charges at federal departments reaching 15.55 percent.

According to statistics, the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Labour account for the largest share of the service charge revenue collected during the first nine months of 2016, with the Ministry of Interior representing 43 percent and the Ministry of Labour accounting for 36 percent, according to the statistics.

The number of field visits made to audit the government's revenue at the Federal Department's premises reached 240 by end of September 2016, during which a total of 598 vouchers were audited manually and 4,500 electronically.

The audit reports revealed that the oversight process of the Federal Government's revenues until September 2016 involved auditing and endorsing 280 cash warrants.


Dubai Economy Talks stress need for effective philanthropy and impact investments

posted on 23/03/2017

‘Dubai Economy Talks 3-2017,' the third in a dialogue series hosted by Dubai Economy, was held today with the focus on ‘Fostering Effective Philanthropy and Investment in the UAE and Beyond.' Participants in the dialogue emphasised the importance of blending social and financial value, highlighting existing and emerging models in impact investment and community development worldwide and ways to take venture philanthropy in the UAE to the next level.

The dialogue was held particularly in the context of the statement by Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum that "consolidating the culture of giving in the UAE is a shared responsibility; all individuals and institutions will play a vital role." A number of international experts working with prominent families worldwide known for their investment in philanthropy led the dialogue highlighting their experiences and identifying the strategic programmes necessary to achieve the goals of the ‘Year of Giving' initiative in the UAE.

Venture philanthropy is the provision of finance to organisations or individuals with the explicit expectation of a social, as well as financial, return. It essentially combines societal and business objectives into a sustainable, impact driven businesses. This kind of investment has become increasingly relevant in today's economic environment, as social challenges have mounted while public funds in many countries are under pressure.

"In the UAE and in Dubai in particular, impact investment is entrenched in our values and heritage. It is part and parcel of how we do business in line with our Islamic economy and finance principles that take a re-distributive approach to not only the poor but to the society at large. As such, the Islamic economic paradigm, by its design, seeks to narrow social distance and reduce inequalities," Sami Al Qamzi, Director-General of Dubai economy, said in his welcome remarks at Dubai Economy Talks 3-2017.

"We seek to draw on the new ways to invest and utilise philanthropic capital that have emerged around the globe bringing with them new approaches to charitable giving. One such approach is to apply venture capital and business principles, such as long-term investment and hands-on support, to the social economy driving innovative and scalable models of social change," Al Qamzi said adding that the task ahead is to draw on international experience and best practices to take venture philanthropy in the UAE to the next level of excellence.

"While many large private foundations, public sector pension funds and banks have been pioneers in this area, there is a growing movement among a more private group: families who see impact investing as a way to align their wealth with their family values. Globally, families represent a major growth opportunity; however, here in Dubai and the UAE, family-owned businesses have been engaging in impact investment throughout their lives," Al Qamzi stated.

Referring to the importance given to sustainability and innovation across development plans in the UAE, including the UAE Vision 2021, Dubai 2021 Plan, and the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030, Al Qamzi said this, together with the new public-private partnership law, provided ample opportunities to build on global experience as well as local entities such as the Al Maktoum Foundation and Emirates Foundation, and foster venture philanthropy in the UAE and beyond.

Raed Safadi, Chief Economist in Dubai Economy, moderated the dialogue, which also included presentations on impact investment. Mr. Richard Nunneley, Chairman of the Floreat Investment Group spoke about the ‘Moral Compass of Giving,' sharing his own experience with one of the UK's largest families known for their philanthropic work since 1703.

Paul O'Dea, Senior Advisor to Private Offices at Floreat Group, spoke about ‘Multi-Generational Planning and Philanthropy' focusing on major GCC and global families and their approach to philanthropy. Tony Bury, philanthropist and entrepreneur, shared his experiences in a presentation titled "You must be the change you want to see in the world."


International tourism to Dubai hit a record 12% year-to-date growth setting 2017 off on a strong trajectory

posted on 23/03/2017

Dubai's tourism sector kicked off 2017 in high gear as the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, Dubai Tourism, reported a 12 percent year-on-year growth over the first two months of 2017, which saw Dubai welcoming just over three million visitors, nearly four times the rate of the previous year.

Supported by growth in all key markets, China and Russia in particular drove the volumes and set the stage for a strong first quarter result. This period witnessed a 60 percent growth in overnight tourists from China with January alone peaking at 102 percent, while attracting a total of 157,000 Chinese visitors across just the first two months. Reflecting an even more significant percentage increase, Russian visitors jumped by 84 percent over the same period last year with February delivering a massive 140 percent volume increase to bring a total of 65,000 travellers in the first two months.

Helal Saeed Almarri, Director-General of Dubai Tourism, said, "As we continue to invest in raising consideration for Dubai as the destination of choice for global travellers, our focus at Dubai Tourism is equally on increasing Dubai's accessibility and removing barriers to travel by working closely with partners and stakeholders in the public and private sectors on both a federal and emirate level. Ultimately our collective aim is to make it as easy and seamless as possible for any prospective tourist from our diversified base of source markets to visit and revisit Dubai."

"We are delighted to see visitor numbers make a strong start in 2017. We work closely with the government on initiatives to drive increased visitation, and the decision by the leadership of the UAE to offer visas-on-arrival to our Chinese and Russian guests has already proven an astute one, as we have seen an almost instant positive effect from both countries. Dubai Tourism has invested significant efforts in marketing Dubai as an appealing destination for visitors from China and Russia, and we are encouraged to see such promising results," the Director-General added.

Following the visit of a high-level Dubai Government delegation and private stakeholders to China in October 2016, Dubai has progressively improved its ‘China Readiness' at an overall city level across all aspects of the tourist journey, particularly across infrastructure components and key pillars of the destination proposition.

The Russian market has retained its trajectory of recovery that commenced last year, following a prolonged period of economic instability that resulted in a marked drop in Russian outbound travel. Having posted a year-on-year increase of 14 per cent in overnight visitation in 2016, the dramatic spike in 2017 so far is a strong indicator of the positive sentiment for outbound travel from the market, and more specifically the strong consideration for Dubai among couples and families.

"While the strong performance in January and February is encouraging and to be applauded, it is important to stress that we still have much to do as we face a dynamic global environment influenced by various macro-economic and geopolitical challenges. Nonetheless, we remain confident in the strength of Dubai's appeal as a tier 1 travel destination and will continue to mitigate risks by pursuing a diversified source market strategy as we work towards our target of welcoming 20 million visitors per year by 2020," Almarri concluded.


UAE ranks ninth in global list of total exports and re-exports of creative goods industries

posted on 23/03/2017

In a recent study issued by the Department of Industry and Trade Information Analysis at the Ministry of Economy, global export of creative goods grew to approximately US$538 billion in 2015, acquiring 3.3 percent of the world's total export of merchandise for the same year.

In line with these findings, the UAE has been positioned in ninth place in the global list of total recorded exports and re-exports of creative goods, valued at US$16.1 billion and accounting for three percent of the world's total exports of creative goods. Meanwhile, the total value of the foreign trade of creative industries was recorded at US$30.7 billion in 2015, reflecting a seven percent increase in the UAE's non-oil trade activities.

Among Arab countries, the UAE accounts for more than 75 percent of the total value of Arab exports of creative goods. According to the World Trade Centre, the value of Arab countries' exports for 2015 is estimated to be close to US$21 billion.

In terms of calculating the contribution of creative exports and the total exports of the top 10 countries, the UAE ranked in first place with a contribution of more than 10 percent of its total non-oil exports and re-exports during 2015, surpassing Italy, India and China at 8.2, 8.0, and 7.5 percent respectively.

The study pointed out that exports of national origin accounted for 41 percent of the total exports and re-exports of the UAE's creative industries commodities during the year 2015, noting that the preliminary data for the period from January to September 2016 amounted to 38 percent, and that national exports of creative commodities has achieved a growth of 120 percent in 2015 as compared to 2014.

The study also revealed that UAE imports of creative industries commodities geographically concentrated in 2015 were from India with 17.4 percent, followed by Malaysia at 12.3 percent, China 11.5 percent, France 10 percent and Italy at 8.9 percent. The top 10 countries accounted for 79.0 per cent of the UAE's total imports of creative goods.

The study was issued by the Department of Industry and Trade Information Analysis at the Ministry of Economy regarding foreign trade of the United Arab Emirates of creative goods industries, as part of the Ministry of Economy's efforts to identify, analyse and disseminate essential data and information with regards to the national economy including the non-oil foreign trade.


Dubai Silicon Oasis opens electric vehicle charging stations for free public use

posted on 23/03/2017

Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority, DSOA, the regulatory body for Dubai Silicon Oasis, DSO, the integrated free zone technology park, launched a new initiative that allows electric vehicle owners to use charging stations on its premises free of charge from 22nd March until the end of the year.

As part of its aim to encourage people to purchase or rent zero-emission electric cars, DSOA is granting free use of the charging stations to the public. The stations will be open 24 hours, seven days a week.

The initiative follows a series of projects implemented by the authority in line with Dubai Clean Energy Strategy, which promotes energy efficiency while reducing operational costs, with the ultimate objective of shaping Dubai into a city with the world's smallest carbon footprint by 2050.

Commenting on the announcement, engineer Muammar Al Katheeri, Executive Vice President of Engineering and Smart City at DSOA, said, "We are keen to support the vision of our wise leadership to transform Dubai into a sustainable and environment-friendly city by reducing carbon emissions. A pillar of our business model, sustainability allows us to contribute to strengthening the emirate's position as a leading global example for achieving the highest standards in environment conservation."

Reiterating DSOA's support for the Dubai Integrated Energy Strategy and Dubai Clean Energy Strategy, Al Katheeri emphasised that the authority is committed to its comprehensive CSR strategy based on three main pillars: environment, human capital and community.

"DSOA will continue to develop environment-friendly programs and initiatives in order to raise awareness about the concept of sustainability among the public," he added.

Dubai Silicon Oasis currently has three electric vehicle charging stations installed on its premises, each of which can charge up to two vehicles at once. Aiming to increase the count to seven by 2018, DSOA also continues to implement Green Charger, an electric vehicle charging station infrastructure initiative launched by the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, DEWA.

In addition, the authority recently introduced four electric vehicles, used by on-ground security patrols and attending facility management units within Dubai Silicon Oasis. DSOA recently received two Golf GTE plug-in hybrid models from Al Nabooda Automobiles, the official distributor of Volkswagen in Dubai and the Northern Emirates for use by Engineering Management and Smart City team within DSO.

Through several smart and environment-friendly projects, DSOA has already surpassed the goals set for Dubai Integrated Energy Strategy 2030 and succeeded in reducing its cumulative energy consumption by 31 percent.


Khalifa University reaches top 80 in Asia university rankings

posted on 23/03/2017

Khalifa University was ranked the 76th best university in Asia, according to the latest Times Higher Education, THE, Asia University Rankings.

This prestigious placement follows the decade-old university's naming as the top university in the UAE, according to 2016 THE World University Rankings and QS 2016 World University Ranking. In addition, the university was ranked fourth amongst Arab countries included in the list and first in the UAE.

Khalifa University scored the highest in the UAE in three out of five categories reviewed by THE: teaching, industry income, and citations. The university also placed highly for its level of international outlook and its high faculty-student ratio.

The Times Higher Education World University Rankings are the only global performance tables that judge research-intensive universities across all their core missions: teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook. The Asia University Rankings also use the same 13 carefully calibrated performance indicators to provide the most comprehensive and balanced comparisons, trusted by students, academics, university leaders, industries and governments.

However, the indicators are especially recalibrated to reflect the priorities of Asian institutions, particularly in the areas of teaching (the learning environment), research (volume, income and reputation), citations (research influence), international outlook (staff, students and research) and industry income (knowledge transfer).

"Asia is known as a global leader in science and technology advancement, innovation and manufacturing," said Dr. Tod Laursen, Khalifa University's Interim President.

"Which is why it is such an honour to be placed so highly in the rankings against other science and engineering focused institutions in South Korea, Japan, China, Singapore and many other countries, that have decades of experience as well as industry and academic connections. For a 10-year-old institution to have been named the top university in the UAE in four different rankings, and to have broken into the top 100 institutions in Asia is a huge achievement, and one that we are very proud of," he added.

Dr. Arif Sultan Al Hammadi, Khalifa University's Interim Executive Vice President, said, "This ranking reiterates the university's status locally, regionally and internationally following a series of prestigious international rankings issued by some of the highest international university ranking institutions. Just as the wise leadership of the UAE wanted when they established this university to be a research hub that has a significant impact on emerging industries by supplying them with the right calibre of highly trained Emirati youth, we are truly proud of the fact that we are a university that has been able to draw a clear path and achieve our global ambitions. These Emirati nationals will help achieve the country's economic goals of diversification of income and achieve both prosperity and happiness for the current and future generations."


UAE National Archives launches sign-language documentaries

posted on 23/03/2017

The UAE National Archives has released a series of national documentary films in sign-language for hearing-impaired people, in co-operation with the UAE Deaf Association.

The films, produced as part of an initiative to promote national heritage, culture and patriotism and project the history of the UAE, will be broadcast in sign language on the National Archives' YouTube channel.

The new productions also shine a light on the achievements of the nation's founding father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

Qualified sign language translators were involved in the project which seeks to support the integration of people with disabilities into society.