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Second tallest tower in U.A.E. nears completion

posted on 23/07/2014

Poised to become the second tallest tower in the U.A.E., Marina 101 in Dubai is now 80 per cent complete according to its developer Sheffield Holdings.

The 425-metre tower, which will trail only the 828m Burj Khalifa, is expected to be completed early next year.

Dubai's Princess Tower is currently the second tallest tower in the U.A.E., standing at 413m, ahead of 23 Marina, which is 393m.

"Visually, the tower will be a very distinctive mix-use tower in the midst of the Marina,” said project manager and engineer, Mohammad Jeilani. "We have completed a large part of the construction, with merely a few elements left. Construction is well underway, with no delays to speak of.”

Upon completion the tower will feature 420 hotel rooms and hotel apartments, 60 three-bedroom residential units, eight duplexes, a five-star hotel, plus health clubs and swimming pools on different levels.

Mock-ups of the hotel apartments and residential units are ready for viewings by investors and potential end users, Sheffield Holdings said in a statement. – The National – Read more: http://www.thenational.ae/business/industry-insights/property/second-tallest-tower-in-uae-nears-completion


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Aldar ties up with Chalhoub for region’s biggest department store at Yas Mall in Abu Dhabi

posted on 23/07/2014

Aldar Properties has signed an agreement with the luxury brand retailer Chalhoub Group to create the region's largest department store, at Abu Dhabi's soon-to-open Yas Mall.

Chalhoub, which opened the world's largest shoe store – the 96,000 square feet Level Shoe District in The Dubai Mall in 2012 – said that it had signed an agreement with Aldar to lease 200,000 sq. ft. of shopping space in Yas Mall.

In a statement yesterday, Chalhoub said that the new store would showcase 200 global brands with concessions and designers covering beauty and cosmetics, fashion, accessories and "an extensive children's selection”.

The new store would surpass the 192,000 sq. ft. Galeries Lafayette store in The Dubai Mall which opened in 2009 and is currently the region's largest single store.

"At the moment Abu Dhabi is significantly behind Dubai in terms of retail with no destination mall in the city so far,” observed Matthew Green, the head of research and consultancy at CBRE's Dubai office. "Although the size of this new store is fairly comparable with Harvey Nichols or Galeries Lafayette, the difference is that in Abu Dhabi there is very little else to compete with something like that.”

Aldar did not say how much the rent would be on the big new store. According to Moody's estimates, Aldar's recurring revenues will grow to around Dh745 million by the end of the year, a quarter of which will be generated by the 2.5 million sq. ft. Yas Mall alone.

"We believe that Yas Mall is the perfect place for us to be launching a new and exciting store concept to market and showcase a selection of international design houses,” the Chalhoub Group chief executive, Patrick Chalhoub said.

Aldar said that the deal meant Yas Mall is now 95 per cent leased ahead of the opening which is planned for November. However, it added that the new department store would not be among the shops pulling up their shutters for the first time at the grand opening scheduled for the weekend of Friday, November 21.

Chalhoub employs more than 9,000 staff across 14 countries and manages more than 470 retail outlets, partnering with brands such as Chanel, Fendi, Saks Fifth Avenue Baccarat, Christofle, Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton and Nina Ricci.

The group has expanded its presence in Abu Dhabi over the past few years, opening stores such as the children's luxury clothing outlet Katakeet in Abu Dhabi Mall as well as branches of its Faces beauty concept in Bawabat Al Sharq, Khalidiya Mall, Marina Mall and Mushrif Mall.

The group also operates branded stores such as Fendi, Christian Dior, Lacoste and Mulberry in the capital, especially at Mubadala's new Galleria luxury shopping centre on Al Maryah Island and in Marina Mall.

"We believe that by creating a new concept, with one of the region's most respected luxury retailers, we will create a unique shopping experience that complements the diverse retail mix already in place at the mall,” said Mohammed Al Mubarak, the Aldar chief executive.

Last week Aldar announced that the long-delayed Yas Mall would also house the second House of Fraser store outside the UK as well as Hamleys the world's oldest toy shop and Joe Fresh, a Canadian fashion brand.

Yas Mall is being built by Six Construct. When it was appointed in October 2011, the completion date for the mall was initially set for the fourth quarter of 2013. The opening date was then delayed until spring 2014 before being moved to coincide with Abu Dhabi's Formula One weekend in November. – The National – Read more: http://www.thenational.ae/business/industry-insights/retail/aldar-ties-up-with-chalhoub-for-regions-biggest-department-store-at-yas-mall-in-abu-dhabi


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DXB resumes full operations after reopening northern runway

posted on 23/07/2014

Dubai Airports has announced successful resumption of its full operations at Dubai International from yesterday following the reopening of the northern runway.

The company says that flights that had temporarily moved to Al Maktoum International at Dubai World Central (DWC) while the runway upgrades were underway have now returned to Dubai International.

The number of flights at Dubai International surged by about 31 per cent with the opening of both runways, when compared to the number of flights during the 80-day closure. Despite the sudden increase in traffic, operations ran smoothly.

Dubai International now boasts two newly refurbished runways which allow the airport to accommodate more aircraft while improving operational flexibility during busy peak traffic periods. The runway upgrades were part of Dubai Airports' US$7.8billion SP2020 master-plan aimed at expanding Dubai International's capacity to help accommodate more than 103 million passengers by 2020, according to Dubai Airports.

Both of the airport's runways were closed consecutively from May 1 for 80-day period. The project involved the resurfacing of the entire 4,000-metre long northern runway as well as the upgrading of runway lighting and construction of additional taxiways and rapid exits on the southern runway.

Airlines that have moved flights from DWC back to Dubai International include flydubai, Malaysian Airlines, Royal Brunei and PAL Express as well as selected flights from Qatar Airways and Gulf Air. Four airlines will continue to offer flights from DWC including Wizz Air, Gulf Air, Qatar Airways and Jazeera Airways.

"I am pleased that our planning and preparations over the past year not only ensured that the impact on passengers during the 80-day period was minimal but that we were able to resume full operations and accommodate increased traffic at the end of the programme without a hitch," said Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports.

"The runway upgrade programme tested the mettle of the over 60,000 people who work at DXB whose dedication and teamwork resulted in the successful delivery of an incredibly demanding programme, led by Dubai Aviation Engineering Projects and Dubai Airports' operations, while maintaining high traffic volumes and top-flight service levels," added Griffiths. "Additionally it allowed tens of thousands of passengers to experience the speed, convenience and efficiency of DWC, Dubai's second airport." – Emirates News Agency, WAM


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Veteran space explorer praises U.A.E.’s space ambitions

posted on 23/07/2014

"You can see Dubai's manmade Islands — The Palm and The World — very clearly from space, but you cannot see the Wall of China — it's a myth,” Colonel Chris Hadfield, the first and only Canadian to ever command a spaceship, told Gulf News during his visit to Dubai yesterday.

Colonel Hadfield, who has 21 years of experience as an astronaut and has completed three space flights, was invited to the U.A.E. by General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the U.A.E. Armed Forces, to speak at his Ramadan Majlis.

During his interview with Gulf News, the astronaut shared his expertise and insights on what are the possible outcomes of the U.A.E.'s decision to send a manmade probe to Mars by 2021 and establish the U.A.E. Space Agency.

The man, who is currently on the five dollar Canadian bill, said the establishment of the U.A.E. space agency can lead to a multi-billion dollar aerospace industry.

Giving Canada's early space experience as an example, he said: "Our first satellite was humble; it was just a small satellite, but the technologies we invented for it led to space robotics, which led to the huge arm [Canadarm] that is on the space station right now, which then lead to the robotics that we use in medical procedures. Now there is a NeuroArm used for brain surgery in Canada.”

Col Hadfield said he never thought that when the space agency was formed that there will be significant inventions and results that can lead to a multi-billion dollar industry in Canada, adding that the U.A.E. can follow his country's model to some degree.

Establishing the U.A.E. space agency will also open doors to future missions, Col Hadfield said.

"We will be setting up permanent bases on the moon. It is probably 25 years away, but when the time comes, only countries that have developed and trained their people and invented the technology can take part. Think of the first person from the U.A.E. who is going to fly in space and walk on the moon.”

Col Hadfield said the U.A.E. has given itself a complex and monumental task of successfully sending a robot to mars on a seven-year scale.

"It is a short time, but it is possible. We normally do things on trial and error but they won't have time for error. But the beautiful part of that is the possibility of cooperating internationally and of course in the U.A.E. there has been lots of evidence of international cooperation.”

The astronaut said international collaboration is important for this challenge, as the international experts can help avoid going through the errors that they have already experienced.

Although international collaboration is important, he said fostering indigenous capabilities allows for a bigger platform for the future, so the U.A.E. must slowly but incrementally challenge the universities here and the manufacturing base to build up and increase capabilities.

"It is important so that five years from now, when the U.A.E. space agency says it would like to put a rover on the moon or drill to see if there is water or whatever, they would have started to build the expertise so they don't have to rely on other countries.”

Col Hadfield commended the U.A.E. leaderships for thinking of the long term and the future.

"Think of the impact, think of the inspiration and the way that people will choose to make decisions with their lives, with that type of programme. The U.A.E. is in front of the pack, so any kid growing up anywhere around this area who is interested in being an astronaut or working in space, they are going to look here because of the programme.”

The colonel advised the U.A.E. to look into building the capabilities within the U.A.E. by making the universities and industries respond to the challenge as well as bringing and making the expertise. He also said increasing the technical and creative capability of the research development that exists already and continue on building on it is important. – Gulf News – Read more:

http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/uae/general/veteran-space-explorer-praises-uae-s-space-ambitions-1.1362887


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Mohammed bin Rashid launches Quran Printing Centre

posted on 23/07/2014

Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, on Tuesday evening inaugurated the Mohammed bin Rashid Quran Printing Centre, world's first of its kind to provide copies of the Quran in all typescript, writing styles and variant readings for all Muslim countries.

The Annual capacity in the first phase will reach 6 million copies, and 16 million copies in the next phases.

Commenting on the occasion, Sheikh Mohammed said, "Serving the book of God, preserving, printing and distributing it is the grace of Allah. I thank Him for guiding me to exercise my duty in serving Islam and Muslims." He added that the U.A.E. has been serving the book of God through the Quran Memorisation Centres, through the invitation of scholars well-versed in Quran sciences, and the launch of the Holy Quran Award.

The new Quran printing centre will print the ‘Khalifa bin Zayed Mus'haf' (edition of the Holy Quran) and the ‘Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Mus'haf', as well as other copies for all Islamic countries.

The event was attended by H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, H.H. Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Media Incorporated (DMI), Mohammed Abdullah Al Gergawi, Minster for Cabinet Affairs, Sami Dhaen Al Qamzi, Deputy Chairman and Managing Director of DMI, Khalifa Saeed Suleiman, Director-General of the Department of Protocol and Hospitality in Dubai, Muna Ghanem Al Marri, Director-General of the Media Office of Dubai Government, and senior officials.

The new Quran centre aims at promoting the teachings of the Quran and the Sunnah (the way of life of Muslims on the basis of teachings and practices of the Prophet Mohammed PBUH) and tolerance in order to achieve peace and co-existence among all races.

It will benefit from the facilities of Masar Printing and Publishing in Dubai.

The setting up of the centre reflects U.A.E.'s strong interest in serving the Holy Quran and spreading the message of Islam worldwide. – Emirates News Agency, WAM – Read more: http://www.wam.ae/en/news/emirates/1395268041067.html


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New book features unique collection of Islamic textiles from Sharjah

posted on 23/07/2014

One of the world's most important collections of Islamic textiles from the Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilisation is being celebrated in a new publication created by Sharjah Museums Department (SMD).

"Islamic Textiles: From the Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilisation' was launched on 7 July. The publication honours a collection that has major religious significance, as it focuses on textiles created through the generations for Islam's most Holy Places in Makkah and Madina.

"This beautiful and scholarly book is the first comprehensive guide to these magnificent textiles, which have all been collected over a 20-year period by H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah," explained Manal Ataya, Director General of Sharjah Museums Department.

"This is the second publication in our series highlighting key pieces from the collections of the Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilisation. This series is intended both to draw attention to the artistic, historic and religious significance of our collections, and also enable a wide audience to share in their beauty and learn about their provenance. Academic and religious scholars will also find these publications invaluable." The textile collection featured in the book ranges from 11th to 15th Hijri century (17th to 21st century AD). It stands as a peerless showcase of the exceptional resources, precious materials and artistic excellence that has been lavished on these textiles throughout the ages, and which continues to be today. It also speaks of Muslims' heart-felt sense of duty and dedication in preserving and perpetually honouring them.

SMD launched the book on 7 July , during the staging of ‘Travel through the land', a unique exhibition that explores the journey of transportation across various ages and brings together artefacts, 3D models, paintings and photographs from seven different museums which fall under SMD.

This exhibition is SMD's cultural contribution to the Sharjah Ramadan Festival 2014 – a major celebration that has been organised to mark the Emirate's year as the Capital of Islamic Culture and is exhibited in the Festival's Art Bazaar section. – Emirates News Agency, WAM – Read more:

http://www.wam.ae/en/news/emirates/1395268024637.html


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RAK Petroleum announces fifth consecutive year of profitability

posted on 23/07/2014

RAK Petroleum Public Company Limited, the energy investment company, yesterday announced a net profit of Dh 58.1 million for the year ended 31st December 2013, marking a fifth consecutive year of profitability.

The company's assets include a 42.8 percent shareholding in DNO ASA, the Oslo-listed oil and gas company with operations in the Middle East, and a 100 percent shareholding of Mondoil Enterprises, LLC., which holds an indirect 8 percent stake in Cote d'Ivoire Block 27 containing that country's two largest producing gas fields. Under equity accounting rules for associated companies, RAK Petroleum assumes a proportionate share of DNO's profit and loss in its own financial results. RAK Petroleum's share of DNO's 2013 net profit amounted to Dh34.0 million in 2013. Mondoil Enterprises' net profit was Dh51.3 million. Adjustments for other income and general and administrative expenses brought net profit for the year to Dh58.1 million.

Early in 2014, Mondoil Enterprises added to its exploration portfolio by acquiring an indirect 9.2 percent stake in Cote d'Ivoire Block 502 and another transaction is pending which will raise the indirect stake in Cote d'Ivoire Block 27 to 9.1 percent.

"Last year was a banner year for RAK Petroleum and its shareholders, with significant growth in our DNO investment, while Mondoil Enterprises generated Dh85.2 million in cash distributions which were re-invested in the capital expansion programme of Cote d'Ivoire Block CI-27 and helped fund other corporate investments and expenditures," said Bijan Mossavar-Rahmani, the company's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. – Emirates News Agency, WAM – Read more: http://www.wam.ae/en/news/economics/1395268011914.html


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U.A.E. makes ‘Green Diesel’ mandatory

posted on 23/07/2014

Emirates National Oil Company (Enoc) yesterday announced that all service stations in the Enoc/Eppco network are now providing the ultra-low sulphur ‘Green Diesel.'

This follows the U.A.E. Federal Cabinet decree aimed at raising the U.A.E.'s standards of diesel fuel from 500ppm to 10ppm, whereby all commercial diesel vehicles and equipment motorists are to use the ultra-low-sulphur diesel that matches Euro 5 standards. The decree has been aimed at promoting the U.A.E.'s environmental sustainability by limiting pollution.

As of July 1, all Enoc's retail and commercial service stations offer ‘Green Diesel' with service station staff advising customers on the need to shift to the new diesel fuel. The response to the launch of 'Green Diesel' at the Enoc/Eppco service stations has been extremely positive.

Green Diesel is more sustainable because it has only 10ppm of sulphur compared to 500ppm in the diesel used in the region. Diesel is graded by its sulphur content as a general rule as removing it implies a reduction in particulate matters and pollutants. Therefore, using 10ppm diesel leads to lower emissions, and cleaner air quality.

Saeed Khoory, Chief Executive Officer of Enoc, said: "The U.A.E. has set a clear vision and guidelines for promoting sustainable development, and it is important to uphold these for the benefit of future generations.

"The Federal Government has made it mandatory that the environment-friendly 'Green Diesel' is used by motorists, in turn contributing to a greener and cleaner environment. Enoc will continue to be at the forefront in promoting the use of 'Green Diesel' as part of our corporate social responsibility.”

He added: "As one of the first providers of ultra-low-sulphur diesel in the U.A.E., we will work with all concerned stakeholders – including government departments and motorists – to further promote its usage.

"This is a perfect fit to the ‘green economy for sustainable development' initiative launched by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the U.A.E. and Ruler of Dubai. The distribution of 'Green Diesel' marks a significant investment in the future and we are taking the extra step by absorbing the additional cost involved in distributing the low-emission diesel.”

The environment-friendly fuel is distributed by Enoc in accordance with the regulation by the Emirates Authority for Standards & Metrology, the U.A.E.'s sole standardisation body, to reduce motor vehicle pollution and greenhouse gas emissions and promote environmental sustainability.

Set by the European Union, the Euro 5 standard diesel ensures that emissions from vehicles are limited and are significantly less than emissions when using conventional fuels. – Emirates 24│7 – Read more: http://www.emirates247.com/business/energy/uae-makes-green-diesel-mandatory-2014-07-22-1.557369


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Abu Dhabi Police receive global recognition

posted on 23/07/2014

Sheikh Saif commended the Human Resources team's efforts in achieving international recognition and urged them to continue striving towards excellence.

Lt-General Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, has received the ‘International Excellence Certificate' — the first recognition of its kind given to a police institution in the Middle East. The certificate was presented to the Human Resources department at the Abu Dhabi Police by Investors in Excellence, a UK-based organisation which accredits the adoption of standards of organisational excellence.

Ray Bradnock, representing the organisation, presented the award to Sheikh Saif at the police headquarters in Abu Dhabi.

Sheikh Saif commended the Human Resources team's efforts in achieving international recognition and urged them to continue striving towards excellence.

The police department was awarded the certificate after a comprehensive assessment of its various job performances.

This is an achievement which placed the department in the top 10 ratings in the history of the Investors in Excellence accreditation. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

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U.A.E. among top three in mobile banking adoption

posted on 23/07/2014

The U.A.E. ranks as one of the world's top three countries in mobile banking adoption, according to a new global SAP study on technology in banking.

Mobile banking is following a similar usage curve to online banking, with the U.A.E., China, and India leading in adoption. In emerging markets, mobile devices provide access to financial services to previously under-banked populations.

More than six out of 10 participants (65 per cent) said mobile is the most important trend for the future, followed by in-memory computing (48 per cent) and cloud (47 per cent).

"The U.A.E.'s impressive ranking as a global leader in mobile banking adoption demonstrates the country's strong culture of innovation and early adoption of mobile technology,” said Sam Alkharrat, president, SAP MENA.

"Mobile banking enables seamless engagement between banks and customers, provides more efficient and new customer-centric features and services, and enhances customer loyalty and rewards programmes,” added Alkharrat.

"With smartphone penetration increasing across the Mena region, we're helping banks and businesses use technology to unlock the next generation of mobile commerce.”

Banks address a 
new era in IT

While technology is changing every aspect of banking operations, 77 per cent of participants in the recent survey say the greatest impact will be on customer satisfaction and regulatory compliance. However, many banks have plans to increase their budget for IT to invest in the necessary banking solutions to meet these changing requirements. Indeed, 61 per cent of survey participants expect an increase in their IT budget of at least 25 per cent in the next three years.

Respondents also recognise the opportunity in big data and analytics in banking and placed a much greater emphasis on the overall comprehensiveness of information. The top two priorities in platform features noted included completeness of aggregation (84 per cent) and the availability of real-time information (62 per cent).

According to the study, in order to implement customer-centric banking offerings to deliver better services, institutions will need to enhance their back office support systems to ensure customers experience the same quality standard through traditional or new communication channels. – Khaleej Times – Read more: http://www.khaleejtimes.com/kt-article-display-1.asp?xfile=data/bankingfinance/2014/July/bankingfinance_July27.xml§ion=bankingfinance


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NBAD 1H net profits up 7.9% to Dh2.8 billion

posted on 23/07/2014

The National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD) earned Dh 2.829 billion for the half ended 30 June 2014, up 7.9% over first half of 2013.

"In 2Q 2014, net profits were AED 1.424 billion, up 1.3% sequentially and 17.5% year-over-year. Results for both periods reflect improvement in underlying fee income and continued expense discipline. Diluted EPS was AED 0.56 for 1H 2014, up 6.8%," NBAD said.

The annualised return on average equity for 1H 2014 was 16.0%, down from 16.6% in 1H 2013.

Nasser Alsowaidi, Chairman of NBAD said, "In the second quarter of 2014, NBAD continued to generate solid momentum across business lines. The Bank's results reflect continued strength in underlying revenue and earnings growth. As we enter the second half of 2014, NBAD will continue to focus on generating long-term growth whilst maintaining its strong balance sheet and solid capital position." Alex Thursby, Group Chief Executive said, "Our results in the second quarter of 2014 provide further evidence that our strategy is working. We are seeing positive underlying trends across our businesses, particularly our fee generating businesses. I expect these trends to continue in the second half of the year and in the years to come. Every day, we are executing against our strategy and becoming more ‘core to our chosen customers', generating significant wins and building substantial pipelines with clients in both the private and public sectors. At the same time, the strength of our balance sheet remains at the top of our priority list, and we are focused on maintaining strong liquidity and capital positions.

"We are beginning to work as one team in major transactions and significant deals, we are establishing stronger government relations in areas such as cash management services, and we are in the process of expanding in the UK and Asia. I expect the improvements we are beginning to see will continue to drive long-term business momentum and increases in revenue and profitability going forward.

As we enter the second half of the year, I am confident that we will continue to execute against our strategy and achieve sustainable growth over time," Thursby concluded.

NBAD says U.A.E., which has the 2nd largest economy in the Arab world and 29th largest GDP in the world, recently became part of the MSCI Emerging Market Index in June 2014, and has continued to benefit from its safe haven status during periods of instability in the region.

"The economy has shown signs of resilience amidst global and regional uncertainty and is beginning to generate returns from its diversification efforts. Last year, the non-oil sector constituted 61% of nominal GDP, with strength coming from real estate and transport/communication. Over time, the objective is to continue to increase the contribution from the non-oil sector to the overall U.A.E. economy. " In 2014, U.A.E.'s recovery will gain momentum through higher levels of investment, increasing population and a stable political environment. With Expo 2020 and projects like KIZAD (Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi) underway, the non-oil sector is expected to drive the economic growth.

1H 2014 Highlights Net Profits were Dh 2.8 billion, up 7.9% y-o-y Revenues were Dh 5.1 billion, up 4.4% y-o-y Total Assets grew to Dh 348.5 billion, up 6.7% y-o-y Loans were Dh 181.7 billion, up 4.8% y-o-y Customer Deposits increased to Dh 237.4 billion, up 8.2% y-o-y Trade contingencies were Dh 95.1 billion, up 21.8% y-o-y Strong capital position with CAR at 16.2% and Tier-I ratio at 14.7% 2Q 2014 Highlights Net Profits were Dh 1.4 billion, up 1.3% sequentially (q-o-q) and 17.5% y-o-y Revenues were Dh 2.6 billion, up 2.8% q-o-q and 9.2% y-o-y Total Assets at Dh 348.5 billion, down 3.5% q-o-q Loans at Dh 181.7 billion, up 1.8% q-o-q Customer Deposits Dh 237.4 billion, up 1.0% q-o-q Trade contingencies Dh 95.1 billion, flat q-o-q. – Emirates News Agency, WAM


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FGB net profit up 21 percent in H1, 2014

posted on 23/07/2014

FGB has announced its H1'2014 financial results, showing continued and solid performance across all business lines.

The Bank's Net Profit stood at Dh 2,680 million, a 21 percent increase when compared with the same period last year (H1, 2013). FGB's net profit for the second quarter of 2014 rose by 16 percent compared with Q2, 2013, to Dh 1,350 million.

FGB's exceptional performance was driven by a strong balance sheet, yielding solid and diversified revenues, improved asset quality metrics and enhanced profitability during the period.

Abdulhamid Saeed, FGB Managing Director and Board Member, said: "The strong results achieved during the first half of 2014 reflect the effectiveness of FGB's strategy to expand and drive the business forward. Exactly one year ago, we reshaped our businesses into three core pillars: the Wholesale Banking Group, the Consumer Banking Group and the Treasury & Global Markets Group. This allowed us to significantly enhance synergies between our core businesses, deepen our expertise and our product offering across a number of areas, and improve our overall value proposition. We have also successfully integrated both subsidiaries ‘Dubai First' and ‘Aseel Islamic Finance' into our existing operations, which has strengthened the business and enabled us to better meet the needs of our customers." FGB's strong franchise and solid performance were recognised by various leading bodies. The Bank was named the "Best Bank in the U.A.E." at the 2014 Banker Middle East Industry Awards for the second year in a row and received the "Best Wealth Management Firm" award for the year as well. Furthermore, Forbes Middle East magazine placed FGB in 8th position on its ‘Top 500 companies in the Arab World' list. FGB was also the 4th leading bank (2nd in the U.A.E.) on the list and one of only 26 ranked organisations to have been honoured with an exclusive award within the banking category.

Rating agencies have also reaffirmed FGB's strength and leadership. Capital Intelligence, the international credit rating agency, recently announced that it has ranked the Financial Strength Rating (FSR) of FGB at 'A+', with its strong profitability, solid capitalisation, improving liquidity and rising loan-loss reserve coverage ratio being major supporting factors.

Andre Sayegh, CEO of FGB, commented: "This recognition highlights FGB's outstanding achievements throughout the past year. The solid performance in the first half of 2014 is a continuation in this direction. Our recent rebrand also signifies our aspirations and clear plan to position FGB for long-term sustainable success in the U.A.E. and across geographies. In addition, the recent inclusion of FGB stock in the MSCI Emerging Market Index reaffirms our leadership and our commitment to pursue our efforts towards maximising returns for all our stakeholders." – Emirates News Agency, WAM


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Waha Capital reports record Q2 preliminary net profit of Dh 1.1 billion

posted on 23/07/2014

Waha Capital PJSC, a leading investment company based in Abu Dhabi (ADX: WAHA), has reported a preliminary net profit of Dh 1.138 billion for the second quarter of 2014, up from Dh 38.4 million recorded in the corresponding period a year earlier.

The record quarterly net profit for the company -- the first time quarterly net profit has exceeded the Dh 1 billion mark -- was largely due to the unlocking of part of the value in Waha Capital 's stake in AerCap Holdings NV following the New York-listed company's acquisition of International Lease Finance Corporation (ILFC), a transaction that closed in May this year.

Waha Capital booked a one-off gain related to the transaction, and recorded a higher earnings contribution from AerCap, because of the increase in scale, valuation and earnings per share at the aircraft leasing company. Other Waha Capital portfolio companies also displayed steady performances, with Anglo Arabian Healthcare and Dunia Finance, continuing their promising business development.

Half-year net profit reached Dh 1.289 billion, representing a 9-fold year-on-year increase.

Commenting on the results, Hussain Jasim Al Nowais, Chairman of Waha Capital , said, "These exceptional results are a testament to Waha Capital 's strong financial position and sound investment process. The company is in an excellent position to take advantage of attractive investment opportunities in high potential sectors in the local and regional economy." Al Nowais added: "We will continue to focus on maintaining a healthy pace of growth in our core activities. I am confident that Waha Capital has the right level of expertise and the financial capacity to continue to maximise shareholder value." The value of Waha Capital 's assets increased 24% to Dh 6.5 billion as of the end of the second quarter, up from Dh 5.2 billion as at December 31 2013, with total shareholder equity increasing to Dh 3.7 billion from Dh 2.5 billion during the same period. – Emirates News Agency, WAM


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Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid and Princess Haya, JHCO to send 15 truck-loads of aid to Gaza

posted on 23/07/2014

The Jordan Hashemite Charity Organisation (JHCO) has sent a new convoy carrying aid to the people in Gaza Strip, Jordanian News Agency (PETRA) reported on Tuesday.

The relief material was provided by Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and his wife Princess Haya Al Hussein to help alleviate the sufferings of the Palestinian people.

This humanitarian aid contained blankets, mats and medical aid which reached Amman by a large cargo plane that landed at the Marka Airport on Monday and was dispatched in 15 trucks, said the JHCO.

The aid will be distributed via the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNEWA) in the Strip, the Organisation statement said, adding that more relief flights from the U.A.E. will arrive in the Kingdom in the coming days carrying more aid material for distribution among the distressed in the Gaza Strip. – Emirates News Agency, WAM – Read more:

http://www.wam.ae/en/news/emirates-arab/1395268042951.html


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Lubna Al Qasimi chairs first meeting of National Committee for the Coordination of Foreign Aid

posted on 23/07/2014

The National Committee for the Coordination of Foreign Aid held its first meeting yesterday under the chairmanship of Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid Al Qasimi, Minister of International Cooperation and Development and head of the committee.

The committee discussed its action plans and reviewed contributions of the U.A.E. on humanitarian front especially its response to crises and humanitarian disasters.

Sheikh Lubna speaking on the occasion said that the directives of the U.A.E.'s wise leadership represented by President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum on advancing the contributions of the U.A.E. in terms of humanitarian action have provided a stimulus for the members of the committee to continue further efforts in order to maintain the achievements made by the State to respond to humanitarian crises.

The meeting reviewed many topics on the agenda particularly committee's specifications which represents the application of the vision and policy of the U.A.E. to respond to humanitarian crises in coordination with the relevant authorities.

The committee will also propose a media plan in coordination with the National Media Council, and will refer reports periodically to the cabinet about the humanitarian response of the U.A.E.

The meeting also discussed U.A.E.'s contributions in a number of humanitarian issues and crises, in particular its aid to the displaced Syrian people and its efforts in providing support to Palestinians in Gaza Strip.

The meeting was attended by a number senior officials from the Ministry of Development and International Cooperation. – Emirates News Agency, WAM – Read more: http://www.wam.ae/en/news/emirates/1395268022842.html


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U.A.E. Human Appeal International continues humanitarian relief efforts in Palestine

posted on 23/07/2014

The U.A.E.'s Human Appeal International, HAI, has distributed thousands of Iftar meals at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and 10 tons of food supplies to underprivileged families in towns and displaced people in camps in Palestine.

Ibrahim Rashid, Director of HAI's Office in the West Bank, said that the project is one of many implemented to mark the Zayed Humanitarian Work Day. He went on to say that so far, food supplies have been distributed to provinces in Nablus, Bethlehem, Qalqilya and Ramallah, with the cooperation of local associations and committees.

Sheikh Omar Al-Kiswani, the Director of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, said, that the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan will always be in the prayers of people at the Mosque. The heads of the committees who participated in the distribution also expressed their thanks and appreciation to the U.A.E., its leadership and charities which operate in the country to provide support to Palestinian people. – Emirates News Agency, WAM – Read more:

http://www.wam.ae/en/news/emirates/1395268012349.html


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Zayed Programme approves Dh1.1 billion housing aid

posted on 23/07/2014

The Sheikh Zayed Housing Programme, SZHP, has approved the names of 1,369 beneficiaries of the 2nd batch of housing aid valued at Dh 1.157 billion.

The names of the beneficiaries were approved during a meeting chaired by Dr. Abdullah Bel Haif Al Nuaimi, Minister of Public Works and Chairman of SZHP. The approval is in line with the directives of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan to provide Emiratis a dignified life since their welfare tops the priorities of the government.

The approval is also a result of the close follow-up and directives of Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, on the importance of ensuring the appropriate housing for citizens and achieving the highest level of happiness as well as a sophisticated infrastructure which meet the needs and standards of a decent and modern life.

Dr. Al Nuaimi on the occasion also hailed the instructions of H.H. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, which emphasise that the home models built in residential complexes must be within the financial capabilities of Emiratis in order not to burden them with extra costs, with the government bearing all service-related, investments and public utility expenses in these residential complexes.

He praised the efforts of local government institutions across the U.A.E. who contributed to achieving the objectives and vision of SZHP by facilitating administrative and building permit procedures, as well as providing the plots for building the residential projects. – Emirates News Agency, WAM – Read more:

http://www.wam.ae/en/news/emirates/1395268022615.html



Marriage Fund approves over Dh9.1m grant

Dr. Maytha bint Salem Al Shamsi, Minister of State and Chairwoman of the Marriage Fund, has approved the names of 249 beneficiaries of the 6th batch of the Marriage Fund for 2014.

A grant of over Dh 9.1 million has been sanctioned and the allocated money for each beneficiary has been transferred to their bank accounts, along with a notification SMS.

The strategic role of the fund aims to form a cohesive U.A.E. family through continuous training programmes for the beneficiaries, informing them of the knowledge, ethics and skills required for growth and stability in family life. It also encourages marriage of U.A.E. citizens to Emirati woman as well as strengthening its social pillars for the advantage of the citizens.

Dr. Al Shamsi offered tremendous tributes to late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan in the humanitarian field and said, "The same legacy is being followed by President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and 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 and their support for the Zayed Humanitarian Day has made the event an occasion for launching charitable and humanitarian initiatives at the local and international level." The Marriage Fund has given more attention to the charitable, humanitarian and social work, and has interacted with the Zayed Humanitarian Work Day and launched a number of social and humanitarian initiatives in coordination with a number of charitable organisations in the country. – Emirates News Agency, WAM – Read more:

http://www.wam.ae/en/news/emirates/1395268020773.html


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Federal National Council okays tough anti-terror bill

posted on 23/07/2014

The Federal National Council (FNC) has approved a landmark draft law to prevent and combat terrorist activities in the country and the region at large.

The law, which was passed during an extraordinary meeting that began on Monday night and concluded in the early hours of Tuesday, is considered one of the toughest and most comprehensive and of international level. It stipulates capital punishment to life imprisonment in addition to huge financial fines when enacted against those found guilty.

The draft stipulates that those found guilty of attacking or threatening the President, the Vice-President or any of the Rulers of the Emirates and their family members, and those conspiring against the state and government will face capital punishment.

The bill also deals with secret organisations with evil intentions and organisations and individuals having links with militants outfits based outside the country.

Those involved in such activities will face life imprisonment and financial fines ranging between Dh1 million and Dh100 million.

The bill also includes a wide range of related criminal issues, including human trafficking and money laundering, financing of terrorist and other crimes. Those involved in carrying out, planning or assisting to carry out terrorist activities in the country or planning such activities outside but planned here will face these penalties.

The anti-terrorist draft bill, according to officials and council members, is also one of the bills which was approved by the council without any delay.

For the first time, the FNC had to call for a meeting during its summer recess and that too at night to discuss and clear the bill at the earliest for its immediate implementation.

The meeting on Monday night was held behind closed doors, attended by ministers concerned and senior government officials and experts. The bill was approved by the council after minor but constructive amendments and will be sent back to the Cabinet which, after its approval, will refer it for Presidential assent.

"The meeting went through article by article and clause by clause in the law and finally approved it with minor amendments and recommendations. We expect the law to receive the Presidential assent soon and it will be implemented without delay. The entire house was unanimous of the view the bill should be approved and implemented as soon as possible to enable us make the country's security soundproof,” said a member after the meeting.

"It is a well-drafted bill and that is why it did not require lengthy debates causing delays. It has been carefully reviewed by the council in-house Legislative and Legal Affairs Committee several times with recommendations and minor amendments that the members agreed and approved it,” said a member.

According to members and observers, it was the right time to speed up the approval and implementation of the law when terrorist activities are spreading around the world, including in the region. – Khaleej Times – Read more: http://www.khaleejtimes.com/kt-article-display-1.asp?xfile=data/government/2014/July/government_July49.xml§ion=government


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Hamdan bin Mohammed launches Stars Rating System for Government Services Delivery Channels

posted on 23/07/2014

H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Executive Council of Dubai, commissioned the launch of the Star Rating System for all service delivery channels in the Government of Dubai including Call Centres, Websites, Smart Applications, as well as Customer Service Centres.

The launch of the Star Rating System for all service delivery channels comes in line with the vision of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the U.A.E. towards improving and developing government work leading to highest level of customers' satisfaction. The move also realises the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the U.A.E. and Ruler of Dubai, in the transformation to the Smart Government model.

"We want to deliver an exceptional experience to Customers of Government of Dubai across all service delivery channels and we don't want that to be limited to Service Centres. Instead, we want to encourage smart and innovative methods to reach the public in order to create the best Smart Government model," H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed said.

The Dubai Crown Prince also approved six new categories for the "Hamdan bin Mohammed Award for Smart Government" aimed to encourage government entities to raise the competencies of all service delivery channels and reward individuals who contribute to achieving this strategic goal.

The Star Rating System will determine the level of all service delivery channels used by the Dubai customers through assessment and classification of not only Service Centres, but surpassing that to other service delivery channels. The system also aims to stimulate positive competition between service providers in order to improve public services in Dubai to unprecedented levels and deliver exceptional customer experiences.

The evaluation criteria for the Star Rating System for all service delivery channels are based on the guiding principles of ‘Dubai Model' for Government Services which is recognised internationally by six specialised and well-respected organisations as well as the criteria of the Hamdan bin Mohammed Award for Smart Government. It also takes into consideration requirements of the star classification implemented on the federal level as well as the evaluation criteria issued by Dubai Smart Government. The system includes several perspectives including star rating for customer service centres, call centres, websites, and Smartphone applications.

The Government of Dubai has evaluated a number of customer service centres during the previous year (2013) and their classification will be updated to the new Star Rating System as follows: Bronze Centre (Qualified Centre) 4 Stars Silver Centre (Excellent Centre) 5 Stars Gold Centre (Model Centre) 6 Stars Platinum Centre 7 Stars The Star Rating System allows Dubai government entities to compete in the ‘Hamdan bin Mohammed Award for Smart Government' in the specific categories for service delivery channels. The categories are Best m-Government Service Award, Best Service Star Award, Best Service Centre Manager/Director Award, Best Service Centre. Further categories have been added in order to support the Star Rating System which are Best Call Centre Award, Best Call Centre Manager Award, Best Website, Best Website/Smartphone Application Manager.

The Star Rating System is added as a main component of the ‘Hamdan bin Mohammed Programme for Smart Government' and will be administered by Dubai' The Model Centre in The Executive Council of Dubai to provide the necessary support to government entities. The Executive Council of Dubai will receive applications for Star Rating for all service delivery channels, and will assist government entities to apply for the Star Rating throughout the year . Participating entities will then be assessed by Dubai' The Model Centre while Star Rating Plates with the classification will be distributed to different service delivery channels within Dubai (customer service centres, call centres, electronic websites, and smart applications) by Dubai' The Model Centre. – Emirates News Agency, WAM – Read more:

http://www.wam.ae/en/news/emirates/1395268031301.html


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Sharjah International Book Fair announces registration for first joint SIBF /ALA Library Conference

posted on 23/07/2014

The Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) has announced that registration is now open for individuals and organisations working in the library sector, to participate in its first ever joint conference with the American Library Association (ALA), which is set to take place in November 2014.

Scheduled to take place from the 11th to the 13th of November, in concurrence with the 2014 edition of SIBF, the SIBF/ALA Conference will be dedicated to discussing issues related to library science with the participation of Arab and foreign experts from all over the world.

The announcement follows the conclusion of SIBF's successful participation in the Annual Conference and Exhibition of the American Library Association (ALA Las Vegas), which was held recently in Las Vegas in the United States of America, during which the organisation of the SIBF/ALA Conference was finalised.

SIBF announced that registration is open for participation in the conference. Attendance in the conference is free of charge but preregistration is required. Libraries, organisations, and individuals interested in attending the conference can request more information by visiting http://www.sibf.com or www.ala.org/sibf Speaking about the conference, SIBF Director Ahmed Al Ameri remarked, "In line with the directives of H.H. Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, this will be the first time that a conference of this magnitude, dedicated to library science, will be held in the Middle East, and we are looking forward to the immensely positive impact it is sure to have on spurring growth in the region's library sector. Our aim is to support the amazing work that by this region's librarians are already doing and give them the opportunity to expand their skills and broaden their experience, which is why attendance of the conference will be free of charge." Al Ameri urges all librarians in the region, whether they are working in public, academic, school, government, or special libraries to make use of this opportunity to get their finger on the pulse of the latest developments in library science, as well as to get the chance to network and share best practices with library experts from all around the world, and visit the upcoming edition of the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF 2014), which will take place from the 5th to the 15th of November 2014.

The SIBF Director went on to state that the response to the upcoming conference has been overwhelmingly positive, remarking, "Following a number of meetings held with major stakeholders in the library and book sector during the Las Vegas conference we are thrilled to report that sponsorship opportunities in the SIBF/ALA Conference are almost completely sold out." Salim Omar Salim, Head of Sales and Marketing at SIBF, said, "We have also succeeded in bringing on board more than 25 leading companies to take part in the conference's Librarian's Lounge – a dedicated space where librarians and educators will have the chance collect information on goods and services for libraries from leading vendors from across the globe." He added that securing support and creating awareness for the new conference was a key focus point of the SIBF delegation's visit to Las Vegas during which they capitalised on the opportunity to meet with a number of key players in the book and library industry. In addition to meeting with a team from ALA to further solidify and expand the SIBF/ALA Conference programme.

The SIBF delegation also met with and extended invitation to attend the SIBF/ALA conference, the SIBF, and its Professional Programme to Jim Neal Vice, President for Information Services and University Librarian at Columbia University, as well as Roger Rosen, CEO, and Tricia Bauer, Vice President, Special Markets, at the leading educational publisher Rosen Publishing. Rosen accepted the invitation to attend the Professional Programme, indicating his interest to acquire the rights to Arabic content books.

The SIBF delegation furthermore met with representatives of the publishing distribution giant Ingram, which has taken on the role as main sponsor of the conference's Librarian's Lounge, in addition to meeting with Michael Walmsley, Vice President of Global Sale at Baker & Taylor, held to be the largest the largest library distributor in the USA, also with the aim of inviting them to support the conference as well as the book fair.

Being held for the first time ever in the Middle East, two-day library conference will offer free concurrent programmes on a wide range of library science topics, drawing on the expertise of librarians in the region, as well as from the US and other countries.

In addition taking part in the discussion and workshop sessions and making use of the Librarians' Lounge, attending librarians will also have the opportunity to submit a proposal to provide a poster session during the conference, outlining a relevant topic of their choosing. Up to 25 posters will be selected, with the deadline for poster submittals set to be on September 10th, 2014. Furthermore, librarians who will spend a minimum of US$10,000 purchasing books and other materials at the Sharjah International Book Fair will be offered three nights free hotel accommodation as an incentive.

The American Library Association (ALA), the oldest and largest library association in the world, provides leadership for the development, promotion, and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all. Its 58,000 members are primarily librarians, but also trustees, publishers and others who support the work of the association.

True to its motto "For Love of the Written Word", the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) is one of the largest book fairs in the world, the most prestigious in the Arab world, and the most exciting literary event in the region. With over 1000 publishers participating from 53 countries, the 11-day event has become a literary carnival, attracting over 1,000,000 visitors. – Emirates News Agency, WAM – Read more:

http://www.wam.ae/en/news/general/1395268032188.html


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Dubai Aquarium makes way for giant octopus

posted on 23/07/2014

The Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo is now home to a giant Pacific octopus that is found in the North Pacific Ocean and is the largest species among octopuses.

Reaching 4.3 metres in height and weighing more than 70 kg, the giant octopus has almost no bones, allowing it to slip into very small crevices to reach for food or hide from predators. Its head contains all vital organs including three hearts, while the rest of the body essentially constitutes eight arms. It has excellent eyesight and can taste with its tentacles.

Being one of the most intelligent invertebrates, they can work out puzzles and complicated routes through a maze in only a couple of attempts. They also master the art of camouflaging, being able to change the colour and texture of their skin using specialised skin cells.

The underwater zoo, located on level 2 above the main aquarium, presents the biodiversity in different ecological zones including rainforest, rocky shore and living ocean. Apart from Humboldt penguins and Caiman crocodiles, the animals featured here include piranhas, giant spider crabs, small claw otters, sea jellies and clown fish. – Khaleej Times – Read more: http://www.khaleejtimes.com/nation/inside.asp?xfile=/data/nationgeneral/2014/July/nationgeneral_July140.xml§ion=nationgeneral


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Timeless words in stainless steel creation by Emirati artist Mattar bin Lahej

posted on 23/07/2014

The curving pieces of steel that form the Emirati artist Mattar bin Lahej's sculptures are crafted in such a way that the cold, hard material seems fluid.

His most recent work, Encyclopaedia, is set up in the Waterfall Atrium at The Dubai Mall. Made up of a series of circular pieces joined by deep curves, it is engraved with arabesque patterns and excerpts from the Quran or from works that explicate the verses.

At 15 metres long and almost three metres at its highest point, the sheer size and scale of it is awe-inspiring and the level of detail, once you look closely, is flawless.

Made from top-grade stainless steel, it shines and reflects everything around it. But stand next to it long enough and you feel you are looking at a universe full of orbiting planets and stars, characterised by constant movement.

"My work is always about speed, movement or power,” says the artist. "I cannot relate to something without movement. In my opinion, life is always changing and we are always changing.”

However, the Quran itself never changes. It is a book for every age and for every person and, in many ways, it also encompasses the whole universe.

"For me, words are not enough to express this so I have to use my art. Here you will find verses of the Quran made to be like jewellery. I have tried to depict the ‘jewellery' from the Quran in this sculpture. If I could I would have made it in gold but this steel is my limit.”

The idea for this complex piece of art came when bin Lahej read the book titled Quran Encyclopaedia last year.

"As soon as I finished the book I knew what I wanted to do,” he says. "The factory of ideas inside my mind is always working. The challenge for me is making them a reality.”

Although the ideas came quickly, it still took about six months for bin Lahej to map out the intricacies of the complex sculpture before any physical construction began.

"With every project, I plan it out very carefully,” he explains. "I have a budget, a timeline and a production slot in the factory. I am a professional and I believe any professional must work like this to be successful.”

The key part of this process, however, begins with a simple tool – the pencil.

"The pencil is very important. It is the connection between my mind and the idea, it is the touch that I need to get the idea out.”

But that process only took a few minutes and then the artist began fleshing out a rendering using digital technology before finally taking the plans to his factory in Jadaf industrial zone in Dubai for production.

In what was formerly a place for marine boat building, bin Lahej's artwork took shape. It was sculpted using water jets, cut with lasers and engraved in a process using special chemicals. Every detail was supervised by bin Lahej's expert eye and, after only 45 days, the final piece, which weighs four-and-a-half tonnes, was ready.

Such a large sculpture needs a large platform and an equally large audience, so The Dubai Mall was the ideal fit.

It was installed at the beginning of July and, by the end of the month, approximately 500,000 people will have seen the piece.

Although the sculpture carries the name of God and the word of the Quran, bin Lahej says it is not just for Muslims.

"The Quran is a big message and one of the verses of it says that if you are going to invite people to read that message, don't invite them with a sword or a knife, invite them with beauty. We are all human, we all respond to beauty so this piece is not for Muslims only. Muslims know the beauty of the Quran. This is for non-Muslims, too, to invite them to ask questions.”

On any given day during Ramadan, people gather around the sculpture, looking at it from all angles and taking photographs. It is this that gives the artist inspiration.

"I cannot simply do pieces for gallery walls anymore,” he says. "I want to share my ideas and thoughts with the people and I want to change the way we look at art. I am working on many new ideas now and hopefully in the future, you will see them all.”

• Encyclopaedia is on display in The Dubai Mall's Waterfall Atrium until July 31. Visit www.mattarbinlahej.com for more on the artist. – The National -

http://www.thenational.ae/arts-lifestyle/art/timeless-words-in-stainless-steel-creation-by-emirati-artist-mattar-bin-lahej


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Emirati artist Zeinab Alhashemi combines her experience in graphic design with her love for art

posted on 23/07/2014

It was with a certain reluctance that Zeinab Alhashemi accepted the title of artist.

The 27-year-old studied graphic design at Zayed University in Dubai and when she graduated, started working for a bank.

But after a serious car accident from which she took a year to recover, she began to make pieces of art and earned herself the title of an emerging artist.

"The title stuck but I didn't agree with it,” she says. "I thought, OK, you can call me an artist but I am not, I am a graphic designer.”

However, like it or not, project after project came her way and finally in 2012, she was invited to take part in the Artist-in-Residence programme hosted by Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture), Art Dubai, Tashkeel and the Delfina Foundation.

"It was then I said to myself ‘I think I am an artist' and finally decided to accept it.”

Alhashemi's talent has been recognised in the hope of kickstarting a new trend of independent artists combining art and design in a contemporary way.

In 2013, Alhashemi was one of only three Emirati artists to participate in the Sharjah Biennial with a series of giant fishnets placed close to the city's busy port. The piece, titled Circumvolution State of Mind, not only transformed an everyday object into an art piece – something that has become Alhashemi's trademark – but also brought into play the use of the dome in Islamic architecture as well as the possibility for collaboration between artists and artisans.

Having participated in a number of international residencies, Alhashemi's latest work, Sanam, a modular rug made from camel leather, was displayed at Design Days Dubai in March and is currently showing in Tashkeel as part of its summer show Made in Tashkeel.

This piece is typical of many of her works in that it focuses on the use of material and function, but also has a well thought-out concept behind it.

Alhashemi adeptly straddles the perceived gap between artist and designer and meets somewhere in the middle.

"For the past two years, I've been involved in different projects in both design and art and was always making the distinction between the two. Then I realised that they are very much linked. When I make an art piece, it starts with an idea but it is all about making that idea into a reality and if I am making a design piece then, as much as it is a functional object, it is based on an artistic approach.”

Shunning the idea of anything having only "cold functionality”, Alhashemi prides herself on the depth of the concept describing the process behind Sanam as beginning with the material but then thinking about the desert environment where the camels live and about how she could present that in a contemporary sense.

Following swiftly on from this project was a collaboration with the fashion brand Hermès, which asked her to design a window display for its Etihad Towers branch in Abu Dhabi.

Taking the cue from another traditionally Emirati animal, the falcon, Alhashemi evolved the idea into the land of fantasy and created the Arabian Phoenix to rise from the ashes of a piece of medium-density fibreboard from which it was carved and to sit victorious in the window, in the first display of its kind from an Emirati artist.

Although her nationality doesn't often figure in her work, she has felt a responsibility towards representing her nation since returning from Washington in the United States in May, where a 2009 work of hers is on display in Past Forward: Contemporary Art from the Emirates. The exhibition is at the Meridian International Centre in the American capital and is partly organised by the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates in the US.

"When I was there, people were thirsty to know about the art scene and our culture and I felt responsible in terms of cultural exchange with people from different backgrounds. Art has become its own language, it is a shortcut to that culture and being there, talking about pieces that were not just my own gave me a lot of confidence about the art movement here.”

Although she is young, fiercely independent and committed to a full-time branding design job with Dubai Media Incorporated, Alhashemi knows that her art is not something she can give up.

"It has become who I am and in that way it defines me,” she says. "There was a time in my life where I was not sure if I would continue, but now I feel like I would be foolish to stop.”

• Trendsetters is A&L's eight-part summer series profiling U.A.E. innovators excelling in their fields

The National - http://www.thenational.ae/arts-lifestyle/art/emirati-artist-zeinab-alhashemi-combines-her-experience-in-graphic-design-with-her-love-for-art






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