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Futuristic park to be set up in Abu Dhabi

posted on 23/04/2014

As part of the plan to develop outdoor public space, Abu Dhabi is to have a futuristic covered garden under a canopy with the appearance of cracked desert land from above which will provide partial shade to the plants below.

Developed by the Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation, the Abu Dhabi-based philanthropic foundation that funds art, culture, education and health projects, the 125,000 square metres, Al Fayah Park, will be covered by a 20 metre-high sand-coloured canopy, and will house a public library, picnic areas, a mosque and an outdoor cinema. Community spaces to host live performances and local festivals will be included.

The Foundation has selected London-based Thomas Heatherwick to design the park with construction expected to begin by the end of this year and completion in 2017.

Once finished, the park will supply fresh fruits and vegetables to local cafes and restaurants. It will also include play areas, exercise paths and an organic patch, besides showcasing flowers and plants native to the Arabian Gulf region.

Designed to be the latest attraction for residents and international visitors, Al Fayah Park is among the initiatives to develop outdoor public spaces in the capital.

Abu Dhabi, according to The National daily, will have 130 parks and play areas by 2017, up from 48 parks and 37 playgrounds today, said Abu Dhabi Municipality. Existing parks such as Mushrif and Khalifa Parks are undergoing renovation. New ones will be built in Mohammed bin Zayed City, Khalifa City, Shakhbout City, Shamkha City and Al Adla City. – Emirates News Agency, WAM


Building the future on Abu Dhabi's Saadiyat Island

posted on 23/04/2014

A mega project that will put Abu Dhabi on the world tourism map is fast developing on the emirate's Saadiyat Island, housing museums, the largest school campus and a shopping neighbourhood.

Developed by the Tourism and Development Investment Company (TDIC), the 2,430,000 square metre Saadiyat Island Cultural District will house museums such as Louvre Abu Dhabi, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi and the Zayed National Museum, in addition to Cranleigh Abu Dhabi, the largest school campus in the city, and The District, a 17 hectare indoor-outdoor shopping neighbourhood.

The District will provide three new avenues for the capital - Luxury Street, Canal Street, and Main Street - as well as 550 new department stores, boutiques, galleries, restaurants and cafes, some of which will be housed in Abu Dhabi's newest mall, the Crescent Arcade.

It is difficult to estimate exactly how many people will be involved in the transformation - over the next two years, the number of labourers working on the museums alone is set to leap from 5,000 to 25,000 said Jassim Al Hammadi, Director of Buildings and Infrastructure, TDIC.

"We have to make sure that all of the infrastructure surrounding the Cultural District is delivered on time and before the testing and commissioning of any of the museums, otherwise you will have a series of dead buildings without any power, water, sewage or irrigation that cannot be operated. You simply cannot run any building without infrastructure," he told English daily, The National.

Deep services for the museum district, including sewers and storm-water pipes, were completed in March 2011 and construction of the main sewage treatment plant on Saadiyat was completed in the summer of 2012.

"The Cultural District will put Abu Dhabi on the world tourism map, so I consider myself very lucky to be working on this project. Delivering one museum is something, but working on three is unique," he added.

When each new project is added to Saadiyat Island - such as the new campus for New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD), or Cranleigh - steps have to be taken to ensure there is enough capacity in the available infrastructure to support it. If not, it means working with utility providers to provide the necessary infrastructure, water and energy.

"We are then involved in the design stage, to make sure that whatever is designed will meet with the requirements of the various authorities and will gain their approval," Mr Al Hammadi says. "Afterwards, when the consultants have delivered their detailed designs, we conduct a technical review of the drawings before they are issued to potential contractors for bidding." After contracts have been awarded and construction begins, Mr Al Hammadi and his team make daily visits to each site and attend progress meetings, the details of which he reports directly to the executive directors of TDIC.

"My job is to make sure that everybody is doing their job properly," he says. "We are the client's representatives and we have to make sure that the contractor is committed to the quality that we have agreed on and to the programme as well. We are also responsible for ensuring that he doesn't exceed the budget." Mr. Al Hammadi's role is a technical position that draws on his 13 years of experience in construction. His first role was as a site engineer with the developer Al Qudra, after which he worked with Sorouh on major projects on Reem Island before moving to TDIC and the Saadiyat Island project. – Emirates News Agency, WAM


DoT launches Walking and Cycling Master Plan in Abu Dhabi

posted on 23/04/2014

The Department of Transport, DoT, in Abu Dhabi yesterday revealed its Walking and Cycling Master Plan (WCMP) to develop sustainable transport services in accordance with the Surface Transport Master Plan (STMP) and the Abu Dhabi Vision 2030.

The WCMP has been developed in collaboration and coordination with the Urban Planning Council (UPC), Abu Dhabi Police, Abu Dhabi Municipality (ADM) and other strategic partners of the government. The WCMP is in line with international and local best practices.

The plan will develop walking and cycling routes and facilities, especially in the commercial and central areas of Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and the Western Region, and will assist in the reduction of the reliance on the use of private vehicles. Neighbourhoods will be provided with a network of walking and cycling links including crossings between the neighbourhoods.

The WCMP also includes the establishment of integrated infrastructure to encourage the public to walk and ride bicycles, which are healthy and environmentally friendly means of travel, which also reduces congestion and traffic jams. Walking and cycling are among the most sustainable means of transport with zero emissions. Additionally, the facilities designed for pedestrians and cyclists will be shaded with trees to provide a natural soothing atmosphere and a positive impact on the environment.

Abdulla Al Mehairbi, Acting Section Head of Public Transport Planning at the Department of Transport in Abu Dhabi, said, "The WCMP proposes active travel networks in Emirate of Abu Dhabi where there is a great and growing demand for short journeys by walking and bicycles." "These networks have been planned at a strategic level to connect neighbourhoods and districts and we are focusing on building the appropriate infrastructure," he added.

The DoT also revealed that it is conducting studies in Al Ain and towns in the Western Region such as Ruwais, Mirfa and Liwa to facilitate and encourage walking and cycling. – Emirates News Agency, WAM


The Galleria Mall exhibits work of Emirati Artists throughout Abu Dhabi Festival

posted on 23/04/2014

Abu Dhabi Festival has announced that it is to exhibit artwork by two flourishing Emirati artists this year.

The Festival, which marks its ten-year anniversary, commissioned Jalal Luqman and Mattar bin Lahej and will have their pieces on display at The Galleria Mall on Mariah island in Abu Dhabi until the14th of May.

Huda Kano, Chairperson of the Abu Dhabi Group for Culture and Arts, said that the Abu Dhabi Festival always aims to embrace and encourage the work of contemporary Emirati artists through its events.

Speaking about his art piece entitled 'A Viewpoint', Mr. Luqman, a Digital Artist and Sculptor, said, "Searching for the truth is often the goal but as human beings we believe that anything of value in life requires effort so we choose to either simplify or complicate things and that usually boils down to our point of view." The second artist, Mattar bin Lahej from Dubai, entered a piece entitled "The Soul of Culture", which he says represents the modern phenomenon that sees art and technology converge together.

Abu Dhabi Festival is the UAE's foremost celebration of art and culture which brings together some of the greatest musicians, performers and artists from around the world to the UAE. – Emirates News Agency, WAM


Maraya Art Centre to explore Sharjah's architectural past, present, and future

posted on 23/04/2014

Maraya Art Centre, the innovative contemporary visual arts hub, is to host a three-day excitingly ground-breaking architecture workshop series as of Wednesday, 23rd April. Organised in collaboration with Failed Architecture, an Amsterdam-based research platform which focuses on contemporary urban and architectural conditions, the workshop will examine the historical development, current situation, and possible futures of a series of exceptional buildings from the 70s on Sharjah's centrally located Bank Street.

Taking place from the 23rd to the 26th of April, the event is open to students as well as professionals in a vast number of fields: architecture, urbanism, arts, sociology, geography, economics, politics and media. Supported by a publicly accessible programme of lectures, debates and screenings, participants can conduct their own research, using the Failed Architecture methodology, to come to a nuanced understanding of this important and fascinating part of Sharjah's picturesque and unique urban fabric.

Partakers of the event will be able to produce a timeline of the development of Sharjah's Bank Street over the past decades and take a glimpse into the future; examining the social, economical and political contexts, and focus on the built-up environment and reputation of the area. There will be guided tours of the abovementioned Bank Street, the Sharjah Art Foundation spaces and neighbourhood, and the rest of the Heart of Sharjah. The program will also include informative talks and presentations by reputed specialists from the Sharjah Heritage Department, as well as by noted professors George Katodrytis and Mona El Mousfy of the College of Architecture, Art and Design at the American University of Sharjah. In between the presentations, participants will be working side by side with the Failed Architecture founders to put together their findings and propose a new urban plan, building or monument for the area, including the local heritage. The findings and proposals will be documented for a future publication in conclusion to the workshop.

Italian artist and Sharjah resident Giuseppe Moscatello, Maraya Art Centre Manager, is also enthused over this original project. "We at Maraya Art Centre are extremely proud to have this opportunity to team up with the inventively artful Failed Architecture initiative - truly a first-rate research podium, all the way from Amsterdam," he said. "It is a remarkable venture to be a part of, and a privilege to introduce the historic and strategic site, the scenic Heart of Sharjah, as a location for its case study." – Emirates News Agency, WAM


Using tablets for Creative Expression at the Sharjah Children's Reading Festival

posted on 23/04/2014

There's more to an iPad than meets the eyes, children were taught at the Sharjah Children's Reading Festival (SCRF). Elementary school teacher and technology enthusiast Fatima Al Marashda from Al Forqan Model School took children attending the workshop on a tour of applications that they can download on their iPad and that they can use as tools for storytelling and expression.

During the workshop, Fatima, a graduate of the Ajman University for Science and Technology specialising in Arabic Language and Islamic Studies, introduced children to Puppet Pals, Art Maker, Journal, Paper and Sketch Club, all applications that can be used for creative expression. "You can write a journal, or even take a snapshot every day and write a comment on it," she told them before giving them the chance to physically explore the apps.

"I love learning new things and I enjoy discovering new apps that are useful," she said, adding that her Instagram profile has more than 2000 followers who enjoy following the new apps she reviews. "Many children and parents don't realise that there are many apps that can help develop creativity through writing and illustrating," said Fatima.

In fact, Fatima's iPad has folders with apps relevant to every scholastic subject. In her class, she asks her students to bring in their own iPads on Sunday and take them back on Wednesday. During the week, she dedicates time to introduce the students to the various apps that they can use that are educational and that encourage them to flex their creative muscles. "There are many programs that can benefit children who are weak in certain subject areas, it can make them better without resorting to traditional scholastic methods," she said.

Fatima believes that children should be given limited access to their iPads. "I have an electronic sand clock on mine and my children know that once they hear the sound that indicates that their time is up, they should give me back the iPad," she says. – Emirates News Agency, WAM


Abu Dhabi real estate market witnesses growth in prime residential sector in Q1 2014

posted on 23/04/2014

The Abu Dhabi real estate market witnessed growth in the prime residential sector in the first quarter of 2014, says JLL, a leading real estate investment and advisory firm, it its first quarter (Q1 2014) Abu Dhabi Real Estate Overview released yesterday at Cityscape Abu Dhabi.

The Abu Dhabi real estate market turned continued to show signs of growth and recovery during Q1 2014. This optimism remains focussed on the prime residential sector which witnessed increased rents and prices and near to full occupancy for high quality product. The retail segment continues to experience growth, while the hotel and office sectors remain stabilised.

According to the Abu Dhabi Market Overview, Q1 2014, the first quarter of 2014 continued to witness growth in the prime residential market and further stabilisation of the office and hospitality sectors. Retail rents for malls on Abu Dhabi Island witnessed a slight increase during Q1.

Short-term demand will be fuelled by investment and job growth from new major construction and economic development projects, combined with a general improvement in market sentiment. Long-term market recovery will be dependent on the pace of the government's ongoing initiatives to diversify the economy and generate sustainable new employment growth as many of these initiatives remain a work-in-progress.

Residential stock increased by around 1,700 units in Q1, bringing the total stock to around 238,000 units. Additions to supply included units within Reem Island, Saadiyat Island and Al Reef.

The residential sales market continues to rise due to positive investor sentiment and increased demand from end users. This led to price growth for the fifth successive quarter - following 25% annual price growth for prime, high quality units during 2013, prime residential prices grew by a further 9% during Q1 2014 - although it is important to note that the volume of transactions remains limited.

Demand for the residential rental market also continues to rise driven by new job creation and government policies leading to 17% rental growth for prime, high quality units during 2013 and 4% growth during Q1 2014. The removal of the rent cap is expected to lead to rents increasing further this year.

The overall office market remains over-supplied, with new additions to supply continuing to rise. Large-scale demand continues to be dominated by government entities and state-owned enterprises, although there are indications that private sector occupier demand is starting to increase. While prime rentals continue to be stable, the future growth of the office market depends on government economic development initiatives to grow new demand and increase private sector activity.

Office supply currently stands at 3.1 million sq. m, with an additional 78,000 sq. m of office GLA expected to enter the market during 2014. The future additions to supply will continue to place downward pressure on rents for secondary space. There were a number of major completions in the office market this quarter, including the NBAD building at Capital Centre and the Siemens building at Masdar City. Grade A and Grade B office rents have remained unchanged in Q1 2014 averaging Dh 1,540 / sq. m and Dh 1,180 / sq. m.

For retail, there currently remains a limited supply of high quality malls relative to the spending power of the population. Retail stock remained stable at 2.2 million sq. m GLA this quarter with no major deliveries. Average line store retail rents for malls on Abu Dhabi Island increased this quarter to reach Dh 3,000 / sq. m per annum. Average line store rents in malls outside Abu Dhabi have however decreased to reach Dh 1,820 / sq. m per annum from Dh 1,990 / sq. m per annum in Q4 2013.

The future outlook for retail is positive as consumer demand continues to increase from population, employment and tourism growth. However there is substantial supply in the pipeline including several super regional malls which will cause the market to become more competitive. In spite of rising supply, there is a major shortage of neighbourhood and convenience retail.

The hotels sector continues to witness new completions with the opening of Novotel Al Bustan and Royal Rose Hotel in Q1 2014. Occupancies increased to 76% (YT February). While ADRs remain under pressure (decreasing by 14% in YT February 2014 compared to the same period in 2013), the hotel market has started to recover and is set to experience improved performance over the rest of 2014.

David Dudley, Head of Abu Dhabi office at JLL MENA said, "It is encouraging to see further signs of growth and recovery. The general theme is selective recovery - with different sectors at a different stage of recovery, and the residential sector leading the way. A two tier market exists with a significant divergence between high and low quality product (in terms of quality of location, design, functionality, asset management etc). Sustained market recovery is very much dependent on continued government investment in to infrastructure and economic development to boost demand." – Emirates News Agency, WAM


Thuraya announces partnership with US-based Satcom Direct

posted on 23/04/2014

Thuraya Telecommunications Company, a Mobile Satellite Services operator, yesterday announced its partnership with Satcom Direct, a US-based provider of voice and data communication services.

The agreement will see Satcom Direct expand its portfolio of mobile satellite services for its Enterprise, Government, Maritime, Media and Relief customers.

"Thuraya's distribution agreement with Satcom Direct strengthens our commitment to expand and diversify our customer base in the United States. Satcom Direct's strong background in providing mobile satellite solutions for land data, maritime and aero customers accelerates our growth strategy and enables us to reach more customers in these growing sectors across our satellite footprint," said Bilal El Hamoui, Vice President of Distribution at Thuraya.

David Greenhill, President of Satcom Direct, said, "We are excited to work with Thuraya in expanding our reach into new markets. Despite budgets getting tighter, our customers still demand high-quality innovative products with affordable price packages. This partnership with Thuraya allows us to meet our customer's stringent needs with direct access to a highly reliable network and a diversified mobile satellite solution portfolio which includes the Thuraya IP+, Maritime Broadband, SatSleeve and XT." – Emirates News Agency, WAM


#EtihadSuggests campaign unveiled

posted on 23/04/2014

Etihad Airways rolled out its latest social media initiative earlier this month offering travel tips to Facebook and Twitter users through the #EtihadSuggests hashtag.

The campaign had a soft launch at the start of the month with the airline using the hashtag to tweet personalised and tailored travel information to users since April 3. It announced the initiative in a press statement on Tuesday, inviting social media users to ask the airline for holiday- related questions.

The campaign will operate 24 hours a day, seven days week with the airline ambitiously stating that it will aim to respond to questions within 10 minutes.

Etihad has more than 65,000 followers on Twitter and 729,000 ‘likes' on Facebook.

"Our social media channels have attracted a fast-growing community of followers across the world, who have always responded favourably to the travel-related hints and tips we have posted in the past,” stated Peter Baumgartner, Chief Commercial Officer at Etihad Airways.

Catering to a global audience, and aware of its home base in the Middle East, Etihad stated that its online community team will offer personalised tips in both English and Arabic. – Gulf News – Read more:


UAE to become one of the fastest growing markets for healthcare in the region, says Alpen Capital

posted on 23/04/2014

The GCC healthcare market is projected to grow at an annual rate of 12.0% to US$ 69.4 billion by 2018 from an estimated US$ 39.4 billion in 2013. Outpatient and inpatient markets are expected to account for 79% and 21%, respectively, of the overall market size, with Qatar and UAE being expected to be the fastest growing markets in GCC over 2013-18.

"Saudi Arabia will continue to be the largest market, accounting for 58.2% of the total in 2018, followed by UAE (18.1%). The demand for number of hospital beds is expected to be 115,544 in 2018, an addition of 11,241 beds from 2013, which is in line with the expected supply looking at the number of projects in the pipeline," said Alpen Capital in its GCC Healthcare Industry Report .

GCC Healthcare Industry Report which includes details on current market trends and challenges faced by the GCC Healthcare sector and the on-going initiatives by GCC authorities to address these issues. The report encompasses profiles of each GCC country and highlights the existing market scenario in the healthcare sector. Finally, the study covers profiles of major publicly-listed and private firms (including details about their performance and market position).

"The GCC region is poised for an unprecedented surge in healthcare consumption driven by robust population growth and rising income levels. Higher income levels and sedentary life styles have led to poor health conditions, a phenomenon that has been witnessed in most developed economies. The governments, which play the predominant role in healthcare services, are taking steps to ensure continuous development of infrastructure through nurturing management skills, increasing the share of private sector and utilising IT skills to spread the reach and range of healthcare services", says Sameena Ahmad, Managing Director, Alpen Capital.

Citing key growth drivers, the report says the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates that the region's population would cross the 50 million mark by 2020, providing impetus to the consumption of healthcare services.

Rising income levels and sedentary lifestyles have led to a higher prevalence of obesity and diabetes leading to a demand for specialised healthcare services GCC population in the age group of 65 and above is expected to surge from 1.2 million in 2015 to 14.2 million in 2050, driving demand for healthcare services. Life expectancy in 2011 for the GCC region stood at 76.4 years against 69.8 and 69.0 for the Arab and BRIC regions, respectively. In addition, infant mortality in the GCC improved from 110 per 10,000 live births in 2000 to 78 in 2012. – Emirates News Agency, WAM


New armed robbery of UAE family in London: Foreign Ministry

posted on 23/04/2014

London: In second armed robbery of its kind, a seven-member gang attacked a UAE citizen and his wife last night in their apartment in London but they are well, U.A.E. Ambassador to the UK, Abdul Rehman Ghanem Al-Mutaiwei, has announced. Al-Mutaiwei stated that the masked robbers, who carried hammers, knives and guns, broke the door and entered the apartment, threatened the family and stole their money, jewelry and credit cards. He said that the UAE citizen had dropped the mask of one of the attackers who ordered his accomplice to shoot the citizen because he identified his face but they fled the scene after hearing the sirens of a car near the building block fearing that the Police were coming. He added that the neighbours had alerted the Police who immediately launched an investigation and found some of the stolen items. The ambassador said that as soon as he received a call from the citizen early morning he had rushed there to get assured of their wellbeing and reassured them that the embassy had received instructions from H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Foreign Minister, to follow up the case. He emphasised that the family is fine and they were taken to an apartment owned by Dubai Office in London. 'The British Police are still investigating the incident,' he said. – Emirates News Agency, WAM


Red Crescent Authority announces Dh1.2 billion budget for 2014

posted on 23/04/2014

The Red Crescent Authority (RCA) has announced that its budget for 2014 was set at Dh1.2 billion of which 60 percent go for the agency's overseas humanitarian aid and 40 percent for its operations in U.A.E.

The budget was announced by Mohammed Yousef Al Fahim, Deputy Secretary General for Support Service, at RCA's first media briefing at its head office in Abu Dhabi.

"Last year, in U.A.E. and overseas, RCA has implemented humanitarian, relief and development programmes and orphan sponsorship plans worth more than Dh645.2 million, of which more than Dh179.6 million for U.A.E. operations and more than Dh447.5 million for overseas humanitarian operations, said Al Fahim.

"In 2013, the increasing size of RCA's projects placed even bigger responsibility on the agency in terms of its commitment to help the homeless, underprivileged and refugees around the world," added Al Fahim. – Emirates News Agency, WAM


Five more individuals with MERS-CoV test negative for the virus, says Health Authority - Abu Dhabi

posted on 23/04/2014

The Health Authority - Abu Dhabi (HAAD) has announced that 5 more of the individuals in isolation in hospital with MERS Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) have now tested negative, and will be leaving hospital soon. With this, the number of individuals who have tested negative for the MERS Coronavirus rises to 10.

HAAD said, "These 5 cases were confirmed positive through routine screening of contacts, and were kept in isolation at hospitals as a precautionary measure. They were able to clear the virus within ten to fourteen days themselves without any treatment." "It is expected that the other individuals with positive MERS Coronavirus currently in isolation in hospitals will likewise soon test negative and be able to go home. They are being tested daily to check on their positive status," HAAD added.

HAAD confirmed that it is coordinating with the Ministry of Health (MoH) and other Authorities in the country, and has taken all necessary measures as per international standards and recommendations from the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The MoH stated that the WHO confirmed that the virus is not a concern for public health at the moment, and that the current situation does not require a travel ban to any country in the world, screenings at different ports, or any restrictions on trade.

The MoH confirmed that it is monitoring the situation closely to ensure the health and safety of everyone. – Emirates News Agency, WAM


Mohammed bin Rashid, Brazil's VP discuss bilateral ties, witness signing of defence agreement

posted on 23/04/2014

Brasilia: Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum met yesterday at the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Michel Temer, Vice-President of Brazil, in attendance of H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Foreign Minister.

The UAE Vice-President and his Brazilian counterpart exchanged talks over ways of enhancing ties of friendship and cooperation, particularly in areas investment, tourism, culture and other key sectors that contribute to narrowing distance between the two friendly peoples.

Sheikh Mohammed and Mr. Temer also witnessed a ceremony for signing a joint military cooperation under which the UAE and Brazil will exchange joint expertise and training and other areas and activities of joint defence cooperation.

H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed signed the agreement on behalf of the UAE while Brazil's Defence Minister Celso Amorim signed for his country.

The signing ceremony was attended by H.H. Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority and Chairman of Emirates Group, Mohammed bin Abdullah Al Gargawi, Minister for Cabinet Affairs, Reem bint Ibrahim Al Hashimy, Minister of State, and a number of UAE and Brazilian officials. – Emirates News Agency, WAM


Mohammed bin Rashid holds talks with President of Brazil

posted on 23/04/2014

Brasilia: Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum yesterday held a round of talks with President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil following his arrival in Brasilia earlier in the day.

The meeting, attended by Foreign Minster H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan and members of the accompanying delegation, touched on bilateral relations and ways to strengthen cooperation in the fields of investment, tourism, economy and trade.

Sheikh Mohammed said he was pleased to visit Brazil, a leading country with cultural diversity and emerging economy.

President Dilma Rousseff welcomed Sheikh Mohammed and expressed the hope that his visit to Brazil will contribute in opening up new avenues for cooperation between the two friendly countries. – Emirates News Agency, WAM


Ministry of Culture, Youth and Community Development concludes interfaith discussions

posted on 23/04/2014

The Ministry of Culture, Youth and Community Development last night concluded its workshop on Interfaith Dialogue (Freedom and Economic Development), held in preparation for the G-20 summit to be convened in Brisbane, Australia in November.

The meeting was held under the chairmanship of Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development, who made the opening speech of the inauguration yesterday.

Similar workshops and preparatory meetings are being held in a number of capitals around the world in preparation for the summit.

Religious dignitaries, opinion leaders, university lecturers and educationalists participated in the meeting and commended the efforts exerted by the Minister to enrich the discussion of vital socio-cultural issues, which are instrumental to society and contribute to upgrading the cultural sector in the state.

They all emphasised the importance of giving attention to social variables in order to benefit from the positive aspects of these variables and to supersede their negative ones. In a series of four panels, participants in the meeting discussed the U.A.E.'s vision with regards to dialogue, tolerance and co-existence. Together, these have created one of the best models of development to which people of different faiths, races and languages contribute, enjoying its results.

In the first panel, moderated by Ibrahim Al-Abed, Director-General of the National Media Council, four working papers were presented. The first, delivered by Ali Al Hashimi, adviser to President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan on legal and religious affairs, focused on the importance of interreligious dialogue, saying, "It is now necessary to promote good thinking in pursuit of highlighting the message of religions with respect to the values of justice, fairness and tolerance. These values have been adopted and nurtured by the U.A.E. since it was founded by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

"Zayed's message involved serious and sincere action and his march still continues towards its ultimate goal," Al Hashimi said, adding that this entails a strong emphasis on promoting peace and justice all over the world so that they include all of humanity without distinction in terms of justice and rights, such as differences in views on religion, language, homeland, colour or gender.

Al Hashimi said that civilisation-specific values constitute a common denominator between different nations but there are social factors, climatic conditions, differences with respect to colour and language, and disparities between nations. "In the light of this, the focal point of the dialogue should be that of finding a common civilisational and scientific framework among the parties concerned. This is to be followed by mutual respect between civilisations, as each civilisation endeavours to create interaction with others. Each nation has certain peculiarities in its civilisation that embody its ambitions and aspirations and preserve its norms and culture," he noted.

Al Hashimi added that the world is now experiencing a transitional phase in terms of civilisation which encompasses various forces of change and cultural interaction, this having followed on from an era of intellectual struggles, economic conflicts and military clashes. This, he noted, had led to the collapse of many communities and the loss of millions of people, either through death or owing to false consciousness. Dialogue, he said, was a pre-requisite for civilisation, so that rapprochement and co-operation between different societies could be promoted. Dialogue is also indispensable for the establishment of peace on the basis of values geared towards tolerance, justice and righteousness.

Dialogue, he emphasised, is the language of the mind, it is the best methodic agent for man to transmit his information. In support of this view, he cited several Quranic verses, which emphasise that Islam is a religion of tolerance, forgiveness, forbearance and patience.

Following this, Mahmoud Al Sayyid Al-Maddani, a scholar of Al Al-Bayet, delivered the second paper in which he reviewed the successful experiment of the U.A.E. in nurturing the values of peace, tolerance, coexistence, and mutual respect between faiths in the state. He stressed that inter-faith dialogue is the only method of achieving unity between nations and avoiding wars, terrorism, injustice and moral corruption.

The third paper was delivered by Father Ishaq Al-Anba Bishoy, Pastor of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Abu Dhabi.

The third paper was delivered by Father Ishaq Anba Bishoy, Pastor of the Coptic Orthodox Church.

In the paper, Father Bishoy said that the U.A.E. presents the world with a model of peaceful life led by people of multiple creeds, who share the same land, moral values, principles, goals and peaceful coexistence.

He said, "The fact that we are on this podium attests in a very great measure to the tolerance of the U.A.E. and the fact that resident people perform all religious practices freely." He quoted Article 40 of the U.A.E. Constitution, which stipulates that: "Foreigners shall enjoy, within the Union, the rights and freedom stipulated in international charters which are in force or in treaties and agreements to which the Union is party ".

In his speech, Father Bishoy emphasised that what the U.A.E. has achieved did not come in one bound. Rather, "it was the outcome of a wise policy led by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan over the passage of time. Sheikh Zayed's love overflowed and inundated all without distinction as to race or religion. Then President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan followed on the track of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan to complete the march." The panel was concluded by the fourth and last paper, which was delivered by Canon Andy Thompson of the Anglican Church in Abu Dhabi. He emphasised that coexistence between religions must support the altruistic efforts exerted by the international community in pursuit of the cultural and civilisational coexistence between nations and people. He said, "It has to be the driving force to develop, enrich and generalise these efforts. In order for coexistence between religions to serve just peace, the parties to it must liberated from all the shackles, pressures and connections that contradict the principle of this coexistence." He referred to the U.A.E. as the best example of coexistence between religions.

The second panel was chaired by Dr. Yusuf al-Hassan, the former Director of the Institute of Diplomacy. In his speech, he reiterated the comments of Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development, and his reference to the story of the success of the U.A.E. in the realm of tolerance with respect to the diversity of faiths and their coexistence in the U.A.E..

He posited an argument whose gist was that the dialogue is one that relates to these different faiths and their living side by side; it is a dialogue that involves commonalities geared towards long-term development and a successful dialogue that draws people nearer to one another. It emphasises respect to difference and to the dignity of man since human dignity takes the upper hand over any racial affiliation and difference is a fact of life.

In the introduction to the panel, al-Hassan explained that the most prominent difficulties facing the dialogue between religions' followers comprise the negative stereotypes of the Gulf region, which are so common in the West. These stereotypes present the Gulf as an isolated, oil-powered society. Other difficulties comprise increasing migration between the countries of the world and the kind of extremism that culminates in hatred.

Other difficulties comprise increasing migration between the countries of the world and the kind of extremism that culminates in hatred.

In the second session, Dr. Ahmed Abdul Aziz Al Haddad, Head of the Dubai Fatwa Administration at the Department of Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities (IACAD), in his paper, gave a presentation on dialogue as one of the foundations of Islamic Sharia, and as one of the intrinsic sources of Da'wa (calling people to Islam). "That is why," said Al Haddad, "Allah engages in a dialogue with his creatures saying, in the Quran, 'Behold, thy Lord said to the angels: "I will create a vice-regent on earth"'.

"So, Allah engages in a dialogue with the universe and dialogue is an intrinsic part of Islamic Sharia, and the approach Prophet Mohammad (PBUH)followed as he called people to Islam, conveying, as a messenger, the message from Allah.

"The common denominator among all religions is faith in Allah, that Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) engaged in a dialogue with the nation and that the different peoples embraced Islam through dialogue as our approach to calling to the way of Allah".

Al Haddad continued, "Any dialogue is aimed at mutual understanding between the involved parties, reaching a conviction based on an argument or case, keeping away hatred and aversion, and achieving rapprochement which leads to coexistence and mutual support which is what Islam aims at for with calling to Islam.

Mutual respect, fairness, justice, parity and common language were cited by the scholar as the preambles parties to dialogue should take for granted as they engage in their dialogue.

"Mutual respect, fairness, justice, parity and common language were cited by the scholar as the preambles parties to dialogue should take for granted as they engage in their dialogue," he concluded.

In the second session, Dr. Ahmed Abdul Aziz Al Haddad, Head of the Dubai Fatwa Administration with the Department of Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities (IACAD), in his paper, gave a presentation on dialogue as one of the foundations of Islamic Sharia, and as one of the intrinsic sources of Da'wa (calling people to Islam). That is why, said Al Haddad, Allah engages in a dialogue with his creatures saying, in the Quran, " Behold, thy Lord said to the angels: "I will create a vicegerent on earth." "So, Allah engages in a dialogue with the universe and dialogue is an intrinsic part of Islamic Sharia, and the approach Prophet Mohammad followed as he called people to Islam conveying, as a messenger, the message from Allah. "The common denominator among all religions is faith in Allah, that Prophet Mohammad engaged in a dialogue with the nation and that the different peoples embraced Islam through dialogue as our approach to calling to the way of Allah" Any dialogue is aimed at mutual understanding between the involved parties, reaching a conviction based on an argument or case, keeping away hatred and aversion, and achieving rapprochement which leads to coexistence and mutual support which is what Islam aims at for with calling to Islam.

Mutual respect, fairness, justice, parity and common language were cited by the scholar as the preambles parties to dialogue should take for granted as they engage in their dialogue.

In a third paper, Sayyid Ibrahim al Khalil Al Bukhari, Chairman and founder of Ma'din Academy, Kerala, India, started his paper with the Quranic verse:" Behold, thy Lord said to the angels: "I will create a vicegerent on earth" (Surah Al-Baqara, Verse 30). He said that Lord gave priority to humankind for this mission despite the fact that there are so many other creatures alongside humankind.

The scholar paid a tribute to the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan for his humanitarian achievements in the U.A.E. and overseas and said this approach continues to be 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, His Highness General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of U.A.E. Armed Forces and Their Highnesses Supreme Council Members and Rulers of the Emirates.

Al Bukhari noted that U.A.E. and India, which has the world's second largest Muslim population and is the world's second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, both set an example in harmony and coexistence among followers of a large variety of different religions, creeds and cultures.

A fourth paper was presented Brian J. Adams is the Director of the Centre for Interfaith '&' Cultural Dialogue at Griffith University, Australia. Adams explained that the topic of interfaith dialogue is being addressed by the university because of the important relationship between religious freedom and economic development, noting that the interfaith meeting in Abu Dhabi significantly contributed to the making of policies that would achieve both.

Adams also stressed that respect is the foundation of dialogue for mutual understanding and peaceful coexistence.

The third and last session mediated by Reverend Canon Andy Thompson MBE, Chaplain of St Andrew's Abu saw three papers in which the participants' told the audience of their first-hand experience of U.A.E.'s tolerance, respect for the individuality and cultural and religious diversity of residents.

The fourth and last session saw three papers by Indian participants who discussed the experiences of Indian followers and members caste and Indian religions who lived in U.A.E. and enjoyed for more than a century the freedom of religious worship.

At the conclusion of the conference, the participants highly valued the role Ministry of Culture, Youth and Community Development in organising the conference and emphasised that the conference viewed the best experiences in U.A.E in terms of protection of religious freedom in addition to the attitudes and experiences of institutions involved in interfaith dialogue in U.A.E. which they affirmed that it nurtures the values of peace, tolerance, coexistence and mutual religious respect. – Emirates News Agency, WAM


RAK Ruler opens Sheikh Saqr bin Mohammed Al Qasimi Museum

posted on 23/04/2014

H.H. Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Ras al-Khaimah, yesterday opened the Museum of the late Sheikh Saqr bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, which was established by Emirati citizen, Mohammed Ahmed bin Hajar Al-Shehhi, at his home in Al Seeh, Ras Al-Khaimah.

Sheikh Saud commended the private initiatives of Emirati people to preserve national heritage and to preserve the national and historical heritage of the U.A.E., being an integral part of the process of social and economic development of the country.

Sheikh Saud noted that such these individual initiatives confirm the growing cultural awareness among members of the community of the importance of safeguarding the ancient heritage and preserve it from extinction and the transfer of these national heritage from one generation to another as one of the main tributaries of the Emirati identity.

During his tour in the Museum, Sheikh Saud praised the heritage items, which reflect the originality and the legacy of the life of parents and ancestors.

For his part, Mohammed Al Shehhi stressed that the choice of the name of the late Sheikh Saqr bin Mohammed Al Qasimi comes to honour his march of giving and goodness and construction achieved at the national level and in the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah.

The opening of the Museum was attended by Sheikh Abdul Malek bin Kayed Al-Qassimi, Special Advisor to Ras Al-Khaimah Ruler, along with a number of senior officials. – Emirates News Agency, WAM


Careers UAE 2014: Emirati women breaking with convention to follow their dreams

posted on 23/04/2014

Emirati women breaking the norm were a common sight at the Emirates Group stand at Careers UAE 2014, which featured a female Emirati flight attendant, pilot and security guard.

Emirati Jokha Eid fought social conventions to become a flight attendant because she wanted to represent her country.

"I have been part of the Emirates business class cabin crew for the past three years and I love it,” she said. "At first my father was very resistant to the idea, but when I explained that I wanted to become a flight attendant to represent my country he was proud.”

The 25-year-old, who travels at least two times a week, encouraged Emirati women to follow their dreams even if it was not conventional.

"You should at least try,” she said. "Talk to your parents and explain to them, you might be surprised that they might actually understand.”

Hanan Mohammad Jawad also had to convince her parents to follow her dream of becoming a pilot.

"My parents were very resistant to the idea, especially my dad, because they initially believed that it is not safe and it is socially unacceptable for Emirati women to travel, but with my mum's help I was able to convince them,” she said.

Hanan, who completed 1,000 flying hours and has been taking to the skies for the past year in a Boeing 777, said that now her parents are proud of her and she has become famous in her family and community.

Huda Abdullah, 21, works in the security ward is in charge of searching planes and passengers heading to America. "I chose this job because I like it, I am now pursuing a degree related to security,” she said.

Emirates Group is taking part in Careers UAE 2014 to fill its 850 job vacancies, which are mainly aviation-related, said Abdul Aziz Al Ali, Executive Vice-President of Human Resources at Emirates Group.

Al Ali said the group was looking for raw material that they can train in order to meet the expansion demands that Emirates is going through.

"There are 2,500 Emiratis [11 per cent] working at our group and we plan on increasing this number,” he said. "Among the challenges we are facing is competition. Because of Expo 2020 many companies are looking to hire. Another challenge is finding capable candidates.” – Gulf News – Read more:


Gitex Shopper Spring 2014 to open doors today

posted on 23/04/2014

Gitex Shopper Spring 2014 is set to open doors today with best bargains on latest tech products along with millions of dirhams worth of prizes during the four-day event.

This is the second Spring Edition of Gitex Shopper, which was created under the directive of His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

It is estimated that power retailers record more than a month sales during the show. Last Gitex Shopper, which was held in October 2013, attracted Dh245 million sales, according to the show organiser.

The region's biggest consumer IT and electronics retail show will be held at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre from April 23-26, 3014 and will be open from 11am–11pm at Sheikh Saeed Halls 1, 2 & 3.

With unbeatable prices on over 30,000 up-to-the minute gadgets, new product launches, bundled deals and an array of exciting competitions, Gitex Shopper Spring promises to be the most exciting consumer electronics extravaganza in the region. Regional power retailers including E-City, Emax, Jacky's Electronics, Jumbo Electronics, Max Electronics, One Mobile, Plug-Ins and Sharaf DG, as well as top global brands such as Acer, Dell, HP, Lenovo, LG, Nestle, Nokia, Toshiba and Samsung (platinum sponsor), are determined to offer the best deals possible on gadgets that include digital SLR cameras, smartphones, tablets, laptops and SmartTVs.

Visitors to this year's show will be able to test the latest products, compare performance and options, before bagging a bargain thanks to the Experience Zones set up by leading brands including Lenovo, Nokia, Samsung and Toshiba among others. Experts will be on hand to help visitors learn about the latest products and upgrades and offer advice on what's best and why.

"Whether you're looking for the latest in LED TVs, the smartest in smartphones, or the trendiest in tablets and laptops, Gitex Shopper is the perfect one-stop shop destination to discover the latest products to improve your leisure time, home, workplace or school,” said Trixie LohMirmand, senior vice-president, Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC), organiser of Gitex Shopper Spring.

"With exclusive show offers on more than 30,000 different products, bundled deals and launches of the latest technology products under one roof, the show offers visitors more choice, more convenience and an unrivalled shopping experience.”

Adding to the dynamic festival feel of Gitex Shopper Spring 2014, millions of dirhams worth in prizes will also up for grabs with promotions, raffles and giveaways, and a Limited Edition Honda Accord to be won every day of the show.

"Honda has always been known as a technological advanced company and we believe the show is the right platform to connect with our customers. Visitors to our stand will receive a special Gitex Shopper discount voucher of up to Dh5,000 which can be redeemed at our showrooms on the latest Honda Accord LXB and CR-V LX models,” said Colin Cordery, regional managing director of Al-Futtaim Honda. – Khaleej Times – Read more:§ion=uaebusiness