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Mohamed bin Zayed visits Sochi Olympic Park

posted on 24/10/2014

SOCHI, RUSSIA: 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, has visited the Sochi Olympic Park, located on the shores of the Black Sea in Russia, which hosted the Winter Olympics last February.

During the tour of the Olympic park, which was made on the sidelines of his visit to Russia, His Highness General Sheikh Mohamed was accompanied by H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Foreign Minister, Omar Saif Ghobash, Ambassador of the U.A.E. to Russia, and Dmitriev Kiril Alexandrovich, President of ICON, the Russian Private Equity Investment Fund.

The tour included visiting the park's facilities, including the Sochi Formula 1 Circuit, where His Highness met the Deputy General-Director of the Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix, Sergey Vorobyev, who explained the technical specifications and modern techniques used in the 5.8 kilometre circuit, which can accommodate 55,000 spectators. - Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Mohamed bin Zayed holds talks with Russian President

posted on 24/10/2014

MOSCOW: 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, on Thursday held talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on ways to enhance cooperation and friendship and also discussed the latest regional and international developments of mutual concern.

The Russian President, who welcomed Sheikh Mohamed in the Black Sea city of Sochi, said he was pleased to meet HH again to discuss with him avenues of joint cooperation in various fields.

'I'm extremely glad to meet you today. The U.A.E.-Russia ties were progressing steadily in political and economic spheres. Over the last four years, the bilateral trade exchange continued to grow rapidly and I'm confident that investment cooperation between funds and investment authorities will also see remarkable progress, ' President Putin said.

'I welcome you again to discuss the difficult and worrying situation in the Middle East and other topics of concern to our countries,' he added.

Sheikh Mohamed said, 'I'm delighted at meeting Your Excellency and to be here in this beautiful city. I thank you for giving me the chance to speak with you. No doubt, Russia can play a significant role in the Middle East.' 'No doubt, our ties are special and we have tremendous scope for more joint cooperation and for strengthening these ties,' he added.

The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi conveyed the greetings of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan to the Russian President and his wishes for progress and prosperity for the friendly Russian people.

During the meeting, attended by H.H. Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the National Security Advisor, and H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Foreign Minister, Sheikh Mohamed said that the U.A.E., led by President Khalifa, was interested in building a promising future and seeks stronger relations in political, economic, investment, trade, energy and other areas.

He stated that the fourth meeting of the U.A.E.-Russia joint ministerial committee, held in the Russian capital, Moscow, recently underscored the sincere desire of the leaderships in both the countries to boost and diversify the scope of cooperation to serve mutual interest.

President Putin asked Sheikh Mohamed to convey his best wishes for President Khalifa and the people of the U.A.E.

The two sides exchanged view on the latest regional and international events and the two countries' stances towards combating terrorism in all forms, its manifestations and organisations supporting it. They also emphasised the importance of preserving international security and peace and safeguarding the stability and peace in the region.

The Russian President hosted a lunch banquet in honour of Sheikh Mohamed and his accompanying delegation. - Emirates News Agency, WAM


Emirati boy Adeeb Al Balushi addresses 3,000 delegates at the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference

posted on 24/10/2014

BUSAN, KOREA: Adeeb Al Balushi, the 10-year-old Emirati boy who accompanied the delegation of the Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (TRA) to the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference in Busan to convey the message of all young Emiratis to the rest of the world, addressed international delegates assembled from all over the world on the second day of the conference yesterday.

Mohamed Nasser Al Ghanim, Director-General of the TRA, abbreviated his speech marking the 150th anniversary of the founding of the International Telecommunication Union, to give Adeeb Al Balushi the opportunity to impress the ITU audience of about 3,000 international delegates with his exceptional speech.

Earlier, Dr. Hamadoun Toure, the current Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union, ITU, applauded having Al Balushi in the U.A.E. delegation, and he used this initiative to commend the U.A.E.'s leading role in promoting the human element, supporting the Telecommunications Sector and its contributions to the development in this vital sector worldwide.

Adeeb Al Balushi began his speech by welcoming the guests and commending the efforts of the ITU and the organisers of the event and the host city of Busan. From the very beginning of his speech, Al Balushi was able to enthral the audience and make everyone listen with awe and admiration.

Adeeb did not forget to convey a thank you message on behalf of Emirati children to the U.A.E. leadership that empowered its people with everything to enhance their abilities to contribute in building their nation.

He also thanked the TRA management for giving him the opportunity to convey his voice to the whole world through the ITU global platform.

Adeeb raised the youth empowerment topic to the audience and stressed on the need to support youth initiatives and empower young people around the world by giving them the right opportunities to contribute to the development of digital technology and communication sector and in promoting creativity and innovation. He pointed out the paradox of our era where young people have reinforced their strong presence to the extent that older generations are now learning from youth in many issues and topics related to the era of digital data and communications.

"On behalf of young people around the world, I ask you to listen to the voice of young people and engage them in setting ICT policies and related services. I must point out that many young people around the world did not have the opportunity to get a proper education and suffer from lack of infrastructure and necessary empowering tools they need to be able to participate and engage in the development process. These children are counting on the efforts of the International Telecommunication Union to enable them to use their skills and talents in the serving their communities," Adeeb said.

At the end of his speech, the audience applauded warmly, and Adeeb and his family were the centre of attention among many of the participants who showed their admiration and appreciation to the young Emirati talent. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


ITU Secretary-General praises UAE for continuing support of union

posted on 24/10/2014

BUSAN, SOUTH KOREA: Houlin Zhao, the newly-elected Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union, ITU, yesterday praised the U.A.E. for its continued support of the union, noting that the world is looking forward to the next ITU Plenipotentiary Conference, which will be held in the U.A.E. in 2018.

In his first press statement since his election, Zhao stressed the importance of continuing the spirit of global action to strengthen the role of the information and communication technology sector, its sustainable development, and achieving the goals set by the World Summit.

On behalf of the U.A.E., Mohamed Nasser Al Ghanim, Director-General of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, congratulated Zhao on his election and wished him success in accomplishing the objectives set by the ITU.


Former Australian PM praises progressive ties with the UAE

posted on 24/10/2014

The Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies and Research (ECSSR) hosted on Tuesday at its office complex in Abu Dhabi a lecture entitled Current Socio-Political Developments in the Middle East – which was delivered by John Howard, former Prime Minister of Australia.

In his lecture, Howard praised the progressive ties between the UAE and Australia, saying around 16,000 Australian citizens live in the UAE. He also made reference to the partnership between Emirates and Qantas airlines.

He said the UAE's economic resilience was evident in its quick recovery following the global financial crisis, thanks to the vision of its wise leadership.

Howard described Dae'sh terrorist group as the major challenge facing the Middle East and the world in present time. He added that countries of the world that share the same human values and principles should cooperate to address such a challenge. - Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Lubna Al Qasimi affirms UAE's commitment to UN resolutions

posted on 24/10/2014

Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid Al Qasimi, Minister of International Cooperation and Development (MICAD), has affirmed the U.A.E.'s commitment to various United Nations resolutions, and reiterated the nation's quest to forge partnerships and coordinate actively with organisations affiliated to the UN.

In a speech marking United Nations Day, which falls tomorrow, Sheikha Lubna said that the partnership, which has seen the U.A.E. building bridges with the UN for humanitarian and development causes, strengthens the U.A.E.'s efforts as a major donor for development and humanitarian assistance, and has put the U.A.E. among the ranks of countries which respond to humanitarian crises in various parts of the world.

On the 24th of October each year, the world celebrates United Nations Day, which, since its inception in 1945, has always sent a message of peace aimed at uniting the states, the governments and the peoples on many issues affecting peace and global stability.

Sheikha Lubna stressed that the multiplicity and diversity of partnership agreements guide the U.A.E. for aiding developing countries, poor communities and areas that experience disasters. It makes it possible to provide assistance to institutions, agencies and programmes affiliated to the UN. Such partnerships also contribute towards expediting such aid and enhancing our ability to deliver it to targeted recipients.

Sheikha Lubna said, "We in the U.A.E., which joined the UN in 1971, the year the country was established, recognise the importance of the active and vital role played by the UN organisation based on the faith of our wise leadership in the UN Charter and International norms. We are aware of the importance of achieving more cohesiveness and deepening the global partnership to find effective solutions to the issues and risks facing our world.

"As we recall the tremendous efforts and achievements made, thanks to the partnership between the international community and the United Nations, we look forward to a better future for unified efforts and perspectives in order to confront the problems and threats that affect our safety and security, as well as the stability of humanity," Sheikha Lubna added. - Emirates News Agency, WAM -


FNC raised 64 recommendations to government in 3rd Ordinary Session

posted on 24/10/2014

The Federal National Council (FNC) has raised 64 recommendations to the government made in 17 sessions dedicated to deliberate six public issues during the 3rd Ordinary Session of its 15th Legislative Chapter, which started on 11th November 2013 and concluded on 24th June 2014.

A FNC technical report said members spent 21 hours and 26 minutes to discuss Emiratisation, policies of the following entities : the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, the Emirates Authority for Standardisation and Metrology, the Ministry of Interior, the? General Authority for Pensions and Social Security and the General Authority for Islamic Affairs and Endowments.

This time, the report showed, represented 22.5 percent of the total time of sessions of about 95 hours.

The report noted that debate on Emiratisation took the longest time at 5 hours 33 minutes while the policy of the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research had the shortest time of one hour and 40 minutes.

Of the 32 topics on the house's agenda in the 3rd Ordinary Session, 25 topics were discussed. The remaining topics will be discussed in the 4th Ordinary Session. - Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Abu Dhabi wins bid to host the 2019 World Energy Congress

posted on 24/10/2014

CARTAGENA: Suhail bin Mohammed Faraj Faris Al Mazrouei, U.A.E. Minister of Energy and Chairman of the U.A.E. National Committee for the World Energy Council, WEC, has expressed his happiness with Abu Dhabi's winning bid to host the 2019 World Energy Congress.

He stressed that the victory was achieved as a result of the directives of the U.A.E.'s wise leadership and the concerted efforts and hard work of the team members of the U.A.E. National Committee for the WEC.

Speaking on the occasion, Al Mazrouei expressed his sincere congratulations to 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.

The U.A.E.'s Energy Minister expressed his thanks and appreciation to all the nation's representatives that voted in favour of the U.A.E.'s capital, adding that he welcomed visits from them at any time. He also thanked the U.A.E.'s WEC National Committee team members representing a number of governmental bodies, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Energy, the Abu Dhabi Authority for Tourism and Culture, and the Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company, saying that they had worked hard with both sincerity and dedication.

He commended the role played by Mohammed Al Za'abi, the U.A.E. Ambassador to Colombia, and all members of the U.A.E. Embassy there, for their efforts in making the victory a reality. He also expressed his thanks to the loyal people of the U.A.E., residents of the country and all the media outlets, for their interaction and support on different social networking sites, stressing that everyone has a share in achieving the victory.

The WEC Chairman reiterated that Abu Dhabi's win confirms that the country enjoys the respect of the world and that its relations with other countries are balanced and strong. It also highlights the prestigious stature enjoyed by the State at the global level.

He went on to say that the leadership has always encouraged the U.A.E. to be the best, and as such, the nation strives to be in first place, emphasising the State's success in the organisation of many international events. – Emirates News Agency, WAM - - Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair receives Innovator of the Year Award at Gulf Business Industry Awards 2014

posted on 24/10/2014

AbdulAziz Al Ghurair, CEO of Mashreq Bank and Chairman of the U.A.E. Banks Federation, has received the Innovator of the Year Award at Gulf Business Industry Awards 2014. Previously, Al Ghurair was the recipient of the ‘Lifetime Achievement Award' at the inaugural Gulf Business Awards.

The Gulf Business Awards recognise the very best achievements of individuals and companies across various categories from the region's most economically-important sectors, including banking, real estate and technology.

"I am honoured to receive this award and I am impressed by the calibre of the organisations and individuals recognised," said Al Ghurair. "The U.A.E. has been known for its innovations in various industries. This is key to continue the cycle of development and evolution and that is the way forward to stay relevant to the market." The various categories awarded include nine industries: banking, real estate, aviation, retail, media and marketing, energy, tourism, education, IT and technology. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Thuraya partners with SOS Children’s Villages to connect remote communities in the Central African Republic

posted on 24/10/2014

Thuraya Telecommunications Company, a leading Mobile Satellite Services (MSS) operator yesterday announced its partnership with SOS Children's Villages International's Gulf Area Office to bring satellite connectivity to remote communities in the Central African Republic (CAR). The collaboration facilitates communication between SOS Children's Villages in the CAR, helping the charitable organisation connect its programs as well as coordinate emergency preparedness and response teams within the remote communities they work in.

Thuraya's donation includes Public Calling Office units, Thuraya SatSleeves and Thuraya IP+ broadband terminals as well as Thuraya SIM cards and airtime. The donation is in support of SOS Children's Villages' philosophy of providing long-term, family-based care for children who have lost parental care. The organisation also works with struggling families and communities in remote areas to develop young minds and strengthen these communities for a brighter future.

Nicole Nassar, Gulf Area Office Managing Director appreciates the contribution, "We thank Thuraya for their generous donation as we nurture the children and families in these remote communities. Thuraya's satellite equipment and services will benefit our teams that are providing vital care in terms of education, development and community building. We are also coordinating efforts between the communities to ensure that they are prepared for any emergencies. Every bit of support we receive will enable us to build sustainable communities for the future." Under SOS Children's Village's Central African Republic purview, there are approximately 2000 IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons) living in its villages, schools and other facilities along with 2600 orphaned and vulnerable child originally living in its care. Due to the lack of communication infrastructure in the CAR, SOS Children's Villages and their teams rely on satellite communications to coordinate the provision of food, healthcare, security and other services between its various locations to cater to the welfare of the people under their care.

Bilal El Hamoui, Vice President of Commercial at Thuraya said, "Despite the arrival of fibre to the Africa coasts, many Africans today remain without terrestrial connectivity in the remote communities they live in. Thuraya is proud to collaborate with SOS Children's Villages, which allows us to help their field workers to stay connected through mobile satellite connectivity. We believe in responsible social development and will contribute in our way to help SOS Children's Villages teams facilitate social development and emergency preparedness towards building a sustainable future in these remote communities." - Emirates News Agency, WAM -


ENOC reduces diesel retail price by 20 fils to Dh 3.50 per litre

posted on 24/10/2014

Emirates National Oil Company (ENOC) has reduced the price of diesel by 20 fils to Dh 3.50 per litre, effective as of October 21, 2014. The revised price is applicable across the entire service station network of ENOC and EPPCO.

Burhan Al Hashemi, Managing Director of ENOC Retail, said: "The reduction in the price of diesel reflects the decrease in oil prices in international markets over the recent weeks and following our discussions with petroleum retailers.

"It highlights our commitment to pass on price efficiencies to our customers, which in turn will benefit the entire business community. We focus on adding value to our customers and consistently seek ways to ensure that they benefit from the favourable trends in the global markets." ENOC has also been at the forefront in implementing the UAE Federal Cabinet decision No. 37 of 2013, which mandates the usage of environment-friendly ‘Green Diesel.' Set by the European Union, the Euro 5 standard ‘Green Diesel' ensures that emissions from vehicles are limited and are significantly less than emissions from the diesel used in the region.

As of July 1, ENOC is the first organisation in the region to commence the sale of ‘Ultra-low Sulphur Diesel' across its retail and commercial networks. The service station staff members also advise customers on the benefits of the new diesel fuel.

As part of its commitment to the community, environment, health, safety and quality, ENOC is currently absorbing the additional cost involved in distributing the low-emission diesel. ENOC is also working with various governmental stakeholders to promote awareness on the importance of the new greener fuel standards. - Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Value of stocks bought by foreign investors on DFM reach over Dh 2.6bn in a week

posted on 24/10/2014

Dubai Financial Market ( DFM ) announced that the value of shares bought by foreign investors, or non-UAE nationals, from 19th to 23rd October, 2014, reached Dh 2.64 billion, while value of stocks they sold stood at Dh 2.56 bn, with net foreign investment on the market reaching Dh 77.7 million during the period, as aggregate buy.

Value of shares bought by foreigner investors comprised 48.7 per cent of the total value of stocks traded during the period, while value of stocks sold by foreign investors during the same period represented 47.2 per cent of stocks traded during the period, a DFM press release said.

The value of stocks bought by institutional investors during the week reached Dh 1.8 bn, comprising 33.2 per cent of the total value of stocks traded during the period. The value of stocks sold by institutional investors during the period reached Dh 1.5 bn, representing 28.2 per cent of the total value of stocks traded during the period.

Net institutional investment on the market reached Dh 271 million during the period, as an aggregate buy. - Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Five-year forecast shows improved outlook for UAE air cargo

posted on 24/10/2014

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) Airline Industry Forecast 2014-2018 shows that international freight volumes are expected to increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.1% over the next five years. Emerging economies, particularly in the Middle East and Africa, will be the fastest-growing markets.

"Air cargo remains as vital to the global economic system as ever. This year, more than US$6.8 trillion worth of goods, equivalent to 35% of total world trade by value, will be transported around the world by air. So it is welcome to see a forecast for a return to growth for the air cargo sector after several years in the doldrums. An average of more than 4% growth for the next five years would be a marked improvement on the performance of recent years. Since 2011, for example, growth in freight tonnes has averaged just 0.63% per year," said Tony Tyler, IATA's Director General and CEO.

The United States, China and the United Arab Emirates will each be adding more than 1 million additional tonnes of freight by 2018 compared to today. The U.A.E. will have replaced Germany as the third largest market.

The fastest growing international routes will be between the Middle East and Asia, at 6.2% per year. Within Middle East (4.6%), North America to South America (3.9%), and Europe to Southern Africa (3.8%), will also grow strongly.

Significant volume imbalances will continue. The imbalance in flows from Asia to North America is estimated to be 1.1 million tonnes in 2018, and from Asia to the Middle East the imbalance will be 0.6 million tonnes.

The Middle East is forecast to be the fastest growing region over the forecast period with a CAGR of 4.7%. The second-fastest growing market, Africa, will have a CAGR of 4.4%. Asia-Pacific and Latin America, both with a CAGR of 3.8%, will be the joint third-fastest growing markets.

By 2018, the ten largest international freight markets will be the United States (10,054,000 tonnes), China (5,639,000), the U.A.E. (4,974,000), Germany (4,763,000), Hong Kong (4,648,000), Republic of Korea (3,487,000), Japan (3,480,000), the United Kingdom (2,808,000), Chinese Taipei (2,350,000) and India (2,223,000).

Iran is expected to be the fastest growing country (of nations with more than 100,000 tonnes of cargo per year) for air freight volumes over the forecasting horizon with a CAGR of 7.0% per annum. However, it is growing from a low base so it will add just 44,000 tonnes of freight by 2018 for a total of 156,000 tonnes.

The second fastest-growing market, India, will experience a CAGR of 6.8% to add 622,000 extra tonnes. Bangladesh (339,000 total freight tonnes), Ethiopia (319,000) and Nigeria (276,000) make up the remainder of the top five.

Another notable growth country will be Qatar. With a CAGR of 5.7% it will be the sixth-fastest growing and it will see 361,000 additional tonnes to take its total freight tonnes to 1,484,000. - Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Home production opens 8th Abu Dhabi film fest

posted on 24/10/2014

The Abu Dhabi Film Festival started its eighth edition on Thursday night with a first: It opened with a home production, putting Ali Mustafa's film From A To B in a slot usually reserved for big-budget Hollywood films.

The film is the first Emirati feature to open the festival in its near-decade of operation For festival director Ali Al Jabri, Thursday night was only the beginning.

"It's not so much change, as it is trying to bring something new. This year, what's new is opening with an Emirati film.”

Many of the films showing at ADFF over the next nine days have already won over critics at major global film festivals, and Al Jabri says he and his team sought those films out. "Having films from all over the world, especially Sundance, Berlin, Toronto, and Venice is very important for us and will make the festival very special.”

The man of the hour himself, Mustafa, was at his second red carpet event in just as many days, having been at the Happy New Year premiere in Dubai the night before.

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"To be honest, this is the paramount of my dreams because an Emirati film is opening the festival.”

Mustafa's three leads, Fadi Rifaai, Shadi Al Fons and Fahad Al Butairi, who play pals who go on a road trip from Abu Dhabi to Beirut to honour their dead best friend, also walked the carpet.

Industry heavyweights included Cheryl Boone Isaacs, the two-term president of Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science. Although she said she hasn't seen much from the Arab film industry, she told Gulf News she believes the representation of Arabs in Hollywood is improving. Could there be an Emirati Oscar winner in the next 10 years? "I don't see why not.”

Bollywood actor

Last year, Indian actor Irrfan Khan was at Dubai International Film Festival for the premiere of his hit film The Lunchbox. This year, he is president of ADFF's Narrative Features competition jury.

"A movie has to give you an experience. It has to engulf you in its own world. And that world should be able to give you emotional or intellectual experience.” As for his own industry specifically, he said Bollywood is "evolving”.

"Bollywood is evolving every week — evolving rapidly. The success of Haider is a sign of that,” said the actor, referring to his more recent hit, an Indian take on Hamlet. "Haider is a very complicated film, where the mother is having an affair, nobody sees that. But we don't make a villain out of her, and still people are loving that film — that's a sign of evolution.”

French-Algerian director Rachid Bouchareb and American producer Edward Pressman were recipients of ADFF's Career Achievement Awards during the opening ceremony. Pressman is known for films such as The Crow, American Psycho and Wall Street. Bouchareb's most recent film, Two Men in Town, which stars Whitaker as a Muslim convert, is screening on Saturday at 8.45pm.

Bouchareb said Whitaker, who attended last year's ADFF, learned a lot about Islam for the role.

"He learned to pray, he learned Quran, he met a lot of people, imams, in Los Angeles and New York. He worked a lot and discovered the culture.”

'Charlie Chaplin visited the Middle East'

The granddaughter of Charlie Chaplin, Carmin, revealed the legendary actor "visited the Middle East”.

"I think he'd be very curious to come back and see what's changed and he'd be delightful to come here for a film festival, because he loved movies.”

The Abu Dhabi Film Festival runs until November 1 screening total of 197 films, of which nine are feature length world premieres and 48 short film premieres. – Gulf News-


NYUAD announces upcoming programme "From New York to Abu Dhabi"

posted on 24/10/2014

New York University Abu Dhabi, in collaboration with the Abu Dhabi Film Festival, has announced its upcoming programme, "From New York to Abu Dhabi".

The programme, scheduled to begin at 6pm on Sunday, October 26th during the Abu Dhabi Film Festival, will feature films by three notable New York University community members: "Of Many", a documentary short by Linda G. Mills "Watermark", a narrative short by Gail Segal and "Return to the Sea", a narrative short by Alexis Gambis.

"Of Many" by Linda Mills explores the tension between Jewish and Muslim students on U.S. college campuses, against the backdrop of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, "Watermark" by Gail Segal features three French siblings who clash over real estate after the death of their father, only in this case, the real estate is memory, and "Return to the Sea" by Alexis Gambis tells the story of a young man who sets off on a long and perilous yet healing journey from the mountain to the sea, where he conducts his most ambitious symphony piece ever undertaken. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


London hammer attack sentencing could make legal history in the UK: paper

posted on 24/10/2014

Experts believe the case of Philip Spence, whose senseless and brutal hammer attack on three Emirati sisters shocked Britons and Emiratis alike, will make legal history if the judge carries out his threat to sentence him to a full life term in prison, the Abu Dhabi based English-language daily newspaper, The National, reported.

In an article published in Wednesday's edition, it said, "Spence's crime, aggravated in the eyes of the law by the premeditated possession and use of a weapon; the serious and long-term physical and psychological harm caused to not one but three victims; his not-guilty plea; and the absence of any mitigation, would normally almost certainly be treated as a Level 1 offence, for which the punishment can range from 27 years to 35." Depending on the seriousness of the offence, sentencing guidelines for England and Wales set down three levels of punishment for attempted murder, with a range of possible sentences from six years to 35.

The article explained that although only murder comes with a mandatory life sentence, where there is an issue of public protection in a case of attempted murder a judge is also free to impose a discretionary life sentence. This alone, however, would be highly unlikely to mean life. A life sentence must be passed with a tariff, stipulating the minimum time that must be served, and typically this would be about half the given sentence.

But on Tuesday at the Old Bailey, Judge Anthony Leonard, QC, told Spence, "The sentence I will have to consider is a full life term." "When a life sentence is passed with a "whole life order", the offender will spend the rest of his or her life in prison, with no chance of release. According to guidelines set down by the Sentencing Council, an independent body of the U.K. Ministry of Justice, such an order is made only in cases where "the requirements of retribution and deterrence can be satisfied only by prisoners remaining in prison for the rest of their lives"," the article reported.

Oliver Weetch, an experienced criminal barrister with the One Inner Temple Lane Chambers who specialises in defending those accused of violent crimes, said the judge's remarks had sent ripples through legal circles.

"He is bound to be thinking of a discretionary life sentence, that's practically inevitable, given the severity of the case," Weetch said.

"But while there is no bar to giving a whole life order for attempted murder, I am not aware of an example of it and this would potentially be breaching new ground.

"What are you going to advise your next attempted-murder client? This would raise the stakes. As bad as this case was, sadly one can think of worse examples, of murder cases that haven't been visited by whole life orders." Nevertheless it would, he said, "be surprising if the judge hadn't given this serious consideration before he made a comment like that. In a case of this magnitude, with so much press interest, he would be unlikely to say something like that if he didn't know it could be potentially imposed".

The newspaper went on to say that if handed a whole life order, Spence would find himself in the company of a notorious group of only 51 prisoners currently certain to end their days behind bars in British prisons.

Some of the most notorious criminals who have been given extensive life-sentences in Britain, the paper said, include infamous killers such as Ian Brady, jailed in 1966 for his part in the killings of five children, Dennis Nilsen, a former policeman who between 1978 and 1982 killed and dismembered at least a dozen young men, and Rosemary West, jailed in 1995 for the murder of 10 girls and women.

The most recent prisoner sentenced with a whole life order was Michael Adebolajo, the radical Islamist extremist jailed in February for his part in the murder of Lee Rigby, an off-duty soldier who was brutally stabbed and hacked to death near an army barracks in south London. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


RTA offers Dh1 million prizes to mass transit users on Public Transport Day

posted on 24/10/2014

The Roads and Transport Authority, RTA, is offering a bonanza of prizes to public transport riders during the fifth renewal of the Public Transport Day on the first of November. Events will be kicked off by a draw for prizes on October 26th 2014 and roll on till the date of the event.

Dr. Yousef Al Ali, CEO of RTA Public Transport Agency and Chair of the Public Transport Day Committee, said, "Through the Public Transport Day initiative, which is celebrated on the first of November each year in concurrence with RTA's anniversary, the RTA seeks to encourage various community segments to shun the reliance on private vehicles and switch to using public transport modes in the Emirate. These modes succeeded in lifting about 146 million riders in the first half of 2014 through the metro, buses and the water bus." "The new edition of the Public Transport Day will be peculiar as it will be associated with an array of prizes to the worth of one million dirham offered to public transport users or those taking part in contests and events which will roll on for a week at the stations of the metro, buses and marine transport or via the social media network, starting from October 26th and culminating on the first of November 2014. About 4 KG of gold will be distributed to winners over the week along with complimentary NOL cards and other gift items," he explained.

Al Ali concluded by saying, "No doubt the Public Transport Day initiative aims to showcase the role of Dubai in supporting efforts aimed at improving the environment, achieving sustainable development, encouraging and educating the public about the benefits of using public transit means in order to increase their ridership, and promoting RTA's modern public transport means spanning the metro, buses and marine transit modes. The initiative also aims to enhance the integration between various transit modes and boost the leading role of the emirate in general and RTA in particular in uplifting public transport." – Emirates News Agency, WAM -