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Abu Dhabi film plays its part to help Pakistan eradicate polio

posted on 25/04/2015

World Immunization Week 2015 launched yesterday with a special event featuring the documentary, Every Last Child, a film about Polio in Pakistan. The special event, organized by the Permanent Mission of the United Arab Emirates to the United Nations and the World Health Organization (WHO), included a High-Level Panel Discussion.

Every Last Child, produced by Image Nation Abu Dhabi and directed by the award-winning filmmaker Tom Roberts, tells the dramatic story of five people impacted by Polio. It shows the terrible consequences of the disease and pays tribute to the vaccinators who pursue their mission in the face of mistrust, cynicism and violence.

The keynote speaker, Dr. Mugheer Al Khaili, Chairman of Health Authority Abu Dhabi and member of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council, stressed on the achievements accomplished by the UAE Pakistan Assistance Program: " In 2013 we managed, through this program to vaccinate more than 8 million children thanks to the amazing mobilization of the local population, this campaign " he added "was pursued in 2014, and succeeded in immunizing 13.2 million children in 4 months only and distributing 28.8 million vaccines since the beginning of this year."

Acting permanent representative of Pakistan, Aamar Aftab Qureishi declared that Polio eradication is a priority for the Pakistani government adding "the UAE PAP program is testament to the strong, brotherly ties between Pakistan and UAE."

Dr. Margaret Chan, Director General of the World Health Organization, commented on the notable improvements in Pakistan's Polio eradication program and underlined how important it is for the international community to support Pakistan: "What happens in this country determines whether the global Polio Eradication Initiative succeeds or fails, whether the billions of dollars invested to date deliver a polio-free world or count for nothing."

Four billion dollars were pledged two years ago in Abu Dhabi during the Global Vaccine Summit. H.E. Obaid Salem Al Zaabi Permanent Representative of the UAE to the United Nations reminded the audience that the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) was launched at the Summit hosted by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, in partnership with United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, and Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. This commitment remains strong today, in 2015, as GPEI continues its work towards the final push, to rid the world of Polio.

Tom Roberts explained that the disease will inevitably and quickly spread if it is not eradicated "the job is almost done," he said " but almost isn't good enough". A message also stressed by Judith Diment Chair of the Rotary Polio Eradication Advocacy Task. She explained the importance of the international global effort in raising the awareness of governments around the world on the necessity of eradicating Polio.

- In conclusion, Mugheer Al Khaili reiterated the UAE's commitment to eradicate Polio as part of his country's international humanitarian policy. He mentioned the various initiatives undertaken to raise awareness at home and abroad. One of which is taking place on the occasion of World Immunization Week. For three consecutive days Every Last Child can be viewed for free in a number of cinemas in the UAE. - Emirates News Agency, WAM –


UAE participates in UNSC open debate on role of Youth in Countering Violent Extremism and Promoting Peace

posted on 25/04/2015

NEW YORK: The UAE Permanent Representative to the UN, Lana Nusseibeh, participated in an open debate at the United Nations Security Council on the "Role of Youth in Countering Violent Extremism and Promoting Peace", on Thursday.

In her statement to the council's session, which was chaired by H.H, Crown Prince Hussein Bin Abdullah II of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the ambassador thanked his highness for convening this important debate, the Secretary General of the United Nations and other speakers for their views on this critical topic.

The ambassador emphasised that "the United Arab Emirates fully shares the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan's view that "youth should not only be seen as victims but also as agents in building and delivering a positive agenda that counters extremism and violence and offers hope in the wake of the destructive war waged by the forces of intolerance and hatred."

Speaking on the socio-economic reasons that make youth vulnerable to recruitment and radicalisation, the ambassador cited "the bulge in youth globally and the stress it places on basic services such as education; growing unemployment; perceptions of injustice; individual alienation or community grievances."

She highlighted that the conflicts in the Middle East, namely "Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and the long-lasting Israeli occupation have led to more violence and fractured the global security order". She pointed out that "these crises left political vacuums which have exacerbated extremism, leading to spillover effects that have destabilized the entire region."

The ambassador reiterated the UAE's perspective on Da'esh, saying it has exploited all of the factors described today to draw young people towards them and wage war against innocent civilians. She stressed that such acts represent a clear violation of Islamic teachings.

She elaborated that "sustaining Da'esh and other extremist and terrorist organisations are considerable financial, communications and travel support networks that span the world." "Those recruited as foreign fighters in Syria by Da'esh come from more than 90 countries," she added.

Speaking on the efforts to counter terrorism and violent extremism, the ambassador highlighted that the UAE has translated its vision into a comprehensive strategy that rests on supporting the right to education and critical thinking particularly to girls, building a knowledge economy that prepares young people for the modern job market and encourage youth to take greater responsibilities and leadership in building the society and country.

She further explained that the UAE strategy also denies the use of social media as a incitement and recruitment tool, citing the country's partnership with the US to launch the Anti-DAESH Online Operations Centre to counter the exploitation of online media and propose credible religious counter-narratives.

The UAE official added that the UAE seeks to promote values of tolerance and moderation by partnering with respected religious leaders and institutions. She explained that the UAE has invested $20 million to provide training to Imams in Afghanistan's rural areas on the moderate teachings of Islam, in addition to supporting the establishment of the Muslim Council of Elders in Abu Dhabi to promote peaceful values.

She outlined that the UAE offers high quality healthcare and education services for Syrian and Iraqi refugees and provides full support to Egypt through youth focused programmes. "With 30% of the youth population of the Middle East and North Africa today, we strongly believe that Egypt's stability is the cornerstone of the region's stability," she said.

The ambassador proposed some recommendations to help counter extremism in the long-term, urging "the international community to take swift and collective action, through the Security Council. She further stressed the need to "utilize the existing and emerging legal frameworks to counter extremist recruitment and financing channels and to implement UN Security Council relevant resolutions." She also stated that strengthening the role of women and mothers in society is the first line of defence in countering extremism.

She closed her remarks by reiterating the need to prioritise the empowerment of youth globally and addressing their diverse economic, political and social concerns. "Let us unite in support of 1.8 billion young people globally to develop a better future for them," she concluded. - Emirates News Agency, WAM –


UAE reiterates support to UN efforts to build world based on principle of mutual respect

posted on 25/04/2015

NEW YORK: The UAE has participated in high-level debate of the UN General Assembly, which was held under the theme "Promoting Tolerance and Reconciliation: Promotion of Comprehensive and Peaceful Societies and the Fighting Against Violent Extremism."

Mohammed Ali Al Shamsi, deputy director of the international security cooperation department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who represented the UAE in the meeting, stressed the full support of the UAE to the work of the United Nations and its agencies, including the Alliance of Civilisations, and its unremitting efforts to build a comprehensive peaceful world based on the principle of mutual respect.

He said in a statement before the UN General Assembly on Wednesday that the violence perpetrated by the terrorists and militants in Libya, Syria, Iraq and Yemen, poses more challenges to the international peace and security, noting that many children are deprived to get education and live in a peaceful society and stable environment because of the violence.

Al Shamsi cited the UAE's experience of tolerance, pluralism and innovation, noting that it could be emulated to reinforce the existence of peaceful and inclusive societies to combat the violent extremism in line with the theme of debate, sponsored by the United Nations General Assembly.

He underlined the UAE's commitment to deter all acts of terrorism, and uproot and deprive it any opportunity to recruit young people through their poisonous propaganda campaigns.

Al Shamsi said that the UAE is working on all possible levels through schools, religious leaders and communities and with all partners at the national, regional and international levels, including multilateral institutions to intervene and stop the extremists and defeat them systematically and continuously. - Emirates News Agency, WAM –


UAE participates in Afro-Asian conference in Jakarta

posted on 25/04/2015

JAKARTA: The United Arab Emirates (UAE) took part in the Asia – Africa Conference which concluded yesterday and was attended by 29 heads of state and prime ministers, as well as representatives from 87 Asian and African countries and international organisations.

Suhail bin Mohammed Faraj Faris Al Mazrouei, Minister of Energy headed the UAE delegation to the conference, held under the theme "Strengthening South-South Cooperation to Promote World Peace and Prosperity".

In his speech before the summit, Tariq Ahmed al Haidan, Assistant Foreign Minister for International Organisations Affairs, said that the UAE believed in the principles on which the Bandung Conference was held in 1955.

He added that the UAE's foreign policy is based on the UN charter and on building relations with all countries of the world on the basis of respect for the sovereignty of nations, non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries, supporting their rights, justice and legitimacy and contributing to global peace and stability.

He referred to the UAE's developmental and humanitarian aid which exceeded 1.3 percent of the country's Gross Domestic Product totalling US$5.8 billion in 2013 and US$5 billion in 2014.

Al Haidan said that the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is considered an important region for Asian – African solidarity and for the future of peace and development.

He urged Asian and African countries to demonstrate their solidarity with the Palestinian cause and support the Palestinian National Authority's efforts to secure membership in international bodies leading up to the Palestinian people's goal of establishing an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital.

Highlighting the issue of terrorism and violent extremism, Al Haidan also said that the international community should take decisive measures to counter terrorist groups at the security, political, social, cultural and ideological levels. He emphasised that combatting terrorism and violent extremism should become one of the key pillars for an Afro-Asian strategic partnership.

He noted that the UAE hosts the counter-terrorism centre (Hedaya) and is a member of the Global Counter-terrorism Forum. - Emirates News Agency, WAM –


Youth get a first-hand experience on diplomacy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

posted on 25/04/2015

The Directorate of Energy and Climate Change at the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) has hosted participants of the Model IRENA which is a simulation exercise of the UAE-based International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) to inform them about the work of the Agency.

The event which took place at the MoFA headquarters in Abu Dhabi was a key milestone to precede the Model IRENA, which will take place for the first time this coming Saturday, 25 April 2015. Model IRENA will bring together over fifty UAE-based young professionals and students from Khalifa University, Masdar Institute, New York University Abu Dhabi, Petroleum Institute and Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi.

Through the engagement of young diplomats working in the field of energy and climate change, the Directorate introduced the Model IRENA participants to the art of multilateral diplomacy and the working mechanisms of the Agency's governance meetings, as well as the UAE's experience as a host country and a member country.

In addition, the Directorate conducted a tour of the Ministry for the participants, taking them through the flag garden, which is a visual testament to the history of diplomatic relationships established between the UAE and other countries.

During the visit, the participants had a chance to experience the pressure that comes along with developing positions in international negotiations. Tasked with developing a global target for the share of renewable energy in the energy mix in 2030, the participants engaged in developing assigned country positions and negotiating their positions in a group setting, and drafting statements on their positions; all of which had to be done within a limited time. The experience served to help participants visualise the perspectives of different nations on the issue and immersed them in a real life negotiations setting.

The exercise was followed by feedback from experienced diplomats and experts from the IRENA Secretariat so that lessons learned could be taken up to the Model IRENA taking place on Saturday.

Thani Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, the UAE Permanent Representative to IRENA and Director of Energy and Climate Change at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said, "Participation in Model IRENA demonstrates strong interest and dedication in the field of energy and sustainability, and we are very pleased that we had the opportunity to help build capacity of the bright students and young professionals taking part in this important initiative."

The engagement of the Ministry in hosting the event reflects its commitment to giving back to the community, so that participants can also be catalysts in bringing energy and sustainability issues to their respective communities and building capacities more broadly within the UAE. - Emirates News Agency, WAM –


Cityscape Abu Dhabi concludes on a high note as 81% of developers launch new projects at three day-show

posted on 25/04/2015

With 81% of Abu Dhabi-based developers launching new projects at Cityscape Abu Dhabi this year, the UAE capital's largest property show concluded on a high on Thursday. The event was organised under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, at Abu Dhabi Exhibition Centre between 21-23 April.

The ninth edition of Cityscape Abu Dhabi has been a hotbed of activity, with major announcements unveiled by Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council (UPC), Department of Municipal Affairs, Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC), Zaya, and Al Forsan Real Estate.

With the growing need for housing outweighing the current supply in the UAE real estate market, leading developers such as Aldar Properties and Wahat Al Zaweya have launched projects to cater for the high demand.

Talal Al Dhiyebi, Chief Development Officer, Aldar Properties said: "We have launched three residential developments, two on Yas Island and one on Reem Island. After selling out Al Merief land plots in less than a week to Emiratis, we decided to launch West Yas, which is 1,000 villas on Yas Island for UAE nationals only.

"Another trend that we are observing is that nationals from all over the UAE are very attracted by the stability of the Abu Dhabi market . The increase in job openings and overall healthy economy are directly reflected in their purchasing power."

Further highlighting the increasing demand for housing across the UAE, Bloom Holdings has launched five new projects at Cityscape Abu Dhabi this week, all of which have proved to be a big hit with both local and regional investors.

Sameh Muhtadi, CEO, Bloom Holding, said, "We have had outstanding success for our Park View project on Saadiyat Island with Phase 1 now completely sold out. The right product, the right location and the adequate platform such as Cityscape Abu Dhabi has ensured that we have had the perfect recipe for success."

With JLL's Abu Dhabi Market Overview revealing that hospitality was the standout sector this quarter, witnessing a slight growth in occupancy rates and a 12% increase in room rates, hotels were also at the forefront of this year show.

Ali Eid Al Muheiri, Executive Director, Mubadala Real Estate and Infrastructure said, "Al Maryah Island is Abu Dhabi's international financial centre and urban hub for hospitality, leisure and retail. Cityscape Abu Dhabi has been an important platform for us to showcase the Grade A commercial space in Abu Dhabi Global Market Square, the on island development opportunities, and the newly launched Rosewood and Four Seasons residences.

"The strong demand we've seen this week on all fronts demonstrates the island's critical mass, and with the hospitality, leisure and retail options, and waterfront entertainment program planned for later this year, we invite visitors from home and abroad to come and experience life on Al Maryah Island."

Wouter Molman, Director of Cityscape Group at Informa Exhibitions, the organisers of Cityscape Abu Dhabi, said, "This year's edition has been the busiest we have experienced in recent years. A study we conducted on-site revealed that 81% of Abu Dhabi-based developers launched new projects, while 64% of exhibitors showcased existing projects, further highlighting the positive sentiment of the real estate market."

Cityscape Abu Dhabi is the annual barometer for the Abu Dhabi and wider GCC real estate market; the 9th edition of the show has welcomed more than 130 regional and international exhibitors.

Organised by Informa Exhibitions, the UAE capital's largest and most influential property investment showcase hosted exhibitors from the Cayman Islands, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Kuwait, Latvia, Nigeria, Portugal, Serbia, Thailand, United Kingdom and United States.

Cityscape Abu Dhabi is supported on an official basis by Strategic Partner Department of Municipal Affairs (DMA), Platinum Sponsor Wahat Al Zaweya, Silver Sponsor Farglory, Official VIP Sponsor Ejadah Asset Management Group and Official Mortgage Provider Abu Dhabi Finance. - Emirates News Agency, WAM –


Masdar City begins construction on residential complex

posted on 25/04/2015

Masdar City, Abu Dhabi's pioneering, sustainable city, announced construction has begun on a residential complex that advances the city's aim to be a leading hub of innovation where people live, work, learn and play.

Dr Ahmad Belhoul, CEO of Masdar, said: "The start of construction of this residential complex is an important step forward toward completing the vision of Masdar City as a complete ecosystem focused on sustainability and innovation.

"Masdar City has adopted a holistic approach to sustainable development, built on knowledge and talent, home to leading research and development facilities, a free zone with world-class businesses, and soon a residential complex."

Masdar applied its design expertise to ensure the residential complex of 500 units of one- and two-bedroom apartments constructed with verified sustainable materials meets LEED Gold and 3 Pearl Estidama sustainability criteria.

The complex will have access to a gym, retail facilities and other amenities, as well as pedestrian-friendly walkways connected to the heart of Masdar City. The new residents will become a part of Masdar City's growing sustainable community, in addition to the nearly 500 graduate students now pursuing studies and living at Masdar Institute Recently Masdar City also broke ground on mixed-use Chic Residence serviced apartments, with residential, retail and recreational facilities. The serviced apartments will expand the number of ways that visitors to Abu Dhabi can directly experience the Masdar City lifestyle.

Masdar City Director Anthony Mallows said: "The Masdar City vision is attracting a host of new businesses and residents. Centrally located at the crossroads of the Middle East and Asian markets, this is the region's only investment and free zone focused on innovation and sustainability.

"Masdar City offers a high quality lifestyle with walkable, accessible neighbourhoods that blend residential, commercial, open and cultural space, and it is growing steadily."

Construction of the apartment complex will help meet Abu Dhabi's rising need for new residences. Abu Dhabi's average annual population growth of 7.7 per cent has created a significant demand for housing in the emirate and currently outstrips supply.

Masdar City will showcase its various developments and business and investment opportunities at Cityscape Abu Dhabi at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC). Spokespeople will be on hand to answer questions at stand 6A10 between halls five and six from April 21-23, 2015. - Emirates News Agency, WAM –


Google's Susan Pointer to lecture on "UAE public policy, new frontiers in government innovation, education and internet, Monday at ECSSR

posted on 25/04/2015

Susan Pointer, Google Inc's Senior Director of Public Policy and Government Relations for Asia Pacific, the Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa and Russia, will deliver a lecture titled "UAE Public Policy: New Frontiers in Government Innovation, Education and the Internet" on Monday at the Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies and Research (ECSSR).

In her lecture, Pointer will highlight the standing of the UAE as one of the most hyper-connected countries on earth in the 21st century where the web, for the country, has a vast untapped potential to accelerate key plans, boosting education, raising the country's cultural profile and expanding government innovation.

She will also highlight ICT skills which have simply become life-skills and the new literacy, and Google's efforts to incorporate digital literacy in educational systems and roll out Google's digital literacy programs in the US and globally.

"More than at any point in history, there is an opportunity to reinvent how government works. Data can help people create new services and solve big problems. The Internet and ICT sectors are no longer "back office" parts of government ministries; rather, they are horizontal enablers of numerous public services, including education, healthcare and government communications. Many of the UAE's knowledge economy plans depend on connectivity," said Pointer in ECSSR's announcement of forthcoming lecture.

Governments, she added, are putting technology at the centre of their thinking. We've seen impressive examples of this in the UAE. The world described by Google's Chairman Eric Schmidt is already here: technology is completely woven into the fabric of everyday life.

"The internet has vast untapped potential for countries to raise their global cultural profiles. Culture is key to sustaining humanity. We have an obligation to preserve, celebrate and advance it. The Internet helps bring amazing works to life for millions around the globe."

Pointer added that personal computers, tablets, smartphones, social networks and cloud computing have already transformed much of how we communicate, create, share, work and play. The pace of change is staggering. "We are excited about the UAE, and can't wait to see what will come next."

Susan Pointer is responsible for Google's public policy programs and elite government relationships, managing senior teams across four continents. She leads the company's global public policy teams in Asia, Russia, the Middle East, Africa and Australia, and regularly meets heads of state and senior cabinet ministers.

Ms. Pointer previously led Google's EMEA public policy from London. Now based in Hong Kong, she has worked for Google for over seven years. Previously, Ms. Pointer spent six years as International Director of Public Policy for Amazon, based in Brussels and London.

Ms. Pointer headed the Confederation of British Industry's European Policy Team in Brussels. She also worked as a Parliamentary Advisor in the European Parliament and a key Adviser in the British Parliament. - Emirates News Agency, WAM –


DEWA teams up with BMW to boost environmental sustainability

posted on 25/04/2015

Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, MD & CEO of Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA), President and Founder of WETEX, has met with Daniel Gamber, Head of Product Management at BMW Group and Leanne Blanckenberg, Corporate Communications Manager at BMW, at WETEX 2015 as part of efforts to boost cooperation with companies committed to green sustainability.

During the meeting, both parties discussed joint cooperation and programmes that can boost sustainability and increase the level of environmental awareness and support DEWA's smart initiatives.

Daniel Gamber was participating as a key speaker in the World Green Economy Summit (WGES) as he offered BMW's inputs on sustainability. WGES is organised by DEWA in collaboration with World Climate Ltd under the theme "World Partnerships For Sustainable Future".

The meeting supports Dubai's strategy to boost the electric vehicle charging station infrastructure in the emirate. DEWA is collaborating with a number of national and private organisations to execute this pioneering project that involves installing 100 charging stations in Dubai by the end of 2015. It is working with car manufacturers, local airports, shopping malls, petrol stations, Dubai Municipality, the Roads and Transport Authority, hotels, and companies operating or owning valet-parking facilities in the Emirate. DEWA is also working with four major real-estate developers like Emaar, Nakheel, Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority, and Dubai Design District, to identify the most convenient and ideal venues to construct such stations. DEWA has launched 16 stations and plans to launch 84 stations by end of 2015.

The BMW delegation extended an invitation to Al Tayer to visit the company's headquarters in Munich to see the latest technologies deployed to develop electric and hybrid cars.

The 17th Water, Energy, Technology, and Environment Exhibition (WETEX) is held under the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and under the patronage of HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, Minister of Finance of the UAE and President of DEWA. - Emirates News Agency, WAM –


Ahmed bin Hamdan opens Al Gharbia Watersports Festival

posted on 25/04/2015

Sheikh Ahmed bin Hamdan Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Emirates Kiteboarding Committee and the Emirates Sup and Surf Committee, on Thursday opened the seventh edition of Al Gharbia Watersports Festival under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler's Representative in the Western Region.

This year, the 10-day festival has attracted some 3000 participants of at least 20 different nationalities, all competing in about 10 different water and beach sport events.

Sheikh Ahmed hailed the continuous support being extended to the event by President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.

This year's edition is full of exciting activities for the youth, Sheikh Ahmed told reporters adding the festival is growing year after year.

He noted that the 2014 edition of the festival attracted 60,000 visitors and that it is expected to attract between 80,000-100,000 visitors of all ages this year.

The important message that the festival sends across is that the Western Region (Al Gharbia) is a premium tourism destination for the UAE people that also strengthens ties between the youth from the UAE and other countries.

Sheikh Ahmed also announced the addition of freestyle kitesurfing to the activities of this year's edition of the festival. Twenty Emiratis including three from Al Gharbia region are participating in this competition.

"In one race alone, the 60 feet dhow race, we have 2000 sailors taking part," said Obaid Khalfan Al Mazrouei, Manager of Al Gharbia Watersports Festival.

"For this seventh edition of the festival, we have a mix of traditional and modern competitions. There are five different types of boat racing, as well as kite surfing competition and the beach competitions. Altogether, we have more than 15 activities at the festival this year," added Al Mazrouei.

Al Gharbia Watersports Festival is being organised by the Cultural Programmes and Heritage Festivals Committee – Abu Dhabi, in partnership with the Abu Dhabi Sailing and Yacht Club and the Abu Dhabi Sports Council.

Organisers said that officially, the festival opens daily from 1 pm, but competitions' schedules may change depending on the wind and sea roughness conditions.

If boat racings are delayed, though, there is plenty to enjoy at the festival. For the first time in its seven years history, organisers had added several Emirati heritage activities, happening on the side-line of the festival.

"The heritage activities focus on fishing and pearl diving; we need to show the new generations our way of life in the past, the tools, equipment and methods used by our fathers and forefathers for fishing and diving," explained Al Mazrouei.

"For the first time at the festival we have set up a museum telling the story of pearl diving. We also have a traditional market, with at least 70 stores, selling traditional, but also modern products," he also said.

The souk shops all belong to Mirfa merchants and artisans, the market being one way of helping the local community to improve their economic means.

According to Al Mazrouei, the participants are well taken care of as well.

Jet ski riders, patrol boats and small traditional wooden boats were all testing the waters of the shores of Mirfa in preparation for the first competition of the seventh Al Gharbia Watersports Festival.

Following the opening ceremony, the official delegation toured the festival site, spread over 20,000 square meters along the white, sandy beach of Mirfa. Some 80 sailors were pushing their boats out at sea, preparing for the first competition of the festival: the tfarees race.

Tfarees are small wooden boats used in the past for fishing in shallow waters. They use along wooden stick, called "janaa" to move the boat. - Emirates News Agency, WAM –