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Mohammed bin Rashid attends signing of agreement to build first Arabic-Islamic Mars probe

posted on 21/10/2014

Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, has attended the signing ceremony of an agreement at the Mohammed bin Rashid Centre for Government Innovation in Dubai, between the U.A.E. Space Agency and the Emirates Institution for Advanced Science and Technology, EIAST, to build the first Arabic-Islamic probe to Mars under the supervision of Emirati working group of the Emirates Space Agency.

According to the agreement, EIAST will implement all stages of the project under the supervision and direct funding from the Agency for a period of seven years.

Sheikh Mohammed stressed that the project will be implemented under the supervision of Emirati working group in cooperation with international partner specialists.

Sheikh Mohammed said, "today we embark on a seven year journey to develop the knowledge, skills and infrastructure needed to accomplish our goal to reach Mars," adding that the sky is the limit for our ambitions but that requires a team determined enough to attain this.

He added that the historic mission "lies ahead of us" and that such mission will be a national pride, a great Arab achievement, and a valuable contribution to science and humanity.

The U.A.E. entered the global race to explore outer space in July 2014 when President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan unveiled the space agency and announced plans to launch a scientific voyage of discovery to the red planet by 2021. The announcements mark a turning point in the country's development establishing space technology as a new drive for diversified economic growth. The Mars mission will enrich Emirati capabilities as well as increasing human knowledge about space exploration and distant planets.

The probe will take nine months to make the journey to Mars. By this the U.A.E. will be one of only nine countries with ambitions for Mars. The mission is scheduled to arrive in 2021 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the U.A.E..

The U.A.E. Space Agency reports to the Cabinet and enjoys financial and administrative independence. It is responsible for organising, supervising and managing the nation's space sector as well as supporting its contribution to the national economy. The agency works to raise awareness about the importance of space technologies, enhance national capabilities and encourage peaceful application of space research. Moreover, the agency is to provide technical and advisory support for all stakeholders in the country.

U.A.E.'s investments in space technologies has already exceeded Dh20 billion including satellite data and TV broadcast company Al Yah Satellite Communications, mobile satellite communication company Thuraya Satellite Telecommunications, and Earth mapping and observation system Dubai Sat.

Globally, space technologies are becoming increasingly important to the security and economy of nations, in many cases backed by massive national programmes and establishments. The sector forms an integral part of telecommunications, navigation, broadcasting and climatology. The industry is estimated to US$ 300 billion globally, with annual growth of 8%.

The event was attended by H.H. Lt. General Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, H.H. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, Mohammed bin Abdullah Al Gergawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs, Dr. Khalifa Mohammed Al Rumaithi, Chairman of the Board and the Emirates Space Agency, Mohammed Ahmed Al Qamzi, Chairman of Chairman of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), Khalifa Saeed Suleiman, Director General of the Department of Protocol and Hospitality in Dubai. – Emirates News Agency, WAM –


Abu Dhabi top innovative Arab Capital

posted on 21/10/2014

Data analysis from the website (PatentScope) of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), revealed that Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates, occupies the first position among the Arab capitals as the top city, which registered international inventions from mid-2010 - to mid-2014, according to calculating patents/million of the population.

This result catapult Abu Dhabi to become the capital of Arab innovation.

The data for the mentioned period indicated that applicants and inventors from Abu Dhabi city registered 76 int. patents (82.5 patents/million), followed by the Qatari capital Doha, with 61 int. patents (46.5 patents/million), the Saudi capital, Riyadh third with 233 int. patents but with 41 patents/million, and the Tunisian capital Tunisia fourth with 17 int. patents (17/million), and the Moroccan capital Rabat fifth with 24 int. patents (14.6 patents/ million).

The data show that the int. patents registered by Abu Dhabi during this period are more than those of 12 Arab capitals. Moreover, the top team of inventors in the Arab world is based in Abu Dhabi. One of the main inventors of the team is a U.A.E. national lady from the capital city of Abu Dhabi, Eida Almuhairbi, a top inventor female in the world for the year 2013. She registered only for last year 15 int. patents.

The WIPO data show that the team of inventors Eng. Wasfi Alshdaifat, Eida Almuhairbi, and Farah Afif Kassab registered within the four years period 45 int. inventions under the name of the city of Abu Dhabi in particular, and the U.A.E. in general. Thus, this self-independent team has contributed to more than half of the inventions of Abu Dhabi, supporting it to occupy top position among the Arab capitals. This team also contributed to 35% of the 128 int. inventions registered under the name of U.A.E., compared to 22.4% contribution from U.A.E. oil sector and private sector, and 18.6% contribution to the academic sector.

Almuhairbi told Emirates News Agency, WAM, in a statement that "the contribution of her team to these results is an unprecedented compared to any country in the world. It is an indication that the draft of the National strategy for Innovation accomplished by her team, and submitted to competent governmental departments in the country, is a strategy prepared by an experienced team born in the same environment of the U.A.E.." She appealed to the competent authorities to expedite the development and implementation of this strategy, putting her team expertise in the hands of everyone. – Emirates News Agency, WAM –


Etihad Cargo to partner with Avianca Cargo on new freighter service

posted on 21/10/2014

Etihad Cargo, the freighter division of Etihad Airways, will partner with Avianca Cargo, the cargo division of the Latin American carrier Avianca, based in Colombia, through a commercial agreement to deploy a freighter flight from Milan's Malpensa Airport, Italy, to Bogota, Colombia and from Bogota to Amsterdam.

The new service will operate twice a week beginning 12 November 2014, providing an important cargo connection between Europe and South America. The flights will also facilitate seamless transportation of goods to other markets around the world by linking the extensive global networks of both Etihad Airways and Avianca Cargo.

In addition to passenger flights by Etihad Airways, Etihad Cargo currently operates four freighter flights per week between Abu Dhabi and Milan, Malpensa. It will also feed traffic from markets across Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

Due to its strategic location in Southern Europe, Milan will function as a logistic hub by road to other cities in Italy, including Rome, and other countries such as France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Serbia, Croatia, Hungary, and Czech Republic.

Avianca Cargo will provide cargo services through its Bogota hub, at El Dorado International Airport with its passengers and cargo flights to and from most countries in Latin America, including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Venezuela, Peru, Ecuador, Uruguay, and Paraguay.

The new route will commence with a Boeing 747-400 Freighter, offering a maximum capacity of 105 tonnes, with strong demand expected for transportation of raw materials, perishables, machinery parts, equipment, industrial consumables, and fashion goods.

Kevin Knight, Chief Strategy and Planning Officer at Etihad Airways, said, "Italy is the third largest cargo market in Europe, and has been a key focus area for Etihad Cargo since 2007, when we inaugurated our first service to the country. Demand has been strong and our operations have since expanded to include freighter and passenger flights to Milan, and a daily passenger service between Rome and Abu Dhabi, launched in July this year.

Victor Mejia, Cargo Vice President at Avianca, said, "This is a valuable opportunity to expand Avianca Cargo's network, especially in moving perishable goods from the Americas that are highly demanded in Europe. At the same time, we would be strengthening our Cargo Hub operations in Bogota in order to provide quality cargo transportation to Europe throughout the region, with an extensive network that unites with our three hubs - Bogota, Colombia; Lima, Peru; and San Salvador, El Salvador - allowing efficient load transfer through reliable, agile and synchronised operations." – Emirates News Agency, WAM –


U.A.E. to join two WIPO treaties

posted on 21/10/2014

The United Arab Emirates has joined the international treaties of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO)' --- the Beijing Treaty on Audiovisual Performances and the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works by Visually Impaired Persons and Persons with Print Disabilities.

The two treaties were signed in Geneva at the WIPO headquarters by Eng. Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri in the presence of WIPO Director-General Francis Gurry, Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Economy for Foreign Trade and Industry, Abdullah Al Saleh, and Assistant Under-Secretary for the Intellectual Property Sector, Dr. Ali Al Hosani, apart from other senior U.A.E. and WIPO officials.

Al Mansouri said, "The United Arab Emirates ensures full transparency for the intellectual property in the business community, based on innovations in various fields, including technical. In this context, the national laws are not limited to intellectual property protection laws, but exceed them to support innovators in line with the highest international standards." He added that the treaty signed by the U.A.E. will ensure greater success for all workers in the production and technical sector, and provide better care and legal protection to their business and artistic innovations.

The Beijing Treaty on Audiovisual Performances is a multilateral treaty, which regulates copyright for audiovisual performances and expands the performers' rights. It was adopted on 26 June 2012 by the Diplomatic Conference on the Protection of Audiovisual Performances of the World Intellectual Property Organisation, in which 156 WIPO member states, six intergovernmental and six non-governmental organisations participated. Forty-eight countries signed the treaty on 26 June, 2012, followed by 19 other countries in 2012 and 2013. Five signatory states -- Botswana, China, Japan, Slovakia, and Syria -- have ratified the treaty.

According to WIPO, "The new treaty brings audiovisual performers into the fold of the international copyright framework in a comprehensive way for the first time." The treaty has been praised by artists and performers rights' activists of many countries and was endorsed by some activist non-governmental organisations, including Knowledge Ecology International.

The Marrakesh Treaty focuses on copyright exceptions to facilitate the creation of accessible versions of books and other copyrighted works. It sets a norm for countries ratifying the Treaty to have a domestic copyright exception covering these activities, and allowing for the import and export of such materials. – Emirates News Agency, WAM –


DAMAC Properties opens second luxury serviced hotel in Burj Area, Dubai

posted on 21/10/2014

Leading real estate developer DAMAC Properties has opened a 211 deluxe hotel suites tower in the Burj Area of Dubai.

Canal Views is the company's second project in the popular shopping and tourism district, following the successful launch of DAMAC Maison – Dubai Mall Street at the end of 2013. The premium tower will be managed and serviced by it hospitality division, DAMAC Maison.

"Canal Views offers a different ambience and style to DAMAC Maison – Dubai Mall Street, but with the same exemplary service standards our guests have come to expect from DAMAC Maison," said Niall McLoughlin, Senior Vice President, DAMAC Properties. "We look forward to welcoming families and business visitors from all over the world, to enjoy the luxury service standards in a prime location with great views, perfectly positioned to explore everything Dubai has to offer." Canal Views has a variety of deluxe rooms of one-, two- and three-bedroom suites to suit every need. Each unit comes complete with complimentary internet access, a fully-fitted kitchen, and cable TV.

The luxury hotel suites also have a host of leisure facilities and services to enhance the experience. The Maison Cafe located on the third floor offers a wide selection of international dishes, all prepared with fresh produce. The lounge area has a stunning terrace looking out over the area to relax with friends and family around the swimming pool, while the steam, sauna and open-air Jacuzzi provide a relaxing environment to soak away the day's endeavours.

Operating under two hospitality brands, DAMAC Maison and NAIA by DAMAC, DAMAC Properties will offer bespoke services to residents in more than 11,000 serviced hotel apartments by the end of 2018.

The company will be one of the largest Hotel Apartment operators and developers in the world. Following the opening of Canal Views, almost 1,000 rooms are already open and operational.

Established in 2002, DAMAC has delivered almost 11,000 units to date and currently has a development portfolio of over 26,000 units at various stages of progress and planning as of June 30th 2014, which includes over 10,000 hotel rooms and serviced hotel apartments. – Emirates News Agency, WAM –


Health insurance for all by HAAD

posted on 21/10/2014

A scheme launched in 2006 to provide every resident in the emirate with mandatory health insurance has been one of the Health Authority Abu Dhabi's (HAAD) biggest achievements, according to its Director-General.

"Clearly, insurance has been a major achievement for the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. One of the biggest successes in the Health Authority Abu Dhabi has been the implementation of health insurance," said Maha Barakat, to the English daily, The National.

"Some of the countries in the region are looking to Abu Dhabi as a model in insurance systems. Since 2007, HAAD has gone from crawling to sprinting in seven years, whereas it has taken other healthcare environments decades." The Abu Dhabi Government requires that all workers in the emirate and their dependants be given health insurance by their sponsor. There is a separate comprehensive insurance programme for Emiratis.

"There is no doubt in my mind that the U.A.E., and Abu Dhabi in particular, are at the forefront of health insurance in the GCC," said Andrew Woodward, Group Chief Underwriting Officer for Abu Dhabi National Insurance Company.

"This kind of progress in the area of health insurance is particularly important when you consider that so much of the population are expatriates. It gives peace of mind to those coming into a different country to live and work that they will have access to reliable health facilities." Abu Dhabi introduced mandatory health care for all workers in 2006, and by 2012, 98 percent of residents in Abu Dhabi were covered by insurance.

"I think it is an incredible achievement," said Woodward, adding, "When you deal with so many people from so many different countries and so many different backgrounds – from workers on building sites to international lawyers – to implement a scheme of that size is extraordinary really. – Emirates News Agency, WAM –

Sharjah Tourism heads East to attract new markets to Emirate

The Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA) is targeting Singapore as part of its efforts to attract new tourist markets to the emirate, through highlighting its unique cultural and distinct tourism attractions and sharing its current status as a multi award winning destination throughout its roadshow.

The Authority has planned more regional and international promotional tours in months ahead as part of its ongoing strategy to enhance Sharjah's reputation and popularity in the overseas markets, particularly throughout 2015 to help disseminate the message of Sharjah Arab Tourism Capital for 2015 as widely as possible.

SCTDA recognises that Singapore is one of the world's fastest-growing economies, and its trade volume with countries worldwide has reached over USD 513 billion. Sharjah has always had very strong ties with the Singapore business community and as a result sees Singapore as a great platform to build new markets for the tourism industry from.

Worldwide, the continuing demand for different experiences, the growing expat population and a rising disposable income are creating new opportunities in the travel and leisure sector, with market potential expected to reach Dh1.49 billion by 2016, SCTDA said in a press release.

This is evidenced in Sharjah's tourism industry. This year Sharjah has received nearly 2 million hotel guests from across the globe, who enjoy the benefit of Sharjah's central geographic location, beautiful landscapes, luxury hotels and of course the well preserved heritage and culture. With over 19 high quality museums and a sprawling heritage area to visit, for tourists arriving in Sharjah there is always plenty to explore and do.

Sharjah is becoming a destination famous for its world class events and there is something to see whatever month you visit, whether it is the Sharjah International Book Fair, Sharjah Biennial, the Light Festival, Heritage Days or the Water Festival, there is always a major event happening.

As we enter 2015, Sharjah revels in its title as the Capital of Arab Tourism which it was awarded by the Arab Tourism Organisation most definitely underlining the emirate's success as an outstanding tourism destination on the world stage. – Emirates News Agency, WAM –


Environment Agency launches Dugong Education Campaign

posted on 21/10/2014

The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi, EAD, in partnership with Total and Total Abu Al Bukhoosh (ABK), yesterday launched the Dugong Education and Awareness campaign at Al Mamoura Auditorium, at EAD's headquarters in Abu Dhabi.

The campaigns aims to raise awareness on the current threats that affect the dugong population found in Abu Dhabi, and how to provide the dugongs with a safe haven to live and breed.

Commenting on the launch of the campaign, Ahmed Baharoon, EAD's Executive Director, Environmental Information, Science and Outreach Management on behalf of Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, Secretary-General of EAD, said, "Through this campaign, we aim to raise environmental awareness and educate the community on the importance of protecting the dugongs, as the U.A.E. waters are home to the second-largest population of this species in the world. Through the support of Total and Total ABK, EAD is successfully implementing its Dugong Conservation Programme, enabling the Emirate of Abu Dhabi to provide a safe haven for this migrating species and making the U.A.E. for a leader in global dugong conservational efforts." Dr. Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri, Executive Director of Terrestrial and Marine Biodiversity at EAD, commented, "Since 1999, EAD, Total, and Total ABK, have collaborated in conducting detailed studies on the local dugong population. These studies have provided our teams with the data that helps us better understand the behaviour and threats against the dugong population. Dugongs are an endangered species and could be threatened with extinction unless we conserve their habitat and prevent human interference." Hatem Nuseibeh, President Total E&P U.A.E. and Group Representative, commented, "Total U.A.E. and Total Abu Al Bukhoosh are proud to be an ardent supporter of EAD's dugong conservation programme by exclusively sponsoring since its launch in 1999. Thanks to EAD's efforts, today Abu Dhabi is a leader of international repute hosting the Dugong Secretariat of Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) under United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Since 1939, Total has established a solid partnership with the authorities and people of the U.A.E. by sharing technology and innovation, environment protection, capacity building of Emiratis and aligning with the vision of the wise leadership of the U.A.E.. We have an unwavering commitment for the benefit of the U.A.E.." Sultan Al Hajji, Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer, Total E&P U.A.E., said, "Both Total and Total ABK as responsible energy companies, contributing to the welfare of the host country in all aspects including environment conservation. Under the wise leadership of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the President of the United Arab Emirates, and the guidance of 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, Total U.A.E. and Total Abu Al Bukhoosh demonstrate their solidarity by partnering with EAD in the noble cause of preserving the delicate biodiversity of the Emirates. This is one of the ways of expressing our sincere gratitude and appreciation for the U.A.E.." – Emirates News Agency, WAM –


Sharjah International Children’s Film Festival presents varied collection of films

posted on 21/10/2014

The activities of the 2nd Sharjah International Children's Film Festival continue with a number of film screenings scheduled on Tuesday, October 21st, at a range venues and screens, offering a varied collection of the 112 participating films from 35 countries around the world.

Films will be displayed morning and evening times at Al Jawaher Reception and Convention Centre and Novo Cinemas at Sahara Centre in Sharjah. The films target three age groups: 4-7, 8-13, and over 14.

The morning film screening shift will start at novo cinemas 2 from 9:00 to 10:30 am, with The Lebanese film The Dream, for Bouchra Salah EL Din. The 10 minute film narrates the story of Nesma who tries to get her target and keeps trying to make her dreams come true, before she learns that it is not easy, and that we should not be sad if we fail, and should be tired but never be lazy.

The next films on screen will be the Monstrous Life, directed by boys and girls from Mexico, which highlights the importance of caring for and not troubling pets, and the Japanese animation Lunch with the Brown Bear. A short live action is scheduled from 10:30 to 11:15. Directed by Hanaa Karakar, Omaima Hamorima, Fadya Salah Al Deen and Hassan Arab, The Bicycle tells the story of an 11 year old Arab girl who wishes to ride a bike, just like her brother, but her parents forbid it. At the end she steals her brother's bicycle key and goes for a ride anyway. From 11:45 am to 12:30 pm, the Emirati Nesayem for Shaima Al Ammari will tell the story of a girl who is hopeless, and fears she will never know happiness due to ignorance from her family.

The films scheduled for the evening screenings from 4:30 pm to 5:15 pm are a Special Ant, directed by a group of Italian children, Shades of Gray, The Road, The Primaeval Father, and the Belgium film Gahungu. Directed by a group of students, Gahungu tells the story of a child whose mother is dead and whose father went to work and confided the boy to his new wife. From 5:25 pm to 6:30, Novo Cinemas2 screen at hall 5 will screen Taiwan's film My Grandpa is a Diver. Directed by JIan-Syun Lu and JIan Hao Chang, the film highlights the grandfather- grandson relationship.

The films scheduled at Novo Cinemas1 during the morning period from 9:30 am to 10:00 am are Lunch with the Brown Bear and the Soup. The Brazilian film The Picture will be screened from 10:30 am to 11:15 am. Directed by Diego Lopes, the film shows how pictures can document and immortalise memories. From 11:45 pm to 12:30 pm, films will be Nesayem, Little Angles and the All the Riches from the United States. Directed by Khawaja Muneeb Hassan, the USA film tells the story of a father who is busy in his job and business and realises that his son needs his attention. The evening showings on Novo Cinemas screens will start from 4:15 to 5:30 with Pomegranate is the Fruit of Paradise, Baghdad Messi, Growing and GharssWa Mars. Finally the Wickie and the Treasure of the Gods will be screened from 5:30 to 7:00.

The evening film screenings will continue at Al Jawaher Reception and Convention Centre with four films from 5:00 to 5:45. Films will be Pomegranate is the Fruit of Paradise, and Baghdad Messi. Directed by Sahim Omar Khalifa, Baghdad Messi is about a little Iraqi boy, Hamoudi, who is totally obsessed with football. Other movies are the Growing and Bunty's Tree. From 6:15 to 7:40, Under the Sky will be screened. Novo Cinemas Hall 2 will screen Pomegranate is the Fruit of Paradise, Baghdad Messi, Growing, and the Spanish film Max. Directed by David Perez, the film tells the story of Max, who hopes to find a family for him like the rest of his colleagues. Finally the Wickie and the Treasure of the Gods will be screened from 5:30 to 7:00. – Emirates News Agency, WAM –


Abu Dhabi Film Festival to showcase best of Arab cinema

posted on 21/10/2014

Abu Dhabi Film Festival (ADFF) 2014 will feature seven world premieres of Arab films as part of its showcase of best-in-class Arab and international cinema.

Arab films will be presented alongside international titles in Narrative, New Horizons, Documentary and Short Film competition categories during the event, which takes place from October 23rd - November 1st at the Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi.

Now in its eighth year, the festival, powered by twofour54, will also host a special programme called "The Arab Diaspora" and the Emirates Film Competition (EFC), which will exclusively showcase productions by Khaleeji filmmakers.

Ali Al Jabri, Director of ADFF, said, "At ADFF, we provide a platform for Arab films to compete alongside international films – a reason why the main competition segments evaluate Arab films and international productions on the same criteria. This focus comes out of our commitment of bringing the best of world cinema to the U.A.E. while projecting the best of Arab cinema to the world.

"With the proliferation of funding institutions in the region such as ADFF's development and post-production fund SANAD, Enjazz, Doha Film Institute Grants Programme and AFAC, projects have been successful in attracting adequate funding and resources to fully develop their ideas from concept to celluloid." The Narrative Competition will present five Arabic films. "El Ott", a Sanad supported co-production between Egypt and the U.A.E., will make its world premiere during the festival and other Sanad supported films featured in the Narrative Competition are "Fevers" by Hicham Ayouch (Morocco, France, U.A.E., Qatar) and "The Valley", by Lebanese director, Ghassan Salhab.

Additionally in this category, Mauritanian Director, Abderrahmane Sissako, will present his latest film "Timbuktu", which was co-produced with France and Qatar. The fifth Arab film to be featured in the competition is the Iraqi-German co-production "Memories On Stone" by Shawkat Amin-Korki.

The New Horizons Competition, with a total of four Arabic productions, will feature the world premiere of "From A To B" by Emirati Director Ali Mostafa's, which will open this year's Abu Dhabi Film Festival. This section will also host the world premiere of Iraqi production "Shepherd's Silence" by Raad Mushatat.

Sanad supported title "Theeb" by Jordanian Director Naji Abu Nowar is also among the selected films, and also being screened in this section is "The Man From Oran" by French-Algerian director Lyes Salem for its international premiere.

In the Documentary Competition, seven out of 17 titles are Arab produced films, featuring four world premieres: "Um Ghayeb" by Nadine Slaib (Egypt, U.A.E.), "Queens Of Syria" by Yasmin Fedda (Lebanon, Jordan, UK, U.A.E.), "Pirates Of Sale" by Merieme Addou and Rosa Rogers (Morocco, United Kingdom, France, U.A.E.), and Emirati production "Sounds Of The Sea" by Nujoom Al Ghanem.

Also participating in the Documentary Competition is the winner of this year's Sundance Festival, the Syrian-German co-production "Return To Homs" by director Talal Derki. The line-up includes "Iraqi Odyssey", the latest film by Swiss-Iraqi director Samir, as well as "The Wanted" by Amer Shomali and Paul Cowan, which has been showcased at the Toronto International Film Festival 2014 and now celebrates its international premiere in Abu Dhabi.

Notably, this year's ADFF will host "The Arab Diaspora", dedicated to Arab directors who migrated from their homelands and speak of their heritage and culture through the expressive art of film.

The special programme will also feature "Marock" by Moroccan-French director Laila Marrakchi (2005), "Seeds Of Doubt" by Egyptian-German director Samir Nasr (2005), "Heremakono" by Mauritanian Abderrahmane Sissako (2002), "A New Day In Old Sana'a" by Yemeni-British director Bader Ben Hirsi (2005) and "DeLice Paloma" by Algerian-French director Nadir Mokneche (2007).

The Showcase section includes the World Premiere of Emirati documentary feature "As One: The Autism Project", which focuses on a unique theatrical programme for children on the autism spectrum.

Another seven Arab films will be featured in the Short Film Competition, three of them as world premieres, one as international premiere. Additionally, the Emirates Film Competition will welcome 52 films from the Gulf region this year. The programme includes 45 world premieres.

ADFF was established in 2007 to create a vibrant film culture throughout the region. A key event in Abu Dhabi's cultural calendar, ADFF features an extensive 10-day programme of Arab and international cinema, complemented by red-carpet premieres, co-production meetings and associated events.

Films compete for Black Pearl Awards in the Narrative, Documentary and New Horizons sections of ADFF's programme. – Emirates News Agency, WAM –


Abu Dhabi Film Festival announces 2014 Juries

posted on 21/10/2014

Abu Dhabi Film Festival (ADFF 2014), powered by twofour54, yesterday released the details of its jury members, who will select the award winners of this year's ADFF competitions.

Abu Dhabi Film Festival Director, Ali Al Jabri, said, "ADFF 2014 is proud to announce the names of the eminent jury members in each of its film competition categories. We cannot overstate the importance of the role played by ADFF juries down the years in raising the global standing and prestige of the festival. Once more, we are delighted to confirm renowned directors, actors and film experts from very different corners of the world as jury members for this year's edition." This year's Narrative Features jury is led by Mumbai-based actor Irrfan Khan with renowned Algerian novelist and academic Waciny Laredj, award-winning English writer-director Steven Shainberg, Australian film director Cate Shortland and the internationally acclaimed award-winning Palestinian actor, Ali Suliman.

The New Horizons section jury is led by Paris-based film producer Catherine Dussart, and includes Syrian actor Bassel Al Khayat, Moroccan filmmaker Leila Kilani, Geneva-based Indian filmmaker Anup Singh and influential film critic Charles Tesson, Artistic Director of Critics' Week at the Cannes Film Festival.

Heading the documentary features jury is Brooklyn-based director and cinematographer Christina Voros. Other jury members are Moroccan filmmaker Daoud Aoulad Syad, documentary filmmaker Elyes Baccar from Tunisia, US-Egyptian filmmaker and cinematographer Sherief Elkatsha and video artist and documentary filmmaker Amar Kanwar, from India.

The Emirates Film Competition (EFC) jury will be headed by Moroccan screenwriter and director Farida Benlyazid. The judging body includes Saudi actor Ibrahim Al Hassawi, Qatari cultural advisor, Fatima Al Remaihi, acting CEO of the Doha Film Institute and director of the Ajyal Youth Film Festival, Abdullah Saleh, playwright, stage actor based in the U.A.E. and Kurdish-Norwegian filmmaker Hisham Zaman.

The International Short Films Competition will be judged by a panel headed by Bahraini director and producer Bassam Al Thawadi. The jury will also figure director Gustavo Taretto from Argentina, programmer and director Maike Mia H?hne from the Berlin International Film Festival, director Hala Lotfy from Egypt and filmmaker Alexandre Charlet from France.

Egyptian award-winning director Marwan Hamed (President), Faisal Al Shamari, director of the U.A.E. Ministry of the Interior Child Protection Centre, U.A.E. media expert Heyam Al Juma, popular actress Nelly Kareem from Egypt and Italian audio-visual expert and lecturer Alessandra Priante are named as the ADFF 2014 Child Protection Awards jury.

The Network for Promotion of Asian Cinema (NETPAC) jury consists of Vietnamese director Dang Nhat Minh (President), US film journalist E. Nina Rothe and Dale Hudson, professor of Film and New Media at New York University of Abu Dhabi.

The International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI) jury for ADFF 2014 will include eminent journalists Kirill Razlogov from Russia (President), Subrahmanyan Viswanath from India, Rich Cline from Great Britain, Kais Kasim from Iraq and Tarek Elshenawi from Egypt.

ADFF 2014 presents films in the sections Narrative Feature Competition, New Horizons Competition, Documentary Feature Competition, Emirates Films Competition and Short Film Competition. The juries will also evaluate the merits of film entries for the Child Protection award, FIPRESCI and NETPAC awards. – Emirates News Agency, WAM –


Zayed Future Energy Prize Jury identifies 2015 Winners

posted on 21/10/2014

The Zayed Future Energy Prize Jury has selected the winners of the 2015 awards in the final phase of the four-stage evaluation process. The winners will be announced and honoured at a special awards ceremony on 19 January as part of the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week 2015.

The confidential Jury meeting brings the curtains down on the three-month long evaluation process that began with an assessment of 1,100 entrants to shortlist 31 finalists and eventually name five schools, three organisations and one individual across the categories of Large Corporation, Small and Medium Enterprise, Non-Profit Organisation, Lifetime Achievement, and Global High Schools.

Each stage evaluated the entrants on their impact, innovation, leadership, and long-term vision in the fields of renewable energy and sustainability.

Addressing a press conference, Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, president of the Republic of Iceland and chair of the Zayed Future Energy Prize Jury, said, "Through the Zayed Future Energy Prize, the U.A.E. leadership has sent out a profound message to the world - of hope, change and sustainability. The impact of that message is evident in the enhanced quality of submissions we have received for 2015.

"As members of the Prize jury, we champion those who strive to see renewable energy deployed as a solution to economic, social and environmental challenges of the 21st century. In a decade from now, these winners of the Zayed Future Energy Prize will be remembered for shaping the renewable future of mankind." "The challenge of ensuring growth while promoting sustainable development is a shared responsibility," said His Excellency Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, director-general of the Zayed Future Energy Prize. "Governments and private sectors must work together to secure resources, reduce climate risk and create economic opportunity. The Zayed Future Energy Prize supports this global effort by incentivising innovators, companies, students and organisations to tackle complex sustainability issues and create real global impact.

"Over the last six years – and with the support of our wise U.A.E. leadership – participants of the Prize today represent a growing body of pioneers, industry influencers and organisations committed to advancing a sustainable future," said Dr. Al Jaber. "The impact of the Prize is significant. To date, the prize winners have transformed millions of lives, created specialised jobs, diversified the energy mix and accelerated cutting-edge technologies. We welcome this year's winners and look forward to their positive impact and contributions to the world." In the seventh-year of the Zayed Future Energy Prize, finalists in the Large Corporation category include Enel Green Power, First Solar, IKEA, and Panasonic. Meanwhile, Econation, M-Kopa and SELCO are the finalists in the Small and Medium Enterprise category. Electriciens sans Frontiers, Liter of Light, Practical Action, SolarAid, and World Resources Institute have been named as finalists in the Non-Profit Organisation category.

The Global High Schools category is divided into five world regions. Abaarso School of Science and Technology, Alliance Girls High School, and Waterford Kamhlaba are the school finalists from the Africa region. Meanwhile, DGEyC E.S.E.T. N 4 El Palomar, Colegio Roosevelt, and Munro Academy are the finalists from the Americas. Amra bint Abdul Rahman Secondary School for Girls, Royal College, Rishi Valley Education Centre and Addu High School are the institutions that have made the cut from the Asia region. Finalists from the Oceania region include Melbourne Girls School, Lume Rural Training Centre, and Cashmere High School. A single school has been identified as potential winner for the European region.

Five individuals have made the list as finalists in the Lifetime Achievement category.

The Zayed Future Energy Prize Jury includes heads of state, leading energy experts and world-renowned personalities committed to the global effort of accelerating the adoption of renewable energy and sustainability.

Chaired by Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, president of the Republic of Iceland, and Vice-Chaired by Dr. Han Seung-Soo former prime minister of the Republic of Korea, the Jury members include; Mohamed Nasheed, former president of the Republic of Maldives; Elizabeth Dipuo Peters, minister of transport of the Republic of South Africa; Adnan Z Amin, director-general of the International Renewable Energy Agency; Ahmed Ali Al Sayegh, chairman of Global Marketplace, Abu Dhabi; Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group; Ratan Tata GBE, chairman emeritus of Tata Sons and Kathy Calvin, president and chief executive officer of the UN Foundation. – Emirates News Agency, WAM –


Pink Caravan announces range of initiatives to coincide with International Breast Cancer Awareness Month

posted on 21/10/2014

Pink Caravan, the pan-U.A.E. breast cancer awareness initiative by the Friends of Cancer Patients charity (FoCP), has announced a range of initiatives to coincide with International Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

This initiative will see Pink Caravan once again teaming up with numerous corporations, schools and other institutions throughout the region, to host Wellness Days at their sites. The medical teams and nurses from Pink Caravan will provide free screenings at each location throughout the month, along with awareness lectures on the importance of regular self-examination as a precaution against breast cancer.

Referrals for further investigations will also be made, if necessary. Each corporate partner involved in the scheme has been chosen in recognition of their commitment to breast cancer awareness, and each will also all be actively raising funds internally from their employees and visitors throughout the month of October, to then donate to Pink Caravan.

Commenting on the campaign, Secretary General for the Friends of Cancer Patients charity and Head of the Pink Caravan's Medical and Awareness committee, Dr. Sawsan Al Madhi, said: "Being able to provide free screenings, and take the messages of awareness and self-examination to U.A.E. communities, is an important achievement for the Pink Caravan, and a fitting way to promote International Breast Cancer Awareness Month in this region. We are looking forward to working with all the partners who have shown their commitment to this worthwhile initiative since its inception 4 years ago." Dr. Sawsan added, "Breast cancer is not an easy topic to broach, but our campaigns are designed to break down barriers and to actively encourage more people to get themselves checked. We need people to understand that regular self-examination can increase the chances of early detection which, in turn, can significantly raise chances of survival." Now in its fourth year of operations, this year will see Pink Caravan even more active during this important month. International Breast Cancer Awareness Month is an event marked across the globe, and Pink Caravan has been central to recent efforts in raising its profile and impact in the U.A.E. – Emirates News Agency, WAM –


Productive Families initiative launches Traditional Handicrafts Market in Al Ain

posted on 21/10/2014

Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority, TCA Abu Dhabi, has announced that preparations are complete to launch the weekly traditional handicrafts market under its ‘Productive Families' initiative in Souq Al Qattara, Al Ain, to coincide with the first National Traditional Handicrafts Festival running from 23rd to 29th October.

More than 30 local families will showcase a wide variety of traditional products in the Market, which offers visitors a convenient shopping experience while they support local traders and learn about deep-rooted Emirati heritage at the same time.

Dr. Nasser Al Humairi, Director of the Intangible Heritage Department at TCA Abu Dhabi, said, "The ‘Productive Families' initiative aims to preserve Emirati national heritage through promoting the efforts of Emirati families who have kept these traditional crafts alive at their homes, or with support of social initiatives such as Sougha, Ghadeer and others." The market presents a wide collection of products that have been identified by TCA Abu Dhabi's Intangible Heritage department as contributing to their preservation and conservation criteria including traditional clothes, palm frond items, perfumes and incense, traditional makeup accessories, popular food and deserts, clothing supplies, swords and daggers, spice and coffee, honey, palm dates, traditional home appliances and utensils, herbs and folk medicine and others. – Emirates News Agency, WAM –


TCA presents a night of Emirati musical heritage in cultural heartland of Al Ain

posted on 21/10/2014

Leading artistes from the U.A.E. will perform an evening of traditional Arab music and poetry dedicated to the rich cultural heritage of the country as part of the newly reintroduced Abu Dhabi Classics annual concert season.

Titled "The Song of Heritage", the evening will bring eminent Emirati musicians and poets on stage at the Al Qattara Arts Centre in Al Ain, the heritage heartland of the U.A.E., on 27th October for one evening only.

Acclaimed master of the traditional oud stringed instrument, Faisal Al Saari, will be joined by poet Abdullah Al Heydah and Ali Mohammed Matar Helal Al Keebali, an expert on the rebabah, another stringed instrument, for a night of musical recitals interspersed with Arabic poetry.

Reintroduced by Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) after a three-year break, the Abu Dhabi Classics season, from October until May, sees leading local and international musicians and orchestras perform at numerous venues across Abu Dhabi city, Saadiyat Island and the UNESCO World Heritage site of Al Ain, dedicated to the theme of ‘The Traveller'.

Al Saari taught himself to play the oud in 1986 and mastered the instrument at the Bait Al Oud musical academy in the oasis city of Al Ain, becoming one of the U.A.E.'s leading experts in his field.

"I have always loved Abdullah Al Hedyah's poetry and I am really looking forward to see how his words and my music work together. We want to pay tribute to our country and to what makes up its real beauty - its heritage. I am also very proud to be part of this season's Abu Dhabi Classics and represent Emirati musical accomplishment," Al Saari said.

"Western classical music, especially Bach, is one of my most important sources of inspiration and I see it as part of my artistic goal to blend both Western and local musical traditions." Up to 12 concerts are planned for the Abu Dhabi Classics season featuring some of the world's leading classical musicians and orchestras from more than 20 countries.

"As part of the season we want to show that classical music is a universal phenomenon with no boundaries, stretching from East to West. This heritage performance of music and poetry will highlight Emirati culture at its best," said Dr. Ronald Perlwitz, Head of Music Programme, Culture Sector, TCA Abu Dhabi.

"We hope the success of the evening will lead to the Emirati musical experience being taken abroad and performed to enthral audiences in other countries. We are also hoping to see collaborations taking place between local artistes and visiting international composers and musicians." Dr. Perlwitz said that Grammy award winner Spanish composer, Jordi Savall, who is due to perform his unique concert ‘Ibn Battuta: Voyager of Islam' at the Emirates Palace Auditorium as part of the Classics season on November 20th, has already expressed an interest in working with the Emirati ensemble on a pioneering musical project.

The programme will be conducted outdoors and entry is free. – Emirates News Agency, WAM –


Inside Dubai’s flourishing art scene

posted on 21/10/2014

New art galleries seem to be opening up every so often in Dubai. From paintings and sculptures to digital projects too, the art scene in Dubai seems to be growing, with the constant demand and supply of artwork.

The art movement currently in Dubai is very strong. The fast pace of development of the city has had a major impact on the growth of the art sector. That is what pushed the art industry to move faster but it doesn't mean that there was no art before.

Started in the 1980s, non-profit association Emirates Fine Arts Society was established to develop Fine Arts and to nurture and promote young artists of the U.A.E. at official, local and international. "It just goes to show that art has always been an integral part of the U.A.E.”, says Khalil Abdulwahid, Visual Arts Manager, Dubai Culture & Arts Authority.

A good number of the art galleries appeared in the year 2000. People here have shown interest in different forms of art. "Back in the day most art aficionados focused on painting, calligraphy and photography as forms of art. Now, video, digital, and performance arts have gained a following. Dubai has become a hub for art. Many people travel to the city, bringing their art along”, adds Khalil.

The second phase of Dubai's art district in Al Quoz, Al Serkal avenue is already underway. One of the oldest art galleries in the U.A.E. is Al Majlis Gallery located in Al Fahidi Historic Neighbourhood. Khalil further cites, "The owner introduced art-related activities in the late 1970s. In November 2014, the gallery will celebrate 25 years.”

Visual arts in Dubai have seen a rise lately. Art*ry Talk gallery in Al Quoz hosted internationally renowned Indian contemporary visual artist Gigi Scaria. He says, "I know the sensibility of Dubai. It is purely an urban space. Secondly, it is business centred. Currently the art of making objects is a trend. But more than the object or final artwork, it is concept that is selling. Also process-oriented art is doing well.”

Process oriented art is work done over a period of time. Artists who use this concept usually live and work in one city at a time, creating a piece of art. It doesn't always have a final outcome, because artists work on it gradually.

T. P. Seetharam, Indian Ambassador to the U.A.E. says, "There are avenues for Indian art to be featured in the U.A.E., Art*ry Talk being one of them. Many Indians are looking to invest in art, and it's all about making the right connection. Investors can meet artists at art venues, or artists must frequent places that investors visit.”

For art's sake, the city has been encouraging artists over the last two decades by hosting art workshops, seminars and lectures, in painting, sculpture, ceramics, graphics, photography and calligraphy. – Khaleej Times -§ion=nationgeneral


Sony Pictures Studio, Smurfs Zone coming to Dubai

posted on 21/10/2014

Dubai Parks and Resorts, a Meraas Holding company, on Monday announced an agreement with Sony Pictures Consumer Products and International Merchandising, Promotion and Services, or IMPS, to set up Sony Pictures Studio and Smurfs Zone at motiongate Dubai, a Hollywood-inspired theme park taking shape at Dubai's newest leisure and entertainment destination.

The Sony Pictures Studio and Smurfs Zone will contain 12 themed attractions inspired by popular Sony Pictures theatrical releases, including Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Hotel Transylvania, Ghostbusters, The Green Hornet, Underworld and Zombieland, in addition to hosting the world's favourite little blue characters The Smurfs.

Raed Al Nuaimi, chief executive officer of Dubai Parks and Resorts, said: "Motiongate Dubai has been designed to span a breath-taking four million sqft of Dubai Parks and Resorts and is anticipated to attract three million visitors annually. We welcome Sony Pictures' and IMPS' presence at motiongate Dubai. With their legacy of excellence in entertaining audiences, we are confident Sony Pictures and the Smurfs Zone will add an exhilarating new dimension to the Middle East's entertainment landscape.”

Gregory Economos, senior vice-president of global consumer products at Sony Pictures Entertainment, said: "We are very excited to partner with Dubai Parks and Resorts to create compelling attractions that extend our most iconic brands into the themed attractions.”

Veronique Culliford, president of IMPS, said: "The Smurfs have enjoyed a legacy of over 50 years. It will be thrilling to have the Smurfs Zone entertain children and adults in this new destination at motiongate Dubai.”

Featuring four unique zones, inclusive of the Sony Pictures Studio and Smurfs Zone, motiongate Dubai is set to take visitors on a cinematic journey of discovery, bringing to life some of the most recognisable Hollywood icons from the big screen.

The park will leverage latest-in-technology attractions and new-generation rides to offer a distinctly unique, high-value entertainment experience.

Dubai Parks and Resorts unveiled the blueprint of the mega leisure and entertainment destination in September 2014. Phase one of the development will comprise Bollywood Parks Dubai, Legoland Dubai and motiongate Dubai.

Centrally located between the three theme parks, Riverpark will serve as an entrance plaza featuring a mélange of retail, dining and entertainment options. The project will also host Lapita Hotel, a themed family hotel. Strategically located in Jebel Ali between Dubai and Abu Dhabi, phase one of the mega project is scheduled for completion in 2016. – Khaleej Times -§ion=uaebusiness


Emirati Asian Games gold medallist Alia Mohammed Saeed sets sights on Dubai Holding Women’s Run

posted on 21/10/2014

Dubai Holding yesterday announced that distance runner and Asian Games gold medallist, Alia Mohammed Saeed has confirmed her participation in the 5th Dubai Holding Women's Run on November 7th. The Emirati runner recently won the 10,000 metres in South Korea, taking 40 seconds off her national record.

Dubai Holding said it has allocated Dh90,000 annually for this event as part of a five year Dh5 million agreement signed with the U.A.E. Athletics Federation to position the race as Dubai's official women's international run. In 2013, Dubai Holding instituted special cash prizes for U.A.E. national runners in both the 10K and the 5K races to promote an active lifestyle among the Emirati population and increase their participation.

Cedric Betis, Chairman of Dubai Holding Wellness Committee, said, "The Dubai Holding Women's Run supports the government's initiative to encourage healthy living in the U.A.E. and our sponsorship demonstrates our commitment to further spreading our wellness message to the wider community. We are proud to be investing in our community by supporting events like this that empower women and encourage them to live an active life." Over 6,000 participants are expected at this year's Dubai Holding Women's Run. Liesa Euton, Race Director of the Dubai Holding Women's Run, said, "I am excited to see such a large number of registrants and want to encourage more women to join us. Dubai Holding Women's Run has established itself as a major sports event in the regional calendar, with runners traveling from far and wide to take part." – Emirates News Agency, WAM –


Sheikh Zayed camel race festival flagged off in Jordan

posted on 21/10/2014

Under the patronage of the President, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the 7th Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Camel Racing Festival kicked off yesterday at the Al Disa racetrack in Jordan's Wadi Rum area. Over 200 pure-bred and thorough-bred camels are taking part in these races.

The first day of the festival saw nine races while three more will be held tomorrow, the concluding day, followed by prize distribution ceremony. Sheikh Sultan bin Hamdan Al Nahyan, Advisor to the President and Chairman of the U.A.E. Camel Racing Association and senior Jordanian officials will grace the ceremony. – Emirates News Agency, WAM –


Khalid Al Qasimi to mark WRC return at Rally Catalunya

posted on 21/10/2014

Sheikh Khalid Al Qasimi returns for the penultimate round of the 13-stage World Rally Championship (WRC) in Spain this weekend with Team Citroen Total Abu Dhabi.

The Emirati rally driver has competed in rounds two, four and six in Sweden, Portugal and Italy this season, before turning his attentions to the Middle East Rally Championship, where he is currently second after five of six stages.

But now he's back in the fold at the Rally Catalunya in Tarragona, the WRC series' only mixed-surface round, which goes from one day on gravel on Friday two stages on tarmac on Saturday and Sunday.

"I love the type of tarmac stages you get at Rally Espana,” said Al Qasimi. "But if the roads are wet, it can become an entirely different challenge.

"On the other hand, Friday's leg isn't one of my favourites on gravel. I might need a bit of time to get my bearings.”

Kris Meeke and Mads Ostberg will also be representing the team in Spain, while the U.A.E.'s Mohammad Al Mutawa competes in the WRC3 support championship.

"It's a rather specific challenge,” said team principal Yves Matton of the double surface. "The main difficulty lies in converting our DS3 WRCs at the end of day one.

"This rally requires specific preparations and the demands in terms of logistics are more significant here. Each of the drivers must also be capable of adapting to this change in road surface. We work on the parts that need to be changed and the set-up, but a large part of the adaptation comes down to the crews.” – Gulf News -


Dubai Police bust six-member drugs ring, seize 11kg of hashish

posted on 21/10/2014

Anti-narcotic officers from Dubai Police, aided by their counterparts from Police forces in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain, have busted a gang of six notorious Arab drugs traffickers in early October and foiled an attempt to smuggle 11 kg of hashish to Saudi Arabia in an operation code-named the 'Domino'.

Major-General Khalil Ibrahim Al Mansouri, Assistant Commander-in-Chief of Dubai Police for Criminal Investigation, said the six young professional and dangerous criminals, who used to smuggle drugs to and from other countries including the U.A.E., had been fallen into the Police hands like Domino pieces.

He noted that the mastermind of the ring is just 22 years old.

Colonel Eid Mohammed Thani, Acting Director of the anti-narcotics department, Dubai Police, said the anti-narcotic officers acted upon information they received on September 30 about illegal activities of the first suspect, a 27-year old employee.

The Police, he added, had arrested him in Dubai and found 11 kg of hashish inside his car and then the other members were arrested one after another.

The suspects are facing charges ranging from taking and possession of drugs to drugs trafficking. – Emirates News Agency, WAM –