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Solar Impulse 2 makes history; arrives safely in Hawaii to complete record-breaking non-stop Pacific flight

posted on 04/07/2015

Solar Impulse 2, the revolutionary solar-powered aircraft able to fly day and night without a drop of fuel, arrived in Honolulu, Hawaii on Friday at 19:57 UAE time after crossing the Pacific Ocean. The 118-hour, 8,261km flight from Nagoya, Japan to Honolulu made history, as it was a feat that had never been accomplished in the world of aviation.

For Solar Impulse and their technological and institutional partners, including official host partner Masdar, the completion of the arduous flight across the largest body of water in the world is a testament to the initiative's 12 years of work from inception, to feasibility studies, to the aircraft's final design and construction, and pre-flight preparation in Abu Dhabi.

"Today we celebrate the most defying milestone of the Solar Impulse's historic journey to circumnavigate the globe using only the power of the sun," said Dr Sultan Al Jaber, UAE minister of state and chairman of Masdar.

"After battling against unpredictable and challenging weather conditions – and a gruelling five days of non-stop flight – the plane successfully crossed the Pacific Ocean.

"This flight is an incredible feat of human fortitude, endurance and technological ingenuity," said Al Jaber. "We commend the entire Solar Impulse team and its pilots, Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg, for their perseverance to demonstrate the viability of clean technology and to further the collective goal of securing a sustainable future."

On June 28th, Si2 took off at 22:03 UAE time from Nagoya, with Andre Borschberg at the controls, for the solar team's third attempt to make the historic non-stop Pacific Ocean flight powered solely by the sun. With the safety of the pilot and aircraft always in mind, the Monaco-based Mission Control Centre chose to divert course and land in Nagoya, Japan shortly after Borschberg's earlier departure from Nanjing, China due to deteriorating weather conditions which would have jeopardised the mission's success.

In the hours after landing in Nagoya, gusts of wind damaged Si2's 72 metre delicate wings. While repairs were undertaken, the Solar Impulse team capitalised on the stop in Nagoya to inspire students, promote innovation for a cleaner future and prepare pilot Andre Borschberg for the long flight across the Pacific.

Throughout the flight, Borschberg, alone in the single-seater 3.8m3 unpressurised cockpit, was exposed to extreme physical conditions. The mission presented operational and technical challenges for the pilot, aircraft, and the initiative's 140-person support team. While the challenges of the experimental adventure have been diligently researched, developed and simulated, Borschberg, the technical visionary behind the attempt, faced the greatest challenges, alertness, endurance and perseverance.

The Pacific crossing was the eighth and most arduous leg of the 13 legs journey. Borschberg and the aircraft, fitted with four electric motors and 17,248 solar cells spanning the 72 metre wings, climbed to an altitude of 8,500 metres during the day to harness the energy of the sun, recharge the plane's lithium-ion batteries, and store energy for night flying.

Throughout the flight, Borschberg was in constant contact via satellite with Solar Impulse's Mission Control Centre's 20 specialists who anticipated every possible flight scenario and transmitted information to Borschberg enabling him to follow the optimal route for a successful mission.

After stopping in Hawaii, Bertrand Piccard will fly Si2 eastward towards Phoenix, to reach continental United States. The journey will continue with a yet to be determined stop in Midwest America and a landing in New York City, at JFK International Airport. After crossing the Atlantic, the solar powered plane will stop in either Southern Europe or North Africa, before completing its historic journey in its host city, Abu Dhabi.

The aircraft departed from Abu Dhabi on March 9 for Muscat, Oman and departed the following day for a trek across the Arabian Sea. It arrived in Ahmedabad, India on March 10. Following a brief stop in Varanasi, India, Solar Impulse took off for Mandalay, Myanmar on March 19 with Bertrand Piccard in the cockpit. The plane then completed its fifth and most challenging journey to date, arriving in Chonqing, China on March 30.

The aircraft's departure from Chongqing to Nanjing China was delayed due to unfavourable weather conditions. The Solar Impulse team used the extended stay in Chongqing to inspire thousands of local students and community members, demonstrating how innovation and clean technology harbour the potential to create a more sustainable future.

Bertrand Piccard landed Si2 in Nanjing, China on April 21 and underwent technical preparations for the ambitious Pacific crossing. After departing from Nanjing on May 31 in an attempt to cross the Pacific, Borschberg diverted course and landed in Nagoya, Japan due to deteriorating weather conditions. – Emirates News Agency, WAM


UAE in vast humanitarian push globally this Ramadan

posted on 04/07/2015

From war zones to areas devastated by natural disasters, UAE generosity will help hundreds of thousands of people through this holy month.

In the run-up to Ramadan, as well as during the month itself, UAE-based charitable organisations have been helping those in need around the world.

An ambitious campaign by the Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation is aiming to provide iftar and suhoor meals to more than 600,000 people in 62 countries this Ramadan. It has handed out one million meals so far in the UAE.

From the Republic of Burundi, in East Africa, to France and Colombia, the project spans the globe and is bringing joy and relief to the most needy.

"It's wonderful that the UAE is doing this during Ramadan,” said Faisal Akram, a Pakistani who works as an accountant in Dubai.

"The UAE has helped Pakistan over the years, especially when the country has suffered flooding and earthquakes and it's really appreciated.”

All aid handed out by the foundation has been ordered by President Sheikh Khalifa and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.

It has provided 135,000 bags of flour in six regions of Pakistan, so far this Ramadan.

Mosques and Islamic institutions in Paris received bags of food that were distributed to the underprivileged in the city.

Almost 1,000 meals and food baskets were sent to needy families in Burundi, with about 400 food baskets and 500 iftar meals given to those in need in the capital, Bujumbura.

Thousands of dates were distributed across the Seychelles by the foundation, which also gave 800 food packs to the needy in Gambia.

A further 5,000 food baskets were distributed by the foundation, Emirates Red Crescent (ERC), Dubai Charity Association and Sharjah Charity Association in Dakar, Senegal.

The aid was distributed to poor, rural areas and parts of the capital, as well as at mosques, orphanages, prisons and schools for people with disabilities.

In Colombia, the UAE Embassy oversaw the setting up of charity banquets for the Iftar Project, implemented at the Abu Bakr and Al Qurtubi mosques in Bogota, as well as Cucuta Mosque in San Andres island.

Closer to home, the Khalifa Foundation together with the ERC supplied at least 1,200 food parcels to more than 6,200 Lebanese, Syrian and Palestinian families in Sidon in southern Lebanon.

Food parcels have also been provided to 1,200 families in Tyre and Yarin also in south Lebanon.

The ERC gave Dh50,000 in financial aid to its Malaysian counterpart for an iftar project in the country.

And the Red Crescent has sent more than 830 tonnes of aid and supplies to parts of Yemen affected by the conflict between Houthi rebels and the coalition that includes the UAE.

A number of flights containing medical and food aid were also organised by the Khalifa Foundation to the country. This followed a shipment by the foundation of 400 tonnes of food and 300 barrels of diesel fuel to Yemen's Socotra island in May.

About 200 Ramadan aid packs were sent to poor families in the Tunisian town of Tuwarif and a further 2,000 food packages are to be distributed to families in the north-west of the country.

The Khalifa Foundation is not alone in providing support during Ramadan. Ten thousand packages containing 20 kilograms each of food rations have been distributed in Egypt by the Al Maktoum Foundation.

It is the second phase of a project to help underprivileged families in the country, and is backed by Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance.

More than 300 food parcels will be distributed in Cairo, Beheira, Qina and Giza.

The foundation earlier also sent 60 sewing machines to needy families in the country.

Elsewhere, the Emirati Charity Works Authority office in Palestine launched the Zayed Humanitarian Work Day.

This includes creating Ramadan banquets at Al Aqsa Mosque and the distribution of 10,000 iftar and suhoor meals.

In Gaza, the Khalifa Foundation provided thousands of food baskets to families whose homes have been completely destroyed, while the UAE Suqia Water Aid campaign, which aims to provide clean drinking water to 3,000 orphans, has also been implemented.

Yesterday, Palestinian prime minister Rami Hamdallah praised UAE organisations for helping orphans and poor families in Palestine and said president Mahmoud Abbas also appreciated the efforts made, state news agency Wam reported. - The National -


UAE backs international development, says Lubna Al Qasimi

posted on 04/07/2015

Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid Al Qasimi, Minister of International Cooperation and Development (MICAD), emphasised that the UAE has become an effective player in various aspects of development.

She cited the country's ability to support and meet aspirations of all countries across the world in their fight against underdevelopment, poverty and poor infrastructure in the developing countries, besides other fundamental issues such as education and health in poor communities as well as strengthening their capacity to respond urgently to any humanitarian crisis or disaster.

Sheikha Lubna praised the partnerships established by the UAE with different countries in the spheres of international development and humanitarian aid since its inception.

This came when Sheikha Lubna met with Lilianne Ploumen, Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation of the Netherlands, on the sidelines of the Tidewater Conference in Amsterdam.

They discussed partnership in various fields, and exchanged views on international and humanitarian development between the two countries. Sheikha Lubna and Ploumen also tackled the efforts exerted by the two countries to support the international development issues.

They also discussed ways to respond to the current humanitarian crises, such as those unfolding in Syria and Yemen.

Sheikha Lubna also met with Mark Lowcock, Permanent Secretary of the UK's Department for International Development (DFID). During the meeting, they discussed ways to enhance cooperation between the UAE and the UK in the international development domain. Sheikha Lubna and Lowcock also reviewed the achievements accomplished in the field of joint cooperation, especially provision of relief aid and multiplied support to the Syrian refugees.

The UAE Minister met with Mark Suzman, President of Global Policy, Advocacy, and Country Programmes at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. They discussed ways to bolster cooperation between the UAE and the Foundation in combating polio.

Abdallah Hamdan Al Naqbi, Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Sultan Mohammed Al Shamsi, Assistant Under-Secretary of the Ministry for International Development and others attended the meetings. – Emirates News Agency, WAM


UAE backs family protection draft law before Human Rights Council

posted on 04/07/2015

GENEVA: The UAE has expressed its full support to the resolution on the family protection draft law, adopted by the GCC and Arab groups, Russia and China, and presented before the 29th session of the Human Rights Council, which has endorsed it.

This came in a statement made by Saeed Rashid Al Habsi, Acting Charge d'Affaires at the UAE Permanent Mission to the United Nations in Geneva.

Al Habsi stressed that the UAE's conviction that the primary responsibility regarding care and protection of children "falls on the shoulders of the family," adding that children should grow up in a family environment and atmosphere of happiness, love and understanding for their personalities to develop fully.

He underscored that "the family is the natural and fundamental unit of society," adding that it is the natural environment for the growth and well-being of all its members. "Any attempt to ignore these facts and impose other frameworks and concepts of the family and its components, will be deemed a departure from the ordinary norms."

Al Habsi stressed the need to take into account national and regional particularities as well as various historical, cultural and religious backgrounds of countries when dealing with such topics in the Council. He urged members to refrain from imposing specific directions under the claim that there is any universal view.

He pointed out that the Human Rights Council, which is a forum for positive and constructive dialogue based on respect for different cultures and religions, should take into account the specificities of each community, adding that the Council should not turn into a forum for dispute as a result of including concepts and terms that do not enjoy international consensus, and can cause friction among member states. – Emirates News Agency, WAM


Faisal Al Tunaiji meets President of Peruvian Congress and Panama's Speaker

posted on 04/07/2015

Faisal Al Tunaiji, member of the Federal National Council (FNC), Chairman of the Youth Parliamentarian Forum, an affiliate of Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), has met the President of Peruvian Congress and Panama's National Assembly Speaker, who is also President of the Latin America Youth Federation, on the sidelines of the first meeting of Latin America Youth Federation, held in Lima, the Republic of Peru, from June 25- 28.

During the meeting, they discussed ways to boost cooperation between the parliaments and the parliamentarian youth forum through strengthening the participation of youth in the political process, formation of youth committees at parliaments and allocation of budget for youth programmes.

Al Tunaiji said he also discussed with the Latin American officials the agreements signed between the FNC and Latin America and the Caribbean bloc to bolster the international parliamentary cooperation.

Two years ago, the IPU set up the Parliamentarian Youth Forum following a proposal made by the UAE Parliamentary Division and endorsed by the IPU. – Emirates News Agency, WAM


On Zayed Humanitarian Work Day, Rashid Centre for Disabled launches 'Zad Zayed International Award'

posted on 04/07/2015

In response to the directives of Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, on the significance of marking the Zayed Humanitarian Work Day, which coincides with 19th of Ramadan, the Rashid Centre for the Disabled has launched the 'Zad Zayed International Award'.

The Award aims to sustain, deepen the values and legacy of the UAE's founding father, late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. It also aims to urge the community to boost positive practices and noble values.

The award will be issued in 12 categories in the areas of defence, cultural tolerance, talented special needs people, humanitarian fields, innovative individuals and institutions, women empowerment, date palm plantation and development, equestrian field as well as institutions and individuals who have made a difference.

H.H. Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority and Chairman of Emirates Group and also Chairman of the Board of Directors of Rashid Centre for Disabled, will head the general secretariat of the awards launched by the centre. The award's membership includes academics, media persons and researchers. The final ceremony will be held on 5th July at Grand Hyatt Hotel, Dubai. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


UAE Ambassador lays foundation stone of Sheikh Zayed Park in Sidon, southern Lebanon

posted on 04/07/2015

BEIRUT: Hamad Saeed Sultan Al Shamsi, the UAE Ambassador to Lebanon, has laid foundation stone of the Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Park in Sidon, southern Lebanon. The park is funded by the Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation (KF).

Al Shamsi planted an olive tree to mark the event and unveiled the memorial plaque in the presence of the Governor of Southern Lebanon, Mansour Daou and a number of political and social figures.

On the occasion, a ceremony was held at the Sidon Municipality, entitled "Thanks UAE." The event was attended by Fouad Siniora, former Prime Minister of Lebanon, and Bahia Hariri, a former MP of Lebanon. They watched a film which narrates the humanitarian role of the UAE in Lebanon and the importance of the park as well as the volume of the UAE aid in Lebanon.

On the occasion, Al Shamsi delivered a speech emphasising that what has been accomplished is a result of the far-sighted vision of the wise leadership, noting that the UAE's grant to Lebanon amounted to $16 million.

He also noted that the projects are aimed to support the Lebanese people and meet their needs in the social, development, health and humanitarian field.

At the conclusion of the event, Al Shamsi received an honorary shield in the name of Sidon Municipality as recognition of the contribution of the UAE's President, government and people. – Emirates News Agency, WAM


Ramadan Night Market draws 1,000 visitors in first 30 minutes

posted on 04/07/2015

Residents made a beeline for the Ramadan Night Market as it opened on Thursday evening, with around 1,000 visitors streaming in within the first 30 minutes.

The event is all geared up to entertain children and adults alike, with a host of attractions for all, particularly families, to enjoy a night out. Over 300 retail outlets have been set up and an array of activities are on offer.

Want to get a selfie with the Mirror Man in all his radiance. Wonder what it is to stand next to a living statue? The night market has a number of such sights that arouse curiosity and amazement in equal measure. There is even a stall offering handwriting analysis.

A henna majlis for ladies and a host of play activities for children promise to be top draws. Apart from these, there are over 50 food outlets serving cuisines from different cultures through the night.

And then there are shopping avenues. Jewellery, garments, cosmetics, furniture — there is a huge selection of goods on sale.

Merry laughter and music from the kids' corner besides the voices of visitors bargaining for curios fill the air, giving it a truly bazaar-like feel.

"The beauty of the festival is not just the memorable shopping experience, but the fact that it is made so much more enjoyable courtesy the entertainment provided to all groups of people,” said Sunil Jaiswal, President of Sumansa Exhibitions, the event organiser. "This is a place where visitors can come to relax, hang out with friends and take in the amazing environment.”

There is one stall that offers visitors an array of original products rarely found in the market — recycled furniture.

Jad A. Hosn, executive manager of, explained, "This chair and couch is made from 100 per cent recycled paper and can go from 20 centimetres in size up to four metres when you stretch and expand the paper. This recycled couch can withstand up to one tonne and can fit six to eight people on it.”

Visitor Sarah Ganem, a 27-year-old Dubai resident who hails from Kuwait, said that the Ramadan Night Market this year is better than its previous editions, particularly in terms of the variety of food choices on offer.

"This is the ideal place for a family night out because every member will find something that interests them — from shopping merchandise to food,” said Sarah.

Samira Ahmad, a 49-year-old from Yemen, brought along her children and daughter-in-law to enjoy a night out. "It is a brilliant idea to have such markets; however, I would love to see more countries participating in this bazaar-like event,” she said.

"I found the henna tent set up as a majlis area very interesting since henna plays a big role in the culture of the region.” – Gulf News -


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