posted on 19/05/2013
The UAE is the world's 31st popular tourism destination and the most popular in the Arab world, ahead of Egypt — ranked 32nd and Saudi Arabia ranked 35 — in terms of tourism receipts, United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) data shows.
In the Middle East, Turkey outranks the UAE, retaining 12th position with tourism receipts climbing to US$25.7 billion.
UAE's international tourism receipts are somewhat close to US$10 billion (Dh36.7 billion) that includes hotel revenues and the receipts from air travel.
UAE's hotel revenues last year reached Dh21 billion serving 14.5 billion hotel guests — including 10 million served by Dubai's hotels and serviced apartments, according to the UAE National Council of Tourism and Antiquities (NCTA).
The tourism sector contributes 14 per cent of the UAE's gross domestic product (GDP), Reem Al Hashimy UAE Minister of State, said.
"Tourism accounts for 14 per cent of our GDP, which is well above the global average of 9 per cent,” she said at the UNWTO Ministerial Forum earlier this month. "Dubai is the most connected city in the world, connecting a third of the world's population, according to the International Air Transportation Association. It connects 220 cities across the world and its airport is set to handle 66 million passengers this year.”
Mohammad Khamis Bin Hareb Al Muhairi, Director-General of the UAE National Council of Tourism and Antiquities, said: "The UAE's hotels hosted 14.5 million guests last year, with hotel revenues reaching Dh21 billion, reflecting the industry's success.”
Peter Goddard, Managing Director of TRI Hospitality Consulting in Dubai, said, "2012/13 has been one of the strongest tourist seasons in Dubai's history. Tourism arrivals from all regions have shown significant growth as the city's leaders have ensured that both capacity and connectivity matched the growing tourism demand and visitor requirements. Dubai is now home to the world's second busiest airport, further proving Dubai's position as a primary destination as well as a major international transit hub.”
International arrivals to the Middle East declined marginally to 52.6 million last year, down from 55.3 million recorded in 2011, primarily due to the Arab Spring.
"The Middle East is one of the fastest growing tourism regions in the world in spite of countless challenges; much of this dynamism has been led by the strong political commitment awarded to tourism in the region and the vision that tourism is a key pillar of development in the Middle East, of which the UAE is a perfect example,” Dr Taleb Rifai, UNWTO Secretary-General, told Gulf News during the Arabian Travel Market earlier this month.
"However, the industry is challenged by the Arab Spring that has restricted tourists' movement to some of the Arab countries, especially Egypt that has a large tourism industry.”
Lebanon's Minister of Tourism Fadi Abboud, said, his travel advisories are affecting the regional tourism industry. "Travel advisories give negative impressions in the mind of tourists. While the ground realities might be conducive to travel, the advisories prevent people to travel.
"Also the governments are prompt in putting travel advisories, they are not prompt in lifting them.”
He said, his country's tourism industry is suffering due to travel advisories against Lebanon.
Gassan Aridi, Chief Executive of Alpha Tours, said, despite these challenges, the regional tourism will thrive. "With more and more people travelling globally, we expect a significant part of that to visit the Middle East due to continued economic growth and job creation — some of the factors that will continue to drive tourists to the region.
"With the Arab airlines expanding their fleets and network of destinations and their growing partnership with other international airlines, we expect this to accelerate in the coming years.” – Gulf News
posted on 19/05/2013
Abu Dhabi city's population is increasing by one person every two minutes and 48 seconds, according to figures released recently by the Abu Dhabi Statistics Centre (Scad).
The total population of the capital has reached around 2.5 million people, the centre said in a ceremony attended by Nasser Ahmad Al Suwaidi, chairman of the board of directors of Scad.
"Three initiatives have been launched to show an estimate of the capital's current population, such as the Abu Dhabi population clock which projects the latest estimated resident population for the city and assumes a total population increase of one person every 2 minutes and 48 seconds,” said Ahmad Mohammad Bin Butti Al Qubaisi, director-general of Scad.
"Additionally, a purchasing power calculator, which compares the relative value of a past amount of dirhams to a present amount, is one of the initiatives lately introduced. The calculator will be used to determine the value of an amount of money in a particular ‘original' year to another ‘desired' year. The applicant should enter the values in the appropriate places shown on the Scad website.
"For example, you may want to know: how much money you would need in 2012 to have the same purchasing power of Dh100 in 2002. If you entered these values in the correct places, you will find that the answer is Dh168.61,” he explained.
The consumer price index (CPI) is the official measure of consumer inflation in Abu Dhabi emirate. The CPI is based on the total expenditure of all households in a particular year or month, which can now be measured by the personal inflation calculator newly introduced by the centre.
"This inflation calculator is aimed at allowing the public to gauge what their own inflation rate might be. It will also allow you to capture your own personal expenditure patterns as weights.
"When you put down your expenditure, you should exclude any payments that are savings or investments and you can include the main 12 items of spending common for individuals including housing, water, transport, communication, education, health, clothing and footwear,” Al Qubaisi added.
Several private and government agencies will benefit from the purchasing power calculator, including decision makers in financial institutions, researchers and businessmen as well as investors and dealers within the UAE.
A new survey to measure family spending and household income for 2013-2014 will be conducted next June to provide a reflection of the living conditions in the emirate.
The centre will also conduct a survey to compute the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the emirate of Abu Dhabi during June as well as to measure the size and spatial distribution of labour forces and unemployment rates in Abu Dhabi city.
The Abu Dhabi Statistics Centre is keen to build an advanced and up-to-date database of the labour force status of all population members, their occupations and economic activities.
Al Qubaisi said: "Spending on statistics is growing continuously to meet the needs of the sustainable development in the UAE,” adding that, "Spending on statistical systems has been increased dramatically by 50 per cent in 2013 compared to 2012 to ensure this.” – Gulf News
posted on 19/05/2013
Exhausted travellers who are stuck in transit between flights at Abu Dhabi International Airport can now recharge their batteries courtesy of the airport's newly-launched sleeping pods.
The "GoSleep” sleeping pods have been launched to allow passengers to rest in a private and secure environment, the Abu Dhabi Airports Company (Adac) announced recently.
The "world first” sleeping pods cost Dh45 per hour, payable with credit cards and are set to be upgraded to include internet access and secure storage. The "GoSleep” is the latest state-of-the-art chair that converts into a private flat bed.
Ten sleeping pods in total have now been installed. There are seven in Terminal 3 and three in the Al Dhabi Lounge in Terminal 1 — with a further 35 due to arrive later this year.
"Adac continually strives to enhance the experience of passengers travelling to, from or via Abu Dhabi International Airport. The introduction of GoSleep pods is another step towards exceeding customers' expectations and delivering world-class levels of unique services,” said Mohammad Al Bulooki, chief commercial officer of Adac.
The stylish sleeping pods are easy to operate and feature a partial or fully enclosed sliding shade which isolates the customer from noise, light and crowds.
They also enable users to charge their laptops, mobile phones and other electronic devices.
"The instalment of these innovative new convertible chairs highlights Adac's commitment to using the latest technologies to improve airport facilities, ensuring that passengers have the best experience they could ask for at the airport,” he added.
"I believe it is an ideal solution for weary fliers who cannot afford to stay at expensive hotels between long flights. Also such innovative chairs will help to preserve the airport's aesthetics instead of seeing many people sleeping on the floor of the airport with pillow and luggage,” Ashraf Saleh, a 27-year-old Abu Dhabi resident, told Gulf News.
Ahmad Al Mazroui said: "I think these sleeping pods will be used only by transit passengers.”
On the flip side, Nada Ahmad says the pods are very small and won't be able to offer a comfortable and relaxing experience for tired passengers.
"I doubt that these sleeping pods can accommodate people on the heavy side. I do not think that many people will be trying them,” the Abu Dhabi resident added. – Gulf News
posted on 19/05/2013
The Western Region Development Council (WRDC), the central coordinating body leading development and promoting opportunity in Al Gharbia, the Western Region of Abu Dhabi, has defined a number of key non-oil sectors to drive economic growth and development in the region.
The step is in line with the Council's efforts in promoting economic diversification due to Al Gharbia's current reliance on the oil and gas sector that includes a number of oil related projects with the most prominent being UAE's peaceful civil nuclear energy program in Barakah. Today, the Council strives to support and help develop different sectors such as the tourism sector whereby, tourism is projected to account for 5.2% of Al Gharbia's gross domestic product, compared to only 1.3% in 2010.
It is worth mentioning that nuclear power reactors in Barakah are aimed at generating 25% of power needs from nuclear energy by 2020 for the Emirate. This is in addition to producing 7% of Al Gharbia's electricity needs from renewable sources (solar and wind) by 2020.
Residential projects are seen as a priority area for investment in Al Gharbia due to the noticeable rise in demand for residential units that has reached 15,000 units. Moreover, it is anticipated that the demand for commercial and retail spaces will also be on the rise and is estimated to reach 140,000 square meters. Meanwhile, the hospitality and leisure sector is considered to be a potential sector for investment as well, required to cater to the demand for 680 hotel rooms and serviced apartments.
"At WRDC we endeavour to provide guidance and support to potential investors, developers and visitors to the region that are interested in unveiling unique investment opportunities. The council also strives to support the oil and gas sector while working simultaneously on diversifying the economic activities in the region" said H.E. Mohamed Hamad Bin Azzan Al Mazrouei, Acting Undersecretary of the Ruler's Representative Court in the Western Region and Director General of the Western Region Development Council.
Al Gharbia's development has been plotted in a strategic framework that will be comprehensively discussed at the Al Gharbia Development Forum, which is being held under the distinguished patronage of H.H. Sheikh Hamdan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Ruler's Representative in the Western Region, which is scheduled to take place in Abu Dhabi on the 27th of May 2013.
A number of senior executives from across numerous government entities in Abu Dhabi will be participating at the conference led by Mohammed Omar Abdulla, Undersecretary of the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED); Falah Mohamed Al Ahbabi, General Manager of Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council (UPC);Rashid Mohamed Al Shariqi, Director General, Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA); Dr. Saif Saleh Al Sayari, Executive Officer, Head of Energy Solutions Division, Abu Dhabi National Energy Company (TAQA); Mr. Ali Al Hammadi, Deputy Managing Director, Tourism Development '&' Investment Company (TDIC); and Mr. Mohamed Ebrahim Al Hosani, Regional Development Director, Western Region Development Council (WRDC).
The forum will include open discussions on the opportunities available in Al Gharbia's transport sector in addition to the development of various projects set to take place within the next five years; as well as sessions on opportunities for diversifying the region's agricultural sector and other large scale projects.
"The investment and development opportunities offered by Al Gharbia are unprecedented and are critical to the future development of Abu Dhabi in particular and the UAE in general. The potential for growth is still largely untapped and those who want to get insider insights on where the opportunities lie should not miss this gathering," said Mr. Edmund O'Sullivan, Chairman, MEED Events, organisers of the forum in cooperation with WRDC. – Emirates News Agency, WAM
posted on 19/05/2013
Businesses in Dubai are confident of growth trends continuing to the second quarter of 2013, according to the quarterly business confidence survey conducted by Dubai's Department of Economic Development (DED).
While optimism runs across the whole economy, it is particularly high among small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and exporting firms as reflected in the composite Business Confidence Index (BCI), which stood at 113 points during Q1 2013, according to a report by Emirates 24/7 on the survey.
The survey showed that 86 per cent of the businesses are upbeat on sales and profits and 98 per cent plan either to increase (23 per cent) or maintain (75 per cent) their employment count during the next quarter. Overall business expectations are on an upward trend with 91 per cent of firms reporting either improvement or stability in business conditions in Q2 2013, it noted.
"Economic activity in Dubai is on a firmer ground, especially with key sectors such as tourism, logistics and aviation flourishing and real estate on a recovery path. The services and retail sectors are also signalling strong growth, which reaffirms Dubai's reputation as a resilient and vibrant economy," commented Sami Al Qamzi, Director General of DED.
"Rising confidence among SMEs and exporters also shows that the combined effort of the government and the private sector to achieve sustainable economic development is producing the desires outcomes," added Al Qamzi.
The survey reveals robust expectations, with 55 per cent of businesses expecting higher sales revenues and another 30 per cent stable sales in Q2 2013. The revenue growth will continue to be driven by rising real business activity (volumes), as 80 per cent of respondents expect prices to remain largely stable. A few companies (13 per cent) plan to raise their prices in Q2 2013 as they return to the pre-discount season price levels or renew orders at higher prices.
With respect to sales volumes, 54 per cent forecast an increase during Q2 2013 and as a result, 49 per cent of the firms are also planning to increase their purchase orders to ensure adequate stocks to meet the expected demand. In terms of sectors, manufacturing businesses are most optimistic about sales and profits whereas service firms are most upbeat about new hires.
More than half (55 per cent) of the companies said they will invest in capacity expansion during the next 12 months. This proportion is slightly higher among larger companies. Furthermore, 40 per cent of the respondents plan to invest in upgrading technology over the same period.
The positive sales outlook is also reflected in profit estimates, with 54 per cent expecting improved profits in the next quarter, mostly from engaging in new projects or contracts, but also from margin optimisation. Within services, expectations are relatively higher for companies engaged in facilities management, education and IT and telecommunications. Key reasons reported are the traction in demand and expectations of new contracts.
Around 70 per cent of the construction companies also expect new deals from local and regional markets. Likewise, driven by increased demand from all major sectors, 59 per cent of transportation service providers see higher activity in Q2 2013. Hotels and restaurants are however less optimistic, largely due to the onset of the summer season.
In trading, automobiles, computers, food and textile firms are relatively more optimistic. Food and beverage companies expect higher demand during the summer while textile traders are anticipating higher exports. Among manufacturing firms, those engaged in chemicals, glass and ceramics, machinery and equipment, paper and plastics have a better outlook.
In terms of the business environment, the survey showed that 21 per cent of firms expect no challenges impacting their operations (32 per cent in Q1 2013), indicating a high level of satisfaction in doing business in Dubai. For the remaining respondents, the top most challenge reported in the current quarter is increasing competition. Other challenges, as perceived by respondents, are the levels of government fees, increasing rental cost and cumbersome business regulations.
DED conducts the quarterly surveys to measure the perceptions of the business community and predict the business outlook for the future. The survey serves as an effective tool to measure the pulse of the business community and allow the government and the private sector to track and analyse major trends and issues that have a bearing on economic activity in Dubai.
A total of 512 companies in Dubai were covered in the survey. The companies were asked to indicate if they anticipated an increase, decrease or no change in key indicators such as sales revenues, selling prices, volumes sold, profits and number of employees. – Emirates News Agency, WAM
posted on 19/05/2013
Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX) has succeeded in achieving a 100% compliance rate in financial disclosure statements of its listed public joint stock companies within the deadline of 45 days from the end of the financial period, ADX announced Saturday.
All 66 ADX listed companies, local and foreign, disclosed their 1st Quarter financial statements for 2013 within the 45 days period given. The combined net profit of all listed companies, as of the first financial Quarter of 2013, has showed an increase of 2% in comparison to the same period in 2012, ADX said in a press release.
The highest recorded increase was in the Investment '&' Financial Services sector, with an increase of 509%, followed by the Banks sector with an increase of 15%.
Saif Sayah Al Mansouri, head of Listed Companies and acting head of Media at ADX commented: "The collaboration between ADX and its listed companies has always proved to be a productive one. We can clearly see the positive impact of this cooperation through the companies' fulfilment of their obligations on the disclosure of the 1st Quarter financial statements." – Emirates News Agency, WAM
posted on 19/05/2013
dnata, one of the world's largest air services providers, has announced the acquisition of the remaining 50% of Servair Airchef in Italy, taking its total ownership to 100%.
Founded in 1995 as part of Chef Italia Group, dnata's subsidiary Alpha became a shareholder of Servair Airchef in 2001.
Servair Airchef is a leading in-flight caterer in Italy with a presence in 23 airports including Rome, Milan and Venice, employing around 700 employees, producing some 40,000 meals daily.
The company also provides aircraft cleaning services at seven Italian airports.
"The full acquisition of this business reflects dnata's long term strategy to further invest in its core business," said Stewart Angus, Divisional Senior Vice President, dnata.
"The Italian business complements our existing in-flight catering and cabin cleaning operations around the world. The company has a strong, dynamic management team and I am confident that together we can develop the business further, in line with the outstanding service and quality for which dnata is renowned," he continued.
"Our customers are the real wealth of our company," said Michele Mezzatesta, Managing Director of Servair Airchef. "We have always strived to deliver the very best service combined with consistently high quality products. The drive and commitment of our dedicated staff has earned us a solid reputation for exceeding our customers' expectations and we look forward to continuing to work with the management team at dnata to further develop the business." – Emirates News Agency, WAM
posted on 19/05/2013
The UAE inflation eased to 0.9 per cent in April as housing and utility costs fell, according to official data on Saturday.
The UAE National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) released the April consumer price data, which indicated a stable trend in prices compared to similar period last year.
The main contributor in Consumer Price Index — housing and utility costs, which accounted for over 39 per cent of consumer expenses, fell 0.1 per cent year-on-year and were unchanged month-on-month in April.
Food prices, which made up nearly 14 per cent of the basket, increased 2.5 per cent on an annual basis but dipped 0.2 per cent from the previous month, the data showed.
The NBS predicted annual inflation rate at 1.33 per cent for 2013 while it is expected to be 1.60 next year in the country, according to its Web site.
Earlier this year, UAE Minister of Economy Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri predicted that the inflation rate in the country would be in the range of between one per cent and 1.5 per cent in 2013.
Analysts polled by Reuters in April forecast average inflation in the UAE federation to accelerate to 1.6 per cent in 2013 from 0.7 per cent in 2012, which was the lowest level since 1990.
In March, the inflation hit one per cent mainly because of a rise in food and beverage prices and education expenses during the month. In February, the CPI reached 117.24, up from 116.39 in the year before same period, according to the bureau. – Khaleej Times
posted on 19/05/2013
Dubai World Central (DWC), the world's first purpose-built aerotropolis, has announced new developments at DWC ‘s Logistics District, including the start of construction the fourth complex of agent warehouses.
Covering a total area of almost 8,700 square meters, with 5,443 sqm for warehouses and 1,373 sqm for office area, the new agent warehouses will be open for leasing in the first quarter of 2014. The development will include amenities catering to new and existing customers from different industries that want to expand their business activities in DWC.
DWC further announced that it is now developing a new logistics park within the Logistics District, comprising of warehouses, offices and amenities. The logistics park will be completed in the first quarter of 2015, offering a total built-up area of 34,000 square meters while facilities will have a minimum area of 1,000 sqm.
To improve the efficiency of the free zone operations, DWC also announced that it will be developing a fully dedicated customer inspection yard at gate 4, in conjunction with Dubai Customs. The new facility, which will include truck scanning machines, will enhance operations in the current customs inspection facility and is designed for both normal and temperature-controlled cargo. – Emirates News Agency, WAM
posted on 19/05/2013
Financial crime that was detected in Dubai topped Dh200 million during last year and the first quarter of this year, according to Dubai Police's General Department of Anti-Economic crime.
Department Director Major Salah Bu Osaiba said the police had arrested 371 suspects for involvement in those crimes — which relate to selling thousands of fake electronics and counterfeit products, using forged credit cards and money multiplication — with 130 cases coming in the first quarter of this year alone.
The General Department of Criminal Investigation Director Brigadier Khalil Ibrahim Al Mansouri said the economic department was providing protection to trademark owners who chose Dubai to be their regional hub, while the police were exerting tireless efforts to help companies which were harmed by the sale of counterfeit products. Damage came in terms of lost sales and damaged company reputations, he said.
Al Mansouri said Dubai's reputation as a business hub attracted fraudsters interested in violating intellectual property rights, who had advanced technology which could produce high quality counterfeit products or defraud people through forged credit cards.
The police were trained to differentiate between fake and genuine products, he said. Despite the numbers, the figures actually represented a reduction in economic crimes, with money multiplication scams and counterfeit crime both down.
The police had recorded 130 economic crimes during the first quarter of the year, compared with 140 for the same period the previous year, with Al Mansouri attributing that to a decrease in the number of criminals plying their trade here, including a smaller number of sources importing fake products.
Popular counterfeit products, not surprisingly, include the iconic Apple technology devices, many of which had been found in the Naif area, he said.
Al Mansouri revealed the Anti-Economic Crime Department had arrested three Nigerians and three Indians, while the police were chasing a fourth African, on charges of possession of forged credit cards. The police received information that the suspects had purchased electronic appliances from a shop in Al Khaleej Al Tijari area, using forged credit cards.
The Indian owner of the electronic shop told the police that in February, two Africans and an Indian had wanted to purchase phones worth Dh71,540 using two forged credit cards. However, he said he could not deliver the goods as the men wanted such large quantities of material that the shop needed time to get the products. On the same day, the shop received an e-mail from the bank notifying staff that the two cards were forged.
A salesman at the same shop told the police that was not the first time the men had visited the store, with one of the Indian men calling the salesman in January, telling him there was a client who wanted to buy goods with credit cards. The next day the man came with an associate to the shop with the pair requesting iPhones and Samsung phones worth Dh53,000, which they purchased. The salesman told the police that he had not received any notification from the bank at the time.
The police set a trap to arrest the suspects when they returned to the store to collect the phones worth Dh71,540 they had previously purchased. Other suspects were arrested in other areas of Dubai, many of them fiercely resisting arrest before attributing the forged credit cards to other suspects among the group. One suspect confessed to owning the forged credit cards, but said he had received them from other people and was only to receive five per cent of the total profit.
During raids on the various flats of the suspects, the police seized seven forged credit cards.
The Anti-Economic Crime Department has arrested the manager of a company for selling counterfeit products, in the Naif area.
Police officials received information that a company, located near Maktoum Hospital which had warehouses in Al Qusais area, was selling fake Philips and Osram products. The products were stored in warehouses, in violation of trademark laws which harmed accredited agencies in the country.
After verifying the tip-off, the police got permission from the Public Prosecution and raided the shops and warehouses of the company. The company manager was taken by the police for interrogation, where he confessed that he owned the products. The police sent a sample to their forensic laboratory to confirm the products were fake, while the manager was released on bail. The products in contention are being held by the police.
In a second case, the police arrested a Chinese national and two Bangladeshi nationals after receiving information that a company located in the Naif area, opposite Hyatt Regency hotel, was selling fake Apple products including iPhones and accessories. After verifying information, the police took legal action and raided the company. This started a string of accusations that the fake goods had come from another company. The police set up a trap with a representative from another company in January, and told him they wanted to buy 500 phones, coming to the value of Dh123,000 — giving a down payment of Dh2,000. An invoice was issued, and a time for the delivery of the phones was specified. The police then raided the shop and arrested several more suspects, who in turn pointed the finger at a company called Momo International Electronics, based in Naif. The police then raided this company, where they seized 108 iPhones which were lying unpacked, without their cartons, alongside 1,100 empty cartons. The suspect told the police that the company was close to a flat, which was then also raided leading to the seizure of another 340 iPhones. The police have sent a number of the seized goods to the police forensic laboratory to verify whether the goods were counterfeit. – Khaleej Times
posted on 19/05/2013
All food products claiming to be Halal need to have a Halal mark and certification from next year, a senior official from the Emirates Standardisation and Metrology Authority (Esma) has said.
The announcement comes as part of a Halal regulations package, which will also include Halal certification for cosmetics and perfumes as well as clothes and accessories.
"It is His Highness Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai's dream to make Dubai the capital of the Halal economy and this initiative is part of that project. Through this process we will make sure what people consume assuming it is Halal is actually Halal,” said Mohammad Saleh Badri, Director-General of Esma.
According to Badri, there is currently a system in place to verify Halal compliance of food products but it has very limited scope.
Recently mandated by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to formulate Halal codes for cosmetics and perfumes to be implemented in all Islamic countries, Esma hopes the Halal food standards will also be adopted by other countries.
"Each emirate has its own system to verify Halal compliance at municipal level but there are no general standards and regulations. We will be putting a whole new system in place which will not only be a point of reference for firms in the UAE but also for other Islamic nations,” added Badri.
Currently in the process of ratification, the standards will be in place by early next year, covering all types of food products and outlets.
"Every eatery and food brand that claims its food to be Halal will come under the scanner and we will go into details of the ingredients used, the processing, the plantation, chemicals used, the packaging as well as the slaughtering of animals. Every process should comply with Sharia regulations,” said Badri, explaining the certification system.
The announcement comes following recent speculation about Western food chains not complying with Halal standards, which led to the withdrawal of certain products in several countries.
"Once we have our system in place, there will be no place for speculation and scepticism. It will be clear to people what products are Halal and what are not permissible. We will ban those products that don't comply with the standards,” Badri said.
Paying attention to detail, the standards will even look into cases of food products being genetically modified or processed using chemicals or fertilisers that have traces of non-permissible products.
Having traces of pork, animals slaughtered in a non-Islamic way or the presence of alcohol in food products among other things is not allowed according to Sharia.
In the next phase, the authority will implement standards to ensure all clothing and accessories are also Halal. – Gulf News
posted on 19/05/2013
From September this year, the quality of bottled drinking water and ice products can be verified by checking whether the product has been approved by the Emirates Standardisation Metrology Authority (Esma), in which case it will contain the Emirates Quality Mark.
Imported and locally produced bottled water and ice products will soon be required to be manufactured to conform with the unified standards that will be set by Esma.
This decision has been taken by the UAE Cabinet and will be enforced from September this year.
"Esma is the national standardisation body of the UAE and it has responsibility to prepare, issue and adopt standards related to the products that affect health, safety and environment. Since drinking water is crucial to consumers' health, Esma has prepared a regulation on drinking water,” said Mohamed Saleh Badri, Acting Director-General of Esma.
From September, all ice and bottled drinking water and ice products on the shelves are required to have the Emirates Quality Mark (EQM), which is Esma's mark of approval for products that meet the standards set by Esma.
Locally, more than 100 companies and factories will be required to register with Esma. Importers and sellers of bottled water and ice products will be required to register too before they can bring their products on the market.
Badri explained that the regulation aims to achieve the following goals:
• Harmonising and unifying control procedures for drinking water in all the emirates and standardising procedures for dealing with imported and locally produced drinking water in UAE.
• Ensuring quality and safety of drinking water for consumers and ensuring that all bottled drinking water is labelled with the EQM to indicate conformity to UAE standards and regulations for drinking water.
• Ensuring that all equipment and materials used are made from food-grade material and all plastics used are degradable and environment friendly.
Food safety management, environmental issues, and safety of electrical appliances used are some of the most important criteria that manufacturers are required to adhere to before they are permitted to distribute their products in the UAE.
Esma will conduct on-site assessments to ensure the compliance of the factory to both FSMS (Food Safety and Management System) and standard (Esma) requirements. Based on the audit report (if there isn't any non-compliance), the factory will be allowed to use the EQM,” said Badri.
Non-compliance may result in fines from Dh30,000 to Dh100,000, depending on the severity of the violation and no water shall be sold in the UAE unless an EQM is granted, warned Badri.
Price regulation of bottled water and ice products will not be the responsibility of Esma, as this is monitored by the Ministry of Economy. – Emirates 24|7
posted on 19/05/2013
The UAE government long-term e-strategy is to provide all public online services to customers online and through multiple channels, according to Eng. Dr. Ali Al Kouri, Director General, Emirates Identity Authority.
Presenting the keynote address at the 19th GCC eGovernment and eServices Conference on ' eGovernment: Key Trends and Challenges on GCC 2013 e-Maturity - Measuring the Success '&' Challenges, he emphasised on the journey of GCC's eMaturity from theory to practice and discussed the role that technological learning and information and communication technologies (ICT) play in the Knowledge Economy. He said that the supreme leaderships of the Emirates are leaving no efforts in contributing towards the technical and competitive success of the region. He stressed on the efforts and achievements of the Emirates Identity Authority in glorifying the emirates' technical competitiveness. He also said that the authority will concentrate in the coming phase of its march to reinforce its method in excellence and to upgrade its services and update its competitive status, under its quest to be the best institutional system among all the government institutions in the country.
He elaborated in detail the various crucial projects of the Emirates Identity Authority that have been working towards overcoming all the obstacles in the existing systems and the efforts that the organisation is exerting towards providing an unparalleled security structure to the Gulf Cooperation Council.
He further said all the sectors and leaders in the UAE have to join hands and progress integrated towards achieving the preset goals of identity and security in the GCC and for improving the quality of services offered to the citizens in the region.
Organised by Datamatix, the 19th GCC eGovernment and eServices Conference the event has brought to its platform some of the most prominent and finest of minds in the information technology and government organisations from across the globe, comprising ministers, undersecretaries, director generals, vice presidents, senior technical directors, parliamentarians, and government and business organisation leaders and path-breakers.
The event initiates a crucial step towards the development of the 4th generation of the eGovernment and eServices and evaluates the eMaturity of GCC as the best information and eServices society in a technically competitive world. – Emirates News Agency, WAM
posted on 19/05/2013
The Ministry of Education's announcement of the School Leadership Project to raise standards in UAE's education sector is an important initiative that needs to be highly commended, a UAE daily has said.
"Over the next five years, 700 education professionals in public schools in the UAE will undergo rigorous training in international best practices in teaching to set the UAE's education benchmark at par with global standards," the English language daily 'Gulf News' said in its yesterday's editorial.
"Teachers will be put through 400 hours of skill-building in the seminal areas of their job in collaboration with a British University during the last phase of training. This is yet another example of the great strides the UAE is taking as it energetically heads towards new milestones. By empowering teachers with the latest in methodology, approach and operating quality in pedagogy, the UAE government is ensuring that the education sector attains the status it truly deserves." "A direct focus, and investment, in teacher empowerment is the most effective way for a nation to shore up on one of its greatest assets its human resources which, not unsurprisingly, include children as a vital segment in its composition. On the one hand, these young and eager minds, collectively, form the vast arable knowledge tract of the country from which shoot up some of the greatest ideas and possibilities for tomorrow. On the other hand, it is the capabilities of the mentors of these young minds teachers, educators and administrators that ensure the tract remains arable perennially. It is vital, therefore, to ensure that the mentors are imparting knowledge in the most effective way.
The UAE has always emphasised education as one of the most important markers of progress and initiatives like these will assuredly actualise into results, supported by other measures like the development of a high school academic counselling system, the first of its kind in the region, and a teacher training and qualification centre, among others." The paper concluded by saying: "As history has repeatedly proven, a productive, inspiring teacher-child collaboration can lead to many defining moments in discovery and glory for a country." – Emirates News Agency, WAM
posted on 19/05/2013
Before you dismiss this suggestion, consider this: An ambitious Dubai Municipality project aims at doing just that – it plans to drastically increase the green cover across the emirate, thereby making Dubai dust-proof.
The civic body has initiated various measures to increase the number of Ghaf trees throughout the emirate, especially in the desert.
Eng Ahmad Abdul Karim, Director, Public Parks and Horticulture Department, Dubai Municipality, says the increase in the number of Ghaf trees – considered as the national tree of the UAE – could result in three-pronged effect on Dubai's weather: reduce dust storms, decrease the temperature and increase the oxygen levels within the desert.
"We are adopting various strategies to increase the green cover and Ghaf is one of them,” he says.
Explaining the initiatives to protect the existing Ghafs he says, "There is a very strict policy in place and those found cutting a Ghaf plant or a tree will be fines Dh500 to Dh1,000. If a tree is totally damaged, the person could face a fine of up to Dh50,000,” he added.
Speaking to Emirates 24|7, he also requested the public to immediately report any violation to the Dubai Municipality.
Even individuals within whose compound the Ghaf tree is located are not authorised to cut them. "They will require a special Dubai Municipality permission to do so,” he adds.
There are various ongoing initiatives to protect and popularise the Ghaf Tree, including various online initiatives like www.savetheghaftree.com and www.giveaghaf.com, the latter an initiative of Goumbook.
According to Tatiana Antonelli Abella, co-founder of Goumbook, the tree is ideally suited for the desert environment and consumes less than 10 per cent of groundwater compared with other exotic trees and plans that we find in many parts of Dubai.
They in partnership with Cannon Middle East were also instrumental in planting almost 4,000 Ghaf seeds at a nursery in Al Barari on Saturday (May 10, 2013).
It was an initiative that was recently launched by Cannon, which promised to plant one tree for every Cannon product sold during the recently concluded Gitex Shopper.
"Our initial estimate was to plant about 1,000 trees but we have far exceeded the target,” says Anurag Agrawal, Managing Director, Canon Middle East.
Speaking on the occasion, Abella said: "Yes, the intensity of a lot of these dust storms could be reduced if the Dubai Municipality's plan to envelope the city with Ghaf trees becomes true. The tree has multiple other benefits as even its roots are used for medicinal purpose,” she adds. – Emirates 24|7
posted on 19/05/2013
Abu Dhabi's environmental body is currently managing over 50,000 animals throughout the emirate, according to its recently released 2012 annual report.
The Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD) began collecting information about terrestrial biodiversity and ecosystems, starting with the Western Region, in order to assess the health of land wildlife, effectiveness of environmental regulations, and highlight key areas for conservation.
According to the report, EAD started animal health screening last year and a vaccination programme was initiated to improve the long-term health of animals.
"The implementation of the wildlife management plan has allowed for the animal populations to grow at a sustainable rate, which will reduce the risk of disease and mortality rate,” states the report.
One of the species that benefited from EAD's biodiversity efforts were the Arabian Oryx, which was previously extinct in the wild. Not only are there now large populations roaming in the protected areas in the Western Region, but last year 20 Arabian Oryx were trans-located to Wadi Rum in Jordan.
A survey conducted in 2012 by the General Secretariat for the Conservation of the Arabian Oryx, shows the UAE has 58 per cent of the total population of Arabian Oryx in the Middle East.
Last year was also a good one for Dugongs. These sea cows are notoriously shy and elusive to humans, but EAD managed to tag four of them last year, which allowed the wildlife experts to study their movement and habitat via satellite transmitter. The data received so far is still being analysed.
"The Dugongs are foraging within a radius of 10 to 15 kilometres from the site they were captured and released. The average distance travelled by the Dugongs per day is...between 6.2 and 8.8 kilometres,” according to the report.
Birds were also high on the EAD's agenda last year. Throughout the emirate, the agency monitored 60 sites, recording 420 bird species, an average of 42,000 birds per month.
Among them, nearly 12,000 breeding pairs of the globally threatened Socotra cormorant were spotted and 119 active breeding pairs of Ospreys, which constitute almost a quarter of the breeding population in the Arabian Gulf.
For the second consecutive year, 17 greater flamingo chicks were born last summer in Al Wathba Wetland Reserve, while the crab plover, which doesn't breed anywhere else in the UAE, resumed breeding in the previously abandoned colony at Abu Al Abyad island.
A fisheries survey, regulations to establish aquacultures in Abu Dhabi and a code-of-conduct for users of the Eastern Mangroves in the capital (which may be declared a protected area in the future) were also projects initiated by EAD in 2012. – Khaleej Times
posted on 19/05/2013
The UAE was not affected by the earthquake of 5.5 magnitude on the Richter scale, which hit southern Iran, 207 km northeast of Ras Al Khaimah, yesterday afternoon, the National Centre of Meteorology and Seismology (NCMS) has reported. Measuring 3 on the Mercalli intensity scale, the quake occurred at 2.03pm at a depth of 29km, it said. – Emirates News Agency, WAM
posted on 19/05/2013
Dubai: An environment campaign to enhance international efforts to combat the smuggling of elephant ivory tusks is under way by the Dubai Police General Command, represented at the General Administration of Airport Security and in cooperation with the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) Dubai.
The English language daily 'Gulf News' said the police awareness campaign was launched at the Departure hall in Building-3 of Emirates Airlines in Dubai's International Airport and Transit lounges.
The new campaign is part of an ongoing bid by Dubai authorities to clamp down on the illegal shipment of elephant tusks from Africa to the Far East.
According to IFAW, in early November 2013, Dubai customs intercepted a shipment of 215 elephant tusks worth an estimated US$4 million and en route from Kenya to Hong Kong.
The tusks were seized after being discovered in bags marked as red beans, said IFAW.
Although international trade in ivory tusks was banned in 1989, ivory remains in high demand in Far East leading to the continued slaughter of elephants in the Africa region. By some estimates, up to 750,000 elephants were killed for their tusks in the 1980s leaving a population of 600,000 at the dawn of the 1990s decade when the ban was brought into effect.
The paper quoted Major General Pilot Ahmad Bin Mohammad Al Thani, Director of the Dubai Police Airport Security Department, as saying the police are working to bolster their partnerships with international bodies in regard to the plight of elephants worldwide.
He also praised the fast response received from Dubai airport and the IFAW, an international organisation which collects data regarding the illegal killing of elephants to smuggle their ivory tusks.
He added that allowing any sort of trade in ivory is meaningless because it contradicts all principles of preserving species subjected to possible extinction.
Maha Oda, a spokesperson with IFAW in the Middle East and Africa, said on the IFAW website that an IFAW campaign held earlier this year in the UAE aimed to create awareness among school children about the mass slaughter of elephants for underworld trade internationally.
"Every year, thousands of elephants are being killed just for their tusks and it has become necessary to take serious and effective steps toward protecting elephants from this deadly threat. One of these steps is to increase youth awareness and education about animal welfare and conservation," Maha said.
"That's what the International Fund for Animal Welfare's (IFAW) office in Dubai did. In collaboration with the UAE Ministry of Education (MoE), in January 2013 we launched "Big Trunks Tiny Tales" this year's Animal Action Education program." Maha said that with support from the ministry, thousands of IFAW's educational resources were delivered to UAE schools (except Abu Dhabi Emirate). The program was designed to educate 40,000 students ages 6-8 years old about elephants and conservation.
"We are proud to continue our partnership with MoE for a second year, helping us raise youth awareness for critical elephant conservation - a cause that needs immediate action," Maha said. – Emirates News Agency, WAM
posted on 19/05/2013
Al Majaz Waterfront has offered a real treat for classic cars enthusiasts when the Classic Cars Show transformed the popular Waterfront in Sharjah into an automotive show on the weekend of the 16th to 18th of May.
Speaking about the show, Mohammed Fadhel Al Mazroui, Manager of Al Majaz Waterfront said: "We are really excited to be hosting this event at Al Majaz Waterfront. Classic cars have a wonderful way of grabbing people's attention and this show is yet another example of how Al Majaz Waterfront is constantly looking for new ways to entertain its visitors of different age groups. The Show was also a great opportunity to work with the Sharjah Museums Department, whose collaboration made this event both possible and a great success." The Show was open and free of charge to the public and featured classic cars from a variety of periods, giving visitors to Al Majaz Waterfront a wonderful opportunity to see rare and beautiful examples of classic automotive innovation that they might never otherwise encounter in person. Each car's specifications was on display so that motor-heads of all ages could learn more about exactly what makes these fantastic machines tick. The cars on show were provided by the Sharjah Classic Cars Museum and gave visitors a fascinating insight into the region's rich automotive history.
Aisha Deemas, Director of Executive Affairs at Sharjah Museums Department (SMD), commented, "We are pleased to collaborate with Al Majaz Waterfront to present the Classic Cars Show. There are few inventions that can boast of having a greater impact on modern history than that of the automobile and this show is an opportunity to share some of the fascinating examples of automotive history that are only permanent display at the newly reopened Sharjah Classic Car Museum. It is our hope that this show will spark an increased interest in this museum and the other 15 museums SMD operates." The Classic Cars Show featured thirteen of the Sharjah Classic Cars Museums most valuable vehicles including a 1930's Plymouth, a 1967 Ford Mustang, a 1951 StudeBaker Champion Coupe, and a 1955 Audi Auto Union.
The Dh120 million Al Majaz Waterfront, Shurooq's debut project, was opened in December 2011, and is situated in Sharjah's most vital and commercial district on the picturesque Khalid Lagoon. As one of the premier tourist and leisure destinations in Sharjah, it plays host to all major events in the emirate.
Al Majaz Waterfront also houses many world-class restaurants and cafes, including: T.G.I Friday's, Caribou Coffee, Fat Burger, IL Cafe Di Roma, Pizzaro, Baja Fresh, Zahr El Laymoun, Tim Hortons cafe, Cold Stone, and the latest addition of ElManza, a fine dining Moroccan restaurant. All of them overlook the breath-taking Sharjah Fountain. – Emirates News Agency, WAM
posted on 19/05/2013
Art lovers could have the chance to own a rare Chinese rug dating back to more than 300 years when the item goes on sale in a major auction to open in Abu Dhabi on Friday night, organisers said on Thursday.
The auction will include 275 rare items covering various old civilisations around the world and will be held at the sprawling seaside Emirates Palace Hotel.
Two other valuable items include rare Koran and Bible books written more than 400 years ago along with other masterpieces from the orient and the West.
Art collectors seeking to attend the auction can view the items on Thursday and Friday ahead of the auction, which will start at 6.00 pm on Friday, according to its organiser, the Abu Dhabi-based Estuary Auctions, which is holding its fifth auction in the capital.
The Chinese rug, described by Estuary as one of the most valuable and rare items to go on auction in the region in many years, is dubbed the "Nine Dragons Carpet.”
"It dates back to late 17th or early 18th century and is a very important carpet of Dragons design. Woven from gilded silver thread and silk on cotton with a calligraphy reference, the carpet was made especially for the Forbidden City in Beijing,” Estuary said in a statement, adding that the rug is in brown, beige and blue colours.
It noted that the "The Forbidden City” was the Chinese Imperial Palace from the Ming Dynasty to end of the Qing Dynasty. Built in 1405-1420, it is located in the middle of Beijing, China, and now houses the Palace Museum.
The company, a private UAE venture, said auction for this item, measuring around 277x357 cm, could fetch Dh200,000.
Another major item in the auction is an "extremely rare and important” Koran written by the calligrapher Ali Bin Haider Amir Jan Al Hafedh using gold and natural dye colours dated 925 A.H (over 500 years ago), the statement said.
It said the unusual and unique leather cover was hand painted with gold colours and its borders are decorated with Islamic calligraphy, adding that the pages and the cover are in a very good condition. The piece could fetch Dh480,000-780,000.
A third masterpiece to be sold is an early 17th century "very rare, special and unique” Bible written completely in old Armenian script all the pages in vellum. It is very highly and finely detailed using natural dye colours containing colourful drawings, paintings, references and tables in a very fine condition. It could fetch Dh250,000-400,000.
According to the statement, the auction is one of the largest to be held in the region and it will include rugs, holy books, daggers, pottery, furniture items, music instruments, vases, transcripts, statues, paintings, gems, currency and calligraphy. – Emirates 24|7
posted on 19/05/2013
Dubai Aviation City Corporation, the master developer of Dubai World Central - the 140 square kilometre purpose-built airport city – is in talks with Emaar Properties to develop its Golf District that will host hundreds of villas surrounding an 18-hole golf course.
"We are currently negotiating with a number of developers, especially Emaar Properties to develop parts of our residential communities,” Khalifa Suhail Al Zaffin, Executive Chairman of Dubai Aviation City Corporation (DACC), told the media on Thursday. "Our talks with Emaar is currently focused on the Golf District which we want to start this year.”
The negotiations are expected to result in a deal. Officials of the Dubai World Central (DWC) said work could start at the site later this year. The project development is expected to cost more than Dh1 billion as initially estimated.
"Developers such as Emaar Properties who have proven track record in developing mega projects fits our requirement and as master developer, we will provide all necessary support towards them,” he said.
Emaar officials were unavailable for commenting on the deal, despite repeated calls made by Gulf News.
The Golf District, launched in 2008 as DWC Golf City which was later rebranded, is a 15 square kilometre sanctuary for a healthy lifestyle, that will become high-end residence for those working at the Al Maktoum International Airport, Aviation City, DWC headquarters and other senior officials working in the private sector companies based at the DWC.
"Using sustainable design principles, the Golf District will provide its residents with a healthier lifestyle which allows people to move and congregate in shaded cool environments whilst engaging in a wide range of recreational activities,” said an earlier statement.
The Golf District has a design capacity to host several golf courses (72 holes), extensive practice facilities, driving ranges, putting greens, a luxury clubhouse with restaurants and a pro-shop. Over 20,000 freehold homes were planned surround the courses. A golf resort will also feature a high-end boutique hotel.
DWC is the world's largest greenfield airport city designed from scratch, at the centre of which lies the Al Maktoum International Airport (AMIA) that is designed to handle 160 million passengers and 12 million tonnes of cargo when finished. It will have five runways, six concourses and two passenger terminals, complimented by a Logistics District, an Aviation District, a Residential District, a Commercial District, an Exhibition District – site for the Expo 2020 – subject to UAE's bid win in November this year. – Gulf News