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Pope Francis, Joe Biden praise efforts of UAE and Sultan bin Khalifa Humanitarian and Scientific Foundation

posted on 04/05/2016

ROME: Pope Francis has praised the United Arab Emirates and the Sultan bin Khalifa Humanitarian and Scientific Foundation for their efforts in the field of medicine and health at the local and global level.

During a speech at the 3rd World Conference on Regenerative Medicine, held in Rome, the Pope also urged doctors and scientists to give greater attention to patient care and treatment of chronic and rare diseases, and called on them to work together using technology and analysis to find treatments for diseases and tumours.

The conference was attended by a delegation from the Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan Humanitarian and Scientific Foundations, led by Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Khalifa bin Zayed.

Also present was US Vice President, Joe Biden, who praised the UAE for its rapid development and desire to progress humanity, both of which he said that he witnessed first-hand on a recent visit, when he met His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.

Dr. Sheikh Sultan met both Pope Francis and Joe Biden during the conference, which was held from April 28th to 30th. Dr. Sheikh Sultan expressed his gratitude for their kind words and hailed the conference a success. – Emirates News Agency, WAM –


Lana Nusseibeh highlights UAE’s crucial contributions on multilateral global issues at the UN

posted on 04/05/2016

Lana Nusseibeh, Permanent Representative of the UAE to the United Nations, has said that effective multilateral diplomacy plays a critical role in promoting peace, security, and development around the world, and in particular in the Middle East.

Giving a lecture on the ‘UAE's role in multilateral issues', organised recently by the Emirates Diplomatic Academy, the Permanent Representative said that the UN remains a critical institution for global order, but it is "tested today as never before and needs reform and renewal".

Highlighting the main strategic priorities for the UAE, Nusseibeh, who is also Member of the Board of Trustees of the Emirates Diplomatic Academy, described how the UAE works with its partners at addressing critical developments in the Middle East. She also shared examples of UAE leadership on global issues at the UN, such as women's empowerment, humanitarian assistance, sustainable development, and internet governance. She noted that the UN is an effective tool in the toolkit of UAE foreign policy, providing a strategic multilateral venue to enhance the UAE's position as a global thought leader and building the country's reputation as a key contributor to the United Nations.

The Permanent Representative also reflected on the UAE's ongoing commitment to defending the peace and stability of countries in the region, and she honoured the ultimate sacrifice made by Emirati soldiers in the service of their country.

Expressing her appreciation for the pioneering role of the Emirates Diplomatic Academy, she said, "People everywhere increasingly look to the UAE, and to the lessons that can be learned from our country's development as a society and as a nation. The most recent Arab Youth Survey shows that among the 200 million young people in the region, the UAE is the country they would most like to live and work in."

She added, "The EDA is preparing young women and men with the skills and tools they need to be effective diplomats wherever they are sent to serve, and to be able to share with pride and confidence the success story of our country."

Speaking on the occasion, Bernardino Leon, Director General of the EDA, said, "The lecture by Ambassador Nusseibeh came as a great learning opportunity for the future diplomats at the Academy. Nusseibeh has played a great role in raising the UAE's prestige as a major contributor at the UN level. Her vast knowledge in various subjects, and her potential in contributing to the nation's strategies, makes her a role model for the young future diplomats of the UAE."

He added, "Ambassador Nusseibeh shared a number of very practical and thought-provoking insights with the future diplomats at the academy. It was instructive to hear how the team at the UAE Mission in New York identifies opportunities to raise the UAE's profile as a substantive contributor at the UN, and how they work on advancing the UAE's foreign policy objectives through multilateral diplomacy."

Lana Nusseibeh was appointed Permanent Representative of the UAE to the United Nations in New York in September 2013. In this role, she works to advance the UAE's multilateral priorities at the UN, particularly on regional peace and security issues, humanitarian assistance, women's empowerment, sustainable development and human rights.

Nusseibeh recently served as co-facilitator of the overall review of the implementation of the outcomes of the World Summit on the Information Society. She also currently serves, along with the Permanent Representative of Norway, as co-Chair of the Friends of the Future of the UN. In early 2015, she was appointed to serve on the Board of Trustees of the Emirates Diplomatic Academy. – Emirates News Agency, WAM –


Gargash chairs 16th meeting of UPR Standing Committee on Human Rights report

posted on 04/05/2016

The Standing Committee entrusted with the follow-up of the Universal Periodic Review, UPR, of the Human Rights report, has held its 16th meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in Abu Dhabi, under the chairmanship of Dr. Anwar bin Mohammed Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, and Chairman of the Standing Committee.

The committee reviewed the 107 recommendations accepted by the UAE during the Universal Periodic Review of Human Rights session on 6th June, 2013 at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

The committee also reviewed the steps taken by the concerned UAE authorities to implement and follow up on these recommendations, which include the passing of Federal Law No. 03 of 2016 on Children's Rights (Wadeema), and Federal Decree No. 08 of 2016, concerning the country's accession to the UN's Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on: the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, in preparation for the country's third national UPR report, which will be presented to the Council at the beginning of 2017. – Emirates News Agency, WAM –


Italian President honours Undersecretary of the Ministry of Economy of UAE with Order of the Star of Italy

posted on 04/05/2016

Italian President, Sergio Mattarella, has bestowed the Order of the Star of Italy upon Mohammed Ahmed Bin Abdul Aziz Al Shehhi, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Economy, in recognition of his exceptional efforts in supporting and strengthening business and trade co-operation between the UAE and Italy.

Liborio Stellino, Ambassador of Italy to the UAE, decorated Al Shehhi with the medal at a ceremony attended by a number of diplomats.

The Italian ambassador praised Al Shehhi's role in promoting various aspects of economic co-operation between the two countries especially during the Milan Expo 2015. He also hailed the current status of bilateral relations between the two countries in various sectors.

Al Shehhi expressed his gratitude to the Italian President and the government for this high-profile medal and appreciation, commending the Italian Ambassador's role in enhancing the distinguished ties between the two countries at all levels. – Emirates News Agency, WAM –


Al Qubaisi stresses importance of joint cooperation with EU-UAE Parliament Friendship Group

posted on 04/05/2016

BRUSSELS: Dr. Amal Abdullah Al Qubaisi, Speaker of Federal National Council, FNC, has stressed the importance of joint cooperation between FNC and the EU-UAE Parliament Friendship Group in the light of the growing challenges witnessed by the countries of the region such as spread of terrorism, terrorist organisations and political instability in some Arab countries.

"We in the UAE share our region with the interests and motives of stability, security and development," Dr. Al Qubais said at a banquet hosted by UAE-European Parliament Friendship Group at the European Parliament, EP, in Brussels, which was attended by a number of FNC members. Suleiman Hamed Salem Al Mazrouei, the UAE Ambassador to the Kingdom of Belgium and Head of the UAE Mission to European Union, EU, was also present on the occasion. Antonio Lopez-Isturiz White, President of the EU-UAE Parliamentary Friendship Group represented the European side.

Members of the EU-UAE Parliamentary Friendship Group welcomed Dr. Al Qubaisi and her accompanying delegation, stressing the importance of the her visit which gave explanation for a number of issues discussed during the multiple meetings with the officials and heads of parties in EP.

Dr. Al Qubaisi stressed that the UAE embodies a unique model of coexistence between nations and races. "UAE hosts more than 200 nationalities who are living in in peace and harmony. It internal and external policies uphold principles of tolerance, dialogue and openness, as well as cooperation with various nations and cultures," she said.

She explained that FNC members represent all the emirates, and it is one of the federal constitutional authorities, which plays an important role in strengthening political and social values in the UAE. – Emirates News Agency, WAM –


Amal Al Qubaisi meets former Vice President of European Parliament

posted on 04/05/2016

BRUSSELS: Dr. Amal Abdullah Al Qubaisi, Speaker of the Federal National Council, FNC, and Silvana Koch-Mehrin, former member of the European Parliament and Founder and Chairperson of Women in Parliaments, WIP, have recently held a session of talks at the headquarters of the European Parliament in Brussels.

During the meeting, Dr. Al Qubaisi stressed that the fight against terrorism and the promotion of tolerance, moderation and security in the region and the world is a priority for the UAE and its leadership. "We more than ever need to strengthen cooperation between various leaders, governments, peoples and parliaments in the light of what is happening in the region and some other countries in the world, especially with regards to the spread of terrorism and extremism, which has hijacked Islam," she said.

Speaking on women's rights, Dr. Al Qubaisi said that the UAE is a great role model in the field of women's empowerment and for encouraging their involvement in the country's developmental process, pointing out that the UAE leadership and its government has adopted a strategic vision for empowering women at all levels and fields.

She explained that the success of Emirati women is thanks to the conscious policies pursued by the country's leaders and the pillars established by its founding father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, which were continued by his successors with the support of H.H. Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women's Union, GWU, Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation, FDF and President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood. These policies ensure that women are encouraged to contribute to their country's march of progress, and are based on the advancement and preservation of their rights.

Ms. Koch-Mehrin stressed the importance of taking action to tackle terrorism in all its forms, through using all possible means including security, political, educational, scientific and ideological solutions.

Koch-Mehrin also congratulated Al Qubaisi for being the first woman elected as Speaker of Parliament in the Arab world, stressing the importance of this unprecedented step in the field of women's empowerment in the region which, she said, will pave the way for more progress. – Emirates News Agency, WAM –


Jawaher Al Qasimi praises UAE’s wise leadership for supporting children's rights and cancer patients

posted on 04/05/2016

H.H. Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Wife of H.H. the Ruler of Sharjah and Chairperson of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs, has praised the UAE's wise leadership for ensuring the rights of children and supporting patients with cancer.

She extended her profound thanks to President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, for their ongoing commitment to both groups of people, who each require support and assistance in different ways.

Sheikha Jawaher's tributes coincided with the issuance of Federal Law No. 03 of 2016 on child rights, also known as ‘Wadeema's Law', by His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, as well as the announcement by the Ministry of Health and Prevention to implement the Cabinet's initiative for the early detection of the three common types of cancer; breast cancer, cervical cancer and colorectal cancer.

She stressed that the UAE has made great strides in the area of child protection thanks to the support of the leadership, which has issued this law to combine the local legal framework with international treaties and conventions on child rights.

"The issuance of the child rights law was one of the most important demands called for by the Supreme Council for Family Affairs and Children's Centres. This demand stems from our firm belief in the law's significant role in ensuring the safety of our children's growth and providing them with the appropriate environment and protection against all forms of discrimination, including those based on gender and disability. The law is imperative to ensure that children are provided with protection, including non-discrimination and the prohibition of corporal punishment, or any form of inhumane treatment," Sheikha Jawaher explained.

Sheikha Jawaher emphasised that Sharjah's vision for children's rights and its experience in this context goes beyond children living in the UAE. "Sharjah has strived to ensure that refugee children and adolescents in regions afflicted by conflict and strife enjoy international protection and have their best interests taken as a primary consideration in all matters affecting their well-being and future," she said.

This vision materialised in the ‘Sharjah Principles' that were the fruits of the ‘Investing in the Future: Protecting Refugee Children and Adolescents in the Middle East and North Africa Conference,' which was organised by the Big Heart Foundation in 2014.

The Sharjah Principles stipulate that all refugee children should be registered and documented at birth in their countries of asylum. They should also have the right to family unity and enjoy protection from separation. The principles also state that refugee children should receive a quality education in a safe environment that supports their developmental needs, as well as be protected against violence, abuse and exploitation, including child labour. Under the Sharjah Principles, all refugee children should have access to national systems and services, including health and psychosocial support.

Due to the importance of the Sharjah Principles, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, UNHCR, has circulated them to all countries, with the stipulations under the principles to be implemented with its supervision.

Al Qasimi said that she appreciated the efforts made by the Ministry of Health and Prevention to put the wise leadership's vision into practice with regards to raising awareness about cancer. "These efforts include the provision of screening tests for early detection of the disease - a move that comes within the country's comprehensive strategy that aims to ensure a healthy life for every member of the UAE community."

Sharjah has dedicated significant energy to the fight against cancer at the nation-wide level. These efforts have seen the launch of numerous initiatives, most notably the Friends of Cancer Patients, FoCP, and the Pink Caravan. "Through these activities, we have been able to provide treatment to hundreds of patients. We have also raised awareness about the disease and the importance of its early detection among thousands of people. Our experience in fighting cancer has led to the passing of formal legislation that is aimed at fighting and eliminating the disease. We are delighted that our wise leadership did not hesitate to approve the law that ensures free early detection screenings for citizens to promote their welfare, happiness and wellness," Sheikha Jawaher said.

Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi founded FoCP in 1999, with the charity dedicated to spreading awareness around the six forms of early detectable carcinoma; breast cancer, cervical cancer, prostate cancer, testicular cancer, colon cancer and skin cancer. It fights against these forms under the umbrella of its ‘Kashf' programme, which was launched by FoCP with the aim of providing free early detection screenings and offering treatment payment for patients.

Since its inception, FoCP has provided financial and moral support to more than 1,380 male and female cancer patients across the UAE. Through its Pink Caravan initiative launched in 2010, the organisation has been able to achieve landmark results in promoting awareness about the importance of early detection of breast cancer and dispelling misconceptions surrounding the disease. Pink Caravan has so far offered free screenings to 41,356 women, as well as men, of all nationalities and ages in the country. – Emirates News Agency, WAM –


Children’s National Medical Centre shares innovative insights in the treatment and diagnosis of cerebral palsy at Latifa Hospital

posted on 04/05/2016

A multi-disciplinary team, consisting of a paediatric physiatrist, paediatric occupational therapist and paediatric physical therapist from the Children's National Medical Centre, home to the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Paediatric Surgical Innovation in Washington, D.C, has conducted a week-long training programme on the contemporary treatment and diagnosis of children with cerebral palsy in the UAE. Hosted by Latifa Hospital in Dubai, the training attracted attendance from more than 20 physical and occupational therapists as well as physical therapy students from Sharjah University.

The specialised medical training programme featured a range of lectures and practical hands-on laboratory sessions covering an overview of cerebral palsy, spasticity management and differential diagnosis, upper extremity and lower extremity casting and splinting, gait analysis and orthotic approaches. The programme also featured sessions on frequency approaches and treatment organisation and planning, including a review of neuro-developmental treatment and sensory integration, and insights into emerging treatments and innovations. A theme throughout the week was prioritisation of therapeutic treatment options and advanced clinical decision making to maximise the benefit for the child.

Kurt Newman, MD, President and Chief Executive Officer of Children's National, said, "We at the Children's National Medical Centre are proud to continue playing a role in supporting the UAE's efforts to build an innovative healthcare culture by sharing knowledge on imaginative approaches to paediatric care. Through this comprehensive programme, which combined theoretical and practical training in the lab, Children's National worked closely with Latifa Hospital to build capacities among occupational and physical therapists in the UAE. We're delighted to have played a role in helping Latifa Hospital bring expertise that will play a key role in improving the lives of children with cerebral palsy across the country."

Dr. Muna Tahlak, CEO of Latifa Hospital, also welcomed this collaboration between the DHA and Children's National Medical Centre, saying, "We have an excellent team at Latifa Hospital for the rehabilitation of children with cerebral palsy. We believe in continuous improvement and collaboration with pioneers in this field. We are thankful and honoured to have experts from Children's National visit us and reinforce good practices, ensuring advancement in this extremely important area. Our vision is to improve the lives of children with cerebral palsy and to maximise their capabilities so they can live comfortably at home and in their community."

The programme was led by Physiatrist Dr. Sally Evans, Division Chief, Paediatric Rehabilitation Medicine at Children's National, Physical Therapist Catherine Larsen Coley, and Occupational Therapist Randi Simenson.

Based in Washington DC, Children's National is home to the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Paediatric Surgical Innovation, which was launched in September 2009 thanks to a US$150 million gift from the government of Abu Dhabi. Children's National has been serving children since 1870 and was ranked among the top 10 paediatric hospitals by U.S. News and World Report, 2015-16. – Emirates News Agency, WAM –


UAE President directs National Reading Law as Mohammed bin Rashid approves ten-year national reading strategy backed by a AED 100 Million Fund

posted on 04/05/2016

His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, has given directions to start the legislative procedure of drafting a UAE National Reading Law, which aims to ensure the sustainability of all government efforts to consolidate reading in the UAE for all ages, as well as identify the key responsibilities of government agencies in the field.

The law comes as part of the National Policy for Reading in the UAE, which was announced this morning at a press conference during the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair. Also under the policy, the National Reading Strategy was adopted by Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum – the strategy, which carries through to 2026, includes 30 main national initiatives sectors including education, health, culture, social development and the media and content industries.

The media event, addressed by five Federal Government Ministers, also saw the announcement of a AED 100 million fund, backed by H.H Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, to support all reading activities specifically for NGOs and volunteer based agencies.

Additionally, the details of a number of initiatives were shared at the event, including the adoption of one month each year by the UAE Cabinet to be dedicated to reading; the distribution of ‘Bags of Knowledge' to new born citizens of the UAE; directions to enrich national reading content; a detailed review of publishing policies in UAE intended to support local publishers and the inclusion of elective social reading into the UAE curriculum as a measurable element of educational institutions.

In this context, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan stressed, "The UAE has moved during the past few decades from a country seeking to reduce illiteracy to a country seeking global competition in technical and scientific fields. Reading and knowledge are our path to excel and compete." He added, "All reading policies and strategies are policies for building the nation and establishing educated, conscious, empowered and tolerant people. Our goal is to prepare our future generations to achieve developmental leaps, underpin our national leadership goals, strengthen our competitiveness and achieve our future vision for the UAE."

His Highness commented on his direction to issue the National Reading Law: "The goal of the Reading Law is to provide a sound basis for lifelong learning for all members of our community and enhance the mental, intellectual and cultural assets of our people." He added "The Reading Law will institutionalise and sustain efforts to make reading a key element of the work, jurisdiction and mission of a number of government agencies."

For his part, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum confirmed that, "The United Arab Emirates, under the directives of His Highness the President, will be a pioneer in our region in issuing a law intended to promote, consolidate and support reading." He highlighted that the law will begin its legislative cycle during the coming few weeks.

His Highness said, "The consolidation of reading for our new generations is a long-term effort. Its consequences are profound and the government can't make a difference alone without the efforts of families and all community initiatives from government and private institutions as well as associations of publishers, writers, intellectuals and professionals." His Highness added, "Our current generation is suffering from a reading crisis, and we will not flatter ourselves when it comes to developing the future of this generation." He highlighted the superiority of the states and nations comes from facing challenges with courage and addressing them... "We have book fairs, cultural festivals, literary and poetry awards and now a range of new initiatives to protect the language and encourage reading. We are building the basis for our journey towards cultural excellence."

His Highness stated: "There is no knowledge-based economy without knowledge-based societies. Our development strategies cannot be built without building the capacity of our young generation. We can't create a socially aware, tolerant society with strong family values and a sense of national identity without culture, reading and knowledge. A reading society embraces civilised values, is flexible and adaptable and has the intellectual capacity to drive development to take a role in our multi-cultural world."

The announcement of the National Strategy for Reading in the UAE was made with the participation of Mohammed Abdullah Al Gergawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs and the Future, and President of the Supreme Committee for the ‘Reading Year'; Abdul Rahman bin Mohammed Al Owais, Minister of Health and Prevention; Hussain bin Ibrahim Al Hammadi, Minister of Education; Najla bint Mohammed Al Awar, Minister of Community Development; Dr. Sultan bin Ahmed Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of State; Afra Al Sabri, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Culture and the Knowledge Development and Saeed Al Eter, Director General of the Public Diplomacy Office at the Ministry of Cabinet Affairs and the Future.

Key elements of the initiatives under the Policy include changes in the educational system, curricula and the evaluation of schools and institutions of higher education to address the imbalance in the decline in reading rates. The initiative will include adopting a national health program to encourage reading from birth, and providing three bags of books for each Emirati child during the first four years of his life.

The national policy for reading also includes assigning the National Media Council (NMC) to prepare an integrated media policy to support reading, and requires media platforms to allocate resources, hours and programs to support the national movement for reading. Additionally, the NMC will re-evaluate government policies in the publishing sector, and establish a national program to support reading content for children and youth in the coming years. It was also announced that March will be declared as the UAE's Month of Reading each year starting from 2017, with October 2016 being the first UAE Month of Reading.

During the announcement it was also revealed that UNESCO standards for school libraries will be applied to all public schools, and their classification will be raised according to international standards. Also announced were the national targets for reading until 2026, including raising reading rates to 80% among students and 50% among adults, and raising the national output of content from the current 400 books per year to 4,000 books in 2026.

Mohammed Al Gergawi, Chairman of the Supreme Committee for the UAE Year of Reading, announced that the strategy was based on evaluating over a hundred international studies, taking into account over 4,000 ideas and suggestions from the public and a national survey of over 12,000 people and was a government priority and a key requirement for development to achieve real leaps in all fields.

Commenting on the inputs for the reading strategy, he said: "We in the Ministry of Cabinet Affairs and the Future allocated a team to work on a long-term strategy for reading which took a number of inputs, as well as receiving briefings on reading strategies in seven countries, as well as conducting internal interviews with 47 local and federal entities concerned with this subject, and supervised undertaking a national survey on reading which is the first of its kind to evaluate where we stand in the field of reading currently in the UAE."

He said, "The national survey covered 12,000 people across six categories; students, parents, university students and employees in the public and private sectors, the general public and others. The results showed that individuals in the UAE read 1.5 books per year, while 78% of Emirati adults do not actively read."

He added: "Our homes include only 20 books on average, compared to 200 books per home in the United Kingdom, for example. Also the average rate of reading for UAE students is four books per year compared to 40 books a year in South Korea, and the reading rates decrease to more than 30 percent when students move to higher educational stages. The national survey also showed that 50 percent of school and university students have no habit of reading."

He commented on the results saying: "Changing a society's behaviour is not something easy, and we are aware of that, so today you can see five ministers working as a team to overcome this challenge and achieve the vision of our wise leadership in establishing a reading, education conscious society."

Al Gergawi also discussed the details of the strategic plan for reading and explained that it includes educational, health and media programs and a program for creating content and a program for a lifetime reading, all working in an integrated manner and in parallel to change the reality of reading in the UAE society by 2026 and make it a way of living.

He added: "The National Strategy aims for reading to become a life habit for 50% of Emirati adults and 80% of our school students. And for the optional reading average per student to reach 20 books at least annually, and for half of local parents to undertake to read for their children.

He stated that a special guide to the strategy will be issued for all entities concerned with applying the strategic plan, and reading initiatives will be integrated within the strategic and operational indicators for all concerned entities.

This will be followed up through the performance sector in the Prime Minister's Office, which will submit periodic reports to the Council of Ministers on the progress being made.

Hussain bin Ibrahim Al Hammadi, Minister of Education, pointed out that the nation's direction in making 2016 a year of reading articulates the leadership's vision and marks an important step in driving forward the education process. Reading is inextricably linked to knowledge and the academic achievement of students. This has led the Ministry of Education to accelerate its efforts in setting up a plan that instils reading as an important activity for students.

He added that the education program for the strategic national reading plan focuses on four main objectives – enhancing the linguistic abilities of students, instilling reading as a main component in the educational system, putting in place qualified human resources, and providing an enabling reading environment with suitable content.

The Minister added that a reading program comprises several initiatives. The program includes an innovative plan to link curricula with extracurricular activities that support a culture of reading. Another ongoing initiative aims to shape school libraries into innovative centres that offer an encouraging environment to spread the culture of reading among students. He noted that the first phase of the initiative saw the development of seven such libraries. The ministry is currently working with six more schools.

Al Hammadi added that the Ministry of Education has allocated a large budget to equip school libraries with the necessary books and reference resources. In order to get the initiative underway at the earliest, the ministry has earmarked funds to purchase books from the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair.

The Minister noted that reading is included as a full-fledged criterion in the annual operational plans of schools and is linked to specific indicators. Reading is currently included in the annual performance assessment of schools to gauge the impact of their programs and initiatives.

In addition, an annual reading festival will be initiated – the first of these will be held in October 2016. The agenda will comprise innovative reading activities, showcase key initiatives to promote reading, honour leading schools that have supported the reading program. Yet another program will be launched to select the best school, team, and family that reads as part of the ‘UAE Reads' initiative.

Drawing the participation of students, educators and members of the community, reading ambassadors have been identified in each school. A special corner will be dedicated for reading in schools as part of a reading club initiative. Furthermore, the ‘Aqdar Writing' initiative has been launched in cooperation with the ‘Aqdar Writing' program to train 50 writers annually - including students and teachers – who will become authors and contribute to the local literary landscape. A special page on the ministry's website (Kashkool) has also been created to provide updates about the UAE Reading Year. The culture of reading will be seamlessly integrated into the ministry's annual agenda and will highlight school events and best international practices with regard to reading.

He elaborated on the ministry's broader goal to enhance the skills of teachers and library supervisors through workshops and training sessions. Voluntary reading will be allocated in schools and linked to the fourth objective of the teachers' annual performance document. He also factored in a suggestion to launch a diploma in library management for those keen to work in school libraries as dedicated librarians. In addition, the Minister spoke about conducting community partnerships with varied entities to support reading projects.

Abdul Rahman bin Mohammed Al Owais, Minister of Health and Prevention; Hussain explained during his address that the mental capacity of a child forms between birth and the age of three, in which time 90% of the final size of the brain forms. He stressed the importance of communicating with children through this early stage, through reinforcing speech, vocabulary and introducing the basic skills of reading. With this early stage of human development critical in building mental capacity and the fundamental building blocks of mental health, reading in early childhood is considered a public health issue in many countries around the world.

He pointed to the importance of reading to reduce tension by 60% for each 6 minutes of reading. He also pointed out that awareness of reading through doctors is four times more effective from other awareness methods.

Talking about the major projects that will be handled by the Ministry of Health and Prevention within the reading strategy, he referred to the Knowledge Bag project for new born children throughout the UAE, which helps parents to read to children in three age groups: after birth, at the age of two when vaccinating, and at the age of four years during nursery.

He also announced the Family Knowledge Awareness project, which focuses on persuading families of the value of reading from pregnancy for couples starting a family and during visits to the family doctors, through vaccination programs, as well as by educating visitors to primary health centres, and encouraging individuals to use reading as an effective means to enjoy a healthy life with a reduction in psychological pressures and tensions.

The third project is the Reading for Patients project, with volunteers providing relief and mental engagement for long-term patients in hospitals.

Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, UAE Minister of State and Chairman of the National Media Council (NMC), said: "In line with our leadership's direction to make 2016 the year of reading, a national comprehensive plan is being put together with the participation of relevant stakeholders to achieve the desired results. This will facilitate the UAE to enter into a new phase that will consolidate its status as a beacon for creative content, knowledge and thought leadership. Media will serve as a strategic partner in instilling the culture of reading as a key component of the UAE society."

He added: "Under the media program within the reading strategy, media outlets will be encouraged to promote content that boosts the culture of reading. We are studying a number of initiatives that include assigning leading national personalities as reading ambassadors. For its part, the National Media Council will collaborate with stakeholders to launch a program that enhances the content and publishing industry in the UAE. Yet another initiative will classify children's books in Arabic by age and content to make it easier for parents to find appropriate reading material for their young ones. Through such efforts, our aim is to increase the availability of rich content to serve our national goals and consolidate the UAE's position as a major cultural centre in the region."

Najla Al Awar, Minister of Community Development, confirmed during her participation in the launch of the National Policy for reading that consolidating reading is one of the most positive values that the Ministry of Community Development aims to weave into the fabric of UAE society, and that this requires the involvement of all segments. She also said: "Reading should be for life and all segments of society, this is our message, reading and lifelong learning."

He pointed that the ministry will supervise the volunteer reading project, and will work on creating a base for volunteers from both the educational system graduates, housewives and retirees, and even workers who are interested in community service in their spare time in order to carry out a real role in spreading reading for all.

She also pointed out that the ministry will coordinate with institutions and companies wishing to promote their CSR to participate in the organisation of major ongoing initiatives for volunteer reading, including reading in incubators and kindergartens to increase linguistic inventory for children, and reading to patients in hospitals to improve their mental state, collective reading and individual for the elderly in neighbourhood councils and centres, and also focus on people with special needs through the provision of more books in Braille, and the promotion of reading activities for them to improve their skills in social communication, mental health and reintegration into society.

Afra Al Sabri confirmed that the Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development will play an important role in the development and dissemination of national content and providing it in libraries.

Additionally, the Ministry will provide premium content to support major initiatives with other ministries. The Ministry will also focus on the development of reading in government workplaces, providing digital content to employees and promoting reading and research skills in the workplace.

She said: "Public Libraries are considered the pillars of any national policy or strategy to consolidate reading and meet the needs of different groups outside of the educational system and after working hours, that's why we set our eyes in the national strategy for reading on turning public libraries and cultural centres to places of entertainment in which we can attract different age groups through providing a fun atmosphere filled with activities and attractive reading content."

She explained that the achievement of this vision will be through three strategic directions; the development of public libraries, providing enriched public reading opportunities and the provision of enhanced reading materials to support other initiatives.

The development programs and services for public libraries and set a new concept of public libraries as centres of service and entertainment through the development of their systems and the adjustment of their working hours to fit with the break periods of individuals and families in the UAE, as well as to modernise and diversify the content to suit all community groups, provide activities and programs aimed at young children, youth and adults that include reading, innovation, competition and honour and thrill, along with the announcement of libraries' activities and inform the community of them.

The second direction is the promotion of book cafes through the establishment of branches of public libraries in shopping malls, the main family destination in the UAE. These would contain a section for children that includes interesting books, games, and reading corners. Additionally, the Ministry will work to promote reading in cafes in malls in coordination with the Council of Ministers and the Ministry of Economy and local departments.

The third direction is to provide reading materials required by the strategic projects organised by other entities to support reading, especially those targeted at specific groups, such as children from birth to 3 years and older readers who are facing challenges in reading. In this context, she stated, "Yesterday we launched the digital library in order to provide digital books on various topics for all members of society. We will have a plan to launch a mobile library which will ensure the arrival of books to those who can't visit public libraries such as people with special needs, new mothers and housewives."

The Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development will play a key role alongside the National Media Council in reviewing content and publishing policy towards the enrichment of intellectual production in the UAE and to increase the number of books that are released in the state from approximately 400 to 4,000 books by 2026. The ministry will launch a "Preparing Young Authors" project in cooperation with the concerned authorities where there will be training courses in writing, launching of writing contests and publishing of the best winning books. – Emirates News Agency, WAM –


MoI’s UAE Reads Initiative sets another Guinness World Record

posted on 04/05/2016

Under the auspices of the Ministry of Interior, the "UAE Reads" cultural initiative, which was organised by the UAE University, managed to set a new Guinness World Record title for the UAE with the ‘Largest Reading Lesson'.

The event was attended by H.H. Dr. Sheikha Shamma bint Mohammed bin Khalid Al Nahyan.

A total of 2,604 women, including female staff members from the Ministry of Interior, gathered to listen to Dr. Sheikha Shamma bint Mohammed, as she read a number of selected texts in the ‘world's largest reading hour'. This falls in line with the UAE's ‘Year of Reading 2016' initiative launched by President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Colonel Waleed Salem Al Shamesi, Director General of the Police College, said, "Setting this new record and making this prestigious entry into the Guinness World Records is not something new for the UAE, which has always been at the forefront of achievements and breaking records in various fields, following in the steps of the wise leadership in their determination to achieve excellence, creativity and uniqueness.

He added, "The Ministry of Interior was keen to sponsor the ‘UAE Reads' initiative, in partnership with the UAE University and the Mohammed bin Khalid Al Nahyan Cultural Centre. It also coincides with the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair and the ‘Abu Dhabi Reads' initiative. This initiative plays an important role in boosting the public's awareness and education and spreading the culture of reading and making it an integral part of people's lives."

Colonel Al Shamesi also stressed the keenness of the Ministry of Interior to reinforce its social partnerships with various bodies, by participating in all activities and events, in a bid to reinforce its relations with all segments and members of society, and to enhance the public's trust in the police.

He added that the ministry's initiatives, which come in response to the directives of the UAE President to make 2016 the "Year of Reading" started from the beginning of 2016, and are still being implemented across police departments as a part of the MoI endeavour to promote the spirit of reading and spreading general knowledge.

Colonel Al Shamesi underlined that reading is one of the most important means of learning, and gaining knowledge in various field. It is also perceived as the best means to utilise time to acquire further knowledge and skills. – Emirates News Agency, WAM –


NMC holds symposium on reading

posted on 04/05/2016

The National Media Council hosted yesterday, on the side-lines of the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair, a cultural symposium on 'How to prepare a reading generation'.

Speaking at the symposium were Ali Abu Al Reesh, a noted Emirati poet and novelist, and Sheikha Al Jaberi, an Emirati writer. It was moderated by Dr. Mariam al Shinasi, owner of Dar Al Yasmin Publishing House.

The symposium shed light on reading as a daily activity and part of behaviour, aimed at widening knowledge and spreading culture among members of the community.

The speakers discussed reading as a vital activity, and referred to the directives of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan to mark 2016 as the year of reading and the support given to this initiative by Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

They recommended utilising the media as a cultural tool and enlisting intellectuals and writers to promote reading. – Emirates News Agency, WAM –


Sponsors of NMC pavilion at Abu Dhabi Book Fair honoured

posted on 04/05/2016

The National Media Council (NMC) held a ceremony this evening to honour the sponsors of its pavilion at the Abu Dhabi International book Fair, which ended yesterday.

Among the honoured were a group of sponsors and journalists who covered the Council's activities at the fair.

The ceremony was attended by a number of NMC officials, staff members and journalists. – Emirates News Agency, WAM –


UAE sets to introduce new innovative educational system, says Al Falasi

posted on 04/05/2016

Dr. Ahmed bin Abdullah Humaid Belhoul Al Falasi, Minister of State for Higher Education, has stressed that the UAE is looking forward to adopting a new educational system based on creativity and innovation.

He pointed out that the wise leadership launches initiatives that motivate students to excel and innovate so that they participate positively in boosting the development process in line with the objectives of the national strategy for innovation and the UAE Vision 2021.

Dr. Al Falasi was speaking at a seminar titled, "Innovative Curricula and Entrepreneurship," organised by the Ministry of Education, "Higher Education Affairs" at Zayed University in collaboration with Stanford University. It was attended by directors of the public and private higher education institutions, and a number of senior higher education officials in the UAE.

The UAE minister said the seminar highlighted the role of innovation and entrepreneurship in supporting higher education, and mechanisms to promote programmes on innovation and entrepreneurship in the curricula and disciplines of public and private higher education institutions in the light of the wise leadership's vision aimed at making the UAE a global hub for entrepreneurship and innovation.

"The work is underway to develop educational methods and tools in higher education institutions to encourage creativity and an innovation environment, and exchange of knowledge with global institutions in this area. This translates the pursuit of the UAE government to prepare an innovative generation that keep pace with the rapid world changes," he said.

The Stanford University delegation headed by Professors Tom Byers and Pamela Hinds presented during the seminar a 'teacher guide project' for the teaching staff. It included scientific material and methods of teaching courses in innovation and entrepreneurship. The delegation also reviewed the methodology of Stanford University in innovation and design thinking.

The seminar also hosted Rania Hadi of the Google Foundation, who reviewed the Google free educational project "online" to train teaching staff and develop their skills, as well as hold workshops for those participating in the national curriculum for innovation and entrepreneurship. – Emirates News Agency, WAM –


ADNOC makes its presence felt at the OTC 2016

posted on 04/05/2016

HOUSTON, TEXAS: ADNOC & Group Companies are making their presence felt at the Offshore Technology Conference and Exhibition (OTC 2016) which opened in Houston, Texas, USA yesterday.

A high level delegation, from ADNOC and its diverse group of 21 subsidiaries is taking part in this global foremost event for the development of offshore resources.

The company is exhibiting in a state-of-the-art stand that is designed to represent the UAE's unique heritage and reflect the size and image of ADNOC & its Group of Companies.

Barbara A. Leaf, the Ambassador of the United States of America to the United Arab Emirates, took part in the ceremonial ribbon cutting at ADNOC stand, in presence of Kholoud Al Shamsi, the UAE Acting Consul General in Texas; Ali K. Al Shamsi, Director of Strategy and Coordination, ADNOC; and Saif Ahmed Alghfeli, CEO of Al Hosn Gas. A number of senior executives from ADNOC Group in addition to UAE delegates also attended the opening ceremony.

On the opening day, ADNOC stand attracted many visitors from different multinational companies from around the world who were briefed on the company's current and future projects and plans. An interactive intelligence 3D Model "Engineering Information Management System" provides all related information in context. The system, which has been adopted for the first time by ADNOC Group Company "ADMA-OPCO" helps in decision support for the offshore areas.

On the side-lines of the OTC, ADNOC hosted a dinner in honour of OTC participants. It was attended by UAE delegates, senior Shareholders representatives, ADNOC delegates and other guests from different sectors based in Houston.

ADNOC delegates also attended a dinner hosted by the Bilateral US-Arab Chamber of Commerce where they had the opportunity to network with senior US executives and top level executives of leading energy companies.

American companies taking part in OTC 2016 have been invited to participate in the Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference (ADIPEC 2016), scheduled to be held on November 7-10.

Participating under the theme "Driving a Sustainable Future through People & Innovation", ADNOC & Group Companies are showcasing their full line of business and services to provide details of their ongoing and future projects with the aim of exchanging expertise, sourcing the latest technological developments and availing of the opportunities offered by the event to create new business partnerships.

ADNOC's delegates are taking part in the conference and other side-line events to share insights, gain technical knowledge, stimulate debate and network with experts from around the world.

As part of its efforts to adopt proven new technologies in all of its operations, ADNOC seeks to meet the ever-increasing challenges in the field of operations with new innovative ideas, new technologies, new processes as well as smarter and cleaner applications.

The Group endeavours to utilise all available technologies and resources to enhance oil production capacity and at the same time deploy best reservoir management schemes to ensure and safeguard controlled depletion of the oil reserves.

A fully integrated oil and gas company that ranks amongst the world's biggest 10 energy giants, ADNOC has 21 subsidiary companies, with operations covering all aspects of upstream and downstream processes in the energy industry. – Emirates News Agency, WAM –


Jafza's trade with Netherlands reaches US$732 million

posted on 04/05/2016

The number of Dutch companies represented in the Jebel Ali Free Zone, Jafza, has grown steadily over the past few years, up to 105 companies in 2016, while Jafza's trade with the Netherlands has seen continuous growth, exceeding more than US$732 million in 2015.

Ibrahim Mohamed Al Janahi, Jafza Deputy CEO and Chief Commercial Officer, expressed his delight at seeing many Dutch companies in Jafza, which began with a small office and now has become one of the major companies in the Free Zone.

This came when Al Janahi met with Robert de Leo, Consul-General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and his accompanying delegation, at the headquarters of Jebel Ali Free Zone, in order to strengthen trade ties between the two sides.

Al Janahi welcomed the Dutch delegation and gave a brief outline of the history of Jebel Ali Free Zone and the methodology followed in attracting Foreign Direct Investment, FDI.

He added that Jafza seeks to attract 12 of the top 40 companies for the manufacture of food and beverages in the world based in the Netherlands or for research and development institutions affiliated to them.

The trade in machinery, electronics and equipment between Jafza and the Netherlands reached US$ 224 million, while the trade in chemicals and related industries reached US$117 million. Cars, aircraft and transport trade reached US$90 million and ready-made food US$68 million, while plastic and metal products reached US$64 million.

Al Janahi agreed with the Consul-General to develop an action plan for the promotion of trade, and to brief the Dutch business community on the available commercial opportunities in the UAE's market in general and the Jebel Ali Free Zone in particular.

Free Zone Dubai, UAE - Jebel Ali Free Zone (Jafza). – Emirates News Agency, WAM –


UAE Central bank: monetary and banking developments for March, 2016

posted on 04/05/2016

The Central Bank has announced that the Money Supply aggregate, M1, increased by 3.4%, from AED474.4 billion at the end of February 2016 to AED490.3 billion at the end of March 2016.

Money Supply aggregate M2 increased by 2%, from AED1194.2 billion at the end of February 2016 to AED1218.4 billion at the end of March 2016.

Money Supply aggregate M3 also increased by 1.6%, from AED1351.8 billion at the end of February to AED1373.8 billion at the end of March 2016.

The increases in M1 and M2 were mainly attributed to an increase of AED15.5 billion in Monetary Deposits and an increase of AED8.3 in Quasi-Monetary Deposits, respectively. The increase in M3 was largely attributed to increased M1 and M2.

Gross bank assets, including bankers' acceptances, increased by 1.2%, rising from AED2462.2 billion at the end of February 2016 to AED2491.1 billion at the end of March 2016.

Gross credit increased by 0.9%, rising from AED1503.7 billion at the end of February 2016 to AED1517.5 billion at the end of March 2016.

During March 2016, total bank deposits also increased by AED31.5 billion. This increase was due to an AED19.9 billion increase in Resident Deposits and an AED11.6 billion increase in Non-Resident Deposits. – Emirates News Agency, WAM –


Abu Dhabi's address system nearing completion

posted on 04/05/2016

The new addressing system in the capital has completed 90 per cent of the work, the Abu Dhabi City Municipality has said.

The Department of Municipal Affairs and Transport, represented by of Abu Dhabi City Municipality has installed more than 68,696 of columns, columns foundations and signboards as part of the Onwani project in Abu Dhabi.

As many as 1,283 street names were approved out of 6,739 streets in total, which equals 19 per cent; and work is under way to complete naming other streets as planned.

The Unified Addressing and Way finding System (Onwani) will contribute to boosting economic growth within the framework of Abu Dhabi's 2030 plan, and realising its objectives of nurturing a sophisticated and sustainable global community.

Street name signboards and building numbers have been fully installed in the highways in Abu Dhabi, and 65,764 building number signs have been installed, with a completion rate of 99 per cent.

The new system has been further improved by adding street - road number of main streets to the signboards hanging on traffic lights, in addition to the addressing system.

The municipality has equipped the signboards with QR code, their coordinates have been registered with high resolution; and they are now 100 per cent ready to locate destinations using online mapping service, besides sending and sharing locations via e-mail and social networking.

In addition, they can be integrated with information systems and databases for the benefit of public and private institutions in general, and emergency, ambulance, infrastructure networks, statistics, business licenses, postal services, and logistics companies in particular. – Khaleej Times -