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Arabic food and friendly robots raise awareness of UAE at Milan Expo

posted on 01/08/2015

Arabic cuisine cooking tips from famous chefs and robots with catchy messages about biofuel-powered planes are playing a role in spreading awareness of the UAE at the Milan Expo 2015.

Presenting the Emirates to an international audience during the fair, which ends in November, is part of groundwork being laid in Italy for Dubai's expo in 2020.

UAE airlines and tour companies have reported a rise in traveller numbers to Milan, with residents including the city in their plans to see Europe.

"It's not just about the traffic we generate during the expo period, it's a unique opportunity to talk to a global audience,” said Peter Baumgartner, Etihad Airways chief commercial officer.

Etihad and its partner Alitalia are the official carriers of the expo. It is estimated that over the six-month period about 20 million people will visit the expo, with about eight million travelling to Milan by air.

"When people see the UAE pavilion they find it amazing. We [Etihad] also have a strong presence because this is the first expo in which we are directly involved with our first standalone pavilion,” said Mr Baumgartner.

"Interest in the UAE at the Milan Expo is heightened because we will have the opportunity to host expo 2020. This is a good ramping up to the Dubai expo, it gives us our first flavour of how to get it right.”

The two-storey Etihad pavilion includes an Imagination Lounge, which hosts daily cooking events with stars including UAE chef Khulood Atiq and Italy's Gabriele Rubini, famous as Chef Rubio, conducting demonstrations in Arabian and international specialities.

Robot mascots Edi and Alia, representing Etihad and Alitalia, are also drawing crowds.

"The trick is to have something highly interactive to engage an audience so people walk out having something to remember,” said Mr Baumgartner.

The airline has tailored holidays that include an expo ticket with packages for students and reported a strong interest from Asian markets.

Visa applications from UAE residents have also increased.

"We've recorded a 15 per cent growth since last year driven mainly because of the Milan Expo,” said Sharan Khanna, regional manager of Cox and Kings global services visa application centre in Dubai.

"It's also because of awareness people have of the Dubai expo and showcasing of the UAE's stand in Milan.”

The majority of applicants are Indian expatriates, followed by Arab nationals.

British Airways also recorded a rise in demand for business and tourism travel to Milan.

"Customers not only go to Rome from Milan but to other destinations across Europe,” said Paolo De Rezis, British Airways' area commercial manager, Middle East and Central Asia.

"Italy is well known for history and culture, and Milan can surprise visitors to the expo with fashion, art, history. We see a strong demand to Milan because of the expo.” – The National -


Dubai to be Guest City at Beijing Design Week

posted on 01/08/2015

Dubai will participate in Beijing Design Week (BJDW) as the ‘Guest City' for the upcoming 2015 edition - to be held from September 23 until October 7 in the Chinese capital.

The Dubai Design Week and Beijing Design Week Organising Committee announced that this was as part of a reciprocal agreement to foster further cultural exchange. And BJDW will be welcomed as the ‘guest international design week' at the inaugural Dubai Design Week in October this year.

This is the first time a city from the Middle East has been recognised as the ‘Guest City' at BJDW. This reflects emirate's growing reputation as a global meeting point for international art and design communities.

The story of Dubai's development and dynamic cultural scene was recently highlighted at Dubai Week in China, a seven-day event held in Beijing in May this year, and is further reinforced by the launch of Dubai Design Week in late October 2015.

BJDW Creative Director Beatrice Leanza says, "The appointment of Dubai as the 2015 Guest City resonates across a wider set of actions BJDW has undertaken to strengthen productive relations within the Asian region and encourage dialogue among its vibrant and diverse design cultures.''

A key section within BJDW's programme, the Guest City project aims to empower a network of global creative cities to work towards visionary solutions to common challenges and foster cultural exchange, knowledge-transfer and economic cooperation.

London, Milan, Amsterdam and Barcelona have been previously featured as ‘Guest City' in the past four years.

The Dubai Guest City programme, supported by Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, Dubai Design District (d3), and Falcon and Associates, will include an exhibition curated by Emirati designer Moza Almatrooshi and a series of educational activities in partnership with Chinese institutions.

"By presenting design from Dubai and the UAE at Beijing Design Week, we aim to create a cultural bridge between Emirati and Chinese cultures. Both countries are distinctive and rich in their own ways, yet there are several similarities that lay in the history and the present of their cultural and urban fabric. By highlighting these similarities the two cultures are able to form a closer relationship; through visual communication we are able to transcend linguistic barriers, and find ease in coming together as citizens of the world,” says Moza Almatrooshi. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Solar Impulse backers vow to see project ‘to the end’

posted on 01/08/2015

Bertrand Piccard, co-founder of the Solar Impulse project and one of the pilots of Solar Impulse 2, the world's first totally solar-powered aircraft, is looking to his staunchest supporters for funds to continue his journey around the world.

Mr Piccard returned to Switzerland looking for €20 million (Dh80m) to repair the damage caused to Solar Impulse 2 as it flew to Hawaii.

As the world's first solar energy plane attempting to circumnavigate the Earth remains grounded in Hawaii, Mr Piccard said that the funds would help the mission to go forward. Although not committing to specific amounts, the project's main sponsors have rallied to their side.

Florian Meier, the communications manager at Schindler, one of Solar Impulse's supporters, said that they would continue to support the project, which has inspired millions.

"We will work closely with Solar Impulse and all the other partners to find a good solution. With the around-the-world flight so far, Solar Impulse has inspired millions of people with its pioneering spirit and has encouraged the adoption of clean technologies, renewable energy and energy efficiencies,” said Mr Meier.

They said that their partnership would continue "until the end of the around-the-world flight”, but that it was too early to make a statement on the costs over and above what was originally agreed upon.

Aside from simply sponsoring Solar Impulse, Schindler has employees invested in the project itself, and said that the setbacks effected them as much as anyone else.

"As a main partner of Solar Impulse, Schindler shares the disappointment of the Solar Impulse team. But setbacks are often part of bold innovations,” he said.

"It's the cost of pushing limits to make great things happen.”

Others have also voiced their support.

"We don't disclose financial details of our partnership with Solar Impulse. ABB is very proud of its innovation and technology alliance with Solar Impulse, and we look forward to continuing the round-the-world journey with the Solar Impulse team through next year,” said a representative of ABB, one of the project's main sponsors.

ABB said that it was looking "forward to continuing the round-the-world journey with the Solar Impulse team through 2016”.

"The fact that Solar Impulse is now facing this delay demonstrates just how difficult it is.

"We are confident that the mission will be completed next year and we are proud to have been part of it,” they said. The spokesman said that setbacks were to be expected in a project such as this and that they would do their best to push forward.

"Solar Impulse 2 is on a pioneering mission that is stretching the boundaries of technology and human endurance.

"When you embark on a mission of that nature, you have to expect there will be challenges and setbacks.”

As for Solvay, they said that they were still committed to the cause but that they had yet to disclose details.

"At this stage, what we can say is that Solvay and all its employees are fully committed to support Solar Impulse.

" We are in close discussions with the Solar Impulse teams every day regarding the next steps,” said Lamia Narcisse, head of media relations of Solvay Group.

As for local sponsor Masdar, chief executive Dr Ahmed Belhoul said that overcoming challenges was part of the journey.

"Like all renowned scientific explorations into new frontiers, overcoming challenges and adversity is part of the journey.

"Solar Impulse is no different, and the challenges they are facing are a reflection of the magnitude and difficulty of their mission,” Dr Belhoul said. – The National -


Hawksbill turtles make a slow comeback

posted on 01/08/2015

The globally endangered hawksbill sea turtle appears to be making a comeback in UAE waters albeit ever so slowly, marine ecology officials say.

Under stress due to decades of increased human activity, pollution and natural threats in the Gulf, the hawksbill turtle has been a source of concern for environmentalists who have closely monitored the annual migration of the well-travelled sea creatures.

Since 2005, the hawksbill has been a number-one priority for the Emirates Marine Environmental Group (EMEG), which overseas an enclosed 25 square-kilometre beachfront Jebel Ali sanctuary, adjacent to Palm Jebel Ali.

Ten years ago, EMEG observers recorded only two hawksbill nests along the 5km beach, a sign that the turtle was struggling as increased development claimed more shoreline areas once used for nesting.

This year, however, Major Ali Saqr Al Suwaidi, president and founder of EMEG, said 37 hawksbill nests were created in the sanctuary this year, the highest since records were first kept.

A further 377 hawksbill nests were recorded on Sir Bu Nair Island — a 1,300-hectare island, 112km off the Sharjah coast — the highest since EMEG began keeping records.

The group monitors the island throughout the nesting season from March to June.

While certainly not back to the levels of 50 years ago when hawksbill turtles dug as many as 500 nests on Dubai's beaches — from Palm Jumeirah to the Abu Dhabi border — Al Suwaidi is overjoyed to see so many hawksbill females returning.

Last year, EMEG counted only 25 nests at the sanctuary.

Each nest contains about 80 eggs, of which about 80 per cent survive to the hatchling stage. Once in the Gulf, the rate of survival for reaching adulthood is only 10 per cent.

The slim chance of survival combined with the slow maturity and reproductive rate of 30 years of age for the hawksbill make conservation efforts critical.

"This is very good news after monitoring them for the last 10 years,” Al Suwaidi said on the beachfront during an inspection of one of four nests where hatchlings made their sprint to safety in the nearby Gulf beach waters. "This is a very big number for us here, we've never had this many nests before and we're very excited. The hawksbill is returning slowly and we're doing everything we can to help protect the females for the next generations of the turtle.”

Hannah Campbell, EMEG programme manager, said as the return rate of hawksbill turtles has climbed, naturally so have the numbers of night time raids by desert foxes who will each eat up to 20 eggs if given the chance.

Staff walking the beach of the EMEG sanctuary at night, Campbell said, managed to thwart some fox raids and protect the eggs by placing metal fishing gargour covers over the nests.

"One night we discovered one female nesting and we could see the shadows of the foxes. We had to scare three or four of them away without scaring the female. The foxes are very tenacious, very determined,” Campbell said.

To help reduce the threat to the hawksbill turtle eggs, EMEG is working with Dubai Municipality which has set up a live-trap system to catch the small red foxes in the sanctuary and relocate them to new wild areas in the emirate. – Gulf News -


Summer tourism booms in Dubai

posted on 01/08/2015

Tourists, especially women, love the fact that Dubai is safe. This is one reason why the hotel business in the Emirate is doing well. During and after Eid, overseas visitors, especially from the GCC countries, thronged the Emirate. It helped that the Dubai Summer Surprises (DSS) festival that began on July 23 (right after Eid) is on till September 5.

Saeed Alaabdi, Chairman, Alaabdi Holding, said: "Hotel occupancy rates during Eid Al Fitr exceeded expectations, especially at 5-star hotels." He anticipates tourist traffic to continue throughout DSS and bookings and occupancy to remain high with an increase of 20 - 25 per cent.

According to Alaabdi, "Dubai surpassed multiple European cities in terms of visitors' choice, owing to the emirate's strong safety and security regulations, state-of-the-art infrastructure, and world-class services."

To make the best of the tourist rush, tour operators in Dubai have been rolling out comprehensive travel packages. At least three tour operators have confirmed that there is a demand during this season, in light of DSS.

Mohammed Sharif, group Managing Director of Arabian Nights Tours said: "A majority of the booking requests we handled during Eid in Dubai were from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and Bahrain."

There's been a flurry of activity at other agencies, too.

Nabeel Jacob, Managing Director, Jacob Tourism and Travel LLC, said their company processed a high volume of requests for Dubai tourist visas, ticketing, hotel reservations and tour packages. "Dubai is the heartbeat of the Gulf, said Jacob.

Naseer Khan, Managing Director, South Travels, said their best selling package is the 'Dubai Trio Tour Package', which includes desert safari, dhow cruise dinner and city tour. Khan said they were gearing up to once again meet the huge demand for accommodation, tour packages and attraction tickets during DSS 2015. "DSS visitors", he said, "flock to Dubai in search of special offers at thousands of participating retail stores".

At Radisson Blu in Deira, George Anastasakos, Director of Revenue Optimisation, Radisson Blu Hotel - Dubai Deira Creek, said the majority of guests staying with them were from GCC, especially during the week leading to Ramadan. "Occupancy rates in June exceeded 95 per cent on a few occasions," he added. – Khaleej Times -


88m use Dubai Metro, 2m use Dubai Tram in first half of 2015

posted on 01/08/2015

The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) announced that the Dubai Metro , comprising both the Red and Green lines, has lifted more riders during the first half of this year compared with the corresponding number of riders who used the metro service during the same period last year. Recent metro ridership statistics revealed that 88,252,034 riders have used the metro service, and 1,854,055 riders have used the Tram service inn Dubai from January to June this year.

Mohammed Al Mudharreb, Director of Rail Operation, RTA , said: "The rising numbers of metro and tram riders during the first half of this year is a clear indicators that these two transit modes have commanded the attention of the residents and visitors who made them their primary mobility means within the Emirate of Dubai. These modes have become so attractive, thanks to the smooth, enjoyable and secure rides on these modes to various commercial or residential destinations in the Emirate."

"We, in the RTA , are always keen on staging a number of initiatives & improving the service offering with the aim of bringing more happiness to people, and enticing them to use public transit means in general and the metro & tram in particular.

"The number of the Red Line riders during the first half of this year clocked 55,783,626 riders, whereas the Green Line received 32,468,408 riders. Deira City Centre on the Red Line topped the stations in terms of the number of riders recording 3,640,354 riders, Al Rigga Station ranked second serving 3,614,141 riders, and Al Ittihad Station finished third having received 3,557,113 riders," explained Al Mudharreb.

"On the Green Line, Al Fahidi Station was atop other stations handling 3,652,827 riders, followed by Baniyas Station, which was visited by 3,202,947 riders, and in the third position came Al Ghubaiba Station serving 2,452,750 riders.

"The Tram has served during the first half of this year 1,854,055 riders where the Dubai Marina Station came first recording 502,898 riders, second came JLT Station serving 244,829 riders, ahead of JBR Station which finished third in the ranking order recording 231,186 riders," added the Director of Rail Operation. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Etihad Airways’ new second daily service connects Melbourne to the World

posted on 01/08/2015

The launch this weekend of Etihad Airways' second daily non-stop service will connect Melbourne with more of the world's great cities and create new opportunities for international commerce and trade.

Etihad Airways flight EY462 will depart Abu Dhabi at 10:30am local time on Saturday 1 August and touch down in Melbourne at approximately 6.05am on Sunday 2 August. The return flight EY463 will depart Melbourne at 3:00pm on 2 August and arrive in Abu Dhabi at 11.05pm the same day.

The new service will be operated by a three-class Boeing 777-300ER aircraft with eight seats in First Class, 40 in Business Class and 280 in Economy Class. It complements the airline's existing daily non-stop B777 flight between Melbourne and Abu Dhabi.

Etihad Airways' President and Chief Executive Officer James Hogan said the launch of the airline's second daily flight would put Etihad Airways in its strongest ever-competitive position in the Melbourne market.

"Becoming the only airline to offer double daily non-stop flights between Melbourne and the UAE clearly demonstrates our on-going commitment to Victoria and exponentially increases the attractiveness of our customer proposition.

"From August 1 we will connect more international visitors to Melbourne from more markets in the Middle East and Europe and will offer Melbournians the convenience of two daily departures and one-stop connectivity to more than 50 great destinations.

"We also plan to boost our economic contribution to the state of Victoria through the airline's successful freight division – Etihad Cargo. The addition of a second Boeing 777-300ER will double belly-hold cargo capacity between Melbourne and Abu Dhabi and provide new opportunities for bilateral trade with the UAE – Australia's largest trading partner in the Middle East." – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


National Bank Fujairah launches "NBF GenNext" programme

posted on 01/08/2015

National Bank of Fujairah PJSC (NBF) announced the launch of "NBF GenNext", a leadership programme designed to help the children of the bank's corporate and institutional banking clients develop business skills for when they take on leadership roles within their family businesses.

Developed in conjunction with Fitch Learning, a leading provider of learning and development solutions for the financial services industry, NBF GenNext was launched in the bank's Dubai offices yesterday. Industry experts and NBF bank management presented insights on how to successfully run a business and sustain it for future generations.

The inaugural GenNext group of 14 students, mostly fresh university graduates and all scions from established family-run firms within the UAE, were guided through management and financial principles ranging from identifying shareholder returns to developing corporate funding strategies that are appropriate for their businesses.

The one-week complimentary programme also gave participants the opportunity to network with NBF management and senior practitioners in the bank's specialist areas from treasury to trade finance. The bank plans to make NBF GenNext an annual client engagement programme and tailor it to the different succession planning requirements of its corporate customers. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


DEWA Academy offers scholarships for talented Emiratis to compete in local and global energy markets

posted on 01/08/2015

In line with the vision of Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and to reflect the goals of the UAE Vision 2021, which aims to nurture talented Emiratis and make the UAE one of the best countries in the world, Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) is developing local talent through its Emiratisation programme.

DEWA adopts an integrated strategy to develop the skills of talented Emiratis and consistently works to implement and promote Emiratisation policies.

Led by its vision to become a sustainable innovative world-class utility, DEWA partnered with the ‘Business and Technology Education Council', a British organisation that pioneered in vocational rehabilitation, to launch the DEWA Academy with the goal of training young Emiratis in various technical and professional fields.

The training programmes cover different areas of electricity generation, transmission, and distribution as well as water desalination. Upon completion, students receive a certificate from Business and Technology Education Council.

"Establishing the DEWA Academy is part of our strategy to develop our technical staff and promote Emiratisation. The Academy aims to qualify the largest number of Emiratis to meet the needs of DEWA's various departments. This supports the Emiratisation policies of our government,'' said Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, MD and CEO of DEWA.

"We adopt a clear strategy to develop and train UAE nationals by improving the skills required to meet the requirements of DEWA. We are a leading government department in launching various training programmes for UAE students who seek to complete their studies in energy, both in the UAE and abroad," he added. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Mohammed bin Rashid and Mohamed bin Zayed visit Martyr Saif Al Falasi house

posted on 01/08/2015

Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, yesterday visited the house of martyr, Saif Yousuf Ahmed Belhol Al Falasi, who died while performing his national duty as part of the involvement by the Armed Forces in Operation Restoring Hope, being carried out by the Arab coalition to back the people and the legitimate government of Yemen.

H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai was accompanying them.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid and Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed met with the family of the martyr and expressed their heartfelt condolences and solace to his family who was martyred while supporting right, legitimacy and peace.

While visiting the residence of the deceased in Al Warqaa Area, Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid and Mohamed bin Zayed emphasised that Staff Sergeant Saif Al Falasi was a role model who sacrificed himself and led the way for other Emirati youths to follow his legacy to defend the sovereignty, and independence and protect national and cultural gains of the homeland as well as the principles of justice and peace.

They also pointed to the acts of heroism by a number of members of the Armed Forces in various regions and countries which had witnessed security and political unrest as part of the UN forces to bring justice, peace and stability in other fraternal and friendly countries.

They also wished that sons of the deceased would be brought up on patriotism under the umbrella of a family which is renowned by its national belonging and sacrificed its son for the sake of the homeland in response to the call of duty and right.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid and Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed expressed their support to the family of the deceased and his sons and their preparedness to give attention and care to his sons.

Addressing the mother of the martyr, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid and Mohamed bin Zayed said, "Mother, all the UAE youths are Saif as they were brought up, taught and had grown up while adopting and following the legacy late Sheikh Zayed and in an Islamic and Arab country which denounces violence, terrorism, injustice, aggression on our gains, national sovereignty, rights and supports all actions and international and legitimate resolutions for peace and truth.

The family of the martyr expressed their pride at the martyrdom of Saif who was responsible for his family as he was responsible for his family. The family also expressed that they would always be loyal to their country which gives attention to all UAE citizens as well as provides a dignified life for them.

They also expressed their happiness at the visit of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed and Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid, noting that the visit was the highest medal from the wise leadership for martyr Saif Al Falasi.

H.H. Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy National Security Advisor, Sheikh Zayed bin Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Lt. General Misbah bin Rashid AI Fattan, Director of the Office of the Vice-President, Khalifa Saeed Suleiman, Director-General of the Department of Protocol and Hospitality in Dubai, Mohammed Mubarak Al Mazrouei, Under-Secretary of the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince's Court and others were also present on the occasion. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


UAE envoy attends opening of obstetrics section at Serbia's Paracin Hospital

posted on 01/08/2015

BELGRADE: The UAE Ambassador to Serbia, Juma Rashid Saif Al Dhaheri, yesterday attended the opening of the obstetrics section at the General Hospital in Paracin city in Serbia which was reconstructed with support from the UAE Red Crescent Authority.

Al Dhaheri met with the Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic and the Serbian First Lady Dragica Nikolic during the launch.


Sandstorm forecast after rain in Sharjah, Fujairah, RAK

posted on 01/08/2015

Intermittent medium to heavy rains this evening lashed a number of areas in the Emirates of Sharjah, Fujairah and Ras Al Khaimah.

The rains were accompanied by thunder and lightning.

The National Centre for Meteorology and Seismology (NCMS) has urged motorists to exercise caution, reduce speed and leave enough space among vehicles due to a sandstorm that could cause poor visibility over the next three days.

It referred in a statement issued yesterday to the forming of cumulus cloud accompanied by some rain and wind that will stir dust, leading to low visibility in some eastern, western and southern regions, and added that the sea waves will be light to moderate, while the Sea of Oman will be sometimes turbulent.

Friday drizzle

Residents of Dubai woke up to a pleasant Friday morning, with many enjoying the drizzles.

The National Centre of Meteorology and Seismology in its forecast says the skies will be partly cloudy to cloudy at times over some areas.

The cloud cover will increase by afternoon over some areas especially the eastern and the southern parts and may associate with some rainfall, added NCMS forecast.

A Sharjah resident told Emirates 24|7, the drizzles lasted at least half-an-hour in the morning.

Meanwhile, Mercury shows no respite with the maximum temperatures in internal areas hovering between 43 and 48 degree Celsius.

However, humidity has reduced with a maximum of 80 per cent in internal areas.

Visibility may be affected with moderate winds freshening at times causing blowing dust, says NCMS.

Sea is slight to moderate in the Arabian Gulf and moderate to rough at times with clouds activity in the Oman Sea. – Emirates 24/7 -