posted on 18/06/2013
The UAE has ranked 28th worldwide among the largest economies of the world in terms of gross domestic product (GDP), according to the World Bank data. By this, the UAE has the second largest Arab and regional economy after Saudi Arabia, which ranked 20th worldwide.
According to the World Bank's estimates, the UAE's gross domestic product stood at US$360.25 billion (Dhs1.32 trillion), based on 2011 data adopted by the World Bank for evaluating the largest economy in the world.
The US topped the list with a gross domestic product of US$14.99 trillion, followed by China with US$7.32 trillion.
Third came Japan with US$5.867 trillion, followed by Germany with US$3.6 trillion, France with US$2.773 trillion, Brazil with 2.476 trillion, United Kingdom with US$2.445 trillion, Italy with US$2.193 trillion, India with US$1.872 trillion, Russia with US$1.857 trillion, Canada with US$1.736 trillion, Spain with US$1.476 trillion. – The Gulf Today
posted on 18/06/2013
The UAE is the world's seventh most popular destination for international assignments, according to a study by Mercer.
The global human resources and financial consulting firm surveyed almost 1,000 companies on where they were mostly likely to transfer staff overseas for a set period.
The United States came out on top, with 55 per cent of companies questioned reporting that they expected to increase the number of openings there.
Brazil came next with 43 per cent, then China with 41 per cent, Australia with 39 per cent and the United Kingdom and Mexico, which both stood at 28 per cent.
The UAE and Russia were tied in seventh place with 23 per cent.
"These are not the local hires, but the real expatriates that are here on a contract for certain periods of time within the same company and if nothing changes then they would go either back to their countries on an a different assignment after that period of usually two, three or four years," said Nuno Gomes, a principal and Mercer's information solutions leader for the Middle East.
The Emirates was far ahead of other countries in the region, with 6.7 per cent of companies surveyed reporting that they intended to increase the number of assignments in Saudi Arabia and 2.2 per cent in Qatar.
"What we were able to capture and this is partially in the survey but also partially from conversations … and from our colleagues elsewhere is that the UAE and, mainly Dubai, is still at the heart of this region," said Mr Gomes."It is certainly the easiest place to set up and do business from." – The National
posted on 18/06/2013
Ahmad Bin Shafar, the CEO of Empower, the largest district cooling service provider in the region, has been appointed as a member of the board of directors of the US-based International District Energy Association (IDEA).
Bin Shafar is the first UAE national to be nominated to the IDEA board of directors. IDEA is the information and networking hub for the district cooling and combined heat and power (CHP) industries worldwide.
"I am honoured to be appointed to this highly respected position alongside some eminent figures in the industry," said Bin Shafar, the only candidate from a Middle East company to be nominated for a senior position.
"With its searing temperatures and high usage of district cooling systems, the Middle East market can share its best practices and experiences with a much wider audience through its involvement with IDEA, the lynchpin of the entire industry worldwide." IDEA announced the new board members during its Annual Business Meeting on June 4th, at its Annual Awards Luncheon in Miami, Florida.
Empower, which is a joint venture between DEWA and Dubai Technology and Media Free Zone, currently provides district cooling services at several prominent developments in Dubai, including Dubai International Finance Centre, Dubai Healthcare City, Business Bay Area, Jumeirah Beach Residence, Al Khail Gate and Ghuroob Mirdif. – Emirates News Agency, WAM
posted on 18/06/2013
The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) has published two new international patent applications for the UAE in the field of smart phones and tablets, to register ownership in this field of four international inventions, which are the first for the Arab world.
As their first inventions in this field of technology, for tablets of multiple parts which fold automatically into smart phones, the team of inventors, Eida Almuhairbi with her husband Eng. Wasfi Alshdaifat and Eng. Farah Qassab, decided that the development by international companies for flexible, manually foldable tablets also need a further developed automatic folding and unfolding mechanism.
The main inventor, Wasfi Alshdaifat, said, "The international search and examining authorities have written in their reports that the 55 claims in the four inventions are totally industrially applicable, novel, and inventive, compared to the searched patents, which were referring to Samsung, LG, Toshiba and other companies.
From her side, Eida Muhairbi stated that according to the PCT (Patent Cooperation Treaty), the major competent companies capable of developing their prototypes into marketable products, based on the positive results of the high-quality international search reports from WIPO, had requested them to enter into the international phase, to get their patents granted from the relevant patents offices in USA, China, Japan, Europe, and South Korea. Almuhairbi added, "Now, it will be easy to get the patents granted from these offices, but we need to file 20 national patent applications in these offices, which costs around Dh2,000,000 as fees for the agent offices' service charges and patents filing fees.
WIPO has published 15 international patent applications for the UAE so far this year, including 6 (40%) for the Almuhairbi and Alshdaifat team, who now have thirty registered international patents applications with the WIPO making them the top inventive body in the country, ahead of UAE university which has eight. – Emirates News Agency, WAM
posted on 18/06/2013
Aldar Properties, Abu Dhabi's leading property development company, and Arabtec Holding PJSC, announced yesterday the award of a contract valued at nearly Dh 4 billion to an Arabtec-led JV for the development of the Abu Dhabi Plaza in Astana, Kazakhstan.
The joint venture brings together Arabtec and Consolidated Contractors Company SAL (CCC), two key players in the local, regional, and international construction industry.
In its capacity as development manager on behalf of the project owner, Aldar properties awarded the multibillion dirham contract to develop Abu Dhabi Plaza through its subsidiary Aldar EuroAsia. The project, a 500,000 square metre mixed-used development comprising five towers, the tallest of which will measure 320 metres. Construction is scheduled to commence shortly and the project is due for completion in 2017.
The complex will contain 566 luxury residential apartments, 107,000 square metres of commercial office space, a five-star hotel with additional serviced apartments, a 50,000 square-metre retail podium and four large basement car parks with space for more than 4,000 vehicles.
The Abu Dhabi Plaza is a response to the growth in the number of visitors to Kazakhstan's capital city and reflects the growing relationship between the UAE and Kazakhstan. – Emirates News Agency, WAM
posted on 18/06/2013
Emirates Green Building Council (EmiratesGBC), has been assigned as the exclusive operator of the 'Green Key' eco-label to promote sustainability in the hospitality and tourism sector of the UAE.
Green Key is recognised by the World Tourism Organisation and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and is the largest global eco-label relating to accommodation.
A prestigious citation that underlines the environment-friendly energy, water and waste management commitment of hotels, serviced apartments and other accommodation facilities, Green Key is now regarded as a key consideration in promoting sustainable development.
EmiratesGBC will guide hotels and other tourism establishments in pursuing the Green Key eco-label, providing advisory on introducing best practices in environment and energy management. By strengthening awareness ongoing green, among all staff members, as well as guests, the Green Key certified hotel is expected to meet baseline criteria in environmental management and awareness, and the efficient management of water, energy and waste.
Adnan Sharafi, Chairman, EmiratesGBC, said: "Tourism and hospitality are key growth sectors of the UAE, with Dubai, under the leadership of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, announcing the ambitious Dubai Tourism Vision 2020 to host over 20 million annual tourists by the turn of the decade. – Emirates News Agency, WAM
posted on 18/06/2013
Mubadala Pramerica Real Estate Investors (MPREI) has announced an agreement with the Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC) for the acquisition of phase one of Saadiyat Beach Residences.
Saadiyat Beach Residences are newly-built high-quality residential properties located on Saadiyat island in Abu Dhabi. The completed project will include a total of 495 units in six low-rise apartment buildings situated in a private gated community.
Phase one of the development consists of 285 units over three separate five-storey buildings, each containing 95 units in a mix of one, two and three-bedroom apartments. Phase two, which is scheduled for completion in the third quarter of this year, consists of 210 units of one to four-bedroom apartments.
Mubadala Pramerica Real Estate Investors is a 50/50 joint venture between Mubadala Development Company and Pramerica Real Estate Investors, the global real estate investment management business of U.S. based Prudential Financial, Inc.. Pramerica Real Estate Investors is acting on behalf of its clients.
Under the terms of the acquisition, the property is subject to a five-year leaseback to TDIC, in which the company will manage the leasing of the residences on behalf of MPREI. Phase one, which was launched in the fourth quarter of 2012, is currently 80 percent leased.
In 2013, a number of important community services and developments will open to serve residents of the area. These include a mosque and an international school. Other amenities to be completed by year-end include a purpose-built nursery, a retail centre which will feature a grocery store, a pharmacy, a hair and nail salon and a coffee shop. – Emirates News Agency, WAM
posted on 18/06/2013
The General Secretariat of the Executive Council of Dubai has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Dubai Technology and Media Free Zone Authority (DTMFZA) to create and develop Dubai Fashion 2020.
This strategic plan will support Dubai's and the wider region's design and fashion industry as it seeks to match the Emirate's economic growth with a wider appreciation and understanding of culturally relevant fashions.
Dubai Fashion 2020 is expected to support ongoing growth in the Emirate's GDP and have a significant impact on employment across the value chain such as manufacturing, retail and design. It will also engage local designers in the creation of the world's largest and most prestigious brands, as well as attracting investment from global institutions in this industry.
This strategic plan is closely aligned to the recently announced Dubai Design District, which will become a full service community for design industry related organisations, brands, and supporting enterprises. In addition to contributing to Dubai's economic diversification and growing knowledge economy, the two projects will positively contribute to Dubai's credentials as a global hub in these sectors.
The strategic plan aims to increase the role of contemporary regional fashion, Islamic fashion as well as identifying opportunities for marketing to the specific needs of the regional and global markets.
Dubai Fashion 2020 seeks to promote the development of this important sector over the coming years. It will focus on providing all the necessary support that is conducive to building a productive working environment for business, UAE Nationals, and entrepreneurs in order to promote an Emirati culture that is on a level with those in other parts of the world.
Dubai Fashion 2020 also aims to offer development and training programmes and support with the hosting of various fashion events, as well as attracting specialised enterprises in fashion from around the world to Dubai. These efforts will focus on supporting the Dubai Tourism Vision 2020 by increasing the volume, spending, and duration of stay by visitors to the Emirate. – Emirates News Agency, WAM
posted on 18/06/2013
Rome: Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri, Minister of Economy, has discussed with the Italian Minister of Economic Development Italian Flavio Zanonato and his accompanying delegation, ways to strengthen economic and trade cooperation ties between the two countries.
During the UAE minister's visit to Rome, the Emirati- Italian Joint Economic Forum, titled: "Investment and Strategic Partnership" was held. Al Mansouri stressed at the conference main axes of common economic cooperation in the presence of businessmen and investors from both countries.
He commended the growth of economic relations between the two countries, referring to the joint economic gathering, which brought together an elite of businesspersons from both countries.
Al Mansouri said the volume of trade exchange between the two countries surged significantly to about 6 billion euro in 2002.
The UAE minister discussed with the Italian officials on the sidelines of the forum the cooperation ties, especially in the areas of Small and Business Enterprise. – Emirates News Agency, WAM
posted on 18/06/2013
Dubai Customs and their counterparts in China have underlined their keenness to strengthen bilateral cooperative relations in all aspects of customs business in such a way that will benefit them in improving customer service delivery standards, promoting business and enhancing trade relations between UAE and China.
This came during the visit of a high level delegation from China Customs headed by Mr. Lu Peijun, Vice Minister of the General Administration of China Customs, Deputy Customs Commissioner-General, to Dubai Customs yesterday.
Ahmed Butti Ahmed, Executive Chairman of Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation and Director-General of Dubai Customs, received the delegation, praising the spheres of economic, trade and investment cooperation between Dubai and the People's Republic of China.
"As part of the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice-President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai in respect to the importance of promoting these relations, come the importance of the issues that are set to be discussed in appreciation of China as an economic nation in the international arena. On such basis, comes the importance of customs cooperation pertinent to the processes and procedures that play a vital role in trade facilitation," he said.
"China is the most prominent partner in trade for Dubai. The trade exchanges between Dubai and China grew by 19% to Dh 31 billion during the first quarter of 2013 compared to Dh 26 billion in the same period last year," he highlighted.
In terms of imports during 2012, China was Dubai's top partner. Imports from China accounted for Dh 111 billion with a share of 15% of Dubai's total imports. Emirates' trade volume from China during last year grew by 13% to Dh 115 billion, as compared to 2011.
At the business session between the Chinese delegation and officials from Dubai Customs, the visitors learned about Dubai Customs' business mechanisms and processes through three presentations, delivered on Mirsal 2, risk engine, and client relations.
During their meeting, the visiting delegation reviewed the initiatives launched by Dubai Customs in collaboration with foreign diplomatic entities and consulates, different business communities and groups aiming at enhancing trade exchanges with countries around the world and rendering best customer service delivery standards. – Emirates News Agency, WAM
posted on 18/06/2013
Statistics Centre, Abu Dhabi (SCAD) yesterday issued its latest monthly report on the prices of building materials in Abu Dhabi Emirate. The report presents an analysis of the movements in the prices of the key building materials during May of this year.
The report covers the movement of monthly prices for building materials used in Abu Dhabi during the month of May 2013 compared to April, as well as compared with May, 2012.
The dissemination of the report, which presents a wide range of price data as well as the key rising or falling groups during the specified period, is intended to serve the needs of data users in the public and private sectors for the purposes of research, planning and decision making in ways that support the construction sector, as well as related and dependent sectors.
SCAD pointed out that building materials groups have seen a change in average prices in May 2013 compared with April 2013, with increases ranging between 0.1% for wood and 13.5% for aggregates and sand. Declines of 0.2% for steel were recorded.
SCAD's report indicated that the monthly average prices for 12 groups of building materials have decreased in May 2013 compared with May 2012. The drop ranged between 1.1% for transport equipment and 15.7% for wires for residential towers.
The report further detailed that the average prices of wires decreased in May 2013 compared with May 2012. Wires for residential towers accounted for the largest decrease of 15.7%, while wires for apartments and small buildings decreased by 8.9% and 7.9% respectively.
The report indicated that some of the average prices of building material groups have seen an increase in May 2013 compared with May 2012.
For example, the average cost of aggregates and sand rose by 7.0% in May 2013, while all items in the group recorded an increase between 5.6% and 20.0% compared with May 2012.
Average prices of sanitary ware - bathroom set without accessories and sanitary ware - bathroom set with accessories increased during May 2013 by 20.5% and 10.4% respectively, while the average prices of sanitary ware - sink stainless steel with mixer-single group also increased by 3.6% compared with May 2012. – Emirates News Agency, WAM
posted on 18/06/2013
Etihad Rail is evaluating bids to connect key cities and industrial hubs in the country and link them to the Saudi border as part of the most important phase of the UAE's multibillion Dollar railroads programme.
With the first phase of the programme under way, the government-owned Etihad Rail has turned its attention to the key 628 kilometres of rail lines that will connect Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Al Ain, and run to Ghweifat on the border.
The first phase of the project connects the Shah oil and gasfield with the port of Ruwais. The railway will transport sulphur from the Shah sour gas project that will begin operating next year. Etihad Rail expects the 264km of rail to be operational before the year is out.
The second phase will extend the section that is running along the coast on both sides, linking the main cities to the border with Saudi Arabia, The National daily reported yesterday.
Phase two is divided into several packages for the various stretches of rail, as well as the supporting infrastructure. "Tenders for the second phase have been submitted," said Richard Barrett, the chief executive for the Middle East at Atkins, the engineering firm responsible for the concept design for the project.
Etihad Rail's third phase will run to the Omani border, as well as connecting the thriving oil and gas logistics hub of Fujairah with the rest of the country.
Once all three stages have been completed by 2018, in a construction process estimated to cost Dh40 billion, the UAE will be covered by about 1,200km of track, and the network is expected to boost the economy by facilitating the movement of goods and labour.
The country's industrial hubs of Jebel Ali, Mussaffah, Khalifa Port and Industrial Zone in Taweelah and Fujairah's port outside the Strait of Hormuz will all be connected by Etihad Rail, a joint venture between Abu Dhabi and the Federal Government. Through its connection to the rest of the GCC, the UAE will be able to build up its position as a regional trade and logistics hub.
So far, Saudi Arabia is the only GCC country with a rail network. More than 1,300km of track connects Riyadh with the kingdom's main oil-producing region on the Gulf coast and provides transportation for industry and the military. Saudi Arabia's Rail Master Plan envisages the construction of a further 5,500km of track by 2025 and includes a line to connect the UAE with Qatar and Kuwait, as well as one that would link up the Gulf and the Red Sea.
"Today, with tourists being increasingly conscious and demanding of green features, certifying hotels and other accommodation facilities to the Green Key eco-label will further highlight the industry thought leadership of the nation. It will also complement the 'green economy for sustainable development' initiative of the UAE by integrating tangible sustainability features in hotels and other related establishments. This contributes to significant cost-savings for the establishments, making it a win-win situation for all stakeholders." Several hotels in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Fujairah have already achieved Green Key certifications. However, with the large number of hotels across all emirates and more developments in the pipeline, there is tremendous potential in the market to adopt Green Key certification. In Dubai, alone there are over 72,000 hotel and apartment rooms spread over 579 properties, as of June 2013, highlighting the scope for environmental certification by the hotel sector.
By empowering and educating all tourism industry stakeholders to change unsustainable behaviours and be actively involved in protecting the environment, Green Key aims to increase the use of sustainable methods of operation and technology, run ecologically sound businesses without compromising on the properties' luxury aspects and reduce energy and resource usage.
Green Key establishments have reported several benefits including savings on water, energy and waste; a noticeably better environment for guests and increased business, according to global estimates. Today, 21,000 establishments in 41 countries have secured the Green Key labels. – Emirates News Agency, WAM
posted on 18/06/2013
Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, will advance discussions with JatAirways about an equity investment in the Serbian national carrier.
An Initial Memorandum of Understanding (IMU) between the two sides was signed yesterday in Belgrade.
Details of the development were unveiled by James Hogan, President and Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Airways, and Velibor Vukasinovic, JatAirways' Chief Executive Officer, at a media conference this afternoon.
An investment decision would depend on the successful completion of a comprehensive due diligence process and be subject to all necessary regulatory and respective board approvals, says a press release issued by the company.
As part of the codeshare agreement, subject to government and regulatory approval, JatAirways will place its JU code on Etihad Airways' flights to Abu Dhabi and beyond to Bangkok, Beijing, Brisbane, Chengdu, Chicago, Colombo, Ho Chi Minh City, Islamabad, Johannesburg, Karachi, Kuala Lumpur, Kuwait, Lahore, New York, Melbourne, Seychelles, Shanghai, Singapore, Sydney, Toronto, and Washington, D.C.
In return, subject to government and regulatory approval, Etihad Airways will place its EY code on JatAirways flights between Belgrade and Amsterdam, Athens, Berlin, Brussels, Copenhagen, Dusseldorf, Rome, Frankfurt, Gothenburg, Istanbul, Heathrow, Larnaca, Milan, Moscow, Podgorica, Sarajevo, Skopje, Stockholm, Stuttgart, Thessaloniki, Tivat, Vienna and Zurich. – Emirates News Agency, WAM
posted on 18/06/2013
The Central Bank of the UAE has hosted a meeting in support of the m-Government initiative launched on 22nd May, 2013.
The meeting was attended by Sultan Bin Nasser Al Suwaidi, Governor of the Central Bank, with senior staff of the Central Bank, Ahmed Abdul Karim Julfar, CEO of Etisalat Group and some senior staff of Etisalat, Osman Sultan, CEO of Du, and Tirad Mahmoud, CEO of Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, representing the UAE Banks Federation.
The meeting explored how best to remove obstacles to the m-Government initiative from both the banking sector and the telecommunications sector perspectives.
Etisalat and Du will implement a more user-friendly, high capacity e-mail system or other systems to facilitate fast and efficient transmission of bills.
The Central Bank of the UAE will develop a common payment system which will link to the telecom providers' systems.
It confirmed that it will be urging banks to use SMS to confirm transactions on credit cards and bank accounts as a means of reducing fraud. The Central Bank urged both Etisalat and Du to reduce their charges for data transmission and SMS messages.
Also, the Central Bank pressured both Etisalat and Du to reduce the cost of core systems and telecommunications services to enable payment transactions, and encourage customers to carry out their transactions on mobile devices.
The meeting recognised the need for close collaboration between the Central Bank, banking sector and the telecommunications sector in the UAE, to ensure that effective regulations are enacted.
It was decided to form a technical working group representing the institutions attending the meeting, to ensure rapid and effective implementation of suggestions. – Emirates News Agency, WAM
posted on 18/06/2013
The National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD) has launched a branch in City Tower 2 in Dubai.
Michael H. Tomalin, the Group Chief Executive of NBAD, Abdulla Bin Khalaf Al Otaiba, Senior General Manager of the Domestic Banking Division of NBAD, and other senior executives of the Bank inaugurated the new branch.
"Opening City Tower 2 branch is part of NBAD's growth strategy to expand in key areas and bring banking solutions closer to the customers," said Mr. Al Otaiba.
The branch provides a full range of savings, loans, credit and debit cards and investment products, as well as 24-hour electronic banking services to present and prospective clients.
"The new branch is strategically located in Sheikh Zayed Road and it will complement the other NBAD branches in Dubai," explained George Beatty, General Manager of Consumer and Elite Banking at NBAD. "Adding City Tower 2 branch in one of Dubai's busiest area is part of NBAD's efforts to meet the increasing customer demands for banking services and delivering excellent customer experience." NBAD has one of the largest branch and ATM networks in the UAE, with nearly 583 ATMs across the nation to complement its 126 branches. The new branch is NBAD's 18th in Dubai. – Emirates News Agency, WAM
posted on 18/06/2013
Etisalat yesterday announced new weekly and monthly roaming packages for voice and data usage for all customers in the UAE to meet the increasing requirements of subscribers travelling abroad.
For the first time in the UAE, subscribers will have the option of choosing roaming packages valid for one day, week or month, to match their duration of stay and travel profile.
The new packages provide travellers with the opportunity of using data for as little as Dh 25 per day, and receive calls starting from Dh 0.5 per minute. The Traveller Pack offers a combination of 1GB of data and 1000 incoming voice minutes valid for a month and costs Dh 500.
Subscribers can use their voice allowance in all roaming destinations, while data allowance can be used through any of Etisalat's preferred partners across 143 networks in 70 countries covering major travelling destinations. – Emirates News Agency, WAM
posted on 18/06/2013
The UAE National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Department of Immigration and Citizenship of Australia, to share experiences and raise awareness about the menace of human trafficking.
The MoU will also encourage efforts to support research and studies on measures to contain such crimes.
The MoU was signed by Dr. Anwar Mohammed Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Minister of State for Federal National Council Affairs and Chairman of the National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking, and Jim Williams, First Assistant Secretary, Visa and Offshore Services, Department of Immigration and Citizenship of Australia.
"The UAE seeks to establish cooperation with all countries in order to address the issue of human trafficking. The signing of this Memorandum of Understanding reflects the UAE's keen interest to support international efforts to eradicate such crimes," said Dr. Anwar Mohammed Gargash.
Dr. Gargash stressed the importance of utilising academic expertise in each country to counter the growing crimes related to human trafficking that have become a threat to national and international security, as well as economic stability.
"International cooperation to support victims of human trafficking and sharing of experiences to raise awareness on this issue should be treated with top priority. Besides, efforts need to be undertaken to encourage studies, research and educational programmes to eliminate the negative effects of these crimes in the community," he added.
Emphasising the UAE's support to all ongoing efforts to fight human trafficking, Dr. Gargash said the UAE is fully aware of the complex challenges in this field facing states and governments all over the world. Therefore the UAE is working on a number of international partnerships and participating in regional and international efforts to confront such crimes.
As part of its efforts to apply the United Nations principles adopted recently, based on the strategic pillars of prevention, prosecution, punishment and promotion of international cooperation, the UAE has taken important steps such as carrying out amendments to Federal Law No. 51 in order to provide more protection for human trafficking victims in the UAE. – Emirates News Agency, WAM
posted on 18/06/2013
A European Commission delegation has been briefed on the efforts of the Emirates Association for Human Rights at the association's headquarters in Al Rashidiya, Dubai, in spreading awareness of the culture of human rights among people. The briefing also touched on the Association's activities and programmes and its active role in community service.
Mohammed Hussein Al Hammadi, Deputy Chairman of the Emirates Association for Human Rights, met the delegation which included Adam Kolach, Ambassador of the European Commission, the head of the EU mission to Saudi Arabia, and the Advisor to the European Commission in Saudi Arabia.
Al Hammadi stated that what distinguishes the UAE from other countries is the deep bond between its government and the people as well as its keenness to meet their needs and give them their lawful rights, removing any obstacles facing the community.
For his part, Ambassador Kolach praised the UAE's efforts in the protection of human rights, the prosperity and satisfaction for nationals and residents of the UAE, describing the human rights situation as "very positive".
Al Hammadi called on authorities and entities issuing human rights reports relating to the UAE to be flexible, and urged them to verify the accuracy of the information they receive, while keeping in mind the fact that the UAE enjoys a well-respected reputation that surpasses many countries around the world in the field of human rights. He called for the Emirates Association for Human Rights to be involved in these reports as a credible, neutral party.
The meeting was also attended by a number of dignitaries and officials. – Emirates News Agency, WAM
posted on 18/06/2013
Dubai eGovernment Department (DeG), has announced its readiness for transformation into a smart government in line with the initiative of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and its commitment to the instructions of Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai Crown Prince and Chairman of the Executive Council.
Ahmad bin Humaidan, Director General of Dubai eGovernment, said: "Sheikh Mohammed's initiative is based on the leadership's keenness on customer satisfaction through round-the-clock government services using the latest technologies based on a clear understanding of their needs, while leveraging the mobile phone; which has become one of the most widespread devices in the world."
As for implementing the transformation into smart government, he said: "We have recently launched My ID initiative, which will allow customers a unified access to all the eServices provided by Dubai government entities via smartphones or the internet by means of only one identification that eliminates the need for customers to register with each government entity separately.
"The initiative, which makes use of the ID card issued by the Emirates Identity Authority, will actually be put into operation in October this year."
Dubai eGovernment has begun to implement Sheikh Mohammed's initiative using three major tracks; namely: activating all eServices via Smartphone apps; creating new mGovernment services and finally inviting government entities to devise unified mobile strategies for transformation into smart government.
DeG currently has a package of Smartphone apps and mobile services including mPay for mobile payment of government services and fees; mDubai for most used government services, eComplain tracking, government news and information; and SMS Dubai for SMS based services between customers and Dubai government.
According to the latest Google study, he said the UAE is in the lead worldwide with 62 per cent Smartphone penetration rate and 18 per cent growth rate annually.
Bin Humaidan added: "We hereby confirm our full readiness to respond to the requirements of the new stage, which is an extension to the eTransformation of eGovernment that we began 13 years ago.
"Together, with our government partners, we have already developed many applications that represent a starting point for the provision of more creative applications, thanks to our unique experience of leading the first eGovernment in the region.
"We will support our partners with a modern infrastructure, a secure unified government information network, sophisticated platforms and government resources planning systems that are currently being used by 42 Dubai government entities for managing their internal resources in a highly efficient manner.
"In addition, we have shared services that are optimised by these entities for providing their services to the public. These services are enablers that will inevitably integrate with the requirements of achieving the smart government's objectives."
The coming stage will witness a creative competition for providing Smartphone applications, Bin Humaidan continued, noting that the most successful of these applications would be those which provide integrated and easy to use eServices to customers, enabling them to implement these services via their mobile phones without the need to visit the concerned government entities, thereby easing their daily transactions with the government.
Customers will be satisfied only if these apps provide integrated services so this will require further co-ordination between government entities and the private sector.
Bin Humaidan urged the government entities to provide applications that have easy to use features and to focus on meeting customers' needs by arranging homogenous services in one application instead of focusing on increasing the number of applications and repeating the information contained in them. – Emirates 24|7
posted on 18/06/2013
Few women would leave the secure, comfort zone of their homes to dedicate their time and energy to a people living in a world of endless suffering and despair. But Emirati Muna Harib Al Muhairi is made of different mettle. Charity and compassion are the joints in the armour of her personality. They frame her system of logic and conviction. It is this strong humanitarian drive that draws her to serve among the depressed and wounded refugees of Syria in Jordan.
She is striving hard to alleviate human suffering, using resources such as social media to garner support and funds to improve the lot of these refugees. Through her blog poca-world.blogspot.ae, she draws attention to their plight, their wounds, their shattered dreams. For these are a people that are very hard done by, homeless and rudderless.
Muna Harib has 14 years of experience in Marketing & Communications. She has a Masters in Urban & Regional Planning from the prestigious Le Sorbonne University in Abu Dhabi and a Masters in Marketing Communication from Westminster University, London. Muna Harib has a passion for music and art. She played a key role in the development of young and upcoming talent in the Middle East. She has been able to create opportunities for the local artists through her intensive network of international artists. Her keen interest in music has led her to develop her own skills in playing the guitar.
In an exclusive interview with The Gulf Today, Muna Harib talks about her mission in Jordan, roughing it out in countries such as Costa Rica, and says that she loves being close to her roots.
Q: A lot of us watch on television the distressing and terrible pictures of the conflict in Syria, but very few of us would volunteer to actually plunge into doing humanitarian work for the hapless Syrians. What was the single most important factor, the trigger that prompted you to go to Jordan?
A: The thought has been in my mind as long as I can remember since the start of the Syrian conflict, I wanted to do something! But didn't know what back then. I knew I wanted to go to the camps and help out somehow, but I didn't know how to reach, I am not an organisation, I am only one person and it was very difficult for me to get an authorisation to enter the camps as an individual. But what really made me take the step, is during my search for contacts while I was here in Dubai, and someone told me: it's IMPOSSIBLE ! There is no way that you can get in on your own! And then it hit me, unless I break this cycle of the impossible, and defy the mentality of helplessness or maybe apathy, the world will not become a better place, hence, that word, made me launch project "Breathing Numbers.”
"Breathing Numbers” is a project I launched on May 20. The main purpose of "Breathing Numbers” was to document the stories of Syrian refugees inside and outside the refugee camps in Jordan. The name came from my constant frustration of watching the news and wondering who's behind the statistics and numbers of victims. Over 80,000 killed, 1.5 million fled the conflict, 5 million Syrians living under the poverty line, 4.5 million displaced within the country and now, over 10 million Syrians requiring immediate help.
Yet numbers don't speak to us as humans, it gives us the magnitude of the tragedy yet we can't relate to it personally. And from this thought, the name Breathing Numbers came to transform those numbers to the reality it represents, and to the stories of humans behind it, people similar to us who used to live the same life that we're living now before this injustice hits.
I am currently working on the footages and pictures I took during my first journey to produce a documented piece of the stories refugees carry. The documentary will serve as a cry out to the rest of the world and as a reminder for all of us that those people could be us, and without our help, the numbers might lose their breath and go back to being just that, numbers.
(Note: LOWE agency is helping me at the moment with putting the documentary together on pro bono basis.)
To document, that was my first goal, yet who can see what I've seen and stop at that? When I came back from Jordan I decided that immediate help is needed and Breathing Numbers should not be the voice of refugees only, it should also be the hand extended to them. For that I decided to study a structure on the best way to help and on the side, started selling the peace necklace to raise money for medical cases.
Q: Was it difficult for you to leave the comfort zone of career and home in the UAE to go to Jordan?
A: No, I am a traveller and I work on different projects and as a consultant in others, my time is pretty much my own and comfort has never been part of my life as I am always extremely busy with one thing or the other. I am always travelling in a more cultural way where I volunteer in different parts of the world (solo) and I lived in very rough conditions whether it was in Costa Rica, Nepal, India and so on. Being close to earth and my original roots as a human is something I thrive at and it only comes when you give up on the luxuries of today's life and go back to the way your ancestors lived.
Q: Did you get support from your family and friends for your decision to serve among the refugees in Jordan?
A: Of course! My family is the greatest family on earth: a bunch of hardworking people who are independent and who all started from very little and became what they are today. My Mom is my number one supporter and she's the inspiration in my life! She's hardworking, smart, and has the kindest heart I've ever encountered (as well as my late father). They taught us that not everyone lives the way we do, and that many people are struggling to put food on their table. Like them when they started their life together, people were struggling. My brothers and sisters are amazing people; each has his/her own beliefs that doesn't clash with the rest. I have the greatest friends who continue to support me throughout.
Q: You have collected donations for refugees badly in need of medical care through your Breathing Numbers project. What other things have you fulfilled through this project?
A: I didn't collect direct donations , but what I did was to display the medical cases on line and if anyone wants to adopt a case, I can connect them with it in different ways. I'm also supporting an organisation called Unite4Humanity who are working on equipping a hospital in the city of Azaaz inside Syria to support the huge numbers of injured people in the areas around.
I have also started selling what we call: Breathing Numbers Peace Necklace and it started to support three thalassaemia refugee kids that I met in my trip and they desperately needed shots. The number of purchases has increased and so I'm extending to cover other cases as well.
I am also travelling back to Jordan this week and a donor who donated 10 Brain Paralysis wheelchairs will be coming with me to deliver the chairs and see other cases that require help as he wants to cover 10 more cases that require medical attention and would like to meet them in person first.
Q: Could you please let us know the plight of the refugees there in those camps now? What are the areas where help is most needed?
A: I am not an expert, nor an official, and one visit will not give me the full extent of what's happening there. However, I can tell you what I've seen, heard, and read. My visit was only to Al Zaatari refugee camp which was said to be one of the worst camps in terms of living conditions. I didn't want to visit the UAE camps as I knew and heard that it was like a 5-star hotel compared to others' camps and there was no need to lend an extra help as the UAE was doing great already (I will visit though in future trips).
In Al Zaatari camp the conditions are bad. The distribution of wealth (if I can use this word) is not even. Some people live in three caravans, others cramp in one tent. It's all about the stronger takes over the weak due to the absence of law enforcement inside the camps. The water provided by the relief efforts is not hygienic, it's yellow though it's supposed to be drinking water! The people who can't afford buying bottled water from the market inside the camp are forced to drink it to survive, but that reflects in the spread of many diseases.
The camps are not safe, like I mentioned, no proper law enforcement inside pushed the people to create their own patrols. Young men go and up down the streets (dirt numbered streets between the tents and caravans) to keep it safe. A trip to the toilets at night is highly unadvisable due to the accidents and attacks that happen at night on women.
Work is very little and men inside work as anything just to stay alive, a doctor working as a cleaner! There is no proper utilisation of the expertise of those refugees that can actually help enhance the situation inside.
There is no proper medical support inside the camp and it's not easy to leave the camp.
Outside the camps, there are a lot of Syrians who managed to leave the camps due to the conditions inside or because they have a family member that needs medical attention. The rent in Jordan has increased since the Syrians started taking refuge in Jordan and it doubled in many cases. Due to the low pay and the high expenses, many refugees are suffering from the lack of medical attention due to the lack of funds.
The above and a lot more are only my observations from the interviews I did for my documentary and what I've seen and heard. It does not, however, represent any official statement of the situation of the refugees in Jordan.
Q: How do you think the people of the UAE, particularly the Emiratis, can help in alleviating the plight of the refugees?
A: I encourage people to travel and see by themselves. Help by giving direct hand. See, you can't fully understand the severity of the situation unless you see it and live it by yourself. I opened the door to take with me one volunteer in my next trip and I received a number of interested people – one from the United States.
If that's not possible, help from here: help to increase awareness of the subject, help to educate other people on the ways to help, choose an organisation that you trust and donate ( I personally don't like donating to organisations that take a high percentage of donations as admin fees and that's why I prefer supporting Unite 4 Humanity as 100 per cent of the donations go for the medical equipment).
People can support "Breathing Numbers” to spread awareness about the cause and volunteer with us to set up fundraising events and sustainable development programmes for the refugees.
Q: You launched Buksha Social Enterprise that would support low-income Emiratis in the country. How does this programme help such Emiratis?
A: I am the co-founder of Buksha with my friend and partner Nojoud Al Bastaki. The goal of Buksha is: become a cradle that links low income Emirati families in rural areas and the tourism industry and divert some of the income from the second one to the families. The project objectives are as follow:
• Create an additional, sustainable income source for low-income Emirati families
• Promote sustainable tourism in the region
• Implement and promote cultural understanding and exchange between rural families and other groups
• Contribute to the economic development of the rural areas
Q: You are also the founder of the Seeds of Change Volunteers. What is the goal of this group?
A: The Seeds of Change is a group established in 2008 to promote random acts of kindness in UAE. We are known in the volunteering community and we worked to support many government organisations and companies. The goal of SoC is to encourage the youth to perform random acts of kindness in their daily lives to create a sense of love and care in the community around them. – The Gulf Today