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Ruler of Sharjah inspects Sharjah Fort

posted on 21/04/2015

H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, inspected on Monday morning Sharjah Fort in the presence of H.H. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Crown Prince and Deputy Ruler of Sharjah, after the completion of the fort's restoration project.

He toured inside Sharjah Fort, known as "Al Hisn", and listened to a detailed overview about the precious historical facts that would be of interest to visitors and tourists.

Sharjah fort contains a number of iconic collections that present the history of the fort, which was built in 1823 by Sheikh Sultan bin Saqr. Since then, the fort has become a symbol of Sharjah and its people. The fort was the seat of government and a secure royal residence for Al-Quassim. It was also a central gathering place for local residents and the site of many important governmental decisions that would transform Sharjah.

The Fort offers 12 exciting galleries, rich in information which is the culmination of five years of painstaking research done by SMD teams.

The Fort, which has just re-opened its doors to the public, is Sharjah's most important historic building. It went through a 15 month restoration project. The renovation was driven by Sheikh Sultan as part of the ‘Heart of Sharjah' project to restore the Emirate's key heritage sites.

A conservation team has worked tirelessly to restore the original appearance, colour and texture of the building and to accurately portray the fort's distinctive features, including its wind-scoops, columns and crenulations.

The Sharjah Fort has been updated to include exciting interactive features, audio-visuals, reconstructions and stories taking visitors on an engaging journey through two centuries of history offering visitors a unique opportunity to experience the history that has shaped the emirate and its people.

"Al Hisn, the Fort, is the heart of Sharjah; it's been the seat of government, the centre of defence and the centre of justice in Sharjah," said Manal Ataya, Director General of Sharjah Museums Department (SMD).

"The narratives provided by members of the community are invaluable in terms of piecing together Sharjah's history. The people of this emirate are part of the fabric of its story, so connecting with the community is a vitally important part of what we do. Visitors will be able to tour the fort's galleries and really get a feel for what life was like here. We've used technology and new interactive elements to enrich the visitor experience and create a modern museum of international standard."

Upon his arrival at the fort, the Ruler of Sharjah was welcomed by Sheikh Khalid bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairman of Sharjah Urban Planning Council (SUPC), Salem Abdulrahman Al-Qasimi, Chairman of Sharjah Ruler's Office, Abdullah Mohammed Al Owais, Chairman of the Sharjah Department of Culture and Information, Engineer Salah bin Butti, Chairman of the Department of Planning and Survey Authority, Mohammed Obaid Salem Al Zaabi, Director of the Sharjah Department of Protocol & Guesthouses, Abdulaziz Al Musallam, Director of Heritage and Cultural Affairs at Sharjah Department of Culture, Mohammed Abdulla, CEO of Sharjah Islamic Bank, Ali Al Marri, General Manager of Sultan Al Qasimi Centre for Gulf Studies, Manal Ataya,Director General of Sharjah Museums Department. – Emirates News Agency, WAM –


Mohammed bin Rashid issues Decree organising fundraising in Dubai

posted on 21/04/2015

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister, has issued a Decree in his capacity as Ruler of Dubai, on organising fundraising and charitable donations in the Emirate of Dubai.

Decree No. 09 of 2015 aims to encourage community members to donate moneys, to control and audit the moneys collected through fundraising, and to ensure such moneys reach their acquired title. The Decree defined donations as the act of virtue by which the owner voluntarily transfers the title and possession from himself to another without any consideration for the purpose of charitable work and includes Zakat and alms.

Pursuant to the Decree, it is strictly prohibited to collect donations, permit collecting donations or advertising of fundraising campaigns through all forms of media without obtaining a prior written approval from the Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department with exception for charitable fundraising campaigns launched by His Highness the President, His Highness the Vice President, Their Highnesses Members of the Supreme Council, Their Highnesses the Crown Princes and Their Highnesses the Deputy Rulers, in addition to donations collected by government entities conditionally that such act is carried out in coordination with the Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department.

The Decree also prescribed the authorities delegated to the Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department, to include: encouraging community members to donate, revising and approving fundraising requests, monitoring and overseeing fundraising activities in the Emirate of Dubai, auditing raised funds and confiscation and disposition of any funds or moneys raised in variance with the Decree and its subsequent policies and procedures.

Any violation of the Decree is subject to the infliction of two months to one year imprisonment and a fine of Dh5,000 to Dh100,000, or one of the defined penalties as the court may deem fit.

Employees of the Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department, named by a resolution issued by the Director-General, reserve the right to act as judicial officers and may accordingly investigate and document any violations of this Decree in coordination with any authorised entity, including the police.

This Decree overwrites and annuls any other legislation that contradicts or conflicts with it. This Decree is to be published in the Official Gazette, and considered active from the date of publication. – Emirates News Agency, WAM –


YouAE Connect: Knitting global benevolence

posted on 21/04/2015

A UAE paper has said that charity, no doubt, begins at home. However, when the term extends to encompass the entire global community in the form of strategic philanthropy, the results sparkle.

"The UAE has accurately recognised this aspect and hence it is that the young nation now stands tall as the most generous in the world," said The Gulf Today in an editorial on Monday.

The country has ranked world's No.1 in foreign aid for the second consecutive year in 2014. The official development aid provided by the country hit Dh18 billion, which formed 1.17 percent of gross national income.

While several individuals and organisations play a major role in pushing the noble mission forward and deserve praise in equal measure, some stand out for their distinctive role of nurturing Emirati volunteers to deal with global needs.

The YouAE Connect is one such commendable programme launched by the Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation to support emerging Emirati leaders in different fields.

The Foundation uses the strategic or outcomes-driven approach to philanthropy which is the method taken by the world's leading innovators in philanthropy, pioneered a century ago by John D. Rockefeller and still in development by those such as the Gates Foundation and the Clinton Foundation.

The foundation recently gave a group of young Emirati women an opportunity to gain insight into the complex challenges in the field of international development by visiting Chiang Mai, Thailand and volunteering at various philanthropic foundations, NGOs, and social enterprises.

The trip helped the participants feel the pulse of the deprived on foreign land. One volunteer confessed how the trip challenged her pre-conceived notions on international development and made her realise the role not only as representative of her own country, but also of the global world at large.

It dawned on the volunteer that while charity solves temporary issues, strategic philanthropy focused on solving the root causes of social problems. Charity creates a system of dependency, but strategic philanthropy allows the beneficiaries to create their own sources of income, the YouAE Connect volunteer inferred.

"The experience proved to be so valuable that the volunteer, in her own words, developed an absolutely new perspective on aid," the paper added.

The path of benevolence in the UAE has effectively been laid down by the founding father of the nation, late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. To this day, his generous legacy has been kept alive, crossing all borders and barriers to touch the hearts of people in almost every country.

"If the words kindness and Emirati are considered as synonyms, now one well knows the reason. The YouAE Connect effort is yet another step which consolidates that belief," concluded the Sharjah-based daily. – Emirates News Agency, WAM –


Federal Supreme Court reserves verdict to 25th May in case of defendant charged with hostile acts against foreign country

posted on 21/04/2015

The State Security Circuit at the Federal Supreme Court, headed by Justice Falah Al-Hajri, yesterday reserved its verdict for the next session on 25th May, in a case wherein a defendant is accused of committing hostile act against a foreign country.

The court, in its session yesterday, heard the pleadings of the defence lawyers of the accused, an Arab national, identified as M.K.M. They called for acquittal of their client, citing that he was innocent.

Earlier, the State Security Prosecution charged the defendant, owner of a trading company in the UAE, on several counts, including committing a hostile act against a foreign country. It stated that the defendant, without a permit, imported from competent authorities, electronic chips used in military hardware. These contained circuitry to help launch a military ammunition and audio analyser. The accused claimed that he had imported them for two public institutions. He presented two forged documents used for import, allegedly attributing them to the aforementioned government agencies.

The accused re-exported the chips to his home country without obtaining a permission from the Committee for Goods & Materials Subject to Import & Export Control.

The State Security Circuit also heard the pleadings of the public prosecutor in the case of five Gulf nationals accused of disseminating information, news, rumours and pictures on websites and the social networking site, "Twitter," with intent to ridicule and damage the reputation and prestige of the country's symbols.

Prosecutors said that the defendants had committed felony, in accordance with articles 29 and 41 of the Federal Law No. 5/ 2012 on combating the cybercrimes, and articles 102/ A and103 /D of the Federal Penal Law and its amendments.

During the court session, the public prosecutor screened a film depicting the crime, and demanded the court to slap the maximum punishment on the defendants.

The court deferred the hearing of the case to 27th April to hear the defence's pleas. Only one defendant, identified as H.A.M.A, appeared in the court in the presence of some of his relatives, representatives of the media and members of civil society organisations in the UAE. – Emirates News Agency, WAM –


UAE National Pavilion at La Biennale Di Venezia to showcase over 100 works by 15 Emirati artists

posted on 21/04/2015

The UAE National Pavilion at the 56th International Art Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia, being held from 9th May to 22nd November, will showcase the diversity and history of the art scene in the UAE through an unprecedented grouping of over 100 works of art structured to create dialogues between artists and across practices. Curated by Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi, President and Director of the Sharjah Art Foundation, it will showcase the diversity and the history of the art scene in the UAE. Entitled, "1980 – Today: Exhibitions in the UAE", the showcase has been conceived as a retrospective on contemporary art exhibitions in the Emirates.

The exhibition features work by fifteen Emirati artists, Ahmed Al Ansari, Moosa Al Halyan, Mohammed Al Qassab, Abdul Qader Al Rais, Abdullah Al Saadi, Mohammed Abdullah Bulhiah, Salem Jawhar, Mohammed Kazem, Dr. Najat Meky, Abdulraheem Salim, Ahmed Sharif, Hassan Sharif, Obaid Suroor, Dr. Mohamed Yousif, and Abdulrahman Zainal.

"Reflecting our generation's collective obsession with memory, many recent exhibitions have been conceived to look at the past in order to reflect on the present. For these archival exhibitions, curators travel the world to discover overlooked artists and art scenes, institutions invest in research, gathering material, and publishing texts. But how do we connect all the information?" asked Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi. "This exhibition, and its accompanying publication, invites viewers to make connections directly between objects, historical archives, and the collective memory they represent. The resulting discourse is both personal and collective, and marks the beginning of a much more detailed and intensive research project."

Inspired by historic exhibitions in the UAE throughout the 1980s, Sheikha Hoor will structure the exhibition to follow the aesthetic experience and encourage connections between works. In addition to thematic groupings, some works will be arranged by artist to highlight elements of an individual's practice, while others will be paired to create complimenting and contrasting dialogues between works. Rather than following a didactic chronology, the exhibition will create the sense of wandering through dense collections in conversation with one another. The works, many on loan from institutions and private collections as well as from the artists themselves, will demonstrate a juxtaposition of conceptual and formal approaches, time periods, and media.

The selection of pieces will focus on sharing fundamental stages of the artists' careers as well as that of the UAE art scene collectively, and Sheikha Hoor's research relied heavily on the public archives of the Emirates Fine Art Society, EFAS, a trove of English and Arabic books on visual art, theatre, and literature, as well as catalogues, photo albums and copies of Al Tashkeel, EFAS's newsletter, which has been published since the 1980s. The Emirates Fine Arts Society is a non-profit association that was formed in 1980 in Sharjah, and has long served as a galvanising incubator for the UAE's art scene.

"For our fourth exhibition at the International Art Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia, we are delighted to be working with curator Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi," said Sheikha Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan, founder of the Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation, the commissioner of the National Pavilion of the UAE. "Thanks to her vision and leadership, we are able to share essential works from this key period in the UAE's art scene and also build links for future generations. I applaud her contributions to the development and advancement of the larger discourse on art from the region," she said. – Emirates News Agency, WAM –


ADOR stars aiming to earn their stripes at US finish line

posted on 21/04/2015

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, ADOR, the emirate's entry in the Volvo Ocean Race, VOR, has left Itajai, Brazil, on the round the world race's sixth leg, to Newport, USA.

The Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority-backed team passed the Itajai leaving marker at the end of the initial inshore section in third place in the six-boat fleet, which is expected to complete the 5,010 nautical-mile leg in around 20 days.

For the second day in succession, windless conditions prevailed in Itajai, making for slow sailing as the teams struggled to keep their yachts moving.

The ADOR crew had an uncharacteristic misfire at the start when they found themselves outside the starting line and were forced to restart behind the fleet. But the Abu Dhabi yacht was soon moving in the right direction and taking back places.

According to ADOR skipper, double Olympic silver medallist Ian Walker, the first week at sea could hold plenty of pitfalls to avoid on the approach to what will be the Abu Dhabi team's final equator crossing, another encounter with the unpredictable Doldrums, of this edition of the race.

"First we have to get away from the Brazilian coast and into the trade winds south of the Equator," Walker said. "Then, there will be big gains and losses at stake in the Doldrums based on how we well or badly we negotiate the huge rainclouds up there."

Once across the equator, ADOR will aim to hook into strong steady north-easterly trade winds and make some fast progress north towards Newport.

"That should be great sailing, 25 knots of wind and sunshine," said UAE sailing Olympian, Adil Khalid, who is back on board Azzam after recovering from illness. "But we need to be careful of our positioning," he added. "Decisions we make at that point could impact how we fare at the very end of the leg."

Echoing Khalid's caution, Walker said the weather forecast for the last 1,000 miles of the leg was a complete unknown at this stage, as was how important the fast-flowing stream Gulf Steam up the US east coast might be.

"Right now, we have no idea what weather we are going to get from the North American continent, so we will have to be ready to deal with anything," he said.

"We may be able to use the Gulf Stream to help towards Newport or we could opt to avoid it altogether and go in a straight line. If ever there was a scenario that might split the fleet, it's this one."

ADOR's celebrity jump-off guest, British comedian and writer Dom Joly, made a spectacular jump from Azzam's stern before surfacing to wave off Walker's crew on their way to the USA.

"What an adventure" said Joly, who had insisted on being hoisted up Azzam's mast before the start so he could take a ‘selfie' photograph with the huge crowds that had gathered to wave off ADOR from Brazil.

"It was a pity the wind was so light but I really enjoyed meeting Ian and Adil and the rest of the crew. I have downloaded the VOR app to my phone so I can see how they get on in this leg."

The sixth leg of the Volvo Ocean from race from Itajai to Newport is expected to take around 20 days to complete and fans can follow ADOR at – Emirates News Agency, WAM –


Reem Al Falahi ready to throw down at next level in jiu-jitsu

posted on 21/04/2015

Reem Al Falahi, widely regarded as a future Emirati champion, is ready to begin her new journey.

Falahi, 16, won her fourth gold medal in four years on Monday at the Jiu-Jitsu Children's World Cup, which was her last before stepping into the women's open class.

Al Falahi was impressive in three fights in the blue belt 61.5-kilogram weight division on the opening day of the jiu-jitsu extravaganza at the Zayed Sports City's IPIC Arena.

"It has been a fantastic four years for me at this level and I am confident I can take my game to the next level and be successful as I was in the children's division,” Al Falahi said.

"I have now spent seven years in the sport and during this period I have learnt to be patient, watch every movement of my opponents and have more tricks under my sleeve during a contest.

"That doesn't mean I have not stopped learning, though, now that I'm moving to a level where I have to compete against experienced and stronger opponents in the adults division.

"It will be a new experience but I am very excited and looking forward to that day when I compete in the open class.”

The first day of girls' competition in the Children's Cup saw 41 gold medals won, 36 of them by Emiratis.

Maha Saleh Al Hinai, 16, from Al Ain won her first gold in the blue belt 56.5kg after finishing runner up last year.

"I was nervous at the beginning but when I got on to the mat all that was forgotten,” she said.

Al Hinai, a bronze medallist for the UAE Junior national team at the American Kids National Championship last October, had three fights but said the second against her colleague Asma Al Shamsi from Al Ain was the toughest.

Filippa Koski, 16, made her trip all the way from Sweden worthwhile by winning the gold in the blue belt 51.5kg.

"It was an amazing experience for me to fly down to Abu Dhabi and win,” she said.

"I never came across a competition that drew nearly 1,000 competitors and I am really amazed how much jiu-jitsu was popular among the Emirati girls. They were terrific and highly competitive.”

Madeleine Depagnier, an American teenager living in Al Ain for the past four years, bagged her first gold in the green belt 46.5kg.

"My dad practised the sport and he encouraged me to get started two years ago. I don't know for how long I am going to continue but I am enjoying every moment of it,” she said.

There were a few yesterday who left disappointed, such as Asiya Doty, a 10-year-old American who travelled from Qatar and was left in tears after her first-round exit.

"I've been training jiu-jitsu four years and this is my first competition,” she said. "I was sad when I lost but that was only at the moment. I feel good and want to return next year.” – The National -