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UAE Consul-General in New York joins with local organisations to support needy families during Ramadan

posted on 26/07/2016

NEW YORK: On behalf of the United Arab Emirates Consulate in New York and the Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation, the UAE Consul-General, Majid Al Suwaidi, has provided a US$10,000 donation to the Islamic Circle of North America, ICNA, Relief USA, which was chosen as a beneficiary by the New York Police Department's Muslim Officers Society.

In addition, the UAE provided meals to over 100 needy families identified by the NYPD Muslim Officers Society during the Holy Month of Ramadan.

"Ramadan is a time for reflection and giving back to the community," said the UAE Consul-General. "We are fortunate enough to be able to help these organisations, and hope that this will inspire others to do the same."

The NYPD Muslim Officers Society was founded in January 2006, and formally recognised by the Police Commissioner on May 19th, 2008. It was formed to promote American patriotism and encourage the demonstration of respect and honour among Muslims in law enforcement who have contributed to the building and preservation of the United States of America. The Muslim Officers Society is open to all members of the service, both civilian and uniformed.

"We thank the UAE and the Khalifa Foundation for their generous contribution," said Lt. Adeel Rana, President of the New York City Police Department Muslim Officers Society. "The NYPD Muslim Officers Society felt a sense of pride for being part of the Khalifa Foundation's assistance programme. It was an emotional moment to see smiles and tears from families when they received their assistance. The ICNA shelter is also excited and looking forward to using these funds to help those in need."

Established on September 1st, 1968, the Islamic Circle of North America was a response to the growing need for a supportive Muslim community in North America. The organisation initially focused on educating its growing membership about Islam.

In the UAE, the 19th Day of each Ramadan commemorates Zayed Humanitarian Day, to mark the anniversary of the passing of the UAE's founder, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. UAE citizens and residents are encouraged to be generous and filled with a sense of spirit to give back to their communities and provide a helping hand to those less fortunate and deserving to honour the life and legacy of Sheikh Zayed. - Emirates News Agency, WAM –


ERC renovates, equips Omer Al Mukhtar School in Aden

posted on 26/07/2016

ADEN: Emirates Red Crescent (ERC) has rehabilitated the Omer Al Mukhtar School in Sheikh Othman district at the Governorate of Aden, enabling it to resume its educational role.

The school, which was damaged by Al Houthi militia and Saleh group, face-lifted and provided with 400 boards, seats, educational equipment, umbrellas and covered patios.

Sheikh Othman Ahmed Al Mahzar, Sheriff of Sheikh Othman district, Aden, thanked the UAE for its continued support to the people of Yemen, especially in the education sector that has been affected much. He also commended the ERC for its efforts. - Emirates News Agency, WAM –


Yemeni Government praises Arab coalition forces support for security services in Aden

posted on 26/07/2016

ADEN: The Yemeni Government has praised the role played by the Arab Coalition Forces led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in supporting the security forces in Aden.

This came during a security meeting held yesterday in Aden, under the Chairmanship of the Yemeni Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, Major General Hussain Mohammed Arab, according to the official Yemeni News Agency.

The participants stressed that this support has enabled the security forces in Aden to fight against terrorist and disruptive elements.

The meeting approved a number of actions that will contribute to addressing the security situation in the province, most notably the formation of a committee to address the security situation of Aden International Airport. - Emirates News Agency, WAM –


Nol cards to give access to Dubai parks, museums

posted on 26/07/2016

Visitors to public parks and museums in Dubai will be able to use Nol cards to pay the entrance fees, Dubai Municipality officials told Gulf News on Monday.

Nol is a smart payment system for all public transport modes in Dubai, including metro, buses, water buses and taxis regulated by the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA). The RTA had earlier this month announced its plan to extend the use of Nol cards as an e-wallet for commercial payments.

The civic body is now working with the RTA to introduce Nol payment for public parks in the emirate by the end of the year, said Mohammad Abdullah Al Zafein, director of the Information Technology Department at the municipality.

"We want to utilise the Nol cards to give access to parks,” he said.

According to Al Zafein, all major public parks that collect entrance fees will be fitted with smart gates to allow payment of entrance fee using Nol cards.

Visitors will be able to use their Nol credit loaded in the plastic card or Smart Nol, a mobile app that works with Near Field Communication (NFC) technology.

Unlike in the public transport system, a family or any group of visitors to parks can use one Nol card to paying the entry fee for multiple visitors, Al Zafein explained.

"We would like to make things easier for people,” he said.

Abdul Majid Al Mulla, assistant director at the department, said the smart payment option will be extended to Dubai museums in the next phase. A time-frame for this was not immediately announced.

Automatic response from call centre

Al Mulla said another initiative of the IT department that will be launched by the end of this month is an automatic response system for the municipality's call centre with the hotline number 800 900.

If somebody calls up the call centre to make a complaint or for an inquiry and the line is busy as the staff are responding to others' calls, All Mulla said, the system will cut the call and will automatically call back the customer and connect him or her to a call centre employee when the line becomes free.

This is aimed at cutting the waiting time for callers and avoiding unanswered calls, he said.

Municipality services go smart

The officials were speaking after the municipality's announcement about transferring all its e-services into mobile services.

As part of the Smart Dubai initiative, all electronic services offered by various departments in the municipality are now available on the mobile platform.

As many as 351 e-services were transferred to 204 smart services and applications on smart devices in the first phase of the initiative. By 2018, the department will complete all its proposed programmes for the Smart Dubai initiatives, the civic body said on Monday. – Gulf News -


Dubai Marina tower firefighters awarded for saving pets’ lives

posted on 26/07/2016

Firefighters who battled the Sulafa Tower blaze will be recognised for saving the lives of many animals trapped in the 75-floor skyscraper.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) Asia-Pacific, an international animal rights organisation, will award Dubai Civil Defence for its efforts after receiving emails from tower residents praising firefighters. Peta said that the DCD would be sent a Hero to Animals Award and a letter.

"We found out about their heroic actions as a result of several kind residents, who emailed us about it over the weekend," said Peta Asia-Pacific spokeswoman Ashley Fruno.

Last Wednesday's fire in the Dubai Marina tower spread quickly, damaging apartments on at least eight floors. There were no human casualties.

Residents said that firefighters made countless trips up the building to rescue animals. But although some were brought down to safety, several pets died in the incident.

Carla Julian, a Sulafa Tower resident, said she saw firemen bringing animals to their relieved owners.

"We saw them bringing down birds, cats and dogs," she said. "Some pets were in their carriers, while others were brought down in laundry baskets or their kitty litter boxes. Some were also carried by hand."

Jason Baker, Peta Asia-Pacific's vice president of international operations, said that the DCD's compassion and heroism was an inspiration.

"Residents of Dubai are very fortunate to have emergency service personnel who are ready to protect both its human and animal residents," he said.

A DCD spokesman said that it was the duty of firefighters to save lives – and that duty was not limited to human lives.

"This is not the first time. It is our duty to protect lives and souls, and this is not just -humans we're talking about but animals and even plants," he said. "These are all part of the complete circle of the universe."

He also said that the DCD had been involved in a number of animal rescue cases.

"We have received calls in the past to rescue animals in distraught situations, such as a cat being stuck in a high tree or an animal stuck somewhere," said the spokesman.

Mr Baker said that the firefighters had set a tremendous example for others to follow.

"We each must always come to the aid of animals in distress," he said. "The city is lucky to have such kind emergency responders, who do not hesitate to help humans or animals in need."

Meanwhile, some residents of Sulafa Tower have moved back in their apartments and said they were slowly readjusting to their new situation.

Ms Julian, who lives on the 23rd floor and who took her cat down to ground level herself when the fire took hold, said that her apartment was unaffected but she had only just returned to it because of the smell.

"There's still a very strong smell in the corridor but both my cat, Miss Bradshaw, and I are readjusting and slowly getting back to normal," she said. "You could still see the sad faces, people recovering from the damaged apartments, there's an awful lot of loss, property and personal effects."

But Lebanese Mazen Slim, who lives in a duplex on the 74th and 75th floors, said that he would not be able to move back into his apartment for at least another two weeks.

"I was abroad and got back yesterday and I thought that my apartment was not affected but the parquet floors are all black, the AC units are affected and, because of the smell, it is not liveable," he said.

"I'm fortunate that it's material things and it is unfortunate that some pets died and some had to be hospitalised."

Mr Slim, who is staying at his brother's house, said he hoped to move back in as soon as possible. – The National -


A dream experience that is still burning bright

posted on 26/07/2016

Mubarak Salah swells with pride as he recounts his Rio experience.

The young employee from Dow Chemical who is with the Dubai Sports Council as a graduate of the Hamdan Bin Mohammad Programme for Sports Leadership Development, is fresh back from Brazil after being chosen as one five global torch bearers in the torch ceremony through the old Brazilian capital of San Salvador last month.

Salah was part of a global search and he was nominated to represent the Middle East region along with four other continental representatives hailing from Germany, Singapore, USA and Argentina.

"Being part of the torch ceremony is like being in a dream world. I was in Brazil for the 2014 Fifa World Cup, and now less than two years later, all I can say is that the country is ready to host the Olympic Games,” Salah told Gulf News.

"I can just imagine the feeling of being an athlete at an Olympic Games. I wish all our UAE athletes the very best of luck, and I hope they return home with medals,” he added. – Gulf News -


Rio 2016: UAE’s team will be the country’s largest Olympic contingent

posted on 26/07/2016

The UAE is set to send its largest contingent of individual athletes to the Olympic Games over the next week.

Thirteen athletes will represent the country in six different disciplines. For one of the four females in the delegation – swimmer Nada Al Bedwawi – the occasion will be even more historic.

The youngest athlete in the group will be the country's flag-bearer at the opening ceremony on August 6.

Al Bedwawi, 18, made history last year when she became the first UAE woman to represent the country at the World Swimming Championships.

• More: Meet the UAE's Olympians | Schedule

"She's a young lady and she's good and we've given her big support to have the UAE flag," said Dawood Al Hajri, assistant secretary general of the National Olympic Committee. "She will be in the front; this is the first time."

In fact, Sheikha Maitha bint Mohammed bin Rashid, daughter of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, was the first female to lead the country into an Olympic Games, carrying the flag at the opening ceremony at the Beijing Games in 2008 as a taekwondo competitor.

The best hopes of a medal are likely to rest upon the three-man shooting squad, which includes the veteran Olympian Sheikh Saeed bin Maktoum.

Sheikh Saeed, a multiple winner at Asian and World level, will be appearing at his fifth consecutive Olympics while Saif bin Futtais is the country's biggest hope for a medal.

"Our three shooters embarked on a long-term programme after the London Games to have them as prepared and ready as possible," the UAE Shooting Association said. "This is the first time we have had three qualifiers in our team. They have participated in numerous world championships, grand prix events and training camps so they are well prepared."

As well as swimming and shooting, the UAE will have participants in cycling, judo, weightlifting and athletics.

Yousif Mirza, the country's leading cyclist, will be taking part in the 250-kilometre road event as the first cyclist from the UAE at the Olympics since 1996 and the first ever to compete in the road race.

Mirza qualified after finishing second in the Asian Cycling Championship in Thailand last year.

"We've been preparing Yousif for the past year to compete at Rio," said Osama Al Shafar, the president of the UAE Cycling Federation. "Rio is going to be one of the longest races ever, with the best of the best riders from all over the world.

"Most of the Tour de France riders will finish now and go over to Rio. These cyclists have just done 4,000km so they have mileage on their legs. Yousif has been preparing. It's going to be tough for him but we wish him all the best."

The Zika virus has forced the withdrawal of several leading names from the Games, especially in events such as golf and tennis. There is no vaccination for Zika but Al Hajri said the UAE squad had taken all the precautions that they could for it.

"All of the players have been vaccinated for different things," he said.

"We go according to what the UAE's Ministry of Health and other international health agencies have advised."

Ahmed Al Kamali, the head of the UAE's Athletics Federation, said he was happy with the number of athletes Rio-bound, and was aiming to double that number for the Tokyo Games in 2020. We are lucky to have that number in our delegation," he said.

"We still have to work very hard for 2020, to get more athletes. I'm sure, for me, athletics will be double – six – instead of three but the number for this year is fantastic."

This article was updated on Monday, July 25. Originally we said that Nada Al Bedwawi would be the first female athlete to be the UAE flag-bearer at an Olympic Games when in fact is was Sheikha Maitha bint Mohammed bin Rashid, who competed in taekwondo at the 2008 Beijing Games and was also the country's flag-bearer at the opening ceremony. We apologise for the mistake.

UAE delegation

Shooting: Sheikh Saeed bin Maktoum, Saif bin Futtais, Khaled Al Kaabi


Alia Saeed (10,000m), Bethlhem Desaleyn (1500m)*, Saood Al Zaabi (1500m)

Weightlifting: Aysha Al Balooshi, Yousif Mirza

Swimming: Nada Al Bedwawi, Yaqoub Al Saadi

Judo: Ivan Remarenco, Sergiu Toma, Victor Scvortov. – The National -