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White House: Washington provides logistical and intelligence support for Al-Hazm Storm operation in Yemen

posted on 27/03/2015

WASHINGTON, D.C.: The White House announced yesterday the approval of US President Barack Obama to provide logistical and intelligence support to the Al-Hazm Storm military operation in Yemen, stressing at the same time that the United States strongly condemned the operations carried out by Houthis against the elected government of Yemen, which has caused instability and chaos that threatens the safety and welfare of all Yemeni citizens.

Bernadette Meehan, spokesperson for the U.S. National Security, said in a statement that the United States was in close contact with President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi of the Republic of Yemen and regional partners.

The spokeswoman stressed that the United States is coordinating closely with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the GCC countries on issues relating to security and common interests.

She added that in support of the procedures of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) for Arab States to defend against Houthi violence, President Obama agreed to provide logistical and intelligence support for military operations led by the GCC countries, however the U.S. Forces will not play a direct role in military action in Yemen, pointing out that, "We are working to establish a joint planning cell to coordinate U.S. intelligence and military's support."

She noted that the United States is closely monitoring the terrorist threats posed by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and will continue to take the necessary action to disrupt the on-going threats against the United States and its citizens.

The spokesperson for the U.S. National Security strongly urged Houthis to stop destabilisation and military operations immediately and return to the negotiations as part of the political dialogue, noting that the international community, clearly stated by the Security Council of the United Nations in other forums, has said that the takeover of Yemen by an armed faction is not acceptable and that the political legitimate transition, which the Yemeni people have been seeking for a long time, can only be achieved through political negotiations and consensus among all parties. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Arab foreign ministers agree on establishing pan-Arab military force

posted on 27/03/2015

SHARM EL-SHEIKH: The foreign minister of members of the Arab League have approved a draft resolution for the creation of a pan-Arab military force that would be tasked with rapid military response to protect the national security, integrity and sovereignty of any member state, from threats and challenges including from terrorist organisations.

The Arab foreign ministers approved the draft resolution, which was proposed by Egypt, during their preparatory meeting ahead of the 26th Arab Summit scheduled for Saturday in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

The intervention of the Arab rapid military response force will be conducted upon request by concerned member states. Joining the pan-Arab military force will be optional for member states.

The foreign ministers, in the draft resolution, tasked Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, Nabil el-Arabi, with coordination with the presidency of the Summit and inviting Arab senior officials to a meeting, under the supervision of the chiefs of staff of member countries, within a month, to deliberate the matter and propose executive measures, mechanisms and the budget for the formation of the joint force. The outcome of the meeting will be submitted to the Arab Joint Defence Council for approval within three month.

The ministers "agreed on an important principle, to establish the force," el-Arabi told a news conference following the Arab ministerial meeting. "This is the first time that a force will be created and work under the name of Arab states," he said, describing the move as "historic".

H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Foreign Minister led the UAE delegation to the meeting. The UAE delegation comprises Mohammed Nakhira Al Dhaheri, Ambassador of the UAE to Egypt and Permanent Representative to the Arab League; Ahmed Al Jarman, Assistant Foreign Ministers for Political Affairs; Dr Abdul Rahim Al Awadhi, Assistant Foreign Minister for Legal Affairs; Faris Al Mazrouie, Assistant Foreign Minister for Security and Military Affairs; Yaqoub Al Hosaani, Head of Legal Affairs Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA); Jasim Al Khloufi, Head of Arab Affairs Department at MoFA, and Ali Al Shamili, Director of Arab League Affairs at the UAE Embassy in Cairo.

The Arab foreign ministers also submitted a draft resolution, for approval by the Arab leaders, on the three UAE three islands of islands of Greater and Lesser Tunbs, occupied by Iran.

In the resolution, the Arab foreign ministers, condemned the continuation of the Iranian government in perpetuating its occupation of the three islands and violating the sovereignty of the UAE. They reiterated their support for the UAE's full sovereignty on the islands and for all peaceful means and measures taken by the UAE to restore its sovereignty on the occupied islands.

They renewed their call on the Iranian government to end the occupation of the three UAE islands, to stop the establishment of any facilities on the islands with the aim of settling Iranians, and to cancel all the procedures and remove all the establishments that have been previously carried out by Iran unilaterally on the three islands, considering these measures as void and having no legal standing, describing these acts as provocative steps that constitute interference in the internal affairs in a sovereign state, undermine the UAE's efforts to find a peaceful and just solution to the issue of the islands, threaten the security and stability of the region and endanger the security and safety of regional and international navigation in the Arabian Gulf They also condemned Iran's opening of two offices on Abu Musa island, and a planned visit by members of the Iranian Shura Council's committee for national security and foreign policy affairs to the UAE islands. They called on Iran to remove these illegal housing facilities and respect the sovereignty of the UAE over its territory.

The Arab foreign ministers also condemned Iranian military exercises in regions on the UAE islands, their territorial waters, airspace, territory, continental shelf and exclusive economic zone of the three islands which are an integral part of the UAE. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


UAE voted as Chair of Financial Committee of International Parliamentary Union

posted on 27/03/2015

HANOI: The Financial Committee of the International Parliamentary Union, IPU, has elected Rashid Mohammed Al Shareqi, representative of Arab group at the Executive Committee, and member of the Federal National Council, FNC, as its Chairman.

The UAE Parliamentary Group, led by Rashid Al Shareqi, yesterday participated in a meeting of the Sub-Committee for Financial Affairs which is currently being held in Hanoi, Vietnam.

During the meeting, the committee discussed the financial results of 2014, the committee's financial matters, voluntary contributions to the budget, and preparations for the 2016 budget.

Al Shareqi stressed the importance of careful planning of financial matters to ensure that the committee is able to implement its planned activities and programmes without being affected by the global economic situation. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


UAE, Comoros sign agreements on economic cooperation

posted on 27/03/2015

SHARM EL-SHEIKH: UAE Foreign Minister HH Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan and El-Anrif Said Hassane, Minister of External Relations and Cooperation of the Union of Comoros, have signed a series of agreements on the margins of the 26th session of the Arab League Council of Foreign Ministers in Sharm el-Sheikh. The Arab foreign ministers met in Sharm el-Sheikh to hammer out agenda of the upcoming Arab Summit on next Saturday.

The agreements signed by the Governments of the UAE and Union of Comoros covered avoidance of double taxation on income, encouragement and protection of investment, and economic, trade and technological cooperation.

The agreements were inked within the framework of bolstering fraternal ties between the two peoples and opening up of new avenues of joint cooperation in all fields. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


UAE-Norway Foreign Aid and Cooperation meeting

posted on 27/03/2015

Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, Minister of International Cooperation and Development, MICAD, and Head of UAE Committee for the Coordination of Humanitarian Foreign Aid, has asserted the importance of enhancing the Emirati-Norwegian approach on supporting international development efforts and the joint vision of the two countries on fighting poverty, hunger and diseases in developing countries and poor communities, in addition to promoting the bilateral cooperation in humanitarian action, development and supporting the international organisations' efforts.

She made her comments yesterday at the opening of the UAE-Norway Foreign Aid and Cooperation meeting, on the sidelines of the Dubai International Humanitarian Aid and Development Conference and Exhibition (DIHAD). The meeting jointly organised by the MICAD and Norwegian Embassy in Abu Dhabi aims to put the foundation for a mutual partnership, enhancing the cooperation and exchanging the experience in international development, with the participation of representatives of UAE donors and humanitarian organisations and their counterparts in the Norwegian side.

Sheikha Lubna added: "We want to focus on building relationships that help in laying a strong foundation for cooperation, information exchange, sharing the knowledge and mutual learning, which in return contribute in improving the lives of other people in many places in the world, especially in developing countries."

She also praised Norway's efforts and record in supporting international development using the best practices, transparency, enhancing the ability to join a multilateral global system, developing the technical capabilities in areas of international development, aid provision and enhancing the effectiveness of the outputs or the delivered aid.

During her opening speech, the minister reviewed MICAD's efforts since its establishment in 2013 for promoting the UAE foreign aid policy and UAE's achievement of the ODA/GNI percentage of 1.34%, following the directives of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, 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. In addition to UAE's membership in the Development Aid Committee (DAC) in 2014, and the establishment of the UAE Committee for the Coordination of Humanitarian Foreign Aid.

She also affirmed, "Based on the positive developments, under the directives and vision of our Leadership, UAE recognises the importance of enhancing the effectiveness, exploring the opportunities that come through partnering with active international donor countries," Moreover, "UAE is aware that the goal is not to be the largest donor country, rather it's about how to deliver our aid to others in a way that enhances quality and effectiveness."

She called on to seize the opportunity of this first meeting to lay the foundation to promote the UAE-Norway partnership and drive learned lessons from the long track record of achievements in foreign aid provision and practical practice of both UAE and Norway.

The meeting was attended by Sten Anders Berge, Ambassador of Norway in UAE, and Sultan Al Shamsi, Assistant Under-Secretary for International Development, MICAD.

Representatives from Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation, Noor Dubai, Mohamed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Establishment, Dubai Care, Al Maktoum Foundation, Sharjah Charity, UAE Red Crescent, Department of Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities, Ahmed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation, Dubai Charity Association, Al Rahma Charity Association, Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Humanitarian and Charitable Foundation, International Humanitarian City, Abu Dhabi Fund for Development and Ministry of Foreign Affairs also attended the meeting.

On the Norwegian side the meeting was attended by the representatives of Norwegian Refugees Council (NRC), Norwegian Church Aid (NCA), Norwegian People's Aid and NOREPS (Norwegian Emergency Preparedness System)/Innovation Norway. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


IHC signs three partnerships at DIHAD 2015

posted on 27/03/2015

The International Humanitarian City, IHC, has signed three partnership agreements at DIHAD Conference and Exhibition 2015, aimed at contributing to the development of humanitarian action through the activation of local participation by individuals, institutions and businesses partnerships.

The agreements are signed with Dubai Awqaf and Minors Affairs Foundation, Group 32 and UPS to serve the humanitarian work.

IHC CEO, Shaima Al Zarooni said, "The IHC is proud of its strong partnership with DIHAD and we are keen to enrich the value of existing efforts by launching new and effective partnerships that serve the humanitarian work."

"Through the launch of these partnerships with government institutions, youth initiatives and commercial companies we shall coordinate efforts and standardisation in line with the objectives of the IHC's strategy 2015- 2021."

At the level of partnerships with local government departments, the IHC signed a partnership agreement with Dubai Awqaf and Minors Affairs Foundation to support global humanitarian projects, where the IHC reserved 500 square meters to be used for the storage of Awqaf and Minors Affairs Foundation food used in emergency response and enable cooperation to supply Awqaf meals to relief organisations such as the United Nations and other humanitarian organisations.

Local youth initiatives were part of the main partnerships launched at DIHAD and witnessed the partnership between the IHC and Group 32 Mercedes-Benz, to activate the engagement of local youth in order to support humanitarian projects, and utilise Group 32 vehicles to publicise the activities of IHC and its members through promoting its awareness campaigns at the local level.

In line with the IHC's mandate to become a training centre for local and international humanitarian workers and the existing partnership between the IHC, Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) it has been agreed to include the jointly organised workshop on International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and its applications to the annual activities. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


UAE-Belgium Business Forum seeks enhanced bilateral trade relations

posted on 27/03/2015

The Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry in cooperation with the Embassy of Belgium in the UAE organised the UAE-Belgium Business Forum on the sidelines of the Belgian economic delegation's visit to the UAE at The H Hotel yesterday. Over 100 delegates attended the forum in the presence of HRH Princess Astrid, Representative of The King of the Belgium.

Seeking to enhance the UAE-Belgium bilateral and economic relationship while promoting opportunities for further cooperation between the two countries, the forum was also attended by Hisham Al Shirawi, 2nd Vice-Chairman, Dubai Chamber, Pieter De Crem, Belgian Federal Secretary of State for Foreign Trade, ambassadors, government officials and representatives of a cross-section of private sector companies in Dubai.

The Belgian ministers attending the forum included Didier Reynders, Federal Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Affairs, Philippe Muyters, Flemish Minister for Work, Economics, Innovation and Sports, and Cecile Jodogne, Secretary of State for Foreign Trade & Investment for the Brussels-Capital Region and Minister of the French Community Commission in charge of Civil Service and Health Policy.

Also during the forum, Dubai Chamber signed two Memorandum of Understanding (MoUs) with the Federation of Belgian Chambers of Commerce, Arab-Belgium-Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce and Brussels Enterprises Commerce & Industry as well as another MoU with the Voka-Antwerpen Waasland Chamber of Commerce emphasising on promoting economic and commercial cooperation as well as exchange of trade information between Dubai and Belgium.

In his welcome address Al Shirawi, stated that this latest visit by the Belgian delegation strengthens Dubai-Belgium's existing ties, built up over the years, and follows Dubai Chamber's successful trade mission to Brussels in 2012 focusing on trade, ICT and renewable energy sectors. "Through this forum, Dubai Chamber hopes to encourage stronger business cooperation and two-way investment across key economic sectors, including trade and tourism," he said.

"Belgium is a modern, private enterprise economy with a highly developed transport network and diversified industrial and commercial base. For the trade sector its central geographic location serves as a gateway to Europe, supported by a highly skilled, multilingual and productive work force," said Al Shirawi.

With Belgium carrying out 80% of its trade with fellow EU members, Al Shirawi called upon Belgian businesses to diversify and expand trade opportunities with non-EU countries. "In this respect, Dubai is an ideal partner for Belgium as a re-export hub with strong links across the Middle East, Africa and South East Asia. The emirate presents a stable and improving business location, with the option to access numerous high-growth markets across the region," he said.

In addition to trade, Dubai is a favourable place to do business. With a diversified economy open to foreign investment there are opportunities for Belgian businesses across various high return economic sectors, he said adding that the emirate's business climate is advantageous as constant steps are made to enhance its position, leading to the UAE rising 3 places in the World Bank's ease of doing business rankings this year,' added Al Shirawi.

Expressing his delight over the signing of the two MoUs with the Belgians, he said that these agreements will help enhance bilateral trade and economic relations and explore joint ventures and collaboration, paving the way for new economic growth between the two sides.

He further stressed that Dubai's total non-oil trade with Belgium in the first nine months of 2014 valued just over Dh 25 billion, positioning Belgium as Dubai's 11th largest trade partner while the total non-oil trade between Dubai and Belgium touched Dh 30 billion mark in 2013 with an increase of 17% on 2012's value of Dh 25.5 billion. Presently, there are 118 Belgian companies among Dubai Chamber's members operating in the emirate, said Al Shirawi.

On his part, Pieter De Crem, Federal Secretary of State for Foreign Trade, Belgium, stated that the UAE is a small country but leaves a strong mark on the world events just like Belgium as the two countries enjoy excellent bilateral relations.

"Within the European Union, Belgium is the fifth major exporter of goods to the UAE and the largest importer of goods from the UAE as the country is our 19th largest customer and 21st largest supplier, ranking after Canada and preceding Brazil," he said.

"The UAE is a major hub for international trade and Dubai is known the world over for its success story of innovation, entrepreneurship and development symbolised by its impressive structures and capabilities. The emirate offers many investment possibilities to Belgian companies as does Belgian companies to Dubai. Our constructive cooperation will continue to grow in the coming years while serving Dubai's strategy of becoming one of the most innovative cities in the world," added De Crem.

In his presentation on business opportunities in Belgium, Johan Beerlandt, Chairman, the Arab-Belgian-Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce and CEO of Besix, informed that Belgium is one of the world's favourite FDI destinations ranking 5th in Ernst and Young Barometer of European Attractiveness for attracting investment projects in Europe and is the 13th largest most importing exporting country in the world as well as 7th largest trading partner for the Arab countries.

He also said that Belgium has a vibrant pro-business environment, rooted in technology and innovation and is the fastest place in Europe to set up a business within four working days. The country offers 100% ownership, affordable real estate and top quality life standards.

Investing in Belgium is an ideal move into the European market as the country occupies key position at the very heart of Europe with access to 500 million consumers and 80% of the region's purchasing power. It also offers world-class infrastructure with state-of-the-art transport facilities and cutting-edge technologies, top-class human capital including highly-skilled workforce.

On its part, Dubai Chamber also provided an overview of Dubai and Dubai Chamber as well as the economic outlook for 2015 to the visiting business delegates. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Sultan bin Zayed named 2015 Arab Heritage Personality

posted on 27/03/2015

AMMAN: The Arab Centre for Tourism Media has granted H.H. Sheikh Sultan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the President's Representative and Chairman of the Emirates Heritage Club (EHC), the 2015 Arab Heritage Personality.

Hussain Al Mannai, Chairman of the Arab Centre for Tourism Media said that the honour is in recognition of efforts exerted by Sheikh Sultan in preserving heritage and holding festivals which calls for protection of the forefathers' heritage.

He added that members of the centre from all Arab countries have agreed that the efforts of Sheikh Sultan play a prominent role in preserving GCC heritage.

These remarks were made during a press conference held by the centre in Amman, Jordan in the presence of Jordan's Minister of Tourism and Antiquities, Nayef Al Fayez and a number of Arab journalists specialising in tourism.

Also, Emirati businessman Khalaf Al Habtoor was honoured with the Best Tourist Investor award in the Arab nation in recognition of his huge tourism projects.

The UAE Air Arabia also won the best low-cost carrier award for supporting Arab Tourism. In addition, the best Arab tourism journalist award was clinched by Mohammed Kara from Al Ittihad, an Arabic language newspaper published daily in the UAE. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


ENEC submits operating license application to FANR for Barakah Units 1 & 2

posted on 27/03/2015

The Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) announced yesterday that it has filed the Operating License Application (OLA) for Barakah Units 1 & 2 with the United Arab Emirates' (UAE) Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR).

The submittal follows a five year-long process in which ENEC and the Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO), the Prime Contractor of ENEC's program, documented the safety of the planned operations and maintenance of the Barakah plant and its adherence to the highest standards of safety, quality and security.

"This is a very important stage in the development of the UAE peaceful nuclear energy program," commented Mohamed Al Hammadi, ENEC's Chief Executive Officer. "The successful and on-time submission of this OLA is a crucial milestone in our journey to becoming fully operational in 2017, and delivering on our mission to connect safe, clean and reliable nuclear energy to fuel the country's continued growth."

ENEC's submission, on behalf of its operating entity, seeks a FANR license to safely operate and maintain the UAE's first two nuclear energy plants, which are currently under construction at Barakah, in the Western Region of Abu Dhabi.

The OLA, which is approximately 15,000 pages in length, took an extensive team of ENEC and KEPCO employees, in addition to a number of international experts approximately five years to complete - with preparations beginning following the organisation's successful Construction License Application (CLA) to FANR for Units 1 & 2 in 2010.

"The submission is the culmination of many years of work by ENEC and KEPCO," said Mr Al Hammadi. "It is proof of the organisation's successful transformation into a world-class nuclear operating company, capable of reliably operating and maintaining the country's first nuclear fleet to the highest international standards."

The application has now been submitted for evaluation by FANR and its team of international nuclear energy experts who will commence an in-depth examination process.

During the comprehensive examination, ENEC will respond to FANR's requests for additional information on the OLA as its team reviews the application and the licensing process continues. ENEC is aiming to receive an Operating License for Barakah Unit 1 in 2016, in time for the scheduled start of commercial operations in 2017. Approval for the Barakah Unit 2 Operating License is anticipated to follow in 2017. ENEC's application seeks a license to operate both plants for 60 years - the expected operating life of ENEC's chosen APR1400 plant design.

The OLA submission builds on earlier work done by ENEC in 2010 towards the submission for the Construction License Application (CLA). The final completed OLA submission consists of a collection of key documents including ENEC's Final Safety Analysis Report (FSAR), an independent Safety Verification and Design Review, details of the organisation's Physical Protection Plan (PPP), Facility Safeguards Plan (FSP), Operational Quality Assurance Manual, and Emergency Plan, in addition to a Probabilistic Risk Assessment Summary Report and a Severe Accident Analysis Report (SAAR).

The submission also includes a Safety Assessment Report for Barakah NPP which builds on the comprehensive nine-month safety design review that was submitted to FANR in December 2011 following the event of the event at Fukushima Daiichi. This review formed part of ENEC's CLA submission, and while the results of the review found ENEC's plant to be very robust, additional design enhancements were made to further improve plant safety margins. This report provides updated information and further analyses results, as well as detailed lessons learned from the accident at Fukushima Daiichi.

In addition to the above, in January 2015 ENEC provided FANR with some advance information related to the OLA for the purposes of familiarising itself ahead of the upcoming application. This included details of the organisation's Operational Integrated Management System, in addition to some advanced chapters of the FSAR on Conduct of Operations and Management of Safety and ENEC's Quality Assurance Program.

In advance of the OLA submission, ENEC has also applied to FANR for two separate licenses related to the import, receipt, and possession of radioactive and nuclear materials, which were submitted to FANR for approval earlier this year. ENEC anticipates receiving these licenses well in advance of the scheduled first fuel load for the UAE peaceful nuclear energy program, which is expected to take place in 2016.

Program update Construction of the Barakah Nuclear Power Plant is progressing safely and steadily, with Unit 1 now more than 69 percent complete and scheduled for completion in 2017. Additional units will follow at 12 month intervals, with the fourth unit set to commence commercial operations in 2020, pending regulatory approvals.

Upon completion, the four APR-1400 units will boast a combined capacity of approximately 5,600 MW and will be capable of generating approximately 25% of the UAE's electricity needs while saving up to 12 million tons of carbon emissions every year .

By 2020, ENEC will need approximately 2,000 highly trained personnel – the operators, engineers, technicians and support staff responsible for leading safe operations at ENEC's four plants in Barakah. In parallel to its large-scale construction program, ENEC is focused on developing the highly skilled nuclear energy workforce required to meet the needs of this growing industry and ensure the safe and successful operation of its plants.

To date, ENEC has more than 1400 staff and the organisation's comprehensive Energy Pioneers human capacity development program ensures that the organisation attracts the best and brightest and continues to invest in its people throughout their careers with world-class training and development opportunities. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Pink Caravan and Sharjah Media Corporation joint initiative first of its kind in UAE

posted on 27/03/2015

In the presence of Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development, a new project has been launched by the Pink Caravan and Sharjah Media Corporation called Caravan, the first state-of-the-art mobile mammography unit in the UAE.

It costs 15 million Dh and the aim is to give free breast cancer early detection screenings throughout the year.

The announcement was made during closing ceremony at Rosewood Hotel in Abu Dhabi of the Pink Caravan Ride, a pan-UAE breast cancer awareness initiative by the Friends of Cancer Patients charity (FoCP).

Dr Khalid Omar Al Midfa, Director General of Sharjah Media Corporation, announced a donation of 13 million Dh to sponsor Pink Caravan's project in a show of support for their work and achievements.

Dr Khalid Al Midfa said that the role of the media is not limited to news coverage and expressing opinions, but it goes beyond that to a higher noble objective as pointed out by H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, in his speech as he inaugurated the building of Sharjah TV. Sheikh Dr Sultan said, "The construction of this building and its equipment is only a means to an end that is more precious, higher and greater than what was spent and effort made."

Al Midfa added, "Sheikh Sultan has illustrated through his words the role entrusted by Sharjah TV and Sharjah Media Corporation is to put all their media potential to support and sponsor all the activities and events that contribute to the consolidation and development of the sense of loyalty and allegiance to the nation and society. I want to extend my deepest thanks and appreciation to Sheikh Dr Sultan for supporting and patronising this humanitarian initiative and Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi for her support of the Pink Caravan. Thanks is also due to Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan for supporting community and humanitarian initiatives."

Ameera BinKaram, President of the Board of Trustees and Founding Member of FoCP and Chairperson of the Higher Organising Committee of the Pink Caravan Ride said, "We are extremely proud to announce the launch of the Caravan mobile clinic, the first of its kind in the region, furnished with the latest equipment and devices necessary for the early detection of breast cancer and other related tests, which will enable us to provide free breast cancer screenings throughout the year in various parts of the UAE, instead of limiting them to 10 days as has been the case in the past. I'd like to extend my profound thanks and appreciation to Sharjah Media Corporation for its generous donation, and thank all those who have supported the Pink Caravan in the journey to this stage where we can now offer mammograms to tens of thousands of community members on a yearly basis."

She praised the continuous support of UAE leaders and their eagerness to participate in the ride and provide all forms of support and facilities, and thanked Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, for supporting the Pink Caravan since its inception.

At the end of the ceremony, Sheikh Nahyan honoured partners, supporters and ambassadors and all those who contributed to the success of the Pink Caravan Ride. Among them are the Sharjah Media Corporation, Sharjah Islamic Bank, the Sharjah Department of Protocol and Hospitality and the Executive Office of Sheikha Jawaher. Sheikh Nahyan also honoured Olympia Tabbash from Anfasic Dokhoon for her contribution to the Day of CEO's, and active ambassadors during the 10-day ride, including Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdullah Al Thani, TV presenter Saoud Al Kaabi, artist Fayez Al saeed, and TV presenter Ameera Al Fadl. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


DEWA signs agreements for second-phase 200MW PV plant at Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park

posted on 27/03/2015

In line with the directives of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan to produce renewable energy locally, sustainably manage natural resources and support growth of a new promising sector, and the Green Economy for Sustainable Development initiative launched by Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, to make the UAE one of the global leaders of sustainability and a hub for the export and re-export of green products and technologies.

Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, MD and CEO of Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA), has signed a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) and a Shareholder Agreement for the second phase of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park with Mohammad A. Abunayyan, Chairman of ACWA Power and representative of the ACWA Power- and TSK-led consortium to produce 200MW from photovoltaic solar power.

The project intends to strengthen the position of Dubai as a global hub for trade, finance, tourism, sustainability, and green economy and an international role model for achieving the highest standards in energy efficiency.

Emad Madani, Consul General of Saudi Arabia in Dubai, Paddy Padmanathan, CEO of ACWA Power, Joaquin Garcia Rico, CEO of TSK, Waleed Salman, Executive Vice President of Strategy and Business Development, Dr. Yousef Al Akraf, Executive Vice President of Business Support and Human Resources at DEWA, Hussain Lootah, Executive Vice President of Transmission, senior officials from ACWA Power, TSK, and DEWA attended the signing ceremony.

The second phase is based on the Independent Power Producer model and will be operational by April 2017. The project, which occupies 4.5 square kilometres, will help to achieve a reduction of 400,000 tonnes of carbon emissions, which supports the green initiatives and programmes implemented by the Government of Dubai to reduce carbon emissions.

"Signing the first agreement based on the Independent Power Producer model supports the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, which are the roadmap that leads our ambitious initiatives and developmental projects. It also supports the Dubai Plan 2021 to create a happy society that meets the needs of the citizens and residents of the Emirate," said Al Tayer.

"The PPA agreement supports the Dubai Integrated Energy Strategy 2030 developed by the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy to diversify Dubai's energy mix. Solar energy will account for 7% of the total energy production by 2020 and 15% by 2030. DEWA adds another solar plant at the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, which is one of the largest renewable energy projects in the region. The Solar Park will produce 3,000MW of electricity when completed in 2030. It is one of the biggest strategic new Independent Power Producer (IPP) projects in the renewable energy market worldwide," he added.

"The Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park is creating a shining opportunity for Dubai on so many levels. DEWA is aggressively working to bring solar power to the citizens and residents of Dubai by working with the most capable and efficient stakeholders, to ensure a brighter future for us all. The signing of the PPA with the ACWA Power and TSK consortium is yet another step forward in our efforts to create a brighter future for Dubai," concluded Al Tayer.

"This project further supports the vision of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to promote renewable energy sources. Dubai has a clear strategy to diversify its energy mix with renewable energy with specifically solar, playing a key role. This when combined with a politically stable environment and the availability of low-cost finance means that solar PV technology becomes commercially cost-effective," said Abunayyan. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


ADEC introduces a reformed Cycle 3 school model

posted on 27/03/2015

In line with its vision to provide students with high quality educational opportunities and to enhance student performance on a par with best international standards, the Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC) will introduce a school reform model for all Cycle 3 public schools, starting with Grades 10 and 11, from August 2015.

Starting August 2015-2016, Grade 11 students will study a unified stream with a common core curriculum and the reformed approach will be applied to Grade 12 students by the 2016-2017 academic school years, the Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC) announced yesterday.

In line with the announcement, ADEC is applying an innovative model which focuses on establishing links between learning outcomes, labour market needs and 21st century teaching and learning skills.

Dr. Amal Al Qubaisi, ADEC's Director General, explained that establishing and maintaining a knowledge-based economy requires the education system to prepare its students to become highly experienced and skilled for tomorrow's workforce, thus contributing in the nation's socio-economic development.

"Education should provide students with the opportunity to explore their potentials and talents, while equipping them with a strong education system that will result in students enrolling in some of the most prestigious higher education institutions, locally, regionally and internationally, and study programs and disciplines that are of paramount importance to the UAE," said Dr. Al Qubaisi.

ADEC's keenness to develop curriculum and improve learning outcomes reflects the utmost importance given to education by the UAE's wise and prudent leadership, added ADEC's Director-General.

Accordingly, the Cycle 3 reform model was introduced, since it reflects tangible outcomes of the P-12 education journey, while encouraging a smooth transition for students to higher education institutes and eventually to a competitive labour market.

Dr. Najwa Al Hosani, ADEC's Curriculum Division Manager, said that the reformed Cycle 3 school model aims to provide students with a wide range of subjects, with focus on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects, which provide fundamental skills and experience necessary to open doors for the future.

She further indicated that the reformed Cycle 3 curriculum focuses on establishing links between applied science and practical life, while providing value to science and technology, without prejudice to the importance of humanities, languages and social sciences, noting that the link between the two streams can be seen in the development of subjects such as Global Information System (GIS), which replaces traditional Geography.

The Cycle 3 school model is designed to link science to entrepreneurship, learning skills and to the nation's technological industry.

STEM will account for 50 percent of the curriculum and STEM subjects will be aligned with professional requirements in order to encourage entrepreneurship and innovation that lead to the establishment of new ICT enterprises and projects.

"The reformed curriculum provides the opportunity to identify talented students and support them. It also helps develop opportunities appropriate to the capabilities and needs of individual students and prepare learners to meet the needs of the labour market. The wide variety of electives will encourage students to select subjects matched with their interests, ambitions and aspirations, while linking them to future careers such as programming and advanced ICT sciences," said Dr. Al Hosani.

In addition to improving communication and ICT skills among students, the reformed Cycle 3 school model will support students to pass international assessments, offer academic and career guidance as well as encourage learning through extra-curricular activities.

Additionally, the curriculum focuses on promoting national identity, culture, heritage, Arabic language and bi-lingual skills, while encouraging public speaking skills among students.

Dr. Alaaeldin A. Aly, Knowledge Management Division Manager - Office of Planning and Strategic Affairs, said that under the reformed model, Grade 11 students will study a unified stream. They will be allowed to study a common core curriculum with basic subjects in line with the curriculum that consists of four divisions i.e. STEM, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (which includes Math, Science, Engineering, designing, Programming, ICT, Innovation, Creativity); Humanities (which includes Islamic Education and Integrated Social Studies); Communication and Languages (which includes Arabic, English, Verbal Communication and Artistic Writing); Student Learning Support Skills and Activities (Physical and Health Education, Leadership Skills, Jiu Jitsu, Academic and career Guidance).

In addition, Grade 11 students will study a number of electives that will help develop their abilities and support their future academic and career paths.

"Cycle 3 curriculum will continue to be taught in Arabic during the next academic school year until the Abu Dhabi bilingual school model is fully implemented," said Dr. Aly.

The reformed curriculum will develop student knowledge and improve their creative and critical thinking skills, in addition to Mathematics and literary skills.

The Cycle 3 reformation plays an integral part in the development of learning outcomes. The project responds to the proposals and strategies developed by educators in line with ‘Shaping the Future Forum' that was organised by ADEC earlier, and involved all educators across the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Abu Dhabi Super Show sparks Desert Challenge Anniversary

posted on 27/03/2015

The Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge powered by Nissan will mark its 25th anniversary in style on Saturday when the event is given a rousing send-off at Yas Marina Circuit, the stage for so much dramatic Formula One action in the UAE capital over the last six years.

Abu Dhabi's magnificent Grand Prix Circuit will for the first time host the super special spectator stage, giving motor sport enthusiasts a grandstand view of the mighty assembly of cars, buggies, bikes and quads in competitive action before they tackle some of the most spectacular and demanding desert terrain on earth.

Starting at 3pm on Saturday, the traditional curtain raiser for the Desert Challenge will see a powerful line-up of -- drivers and riders from the Middle East and worldwide racing against the clock over a twisting 2km course specially designed to launch the event's 25th edition.

It promises to be a fascinating start for an event which continues on Sunday with the first of five long desert stages in the second round of this year's FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies for cars and the opening round of the FIM Cross Country Rallies World Championship for bikes.

Among the stars on show will be reigning FIA World Cup and Desert Challenge cars champion Vladimir Vasilyev from Russia, this year's Dakar Rally winner Nasser Al Attiyah of Qatar, and the reigning FIM world champions, Spain's Marc Coma who is seeking an eighth bikes title in the UAE, and Poland's Rafal Sonik, who defends his quads crown.

Taking place under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Ruler's Representative in the Western Region, the 25th Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge is organised by the Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE.

The use of Yas Marina Circuit for the Super Special Spectator Stage highlights the extra lift given to the event through the new partnership agreement which has been formed this year between the ATCUAE and Abu Dhabi Motorsports Management.

The ATCUAE and ADMM are working together to guide the Desert Challenge to new heights, and Yas Marina Circuit is also hosting the Rally HQ and media centre, as well as yesterday's official press conference, and a glittering gala dinner and prize giving ceremony next Friday evening.

The Nissan Patrol, the "Hero of All terrain in Life", is positioned for the 12th year as the official vehicle of the event, and has again played a vital part in allowing the route planning team to create spectacular competitive stages in the desert of the Western Region of Al Gharbia.

The line-up of strategic partners includes the Ruler's Court in the Western Region, Western Region Municipality, Abu Dhabi Municipality, the UAE Army, Abu Dhabi Police, National Ambulance Service, Nissan, Yas Marina Circuit, ADNOC, Abu Dhabi Aviation, Al Ain Mineral Water, Abu Dhabi Waste Management, Rotana and Centro Hotels - Yas Island, Qasr Al Sarab Resort, Explorer and DP World.

"We are indebted to HH Sheikh Hamdan, and to the Abu Dhabi government, for their consistent support over the years to make this an event known and admired around the world," said ATCUAE President Mohammed Ben Sulayem, the rally founder.

"I'm proud to welcome such an impressive collection of competitors, support crews, officials and media to the UAE for the 25th edition of the Desert Challenge. This event means such a lot to me, to my team at the ATCUAE, our sponsors, and the many volunteers who give up their time each year and work so hard with us to make it happen."

Al Tareq Al Ameri, CEO of Yas Marina Circuit, commented: "The 25th anniversary of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge is a milestone not only for the event, but for UAE motor sport as a whole. We are delighted to be playing an increasingly active role in helping the ATCUAE ensure the rally continues to showcase Abu Dhabi as a world-class sporting destination."

Samir Cherfan, Managing Director, Nissan Middle East, said: "The 25th edition of the Desert Challenge also marks the 12th year of Nissan's involvement as strategic partner for the event. Nissan has a strong focus on motorsports in the Middle East and the Desert Challenge forms a powerful platform for us, and more so since it's been nominated as number one FIA Cross Country Race in the World. We look forward to continue our partnership and driving it to a new level." The Nissan Special Stage on the fourth leg, taking place on 1st April, will be arguably the rally's toughest section, stretching across some 258.10 kms of the most testing rallying terrain available.

The strength of the foreign challenge is highlighted by the entry of eight ALL4 Racing Minis by the German-based X-Raid team, two of them driven by Vasilyev and last year's runner-up, Poland's Adam Malysz. With Al Attiyah aiming to repeat his 2008 Desert Challenge victory at the wheel of another Mini, prospects of an Arab driver winning the event are strengthened by the presence of Saudi Arabia's Yazeed Al-Rajhi who has genuine title credentials in a Toyota Hilux.

Making the transition from conventional rallying to the cross country format in another Toyota is the UAE's Sheikh Khalid Al Qasimi. Also carrying UAE hopes is Desert Challenge regular Yahya Alhelei who has often excelled in the event, as he did last year by finishing fourth in a Nissan Pick-up, missing out on a podium place by just eight seconds. Among the 17 other Emirati drivers and top seeded in the buggies class is Ahmed Al Fahim, who narrowly failed to successfully defend his title in the recently completed Emirates Desert Championship.

Coma, six-times FIM Cross Country Rallies world champion, starts as favourite to land the bikes title for the eighth time, although he will be under pressure from last year's winner, Portugal's Paulo Goncalves, Spain's Joan Barreda Bort, and his Dubai-based KTM team-mate, Sam Sunderland. Battling it out with the men will be Russian lady rider Anastasia Nifontova.

Looking to complete back-to-back Desert Challenge victories, Sonik faces tough opposition from Qatar's 2013 quads winner Mohammed Abu Issa.

Meticulously honed for over 60 years, the Patrol is Nissan's flagship SUV model and enjoys a rich heritage and passionate followers in the Middle East.

Throughout the event, a fleet of Nissan Patrols will be at the disposal of the organisers to ensure the event runs smoothly to its conclusion. Also Nissan will not only be supporting the event but will be competing through their own Nissan Patrol entrant driven by Emil Khneisser, who won the Challenge last year. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Mohammed Balooshi powered by Yahsat at 25th Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge

posted on 27/03/2015

Yahsat, the Abu Dhabi based multipurpose satellite provider of broadband, broadcast, government and commercial communications solutions, which is wholly owned by Mubadala, and Sports2, the UAE based Sports Management company, will be sponsoring Mohammed Balooshi, the undisputed champion of Arabic motocross, at this year's Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge.

The 25th edition of the event is taking place from March 26th to April 2nd and is one of the most prestigious rounds of the international cross-country rallies.

YahClick, Yahsat's flagship high-speed satellite broadband internet service, will provide high speed internet access to Balooshi's majlis and his team at the Bivouac campsite in Liwa.

Najat Abdulrahman, Executive Director - Business Development at Yahsat, said, "Yahsat is proud to be sponsoring Mohammed Balooshi during this year's race. At Yahsat, we share an adventurous spirit with Balooshi, as pioneering ambassadors for the UAE. Our broadband service, YahClick, aims to "connect communities" and this partnership has provided us with a unique opportunity to connect with Balooshi's own community here on UAE soil.

YahClick operates in 12 countries and covers up to 25 countries. but it's truly wonderful to be able to create a special connection at home for one of the UAE's most charismatic sportsmen. YahClick was the perfect solution as it operates where there is a distinct need for reliable, high-speed internet coverage, particularly in rural or remote areas such as the Liwa campsite. We are looking forward to an exciting race for Balooshi and his fellow riders."

Mahir Badri, Managing Director of Sports2, said, "Our mission at Sports2 is to build a valuable and sustainable relationship between brands and athletes from the UAE. Balooshi is truly part of the Sports2 family and we are thrilled that Yahsat, a company that exudes the same values of drive, passion, work ethos and commitment to excellence are supporting his dreams. This year, Balooshi is the only professional Emirati motorcycle rider but we hope to change this through awareness of what he has achieved as an ambassador for the sport and the country. Through his MX Academy, Balooshi hopes to transfer his skills to those who love the sport and have the will and tenacity to succeed. We are proud to have YahSat to support Mohammed on this journey."

Crowned nine times as UAE Motocross Champion, the 35-year-old Balooshi will be one of 162 competitors from 36 countries taking part in the challenge.

Taking place under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler's Representative in the Western Region, the 25th Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge will be based at Yas Marina Circuit from 26th to 28th March.

While the Super Special Stage on Saturday will be a big draw for spectators, the main action takes place over five spectacular desert stages that follow, cutting through the intimidating dunes and sabkha plains of the Western Region of Al Gharbia. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


ADMAF reveals the latest album release from the Abu Dhabi Festival 2015 Composers’ Platform

posted on 27/03/2015

Collaborating with The Foundation for Arab Music, Archiving and Research, AMAR, the Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation, ADMAF, has announced the release of ‘Sami El Shawa: Prince of the Violin' - a four-CD box set featuring 83 original tracks by one of the Arab fathers of the violin.

Available at The Listening Post in the Emirates Palace Auditorium Foyer, Festival audiences can experience the magic of Sami El Shawa (1889-1965) and his musical genius until April 2nd.

‘Sami El Shawa: Prince of the Violin' is the latest in a long line of albums supported by The Abu Dhabi Festival Composers' Platform, which encourages innovative Arab music practitioners to create new works and recordings, and aims to raise the level of understanding and appreciation of Arabic music. Previous beneficiaries have included Faisal Al Saari, UAE, Naseer Shamma, Iraq, Bechara El Khoury, Lebanon / France, Hiba Al Kawas, Lebanon, Macadi Nahhas, Jordan, and The Foundation for Arab Music, Archiving and Research, Lebanon / UAE.

The box-set coincides with the launch of ‘Sami El Shawa: Prince of the Violin - His Life and His Works', available from Saqi Books. It will also be the focus of one of two concerts at the 2015 Shubbak Festival – London's celebration of Arab art and culture - on July 11th at The Barbican, supported by ADMAF and AMAR, ‘Sami El Shawa: Prince of the Violin', featuring the acclaimed Kuwaiti violinist Ahmed Al Salhi and ‘Asil Ensemble featuring Karima Skalli presents Um Kulthum's Burda and Today's Burda', featuring The Asil Ensemble for Contemporary Arab Music.

Further information on admission, schedules, venues and upcoming performances can be found on the Festival website. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Fourth Louvre Abu Dhabi: Talking Art Series titled Representation and Symbolism of Light

posted on 27/03/2015

The Louvre Abu Dhabi: Talking Art Series returned on Wednesday for a discussion of the importance of light as a symbol in universal religions at Manarat Al Saadiyat.

Panellists Martin Kemp, Emeritus Research Professor in the History of Art, University of Oxford, and Sabiha Al Khemir, Senior Advisor of Islamic Art, the Dallas Museum of Art, offered the audience an insight into the importance of how light is represented and enhanced through choices of material, technique and innovative architectural design and philosophies often associated with prophecies and spirituality. The talk was focused around the mid-14th century mosque lamp on loan from the Louvre Museum in Paris, which will be exhibited in Louvre Abu Dhabi when it opens alongside the museum's permanent collection.

The final talk of the series, Art as Witness of Globalisation, will take place on May 27th, 2015 at Manarat Al Saadiyat located in the Saadiyat Cultural District in Abu Dhabi. There are limited seats available for the Louvre Abu Dhabi: Talking Art Series IV. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -