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Bodour Al Qasimi encourages youth participation in World Economic Forum

posted on 24/05/2015

DEAD SEA, JORDAN: Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairperson of the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), has called to provide young leaders with the opportunity to participate in the upcoming events of the World Economic Forum as key speakers, to talk about their views, ideas and aspirations.

She also stressed the need to invest in qualified young people to stop the migration of Arab minds and empower them to become effective contributors to the economic, social, and political development of their nations, and to achieve prosperity and peace in the region.

Sheikha Bodour's call came during her participation in the World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa, which concluded yesterday (Saturday) at the King Hussein bin Talal Convention in the Dead Sea, Jordan, in the presence of more than 900 key government, business and civil society leaders representing 50 countries from the region and beyond.

Speaking in the panel discussion titled ‘The Youth Imperative: What Shifts Are Necessary to equip the region's youth for a future of peace and prosperity?' on the second day, Sheikha Bodour said, "There is no better investment than in youth and in empowering them in their home countries, especially given that the Arab world is replete with creative young minds that often resort to migrating abroad due to lack of opportunities at home."

She emphasised the importance of offering a platform for young people in the World Economic Forum and their taking part as speakers in such an important international event, in order to play a role in shaping their own future and solving their problems, notably unemployment, and finding practical solutions to the challenges facing the region a move that will raise hope in the hearts of young people and help them escape the circle of frustration and despair.

Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi, the first Emirati woman to co-chair the world economic event, was joined in the session by Kuwaiti businessman Omar Al Ghanim, CEO of Al Ghanim Industries, Carolina de Borbon Parma, Head and Representative for Partnerships, Switzerland, UNRWA, and Mahmoud Jibril, Leader of the National Forces Alliance of Libya.

Attending the event were Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan, His Royal Highness Crown Prince Al Hussein bin Abdullah II, and from the UAE Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, Minister of State, along with a number of Emirati figures and a delegation from the Emirate of Sharjah, composed of representatives from various government departments and authorities, as well as an elite group of Arab and global figures.

Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi highlighted that Arab youth should be seen as a national wealth and a great opportunity to achieve development and prosperity in the region rather than a problem to solve, calling for concerted efforts between Arab governments and people to push ahead with the development process. She said, "Its collective responsibility, not just the governments' responsibility. I think everyone should play a role parents, governments, the private sector and civil society."

On the first day of the forum, Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi took part in a closed-door panel discussion at the Young Global Leaders Community Bonding event, held as part of the Forum of Young Global Leaders. She delivered a key speech in which she called for a plan of action for youth empowerment and full engagement with all walks of life in the Arab world, while encouraging Arab youth to regain their right to realise their dreams and create a future of their choice.

The Forum of Young Global Leaders - an integral part of the World Economic Forum and part of the larger New Champions community - aims to make a positive impact on the global agenda by engaging the YGL community in initiatives and dialogues related to specific global challenges they collectively identify with.

The YGL forum is a unique, multi-stakeholder community of more than 900 exceptional young leaders from all backgrounds, nationalities and stakeholder groups. Bold, brave, action-oriented and entrepreneurial, these individuals commit both their time and talent to make the world a better place.

The 2015 World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa, which was held under the theme of ‘Creating a Regional Framework for Prosperity and Peace through Public-Private Cooperation', is an international platform and institution committed to improving the state of the world through public-private cooperation in the spirit of global citizenship. – Emirates News Agency, WAM –


Commissioner for Expo Milano: UAE pavilion competes with other participating pavilions

posted on 24/05/2015

MILAN: Bruno Pasquino, the Commissioner-General for Expo Milano 2015, said the overwhelming turn out of visitors to the UAE Pavilion at Expo Milano stands testimony to its appeal to compete with other participating pavilions.

In a statement to Emirates News Agency, WAM, Pasquino said he was impressed with the 'Family Tree', a movie offering glimpses of the challenges that faced Emiratis before the discovery of oil. He said he was personally moved by the message of the short film.

He also expressed admiration for the central theme of Expo 2020 Dubai: ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future,' which reflected Dubai's ambition to become a cultural melting pot for nations of the world.

He expected that Expo Milano, which his country is hosting for six months, would attract 20 million visitors, and hoped its counterpart in Dubai would bring in 25 million visitors, according to organisers' estimates. – Emirates News Agency, WAM –


Official launch of UAE Space Agency to take place on Monday in Abu Dhabi

posted on 24/05/2015

Under the patronage of Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the UAE Space Agency will launch its official strategy and operational plan this week in Abu Dhabi on 25 May.

The official launch event will showcase the aims of the strategy and plan, which are to strengthen the foundations of the space sector and work towards creating a developed and integrated industry that will enable the UAE to become one of the leading countries in space science exploration.

The UAE Space Agency launch will include a focus on the Agency's mission, values and priorities for the future. The event will also introduce a number of initiatives and programmes being carried out in line with the Agency's strategic goals.

The 5th Global Space & Satellite Forum (GSSF), will begin the following day on 26 May and will outline the importance of investment in space education and how it can support the growth of the industry and national security. GSSF 2015 will examine the complete journey that emerging and developed space regions need to take from research through to development and modern applications. The forum is officially endorsed and hosted by the UAE Space Agency.

The UAE Space Agency will also launch a space museum at the forum, which will aim at enhancing knowledge and understanding of the UAE Space industry. As part of GSSF, the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) will run a competition to conduct scientific research and comprehensive study in designing and implementing state-of-the-art applications for the use of Earth Observation images acquired by DubaiSat-2.

The competition aims at promoting the utilisation of the DubaiSat-2 mission data. DubaiSat-2 products are expected for a wide range of disciplines spanning from land use and land cover, topography and geology and others. The competition is open to participants across UAE research institutions and universities. Participants are accepted individually or in a group of maximum of 5 members.

GSSF 2015 will also flag the growing investments being made in the space industry. With an investment exceeding USD 5.44 billion in commercial and scientific space projects the UAE is steadily progressing towards becoming a truly international player within the space sector. The investment in space technologies are shared among several companies and space programmes including Satellite Communications Companies Yahsat, Thuraya and the Emirates Institution for Advanced Science and Technology (EIAST) who lead the DubaiSAT 1 and DubaiSAT 2 programmes. – Emirates News Agency, WAM –


Masdar Institute addressing UAE Mars Mission with research, collaboration, and innovation

posted on 24/05/2015

The Masdar Institute of Science and Technology is ramping up its efforts to support the UAE's Mars mission and its focus on developing its space technology sector through a number of initiatives that are already underway.

Masdar Institute has set up an internal team of researchers to ensure that its research and academic offerings are ready to help the UAE achieve its goal of sending an unmanned space probe to Mars by 2021.

Masdar Institute is also a member of the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre's science and research team, which is one of seven teams of UAE National scientists that have been established to cover all aspects of the Mars mission. Masdar Institute is one of the seven universities on the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre science and research team, which is tasked with planning science objectives, implementing data gathering resources to meet objectives and complete analysis of incoming scientific data from the mission.

"Masdar Institute is committed to supporting the UAE's space ambitions and needs. The team we have set up is tasked with ensuring that Masdar Institute is able to support the UAE's Mars Mission to the fullest, capitalising on the diverse and high-value expertise of our faculty, our programs, our students and our research infrastructure," Dr. Mohamed Sassi, Interim Dean of Faculty and Professor of Mechanical and Materials Science at Masdar Institute, explained.

Masdar Institute is actively working towards setting up a sustainable research and training infrastructure in the UAE with the long-term objective of generating the human and intellectual capital that is required to achieve the UAE's space goals.

It is estimated that 150 Emirati scientists and engineers will be needed to work on the Mars mission by 2020. In response to the growing need for engineers and technical specialists with relevant training in space technologies Masdar Institute is laying the groundwork for the establishment of dedicated graduate level space-oriented education programs to form and train UAE Nationals in fields relevant to the UAE space agency mission. The established programs will foster the development of R&D projects in which graduate students and scientists will be involved to address the UAE's space goals. In addition, the diverse disciplines of Masdar Institute's existing educational programs will be applied to other space-oriented research needs.

"Student researchers in the UAE can focus their research efforts towards solving real problems and exploring new research opportunities. Students who will work on answering questions posed by the Mars mission ‘Hope' will have a sense of ownership, accomplishment and satisfaction by solving real problems and serving real clients," said Dr. Saif Al Mheiri, Assistant Professor of Mechanical and Materials Engineering at Masdar Institute.

The team members include Dr. Sassi, Dr. Al Mheiri, Dr. Prashanth Marpu, Assistant Professor of Water and Environmental Engineering, Dr. Bruce Ferguson, Head of the Institute Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Dr. Marouane Temimi, Associate Professor of Water and Environmental Engineering, Dr. Hosni Ghedira, Director of the UAE Research Centre for Renewable Energy Mapping and Assessment and Professor of Practice, and Dr. Daniel Choi, Associate Professor - Department of Mechanical & Materials Engineering.

To further enrich the UAE's broader research ecosystem in a way that contributes to the country's space ambitions, Masdar Institute has also established the UAE Chapter of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers' (IEEE) Geoscience and Remote Sensing Society (GRSS). It aims to engage in active collaborations with various universities, industry and government agencies in the UAE to foster remote sensing research by bringing together the remote sensing researchers and professionals. The chapter will also provide a platform to organise regular meetings for timely dissemination of research results and outreach.

"The UAE has already invested US$5.4 billion in space technologies; thus, collaboration between the industry and academia warrants a sustainable growth to the Emirati space industry through knowledge creation. The benefits of such collaboration are mutual to both parties. The industry will have access to cutting-edge scientific research and specialised equipment as well as the invaluable experience that researchers bring to the table," Dr. Al Mheiri said.

Masdar Institute's Earth Observation and Hydro-climatology Lab has been engaged in a number of research projects that enrich and expand local competency in technical areas of relevance to the Mars mission. Its faculty is working on a diverse range of remote sensing research projects with special focus on desert and arid climate such as urban heat island studies; monitoring oil spills, solar resources, and dust storms; land-atmosphere interactions; modelling of hydro-meteorological variables; and climate change studies.

Masdar Institute will be proposing some new applications of its research to the needs of the Mars mission at the upcoming Global Space and Satellite Forum, to be held in Abu Dhabi on May 26-27. The event is hosted by the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre with the endorsement of the UAE Space Agency and aims to will gather key regional and international stakeholders and decision makers from the space and satellite industry.

The UAE entered the space race last July with its announcement of a goal to send an unmanned probe to Mars by 2021, making it the first Arab nation with a mission to another planet. In response to the UAE's 'Hope Mars Mission, the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre was established, incorporating the pre-existing Emirates Institution for Advanced Science and Technology (EIAST), to coordinate the UAE's growing space technology sector and to supervise the mission. – Emirates News Agency, WAM –


Future of UAE’s renewable energy programmes in good hands

posted on 24/05/2015

SEOUL: To support her country's foray into the atomic energy sector, Marwa Al Shehhi has looked further afield – to South Korea.

"Nuclear energy is interesting all over the world, and hearing that my country was adopting safe nuclear energy really made me proud. So I wanted to take part in that initiative,” said the student, who earlier this year started a two-year master's programme in nuclear engineering and power plant management at Kings Kepco International Nuclear Graduate School in Seoul.

"I thought coming to Korea would be much more beneficial for my country because we're trying to have some kind of mutual understanding and learn from their side, their language, working in their nuclear power plants.”

The 30-year old headed east in February after completing her bachelor's degree in biomedical engineering at Abu Dhabi Higher Colleges of Technology.

She is one of many young Emiratis sponsored by the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (Enec) to study nuclear energy in the South Korean capital.

"Over the coming years our demand for power will increase, so we have to supply that demand,” Ms Al Shehhi said. "Nuclear can meet that calculated percentage of energy required for the whole country and I would like to be involved in the next steps for the UAE's nuclear programme once I graduate.”

Students take a variety of courses to help them understand the inner workings of nuclear power plants, including physics, chemistry, management and mathematics. To fully experience their host country, they are also taught basic Korean.

Learning about nuclear energy, Ms Al Shehhi said, required dedication. "We've had almost 16 subjects in three months,” said the Ras Al Khaimah native who became the university's first female student council president.

"It was intense but we made it. They will then give us three paths to follow, including pure management, technical or design.”

Fellow Emirati Omar Al Hashmi is halfway through his four-year bachelor programme in nuclear engineering at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (Kaist).

"Since I was young, I was really interested in science,” said the 20-year-old. "When I graduated, I saw the UAE was trying to adopt renewable energy and the programme was interesting so I really wanted to be one of the first to apply to it.”

Having visited Korea previously, the Dubai native said he was impressed by the country's universities. "This pushed me to want to learn from them. My father also encouraged me because he knows how advanced it is here.”

His aim is to become a nuclear engineer in the UAE. "I want to make my country proud and try to advance nuclear studies in the UAE. We're trying to reduce our carbon emissions and this is one of the best ways to do it.”

Saeed Al Mheiri, another Kaist student, hoped to be an intern at the Korea Electric Power Corporation, the company constructing Abu Dhabi's nuclear plant in Barakah, before joining Enec.

"The country is in great need of nuclear engineers before the construction of the nuclear power plant is complete,” he said. "I understood from Masdar how important and safe nuclear energy was, so I'd like to be one of the first pioneers in this field.”

Hamad Al Kaabi, the UAE ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, said cooperation between the two countries was strong.

"Our regulator works closely with Korean entities to support licensing of the plant and conducts regular visits to Korea for this purpose. Similarly, Enec has a strong presence in Korea through their office and permanent staff in Seoul,” he said.

"The objective is to support the smooth implementation of the nuclear project. Emirati staff are being trained in Korean facilities and students learn nuclear engineering at Korean universities, which is all part of ongoing cooperation programmes supporting the development of human resources for the UAE nuclear sector.” – The National -


UAE shares commitment to regional development through partnerships at World Economic Forum meeting

posted on 24/05/2015

Education, youth employment, women's empowerment and public-private partnerships are key to ensuring sustainable economic growth and stability in the Arab world, according to Dr. Sultan bin Ahmed Sultan Al Jaber, UAE Minister of State, who led a high-level UAE delegation to the World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa.

The forum, being held in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan between 21-23 May, brought together 800 key MENA region leaders from government, business and civil society to support a comprehensive blueprint for prosperity and peace, based on a framework for public-private cooperation.

Dr Al Jaber said, "The UAE leadership has long recognised the critical importance of transitioning from a resource based economy to an economy that is based on knowledge and innovation. A highly educated, skilled and motivated workforce has the capability to jump-start economic growth and foster job creation and entrepreneurship.

"The UAE, in line with our leadership's vision, is committed to contributing to the region's economic growth and stability. Achieving this goal requires public and private partnerships, with a particular emphasis on the advancement of youth, education and women's empowerment."

During the forum, Dr Al Jaber and the UAE delegation met with His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan and discussed the long standing political and trade ties between the two countries.

"The UAE commends His Majesty King Abdullah II for hosting a conference aimed at catalysing partnerships to enhance regional security and growth. These are objectives that are closely shared between the UAE, Jordan and the broader region".

Al Jaber also met with Jordan's Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources, Ibrahim Saif. Together they discussed the onshore 117MW Taflia Wind Farm project, which Masdar has a 31 per cent shareholding. The project, due to be completed later this year, will be the first utility-scale renewable energy project in Jordan, and will account for almost 10 percent of the country's 2020 renewable energy target and increase its total power generation capacity by three percent.

Dr Al Jaber also met with Professor Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, to discuss the upcoming Summit on the Global Agenda, which will take place in Abu Dhabi in October. The Summit will bring together public and private sector leaders of the World Economic Forum's Network of Global Agenda Councils, comprising more than 80 groups of experts from academia, business, civil society, international organisations and government.

The World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa was attended by Their Royal Majesties King Abdullah II and Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan. The conference built on recent initiatives by leaders in the region and internationally, and provided a high-level public-private coordination platform to respond to shared economic, societal and geopolitical challenges.

The policy reform momentum in many countries including Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco was a focus of the meeting, along with the attendant infrastructure, energy and investment partnerships with the Gulf Cooperation Council countries and international financial institutions and the role of the private sector in economic development. High-level discussions on regional security and humanitarian challenges were also held.

The UAE delegation to the Forum comprised government officials and business leaders, including Sheikha Budoor bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairperson of the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq); Ibrahim Al Mahmoud, Vice Chairperson of Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce; Mohamed Alabbar, Chairman of Emaar Properties; Jamal Al Ghurari, Managing Director of Gulf Sugar; Abdullah Saeed bin Thani, Chairman of Thani Investment Group; Noura Al Kaabi, CEO, Media Zone Authority-Abu Dhabi; Dr Ahmed Behoul, Masdar CEO, and Fahad al Tafaq, Director of the Department of Economic Affairs and International Cooperation - UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs. – Emirates News Agency, WAM –


Al Rumaithi chairs UAE delegation to meeting of Arab chiefs of staff in Cairo

posted on 24/05/2015

CAIRO: The UAE yesterday participated in the second meeting of Arab armed forces' chiefs of staff at the Arab League's Secretariat General in Cairo, which was dedicated to complete discussions on the formation of a joint Arab military force to address challenges and threats facing the Arab national security, particularly those from terrorist groups.

The UAE delegation was led by Lt. General Hamad Mohammed Thani Al Rumaithi, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces, and included Mohammed bin Nakhira Al Dhaheri, the UAE's Ambassador to Egypt and Permanent Representative at the Arab League.

The chief of staff of the Egyptian army, Lt. General Mahmoud Hegazy, who chaired the meeting, underscored that chiefs of staff of Arab armies must implement the Sharm El Sheikh Arab Summit's resolution for creating a joint Arab force before 29th July, 2015.

'In fact, we should finish our job before the 29th of July to give the Summit Presidency at least a month to conduct consultations in that respect,' Hegazy said in his address before the meeting.

The Arab military commander examined a draft of the optional protocol regarding the formation of the joint force and an explanatory note on implementation of the summit's relevant resolution to safeguard the Arab national security. – Emirates News Agency, WAM –


Mohammed bin Rashid views results of transition to m-Government

posted on 24/05/2015

Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, at a meeting with government officials, has viewed a report on the results of the transition to m-Government.

H.H. Sheikh Mohammed said that an accomplishment rate of 96.3 percent was reported by the government's most important 337 departments providing services on daily basis to customers at the end of the two-year timeline set for shifting to m-Government and m-Services.

The report , be published in the media upon orders from Sheikh Mohammed, shows that the biggest 41 government departments succeeded in achieving the shift to m-Services within 730 days.

H.H. Sheikh Mohammed said, "Work teams managed to complete the shift to m-Services. The next stage is to link all services together, improve the quality of smart applications and achieve a high satisfaction rate for smart services. The report also explains that the low numbers of users of some m-Government services were attributed to low awareness of users and sometimes to the difficulty to use these services."

The meeting with H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid was attended by Mohammed bin Abdullah Al Gergawi, Minister for Cabinet Affairs; Mohamad Ahmad Al-Qamzi, Chairman of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of (TRA); Khalifa Saeed Sulaiman, Director General of Dubai's Protocol Department; Ohood Al Roumi, Director-General Office of the Prime Minister; Hamad Al Mansouri, Director-General of the UAE Smart Government and Director-General of the TRA.

"The target of raising the number of m-Service users to 80 percent by 2018 has been set. The report also shows varied degrees of quality and user-friendliness of the services... We want these services to be more streamlined, faster and simpler. We also want the customers to be happier than they were in the past years."

Sheikh Mohammed added, "The two-year deadline was not meant to be a scourge hanging over work teams. Rather, it was meant to be just like any other ordinary practice in administration and leadership where a timeline is set for fulfilling each target that we have. The aim of our government is not to keep pace with the ongoing technological and scientific developments in the UAE but to lead these developments. This is no easy challenge"

"A star rating system for all m-Government services will be put in place in the coming stage to inform customers about the quality of any service before they start to use it."

H.H. Sheikh Mohammed also said, "The most important change that was taking place over two past years was the change of mentality, the culture of government services and the archaic definition. Today, delivery of services no longer relies on buildings and thousands of employees, but on advanced systems and innovative minds. In the near future, we will see yet bigger and faster changes."

In May 2013, H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum announced a new "government vision of the future" following a meeting with government officials.

The project, called m-Government, follows the e-Government initiative which was launched in 2000 and led to most government services being made available online.

Sheikh Mohammed tweeted, "The Government of the future works 24/7 and 365 days a year. "A successful government is one that goes to the people and does not wait for them to come to it." – Emirates News Agency, WAM –


Al Mansouri expresses satisfaction at findings of report on e-government transition

posted on 24/05/2015

Minister of Economy Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri has expressed satisfaction at the results of the final report on transition to m-Government, which showed the marked progress the UAE is making under the wise leadership of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai.

'Findings of the report have highlighted the scale of positive interaction of teamworks in government entities with the two year grace period set out by Vice President to make the transition towards m-government, which was crowned yesterday by HH's announcement of excellent results that reflected the scale of progress in e-services the federal government is providing to clients as part of the government modernisation initiative,' Al Mansouri said in a statement following the release of the final report on m-government.

Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, at a meeting with government officials yesterday, viewed the report about the results of the transition to m-Government.

'A delivery rate of 96.3 percent in transition to smart services in 337 key federal departments providing services on a daily basis to customers at the end of the two-year timeline set for shifting to m-Government and m-Services is a great achievement if we look at the given grace period. This has proved that the UAE people have lived up to the leadership's expectations and trust and that they are capable of keeping up with the pace of the leadership's prudent vision, which has turned the UAE into a role model when it comes to progress and development,' he noted.

'Today, we reaffirm anew that we all stand united behind our wise leadership's ambitious vision to reduce the number of clients in government services' centres by 80 percent through 2018, a target that we will strive to reach as part of the commitment to instructions given by HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid and out of belief in advanced methodology in government work, based on quality and excellence,' he concluded. – Emirates News Agency, WAM –


DEWA starts operation of Al Lusaily reservoir

posted on 24/05/2015

Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) has completed construction of the Lusaily water reservoir. Built at a cost of Dh 246 million, the reservoir has a storage capacity of 120 million gallons of desalinated water.

"DEWA works according to its strategy, which is a key component of the Dubai Plan 2021. We work to establish Dubai's leading regional position as a role model for the efficiency and effectiveness of electricity and water infrastructure that meets the current and future requirements of the Emirate's development. The construction of the Lusaily water reservoir supports DEWA's efforts to enhance the efficiency and reliability of the water network, increase water flow to fulfil increasing demand for water in all parts of Dubai, and raise the volume of the Emirate's water reserves and support sustainable development," said Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, MD & CEO of DEWA.

"DEWA works to meet customers' expectations according to the highest standards of reliability, efficiency, and safety. The project includes building two reservoirs with a storage capacity of 120 million gallons of desalinated water. This will strengthen the water network and increase water storage capacity in different parts of Dubai," added Al Tayer.

"The completion of this project has increased the total storage capacity of DEWA to 790 million gallons compared to the earlier capacity of 670 million gallons. This increases daily storage to the equivalent of three days of water use by the Emirate of Dubai," concluded Al Tayer. – Emirates News Agency, WAM –


RTA ponders Smart Car Rental model

posted on 24/05/2015

The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) is currently examining in detail the implementation of the Smart Rental initiative whereby cars will be on offer to ease the mobility of public transport riders, especially the Dubai Metro, to their final destinations. It is believed that the initiative will have three-fold benefits in terms of increasing the ridership of public transport, reducing car ownership, and minimising carbon emissions.

Mattar Al Tayer, Director General and Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of RTA , said: "A team from the RTA has commissioned a study of the Smart Rental initiative to review the best global practices in this field. The team developed the initial strategy towards exploring the possibility of implementing the initiative in the Emirate of Dubai, examined the impact of the initiative on traffic safety, and reviewed the most suitable operational model. The gist of the initiative is that a person rents a car for a short period, not exceeding six hours, by using smart apps on mobile phones or online, and the vehicle will be collected from a public place without involving employees in the process. Once the mission is accomplished, the car has to be returned to a specific location nearby metro stations.

"The RTA is currently mulling three models of smart rental. The first is two-way rental model; where a person will collect the car from a specific location (near a public transport station) and the car has to be delivered back after use to the same location. The second is a one-way rental model; where a car will be collected from one location and delivered to another location. The third model is station vehicles; where a number of users will share the same vehicle. The RTA is planning to offer the project to private companies in the near future," explained Al Tayer.

"International practices reviewed by the RTA proved that the Smart Rental model has a host of benefits including reducing the ownership of private cars; where 25 to 71% of respondents refrained from buying new vehicles, and 15 to 20% of them disposed of their private vehicles. Benefits also include reducing the distance covered by vehicles and accordingly curbing congestion as well as carbon emissions. It also contributed to increasing the use of mass transit means by as much as 13 to 54%.

"The RTA has then commissioned a questionnaire covering about 1000 samples to figure out places and scope of the anticipated demand for the Smart Rental model in the Emirate of Dubai. Results showed that about 66% of respondents welcomed the idea, and 80% of them reported they would use the cars when provided. It also showed that 50% of respondents believed that the model is highly relevant to shopping and visits during holidays," added Al Tayer.

RTA 's Director General and Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors stressed that the RTA would continue to roll out innovative solutions and pioneering initiatives capable of enhancing public transport modes, and undertaking projects that would encourage the public to use mass transport means such that they would become the favourite mobility choice in Dubai. – Emirates News Agency, WAM –


Dubai Parks works on future connectivity

posted on 24/05/2015

The extension of the Dubai Metro network services to the in-development Dubai Parks and Resorts (DPR) destination is still being worked on, according to a top official with the theme park company. The project is fully on track for an October 2016 opening date, with work on all three of the park's attractions progressing apace, he added.

The developer is forecasting 5.2 million visitors a year initially, with each visitor expected to spend an average of seven hours at each theme park. This translates into 6.7 million "visitations”, which is when a visitor could use his visit to take in more than one of the parks. As per current estimates, the destination's facilities can "handle double the number of the expected "visitations” and can always extend working hours during public holidays and special occasions such as during Eid,” the official said.

"Obviously, the Metro related will be decided by RTA in due course – on our part we are advancing on creating the bridge network (off the Dubai-Abu Dhabi highway) for the incoming and outgoing visitor flows,” said Raed Al Nuaimi. "As important as the individual attractions within, we are fast-tracking the creation of the road access from either side, given that the destination is more or less equidistant from the Dubai and Abu Dhabi city centres.”

The location will be built to absorb as many as 8,000 vehicles at peak usage.

As part of the 25 million square feet Phase 1 development, the build-up of the structures housing the Dreamworks' attractions as well ‘Raj Mahal', the ultimate Bollywood inspired dream ride, are already at an advanced stage. These two have the longest "lead-time” of the various concepts that will make up the destination.

"It will be for the first time in the theme park industry that three "gates” are opening simultaneously at a single destination,” said Al Nuaimi. "There may have been bigger developments that cater to a larger visitor base… but they were essentially built around a single unified theme.”

Once the parks open and visitor numbers fall in line with projections, DPR will take the decision on the timing to add future attractions. "At each of the three parks, we have the land available to double in size,” the CEO said. "In the industry, a "minor” attraction usually gets tagged on every third year and a "major” new addition takes place by the fifth year.”

The 503-key ‘Lapita' hotel will also open in October next year, meeting the need of those visitors who plan to stay on for a more leisurely taking in of the various concepts. (The CEO declined to say whether there are plans to create additional hotel room capacity at the location.) The water element – a 1 kilometre long stretch embodied in the ‘Riverland' leisure cluster – will be one of the final tasks of the project. The concept for the location, which will essentially feature F&B offerings, is being developed in-house. Meanwhile, "one-on-one” contacts have been made with potential tenants who will take up the 54 outlets falling on Riverland. – Gulf News -


Ajman becomes 90 per cent plastic bag-free

posted on 24/05/2015

Five years after the Ajman Municipality issued a ban on the use of plastic bags, about 90 per cent of the commercial outlets in the emirate have made the switch to green alternatives like paper bags.

Yahya Al Reyaysa, Director-General of the municipality, said an initiative called ‘Day Without Plastic Bags' — which has been organised for the last four years — has helped in reducing the dependence on plastic bags.

As part of the initiative, which was launched in 2012, the municipality organised an awareness programme this year to educate the community about the importance of using paper bags in schools and shopping malls. The municipality distributed 15,000 brochures among the public as part of the programme.

Municipality inspectors visit the markets regularly to ensure that shops are using paper bags and other alternatives to plastic bags. "Our objective is to encourage citizens and residents in the emirate to cooperate with us in ensuring a healthy and green environment in the emirate,” he said.

Ajman was the first emirate to ban the use of plastic bags in 2010 after reports emerged of animals like camels dying after consuming them.

"Plastic bags pose risks to the environment as they take over 100 years to decompose. Popular areas like beaches and seashores are at risk as they are frequently visited by people,” he stated.

2016 to be plastic-free?

Humaid Abdullah Al Mualla, Director of the Department of Public Health and Environment at the municipality, is working towards making 2016 a year free of plastic bags in the emirate. "This requires cooperation between importers, shops and consumers.”

Outlets found using plastic bags are liable to be slapped with a Dh50,000 fine. The fine is doubled in case of repeat violations.

Khalid Al Hosani, Director of Health and Environment at the municipality, said the provisions of the municipal order issued by Shaikh Rashid bin Humaid Al Nuami, Chairman of the Ajman Municipality, helped achieve its objectives. The third article of the order mandated plastic bag importers to contact the municipality to re-register and provide data of their companies which will be included in the records. They must get written approval before importing any type of plastic bags.

The fourth article warns commercial and industrial establishments against dealing with plastic bag importers who are not approved by the municipality.

The municipality allows only recyclable plastic bags which must bear stickers showing the name of the establishment and the period specified for recycling the bag.

Al Hosani said the municipality fined many importers who were found flouting the order, and non-recyclable bags imported to the emirate were confiscated. "We also banned plastic bag distributors based in the other emirates from distributing bags in Ajman's markets. We have a list of the factories producing plastic bags and the quantity produced, consumed and exported from the country.” – Khaleej Times -§ion=nationgeneral