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Respect and peace among Eid messages across the U.A.E.

posted on 29/07/2014

The importance of peace, solidarity, tolerance, respect and following the teachings of Islam and the Prophet Mohammed were prominent in sermons across the country to mark the start of Eid Al Fitr on Monday.

Sheikh Humaid bin Rashid Al Nuaimi, Ruler of Ajman, performed Eid prayers at Sheikh Rashid bin Humaid Al Nuaimi Mosque.

Sheikh Hussein Al Hosani, director of the Islamic Scientific Institute in Ajman, congratulated Muslims on the start of Eid, urging them to strictly adhere to teachings of the Quran and Prophet Mohammed, to fear Allah and have mercy on each other.

In Fujairah, Sheikh Hamad Al Kindi, preacher at the General Authority for Islamic Affairs, said in his sermon: "Eid Al Fitr is the day for solidarity among people and peace.”

The importance of visiting relatives, which promotes tolerance and respect among people, was the central theme of the sermon at Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Umm Al Qaiwain, attended by the Ruler, Sheikh Saud bin Rashid Al Mualla.

Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, was among worshippers who were told of the importance of women's role in society, and prayed for the good health of Sheikh Khalifa, the President. – The National -


Eid brings together diverse cultures, nationalities

posted on 29/07/2014

A stark contrast from the quiet daytimes during the holy month of Ramadan, Monday afternoon saw swarms of Muslim and non-Muslim expatriates alike flock to the malls and streets of Dubai to mark the first day of Eid. A country which has more than 200 different nationalities living together as one, Eid Al Fitr celebrations brought them together.

Twenty eight-year-old British expat Lynzi Claire moved to Dubai just five months ago and this is her first Eid in the U.A.E.. Back home she says many around her would celebrate the occasion.

"I used to live in a town with a very large Muslim community, one of the highest in the UK, in fact. So although this is my first time celebrating here, I am quite accustomed to it all.”

With a relaxing few days off work to look forward to, Claire says she'll be making the most of her time off enjoying it with friends by the pool.

"My friend actually shares her birthday with the first day of Eid, too, so we'll be continuing the celebrations this evening by throwing her a barbeque.”

With the U.A.E. holding the highest rates in the world as far as diversity of foreign nationalities is concerned, residents here witness a vast number of religious holidays and celebrations each year.

Though Eid Al Fitr is a day of blessings for all fasting Muslims, it also aims to bring together the diverse cultures and nationalities.

With the government hosting a number of initiatives including ‘Eid In Dubai' many choose to join in on the joyous celebrations, despite different religious backgrounds.

Living in the UK for 10 years, 23-year-old Maddie S has celebrated Eid with friends and family here for many years. With her family now back home in the UK, she says this year will be a little quieter.

"I will be spending Eid mostly relaxing and catching up with friends,” she said.

And 27-year-old British expat Mark Buchan says he will be spending it in a similar way.

"My family is holidaying in Turkey at the moment so I'll just be here with friends. I may go to the mall but it's usually pretty busy so I'll probably just go for dinner somewhere to celebrate.”

With a two-day break from work to look forward to, Buchan, who's been in Dubai for one year, is celebrating Eid for the first time.

"This is my first Eid and although I don't know the deep rooted religious meaning behind the holiday, I do know it is celebrated to mark the end of Ramadan.” – Khaleej Times -§ion=nationgeneral


Eid week to be ‘busiest to date’ for U.A.E. airports

posted on 29/07/2014

An influx of passengers is expected at U.A.E. airports over the Eid break, with a core of travellers from within the GCC supplemented by others flying further afield.

"The U.A.E. widely enjoys international stature as a go-to place for retail and other shopping activities, and Eid Al Fitr provides a great gateway for GCC and international travellers to come and spend money,” said Saj Ahmad, the chief analyst at StrategicAero Research.

"It's likely that there will be a very sharp spike in traffic through Abu Dhabi and Dubai, as well as Dubai World Central.”

The government has granted public sector workers in the U.A.E. five days off for Eid. Similar breaks are in effect across the GCC states.

A spokesman for Dubai International Airport, which hosts 180,000 travellers on an average day, said it expects the coming weekend to be "one of the busiest to date.”

The airport has hired extra staff for the job.

The spokesman said this past weekend represented a peak for outbound traffic, and the coming weekend should bring an inbound peak.

The budget carrier flydubai forecasts a busy period ahead, with am emphatic increase in the number of passengers from within the GCC.

"Eid Al Fitr is a popular time of year for our passengers. We are witnessing an increase in passenger numbers both inbound and outbound across our network,” said a flydubai spokesman.

For the summer as a whole, Abu Dhabi International Airport expects a 15 to 20 per cent increase in traffic, compared with last summer. The airport is home to 18 per cent more flights than a year ago.

"Etihad Airways' flights out of Abu Dhabi will be extremely busy in the coming weeks, with U.A.E. residents and those from across the GCC looking to take a short break,” said Hareb Al Muhairy, the airline's vice president for the U.A.E..

"Some of the most popular destinations include London, Istanbul, Paris and Munich in Europe, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington DC in the US, as well as Medina and Jeddah due to high demand on Umrah flights,” he said. – The National -


Emirati scientists and engineers needed to make space programme a reality

posted on 29/07/2014

The education and development of Emirati scientists and engineers will need to be a priority in the coming years to ensure the country gains the maximum benefits from its space programme.

New research bodies will need to be established to train the next batch of students, and universities will need to launch new courses to offer specialist training, according to experts.

In March, U.A.E. University became the first institute to offer a programme in aerospace engineering, in cooperation with Mubadala Aerospace.

Such cooperation will likely become more common in future years as the demand to nationalise the growing space agency continues.

The first Emirati to graduate from the International Space University, at MIT in 1988, was Dr Saeed Khalfan Al Dhaheri.

"This is a dream come true,” said Dr Al Dhaheri, a former professor at U.A.E. University who is now an undersecretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

"When I was at university in 1988, I was asked when the U.A.E. was going to have a space programme, and now I can see it's finally becoming a reality.”

He said an education framework was key to supporting the project as a whole.

"We need to look at it in a holistic perspective,” he said. "If this is going to be run by Emiratis we need to build our capabilities. We have some engineers working for YahSat, Thuraya and DubaiSat, but we need more specialist knowledge and we need to increase our understanding of space flights to Mars.

"At universities, we need to establish degrees in aerospace engineering and space flight sciences. There's a whole eco-system that needs to be built in order to prepare ourselves.”

He said it was inevitable, at first, that the country would rely heavily on skills transferred from foreign expertise.

One of the bodies to make the best use of that model is the Emirates Institute for Advanced Science and Technology (Eiast). It will become a key stakeholder in the new U.A.E. Space Agency and has successfully trained a new generation of highly skilled satellite engineers.

DubaiSat-1 and DubaiSat-2, which launched last year, were both built in Seoul, under a knowledge-sharing arrangement with South Korean company Satrec.

Dozens of Emirati engineers had roles in developing the satellites with a view to developing expertise and ensuring the next satellites are built on U.A.E. soil. A development and testing centre is being built next to Eiast's mission control and will be ready by the end of next year.

Construction of Khalifa Sat, formerly DubaiSat-3, is scheduled for launch at the start of 2017. Design work began last year and will move to the U.A.E. centre by the start of next year for completion.

Salem Humaid Al Marri, assistant director general for scientific and technical affairs, said currently there were 20 Emirati engineers based out of South Korea, and more than 30 working from Dubai. All had accumulated high-level technical expertise in their fields, thanks in part to the skills-transfer programme.

However, with a rising number of projects demanding highly skilled Emirati engineers, the need for new talent has never been higher.

"We need to double the number of graduates that are coming through,” Mr Al Marri said.

"There's a lot of demand from initiatives like the U.A.E. Space Agency, Eiast, YahSat and Thuraya, as well as non-space programmes like Strata, Emirates Nuclear and Dewa.

"These are all huge organisations that require engineers, so there's a lot of competition. There's a lot of empty spaces for new people to come through and fill.” – The National -


U.A.E., S. Korea enter collaborative deal

posted on 29/07/2014

The U.A.E. Ministry of Economy and the Ministry of Strategy and Finance of the Republic of Korea are set to implement the second phase of their collaborative agreement, seeking to further develop the U.A.E.'s intellectual property rights infrastructure as a step towards establishing the country's first centre for patents. 

In its new phase, the collaboration will oversee the compilation of a diagnose study on the current intellectual property rights landscape in the U.A.E. and a case study on the best practices of Korea. It will also include capacity building workshop and seminars to share the project outputs with all project stakeholders in the U.A.E.. 

The decision was taken during a meeting with a visiting delegation from the Korea Institute of Patent Information (KIPI) to the U.A.E.. The KIPI delegation met with Dr Ali Ibrahim Al Hosani, Assistant Undersecretary for Intellectual Property, and Khalfan Al Suwaidi, Industrial Property Director, as well as other officials from the Ministry of Economy.

Dr Ali Al Hosani said: ìWork is going according to schedule to develop the U.A.E. intellectual property rights system and establish our own national centre for patents that meets the highest international standards and criteria. Such an achievement will have great impact on innovation and investment in the U.A.E. and support the country's vision of creating a diversified knowledge-based economy. 

Khalfan Al Suwaidi, Industrial Property Director, said: The U.A.E.'s joint project with Korea comes in line with the Ministry of Economy's strategy to reinforce intellectual property rights through cooperation with countries that have international know-how. – The Gulf Today -


Emirates to avoid Iraqi airspace as threat by insurgents grows

posted on 29/07/2014

Emirates airline said on Monday it would stop using Iraqi airspace, amid rising security fears as Islamic insurgents continue to control large parts of the country.

The announcements comes as airlines globally start rethinking flight paths following the shooting down of Malaysian Airline flight MH17 by a surface-to-air missile in eastern Ukraine earlier this month.

After a total of 298 people died in the Malaysian Airline disaster, the rise of the Islamic insurgents formerly known as Isil (The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) in Iraq has raised security fears that a passenger jet flying over the country could fall victim to a similar attack.

"Emirates is taking precautionary measures and is currently working on alternative routing for flights using Iraqi airspace,” an Emirates spokesperson said in an email stated.

Emirates is yet to state possible alternative routes, and carriers already avoid flying over neighbouring Syria due to security fears with rebels, Islamic insurgents and government forces embattled in a prolonged civil war.

"We are closely monitoring the situation along with international agencies,” the airline spokesperson said.

Emirates currently fly to three cities in Iraq, Basra, Baghdad and Erbil. It is unclear what impact Monday's statement will have on these services given that the airline has not announced alternative routes.

When asked about these services the Emirates spokesperson stated that the airline is, "closely monitoring the situation.”

On Monday afternoon, bookings to all three Iraqi cities were still available with Emirates.

In an interview with Britain's The Times published on Monday, Emirates president Tim Clark said he expects other carriers would soon stop flying over the Iraq.

Clark told The Times that the airline industry needs to act together in how they respond to the shooting down of the Malaysian airline and in how they decide to fly over conflict zones.

"We cannot continue to say, ‘Well it's a political thing'. We have to take the bull by the horns,” Clark told The Times.

The shooting down of MH17 has become highly politicised as the European Union and the United States trade accusations with Russia over the political future of Ukraine. Washington claims that Ukrainian separatist rebels shot down the airliner with a surface-to-air missile supplied by Moscow.

Earlier this month, Clark called for airlines to gather to discuss the downing on the Malaysian airliner and to review security protocols and contingencies. – Gulf News -


New U.A.E. entry visa fee from August 2014

posted on 29/07/2014

The General Directorates of Residency and Foreign Affairs at the Ministry of Interior has completed its technical and services preparations to ensure a flexible implementation of the new visa and fees system across the naturalisation, residency and ports affairs sector.

The system will be effective August beginning, by virtue of the Cabinet`s resolution number 22 for the year 2014, regarding the organisation and development of the services at the MoI`s naturalisation, residency and ports affairs sector.

Lt. General Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, issued the ministerial decision number 377 for the year 2014, which amended the applicable regulations on foreigners' entry and residence. The ministry has announced the promulgation of the new visa fees within the next few days on their website:

Major-General Khalifa Hareb Al Khaili, Acting Assistant Undersecretary of the Ministry of Interior for Naturalisation, Residency and Ports Affairs, mentioned that the next stage will include the issuance of a new array of entry permits and visas, such as the multiple entry permits for visit or work; the activation of study visas, and entry permits for medical care and attending conferences.

"This comes in response to community members needs and supports various activities, in accordance with the Cabinet`s decision,” Maj-Gen Al Khaili explained.

He also said that the ministerial decision number 377 for the year 2014 coincides with the Cabinet`s decision. The approved amendments take into account the quality and development of services, in addition to meeting social requirements and activities in a way that supports various aspects of economic, touristic and social activities.

The new decision also focuses on violators, which is the key issue in the suggested amendments, as part of an integrated system, which ensures the field efficiency of executive authorities and customers' satisfaction.
 - Emirates 24/7 -


Abood and the Freej ladies series are coming to Emirates Palace

posted on 29/07/2014

A mischievous young boy named Abood and four larger-than-life Emirati grandmothers will be at Emirates Palace from Thursday through to Saturday as part of the Abu Dhabi Summer Season line-up.

Freej Live: Abood's Dream will be launched in Arabic and English and features the U.A.E.'s favourite home-grown grannies from the famous Freej television series created in 2006 by the Emirati animation director Mohammed Saeed Harib.

But Harib, 37, claims he "can't animate to save his life”.

"Many people think of me as the animator guy, but I'm actually a director, a scriptwriter and an artist. I am a jack of all trades and, with time, I hope that I can ace several of them,” he says with a laugh.

Abood's Dream

Abood's Dream, produced by Flash Entertainment, is about a boy who embarks on a fantasy adventure while looking after one of the grandmother's pets, a canary that lives in a fish bowl. Along the way, he makes new friends and learns important life lessons. Abood is the young grandson of Um Saeed, known affectionately as Abood Zakho. He was introduced to the Freej cast in the show's second season, when he is dropped off at Um Saeed's house for the day because his mum is about to give birth to her second child. Abood has a mischievous nature and is known for his pranks.

"Abood's Dream is a Barney-style show with larger-than-life costumes, music, dancing and a local cultural twist,” says Harib. "We don't usually have this kind of offering for Arab kids. It's always the Barneys and Bob the Builders, the international children's shows that come from overseas.”

Stories of Emirati life

Though it's targeted at young children, Harib says a lot of grandmothers come to the shows, too.

"They're my favourite part of the audience. For a grandmother to watch a cartoon – that's great to me. I think for them, Freej invokes a lot of memories. It represents them in a very respectful way, not like Arabic soap operas where they're killed off, handicapped or have no say. These are super-heroes who join together and solve problems and that's why people love them.”

The show, now in its eighth season, is about how the grandmothers try to adapt to modern life in the U.A.E. – a subject that strikes a chord for many Emiratis.

"Mentally, it's hard for that generation. Forty years ago, these women were living in very small neighbourhoods with no air conditioning, waiting for months on end for their husbands to return from pearl-diving trips. Now, they're chilling on yachts on the Palm Jumeirah. Freej is about how they deal with that change,” explains Harib.

Archiving heritage

Harib acknowledges the bond between families is not as strong as it once was.

"I think we're losing the bonds between family members in general, because of the Internet. My own family has a WhatsApp group, so we rarely talk to each other at home because we've already said whatever we need to say through a device. Most families still maintain the tradition of gathering on Fridays, but I don't know for how much longer.

"Through Freej, we are archiving it so when 50 years down the line things have changed drastically, we can go ‘look at the good old days'.” – The National -


Khalid Al Balooshi, ‘fastest Emirati on four wheels’, races to win on birthday

posted on 29/07/2014

SONOMA, CALIFORNIA: Khalid Al Balooshi, the fastest Emirati on four wheels, celebrated his 35th birthday with his fourth Top Fuel drag racing victory, topping out at 497 kilometres per hour in the winning pass at the Sonoma Nationals.

Al Balooshi won four knockout races on Sunday en route to his second victory of the season, defeating his Al Anabi Racing teammate Shawn Langdon, the world champion, in the final.

"Winning on my birthday is very special to me,” Al Balooshi said. "This is a very big race for the team.

"This trophy is the best birthday present I could get, and it came from my crew chief Jim McCulloch and all my crew guys.

"It was a close race with Shawn. I saw him at half track and I thought, ‘Oh, no.' From there, he smoked the tires a little bit, and we won the race.”

The competition was sanctioned by the National Hot Rod Association, the world's leading organiser of drag racing, and the Top Fuel "rail” dragsters, which run on nitro-methane fuel, constitute the fastest and most glamorous of all categories of the sport. The vehicles accelerate so quickly, often reaching 500kph in the space of 300 metres, that drivers experience "4G” forces – four times the force of gravity – during a three-second race, and 6Gs of negative G-force while decelerating after the deployment of the parachute.

"It was a great weekend for the Al Anabi team,” said Langdon, who previously had won six of eight match-ups with his Emirati teammate. "Both cars made the final, so it was win-win regardless of who won.”

Al Balooshi, a native of Dubai, began the day with a near-perfect run, hitting a top speed of 519.8kph, to defeat Billy Torrance while hitting a top speed of 519.8kph. In the quarter-finals, he won easily as Clay Millican was unable to get any traction at the starting line.

His semi-final victory was his tightest of the day; his margin of victory was 1 metre over Richie Crampton, as both drivers smoked the tires for a moment.

In the final, Langdon led for the first half of the race before he got "a little aggressive” on the throttle and lost traction as the Emirati passed him to win by about 7m.

Al Balooshi stands eighth in the season standings, after 15 of the 24 NHRA stops. The victory was his second this year. He won the season-opening event at Pomona, California, in February. – The National -