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Mona Al Marri named Most Influential Arab Media Personality in 2014

posted on 22/12/2014

The Arab Union of Electronic Media, AUEM, has honoured Director General of the Government of Dubai Media Office and Chairperson of Dubai Press Club, Mona Ghanem Al Marri, for the "Most Influential Arab Media Personality in 2014", in recognition of her contributions for the industry, including the Arab Media Forum.

The AMF is organised annually by Dubai Press Club since 1999.

The honouring ceremony was part of the "Electronic Media Awards" held on Saturday in Cairo, Egypt, wrapping up the 4th Arab Electronic Media Forum. The event attracted host of Egyptian and Arab media figures, writers and intellectuals.

Mona Al Marri expressed her appreciation and gratitude for the Arab Union of Electronic Media and the organisers of the Electronic Media Forum for electing her among Arab media icons. She said: "I am honoured to gain this appreciation in Cairo, the capital of Arab media. I would like to avail myself on this opportunity to convey to you greetings of UAE media community wishing this promising forum all the success".

She added: "Dubai Press Club has always kept pace with the changes and developments in the Arab media scene, and we are rather eager to take a proactive role in shaping media reality to provide high quality content. We are quite confident that Arab media can cope with latest international industry trends, showing highest level of professional competency." Al Marri further stated that organising the Electronic Media Forum in Cairo integrates with the role Dubai undertook years ago and contributes to providing a new platform for developing media in the region.

Concluding her remarks, Mona al Marri said that the media industry will witness fast-paced changes over the coming few years, stressing that media workers are expected to be ready for these changes to positively tackle the challenges and opportunities they will bring along. She also congratulated the winners of the Electronic Media Awards different categories, wishing all the success for the forum's organisers and participants.

In recognition of its efforts, the Arab Union of Electronic Media also elected "Dubai Press Club" (DPC) as the most important Arab media organisation supporting electronic and digital media for the same year as the Club has included topics related to the reality and future of e-media in all its round-the-year events.

Chairperson of Dubai Press Club, Mona Ghanem Al Marri and Director of the Club, Muna Busamra received the award.

Al Marri said the recognition is a motive for DPC to continue exploration of new avenues to further develop the Arab media, while promoting innovation and creativity as key prerequisites for media excellence.

Muna Busamra, said: "Cairo is the capital of Arab Media. DPC has always enjoyed strong relations with Arab media community generally and Egyptian media in particular. We are happy to have such relations, and we are keen to further develop through continuous exchange of visits and ideas. This cooperation will benefit the entire Arab media." The Arab Electronic Media Forum and Electronic Media Award honoured UAE daily Arabic newspaper ‘Al Emarat Al Youm', which came third in the Award's print journalism category, following ‘Asharq Al Awsat' newspaper in the first position and ‘Assafir' newspaper which was second. – Emirates News Agency, WAM – http://www.wam.ae/en/news/emirates/1395274116926.html


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Sharjah Children Biennial’s works appeal to international community to promote world peace

posted on 22/12/2014

The fourth edition of the Sharjah Children Biennial has continued its activities at the Sharjah Art Museum where 550 artworks created by children and young people aged 6-18 years, from Arab and foreign countries, are on display. The UAE is participating with 428 works, the largest ever participation in this year's edition, which will conclude on 9th February 2015.

Held under the gracious patronage of the Wife of H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, H.H. Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Chairperson of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs, and in collaboration with Sharjah Museums Department.

This year's biennale revolves around the theme "Questions", with displayed works dedicated to one-word questions such as "where, how, when, who, what, and why?" The event's organisers and people interested in fine arts have been impressed by the topics of these works, due to the creativity of the children, who expressed their feelings about the outside world through their artworks.

The psychological impact of war was clearly visible in the works of a nine-year-old Syrian girl, Bayan Usama Al Hakim, whose painting shows the globe with question marks around it and arms uplifted, in a plea to God to end the plight of the victims of war who have become refugees and immigrants seeking security and safety.

In the background of her painting, Bayan portrayed a group of people dressed in black, symbolising the plight of those people who were happy before the war, but have had their lives turned into a nightmare.

Another painting, by Pakistani boy Ayman Abdul Khaleq, shows the globe on fire due to man's evils and natural disasters. In the centre of the globe there is a question mark in red, symbolising the bloodshed in the world, and encouraging people to put an end to this fire.

A painting by Shaima Yousuf Al Ali, a nine-year-old Emirati girl, dwells on environmental destruction caused by wars and pollution that endangers all living things on Earth. The painting also shows a man running begging for help and carrying a sign that says, "Save Earth".

A 12-year-old Emirati girl, Khadija Khalid Abdullah, portrayed a family gripped by sadness after its members were separated because of a human tragedy. In her painting, a mother is shown carrying a baby in one arm and pulling a pram with the other one, while the father is shown to be shameful. In the centre of the sky there is an eye with a tear coming down, while there are a lot of question marks in the background of the painting.

Sharjah Children Biennial is the first of its kind event dedicated to children in the UAE and the Gulf region. The biennale has expanded to take on a global facet, attracting creative works and positioning itself as a leading event committed to supporting children's artistic skills and upgrading these skills towards higher levels of pioneering creativity. – Emirates News Agency, WAM –

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Nakheel all set to ramp up at Deira Islands

posted on 22/12/2014

In what will be a substantial boost for the local construction sector early in the new year, Nakheel confirmed tenders will be called for the Dh1.7 billion plus (excluding the land cost) Deira Islands Mall — with a gross leasable area of 2.85 million square feet — by late January. The mall project will also encompass two hotels offering a combined 600 keys and properties with 300 serviced apartments.

The Mall itself is looking at a three-year project, as the developer scales up its retail and residential leasing portfolio. It will also see four residential towers being built by Nakheel, which will go into its leasing portfolio, which is an income stream that the developer has been focusing heavily on.

Another major tender — potentially around Dh500 million — will be for adding 640,000 square feet of leasable area at Ibn Battuta Mall. In the medium-term, Nakheel's target is to have a retail leasing portfolio of 10 million square feet.

"For 2015, we are planning on awarding project tenders totalling Dh7 billion on top of the Dh5.3 billion awarded this year (lower than the Dh6 billion that had been projected earlier),” said Ali Rashid Lootah, Nakheel's Chairman. "We do not see an impact on Dubai from the oil price situation … the property market too will be insulated as in any uncertainly investors will look to staying committed to real estate.”

Confirmation of the mall, hotels and residential high-rises comes on top of a sizeable investor platform Deira Islands has already attracted. The 90 plots that were put up for sale to sub-developers earlier this year for waterside hotels have been acquired, Lootah said. Demand was also high for the small outlets that will make up the Night Market there.

Nakheel will, at the same time, develop a resort project on Deira Islands in "partnership with a global name”, Lootah added. "There's very limited new build happening in Deira and that means extremely high lease rates on apartments and offices. With Deira Islands, substantial new capacities are being created — once major infrastructure works are ready, we will focus on the freehold component there and when we can get better pricing.”

Another sizeable exposure will take the form of 80 high-rises — offering a combined 4,000 units — in the Port Jebel Ali area. Another focus of the project will be the Waterfront, where it intends to fast-track the needed infrastructure works for the sub-developers to come in and do their bit.

At Nad Al Sheba, there will be 1,500 villas that Nakheel is building. It will also be opening the retail and F&B components at the Golden Mile on Palm in the first quarter, with the British supermarket operator Waitrose confirmed as an anchor tenant.

Asked if it might be time to consider tapping a loan to part-fund upcoming projects, Lootah said: "So far, we have enough of own funds to cover requirements. But if we were to approach the banks to borrow, they won't be saying ‘no!'.” – Gulf News - http://gulfnews.com/business/property/uae/nakheel-all-set-to-ramp-up-at-deira-islands-1.1429907


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RTA offers exclusive packages for marine transit means on New Year’s Eve

posted on 22/12/2014

The Public Transport Agency, Roads and Transport Authority, RTA, is presenting special offers on marine transit modes comprising the Water Bus, Water Taxi, Dubai Ferry and Abra on New Year's Eve as part of its keenness to engage with the public celebrating this annual event.

Hussain Khansaheb, Director of Marine Transport, RTA Public Transport Agency, said, "This service is offered in the context of RTA's continued interaction with customers and all resources have been mobilised to provide a new experience through marine transit offering a chance to have stunning views of the New Year's celebrations taking place at Burj Khalifa, Burj Al Arab and Atlantis through the Dubai Waterfront during a memorable water cruise for residents, visitors and tourists." Cruises aboard the three water transit modes start at 10 p.m. and conclude at 1 a.m.. The Abra trips start at 11 p.m. and terminate at 12 p.m. (midday of the following day). The Water Bus starts off Marina Terrace station, Dubai Marina, and the assembly point will be near the Jumeirah Palm's Bridge.

Water Taxi trips start off the Marina Promenade and the assembly point will be nearby Burj Al Arab. Anyone can hire a Water Taxi for an exclusive trip for a single person, family or a group of friends not more than 10.

Dubai Ferry trips start off the Marina Mall, Dubai Marina, with the assembly point nearby at Burj Al Arab. The Abra trips start off from the Festival City Station to the Dubai Creek and tickets are offered at Dh25 per head.

"The RTA would wish to take this opportunity to share New Year's Day with community members celebrating the event by offering them a first-time opportunity to view Dubai in festive gear in an environment away from congested inland spots, particularly at the Burj Khalifa, which has a high billing as the world's tallest structure. Thus the move reflects RTA's distinguished marine services on the day and the attention paid to raising the satisfaction of customers as well as users of these transit modes," added Khansaheb. – Emirates News Agency, WAM – http://www.wam.ae/en/news/general/1395274109806.html


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Dubai tops travel bucket list and 'must-visit' hotspot for 2015

posted on 22/12/2014

It is that season again when travel agencies and online booking portals number crunch their 2015 predictions for those who plan on getting a head start into their holiday plans for next year.

Online travel portal, Destinia.com, has issued the 2015 essential destination guide to add to your bucket list for next year's vacation planning and topping this list is none other than Dubai.

The list cites Dubai as an ‘emerging destination that is in fashion'.

The blurb continues: "This city is making tourism one of its motors for growth. Dubai is a city that has seen a massive transformation in very little time, converting itself in one of the most dynamic and modern metropolises of the moment, as a door between the west and the east.”

Interestingly, the other destinations making the cut to feature on this bucket list include four countries, rather than cities, including the African republic of Namibia, followed by Myanmar, Vietnam and Papua New Guinea.

Namibia, which is best known for the Kalahari Desert, is being described as a nation that is making a "concerted effort to protect and maintain its rich biodiversity and offers an extensive, and internationally recognised, number of protected areas that cover approximately 17 per cent of the country”.

Myanmar's strength has been described as a richness of its Buddhist temples that serve as a powerful tourist attraction. Destinia further states: "Now in addition, areas that have been difficult to access, such as the states of Northern Shan, Mon and Kayin, are opening to exploration.

"However, be aware that in very few cities will you find adequate facilities as a tourist.”

Southeast Asian country, Vietnam, will celebrate its National Tourism Year in 2015, under the theme ‘Connecting world heritage', to celebrate the cultural legacy of the country.

"Therefore, all the provinces and cities with UNESCO recognised world heritage sites will host various artistic and cultural performances and events,” the travel company further states, adding: "During the next year, for example, the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long, Hanoi will celebrate its 5th anniversary being recognised as a world heritage site and the 50th anniversary of the Ham Rong victory will also be celebrated.”

One of the most active provinces will be that of Thanh Hoa.

Rounding up this 2015 bucket list, Papua New Guinea is being called "an unexplored paradise with more than 600 islands and over 800 indigenous languages.”

The country will host the Pacific Games in July 2015, a sporting event which is expected to boost tourism numbers.

A special mention is also being credited to Mons, Belgium, the capital of the province of Hainaut, which has been nominated as the 2015 European Capital of Culture. – Emirates 24/7 - http://www.emirates247.com/news/emirates/dubai-tops-travel-bucket-list-and-must-visit-hotspot-for-2015-2014-12-22-1.574180


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Dubai tops luxury travel survey

posted on 22/12/2014

Since the holiday season sets in, Dubai has again emerged as the favourite destination for high-end travellers as the emirate topped luxury travel survey.

"A 2014 YouGov Luxury Travel report for the Mena region showed that out of the 1,000-plus regionally based survey respondents, luxury clearly has a home in the Middle East with Dubai ranked in top spot as the preferred upscale destination,” said Nadege Noblet, Exhibition Manager of Arabian Travel Market, WTM Portfolio, Reed Travel Exhibitions.

A total of 69 per cent of respondents in the YouGov report agreed that luxury travel is defined by the availability of five-star accommodation as a minimum standard.

Also those surveyed admitted they had taken an average of 1.9 luxury holidays over the last 12 months, meaning that the region's preponderance of upscale hotel properties is perfectly positioned to capitalise on growing demand from high net-worth travellers eager to discover new destinations or enjoy an exclusive experience in their favourite resort.

"Today the definition of luxury is strongly dependent on the perspective of the traveller. With no universally accepted definition of what luxury travel is, brands need to truly understand what luxury means to their customers in order to be successful,” said YouGov's Travel & Leisure Research Director, Scott Booth.

The YouGov report also highlighted the fact that 61 per cent of luxury tourists from the Mena region choose to travel with their spouse, staying for an average of 5.1 nights, with four out of five people choosing to go on a luxury holiday for pure relaxation.

"Of the respondents surveyed, on average they reported typically spending around US$8,310 (Dh30, 500) per trip, with 60 per cent choosing a destination based on recommendations from family and friends, and 53 per cent personally booking their travel. Service delivery combined with exclusivity are clear prerequisites for a desirable luxury offering,” noted Noblet.

Once in the hotel, respondents ranked a good view from their room and a choice of fine dining restaurants as paramount to ensuring an enjoyable experience with consumer opinion defining luxury as ‘differentiating, discovery and experiences'.

"Interestingly, 77 per cent of respondents said that they were likely to book an all-inclusive luxury holiday package, which is an area of opportunity that many Gulf destinations have yet to explore,” said Mark Walsh, Portfolio Director for Luxury Events at Reed Travel Exhibitions.

Luxury travel trends will once again be a highlighted feature at Arabian Travel Market (ATM) taking place from 4-7 May 2015 at the Dubai International Convention & Exhibition Centre. – Emirates 24/7 - http://www.emirates247.com/business/dubai-tops-luxury-travel-survey-2014-12-22-1.574211


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The value of UAE non-oil trade reached Dh525 billion during first half of 2014

posted on 22/12/2014

The preliminary statistics of the Federal Customs Authority, FCA, showed an increase in the UAE direct total foreign non-oil trade value, amounting to Dh524.7 billion during the first half of 2014, of which imports amounted to Dh340.1 billion, the exports to Dh63.3 billion, and the re-exports to Dh121.4 billion.

The FCA announced in a press statement yesterday that the UAE has continued to strengthen its pre-eminent position on the world trade map, and expand the role it plays in facilitating trade between countries during the first half of this year driven by the increase of activity in all economic sectors, and the improvement of the State's competitiveness in many global indicators.

UAE direct total foreign non-oil trade reached 86.4 million tons during the first half of the year, 33.74 million tons of which were imports, 47.1 million tons were exports and 5.6 million tons were re-exports.

The FCA declared that the daily average of custom weight processed by the different customs ports in foreign non-oil trade items in terms of export, import and re-export amounted to about 360,000 tons per day, on the basis of official working hours (8 hours a day, five days a week), with an average of 45,000 tons per hour.

The FCA added that the State's foreign non-oil trade was relatively growing more stable during the first half of the year.

The FCA confirmed that the UAE is keen to facilitate global trade and remove all the customs and non-customs obstacles facing the trade movement with other countries, contributing therefore to strengthening international bilateral relations, achieving the aspirations of the citizens and meeting the growing needs of consumers, while seeking to protect the community from unsound trade practices, and to maintain the economic interests of the business sector both locally and abroad.

The FCA stated that it adopts several initiatives aiming at achieving growth in the State's foreign non-oil trade and facilitating trade, particularly developing customs procedures and policies, developing the electronic systems, reducing the customs clearance time, managing the customs clearance, providing statistical data and information, addressing the trade obstacles, conducting international studies about global best practices, providing customs training, and enhancing the competitiveness indicators in the customs' work.

With regard to the UAE's trading partners map in the field of direct foreign trade, the FCA noted in its press statement that the regional structure of the trading partners of the UAE in the field of non-oil trade was stable in terms of countries' quotas, where Asia, Australia and the Pacific region maintained their position on the top of the list of the UAE's non-oil trading partners with 42% of the total non-oil trade value, followed by the European region with 27%, the MENA region with 15%, America and the Caribbean with 9%, Central Africa with 4%, and finally East and South Africa with 3%.

Concerning imports at the regional level, the statistics showed that 42% of the UAE imports during the first half of 2014 came from Asia, Australia and the Pacific region, amounting to Dh141.9 billion, followed by the European Region with 29% and a value of Dh96.9 billion, America and the Caribbean region with 13% and a value of Dh44.3 billion, the MENA region with 8% and a value of Dh27.1 billion, the West and Central Africa region with 4% and a value of Dh15 billion and finally the East and South Africa region with 3% and a value of Dh9.3 billion of the total imports.

The FCA explained, in terms of the non-oil exports during the first half of this year, that the MENA region represents the first market for non-oil exports of the UAE, being at the top of the countries importing UAE goods with 37% and a value of Dh23 billion of total UAE exports.

In second place come Asia, Australia and the Pacific region with 33% and a value of Dh20.7 billion, followed by the European region with 23% and a value of Dh14 billion, the East and South Africa region with 3% and a value of Dh1.6 billion, then America and the Caribbean region with 2.3% and a value of Dh1.5 billion, and finally West and Central Africa region with 1.7% and a value of Dh1.1 billion of UAE total exports.

The FCA noted that concerning the re-export statistics for the first half of this year, Asia, Australia and the Pacific region came on top of the list of the most important trading partners in terms of re-export with 46% equivalent to Dh53.4 billion of the UAE total non-oil re-exports, followed in second place by the European region with 23% and a value of Dh26.6 billion, the MENA region with 22% and a value of Dh25.3 billion, then the West and Central Africa region with 4% and a value of Dh4.4 billion, the East and South Africa with 3% and a value of Dh3.3 billion, and finally, America and the Caribbean region with 2% equivalent to Dh2.7 billion of the UAE total non-oil re-exports.

In the field of non-oil trade with the Gulf Cooperation Council, GCC, countries, the FCA stated that the UAE direct foreign trade rate with the GCC countries during the first half of 2014 amounted to Dh48.5 billion, i.e. 9% of the UAE's total trade with the world. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia came on top of the list of the Gulf states in terms of two-way trade value with the UAE, with 36% of the UAE non-oil trading with the GCC counties, i.e. Dh17.4 billion, followed by the Sultanate of Oman, with 27% and a value of Dh13.2 billion, then Kuwait with 15% i.e. Dh7.2 billion, Qatar with 13% and a value of Dh6.4 billion, and finally Bahrain with a value of Dh4.3 billion, representing 9% of the total UAE non-oil trade with the GCC countries.

In terms of direct foreign trade with Arab countries, the FCA preliminary data showed that the State's trade with Arab countries during the first half of the year accounted for 15% of the UAE's total foreign non-oil trade with the world, valued at Dh77.1 billion.

According to the FCA, the non-oil imports from Arab countries in the first half of 2014, amounted to 8% of the UAE total non-oil imports, equivalent to a value of Dh27.4 billion. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia came first among the top five Arab countries, exporting 27% of the total UAE trade with Arab countries, i.e. a value of Dh7.5 billion, followed by Sudan, with15% and a value of Dh4.1 billion, the Sultanate of Oman with 14% and a value of Dh3.8 billion, Iraq with 8% and a value of Dh2.1 billion, and finally Kuwait with a value of Dh1.9 billion dirhams, representing 7% of the total UAE trade with Arab countries.

The UAE non-oil exports to the Arab markets in the first half of 2014 reached about 37% of the UAE's total non-oil exports abroad, i.e. Dh23.4 billion. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia again came in first place among the top five Arab countries, importing national non-oil goods of a value of Dh6.1 billion, i.e. 26% of the UAE's total non-oil exports to the Arab countries, In the second place came Oman with a value of Dh4.4 billion, equivalent to 19%, Kuwait with a value of Dh2.9 billion, equivalent to 12%, Egypt with Dh2 billion, i.e. 9%, and finally Iraq with a value of Dh1.7 billion, representing 7% of the UAE's total non-oil exports to the Arab countries.

The FCA indicated that goods re-exported from the UAE to Arab countries during the first half of this year represent 22% of the total re-exports of the UAE, amounting to Dh26.4 billion. The Sultanate of Oman came in the first place among the top five Arab countries to which the UAE re-exports goods, with a value of Dh5 billion, i.e. 19% of the UAE total re-exports to Arab countries. In second place came Iraq, with a value of Dh4.9 billion, equivalent to 18%, KSA with a value of Dh3.8 billion, i.e. 14%, Qatar with a value of Dh3.2 billion, equivalent to 12%, and finally Kuwait with a value of Dh2.5 billion, equivalent to 9% of the UAE total re-exports to the Arab countries.

Concerning the best goods handled during the first half of 2014, the FCA preliminary statistics revealed that native gold and semi-processed gold come on top of the best goods imported by the UAE with a percentage of 15%, equivalent to a value of Dh51.3 billion of the UAE total imports, followed by vehicles with a value of Dh24.6 billion, i.e. 7%, non-composite diamonds with a value of Dh20.7 billion, i.e. 6%, ornaments and jewellery of precious metals with a value of Dh16.3 billion, i.e. 5%, and mobile phones with a value of Dh12.4 billion, representing 4% of the total imports.

According to the FCA data related to non-oil exports, native gold and semi-processed gold came in first place with a value of exports of Dh19.9 billion, representing 32% of the total exports, followed by raw aluminium with a value of Dh4.8 billion, equivalent to 8%, ornaments and jewellery made of precious metals with a value of Dh3.2 billion, i.e. 5%, and ethylene polymers in primary forms with a percentage of 4.6% equivalent to Dh2.9 billion. Exports of copper wire reached Dh2.6 billion equivalent to 4% of UAE total non-oil exports during the first half of 2014.

Non-composite diamonds came on top of the best goods re-exported during the first half of 2014, with a value of Dh24.1 billion, representing 20% of the total re-exports, followed by ornaments and jewellery made of precious metals with the value of Dh19.7 billion, i.e. 16%, vehicles with a value of Dh10.4 billion, i.e. 9%, mobile phones with a value of Dh8.1 billion, i.e. 7%, and turbojet, propelled and gas turbines with a value of Dh3.3 billion, representing 3% of the UAE's total re-exports. – Emirates News Agency, WAM – http://www.wam.ae/en/news/emirates/1395274110089.html


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Year in review 2014: UAE hotels book ways to cater for every budget

posted on 22/12/2014

Long known for its fondness for luxury brands, the hotel landscape in the UAE has gradually diversified as more four-star and budget properties came online this year.

Economy hotels still form a minority of the total room inventory, but they make up an important part of the effort from the tourism agencies of Dubai and Abu Dhabi to cater to visitors on different budgets.

Dubai, for its part, needs more economy hotels to cater to the 20 million visitors expected in 2020, the city's Expo year.

The annual growth rate of economy hotels is still the lowest.

Of the 86 hotels and 25,000 rooms that are under construction in Dubai, eight are in the midscale and upper-midscale range, accounting for around 2,500 rooms, according to the research company STR Global. Currently, 149 hotels, or 40 per cent, out of Dubai's 351 hotels are in the upper-midscale to economy categories.

In Abu Dhabi, of the 8,242 rooms from 27 hotels that are under various stages of construction, two are midscale, accounting for 651 rooms. As of now, 35 hotels, or 38 cent of the 91 hotels in the emirate, are in the upper-midscale to economy categories.

The number of economy hotels in Dubai is expected to grow by 2.9 per cent this year compared to the previous year, according to an STR Global spokeswoman.

Between 2009 and 2010, during the global economic downturn, Dubai's economy hotels "added strongly to the supply”, she said. They grew 7 per cent annually in 2009 and 28 per cent in 2010.

Ajman-based R Hotels, which is a unit of R Holding, is building a 192-room three-star hotel on Al Mina Road in Jumeirah. In November, it announced Palm Jumeirah's first Sharia-compliant hotel, which is to be a four-star property.

"The Palm, which is an upmarket destination, has a good number of five-star properties from various international hotel chains and we aim to offer a suitable option for travellers who would like to stay in this location,” said Sumair Tariq, the managing director of R Hotels.

The property will be aimed at leisure, family and business travellers from the Arabian Gulf region and Europe.

Dubai's tourism agency last year upgraded the star classification system, which had been in place since 1998. The new system includes a "budget” rating along with one to five-star ratings. Besides that, hotels can specify whether they are desert, heritage, business or beach facilities. The star rating is based on the amenities available. For example, a hotel must have a swimming pool and banquet facilities to be called a five-star. Most hotels, including the midrange ones, have such facilities. But room rates differ according to the luxury.

The new Four Seasons hotel on Jumeirah Beach Road has rates starting at Dh2,200 per room on Christmas Day, while rooms start at Dh291.67 at the three-star Premier Inn in Dubai Silicon Oasis.

The Dubai government in January exempted new three and four-star hotels that begin operation before June 2017 from the 10 per cent Dubai Municipality fee. It also allocated government land and additional incentives to develop three and four-star hotels. Under the new ruling, the pre-approval process to build hotels will now take two months instead of six.

Forty hotels with a total of 7,500 to 8,500 rooms are expected to be built on the 40 plots that Dubai Holding has identified across its Tecom business parks and Dubai Properties Group districts.

Dubai's holiday home operators were expected to win their licences by June, according to a ruling from the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing. Such accommodation caters to families and gives an alternative to the expensive luxury hotel rooms in prime locations such as Palm Jumeirah.

Apart from making approaches to list their properties, residents are also letting out homes on online portals such as Airbnb. There were about 234 rentals available for one recent weekend in Dubai. But it is not clear whether such lettings come under any government regulation.

In Dubai, India's Suba Group of Hotels opened a four-star, Sharia-compliant property in Al Rigga, Deira, in August to cater to the rising number of business travellers from India transiting through Dubai.

It has already invested Dh10 million to lease another property besides looking to spend about Dh100m to build a four-star property near Dubai World Central's Al Maktoum International Airport.

The French hotel operator Accor and the Indian real estate developer Hiranandani Group are developing the 350-room ibis Styles hotel in Dubai's Business Bay, expected in the middle of 2016.

The Hong Kong-based hotel operator Swiss-Belhotel, which manages luxury and budget accommodations, took over the operation of a palace guesthouse in Ghantoot, Abu Dhabi, close to Jebel Ali in Dubai in June. The property is undergoing refurbishment to turn it into a four-star resort.

Byblos, a Dubai hotel operator, is building a 144-room, Dh180m Byblos Palm Jumeirah Hotel on the trunk of the island. It would be the first four-star property in the neighbourhood. In September, it opened the Dh100m, three-star Al Sarab Hotel on Al Rigga Road in Dubai with 84 rooms.

In Abu Dhabi, Accor opened the four-star Novotel Abu Dhabi Al Bustan with 361 rooms in March and the Adagio Abu Dhabi Al Bustan with 279 apartments in July. – The National - http://www.thenational.ae/business/travel-tourism/year-in-review-2014-uae-hotels-book-ways-to-cater-for-every-budget#full


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Tenth Arab Energy Conference opens in Abu Dhabi

posted on 22/12/2014

Under the patronage of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Tenth Arab Energy Conference began yesterday at the Viceroy Hotel on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, with events focusing on the theme 'Energy and Arab Cooperation'.

The opening of the conference, which will be held from December 21st-23rd under the Chairmanship of Suhail Mohamed Faraj Al Mazrouei, UAE Minister of Energy, is being attended by oil and energy ministers from Arab countries, OPEC Secretary-General Abdalla S. El-Badri, Abbas Ali Al-Naqi, Secretary-General of the Organisation of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries, OAPEC, as well as representatives from regional and international organisations specialising in the field of energy, along with representatives and experts from Arab and international companies operating in the oil, gas and energy industry.

The conference is sponsored by OAPEC, the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development, AFESD, the League of Arab States, LAS, and the Arab Industrial Development and Mining Organisation, AIDMO. – Emirates News Agency, WAM – http://www.wam.ae/en/news/emirates/1395274097386.html


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King of Jordan receives Abdullah bin Zayed in Amman

posted on 22/12/2014

AMMAN: His Majesty King Abdullah II of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, received yesterday at Al Husseinieh Palace H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Foreign Minister, who conveyed the greetings of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and his wishes of good health and happiness and further progress and prosperity for Jordanians.

Sheikh Abdullah also conveyed the greetings of Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and His Highness General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.

During the meeting, the King of Jordan expressed his pride in the strong and historic bilateral relations and the two countries' constant keenness to enhance these in various domains.

King Abdullah II praised the efforts of the Higher Joint Committee of the UAE and Jordan, that concluded its meeting yesterday in Amman, which would develop ties and open up new horizons of joint cooperation and coordination in all fields.

He also conveyed his reciprocal greetings to 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 General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, wishing them good health.

On his part, Sheikh Abdullah underscored the strong UAE-Jordanian partnership in all spheres, and the two sides' joint desire to activate these, as well as permanent consultation and cooperation with Jordan regarding various issues of joint interest for the benefit of the two fraternal peoples.

He also expressed the UAE's appreciation of the role of Jordan and King Abdullah at all levels in coordination with all concerned parties which would enhance security and stability of the region.

The meeting also dealt with the latest developments in the Middle East and affirmed the importance of continuous joint consultations and coordination between the two fraternal countries to the advantage of the two countries in the light of the joint Arab work.

It also tackled the efforts being exerted to fight the threat of extremist ideology and terrorist organisations to the security and stability of the region and its peoples, which requires further enhancing of cooperation and coordination between various countries and the concerned parties.

In attendance at the meeting were Dr Fayez Tarawneh, Chief of the Royal Hashemite Court, Nasser Judeh, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants, and Abdullah Nasser Sultan Al Ameri, the UAE's Ambassador to Jordan. – Emirates News Agency, WAM – http://www.wam.ae/en/news/emirates-arab/1395274135959.html


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Abdullah bin Zayed, Nasser Judeh affirm strong bilateral relations between UAE and Jordan

posted on 22/12/2014

AMMAN: H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Foreign Minister and Nasser Judeh, Jordanian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriate Affairs, co-chaired here yesterday the meetings of the 2nd UAE-Jordan Higher Committee.

A number of ministers, representatives of government institutions and private sector in both countries attended the event. At the beginning of the meeting Sheikh Abdullah hailed the strong fraternal ties of the UAE and Jordan under the leadership of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and His Majesty King Abdullah II of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

In his statement, Sheikh Abdullah expressed thanks and appreciation to the Government of Jordan and Nasser Judeh for the warm reception, generosity and sincere fraternal feelings that he and his accompanying delegation have received, which reflects the strong ties between the two fraternal countries and peoples.

"The UAE considers Jordan as a strategic partner at different fields and at the level of the existing cooperation and cooperation between the two sides at all international events, as well as various political issues to support regional and international stability and security." Sheikh Abdullah said.

He also hailed Jordan's stance and effective participation in the international coalition against Daesh (ISIL), which represents a threat for the whole region and world.

Sheikh Abdullah also praised the positive role being played by Jordan in preservation of Islamic holy places in Jerusalem and Islamic and Christian holy sites in context of combating Israeli provocations and settlement practices which aim to tamper with the sacred places and change of the Christian and Islamic landmarks in Jerusalem.

He also expressed his appreciation to the Jordan's exerted efforts to host more than 1,4 million Syrian refugees and its huge burdens on the country.

Sheikh Abdullah extended thanks to Jordan for facilitating the missions of Emirati humanitarian and charitable organisations in Jordan.

"Holding the committee meeting comes within the joint Arab action and represents an opportunity for communication and enhancing ties which reflects the two countries' interest and keenness on boosting cooperation in a number of fields, especially the political, economic, investment, real estate, financial, trade and cultural domains." he added.

Sheikh Abdullah pointed out that the volume of trade between the UAE and Jordan reached US$ 764 million in 2013, with an increase of 18 percent in comparison to 2012, adding the number of UAE investment companies in Jordan has reached more than 250 while the volume of UAE's investments in Jordan has exceeded US$ 13 billion.

He also said that the number of weekly flights between the two countries reached 87 flights in 2014, which would enhance mutual tourism between the two countries, indicating that the number of Jordanians who live in the UAE exceeded 168,000.

Sheikh Abdullah said," We closely follow up the work of the joint committee, wishing that this would further enhance joint cooperation and open up new horizons in the march of the bilateral relations and exploring more opportunities and investment domains as well as other potentials of the two countries' economies for the benefit of the joint interests." He also expressed the hope that meetings will continue and strengthen the bilateral relations between the two countries, stressing the importance of activation and continuity of the joint committee's work as well as implementing its resolutions.

At the end of his statement, Sheikh Abdullah extended thanks to heads and members of the preliminary committee for their efforts which contributed to the success of the meeting, wishing to meet in the coming joint committee in the UAE."

On his part, Nasser Judeh, Jordan's Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriate Affairs said that Jordan and the UAE made great progress in the promotion of joint cooperation in all areas, as the two countries have the potentials and resources that contribute to tapping investment opportunities for the benefit of both fraternal peoples, adding, this reflects the growing volume of Emirati investments in Jordan, which enjoy a considerable attention from His Majesty the King Abdullah II through directives to provide all the necessary requirements to ensure their success and continuity.

" We are grateful for the interest given to the Jordanian community in the UAE across the country, who work hard to enhance the march of growth and building in their second home." said Judeh.

He also added that Jordan's distinguished investment environment, thanks to political and security stability, qualified the country to attract a number of Arab and foreign investments in various fields, expressing his pride by the confidence of the Emirati investor in the investment atmosphere in Jordan.

Judeh said, 'The region is witnessing very crucial and difficult times, which require joint coordination and cooperation to deal with a number of issues of common interest for better future for both sides, as well as exchange of views on regional and international issues.

" We believe that security of the GCC states is an integral part of our national security and we call for commitment to good-neighbourliness policy and the principles of non-interference in other countries' internal affairs ." He also reiterated his country's supportive stance for the UAE to regain full sovereignty over its occupied lands and Jordan's support to all peaceful calls to reach a fair settlement of this issue through direct negotiations or through the International Court of Justice.

He said any dialogue related to the region must tackle the Palestinian cause and referred to the efforts made by the King of Jordan in highlighting the need for a just and lasting solution to the issue in the lead-up to creating an independent and liveable Palestinian state with Eastern Jerusalem as a capital.

He renewed Jordan's rejection of the Israeli measures in Jerusalem, aimed at obliterating its Islamic and Christian identity and changing the city's legal, demographic and architectural features.

He also expressed Jordan's condemnation of the Israeli escalation through systematic attacks on Al Aqsa Mosque to divide it in terms of time and the structure.

On Syria, Judeh emphasised Jordan's position which calls for a political solution to the crisis to restore Syria's security and stability with the participation of all components of the Syrian people.

He expressed his country's appreciation to the support given by the UAE to the Syrian refugees in Jordan and called on the international community to step up its support to Jordan as a major host country for the Syrian refugees.

Judeh said Jordan will continue its support to the people of Iraq to help sustain peace and stability there. He renewed Jordan's commitment to combat any attempts aimed at distorting the image of Islam as a religion that promotes tolerance and moderateness.

"We will continue to fight terrorist groups and we are directly involved in confronting forces of darkness in the region. The war against terrorism is our war." He also underlined role Jordan plays in the UN Security Council, in coordination with the different Arab countries, including the UAE.

At the end of the meeting, the two countries signed memorandums of understanding for cooperation on consumer protection, antiquities and museums, youth, roads and bridges. Also signed were executive programmes for cooperation in tourism fields, labour and higher education.

Following the meeting, Sheikh Abdullah praised the level of "strategic and deep-rooted relations between the UAE and Jordan." He said that the two countries share identical views on the challenges facing them, particularly in relation to counter-terrorism.

Sheikh Abdullah praised the role played by Jordan as a representative of the Arab group in the UN Security Council and described it as a "vital and effective role in serving Arab issues, including their top cause; the Palestinian cause." He also commended the initiative of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques to mend fences which culminated in the Egyptian=-Qatari reconciliation, saying it was an important step towards strengthening Arab solidarity.

The Jordanian Foreign Minister said he was pleased to meet Sheikh Abdullah and described his country's relations with the UAE as "fraternal and strategic, thanks to the continuous support by UAE President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan.

He revealed that his talks with Sheikh Abdullah covered issues and challenges of concern to the two countries and to the Arab world, as well as the Syrian crisis and the burden borne by Jordan as a result.

"We share an identical view on the need for a political solution to the Syrian crisis, the developments of the Palestinian issue and the threat terrorism poses to the region and to the world and how to address it," he added. – Emirates News Agency, WAM


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UAE, Commonwealth of Dominica sign Joint Communiqué on Establishing Diplomatic Relations

posted on 22/12/2014

NEW YORK: The United Arab Emirates and the Commonwealth of Dominica have signed a Joint Communiqué on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between the two countries.

The UAE's Permanent Representative to the United Nation in New York, Ambassador Lana Zaki Nusseibeh, signed the joint communique on behalf of the UAE, while Ambassador Vince Henderson, Permanent Representative of the Commonwealth of Dominica to the United Nations in New York, signed on behalf of his country.

The Communiqué, signed in both Arabic and English, affirms the common interest of both countries to promote mutual understanding and strengthen friendship and cooperation between the two countries in the political, economic, social, humanitarian, cultural and scientific areas. The UAE and the Commonwealth of Dominica agreed that their relationship would be guided by the principles and purposes of the UN Charter and international law, particularly respect for equality among States, national sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and non-interference in the internal affairs of other States.

The Communique also acknowledges that the diplomatic relations between the two countries are established in accordance with the provisions of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 18th April 1961.

Following the signing, Ambassador Nusseibeh discussed with her counterpart the political, cultural and economic relations between the two countries and ways to develop and strengthen these relations through exchange of visits and expertise, and strengthening the economic cooperation in various areas. – Emirates News Agency, WAM - http://www.wam.ae/en/news/emirates/1395274095916.html


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Sheikh Zayed Second International Peace Conference begins in India

posted on 22/12/2014

KERALA: The Sheikh Zayed Second International Peace Conference began yesterday in Kerala under the slogan: "Renaissance of the World Through Peace", which will be held as part of the Sunni Markaz 37th Anniversary Conference 2014 in Calicut, Kerala, India.

The conference comes at a time of exceptional circumstances witnessed by the world as many countries are witnessing disorders, congestion, wars and ethnic and sectarian tensions, which require further cooperation to achieve stability and security of their communities.

The opening of the conference was attended by Oommen Chandy, Chief Minister of Kerala, Sheikh Abu Bakr Ahmad, Head of the Sunni Cultural Centre University, Saed Mohammed Al Muhiri, Acting Charge d' Affaires at the UAE Embassy in New Delhi, and Mohammed Hajji Al Khouri, Director-General of Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation, along with a number of ambassadors accredited to India, members of parliament and businessmen from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

The one-day conference saw the attendance of more than 1,000 key political, cultural and social figures, intellectuals, academics and officials from a number of Arab and Islamic countries.

In a speech during the opening session, Al Muhiri expressed his delight at participating in the work of the Sheikh Zayed Second International Peace Conference.

He added that the significant contributions made by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan in the fields of science, knowledge and development will be an approach and a guide to the people of the United Arab Emirates.

In his concluding remarks, Al Muhiri expressed his thanks and appreciation to the Government and people of India and those responsible of University and Sheikh Abu Bakr Ahmad and all attendees.

In his speech, Sheikh Abu Bakr Ahmad said, "The late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, was focused on the development and building of human resources and called to deepen the values of tolerance and dialogue in the face of the advocates of confrontation and conflict in the name of religion." He added that, "In this context, we sought through this conference to work on consolidating the thoughts of Sheikh Zayed and his permanent calls to boost world peace and coexistence between peoples of the world, noting the Indian experience in the peaceful coexistence of all different religions and denominations." He also commended the support of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, hailing the efforts of Their Highnesses the Rulers of the Emirates and expressing his appreciation for their humanitarian and charitable stances.

The Chief Minister of Kerala said that he valued the atmosphere of tolerance witnessed by the United Arab Emirates thanks to its leadership, a country which presented a developmental model not only in the region but in the entire world.

He said that the Sheikh Zayed conference sends an important message to the world on the importance of the message of peace.

During the closing session, Sheikh Abu Bakr Ahmad presented commemorative shields to the Acting Charge d' Affaires at the UAE Embassy in New Delhi, Mohammed Hajji Al Khouri, Director-General of Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation, and a number of senior officials, intellectuals and scientists who participated in the conference. – Emirates News Agency, WAM - http://www.wam.ae/en/news/emirates/1395274109287.html


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ERC helps Typhoon Ruby's victims in the Philippines

posted on 22/12/2014

Emirates Red Crescent (ERC) recently gave out 70,000 pieces of clothes to thousands of Filipinos displaced by Typhoon Ruby which hit Northern Samar provinces in the Philippines causing flash floods and landslides.

An ERC delegation in the Philippines capital city Manila distributed the aid in coordination with the Philippines Red Cross.

The UAE's humanitarian major said that it will hand out an additional 90,000 pieces of clothes to more victims of the typhoon.

The ERC delegation, after having toured the affected areas to assess the damage caused by the storm, met with the Philippines Red Cross officials to procure aid from local markets.

Meanwhile, the ERC delegation inspected progress of the reconstruction of schools in the areas hit by Haiyan in two provinces of the Philippines in November last year.

In September, ERC signed three memorandums of understanding (MoUs) with the Philippine government whereby the UAE agency will build ten schools destroyed by typhoon Haiyan in two provinces of the Philippines in November last year.

ERC said that the agreements represent the first phase of its development efforts in the areas ravaged by the tropical cyclone, and followed its 2013 emergency relief operation to help the affected population.

The second phase of the agency's reconstruction programme includes the restoration and refurbishment of a hospital in Western Samar at a total cost of Dh2 million.

The ERC delegation led by Fahad Abdul Rehman also met with the officials of Philippine General Hospital (PGH) to discuss the building of a healthcare centre to serve the residents of remote areas outside the country's capital city.

Abdul Rehman said that ERC's efforts to help the victims of natural disasters in the Philippines are in response to the directives of the UAE's wise leadership and that its efforts are being followed up by H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler's Representative in the Western Region and President of ERC. – Emirates News Agency, WAM - http://www.wam.ae/en/news/emirates/1395274122189.html


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Second batch of UAE recruits begin national service

posted on 22/12/2014

Hundreds of Emiratis began their first day of national service on Sunday after checking into military camps.

The enlisting citizens were part of a second batch of recruits to begin their military training following the thousands of enrolees that made up the first in September.

In contrast to the first round, which consisted mainly of high-school graduates, the second batch was made up of Emiratis from across the designated age range of service – from 18 to 30 years old.

This included Hazza Al Ameri, 26, who had originally hoped to join the military when he left secondary school.

"Health problems kept me from joining back then but when I heard we were all serving I wanted to be in the group,” said Mr Al Ameri, a government employee working in customer service.

Mr Al Ameri almost did not make it into the second batch of recruits.

"Work initially released a list of 30 employers who would be serving and my name was not on it. But this morning I discovered a new list of 68 with my name included.”

Mr Al Ameri said he rushed to the Al Nahyan Camp Recruitment Centre in Abu Dhabi and spent most of yesterday trying to get permission to enrol the same day.

"Thank God I finally got the papers. I'll submit them to work and head straight to the military camp now,” he said.

Alawi Al Dares, 29, had eagerly anticipated the beginning of military service on Saturday but was turned away at Al Ain because of demand.

After showing up at 1pm, he and almost 100 others were told the camp had reached its capacity, he said.

The next day he was back at the recruitment centre in Abu Dhabi, trying to make sure he started his service.

"I would rather start now and not in the third batch starting later next year. It will be closer to summer time and no one wants to start then,” he said.

Despite his frustrations, Mr Al Dares said he was excited about the idea of serving.

"All four of my brothers are in the military or the police and as the only civilian they are proud of me joining them in serving my country, which has given me so much.”

Mr Al Dares said as a keen athlete he was looking forward to the physical training, albeit not in the hot weather.

"Everything about this excites me but I just wish it was more organised,” he said.

However, Mr Al Dares said he did not hold anyone responsible for the delay as he understood that the process was new and that teething troubles would take time to sort out.

Although Naser Al Marzooqi, 26, was not serving in the second batch, he said he looked forward to being called up.

"I've already had my medical check-ups and am ready to do my duty,” said Mr Al Marzooqi, who works for the finance department at the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council.

Despite military service disrupting his plans to obtain a doctorate in Malaysia, Mr Al Marzooqi said he would put it on hold for his country.

"It's an honour, to tell you the truth, and I am looking forward to learning self-defence, better time management, and gaining more discipline,” he said.

Mr Al Marzooqi said he would be doing his military service with joy for his family and his country. – The National - http://www.thenational.ae/uae/second-batch-of-uae-recruits-begin-national-service


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SKMC receives international award for Outstanding Nursing Quality

posted on 22/12/2014

Sheikh Khalifa Medical City, SKMC, has been named a winner of the 2014 National Database of Nursing Quality Indicators, NDNQI, Award for Outstanding Nursing Quality by Press Ganey Associates, a leading healthcare performance improvement company which partners with more than 11,000 health care facilities to reduce suffering and improve the patient experience.

The award recognises the top-performing international hospital that has achieved excellence in overall performance in nursing quality indicators.

Safa Al Mustafa, Deputy Chief Nursing Officer, SKMC, said, "SKMC's Nursing team takes humble pride in this achievement, knowing that our best-practice and commitment to quality and our ‘patients first' philosophy is acknowledged by an international organisation like Press Ganey." "As the flagship facility in Abu Dhabi, we want to ensure optimal levels of patient care and satisfaction, practising at the same high standards as the best medical facilities in the world, and this award is testament to that," she added.

The NDNQI Award for Outstanding Nursing Quality honours hospitals that have made impressive and measurable improvements in nursing performance and patient outcomes. Granted annually, the award is given to the top performing facility in each of seven categories: academic medical centre, teaching hospital, community hospital, paediatric hospital, rehabilitation hospital, psychiatric hospital and international.

"We are proud to partner with SKMC," said Patrick T. Ryan, CEO of Press Ganey. "Achieving and sustaining overall excellence in nursing-sensitive quality measures reflects the organisation's deep commitment advancing the quality and delivery of patient-centred care in the UAE." To qualify for the award, hospitals submitted data on a minimum number of measures over 2013 and 2014, and the highest-ranking hospital was identified after undergoing intense qualitative screening. – Emirates News Agency, WAM - http://www.wam.ae/en/news/general/1395274098332.html


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Dubai Police’s mobile ‘innovation lab’ to boost community outreach

posted on 22/12/2014

Dubai Police unveiled their new mobile ‘innovation lab' on Sunday, which is aimed at promoting closer interaction between the police and the community.

Major General Dr Abd Al Qudous Al Obaidli, Assistant to the Dubai Police Chief for Quality and Excellence, said that the ‘innovation lab', which will operate out of a bus, will go across Dubai according to a schedule allowing people to submit their suggestions to Dubai Police or have discussions with Dubai Police representatives on the spot.

The bus is scheduled to visit various Dubai Police stations and departments, government and non-government entities, as well as areas that draw members of the public in large numbers, such as Mohammad Bin Rashid Boulevard, the Walk and Global Village.

"The bus is designed to be a mobile brainstorming platform and it has all the latest technology needed and programmes to make that possible. It is also an addition to the multiple ways people can submit suggestions,” Major General Al Obaidli said at the press conference to announce the new initiative.

Dubai Police has received 141,477 suggestions from the public submitted through Dubai Police's multiple interactive channels of the department, such as the Dubai Police App and the Dubai Police website.

"We aim to reach 200,000 suggestions by the end of 2015. We realised that not everyone has access or have time to go online and submit their suggestion, so we created this bus to reach them,” Maj Gen Al Obaidli said.

He added that Dubai Police during the course of their research for the initiative had not come across a similar initiative and "so you could say it is the first of its kind.”

The bus, which is a modified Toyota Coaster bus, has been customised with seven seats all of which are fitted with seat belts. Three of the seats can swivel but lock in position when the bus is in motion. There are also foldable tables, electrical outlets, USB ports and Ipads. There is also a screen that can be used for video or presentations or play the live feed from a camera placed at the front of the bus.

The initiative is a joint effort between Dubai Police, whom came up with the idea, Al Futtaim Motors and NSV Auto, the company that customised the bus.

The new initiative is in line with the UAE government's ‘UAE Vision 2021' and ‘Dubai Plan 2021' programmes.

Jon Williams, Managing Director of Al Futtaim Motors, said: "This innovation lab is truly a spectacular initiative that will assist Dubai Police in their endeavours by allowing them to reach out to larger numbers of the community to engage and work together in creating a safer society and more responsible community.” – Gulf News - http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/uae/government/dubai-police-s-mobile-innovation-lab-to-boost-community-outreach-1.1429986


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