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39 contestants in race for UAE Drones for Good Award

posted on 31/01/2015

The Organising Committee of 'The UAE Drones for Good Award' announced that 39 contestants have qualified to the semi-finals stage at the National, International and Government competitions of the award, which is the biggest of its kind offering prize money worth of Dh 4.67 million (US$1 million for International Competition and Dh1 million for National Competition).

'The UAE Drones for Good Award', launched by the UAE Government during the second Government Summit last February, attracted huge participation from all over the world with creative ideas aimed at making optimal use of technology to serve humanity and create happiness in the community. More information about innovative projects is available on (

The projects offer innovative solutions in the provision of services that benefit humanity, especially in areas such as disaster relief, public health, agriculture, environment, town planning, and logistics. The successful entries to the semi-final stage have come from countries ranging from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kenya and Sudan, to Australia, Germany, Canada, USA, UK, Spain, New Zealand, Poland, Switzerland, and Singapore.

Among the semi-finalists, Tays Ferrer Gomez and her team from Spain have designed a drone that can transfer organs for transplantation from the donor centres to the receiver in the shortest period of time and as efficiently as possible, keeping the organ alive and reducing chances of rejection.

"All the logistics process involving the donation and transplantation is remodelled; coordinating the communication between hospitals and creating a digital database to collect and organise all the data, streamlining the process and reducing costs and possible document' losses. Our project would go a step further in the medical system, saving more lives," said Tays.

Commending the UAE government for the award initiative, Tays said, "The public perception about UAVs has not been very positive. This is because their use has been for most part been restricted to military or war situations. This competition has helped change the negative view about UAVs." Marc Beltran from Spain has submitted a project that makes detection of landmines not only efficient but also safe.

"There are over 70 countries that have landmines buried in their soil, creating new victims to these deadly weapons every year. Current methods of landmine detection are slow and dangerous so we developed a method to detect mines from the air that doesn't put people at risk," said Marc.

Thanking the UAE for launching the award, Marc said, "We would like to use the prize money for research and development to increase the reliability of our system and then work together with the demining agencies around the world to help reduce the threat posed by mines." Tomasz Marek Muszynski from Poland has combined observation, communication and rescue capabilities in one system to develop a drone that can detect drowning people, ensure their safety through wireless audio-video transmission system, and even help tow them to the coast at a speed controlled by a lifeguard.

Thanking the UAE Drones for Good Award, Tomasz said, "We have to use new technologies for improving people's safety. I'm keen to work with everyone, sharing knowledge freely and selling components without charging for patent rights." Clinton Burchat from Australia has come up with a project that eliminates the need for a large yard for drones to make package deliveries.

"Current drone delivery methods require you to have a large yard. The delivery is usually done either by landing the drone in your yard or by dropping the package down on a string. Both these solutions pose danger to the recipient, including people, pets and children. The idea of my proposal is to not only make drone delivery accurate by the millimetre but to make it safer at the same time," said Clinton.

Expressing happiness at being able to participate in the UAE Drones for Good Award, Clinton said, "By organising this competition, the UAE is helping expand the civil use of drone technology. The benefits of this competition will be seen for many years to come." Florian Seibel and his team's Quantum project combines the advantages of a helicopter with that of a fixed-wing plane to create a drone that can fly longer, further and safer. According to Florian, due to its high payload capacity and the ability to travel more than 500 km, the Quantum drone can be deployed in a number of areas such as agriculture, humanitarian aid, disaster relief and logistic purposes. What makes the Quantum safe, effective and economical is that even in the event of total power-loss it can glide to a safe landing, said Florian.

Describing the UAE Drones for Good Award as a great idea, Florian said, "The rest of the world is stuck trying to find regulations and rules to operate civilian UAVs. The UAE has already stepped in to bring changes by encouraging technologies that will improve people's lives and make this world a much better place." A team from Singapore has submitted a project to develop a UAV with "built-in fail-safe" and "sense-and-avoid" functions, making it capable of delivering cargos efficiently and safely.

Peidong Liu of the team commended the award initiative, describing it as a good platform for world-wide researchers and UAV experts to share their ideas and brainstorm on ways to improve people's lives.

David Kiarie from Kenya, whose project uses UAV technology to help in town planning, said, "Government departments dealing with land allocation, human settlement and town planning will now be able to employ the UAV technology in mapping, physical planning and land surveying in urban areas, especially in the slums, with the aim of upgrading the settlements." David applauded the UAE government for launching the award, saying: "This initiative is an eye opener and a big opportunity for thousands of people, including manufacturers and resellers involved in the use of civilian applications of UAV technologies." Mouza Ahmed Al Shemaili and his team, also from the UAE, have developed a multi-copter brand, Ultimate-UAV, which eliminates fog from the atmosphere in an environmental friendly way.

"Our aim is to help drivers by reducing the dangers from low visibility on roads during foggy weather. In addition, the project will support civil aviation by helping avoid airport closures and flight delays, or flight manoeuvring above airports, which increases pollution," Mouza said.

Mouza added: "Taking creative initiatives that serve humanity is not new to UAE. The support of Khalifa University gives us a strong momentum to go forward. In addition, the support of the UAE is also one of the main reasons why we are considered as one of the happiest people among other leading countries. This is because UAE leaders are always thinking of new ways to improve the lives of their citizens." The project submitted by Jussi ?ngeslev? and his team from Germany utilises drones to provide bird-eye-view of large architectural structures, which are difficult to appreciate at the ground level. Explaining the way the drone project functions, Jussi said, "The flight path is pre-defined and autonomous, but the view that the audience gets is freely adjustable." Jussi described the award as a bold move, and said, "It's a very refreshing new perspective. Instead of using the capabilities of the military or hackers or big corporations, the competition utilises the creativity of wide field of disciplines to offer innovative uses for this emerging technology." Khaled Abdelgawad from Saudi Arabia, whose project uses drones to map and track disaster zones to assist effective rapid response to crisis situation, said, "Our technology provides first responders with situational awareness, mapped damage, established target areas for disaster relief, effective communication with coordinated response plan, and aid in search and rescue efforts to identify survivors and recover the lost." Khaled added: "We see this award initiative by the UAE as a major step towards using innovation in a positive way to help humanity. Additionally, it is another unique step to foster the UAE vision to be the oasis of technology and innovation in the new century." Marco Urs Wuethrich from New Zealand has devised a drone that is capable of providing aerial support to coastguard rescue vessels searching for people or boats in distress situations.

"The running cost of a rescue boat is at least NZ$500 [about US$393] per hour, this figure does not take into consideration maintenance and training costs. Flying a drone is significantly cheaper, making it very economical to operate compared to the existing available search and rescue options," said Marco.

"The UAE is taking the initiative that many countries should be doing in the name of humanity. It is great to see that the initiative has been launched by the progressive thinking government, acknowledging the need of UAV applications today and in the future," Marco added.

The Flyability team from Switzerland has developed Gimball, a drone that can enter confined spaces and fly safely close to humans, proving to be very effective in rescue missions. "Our game-changing drone is capable of colliding with obstacles without losing its stability and, is protected by a rotating cage around, making it possible to fly very close to humans," said Patrick Thevoz, one of the members of the Flayability team.

"Drones for Good Award is a unique opportunity to push forward the drone technology further - far from their usual association with military purposes - to help people realise that these flying machines are capable of positively impacting society" Patrick added.

Alex Ramirez-Serrano from Canada has come up with a highly manoeuvrable UAV that can help locate and rescue persons from buildings on fire, collapsed building, mines, or other urban and industrial entrapments.

"This UAV is able to autonomously manoeuvre in highly confined environments such as collapsed buildings, and under the tree canopy," said Alex, adding that the UAV units can be customised to any size - from a show box size to a medium size unit. The drones will also be user friendly requiring minimal training to operate them.

Alex added: "Many countries are slowly trying to put regulations in place restricting the use of drones in civil and commercial applications, which is preventing the development of drone technology. It is great to see the UAE take the initiative in this type of applications and promote the use and development of such devices. The UAE has the vision and is able to go where others can only imagine." Andrew Bartos from Australia has also submitted a project that can play a crucial role in disaster relief. "The concept of our project is in its name, FRIENDS, the First Response Infrastructure Emergency Network Drone System. Our disaster relief drones would be able to transport small but vital amounts of food, medicine, water purification, solar power, lighting, communication equipment, temporary shelters, and other supplies to support small communities until permanent links can be re-established," said Andrew.

Describing the UAE initiative as a forward thinking action that will help propel drones from novel or military applications to meaningful humanitarian ones, Andrew said, "We think it is a generous and visionary step to help push the technology to the next level, and in the process help benefit communities around the world." The BCE system of Lauren Fletcher from the UK uses emerging UAV technologies to replant deforested areas at significantly lower costs and higher planting rates than can currently be achieved.

"BCE's system will revolutionise not only commodity planting activities in lumber and pulp and paper sector, but also help mining companies, NGOs and governments in rehabilitation efforts. Due to its modular nature, the system will empower not only large scale operators, but small groups and local communities as well," said Lauren.

Lauren added: "The public's imagination of UAV-based applications is focused on the destructive potential of drones and their associated machinery. The Drones for Good Award highlights the positive side of this technology that addresses the ever-more complex challenges facing our connected world." In another entry in the field of environment, Carlo Ratti and his team has developed Waterfly, an autonomous environmental sensing platform, designed to map the ecological health of water.

"Fleets of self-guided quadcopters - moving in hierarchical formations, transmitting data among them in real time - are deployed across lakes and rivers to gather unprecedented data on the patterns and behaviour of our surrounding waterborne ecologies. Equipped with a variety of onboard sensors, these flying robots work together as a swarm to gather high-resolution, spatiotemporal data on a range of environmental factors," Carlo said.

"This safe and robust platform is able to conduct its operations on the water day-after-day, gathering invaluable data for further environmental research, said Carlo, adding that the Waterfly project will have a key role considering that water quality is one of the greatest challenges facing humanity in the years to come.

Commending the UAE effort to raise the discussion on new positive uses of unmanned aerial vehicles, Carlo said, "We are deeply committed to such an approach: testing new technologies in the public arena to generate a debate and ultimately foster human progress." Putting UAV technology into effective use in a unique area, Marcus Fritzsche from Germany has created a drone that can assist window-cleaners to increase their productivity and safety. The drone will also allow the creation of new architectural building designs which do not require facade elevators. In fact, the operational costs of drones will be much lesser than using facade-elevators or cranes, Marcus said.

"We believe that UAVs will have a key role in civilian applications in the near future. Therefore the launch of the award by the UAE is a far-sighted initiative that supports human needs and encourages potential use of civilian UAVs," Marcus added.

Arnau Garcia Terrades from Spain, who is part of the Ranger Drone Project, said that their effort is aimed at improving the services of natural parks using an economical, versatile and manageable fleet of UAVs.

"The Ranger Drone Project allows a better management of the natural park resources through improved surveillance to help combat poachers, control wildlife, study the risk of fire and perform search and rescue operations," said Arnau.

Commending the UAE Drones for Good Award initiative, Arnau said, "The award is great idea that will encourage sharing of knowledge and raise the possibility of using this highly advanced technology to improve people's lives." A project from Sudan uses an innovative airborne intelligent agricultural system with hovering capability to plant seeds and collect plant samples for further analysis. Called smart agriculture payload (SAP), the system supports precision agriculture to maximise food production, minimise environmental impact and reduce cost, said Mohamed Ahmed Abdul Aal, who is part of the SAP team.

Thanking the UAE Drones for Good team for launching the award, Mohamed said the initiative will help change the perception of the world towards drone technology and encourage its development for the good of mankind.

The winners of the UAE Drones for Good Award will be announced on February 6 and 7, 2015, at a ceremony in Dubai Internet City with live demonstrations by the contestants in front of a panel of high profile international judges.

The Drones for Good Award aims to harness the technology of unmanned aircraft to improve the lives of people, whether in the UAE or anywhere in the world. It aims to design a legislative structure to provide services through advanced technology such as unmanned aircraft in the areas of serving humanity. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Minister Al Hashimy leads UAE delegation to AU Summit

posted on 31/01/2015

Reem bint Ibrahim Al Hashimy, Minister of State, has led the UAE delegation to the annual summit of the African Union (AU).

The UAE joined the African Union in 2010 as an observer state based on its interest in promoting relations with African nations as well as with and African multilateral organisations.

Al Hashimy met with President of Ethiopia, Mulatu Teshome, at the presidential palace, in the presence of Ahmed Al Banna, Director of Africa at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Yousef Eissa Hassan Al Saberi, Ambassador of the UAE to Ethiopia.

During the meeting, the Ethiopian president expressed his country's desire to promote its cooperation and political and economic relations with the UAE. He also expressed his appreciation of the efforts being made by the UAE Embassy in Addis Ababa to promote and enhance the UAE investments in Ethiopia.

For her part, Minister Al Hashemi affirmed to President Teshome that the UAE is committed to strengthening bilateral relations that are based on mutual respect and the development of the spirit of cooperation in the service of the common interest of both countries.

The UAE-African relations grew at a fast pace in recent years taking non-oil trade between Sub-Saharan Africa and the UAE to US$18 billion in 2013, a 30% growth between 2009 and 2013.

The UAE's investment initiated in 1990 in infrastructure in Sub-Saharan Africa exceeded US$5.5 billion in 2013.

Noting that the UAE is a reliable, historical and old partner of Africa, Minister Al Hashimy said, "We look forward to continuing the path established by our ancestors. We're committed to our partners in promoting our common interests and values." The African Union's 24th Summit is taking place with the theme "2015 Year of Women's Empowerment and Development Towards Africa's Agenda 2063".

"In accordance with directives from the leadership of the UAE, women's empowerment is a priority in all domains for the government and this is reflected in its support, directives and insistence on Emirati women's effective participation in the society. Based on this, it is an honour to view these important values with our African partners." With the UAE's national airlines now operating more than 200 flights to more than 20 destinations in Africa, the UAE seeks to bolster cooperation and communication with the continent.

These efforts resulted in a number of events hosted by the UAE including the ministerial meeting of Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) in 2011, West Africa Investment Forum and the Eastern African Community (EAC) Investment Forum.

The UAE looks forward to hosting Africa Global Business Forum 2014 later this year as part of efforts to strengthen its partnership, cooperation and communication with the states and leaders of the promising African continent.


UAE, Egypt sign cultural cooperation agreement

posted on 31/01/2015

CAIRO: The UAE Ministry of Culture, Youth and Community Development and the Egyptian Ministry of Culture, have signed an agreement to launch an executive programme on cultural cooperation to exchange expertise, visits, documents, publications and information in all domains of knowledge, as well as to enhance reciprocal participation in cultural events.

The executive programme on cooperation was signed by Hakam Al Hashemi, Undersecretary of the UAE Ministry of Culture, Youth and Community Development and Undersecretary of the Egyptian Ministry of Culture for External Relations, Camilia Sobhi.

Al Hashemi said that Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development, takes great interest in cooperation with Egypt as it is in the service of Arab culture and sheds light on the cultural and art creativity in both countries as part of their unique relations promoted under the leadership of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

The programme is aimed at promoting Arab solidarity and helping achieve the common goals of the two countries and the ideals upheld by them.

Following the signing ceremony, the two sides convened a meeting to discuss ways of implementing the programme.

Al Hashemi said that the programme provides for the organisation of cultural weeks, as well as poetic, singing, musical and theatrical events and art exhibitions.

The two sides, he noted, will exchange delegations to book fairs organised in both countries, exchange cultural publications on heritage, and will also cooperate in areas such as archiving and heritage. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


UAE strongly condemns Sinai terrorist attacks

posted on 31/01/2015

The UAE has strongly condemned the terrorist attacks which hit security stations, military and media installations in northern Sinai Peninsula, Egypt, on Thursday night, killing and wounding a large number of people.

In a statement, Dr. Anwar bin Mohammed Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, said, "The UAE strongly condemns these criminal acts and renews its principal and constant rejection of all forms of violence and terrorism targeting Egypt. The UAE also renews its strong support for Egypt and its firm stand with the government and people of Egypt as they counter these serious crimes." "These cowardly acts will not affect the strong willingness of the Egyptian people and leadership to continue to resolutely counter terrorism," said Minister Gargash calling on the international community to stand with Egypt in order to counter this extremism and terrorism which are against all countries, religions and ethical traditions." This terrorist act, Minister Gargash added, violates all religious and human principles.

He further expressed the UAE's sincere condolences for the families of the martyrs and for the people and government of Egypt, and wished for speedy recovery for the wounded. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


UAE newspaper: Human Rights Watch report is "fictitious"

posted on 31/01/2015

A UAE newspaper on Friday slammed the Human Rights Watch's latest report on human rights in the UAE as " fictitious" and said that the international watchdog group continues to exercise its ugly habit of distorting realities and levelling unjust accusations for purposes that are well known to everybody.

In its editorial, the UAE's Arabic newspaper Al-Roeya said that Human Rights Watch is using " completely biased language " when "it has failed to differentiate between security and chaos and between terrorism and combatting terrorism." Casting doubts on the real aims of the rights group, the newspaper said that Human Rights Watch spins stories about saboteurs who have wreaked havoc in the Arab region, and resorts to defending terrorists.

The intention of Human Rights Watch is to "target the achievements which the UAE has made " through inciting " spite-driven unrest ", added the UAE newspaper.

The human rights group's discourse, the paper went on to say, " relies on begging for credibility " and "attempting to evoke sympathy".

"Based on its outstanding achievements and well-deserved merit, the UAE will continue its march towards the future ignoring the anger-driven lies," concluded the UAE newspaper.

On the same topic, in another article entitled "Lies refuted by facts", published yesterday in the same UAE newspaper Al-Roeya, Cairo-based Egyptian writer Hani Al Jamal rhetorically asked", Who gave Human Rights Watch the right to be the judge in cases that it does not know anything about and has no evidence to substantiate its claims?" The writer said that the international watchdog group keeps silent about Israel's oppression and torture in the occupied Palestinian Territory (oPT) as it did about the tragic situations of detainees in U.S.-run Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

The New York-based rights group, added the writer, also turns a blind eye to human rights violations in a large number of countries that have common interests with the U.S.

"We call on the dubious (human rights) organisation to explore the UAE's record, its international position and its generous humanitarian outreach to all people of poor countries regardless of their nationality, race or religion. This made the UAE, according to respectable internationally recognised organisations, a world leader of humanitarian action." The writer went on to say that "the UAE's international achievements do not appeal to this organisation whose sources of funding, real purposes and real mission and its standards are unknown to anybody." – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


UAE Ambassador to France presents credentials to President Hollande

posted on 31/01/2015

Madhed Hareb Mughir Al Khaiili has presented his credential as Extraordinary Ambassador of the UAE to France to French President Francoise Hollande at the Elysee Palace.

During the meeting, the UAE ambassador conveyed to the French president greetings of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and his best wishes for continuous progress and prosperity for the French people.

For his part, President Holland requested the UAE ambassador to convey his greetings to President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The French president reiterated his country's keen interest in strengthening the bilateral relations with the UAE.

Ambassador Al Khaiili expressed his delight at being appointed as the UAE envoy to France and his pride in, and appreciation of the historic and strong relations between the UAE and France and their progress at all levels in light of the attention given to them by the leaders of both countries. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Khalifa Foundation delivers winter aid to Tunisian families

posted on 31/01/2015

TUNIS: Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation (Khalifa Foundation) has started distribution of new consignments of relief materials to families in 12 Tunisian provinces following a wave of extremely cold weather which hit the country recently.

A source at the foundation said the aid programme, organised under the directives of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and His Highness General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, started yesterday with distribution of winter relief materials, including food, winter clothes, blankets and heaters, to 4,500 families in two Tunisian provinces.

The programme is being implemented in collaboration with the UAE embassy in Tunis. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


ERC expands its humanitarian projects in Erbil

posted on 31/01/2015

ERBIL: The Emirates Red Crescent Authority (ERC) has begun implementing extensive humanitarian, health, social and educational programmes in Erbil, in the Kurdistan region of Iraq.

Heading the ERC delegation, Dr. Mohammed Ateeq Al Falahi, Secretary-General of the ERC, yesterday visited Erbil. He was accompanied by UAE Consul in Erbil Rashid Al Mansouri. The delegation visited a company that manufactures prefabricated homes and agreed to purchase three units to be used as clinics for the displaced and refugees in Erbil.

Dr. Al Falahi told Emirates News Agency (WAM) that these clinics will be the first humanitarian projects to be implemented by the ERC in Erbil, adding that the clinics will be staffed by refugee physicians, nurses and technicians, who would be paid to find source of income for them.

He further stated that the ERC would provide medicines to the clinics, either from the local market or from donations by philanthropists in the UAE through Compassion Campaign "Tarahamu" launched by President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and being followed up by Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

Dr. Al Falahi referred to the directives of H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler's Representative in the Western Region, Chairman of the ERC, to step up and speed the implementation of humanitarian projects to assist the refugees and displaced persons.

Welcoming the ERC efforts, the Kurdish official told the media delegation accompanying Dr. Al Falahi that the refugee and displaced camps need schools and clinics. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


UAE wins 3rd place in Asian Football Cup 2015

posted on 31/01/2015

NEWCASTLE, AUSTRALIA: The United Arab Emirates football team yesterday secured the third position in the 16th AFC Asian Cup when they defeated Iraq in 3rd/4th place match played at Newcastle Stadium in Sydney.

UAE scored three goals against Iraq's two goals to win a thrilling match. Ahmed Khalil and Ali Mabkhout scored two and one goals respectively to seal the UAE's victory. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -