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Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing ahead at halfway stage of first leg

posted on 31/10/2014

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (ADOR), the emirate's 2014–15 Volvo Ocean Race contester, crossed the halfway point of the first leg of the Volvo Ocean Race in the lead as the fleet race toward the finish line in South Africa.

Since setting sail from Alicante, Spain en-route to Cape Town, ADOR has consistently led the pack of seven teams – often by several nautical miles.

With an average speed of 20 knots and a 2014-15 race record of 436 nautical miles sailed within a single 24-hour period, ADOR is currently sailing along the south eastern coast of Brazil before heading southeast towards the finish line.

ADOR fans have been tracking the latest movements and progress of the team's yacht, Azzam, which means ‘determination' in Arabic, through the ‘RaceTracker' tab on the official Volvo Ocean Race website.

"Our main strategy for this leg was to sail conservatively by sailing with the main fleet rather than breaking away on our own or making any tactical gambles," said ADOR skipper, Ian Walker.

Despite exiting Gibraltar in fourth place, the team was the first to spot and capitalise on a wind shift soon after, which set them up well to move into the lead as the fleet headed south over the next week.

Azzam's fight for the lead has not been easy, as the lack of normal solid trade winds in the North Atlantic Ocean meant the fleet turned south much quicker and much closer to land than normal, which resulted in a lot more manoeuvring and very little sleep for the sailors.

With more than 5,000 miles of sailing ahead of them, one of the key challenges facing the team will be sailing around the light wind zone known as the ‘St. Helena High' before turning for Cape Town. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


ADFF Black Pearl Awards to be announced at Gala Ceremony tonight

posted on 31/10/2014

Winners of the Abu Dhabi Film Festival's Black Pearl Awards in the three competition categories will be announced tonight.

The ceremony marking the grand finale of the eighth edition of ADFF was held at Emirates Palace at 19:00 and was followed by the premiere of the Disney studios animation picture, "Big Hero 6", the first ever public screening of the film in 3D.

The Black Pearl Award winners will be announced in the Narrative Features, New Horizons and Documentary Competitions. Additionally, juries will announce the winners of the Child Protection Award, the Our World Competition, the Fipresci and Netpac Award, as well as the Audience Award. There will be screenings of the Black Pearl winning films on November 1st at VOX cinemas.

The last film of the Special Programme section The Arab Diaspora was screened yesterday, Josef Fares' 2000 feature "Jalla! Jalla!" (Vox 2, 21:30), as well as the final film in this year's Hommage to Francois Truffaut, the restored 1970 film, "The Wild Child" (Vox 2, 19:30). – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


ADFF Movie Star Lounge witnesses astounding success

posted on 31/10/2014

The One Off Shot Series of unique celebrities portraits managed by Movie Stars Lounge on behalf of the Abu Dhabi Film Festival is enjoying a growing success, as more and more talents visit the lounge studio for an exclusive photo session.

Approaching the end of the ADFF, the results are enthusiastic, as was stated during the press conference by Angelo Quarti, founder and Artistic Director of the Movie Star Lounge, in the presence of ADFF Director Ali Al Jabri and ADFF Director of Programming Teresa Cavina.

Latest names include directors Ali Mostafa, Frédéric Tcheng, Rob Heydon, Michael R Roskam, Raad Mushatat, Malik Vitthal, Khalid Al Mamood and Nicolás Echeverría, actress and designer Abeer Mohammed, actors Ahmed Bdeir, Khaled AbolNaga, Fabrizio Rongione and Ibrahim Al Hsawi, the main interpreters of the film Theeb Jacir Eid, Hassan Mutlag, Hussein Salameh and the Huichol artist Santos de la Torre.

All talents portrayed by celebrity photographer Annalisa Flori under the artistic direction of Angelo Quarti signed the unique printed copy of the shot. The portraits are exposed on the Movie Stars Lounge walls thus building up a "work in progress” exhibition, which adds a touch of Italian glamour to the already lively festival atmosphere at the Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi.

The Movie Stars Lounge comes for the first time to the ADFF and brings a strong knowhow developed over a decade of experience at other international film festivals such as Venice, Cannes and Berlin.

Artistic Director Angelo Quarti said, "The response of all talents is impressive. With more than 60 celebrities, one-off shots made in these first days of activity, we feel we are doing something unique, and we are grateful to the ADFF for the excellent cooperation.”

Egyptian actor Khaled Abol Naga said, "Congratulations for these intense portraits. May we peel the surface further in the future.” – The Gulf Today -


twofour54 and the Family Development Foundation launch Films Screenplay Contest

posted on 31/10/2014

In partnership with twofour54, the Family Development Foundation has launched its first contest for screenplays of short social films. The competition has been initiated to highlight the importance of social values in the operations of the Family Development Foundation, which works to strengthen the community. The foundation also sheds light on existing social issues experienced in all communities. The competition will provide a film archive that specialises in socially-aware short films.

The competition is the first contest launched by the Family Development Foundation and twofour54 within the Social Cinema Club. The dates of the competition will be announced by the foundation at a later date.

Khalid Khouri, Head of twofour54 creative lab, said, "At twofour54 creative lab, we are constantly working to encourage and inspire our talented youth and we offer support to make their dreams come true. This competition not only serves that purpose in encouraging aspiring filmmakers to take part in a local cinematic experience, but it also helps bring awareness to social issues that exist in all communities." twofour54 creative lab, which nurtures budding media professionals through funding and enabling work facilities, will supervise the competition and will also head the selection of submissions and winners of the competition.

The Family Development Foundation has developed a set of regulations for the competition, including the fact that members submitting projects must be 18 years or over, the film must address social issues such as divorce, family breakdowns, special needs, community cohesion, the idea behind the script must not have been cinematically implemented before by filmmakers either within or outside U.A.E., and photography, production and promotion rights will be owned by the Family Development Foundation and twofour54.

Through the competition, the Cinema Club will connect young filmmakers and relevant entities within Abu Dhabi and U.A.E., and work on the promotion of films in cooperation with twofour54.

The competition will help raise awareness around social issues in an innovative cinematic style and give creative young Emiratis an opportunity to showcase their work and the chance to contribute to both the social and cinematic future.

The club also aims to motivate Emiratis to show their potential in script writing, directing and the production of social films, so that future talent can be discovered. The Family Development Foundation will mentor these innovators technically and artistically, and guide them in presenting their films in an interesting manner. The competition's films will also add to developing national art, which is what the Family Development Foundation seeks to strengthen. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Hospitality championship gets cooking in Dubai

posted on 31/10/2014

Hundreds of Emirati cooks stepped in on Thursday to introduce their country's hospitality and culinary arts in one of the competitions at the Dubai World Hospitality Championship (DWHC), which runs till Saturday at Dubai World Trade Centre.

The second edition of the three-day championship, which is being held under the directives of Sheikh Hamdan bin U.A.E. bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai Crown Prince, and is organised by Zabeel Palace Hospitality in cooperation with the World Association of Chefs Societies (WACS) and The Emirates Culinary Guild (ECG), aims to continue to preserve the legacy of Emirati hospitality and also support the talents of renowned chefs and culinary professionals from Arab nations.

As many as 2,588 contestants from different countries are participating in this year's championship which is divided four competitions — an international competition, Gulf products competition, Emirati competition and hospitality sector competition, including a photography competition running during the festival.

The day started off with a strong Emirati presence and a competitive atmosphere with different exhibitors showcasing their products for the Gulf product competition, and with also talented chefs cooking in front of visitors and offering them samples of their products.

Four teams competed in day one of the International Competition, including Algeria, Bahrain, Jordan and Egypt to prepare the finest and most innovative Arabic and Gulf dishes in front of a jury of skilled and professional chefs and culinary experts. 308 participants showcased their products in the Gulf competition and around 532 talented Emiratis showcased their cooking skills.

Earlier this month Ahmed bin Hared, president of DWHC said that preserving and promoting Emirati hospitality and culinary art with hopes of bringing it to the local and international scene is an ambition and a goal to be achieved through this championship. He also said that it will serve as window for Emiratis from all over the U.A.E. to showcase their talents as they continue to preserve the legacy of the U.A.E.. – Gulf News -


SIBF14 to connect visitors with social media activists

posted on 31/10/2014

The 33rd edition of the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) which kicks off Wednesday, 5th of November, will host for the third consecutive year a number of famous social media activists to talk about their experience and how they use social networking sites to express their issues and promote their products, in addition to discussing significant social and cultural topics.

The list of figures participating in the social networking platform includes Major General and Commander-in-Chief of Sharjah Police, Humaid Mohamed Al Hadidi, Major General Khamis Matar Al Muzainah, Deputy Commander General of Dubai Police, and Saudi Arabia's Princess Ameera Al Taweel.

Other renowned figures expected at the fair include the team of the TV programme "Why Not?", Egyptian scholar Mustafa Hosny, international chef, Manuella Kjeilen, presenter Abdullah Ismail, social activist Ayyoub Yousuf, Dr. Naif Al Mutawa, and Khalid Al Ahmed.

Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, Director of the Sharjah International Book Fair, said, "The social networking platform saw considerable interest from visitors in the last two years, and also received extensive coverage on social networking sites and media due to the engagement of renowned and influential figures in discussions. He added that tweets on the SIBF twitter account were viewed by more than 85 million people around the world and its hashtag #SIBF13 was one of the top trending during its 11-day event last year, in addition to the increasing number of its followers on other social media accounts.

Al Ameri added that SIBF always seeks to develop its activities and utilise new means and advanced technologies in the dissemination of culture, encouraging interaction and networking with educators through various channels of communication, which would help enrich the U.A.E.'s cultural and social scene and promote dialogue among users of these sites and channels.

The social networking platform will kick off on Wednesday, November 5th, when Saudi Princess and businesswoman, Ameer Al Taweel, will talk about various challenges facing women and her suggestions to overcome them, as well as the role of social media in tackling women's issues, while celebrity chef Manuela Kjeilen, one of the most famous and successful chefs in Scandinavia, will speak on Thursday, November 6th, about her experiences when she promoted her business on Instagram where she has more than a million followers from all over the world.

Egyptian Islamic preacher Mustafa Hosny will be the guest on the social media station on Saturday, November 8th, to spotlight a number of life topics associated with religious values that reflect the moderation and tolerance of Islam. On Sunday 9th November, SIBF visitors will meet Emirati social media activists Abdullah Ismael and Ayyoub Yousuf, who will focus on the use of the Arabic language in social media.

Talented Emirati girl Taim Al Falasi, the first Emirati to have her own internet radio channel, and presenter of the popular programme ‘Taim Shaw', will appear to SIBF visitors on Wednesday, November 12th, to talk about the idea of the video blog, or ‘vlog'.

Visitors' interaction with the social media platform will increase on Thursday, November 13th, when Major General Humaid Mohamed Al Hadidi and Major General Khamis Matar Al Muzainah will connect with people via live talk about cyber-crime and how to avoid irregularities arising from the misuse of the Internet and social networking sites. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


U.A.E. concludes 4th Counter Piracy Conference

posted on 31/10/2014

The U.A.E. Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) and DP World have concluded the highly successful U.A.E. Counter-Piracy Conference, held on 29-30 October in Dubai.

"Building on the accomplishments of the last three U.A.E. Counter-Piracy Conferences, this meeting of public and private sector stakeholders has surpassed expectations in setting up a framework at a national, regional and international level to foster coordinated efforts to effectively combat maritime piracy at sea and regional threats on land. Memorable outcomes were achieved with all discussions steered towards constructive solutions that will have a profound effect on Africa and the world's collective long-term future," said the communiqué of the fourth edition of the two-day counter-piracy conference.

Held under the theme "Securing State Recovery: Sustaining Momentum at Sea, Confronting Instability Land", the 2014 conference addressed the challenges and current concerns regarding maritime piracy. The U.A.E. has portrayed its continued commitment and its on-going efforts in relentlessly tackling the plague of piracy in the Horn of Africa and its recent shift to the Gulf of Guinea. In hopes of deriving lasting solutions and recommendations, it has been acknowledged that land-based remedies and achieving stability in this stressed region is a prerequisite to achieving long-term security for those plying the world's trade lanes at sea.

In his welcome note, H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the U.A.E. Foreign Minister, reiterated that the international efforts have yielded tangible successes with the decrease of the pirates' attacks during the past two years. He also commended the Somali Government on its progress in bringing peace and prosperity to the people of Somalia and in re-establishing justice and the rule of law in places where it has been absent for too long.

In this regard, the main plenary session that took place on October 29 included discussions that revolved around lessons learned from maritime piracy in the Horn of Africa and recent trends that helped facilitate building a framework for future cooperation. This year, the scope of discussion expanded to include West Africa, a region of growing concern for governments and industry alike. It was acknowledged that, as the threat of piracy evolves to encompass a more transnational nature, there is also an increase in prospects for cooperation which entails more effective mutual assistance and greater collaboration between countries, agencies, and industry.

The three breakout sessions that took place on the second day, October 30, developed diverse solutions. Breakout session A was successful in demonstrating means for synchronised efforts between governments and regional and international organisations in halting the rise of cross-border crimes across Africa. Various methods of enhancing coordination and intelligence sharing efforts were discussed as critical measures in the fight against crime and maritime piracy.

Breakout session B entailed fruitful analysis and recommendations regarding initiatives and contributions provided by the industry in supporting capacity building efforts and improving livelihoods in Somalia. An examination of these past initiatives enabled the development of new recommendations that could foster long-term stability and security in the region.

The third breakout session, C, enveloped a robust discussion on terrorist groups and illicit criminal networks which provided an understanding of these groups' motives and needs as a major stepping stone in determining future requirements in the security sector. Discussing changes in criminal and terrorist capability and tactics provided an insight on potential ways regional forces can combat threats.

Finally, the special discussion on youth and gender empowerment highlighted the vital importance of empowering and engaging these marginalised groups in society for the enduring growth and prosperity of the region. Tools for youth investment and mechanisms to counter gender-based violence were advocated as key to addressing this issue.

The United Arab Emirates' actions, taken in concert with those of other concerned government and industry stakeholders, are persistent in combating the effects of maritime piracy both on land and at sea. We remain steadfast in our commitment to ensuring the safety of the world's oceans and the wellbeing of citizens and seafarers alike.

The hosts thank our honoured guests from both governments and industry, and our distinguished panellists, for their contribution in making this conference yet another success.

The fourth U.A.E. Counter-Piracy Conference, held over October 29-30 in Dubai, was attended by more than 600 delegates, including attendees from over 50 government and non-governmental organisations, and senior industry and business executives. The mixture of public and private sector participants from across the region and around the world created an unmatched opportunity for dialogue. In addition to the formal meetings and workshops, the Conference provided delegates with a forum for bilateral meetings and informal discussions that will form the basis for counter-piracy coordination in the years ahead.

The Conference also hosted delegations from the Federal Government of Somalia and from the autonomous regions of Galmudug, Jubaland, Puntland, and Somaliland. The Conference hopes that convening these parties will contribute to Somalia's political and economic development and future security.

During the Conference, statements from foreign ministers and senior government officials highlighted the support of the international community for counter-piracy efforts at sea and on land. Ministerial statements were provided by Bahamas, Bangladesh, Brunei, Comoros, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, Yemen, and the GCC Secretary General.

The Conference noted that while incidents of Somali-based piracy have fallen significantly, the economic costs remains high at more than US$3 billion, and the human cost to seafarers and their families is severe. There remain an estimated 37 seafarers still held captive in Somalia. They have been held now for nearly three years. The international community continues to have a vital role fostering debate and solutions to this very serious issue. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


U.A.E. values Morocco's anti-terror efforts

posted on 31/10/2014

H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Foreign Minister, has highly valued the decision and directives of King Mohammed VI of Morocco to provide effective cooperation with the U.A.E. in its war on terror.

H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed said, "This stance is not unusual for Morocco as it reflects the close fraternal relations and historic ties that were established by the founding father of the U.A.E., the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, and the late King Hassan II of Morocco over decades, the roots of which have been further consolidated under the leadership of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and King Mohammed VI of Morocco, making them so strong and solid that they have become a crucial partnership at all times and under all circumstances." He stressed that, "Morocco's position is a noble one, stemming from the harmonious and identical views of the two fraternal countries as terrorism has become a grave threat to international peace and security. In addition to being a violation of human rights, terrorism threatens the integrity and values of States, undermines their social fabric, destroys their security and development achievements, and erodes their cultural and human heritage." H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed also stressed that Morocco, whether at the level of its bilateral cooperation with the U.A.E. or through its standing alongside the global coalition to counter terrorism, expresses Morocco's traditional and principled policy and its brave stance in support of brothers and friends against international terrorism, and reflects the depth of the strategic relations between the two countries in all spheres. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


U.A.E. committed to supporting international counter-terrorism efforts

posted on 31/10/2014

RABAT: The U.A.E. has renewed its commitment to supporting international community's efforts to fight terrorism and to minimise its impact, particularly on the Middle East and North Africa region.

The statement was made by Khalifa Shahin Al Marrar, Khalifa Shaheen Al-Marar, Director of International Organisations at the Foreign Ministry during a thematic session held as part of the Regional Conference for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) on Geneva Declaration on Armed violence and Development, which was concluded on Wednesday in Rabat.

The two-day conference was held under the theme "Ending armed violence for peace and development".

Al-Marrar stressed the importance of enhancing regional and international cooperation to fight terrorism and armed violence. He added that the U.A.E. had been actively participating in all related efforts whether at the GCC, Arab and Islamic levels. He also referred to the efforts made by the GCC countries in securing political transition process in Yemen and the joint Arab League and international community's efforts to resolves the issues in Libya and Syria.

He also said that the U.A.E. took part in the efforts made the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) to help republics of Mali, Somalia and Central Africa and other areas outside the Middle East to eliminate armed violence.

The U.A.E., he continued, is also exerting efforts within the international alliance to fight terrorism and violence by Dae'sh.

"It is important to involve civil society organisations, including Islamic scholars, to provide enlightened thoughts that would beat the dark thoughts of exclusionists and extremists," he added. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


ITU approves Arab League work paper submitted by U.A.E.

posted on 31/10/2014

The U.A.E. Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, TRA, delegation representing the Arab League at the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference 2014, held in Busan, Korea over the past three weeks, announced yesterday that the ITU has approved a work paper submitted by the U.A.E. on behalf of Arab League.

The paper was based on a U.A.E. suggestion to support youth innovations in ICT. In addition, discussions were held on the new work papers and amendments on existing papers presented to the ITU Council, where the U.A.E. delegation is highly active in the discussion of those papers, in order to mobilise the necessary support on the issues raised in the papers by the U.A.E.. Lead by the U.A.E., the Arab League has submitted 41 work papers at the current ITU Conference.

Receiving worldwide recognition, the most important proposal submitted by the Arab League within a U.A.E.-lead initiative was an innovative smart application for continuous interaction with civil aircrafts during flights via land and space links. The proposal aims at identifying the aircraft's location and track flight progress in a continuous manner, monitoring its location with the latest coordinates. This will in turn allow appropriate action to be taken in the event of disasters, such as the Malaysian airplane accident and disappearance.

The conference's Fifth Committee discussed a range of work papers yesterday, including the Arab League paper on revealing the Union's documents to the public, which has been covered in a specific meeting.

All discussions stressed the importance of transparency and openness within the limits that protect privacy and ensure preservation of confidentiality of certain documents. It made clear the differences between privacy and security standards, resulting in the session chairman calling upon the creation of a committee comprised of the states with suggestions, visions, amendments or comments on the paper, in order to form a small team to reach a common understanding in this regards.

The U.A.E. delegation represented by Nasser bin Hammad welcomed the suggestion, and stressed the need to take all views into consideration, particularly the Arab League vision which initiated the proposal.

More work papers were also discussed, including a paper submitted by SITTEL on the theft of mobile devices. The paper focuses on the need to coordinate the world's efforts to develop a global database on stolen hardware, and the issuance of guidelines to help third world countries in particular, enabling them to resolve this issue, which was described by the Russian delegate as the grey market of stolen devices.

The Colombian delegate indicated that this problem is becoming a global concern, affecting economical, legal and security-related aspects, and pointed out that the United States has registered 3.1 million stolen mobile phones in 2013, and the same level of seriousness is being faced in the rest of the world. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


IDEX displays global reach at Euronaval 2014

posted on 31/10/2014

The International Defence Exhibition and Conference, IDEX, is currently participating in the 24th International Naval Defence, Maritime Exhibition and Conference, Euronaval 2014, in Paris.

On the occasion, Saleh Al Marzooqi, IDEX Chief Executive Officer said, "Our attendance at Euronaval is representative of the type of relationship we strive to foster with other industry counterparts. In line with IDEX and NAVDEX 2015 strategies and objectives, we work to bring the global defence industry the best possible platform to showcase on-going initiatives and future ambitions in defence from around the globe." He added, "Participating at an established event like Euronaval and conducting conversations about naval defence helps both add to the value of discourse at Euronaval, while setting the stage for continued conversation and collaboration in February at NAVDEX 2015." Open this year from October 28th-31st, Euronaval is one of the longest running and largest maritime defence exhibitions in the world and is attended by some of the top defence organisations, governments and industry decision-makers.

Euronaval 2014 expects to welcome over 350 exhibitors from nearly 30 countries, including 90 government delegations from 65 countries. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Chief of Staff heads U.A.E. delegation to GCC Supreme Military Committee meeting

posted on 31/10/2014

Lt. General Hamad Mohammed Thani Al Rumaithi, Chief of Staff of the U.A.E. Armed Forces, is heading the U.A.E. delegation at the 12th consultative meeting of the GCC Supreme Military Committee in Kuwait.

The Chiefs of Staff in the GCC, Assistant Secretary General for Military Affairs and the Peninsula Shield Forces commander are also participating in the meeting.

The meeting is aimed at strengthening joint military actions and achieving greater coordination between the armed forces of the GCC so as to translate the directives of the GCC leaders.

Al Rumaithi, accompanied by his delegation, arrived yesterday in Kuwait. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Ministry of Foreign Affairs inaugurates consular section, visa issuing centre in Jakarta

posted on 31/10/2014

JAKARTA: Ambassador of the U.A.E. to Indonesia, Ahmed Abdullah Al Musalli, in Jakarta, has inaugurated the U.A.E.'s consular section and the second visa issuing centre outside the U.A.E.

An inauguration ceremony was held in the Indonesian capital in the presence of Mansoor Binghran, Director of Diplomatic Immunities and Privileges at the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ambassadors, senior Indonesian officials, and Walid Darwish, Director of the Visa Issuing Centre in Jakarta.

Speaking at the ceremony, Ambassador Al Musalli expressed appreciation of the constructive and fruitful efforts that were made to promote the U.A.E.-Indonesia bilateral relations that are growing in various spheres.

He stressed that the opening of the consular section and the second overseas visa issuing centre is aimed at enhancing the cooperation relations on consular affairs, improving customer service and facilitating the entry of workers to U.A.E. through eGates at entry points.

He noted that the procedures at the visa issuing centre comply with the relevant internationally-recognised standards.

On his part, Director of Diplomatic Immunities and Privileges at Indonesia's MoFA, described the opening of the centre as a historic moment in the relationship of the two countries.

He expressed his appreciation of "the U.A.E.'s positive initiative that is unusual for the U.A.E. with which we have long-standing and close bilateral relations." Mansour also hailed the system used in the visa issuing centre as one of the most efficient in the world as it saves time during the visa application process.

The Indonesian official thanked the U.A.E. for its regional and international stances and for its friendly support for Indonesia.

He expressed hoped for closer bilateral relations in the future.

Ahmed Elham Al Dhaheri, Director of Consular Services at the U.A.E.'s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the new visa centre serves 500 customers every day and uses passport authentication and biometrics such as fingerprints, eyeprints and faceprints, and medical tests conducted at 27 medical centres accredited by the U.A.E. Ministry of Health, in order to identity, and prevent entry of individuals with contagious disease.

The procedures, he noted, will save costs of recruitment, quarantine and deportation and improve customer service as they are aimed at providing excellent consular services fulfilling internationally recognised standards.

Through the new visa issuing centre, MoFA will provide all related administrative services in cooperation with the Ministry of Interior, (MoI) using a fully-integrated electronic system within an advanced framework of security controls aimed at achieving maximum protection for visa and entry procedures.

Al Dhaheri noted that the U.A.E.'s MoFA will open a third overseas visa issuing centre by the end of the year and is planning 18 other centres in the future. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Saif bin Zayed follows up on successful operation foiling bid to smuggle 4.5m narcotic pills in Al Ain

posted on 31/10/2014

H.H. Lt. General Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior has closely followed up on a successful police operation, code-named Wooden Doors, which resulted in the discovery of the U.A.E.'s biggest drug-smuggling case. The U.A.E. police sting on drug smugglers uncovered 4.5 million narcotic pills after the Ministry of Interior was tipped off by its counterpart in Kuwait.

"H.H. Sheikh Saif bin Zayed reiterated the unwavering objectives of the U.A.E. strategy aimed at fighting all forms of crime, wherever they may be, particularly its zero tolerance policy against drugs and the commitment to fighting the spread of these poisonous substances. This falls in line with the U.A.E.'s keenness to promote security, safety, community tranquillity; maintain the national gains and achievements; and protect national wealth and youth," said MoI in a statement.

He lauded the strong and deep-rooted relations between the U.A.E. and its partners, especially the GCC countries that cooperate within the framework of a joint force to curtail the spread of drugs. His Highness said, "These relations are based on a clear methodology and unified strategies, insights and joint action in order to provide effective plans to address all types of crime at the local and regional levels." Police arrested the drug gang which consists of three Arabs and one Gulf national.

Colonel Dr. Rashid U.A.E. Borshid, Head of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) at the Abu Dhabi Police GHQ, who unveiled the details of the operation, said, "The Abu Dhabi Police recently managed to thwart an attempt to smuggle 4.5 million narcotic pills and arrest the gang, which consists of 4 individuals (three Arabs and one Gulf national). The value of the seized narcotics, which were stashed in a warehouse and a house in Al Ain, was pegged at a quarter of a billion dirhams, and were intended to be trafficked to another country".

Adding further, Colonel Borshid indicated that intelligence forwarded by the Kuwaiti authorities to the Anti-Narcotics Federal Department at the U.A.E. Ministry of Interior, contributed to seizing the drug shipment smuggled into the country through an airport, coming from an Arab country in the Middle East.

"Subsequent and immediate investigations indicated that the narcotic pills were shipped to one of the perpetrators. They were stashed in a professional and innovative way in as many as 108 transverse sections of 36 wooden door frames," explained Colonel Borshid.

The Head of the Criminal Investigation Department added that the Anti-narcotic officers managed to arrest the four members of the gang, two of whom were in Al Ain (Two Arabs), and two others in Dubai (one Arab and one Gulf national), following a well-thought operation that included evidence gathering , secret investigations and extensive surveillance. The anti-narcotics team found and seized the pills, which were hidden in secret caches in Al Ain; with another 11.750 pills seized in Dubai.

Colonel Borshid commended the valuable intelligence provided by the Anti-Narcotics Federal Directorate General at the Ministry of Interior in coordination with the Kuwaiti authorities, has helped to uncover the drug smuggling bid. "During interrogation, the gang members confessed to trying to smuggle the pills to another country. Investigation is still underway to uncover the circumstances of the operation," he added.

Operation Wooden Doors was an unconventional one and required several stages of joint security work. It entailed analysing the received intelligence, identifying the suspects, in addition to other highly confidential security measures. Ultimately, a joint work team was formed by anti-narcotics officers from Abu Dhabi, Dubai Police and the Anti-Narcotics Federal Directorate General at the Ministry of Interior.

He also explained that despite the difficulties surrounding the operation and the extreme caution, the Anti-Drug section team managed to foil the attempt, using their extensive field experience and skills to act efficiently without arousing the suspects' suspicions.

He valued the distinguished role played by the work team that took part in the operation and expressed admiration for the competence, efforts and extensive expertise of the anti-narcotics personnel on the local and federal levels. He also praised the efficient international security cooperation that contributed to dealing a serious blow to drug traffickers and their criminal activities.

Colonel Borshid reiterated his call to members of the public to not hesitate to report any suspicious activities and to cooperate with the anti-drugs units, which will take all necessary measures in accordance with the U.A.E. laws that guarantee the protection of the public from any legal accountability as a result of their cooperation.

Additionally, he noted that local and international drug trafficking represents a major security concern for anti-narcotics authorities and requires concerted efforts and joint coordination. "The Abu Dhabi Police is committed to strengthening cooperation in this field to enhance safety and security levels," Colonel Borshid asserted.

On his part, Colonel Saeed Abdullah Al Suwaidi, Director-General, Anti-Narcotics Federal Directorate General at the Ministry of Interior, thanked the federal and local work teams for their valuable cooperation and efficient sincere efforts. He also lauded the professional skills demonstrated by all those who took part in the operation, and the extremely useful information they provided to ensure the success of the operation.

He also cited the leading role of the police leadership in the fight against the drug scourge. "In our capacity as an anti-narcotics entity, we are committed to providing the necessary support to the competent police authorities to curtail drug peddling and trafficking," said Colonel Al Suwaidi; commending the unwavering efforts exerted by the MoI to fight drugs and acquaint people with its risks.

Colonel Al Suwaidi noted that the Anti-Narcotics Federal Directorate General has unified work teams that work round the clock to nab drug peddlers. These teams establish the necessary plans and traps, based on collaborative work on the federal level, to arrest criminals red-handed.

He also stressed that the MoI is endeavouring adamant on reinforcing its strategic partnership with inspection authorities operating at the various country's ports, in order to develop their action plans and work mechanisms to curtail smuggling attempts into the U.A.E..

Furthermore, Colonel Al Suwaidi commended the joint collaborative efforts with Gulf States, particularly the sisterly state of Kuwait, for its distinguished role that contributed to spurring this massive drug bust. He also noted that thanks to the security information received, and the quick response to track the poisonous narcotics, the joint professional anti-narcotics team from Abu Dhabi Police and Dubai Police, operating under the umbrella of the MoI managed to foil the attempt to smuggle the drugs to another country, and to nab the criminals involved.

Adding further, Colonel Al Suwaidi said, "Such a whopping amount of drugs would have destroyed society and ruined the lives of thousands of innocent people, both emotionally and financially if the perpetrators had succeeded in their attempt. But the vigilance of the anti-narcotics teams and the close-knit regional cooperation contributed to foiling these criminal activities." In conclusion, Colonel Al Suwaidi stressed the importance of fostering cooperation and coordination with the brotherly GCC countries in the fight against this dangerous scourge. "We are a bound with GCC countries by historical ties and a common destiny; therefore, all police authorities should work to protect the values of fraternity and maintain security and stability," he said. He also stressed that all anti-narcotics authorities in GCC countries work conjointly to confront all forms and aspects of crime.

For his part, Colonel Sultan Suwayeh Al Darmaki, Chief of the Anti-Drug Section at the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), who was the field commander, said, "The operation was characterised by a high-level of performance shown by the anti-drugs team that arrested the gang members and seized the drugs. It also featured strict security procedures." Elaborating on the case, Colonel Al Darmaki noted that the first suspect, a 32-year old truck driver, identified as A.A.A, received the drug shipment that through an export/import office in one of the country's emirates. The drugs were concealed within the unassembled transverse sections of 36 wooden door frames." Colonel Al Darmaki added, "Thanks to their highly-developed security sense and technical and field skills, the anti-narcotics team managed to locate the first drug stash, hidden in a big warehouse in Al Ain. The careful and discrete stakeout operation indicated a possible second hideout for the gang." "The first suspect, A.A.A, accompanied by the second suspect, a 36-year-old truck driver identified as F.N.A, transferred a big number of door frames to a house in ‘Al Shabia' neighbourhood in Al Ain City. This prompted the team to place both the warehouse and the residence under surveillance." "When we sensed that the drugs are being sorted, we raided the house, under high security measures to avert any potential emergency. We caught the suspects red-handed, as they were dismantling door frames, recovering the concealed drug pills and placing them in travel bags," Colonel Al Darmaki explained.

Colonel Al Darmaki added, "The suspects were taken by surprise. The seized shipment consisted of 3 travel bags filled with pills; we also confiscated as many as 60 transverse sections of 20 doors where the drugs were stashed. The team also raided the warehouse, where they discovered 48 transverse sections of 16 doors, containing the poisonous drugs, stashed in the same manner. A total of 16 travel bags filled with narcotic pills were confiscated in the operation." During interrogation, the two suspects revealed the identity of their accomplices; an Arab citizen living abroad and running the operations; and a third suspect, another Arab citizen, who was supposed to receive the drug shipment in Dubai. The team set a trap and contacted the third accomplice through the arrested suspects, under tight security supervision. A delivery date was agreed upon." Colonel Al Darmaki continued: "In light of this information, we carried out a number of investigations and coordinated with the General Department of Anti-Narcotics at the Dubai Police, and we formed a team. The third suspect, a 26-year old investor identified as A.M.Kh, asked to receive the shipment in the parking lot of an amusement park in Dubai. He was cautious and tried to not arouse any suspicions." Adding further, he said, "Upon delivery, the third suspect was arrested with another accomplice; an unemployed 36-year-old GCC national, identified as Kh.M.A. During interrogation, they both confessed to being involved and to having another 11.750 narcotic pills hidden in a location in Dubai. The drugs were confiscated and interrogations are still underway with all suspects." In conclusion, Colonel Al Darmaki praised the security coordination efforts between the Ministry of Interior and Dubai Police as well as the highly-professional manner of handling the intelligence received. "We have on-going collaboration with international authorities to closely monitor smuggling routes and arrest the main suspect who lives abroad and still at large. The anti-drug officers have demonstrated a great deal of expertise in handling and arresting criminals who sell such poisonous drugs," he said.

Furthermore, Colonel Al Darmaki said, "The Abu Dhabi Police is keen to cooperate with concerned authorities, to fight the drug scourge and protect both the country and community members. They are also endeavouring to counter all attempts to smuggle and promote drugs, no matter how innovative they are. These efforts fall in line with their comprehensive strategy to integrate all efforts aimed at eradicating this illegal trade and prevent drug-related risks." – Emirates News Agency, WAM -