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Mohamed bin Zayed issues a resolution to merge IPIC and Mubadala

posted on 30/06/2016

His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces and Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council, has issued a resolution to merge International Petroleum Investment Company, IPIC, and Mubadala Development Company, Mubadala.

The resolution stipulated that a joint committee be created and assigned with the responsibility of merging the businesses of the two companies. The joint committee will be chaired by His Highness Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, with HE Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak serving as Vice Chairman and the membership of HE Suhail Mohamed Faraj Al Mazrouei, HE Hamad Al Hurr Al Suwaidi, and the Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Department of Finance.

Integrating the two entities would create greater benefits and enhanced economic value to the Government of Abu Dhabi. The combined entity will realise synergies and growth in multiple sectors including the energy and utilities sector, technology, aerospace, industry, health care, real estate and financial investments.

It will also have the ability to contribute more significantly to the diversification of the economy, in line with the Abu Dhabi Plan and the country's long-term vision. It would also build on the creation of quality, long-term employment and development of human capital in critical sectors for the emirate.

The two companies will continue to operate independently until the joint committee concludes its assignment. - Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Sharjah Ruler speaks about Arabic letters during TV interview

posted on 30/06/2016

H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, yesterday spoke in a TV interview about the Arabic script, its origin, and how it came to the Arabian Peninsula.

The interview, aired by the Sharjah Satellite Channel and moderated by Mohammed Hassan Khalaf, Director of the Sharjah Radio and Television, was in continuation of a lecture that Sheikh Sultan gave during his meeting with journalists last week.

Sheikh Sultan said there were many theories about the origin of Arabic letters. He detailed these different theories and explained elements relating to the shapes, dotting and intonation of the letters.

He also quoted verses from the Holy Quran, correspondence of Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) and some ancient poems to denote the evolution of the Arabic letter from old times to now. - Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Sultan Al Jaber to deliver keynote speech at 11th GPCA Annual Forum in Dubai in November

posted on 30/06/2016

The Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association (GPCA) announced yesterday that Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, Minister of State, CEO of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company "ADNOC" and its group of companies, will be on the list of keynote speakers at the 11th session of the Annual GPCA Forum on November 27, in Dubai.

The three-day event is expected to draw more than 2000 chemical sector pioneers from both the region and throughout the world.

The list of the key speakers at the event also includes Amin Hassan Al Nasser, CEO of Saudi Aramco, and Dr. Abdulwahab Al-Sadoun, Secretary-General of GPCA. Dr. Al Jaber and Al- Nasser have recently been appointed as the CEOs of ADNOC and Aramco, respectively, to put forward strategies, new ideas and insights, given their long and rich experience in the field of sustainable energy and the petrochemical industry.

In a statement, Dr. Sadoun said yesterday that finding new ways for growth, and searching for available development opportunities, while transforming potential sources of energy into realities, have become a matter of urgency, especially for the sector, which is trying to adjust to lower oil prices.

He added that the Gulf states, including Saudi Arabia and the UAE, have adopted initiatives to reduce their dependence on fluctuating oil revenues, noting that these initiatives include restructuring the sector by appointing competent new chief administrators to take the helm of the national oil companies, and lead towards creating transformative industries, along with the diversification of the economic base in each country.

Dr. Sadoun explained that the design capacity for the production of petrochemicals in the UAE and Saudi Arabia reached 13.7 million tons and 98.5 million tons, respectively, earlier this year. The two countries account for 74% of all petrochemicals produced in the Arabian Gulf region.

He noted that the establishment of both ADNOC and Saudi Aramco is linked with the history of both the UAE and Saudi Arabia, where oil companies contributed effectively to the development of the two economies, as well as urban development in both countries. Additionally, oil revenues have been directed into the creation of infrastructure, including the building of roads and bridges, as well as the funding of education for millions of citizens throughout the last 50 years.

Dr. Al-Sadoun said that the expansion during the past decade of chemical and oil companies, locally and internationally, through partnering with their global peers, has resulted in their becoming the driving force behind the economic globalisation in their countries. He said he expected that the pace of this trend will increase in the future and achieve greater integration between the refinery sector, and petrochemical industries in the region. - Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Dubai launches Maritime Cluster Office

posted on 30/06/2016

Dubai Maritime City Authority (DMCA), the government authority charged with regulating, coordinating and supervising all aspects of Dubai's maritime sector, has announced the launch of the Dubai Maritime Cluster Office, which is aimed to help support efforts directed in helping realise the objectives of the Dubai Maritime Sector Strategy (MSS) to make the emirate a leading global maritime hub.

The new office will oversee, implement, and promote MSS as part of its pivotal role. It will specifically facilitate fruitful cooperation and close coordination among relevant government and private agencies as well as local, regional, and international maritime organisations. The launching is a major boost to ongoing efforts to substantially increase the current 5500 maritime companies operating in the city. The newly launched office is set to enhance the local maritime activities further, which hit 12,000 in 2015, in addition to reinforcing the sector's economic contributions that is valued at AED 14 billion with over 75,000 jobs created, and accelerating the emirate's transformation into one of the globe's most important business centres.

Sultan bin Sulayem, Chairman of Dubai Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation and Chairman of DMCA, said: "Dubai Maritime Cluster Office is our response to successive significant developments happening within the local maritime community. These positive changes are the result of all tireless efforts to make the industry inclusive, distinguished, and globally competitive under the vision and directions of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai."

He added, "The new office will help lay a solid foundation for Dubai to take on a new leading role as the global economy's fundamental business centre by 2021. This can be achieved through implementation of best international practices in the organisation and execution of key management projects in adherence with MSS's goals. MSS was established to enhance the maritime sector's contributions to Dubai's and the rest of the UAE's comprehensive and sustainable development."

Among Dubai Maritime Cluster Office's tasks and responsibilities include identification and implementation of key performance indicators and other relevant targets; determination of current and emerging challenges; and establishment of effective tools to effectively address concerns.

It will help consolidate Dubai's leading position among top 10 maritime sectors in terms of global competitiveness and attractiveness.

The office will oversee the promotion of maritime best practices across various sub-sectors in the maritime cluster in the emirate as part of its goal to catapult Dubai into the ranks of the world's most important and competitive maritime centres.

Further, the Dubai Maritime Cluster Office will deploy a series of programs and initiatives cantered primarily on upgrading the maritime and logistical services, in addition to updating legislations, regulations, and infrastructure and improving the operational processes according to the highest standards of excellence, quality, innovation and maritime safety. - Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Dubai remains MENA region's most transparent real estate market

posted on 30/06/2016

Dubai has recorded continued progress and retained its position as the most transparent real estate market in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, according to JLL and LaSalle Investment Management's 2016 Global Real Estate Transparency Index (GRETI).

The Emirate placed (48th) out of 109 markets covered globally to remain in the 'Semi-Transparent' category, improving by a respectable 23 points to be among the top 25 global improvers. Abu Dhabi, ranked (59th) globally, while Saudi Arabia (63rd) and Egypt (65th) have nudged into the 'Semi-Transparent' group for the first time.

Dubai has moved closer to the top of the 'Semi-Transparent' category, where it sits on a par with Tier 1 cities in the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) and all four of the fast-growing MIST economies (Mexico, Indonesia, South Korea and Turkey).

"Dubai has made good progress, recording a 10 per cent improvement in its score over the past two years," said Craig Plumb, Head of Research, MENA at JLL, "It is positioned in a part of the global ranking which contains some of the most dynamic markets in the world, many of which are seeing growing middle classes mobilising against corrupt practices."

The 10 countries identified as 'Highly Transparent' by GRETI account for 75 percent of global investment into commercial real estate, highlighting the extent to which transparency drives real estate investment decisions.

The Dubai government acknowledges the important role that improving transparency plays in increasing levels of foreign investment in its real estate market. Its new Open Data Law aims to promote the sharing of non-confidential data between government and non-government entities. Real Estate Regulatory Agency (RERA), the regulatory arm of Dubai Land Department, has implemented several new measures to advance the accessibility and quality of real estate data available to potential investors. - Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Mohammed bin Rashid approves awarding contract for extending Dubai Metro Red Line Project

posted on 30/06/2016

Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, has approved awarding the contract of ‘Route 2020' project, for extending the Red Line of the Dubai Metro, to Expolink Consortium comprising French, Spanish and Turkish firms at a cost of AED 10.6 billion.

Sheikh Mohammed directed to immediately start the construction of the Dubai Metro Red Line Extension project and all the requisites of the project to be provided at the highest international standards and within the timeline set.

The new extension will serve Expo 2020 Dubai that will be held for the first time in the UAE and in fact its debut in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia; which is expected to attract about 25 million visitors during the six month duration of hosting it in Dubai. The project will act as a critical line in serving the needs of demographic growth in the localities surrounding the metro track.

The above announcement was made by Mattar Al Tayer, Director-General and Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of the RTA, in the press conference held in Armani Hotel in Dubai following the signing of the contract with Expolink Consortium.

The event was attended by Henri Poupart-Lafarge, Chairman and CEO of Alstom; and Abdul Mohsen Ibrahim Younes, CEO of RTA Rail Agency.

"The construction of the Route 2020 is envisioned in Dubai 2021 Plan for achieving sustainable development, providing an improved world-class infrastructure and services. It also comes in implementation of RTA Strategic Plan 2021 aimed at providing mass transit systems including metro & tramlines, buses, and marine transit services towards realising RTA's vision of Safe & Smooth Transport for All," said Al Tayer.

"The consortium entrusted to undertake Route 2020 project was selected through an international tendering process involving the participation of 10 consortiums of major firms specialised in the construction of metro systems from all parts of the globe. Five of them submitted technical and financial proposals, and negotiations were made with two of them in the final stage; which concluded to awarding of the project contract to Expolink Consortium led by the French Alstom Conglomerate, Spanish Acciona, and the Turkish Gulermack. According to the contract, Alstom will supply 50 trains: 15 of them for serving Expo, and 35 for upgrading the level of service of the Dubai Metro. The company will also cater to electromechanical works. The French Thales Group will provide the technological systems whereas Acciona and Gulermack will attend to civil works," explained Al Tayer.

Governance and Transparency "The RTA has set governance and assessment principles for Route 2020 project to ensure transparency and achieve the best results that ensure the fruition of the vision of Dubai Emirate underlining the hosting of Expo 2020. Clear-cut objectives and standards have been set for the technical and financial assessment process during the tendering phase. These standards are based on several perimeters including: the project construction programme, integration with the existing Dubai Metro systems, design of stations & the use of modern construction techniques in the project, and the rail technologies and systems supplied under the project. The assessment process was carried out by specialist committees, teams and international consultants involving the participation of 100 specialists from the RTA and the project consultant," added Al Tayer.

Addressing the press conference, Al Tayer spoke about linking Route 2020 with the Red Line of the Dubai Metro. "The RTA has mapped out a master plan for roads and transport projects to serve Expo 2020 and one of them is Route 2020. It has coordinated with all developers, and government service providers of concern with the planned metro route in order to ensure that Route 2020 will provide support to vital areas served by the project over the short and long terms," he said.

The Plan was tailored to achieve sustainability in the project such that the route will link the exhibition yard with several projects & vital communities with high population density of up to 270 thousand persons such as The Gardens, Discovery Gardens, Al Furjan, Jumeirah Golf Estates and the Dubai Investment Park.

"Route 2020 starts off Nakheel Harbour and Tower Station on the Red Line and extends 15 km: 11.8 km a viaduct, and 3.2 km underground track. The project encompasses seven stations including a transfer station with the Red Line, Expo Station, three elevated stations, and two underground stations," he explained.

"The capacity of Route 2020 is estimated as 46,000 riders per hour in both directions (23,000 riders per hour per direction). According to RTA studies, the ridership of Route 2020 is expected to reach 125,000 riders per day in 2020; and the number is set to rise to 275,000 riders per day by 2030. Studies also revealed that about 35,000 riders will use Expo Station per day during weekdays, and the number is poised to rise to 47,000 riders per day during weekends. This number accounts for about 20 per cent of the projected total number of daily visitors of Expo," stated Al Tayer.

As for the timeline of the project construction, Al Tayer said, "Construction works in the project will start in the final quarter of this year, and the trial run is expected to start in the last quarter of 2019. The official operation of the service is set to start in the second half of 2020 namely on 20/05/2020 i.e. five months ahead of the opening of Expo 2020."

Commenting on the funding of Route 2020 project, Al Tayer said, "The RTA in coordination with the Finance Department of Dubai Government, had asked consortiums to submit elective finance offers during the tender submission stage. Accordingly, the Finance Department will select the suitable finance model that achieves the present and future financial sustainability of the project."

A host of CEOs and directors of RTA in addition to the President of Systra Pierre Verzat, Parsons Group President MES Gary Adams and several executives of Expolink Consortium attended the press conference. - Emirates News Agency, WAM -


DFM welcomes listing of Afkar Capital's Exchange -Traded Fund

posted on 30/06/2016

The Dubai Financial Market, DFM, yesterday welcomed the listing of Afkar Capital's Exchange Traded Fund (ETF), (Afkar S&P UAE UCITS ETF) under the trading symbol "UAETF".

The fund has been designed to replicate the S&P UAE BMI Liquid 20/35 Capped Index, which includes the largest stocks by capitalisation in the UAE.

The reference price of the ETF units will be updated on a daily basis prior to the trading session as per the up-to-date indicative Net Asset Value (iNAV). The price limits of 15 percent up and 10 percent down are applied on the ETF units from the first day of listing.

The fund is regulated under the European Union's UCITS Regulation and is governed by the rules and regulations of the Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA), the DFM, the Abu Dhabi Global Market ADGM, and the Central Bank of Ireland. - Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Passenger traffic up by 5.6 percent at Abu Dhabi International Airport in May

posted on 30/06/2016

Abu Dhabi Airports announced a 5.6 percent increase in passenger traffic at Abu Dhabi International Airport, AUH, for May 2016, compared to the same month last year. A total of 1,982,010 people travelled through AUH last month, exceeding May 2015's figure of 1,877,440.

A number of destinations witnessed noteworthy growth in passenger traffic, with the UK exceeding its May 2015 figures by 18.4 percent last month, and Egypt recording a 24.3 percent increase over the same period last year.

The number of travellers with AUH as their final destination was 355,457 up by 4.6 percent. The top-five routes were Bombay, Doha, London Heathrow, Manila and Jeddah respectively.

Arrival and departure transfers both showed an increase of 7.5 percent and 7.7 percent respectively compared to the same month last year, while the total number of transfer passengers recorded was 1,279,599, up by 7.6 percent, reflecting the airport's connectivity and position as a global hub. - Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Masdar Institute among top 20 in 2016 US News and World Report’s Best Arab Region Universities rankings

posted on 30/06/2016

The Masdar Institute of Science and Technology yesterday announced it has moved up to the 14th spot overall in the 2016 US News and World Report Best Arab Region Universities Rankings, up from the 23rd position last year.

The research-based institution has also edged up to fifth spot in the ‘Energy' field, eighth in Chemistry, and ninth in Engineering, while being ranked tenth in both ‘Environmental Science' and ‘Materials Science'. In the ‘Academic Reputation' category, Masdar Institute is ranked eighth in the region by the US News and World Report.

To be included on the US News and World Report's reputation surveys, a university must have approximately 400 papers or more published in the five-year period from 2009 through 2013, as measured by Scopus, the largest abstract and citation database of peer-reviewed literature including scientific journals, books and conference proceedings. As of January 2016, Masdar Institute has already published over 1,000 articles in peer-reviewed journals, and more than 600 conference papers.

The Best Arab Region Universities rankings are based on data and research metrics provided by Scopus, which is part of the Elsevier Research Intelligence portfolio. The overall rankings also draw on ratings of schools (universities) by academics and employers in the region who were surveyed by Ipsos, a global market research company based in Paris.

Dr. Behjat Al Yousuf, Interim Provost, Masdar Institute, said, " Masdar Institute's ranking by the 2016 US News and World Report Best Arab Region Universities Rankings strongly indicates that we are committed to advancing UAE and Abu Dhabi's intellectual capital through advanced research and development. We will continue with our efforts to create high-value human and intellectual capital in advanced energy and sustainability fields, while helping to place the UAE at the forefront of research and innovation that address the needs of Abu Dhabi and the globe."

The second edition of the overall rankings covers 124 universities spread across 18 countries, up from 91 universities in 16 countries included in the inaugural rankings last year. The academic institutions are ranked based on their academic research performance and, for the first time this year, on their reputations. - Emirates News Agency, WAM -


UAE condemns terrorist attacks in Turkey

posted on 30/06/2016

The UAE has condemned the terrorist bombings which on Tuesday targeted Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul, leaving 36 people killed and 147 injured.

H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, expressed the condolences of the UAE to the Turkish government and the families of the victims, wishing the injured a speedy recovery.

H.H. Sheikh Abdullah also condemned the heinous terrorist act which contradicts all religions, human values and principles. He also asserted the solidarity of the UAE's leadership, government and people, with Turkey, in its fight against extremism and terrorism, and reiterated support for efforts to establish security and peace.

Sheikh Abdullah went on to stress the need for a concerted international effort to confront violence and terrorism in all its forms and sources. - Emirates News Agency, WAM -


UAE's FNC Speaker extends condolences over Istanbul Ataturk airport attack

posted on 30/06/2016

Dr. Amal Abdullah Al Qubaisi, Speaker of Federal National Council (FNC) has sent a cable to Ismail Kahraman, Speaker of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, to extend condolences to the Turkish people over the terrorist attack which targeted Istanbul Ataturk Airport leaving tens of people dead and wounded.

In the cable, Al Qubaisi condemned the terrorist attack and wished for speedy recovery for the wounded.

"We stress that we stand in solidarity with the Republic of Turkey and the friendly Turkish people over the painful incident. We stand up for them in the fight against extremism and terrorism and within the framework of growing relations between the two friendly countries and their peoples. We pray to Allah Almighty to grant patience and solace to the families of the victims," she said in the cable.

She further stressed the need for all the world power to exert concerted efforts to fight extremist and terrorist organisations that target unarmed civilians and carry out acts that run counter to all heavenly religions and human and moral values and principles.

Al Qubaisi also underlined the importance of drying the funding sources of terror organisations. - Emirates News Agency, WAM -


UAE says Israeli violations blocking efforts to achieve regional peace

posted on 30/06/2016

GENEVA: Permanent Representative of the United Arab Emirates to the UN and other International Organisations in Geneva, Obaid Salem Al Zaabi, criticised the continuous Israeli occupation's violations against the human rights of the Palestinians and the its dangerous policies including incitement of hate, arresting and killing Palestinians in Jerusalem, the West bank, seizing the properties of Palestinians and forcing them from their forefathers' lands, including those occupied in 1948, as well as Israel's attempts to distract attention from the continuous inhuman siege it laid on Gaza Strip in 2006.

He was commenting on the United Nations International Conference in Support of Israeli-Palestinian Peace, held yesterday by the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People in Hall 17 (Emirates Hall) at the United Nations Palace in Geneva.

The conference was opened launched by Michael Moller, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva, Ambassador Fode Seck, Chair of the UN Palestinian Rights Committee, and Nabil Shaath, former Palestinian chief negotiator, member of Fatah Central Committee.

He stressed that these Israeli practices block all good offices aimed at establishing peace and security in the whole region. These practices are null and void and illegal because they constitute legal, political and material violation of international law and the International humanitarian law, more specifically the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1994, the UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 as well as the principle of land for peace.

Al Zaabi reiterated the UAE's firm and principal position of backing the inalienable rights of the Palestinians and need for full international recognition of their independent and sovereign state.

The UAE strongly backs efforts aimed at reaching a just settlement to the Palestinian issue.

He urged the UN and the powerful members of the Security Council to act immediately within the framework of international law and conventions to protect the Palestinian people and force the occupation authorities to honour their relevant pledges.

He specifically demanded the UN Security Council and the Middle East Quartet and its regional partners do all they can to save the peace process by forcing Israel to commit itself to fundamental and meaningful standards of serious negotiations with the terms of reference being the basic principles of the two-state solution, relevant resolutions by the international legitimacy, as well as the 1991 Madrid Peace Conference, the Oslo Accord and the Arab Peace initiative.

This, he said, should ensure that within a set timeframe, a comprehensive, permanent and just settlement will be reached to end the Israeli occupation and force it to withdraw from all lands it continues to occupy since 1967, including East Jerusalem, to create an opportunity for a fully independent and viable Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.

Failure of the international community and the United Nations to fix the unjust reality of the Israeli occupation and settlements and the flagrant violations of human rights - which perpetuate the suffering of the Palestinian people and cause double human, material and economic losses over more than six and a half decades- will deepen the despair, hopelessness and instability that triggered violence, extremism and terrorism and affected this region and the whole world, Ambassador Al Zaabi warned.

He said the UAE welcomes Palestine's joining of international conventions in the past two years and encourages it to keep up the effort in this direction because abiding by the law is the foundation of international legitimacy and the optimal means of peaceful struggle.

This, he added, will consolidates Palestine's international stature and contribute to towards protecting the rights of the Palestinian people.

He also welcomed European countries' recognition of the Statehood of Palestine and expressed the hope more countries would follow suit. He noted that several European parliaments recommended that their governments to recognise Palestine.

Concluding, the ambassador urged the international community, namely donor states, to double their political, development, relief and economic aid to the Palestinians to ease their suffering being exacerbated by the occupation and help create opportunities for a dignified life and remove the blockade put on reconstruction and UN plans for reviving the economy in Gaza Strip. - Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Lubna Al Qasimi meets religious leaders in Egypt, reiterates UAE's support for peace and coexistence

posted on 30/06/2016

CAIRO: Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid Al Qasimi, Minister of State for Tolerance, reaffirmed that the UAE has always been and continues to be an advocate of peace, a symbol of harmony, and an incubator of the values of coexistence and dialogue.

Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi made these comments Tuesday during her visit to the sisterly country of Egypt, where she met Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmed Muhammad Ahmed El-Tayeb and Pope Tawadros II, Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St. Mark.

The minister said the UAE's foundations are based on the promotion of tolerance, coexistence, and acceptance of other people's values, emphasising solidarity and dialogue between cultures.

Sheikha Lubna explained that the UAE leadership, government, and people had renounced all forms of hatred, discrimination, violence, and extremism.

The Grand Imam of Al-Azhar said the UAE leads the way in finding inspirational solutions for the future and takes its religious responsibility seriously through the achievement of harmony among all members of society and its rejection of hatred and extremism. - Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Khalifa Foundation distributes more food aid to Gazans

posted on 30/06/2016

GAZA: The Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation has distributed more food aid to underprivileged families in three governorates in Gaza Strip as part of an initiative of the UAE leaders.

The effort was part of the second phase of the initiative which was launched by President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces. It is overseen by H.H. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs and Chairman of the Foundation.

An official source at the Foundation said the third phase of the food aid project will be carried out in two days in coordination with the Palestinian Center for Humanitarian Communication.

The source said a total of 15000 families in five governorates of the Strip will benefit from the project throughout Ramadan. - Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Big Heart Foundation provides essential hygiene needs for Syrian refugees at Jordan's Zaatari Camp

posted on 30/06/2016

The Big Heart Foundation, TBHF, a global humanitarian charity dedicated to helping refugees and people in need worldwide, has launched an initiative to help Syrian refugees meet their daily hygiene requirements.

TBHF's programme will provide the refugees at Jordan's Zaatari camp with the means to purchase essential toiletries, with the aim of both ensuring their safe and sanitary living conditions and allowing them to maintain their self-esteem.

The initiative sees the Sharjah-based humanitarian project working in partnership with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, UNHCR, to provide money and vouchers for hygiene products for the displaced families at the camp, thereby enabling them to fully address their personal care needs.

Mariam Al Hammadi, Director of ‘Salam Ya Seghar,' an initiative by TBHF said: "The launch of this activity was conceived from a recognition of the importance of maintaining the health and safety of the refugee families, who we believe should have the same fundamental human rights as families who are fortunate enough to live normal lives."

"An inability to take care of personal hygiene increases the risk of diseases spreading. Since the refugees' main health concerns are often directly linked to sanitation and hygiene, The Big Heart Foundation is sponsoring UNHCR's hygiene initiative by providing Syrian refugees with cash and vouchers to purchase essential toiletry items and sanitary products," she added.

Al Hammadi went on to say, "Since its inception three years ago, The Big Heart Foundation has reinforced its presence and activities for Syrian refugees. The foundation is honoured to be able to play a small part in alleviating the harsh conditions that the refugees are experiencing as a result of being forced to flee their homes with minimal personal possessions."

THBF's desire to implement their initiative stems from its awareness that Syrian refuges at camps in Jordan were unable to properly meet their hygiene requirements, with the issue becoming increasingly problematic as the numbers of displaced families in the country grew. As of March 15, 2016, the total number of Syrians registered with UNHCR in Jordan reached 635,877 persons, the majority of whom were living in urban areas, with over 110,000 residing in two major refugee camps in Jordan; Zaatari camp and Azraq camp.

UNHCR, in partnership with the Norwegian Refugee Council, NRC, has been distributing essential toiletries in both camps ever since they opened. Hygiene items in the form of kits have been given to the new arrivals, as well as to the camp's existing residents. The kits help the refugees maintain their personal hygiene, which is a crucial factor in ensuring their dignity and safeguarding their general health by reducing their chances of succumbing to diseases and ailments.

Since mid-2014, a pilot project to distribute essential items through a market-based cash and voucher system was commenced, as it was decided that this approach provides beneficiaries with greater choice and flexibility to meet their household needs. According to a survey conducted amongst the refugees, 69 percent of all respondents and 65 percent of women respondents indicated that they would prefer to receive their assistance through established shops and outlets in the camp, as opposed to central distribution sites.

Under its programmes, THBF provides refugees in Zaatari camp with cash and vouchers to purchase hygiene items, such as soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, towels, nail clippers, shampoo, combs, bathing sponges and adhesive medical tape, to help them maintain their personal hygiene and general health.

The cash and voucher distribution mechanism is implemented by NRC under the supervision and oversight of UNHCR, which maintains a presence in the camps.

H.H. Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi officially launched The Big Heart Foundation in June to coincide with World Refugee Day, after the transformation of the Big Heart campaign into a global humanitarian organisation, aimed at doubling efforts to provide support and assistance to refugees and the needy in various parts of the world. This move endorses the UAE's commitment towards humanitarian contributions and initiatives, and enhanced its reputation regionally and globally. - Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Mohammed bin Rashid announces conclusion of Reading Nation Ramadan Campaign

posted on 30/06/2016

Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, announced yesterday via his official Twitter account that the Reading Nation Ramadan campaign has exceeded its set target of five million books to reach over 8.2 million books.

The books will be distributed to unprivileged children and students in Arab and Muslim countries.

Commenting on the campaign's outcomes, Sheikh Mohammed said, "As we have entered the last ten days of Ramadan, we conclude today our Reading Nation Ramadan campaign with 8.2 million books to be provided to those who need them. The books will open wide doors of hope for millions of needy students and refugees. They embody the divine message that we are truly a ‘Read' nation. I thank everyone who has supported this initiative. Ramadan will always be a month of charity, and the UAE is, and will always remain, a generous nation and a global capital of benevolence."

With the total cash donations amounting to over AED80 million in addition to book donations, the campaign will provide students across the globe with more than 8,280,000 books. Over 700 volunteers helped the campaign by receiving and sorting books and raising donations. The campaign's auction was a huge success and generated AED 41 million in sales.

Mohammed Al Gergawi, Secretary General of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives said, "The annual Ramadan initiatives that are launched by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid give much-needed hope for millions of needy people. This year's campaign complements the series of global development initiatives that are led by the UAE and focused on dealing with the root causes of poverty, ignorance and intolerance."

He added, " The seeds of charity and benevolence planted by our founding father the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and nurtured today by our wise leadership have produced remarkable outcomes and are greatly appreciated by people everywhere."

"The Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives is committed to spreading knowledge and hope, fighting poverty and empowering human beings. The Reading Nation campaign came at a perfect timing during the UAE Year of Reading and the Holy Month of Ramadan to help boost knowledge in Arab and Muslim countries."

Al Gergawi further elaborated, "Our positive attitude towards humanitarian issues is a rooted principle in the conscience and practices of the UAE leadership and its people. The Reading Nation campaign truly reflected this positivity and responsibility towards elevating the capacities of the Arab youth and building a promising future for them through knowledge."

"The most important outcome of the Reading Nation campaign is the belief that the fastest way to eradicate poverty is through eliminating ignorance as Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum said at the beginning of the campaign. Our teams have started buying, printing and distributing books. We have listed thousands of schools in Arab and Muslim countries that need books. We have also raised the number of beneficiary libraries from 2,000 to 3,500."

Launched at the beginning of Ramadan by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Reading Nation campaign initially aimed to provide five million books to children in refugee camps and underprivileged students in schools across the world through granting two million books to refugee children and a further two million books to establish more than 2,000 school libraries around the world. In addition, the campaign was also mandated to support the educational programs implemented by the UAE's humanitarian organisations worldwide - with one million books. However, the initiative exceeded its targets thanks to the great response from various entities and individuals in the UAE, with over 8.2 million books to be printed and distributed, and the number of beneficiary libraries increasing to 3,500 up from 2,000.

Based on the directives of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, a special committee was created at the onset of the campaign to manage the campaign. The committee was headed by Mohammed Al Gergawi, with representatives from the Ministry of Education, Dubai Cares, International Humanitarian City, Emirates Red Crescent, Dubai Government Media Office, Du Telecommunications, Etisalat, Abu Dhabi Media, Dubai Media Incorporated, Arab Media Group, and national newspapers and publications.

More than 500 schools across the UAE participated in the Reading Nation campaign. In cooperation with the Ministry of Education, the campaign organised an open week in all schools in the country to encourage students to donate books. Other accompanying events were also organised to spread awareness about the challenges that underprivileged children are facing.

During this open week, students were encouraged to donate used books and help provide education and knowledge to students in refugee camps and developing countries. Dubai Cares provided schools with special boxes to collect donated books, in addition to tags for students to write messages to beneficiary children. The boxes were transported to the International Humanitarian City in preparation for shipping and distribution.

In cooperation with Dubai Cares, the Reading Nation campaign recruited over 700 volunteers from UAE citizens and residents who supported the campaign's events in schools, communicated with students and their families, and helped donors complete the donation process and write personalised messages. Volunteers also informed visitors and shoppers in malls about the campaign and its significance, while encouraging visitors to buy AED30 coupons to donate three books. On the final day of the campaign, Dubai Cares organised an open day at Al Boom Tourist Village in which more than 400 volunteers helped sort books and put them in special boxes to distribute them to their beneficiaries.

Held as per the directives of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and attended by H.H. Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai , in addition to senior officials, the Reading Nation campaign's auction generated over AED41 million in sales enough to provide 4.1 million books.

The charity auction sold all offered items, including a 106-year-old piece of the Kaaba's Kiswa donated by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and that generated AED2.1 million in sales. Other valuable items that were also donated by His Highness included a panel of extracts from his ‘Flashes of Verse' poetry book signed by him and sold for AED1.1 million. Two paintings for artist Abdul Qadir Al Rais were sold for AED 970,000, while a painting by Dr. Najat Makki was sold for AED150,000.

A calligraphy panel depicting Surat Al Qadr and a 19th century manuscript edition of the Holy Quran belonging to Mohammed Al Murr, former Speaker of the Federal National Council, were sold for AED110,000 and AED250,000 respectively. Furthermore, the historic edition of the Holy Quran, donated by Abdul Rahman bin Mohammed Al Owais, UAE Minister of Health and Prevention, and dating back to 1682 was sold for AED250,000.

For its part, the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) offered five distinguished double-digit license plate numbers that collectively generated AED25.5 million. Etisalat and Du Telecommunication offered 10 unique telephone numbers, with Etisalat's numbers generating total sales of AED4.16 million, while Du's numbers generated AED2.5 million in sales. The auction featured De Lamar, a mare of pure Arabian breed that was offered by Dubai Arabian Horse Stud and sold for AED260,000.

The Reading Nation Ramadan campaign enjoyed a wide interest and participation from official entities, corporations and members of the public. Both Etisalat and Du Telecommunications donated AED3 million each to the campaign, with the same amount also donated by Dubai Duty Free, DP World, MBC Group and a philanthropist who wished to remain anonymous. Furthermore, Emirates NBD and Lulu Group donated AED2 million each, while AED1 million was donated by each of Al Ansari Exchange, Kanoo Group, Hassani Group of Companies, Mohammed Saeed Al Kindi, and Ahmed Seddiqi and Sons.

This remarkable response from the UAE society reflects the belief in the country's humanitarian and development role in making a real difference to the life of millions of children in Arab and Muslim countries. It also embodies the great confidence in the UAE's noble message to the world that knowledge should be the path for reviving civilisations, and that books are the perfect companion for generations looking for positive change.

The Emirates Red Crescent responded swiftly to the campaign during the first week of its launch by distributing 500,000 books to Syrian and Iraqi refugees in Kurdistan. In addition, 500,000 books were dedicated to Syrian refugees in the Emirati Jordanian Camp in the first phase, to be followed by 2,000,000 books to refugee camps, half of them in Iraq and the other half in Jordan. The Emirates Red Crescent, in cooperation with the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation, part of Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives, announced that it will distribute 100,000 books to a number of public libraries in Yemen. - Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum International Photography Award announces winners

posted on 30/06/2016

DUBAI, 30th June, 2016 (WAM) -- The Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum International Photography Award, HIPA, has announced the winners of its June Instagram Photo Contest, which was themed ‘Prayers'. A total of five winners from three different countries will receive the ‘HIPA Recognition Award' after their winning photographs were published on the official HIPA Instagram account, @HIPAae.

The June edition of the competition saw submissions entered using #HIPAContest_Prayers on Instagram and featured some stunning imagery of people and prayers from various religions around the world.

The Secretary General of HIPA, Ali bin Thalith, said, "We would like to congratulate all the winners of the June edition of our Instagram Photo Contest. The number of excellent submissions was truly remarkable given that the theme was considered to be a rather challenging one by many in our photographic community. We would also like to encourage photographers that have yet to win with us to continue taking part in the coming months as we will be presenting some very interesting and challenging themes for them to delve into."

Instagram Photo Contest Winner, Jehad Ghazwan @jehad_ghazwan from Bahrain, whose photograph portrayed a woman performing an Islamic prayer, said, "This photograph was taken at home with the help of my younger sister to post on my Instagram page and to show the beauty behind prayers.' Ghazwan expressed his delight at winning by exclaiming, "Winning in this contest means a lot to me, because I have represented myself and my country to the rest of the world through this great photography organisation."

Hendra Permana @hapelinium from Indonesia, whose winning photograph was taken at the Sunda Kelapa Harbour in Jakarta, said that, "The photo was taken on the day of Eid, capturing the unique moment when all the Muslims at the harbour come together to pray on the nearby road." Permana was delighted to have won with HIPA but revealed his aspirations "to win in the current HIPA season of completion ‘The Challenge', so that I can visit beautiful Dubai and be recognised as an international professional photographer."

The theme for the July edition of the Instagram Photo Contest will be announced in the coming days on HIPA's social media platforms. - Emirates News Agency, WAM -