TAQA announces partial commercial operations at Bergermeer Gas Storage

posted on 17/04/2014

The Hague: TAQA, the international energy and water company from Abu Dhabi, yesterday announced the start of preliminary commercial operations at its Bergermeer Gas Storage facility in the Netherlands.
When completed in 2015, Bergermeer will nearly double the Netherlands' capacity and become the largest third party access gas storage facility in Europe. This will significantly contribute to the security of European energy supply and create more efficient gas markets by increasing competition, a key component of the EU Gas Directive.
Jan Willem van Hoogstraten, Managing Director of TAQA in the Netherlands, said, "Bergermeer Gas Storage is one of the biggest, independent investments made in the Netherlands at this time. We're pleased to have achieved this project milestone safely, on schedule and within budget. Every step of the way, we strive to be a good neighbour to the community and to minimise the impact our activities have on the environment. Our next major milestone is to be fully operational in April 2015." Compressors are injecting gas into five wells drilled into the previously depleted Bergermeer reservoir. This milestone marks the completion of the first phase of the project. TAQA and EBN, the Dutch state-owned energy company, have together invested EUR 850 million in the project. In exchange for storage capacity, Gazprom supplied the 'cushion gas' following a tender organised in cooperation with the Netherlands' Authority for Consumers and Markets. Cushion gas is needed to pressurise the reservoir, making commercial operations possible.
Jan Dirk Bokhoven, Managing Director of EBN, said, "This project gives the once depleted Bergermeer gas field a second life. Natural gas is still the backbone of the Netherlands' energy supply. Over the next decades, natural gas will remain an important source of energy as the Netherlands slowly transitions to a fuel mix that includes more renewable energy. Once fully operational, Bergermeer Gas Storage will be an essential component in the Netherlands' energy infrastructure, contributing to European security of supply." Construction of Bergermeer Gas Storage started in June 2012. The project consists of an innovative, zero emission gas treatment facility in Alkmaar, 14 new wells in the town of Bergen and eight kilometres of underground pipeline connecting the two locations. It is intended to help energy suppliers store natural gas underground during periods of low demand in the summer and draw it down in the winter, when demand rises.
When fully completed in 2015, Bergermeer Gas Storage will provide 46 terawatt hours (TWh) or 4.1 billion cubic metres (BCM) of gas storage capacity, equivalent to the average annual gas consumption of 2.5 million Dutch households.
TAQA has sold all of the facility's long-term capacity and plans to auction the remaining short-term capacity in September 2014. Companies that have already booked capacity include Statoil, EDF, Vattenfall and Gazprom. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

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Phase one of Kizad Logistics Park now complete

posted on 17/04/2014

Officials from Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi (Kizad) announced yesterday that phase one of its massive Kizad Logistics Park (KLP) has now been completed and warehouse units are being handed over to tenants.
A total of 34 out of 41 warehouse units, equalling 83 per cent, from phase one have been already pre-leased to a wide range of key national and international industry players who are now in the process of taking over.
Agility, one of the world's leading providers of integrated logistics, and United Printing '&' Publishing, one of the largest newspaper print companies in the UAE whose portfolio includes Al Ittihad, The National, Financial Times UK, and National Geographic, are only two examples of the high profile enterprises which made pre-commitments and have started moving in.
Other companies include Protect Middle East, Al Sabah Foodstuff, Creative Communication, Galaxy Building Materials Trading, Back Office Logistics LLC, and Oriental Fasteners.
Phase one of the KLP is the first out of three phases and covers an area of 46,453 sq. m with warehouse units ranging from 1,133 to 12,463 sq m.
Each warehouse is equipped with easy access loading docks for trucks, docked floor levels and a seven meter clear open space to eaves, as well as a dedicated loading yard with ramp access for forklifts and ample on-site parking. Additionally, each unit has its own office area with toilets and kitchenette.
As part of a larger scheme, the KLP, when finalised, will provide an overall area of 118,965 sq m and is expected to become a major regional logistics and warehousing centre.
Commenting on the completion of phase one of the KLP, Engineer Khaled Salmeen, CEO, Kizad, said: "This is another major milestone reached for our logistics business. We have seen a number of logistics and supply chain investors coming into Kizad to take land to build their own facilities and now we are seeing the same interest in our pre-built facilities to take advantage of our exceptional location at the heart of the UAE, the proximity to Khalifa Port, our quality products and our highly competitive rates.
Today, the global logistics industry is estimated to be worth approximately USD 300 billion, so it's not surprising that logistics and supply chain management is increasingly becoming a hot topic of interest in the UAE. Executed and managed properly, it could lead to reduced operational costs, improved delivery performance and increased customer satisfaction levels, and this is precisely what we are offering in Kizad." Charles Acworth, Acting Vice President, Project Development, Kizad, added: "The completion of phase one of the Kizad Logistics Park adds to our success story and marks a further breakthrough in the development of Kizad into a regional industrial and logistics powerhouse.
We have managed to secure a remarkable level of pre-commitments from leading industry players and confirmed our high-ranking status in the warehousing and logistics market. This level of pre-commitments justifies the high quality of our warehouse units, which have been designed to meet tenants' needs, and our customer focussed approach in the marketing and leasing process." – Emirates News Agency, WAM

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Consumer Price Index goes up by 0.22% in March 2014

posted on 17/04/2014

The overall Consumer Price Index (CPI) reached 119.55 in March 2014, and with comparison with the base year (2007 =100); it increased by 0.22% compared to its value at the end of February 2014, while it increased by 1.85% compared to its value at the end of March 2013, according to National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
The findings of the CPI for March 2014 at the national level indicate Increases in the following major expenditure groups: - Beverages and Tobacco + 0.92% - Furniture and Household Goods + 0 .86% - Housing + 0.56% - Textiles, Clothing and Footwear + 0.27% - Medical Care + 0.22% - Transportation + 0.17% - Recreation and culture + 0.02% - Restaurants and Hotels + 0.01% At the same time, there were Decreases in other major expenditure group: - Food and Soft Drinks -0.39 % At the Emirate level, the CPI fluctuated considerably in the various emirates as shown below: - Abu Dhabi 1 + 0.06% - Dubai + 0.39% - Sharjah + 0.59% - Ajman + 0.28% - Umm Al-Qaiwain + 0.28% - Ras Al-Khaimah + 0.26% -Fujairah + 0.31%. – Emirates News Agency, WAM
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Dubai CPI up 0.39% in March

posted on 17/04/2014

Consumer Price Index (CPI) in Dubai gained 0.39% in March in comparison to February driven by an increase in the groups of alcoholic beverages and tobacco by 4.98%, furnishings, household equipment and routine household maintenance 4.61%, food and non-alcoholic beverages 1.21%, health 0.42%, housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels 0.36%, restaurants and hotels 0.03% and communication 0.01%, according to data released by Dubai Statistics Centre (DSC).
The monthly report said that other groups which witnessed a decrease included miscellaneous goods and services at 0.89%, recreation and culture 0.60%, clothing and footwear 0.10%, and transport 60%, while the group of education remained stable. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

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UAE Banks Federation approves action plan

posted on 17/04/2014

The UAE Banks Federation, a professional representative body representing 49 member banks operating in the UAE, held its Ordinary Annual General Assembly Meeting on Wednesday in Dubai.
The meeting was chaired by Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair, Chairman of the UAE Banks Federation, and attended by Federation Board members and representatives of member banks.
At the meeting the UAE Banks Federation's action plan for the coming year was approved, and a number of other key items on the agenda concluded, such as the approval of the Financial Statements and the Auditors' Report for the year 2013, as well as the appointment of the Auditors for the year 2014. The projected budget for 2014 was also agreed.
Al Ghurair praised the growing cooperation and coordination between the member banks, and with the Central Bank and other official entities.
He said, "2013 was a very productive year in which we were able to deliver on all the promises made during our last General Assembly meeting. Over the past 12 months the various committees in the Federation have worked on a range of initiatives such as Smart Government, the launch of Al Etihad Credit Bureau and Emiratisation which will strengthen the sector as a whole and ensure high quality service to bank customers and the community as a whole.”
During the meeting, the Federation also approved the Annual Report for 2013. The report highlights the major achievements and the significant role that the UAE Banks Federation has played in driving the development of the banking sector, including the adoption of a Code of Conduct for its members, as well as consultations on such matters as the direct debit system, SMEs, Mobile Wallet, discount window and netting of derivatives contracts.
The meeting concluded with the ratification of the UAE Banks Federation plan for 2014 approved by the Board of Directors during their meeting in March. The plan aims to boost cooperation, coordination and consultation. – Emirates News Agency,
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SIB announces Dh110 million net profit for Q1 2014

posted on 17/04/2014

Sharjah Islamic Bank, SIB, has announced its Q1 2014 results with a net profit of Dh110 million, compared to 84.8 million earned in the same period last year.
Net customer facilities reached Dh 13.3 billion rising by Dh803.3 million, a 6.4% increase since December 2013 and customer deposits reached Dh12.3 billion rising by Dh 355.8 million or 3% growth since Dec 2013. Total Assets reached Dh22.1 million, growing by 1.8% since Dec 2013.
SIB shareholder's equity of 4.4 billion represents 19.9 per cent of the total balance sheet footing reflecting the bank's strong capital base and strong financial position that enables the Bank to achieve its strategic objectives.
Mohamed Abdullah, CEO of Sharjah Islamic Bank commented, "The first quarter results are a positive indicator for the year ahead. As the bank continues to achieve its growth plans and future strategy, SIB has positioned itself to benefit from the positive future economic outlook to achieve the best results and strengthen its financial position. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

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Mohamed bin Zayed receives Australian Parliamentary delegation

posted on 17/04/2014

His Highness General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, received yesterday in Abu Dhabi an Australian delegation, representing all Australian states.
The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi welcomed the Australian Members of Parliament (MPs), hoping that their visit would contribute to enhancing outstanding friendship ties and cooperation between the UAE and Australia.
During the meeting, the two sides exchanged cordial talks in light of the strong bilateral relations in economic, educational, cultural and energy areas.
Sheikh Mohamed underscored that the UAE-led by President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan is keen on extending bridges of cooperation and building strong friendships with countries and peoples through joint development programmes and projects.
He added, "The tempo of relations development between the UAE and Australia in recent years in a number of fields, indicates that far distance between countries does not pose an obstacle for a desire, ambition and political will. This is proven by our two countries through bolstering of outstanding bilateral relations." The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi expressed his optimism that the coming stage would witness further cooperation with Australia, especially that the two sides are harnessing all their capabilities to plan for a better future for their peoples within a similar strategy and vision that put human resources as a priority in development.
He also wished good luck and success to the Australian MPs to get familiarised with the UAE's socio-economic, tolerance and co-existence experiences, being felt by expatriates who are participating in the UAE's building and development process.
The Abu Dhabi Crown Prince praised the tour of the Australian parliamentary delegation to a number of cultural and attractions in the country, commending the mutual visits which would further contribute to cementing common understanding, dialogue, exchanging ideas and cultures.
For their part, the Australian MPs expressed their admiration of the cultural and development experiences being witnessed by the UAE in a record time, especially in the economic, trade, educational domains.
The delegation also affirmed the importance of sustaining distinguished relations through developing and diversifying them in the best interest of the two peoples. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

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Lubna Al Qasimi calls for collective international effort to address international development challenges

posted on 17/04/2014

Mexico City: Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid Al Qasimi, Minister of Development and International Co-operation has emphasised the need to mobilise international efforts to address international development challenges and issues like poverty, spread of diseases, lack of education, inequality, promotion of transparency and accountability and absence of clear plans to boost capacities of developing nations to devise future development strategies.
Sheikha Lubna noted that UAE's commitment to deliver Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015 has received international commendation as instructions of the UAE wise leadership seek to make the UAE an active member in the international community and a key enabler for achieving stability and prosperity of the State by focusing on extending development aid to developing countries and poor communities while its humanitarian and donor agencies commit to back international efforts by launching qualitative initiatives.
Sheikha Lubna made her statement while she was leading the UAE delegation to the first High-level Meeting of Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation, which started in Mexico City yesterday. The UAE delegation comprises representatives from Dubai Cares, Khalifa bin Zayed Foundation and Emirates Foundation for Youth Development.
Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto Tuesday opened the first High-Level Meeting of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation, attended by some 1,500 international leaders. UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and OECD Secretary General Angel Gurr'a joined President Pena Nieto to open the High-Level Meeting with broad support for sustained global efforts in how effective development co-operation can lead to a stronger fight against poverty both now and in the post-2015 landscape.
At the opening of the two-day event in Mexico City, Pena Nieto said, "Mexico, as host country of this first meeting, seeks to promote dialogue and the building of accords between different government and non-governmental agencies to strengthen and promote efficient cooperation for development." Ban also addressed the gathering, urging the international community to earmark more national resources and financing to cut poverty and reach the UN-sponsored Millennium Development Goals ( MDGs) by the preset deadline, 2015.
"It is necessary to mobilise resources from all sources: national, international, private and public, to more effectively reduce poverty and reach the Millennium Development Goals," said Ban.
Tariq Al Gurg, CEO, Dubai Cares, took part in the focus session ; the innovative and inclusive engagement with the philanthropic sector, brings together CEOs of foundations and senior government/multilateral organisation representatives to discuss how they can engage more effectively and inclusive.
'We believe that effective partnership with UN agencies, NGOs, governments and the private sector remains the backbone of the effective humanitarian work in Dubai Cares.' – Emirates News Agency, WAM

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Guinean President praises US$5m medical aid provided by UAE

posted on 17/04/2014

Conakry: In implementation of the directives of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, The Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation has supplied medical equipment to Guinea valued at more than 5 million dollars.
Professor Alpha Conde, President of Guinea, praised the assistance provided by the Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation to the Guinean people during an official ceremony in Conakry, especially noting the medical aid that contributed significantly to the improvement of health services in the country.
During the ceremony which was held for the handing over of the medical aid to his country in the presence of the UAE delegation headed by Eid Al Mazroui from Khalifa Foundation, along with other officials and UAE representatives, the Guinean President said, "This precious gift that we have received from the people of the UAE strengthens the ties between the two countries and comes at a time when our country is in dire need of such assistance." He expressed his appreciation for this great medical support.
Professor Conde asked the official UAE delegation to convey his greetings to President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, His Highness General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces and H.H. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, Chairman of the Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

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UAE's Red Crescent visits Typhoon Haiyan-hit areas

posted on 17/04/2014

Manila: A delegation from UAE's humanitarian major Red Crescent Authority (RCA) yesterday met with Philippine Red Cross (PRC) Chairman and CEO Richard Gordon in Tacloban City which last year bore the brunt of Typhoon Haiyan along with Leyte province and Palau.
During the meeting, RCA delegation led by Fahad Abdul Rehman bin Sultan received updates on the situation in the affected areas and the on the possibility of implementing infrastructure, education and basic healthcare projects in order to improve the living conditions of affected population.
RCA team made a field visit to the areas to have a first-hand experience of the needs of the local communities.
The team is set to meet former Senator Panfilo Lacson who was appointed by the country's president as the government's rehabilitation czar in areas in central Philippines ravaged by typhoon Haiyan.
UAE Embassy in the Philippines facilitated the mission of RCA to the affected areas. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

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Sustainability, finance added to UAE public school syllabus

posted on 17/04/2014

Two new subjects will be introduced in public schools across the UAE, following a collaboration between Emirates Foundation for Youth Development and the Ministry of Education.
Students will now study sustainability and financial literacy as part of the revised public school curriculum.
Education Minister Humaid Mohammed Obaid Al Qattami and Emirates Foundation Managing Director Shaikh Sultan bin Tahnoun Al Nahyan signed an agreement to incorporate sustainability and personal finance management in government school programmes.
"Education for sustainable development means inclusion of topics such as climate changes, reducing disaster risks, sustainable consumption and personal financial management in the teaching-learning process; and these are issues that should be well-comprehended for a prosperous future,” Al Qattami said.
"The agreement lays the foundation for a strategic partnership between the Ministry of Education and the Emirates Foundation whose contributions will, with no doubt, build a better future for our citizens,” he said.
"Incorporating sustainable development issues in the teaching curricula allows our students to gain knowledge, necessary skills, and values to chart sustainable future for the state,” Shaikh Sultan said.
In addition, the collaboration aims to develop a plan that offers job opportunities for youngsters to become professional teaching assistants after attending the "Teacher Assistant” initiative — a project of the Emirates Foundation "Kayani” Programme. They will be appointed as teacher assistants for students with special needs classes in government schools.
The two parties will involve students in the foundation's programmes which include Takatof Programme for Social Volunteering, the National Emergency Response Volunteer Programme (Sanid), Kafa'at, "Think Science” Kayani and the Financial Literacy programme (Isref Sah).
Al Qattami stressed that the Ministry of Education is honoured to be a part of the national strategy aimed at the development of the UAE youth.
On the sidelines of the signing ceremony, Maytha Al Habsi, Chief Programmes Officer at the foundation, gave a presentation outlining the importance of integrating sustainability topics into the school curriculum. – Khaleej Times – Read more: http://www.khaleejtimes.com/kt-article-display-1.asp?xfile=data/educationnation/2014/April/educationnation_April19.xml§ion=educationnation

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Emirati sign language focus at 'Hear my Voice - Empowering the Deaf' conference

posted on 17/04/2014

Integration of the deaf and hard of hearing into the community is possible through education, employment, social inclusion and the recognition of sign language.
These concepts, as well as the development of the Emirati sign language, were at the forefront during the opening of the second edition of the conference 'Hear my Voice - Empowering the Deaf', which was held under the patronage and in the presence of His Excellency Sheikh Nahyan Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development.
Dubai Healthcare City ( DHCC ) in association with Kalimati Speech and Communication Centre and the UAE Deaf Association opened the conference on April 16, 2014 at the Mohammed bin Rashid Academic Medical Centre (MBR-AMC) at DHCC .
The two-day conference addressed topics on vocational training for the deaf, reading strategies, and supporting deaf women. It also facilitated Emirati sign language workshops.
Dr Joseph Murray, Board Member of The World Federation of the Deaf (WFD), delivered the keynote address, pushing for human rights of deaf people worldwide.
Adding significance to the program was the presence of 7 deaf presenters: Jeff Bravin and Luisa Soboleski from the American School of the Deaf; Emirati Musabeh Al Neyadi from the UAE Deaf Association; Saudi Hend Al Showaier and Bader al Omary; and Professor Rita Straubhaar from the Monroe Community College, U.S.A.
A panel of prominent Emirati speakers included H.E. Abdullah Saeed Al Darmaki, Chief Executive Officer of Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development; Mariam Saif Al Qubaisi, Head of Special Needs Sector at Zayed Higher Organisation for Humanitarian Care and Special Needs (ZHO) and Afaf Al Haridi, Principal of Al Amal School for the Deaf.
Marwan Abedin, Chief Executive Officer, Dubai Healthcare City , commented, "Education is a core driver of DHCC 's commitment. We believe that medical education and awareness go hand in hand, and today's conference exemplifies this belief. Everyone has a part to play in ensuring inclusion at various levels." Bedour Al Raqbani, Owner and Founder of Kalimati, said, "This year's Conference continues to support the UAE in its aim to provide the basic factors of Human Rights for deaf people including bilingual education, sign language, accessibility, and sign language interpretation. There is an urgent need for empowerment through education, employment and social support." – Emirates News Agency, WAM

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Ministry of Health, HAAD reassure citizens, residents current MERS Coronavirus cases not a public health concern

posted on 17/04/2014

The Ministry of Health (MoH) and Health Authority Abu Dhabi (HAAD) reassure citizens and residents that the few positive MERS Coronavirus contacts of the severe case last week are all well and we expect them to clear the virus within 10-14 days with no treatment.
They are in hospital isolation and as such are not causing any risk to the public or other patients.
Individuals are requested to avoid rumours and refer to official reliable sources for information. MoH and HAAD confirm that the current situation is not a public health concern, and people should go about their normal daily activities. MoH and HAAD are dealing with the situation with full transparency. – Emirates News Agency, WAM
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32 firms flout labour laws in Abu Dhabi

posted on 17/04/2014

They employ workers not under their sponsorship or allow their labourers to work for others.
The Ministry of Labour has referred 32 facilities to the Abu Dhabi Public Prosecution, 13 of which were found registering employees under their sponsorship while allowing them to work for other establishments. The other 19 employed workers not under their sponsorship, which is a clear violation of the labour laws. Mubarak Saeed Al Dhaheri, Undersecretary of the ministry, said: "The ministry has caught 59 violating workers during three inspection campaigns, which were carried out by the Inspections Department in Abu Dhabi, in cooperation with the Department of Follow-up of Violators and Foreigners at the Ministry of Interior, on multiple work sites in Khalifa City A, the Western Region (Al Gharbia) and Mussaffah Industrial City. "The ministry, which is guided by Saqr Ghobash Saeed Ghobash, Minister of Labour, is keen to continue inspection campaigns in cooperation with other government entities to have a well-managed control over the labour market to ensure compliance with the labour laws by companies, especially with regard to the operation and use of labourers, he said. The ministry will not allow any violations and will impose harsh penalties on facilities if they are found misusing employees and violating any labour laws, and they will be referred to the Public Prosecution. The law states that a fine of Dh50,000 per employee will be slapped on the company which employs labourers not under its sponsorship or sponsoring them but lend them to other sponsors/companies without obtaining the necessary permission to do so. The fine could be a maximum of Dh5 million. The owner could also face imprisonment and a fine if found violating the laws for the second time. The ministry will cut down the relations with the employers who violate labour laws and refuse to grant them new work permits nor approve the registration of any new facility under their names for a period of six months, insisting that they must pay their dues before reaching any agreement. The undersecretary called upon all employers to adhere to the labour laws and avoid using labourers illegally without registering them under the company's sponsorship and do not allow them to work for others.
The employers must act as true partners with the ministry to achieve greater stability in the labour market as well as maintain their interests as well as protect the labourers' rights, especially since the ministry has made it easy for them to get the required number of labourers for any business after applying for their work permits.
Mohsen Al Nessi, head of the Inspections Department in Abu Dhabi, said: "Three inspection campaigns took place earlier this month, which included visits to many work sites in Khalifa A, the Western Region and Mussaffah city in Abu Dhabi, and witnessed the participation of 20 inspectors from the Ministry of Labour and 10 members from the Department of Follow-up of Violators and Foreigners at the Ministry of Interior. The campaigns showed that a large number of companies abide by the laws, which reflect the ministry's hard work towards maintaining the labour market through its comprehensive monitoring systems.” – Emirates News Agency, WAM

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Al Qubaisi set for FIA endurance series debut

posted on 17/04/2014

Emirati circuit racing and endurance star Khalid Al Qubaisi begins competing in the FIA World Endurance Championship with the first round at the 6 Hours of Silverstone in the UK this weekend.
The UAE driver will compete in the world's biggest endurance racing series in a new Porsche 911 RSR with his German Proton Competition teammates Christian Ried and Klaus Bachler in the LMGTE AM category, which includes eight international teams.
Al Qubaisi, supported by Emirates Global Aluminium, tested with the team at Paul Ricard circuit in France, where they were helped out by the Porsche factory as engineers of the German manufacturer provided the team with information and data that contributed to finding the car's ideal setup.
New team member Al Qubaisi said: "I feel extremely comfortable amongst the team of Proton Competition, with positive vibes and the thrill to avail triumphantly at the helm of our common interest. Both team and engineers were extremely excited to end the initial testing to perfection, with the constant objective of achieving wins on board our Porsche 911 RSR this season.”
Speaking of his strategy for the April 18 to 20 race weekend, Al Qubaisi added: "We need to make good use of our free practice at Silverstone to reach the perfect set-up of the car, then pursue the objective of finishing the race on the podium. The mission is tough, with many teams fiercely competing to win, but I have a feeling it can be achieved.”
This new 2014 season is the third year of this championship and features eight rounds — at Silverstone, Spa-Francorchamps 6hrs (Belgium, May 3), Le Mans 24hrs (France, June 14-15), the Americas 6hrs (US, September 20), Fuji 6hrs (Japan, October 12), Shanghai 6hrs (China, November 2), Bahrain 6hrs (November 15), and Sao Paolo 6hrs (Brazil, November 30). – Gulf News – Read more: http://gulfnews.com/sport/motorsport/al-qubaisi-set-for-fia-endurance-series-debut-1.1320375

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Astronaut Buzz Aldrin turns 'aquanaut' in Dubai

posted on 17/04/2014

American astronaut Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon, turned ‘aquanaut' in Dubai last week when he helped launched new diving programmes at The Atlantis hotel.
"The 84-year-old scuba-loving astronaut is a keen diver and had heard about our new diving programmes, so we arranged for him to be here. He joined us to help launch our exciting programmes and it was great to have him at Atlantis Mission Control,” a hotel spokesperson told XPRESS.
She said the extremely fit octogenarian spent time exploring the ruins of the lost city of Atlantis and performed playful impromptu anti-gravity antics as hotel guests at the glass observation window watched in delight.
Aldrin is the second person to have walked on the moon and was the lunar module pilot on Apollo 11, the first manned lunar landing in history. He set foot on the moon on July 21, 1969, following mission commander Neil Armstrong. A retired colonel in the United States Air Force (USAF) and a USAF Command pilot and astronaut, Aldrin's underwater interface with sharks, rays and 65,000 fish at the Dubai hotel is being much talked about.
The new diving programmes introduced include the Atlantis dive discovery for beginners; Atlantis dive explorer and an exclusive royal dive for those who want a VIP experience. Those above six can also do snorkelling.
The Atlantis dive discovery, which costs Dh1,150, is an introductory diving experience which gives new divers a basic skill session before a 20-minute dive in the Ambassador Lagoon. No diving licence is required although it is being positioned as a jumping off point to the full PADI diving certification.
The Atlantis dive explorer, at Dh950, entails a 30-minute dive session in the Ambassador Lagoon, where divers can come face to face with sharks, fish and rays.
The VIP royal dive costs Dh12,000 and gives guests the entire lagoon to themselves. They also get to take home a mask, fish ID booklet, a free video of their experience on a flashdrive and a complimentary dinner for them and up to three guests after the dive.
Other fun water activities include a shark safari for Dh275, an ‘ultimate' snorkel for Dh120 and an ‘ultimate' dive for Dh2,500. – Gulf News – Read more: http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/uae/general/astronaut-buzz-aldrin-turns-aquanaut-in-dubai-1.1320384

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