The GCC leaders reiterated their support for the UAE's right to its three islands of Greater and Lesser Tunbs and Abu Musa, also expressing their support for its peaceful initiative on the issue. Rashid Abudllah, UAE Foreign Minister said that the GCC tripartite committee on the islands issue had presented its report to the GCC leaders, who had discussed it and had expressed their support for the UAE. He said that the leaders urged the committee to continue its work in order to reach its aspired goal of creating a mechanism for dialogue between UAE and Iran. "The committee, who contacts with Iran have not received encouraging signals, has asked the GCC to give it ample time to present its final report to the consultative summit, which will be held by June of next year," Abdullah said. The minister also said that the committee is doing its best and expressed the hope that Iran would respond to the UAE peaceful initiatives and those of the committee in order to achieve its goals.The 'Emirates News Agency, WAM'
Gulf Arab States reached a last Sunday to unify their customs tariffs in March 2005, resolving a last-minute disput that threatened their 18-year ambition to create a regional trading bloc. Prince Saud Al Faisal, Saudi's Foreign Minister, said the agreement outlined three categories of goods. He said some were excluded from tariffs while basic commodities would have a 5.5 per cent tariff and other goods would carry a 7.5 per cent duty. "During this period, until March 2005, other measures will be finalised such as single entry points, re-exports, the distribution of revenues and role of custom points," he said. A common tariff has been a goal of the GCC since it was formed in 1981. Diplomats says such a deal is needed to create a regional trade bloc and a trading zone with the European Union. The 'Gulf News'
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, UNESCO, announced that Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, President's wife and Chairwoman of the UAE Women's Association, will be awarded the organisation's prestigious Marie Curie golden medal. Abudullah bu Battana, Head of the UNESCO Regional Office, said that the medal was in appreciation of Sheikha Fatima's efforts in spreading education and eradicating illiteracy.
Bu Battana said that the UNESCO official will decorate Sheikha Fatima with the medal in a ceremony to be held tomorrow in Abu Dhabi.
Sheikha Fatima's honouring coincides with the country's 28th National Day and the country's participation in the Arab family day as well as the hosting of the conference of Arab and World Family Organisations in Abu Dhabi in December. Sheikha Fatima will also be awarded the shield of family organisations and the Arab League's shield in appreciation of her work in women and humanitarian fields. The Emirates News Agency, WAM'
A four-year study to draw up a national protection plan for the endangered Gulf dugong has been launched in Abu Dhabi. The Dh2 million project is being carried out by the Environmental Research and Wildlife Agency, ERWDA, and the Abu Dhabi-based Total Abu Bukhoosh, through its Paris-based Corporation Foundation.
Dr. Saif Al Ghais, Secretary General ERWDA, said the initiative would be the most detailed study ever carried out on the dugong in the Gulf. He said aerial surveys along the UAE coast from the Qatar border to Ras Al Khaimah are due to begin next month, and the dugong will also be monitored using satellite transmitters.
There are three main areas off the UAE in which the marine mammal is found ö close to the Qatar border, in the Merawah island area and close to Abu Dhabi. Dr. Al Ghais said the species was coming under threat for two main reasons, firstly the loss of its sea grass habitat and, secondly human interference. The study aims to identify the major threats to the dugong and identify the main reasons for the decrease in sea grass. It will also assess the importance of cultural and economic activities. At the end of the study, training programmed for local biologists will be drawn up and a long-term monitoring programme will be put in place for the dugong. The study will be conducted exclusively by ERWDA's scientists. Dr. Al Ghais said that no outside experts in the dugong field would be asked to take part. The 'Gulf News'
Archaeologists in Abu Dhabi have discovered the earliest evidence yet known of human consumption of the dugong in southeast Arabia. Analysis by the Abu Dhabi Islands Archaeological Survey, ADIAS, of animal remains from a site on the emirate's western island of Dalma shows humans were eating the marine mammals about 5,000 BC. The remains now being studied by Mark Beech, the ADIAS environmental archaeologist, who has identified several dugong bones, mainly fragments of ribs. These are immediately recognisable due to their characteristic dense structure and weight. Until now, the oldest evidence form southeast Arabia for the human consumption of dugong came from an archaeological site on the island of Akab in Umm Al Qaiwain, which dates back to about 4,000 BC.
The Dalma site, first identified in 1992, is a coastal settlement that has been dated by radio-carbon techniques to about 5,000 BC, making this find about 1,000 years older. The oldest human settlement yet identified in the UAE, the Dalma site has yielded a large quantity of environmental remains which provide a good indication of the diet of local inhabitants at the time. ADIAS has also found dugong bones on archaeological sites, on the islands of Sir Bani Yas, Merawah and Balghelan, although these sites are not as old as the Dalma site. The 'Gulf News'
Sharjah Electricity and Water Authority has plans to run air-conditioning units at residential, commercial and industrial areas on natural gas, according Tareq Demas, Head of the Department of Natural Gas. He said the authority is working on the introduction of such a system. "But he made it clear that the plan was still in the pipeline and they were currently concentrating on the supply of natural gas to Sharjah city. The first phase of the project, to provide natural gas to 25,000 residents in commercial areas at a cost of Dh250 million, ends in May 2000. Demas said 7,400 consumers have been supplied with gas so far. The second phase will benefit industrial and residential areas and will commence in March next year. This phase will take about two and a half years, but by its completion around 35,000 consumers would be using natural gas. He said that no compromise had made on areas of safety and security, and top level, foolproof arrangements were being made with the help of international firms. The 'Gulf News'
The UAE banking sector is expected to continue its growth and will play a leading role in promoting further the national economy with more than Dh92 billion injected into economic projects, Ahmed Humaid Al Tayer, Chairman of Commercial Bank of Dubai's Board of Directors and UAE Minister o Communications, said.
The minister also stressed the need for a comprehensive review of the bank's credit policies and the standards and guarantees up which they rely in offering facilities.
The UAE banking sector is in a healthy condition and it is expected to continue its growth and will play a leading role in promoting further the national economy, Al Tayer pointed out. The UAE has the right infrastructure, the legal and legislative environment that attracts investment from all over the world. The minister pointed out that the national banks have actively encouraged savings and financing production and developing projects. "National banks' contributions to the various economic activities exceed Dh92 billion which represents 77 per cent of the total banking sector contribution in the country. The national banks have also succeeded in strengthening their capital bases with an equity exceeding Dh23 billion while customers' deposits are Dh120 billion with banks assets exceeding Dh165 billion. Indications are that this sector will continue its growth despite the unfavourable market conditions," said Al Tayer. "The banking sector has also been able to adjust to the newly created conditions and circumstances in the banking industry and to catch up efficiently with the latest technologies." National banks are committed to maintaining sound financial position and the rights of both depositors and shareholders and realising profitable revenues to enhance and develop their resources, he added.The 'Khaleej Times'
An active participant in the UAE Emiratisation programme, EMARAT, one of the country's leading petroleum-retailing organisations, has achieved a national staff strength of 29 per cent of its work force, and is set to raise it to 50 per cent by 2005. One of the avenues consistently used by EMARAT to communicate with young national students is the annual Dubai Women's College Career Fair, which has now become an indispensable platform for the corporate would to meet tomorrow's job seekers. EMARAT's focus is to raise the percentage of nationals in all its departments, but special emphasis is being laid on technical graduates, especially those specialising in engineering, information technology and sales and marketing. The 'Khaleej Times'
The UAE Consumer Co-operatives Union has decided to opt for the merger of co-operative societies in the UAE in order to curb arbitrary spread of small grocery shops in the country. According to Dr. Suleiman Al Jassim, Chairman of the UAE Consumer Co-operative Union, such a merger will minimise the problems of the spread of grocery shops in residential areas and also check the masked unemployment of expatriate workforce and its negative impact in the demographic structure. The consumer union will co-ordinate with the municipalities, chamber of commerce and Labour Ministry on the issues related to grocery shops once its study on the potential profits of merging the societies has been prepared. Jassim also said that the consumer co-operative societies would seek to play a vital role in activating and reviving economic activity in the UAE as they currently represent 50 per cent of the size of international co-operative movement in 73 countries. 'Gulf Today'
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