EMIRATES NEWS (18/10/2012)

UAE condemns Israeli practices in the occupied Palestinian territories

            New York: The United Arab Emirates renewed yesterday before the Security Council Session, condemnation of the dangerous Israeli practices in the occupied Palestinian territories that impede regional and international efforts aimed at the resumption of peace negotiations.

Ambassador Ahmed Abdul Rahman Al Jarman, UAE Permanent Representative to the United Nations has urged the international community, especially the UN Security Council to assume full responsibilities, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, to compel Israel to immediately stop its dangerous policies to provide the proper climate to appeal for peace negotiations with a view to reaching a just and comprehensive settlement of the Palestine issue.

He also stressed, before the UN Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, that the United Arab Emirates reiterated its condemnation of these Israeli practices, all of which led to the exacerbation of tension and instability in the region as a whole.

Al Jarman also confirmed UAE's support for the establishment of the State of Palestine and to accept it as a United Nations Member State at the earliest.

Meanwhile, he expressed concern about the difficult humanitarian and economic situation of the Palestinian people, especially in the Gaza strip. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

Abu Dhabi Investment Authority 2nd largest sovereign wealth fund globally

            The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA), by the end of September, stands at the second place in the global list of the largest sovereign wealth funds with assets amounting to US$627 billion whereas Norway’s Government Pension Fund has topped the list. Total assets of 57 sovereign wealth funds around the world stood at around US$5.14 trillion.

According to the latest rankings of the Washington-based Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute, the Investment Corporation of Dubai came in the 14th place worldwide with assets amounting to US$70 billion.

The total value of the assets of 4 UAE sovereign wealth funds listed among the largest 20 sovereign wealth funds stood at around US$810.5 billion, with International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC) coming in the 15th place with assets totalling US$65.3 billion, Mubadala Development Company in the 19th place with assets of US$48.2 billion. RAK Investment Authority came in the 47th place with assets amounting to US$1.2 billion.

China’s SAFE Investment Company came in the third place worldwide with assets totalling US$568 billion, followed by Saudi Arabia’s SAMA Foreign Holdings in the fourth place with assets totalling US$533 billion, Kuwait Investment Authority in the 6th place with assets totalling US$296 billion and Qatar Investment Authority in the 12th place with assets totalling US$115 billion. – The Gulf Today

Capital ranked ‘most productive’

            Abu Dhabi was ranked the “most productive” economy and was chosen as one of 27 “cities of opportunity” by one of the world’s leading accounting firms.

The UAE capital came ahead of New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Chicago for productivity in the annual report released by PricewaterhouseCoopers, or PwC, and the Partnership for New York City.

PwC’s “Cities of Opportunities 2012” report has analysed the performance of 27 cities at the centre of finance, commerce and culture and studies the cities’ potential by the year 2025. The ranking, which rates cities according to several criteria, also puts the UAE capital in the number one slot among emerging economies for the number of hospitals per head of population.

The report forecasts growth in employment rates towards 2025 in Abu Dhabi’s business services, especially in manufacturing, transport and communications, education and hotels and restaurants.

“As Abu Dhabi joins the world’s developed cities in terms of jobs today, the study shows that the biggest part of employment will be in the leisure and culture sectors and by 2025 reaching 20.3 per cent, and the city’s total business services will grow by nearly nine per cent,” PwC said. “We have always perceived the UAE as a positive environment for growth and we have selected its capital, Abu Dhabi, as one of the 27 cities to be part of the Cities of Opportunity due to its position as a financial, commercial and cultural centre that continues on a path of growth and development,” said Jacques Fakhoury, PwC Abu Dhabi senior partner.

“At PwC we have repeatedly discussed talent as core to developing an economy and we are proud to see that Abu Dhabi’s workers continue to add great value to its economy, with the city’s productivity topping the chart ahead of New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles.” The report noted that with the highest number of hospitals per capita, Abu Dhabi is the top ranked emerging economy in the health, safety and security category, bringing it to a tie with Tokyo.

“It has surpassed Los Angeles, Paris, Madrid and Hong Kong for this indicator among developed economies. Abu Dhabi also reported the lowest crime rates, bringing it closer to Singapore and Hong Kong, economies that have fared very positively on low crime rates year on year,” the report said.

The capital city also secured top performance in other key indicators including 6th ranking in the cost of business occupancy, ninth in consumer price index, 15th in the iPod index, and second lowest cost in public transport. “Abu Dhabi has resources that many cities don’t have access to, and with the city’s 2030 vision for a sustainable future, the Cities of Opportunities report cites great expectations for the city to improve on its current sustainability ranking,” PwC said. – Khaleej Times

UAE making huge strides in int’l trade, investments

            Despite the global economic slowdown, the UAE’s foreign trade has risen 23 per cent to Dh923 billion in 2011, about four times that of the global average.

This was stated by an official of the Ministry of Foreign Trade, or MoFT, in Dubai, at a three-day “Seminar on Trade Facilitation among Arab Countries and their Integration into the Multilateral Trading System”, which was held in cooperation with the secretariat of the Gulf Cooperation Council and the Islamic Development Bank.

Representatives from 12 Arab countries and various international organisations discussed a number of working papers and proposals for the easing of trade channels and trade exchange mechanisms.

In his opening remarks, Juma Al Kait, assistant undersecretary for Foreign Trade Affairs at the MoFT, pointed out that as a result of its adopted policies, the UAE has attained a number of advanced ratings in international trade, investment flow and business setup indicators.

However, he said there are still impediments to trade represented in the insufficient administration and organisation of trade exchange activities, such as the presence of complicated customs regulations, transit requirements, standardisation requirements, quality assurance requirements, and more specifically, the presence of non-transparent requirements that don’t serve their declared purpose of protecting the consumer and public safety. 

Al Kait added that global economic integration has changed the nature of national markets as companies seek to establish their headquarters in locations that provide them with facilitations such as production inputs availability, export channels and freedom of movement so that they may serve their customers in a timely manner.

This he said, means that administrative and border barriers to the movement of goods have become an important factor in the investment decision making process of corporations, pointing out that the plans and economic development opportunities of countries, especially developing ones, have become tied to their policies that ease trade and transit. Al Kait added that the UAE has been able, in a record time, to take long strides in economic development and in transforming itself into one of the region’s and world’s most important trade hubs.

He pointed out that the UAE has, from the beginning, placed a big emphasis on trade development and was always careful to make trade a primary economic engine away from its sole source of wealth.

The UAE, he said, reduced its customs and non-customs trade barriers and worked on easing trade through adopting best international customs and border procedures practices and using the best technical applications and communications to serve the flow of trade through its border. – Khaleej Times

Finance House net profit jumps 19%, plans share buyback

            Finance House PJSC (FH) has registered a net profit of Dh 65.7 million for the nine months ended 30 September 2012, compared to Dh 55.3 million for the same period last year. This translates to a robust year on year growth of nearly 19%.

Also, Finance House Board approved a Share Buyback Program for up to 10% of the Company's shares issued which is now subject to Emirates Securities and Commodities Authority and UAE Central Bsank approvals.

Total Operating Income for the nine months ended 30 September 2012 grew by circa 27% to Dh 155.4 million compared to Dh 122.7 million for the same period last year, on the back of robust growth in lending book and higher returns from the group's well-diversified investment portfolio.

Net Loans '&' Advances grew by 20.5% to Dh 1.35 billion as of 30 September 2012 compared to Dh 1.12 billion as of 30 September 2011.During the same period, Customer Deposits grew by 32% to reach Dh 1.63 billion as of 30 September 2012 compared to Dh 1.23 billion as of 30 September 2011. The resultant Loans to Deposits ratio as of 30 September 2012 stood at a healthy 83% (91% as of 30 September 2011), with ample room to support continued growth in lending book in line with improving levels of business activity across the UAE.

Return on Average Equity for the first nine months of 2012, on an annualised basis, significantly improved to 17.3% p.a. compared to 12% p.a. for the full year ended 31 December 2011. Similarly annualised Return on Average Assets for the first nine months of 2012 improved to 2.6% compared to 2% for the full year ended 31 December 2011. The Group's Capital Adequacy Ratio as of 30 September 2012 stood at a robust 21.6% and provides a solid foundation for balance sheet growth in the near term. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange joins WFE as full member

            The World Federation of Exchanges (WFE) has voted for Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX) to become a full member of the WFE. ADX was elected as a member during the 52nd General Assembly and Annual Meeting of the WFE held in the capital city of Taiwan, Taipei, on the 15th of October. Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange is the youngest stock market to be selected for a full membership status in the WFE organisation.

The WFE's selection of ADX for full membership came after thorough assessments done by the WFE on various visits to ADX to ensure that ADX meets WFE Membership Criteria.

On this occasion, Mr. Rashed Al Baloushi, CEO of ADX, said:" we are very proud that ADX is the youngest exchange to receive the World Federation of Exchanges (WFE) full membership status. ADX employees and staff have been, and still are, great representatives of our young organisation." ADX CEO reiterated:" On behalf of all the employees of the ADX, I am honoured to offer special greetings to His Highness General Sheikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, as he was, and still is, in charge of transforming Abu Dhabi into a global financial capital. We express gratitude to His Highness for his continuous support and for his interest in our progress and development. His support and interest in the diversification of the economy of Abu Dhabi supplied us with a strong incentive to achieve excellence. Through which, we will focus on ADX's goal of becoming a prominent financial institution in the region and perhaps in the world.

With its headquarters in Paris, France, The World Federation of Exchanges (WFE) acts as a central reference point for the securities industry, and for worldwide exchanges. They offer member guidance for member exchanges business strategies, and help in the improvement and harmonisation of their management practices. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

ADIB increases net profit to Dh 328.5 million for the third quarter of 2012

            Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) Group posted a net profit of Dh 328.5 million for Q3 2012. Despite the prevailing challenging market conditions, and an increasing number of regulatory changes, the performance from the main banking business remained strong as the Bank's net profit grew by 14.5% to Dh 405.7 million from Dh 354.4 million in Q3 2011. The business highlights for Q3 2012 were: The focus on Retail Banking underpinned by ADIB's number 1 rating - for the second consecutive year - for customer service saw the customer base increase by 10.0% year-on-year to 493,298 customers.

ADIB opened its 73rd Retail branch in the UAE and installed its 522nd ATM during the quarter, meaning the Bank continues to have the third largest Retail network in the UAE and remains on track to have 80 branches by the end of Q1 2013.

ADIB operations in the United Kingdom and Iraq continued to gain momentum and plans to open branches in Qatar and Sudan by year-end remain on track.

Customer financing growth was restricted to 5.0% year-on-year as ADIB preserved capital in line with its intention to boost Tier 1 capital to over 15% from the current level of 13.74%.

Cost of funds were further reduced as current and savings account balances reached Dh 30.6 billion at the end of Q3 2012, a 22.9% year-on-year increase which is significantly above market.

With a Customer Financing to Deposits Ratio of 83.1% ADIB already meets both of the proposed new Central Bank of the UAE liquidity ratios and intends to be an early adopter of the proposed Basel III based regulations.

ADIB continued its conservative policy by taking an additional Dh 151.3 million in credit provisions to ensure a healthy pre-collateral non-performing asset coverage ratio of 80.1%.

The Group continued the quarterly impairment review of the portfolio held by its real estate subsidiary, Burooj Properties and as a result made further impairments of Dh 47.5 million in this regard.

Providing guidance on the Bank's direction for the rest of 2012,Tirad Al Mahmoud, Chief Executive Officer, said: "Our outlook has not changed and we remain concerned about global and regional growth rates and the impact on our markets. While the continued introduction of new regulations is proving to be challenging, we are confident that ADIB is well positioned and in this regard will continue our practice of being a meaningful and constructive partner in supporting these changes. In addition, the UAE banking sector is now closely involved with government and regulatory bodies and we look forward to progress in these initiatives including the formation of a credit bureau in the UAE, which is essential since good clients will enjoy greater access to much needed credit and remedial efforts can focus on those who require it.

"Given this environment, and notwithstanding our own preparations for the next stage in our growth strategy and strong liquidity position, we continue to expect a subdued year for the banking sector as a whole and single digit growth in ADIB's financing assets in 2012 as we focus on our goal of building our Tier 1 capital ratio to over 15%. In addition, we will continue to take prudent measures as necessary for both the Bank and Burooj portfolios in 2012. Notwithstanding this, we will continue to invest for the future and while this will create pressure on earnings we believe it is imperative to sacrifice short-term efficiency for long-term growth potential," he added. – Emirates News Agency, WAM


UAE Television Audience Measurement System tview officially launched

            Emirates Media Measurement Company (EMMC) has announced that the UAE TV audience measurement system, known as 'tview', was now officially 'live' following confirmation of acceptance by the external TAM auditors and consultants Hulks '&' Ruud.

The final part of the setup was to gain approval from independent experts who tested and verified all aspects of the system including panel management, data accuracy and stability and a range of key performance indicators.

Their report concluded that the current panel is sufficiently well balanced on the primary controls and that the TAM system is well organised in terms of panel maintenance and reporting. Thus we recommend that the panel is now accepted as providing a viable currency.

The report was presented to the EMMC Board of Directors meeting In Dubai and Abu Dhabi on October 4 chaired by Director-General of the National Media Council, Ibrahim Al Abed. The Board includes representatives from Abu Dhabi Media, Rotana Media, Etisalat and Sharjah Media.

Welcoming the report, the General Manager of EMMC Christopher O'Hearn said "We have always understood the need for full transparency, and the endorsement of external auditors is a key milestone for the system. We have an ongoing commitment to adopt the best technical advice and will continue to subject the system to annual external audits which will be published openly and implemented by us." The people-meter system has been running in trial stages since December 2011 following a setup period.

A number of clients have already installed the system and have been using the data on a test basis.

Subscribers receive daily audience data which can be analysed and reported in a powerful software tool. In addition the system provides daily logs of programs and advertising spots on nearly 60 of the most popular channels in the region.

"Our early users have found tview offers them an unprecedented and extremely valuable insight. Of course it is not yet perfect and we will continue to refine and improve it in cooperation with the industry. This is a huge leap which will help the media market grow, enable advertisers to reach their audiences and ultimately mean better choice and content for viewers." said O'Hearn.

The 'tview' is designed to advance the TV media industry by generating transparent, accountable and reliable ratings that will be used as a currency of trade.

This viewing research data will enable broadcasters, media agencies and advertisers to improve TV programming, scheduling and advertising.

tview's unique proposition is that it provides minute-by-minute viewing data delivered the following day. The data includes additional demographic information such as nationality, gender, location, age and socio-economic status for viewers aged 4 and above, although all data is reported anonymously and individuals are not identified.

EMMC is a joint venture of leading broadcast entities, Abu Dhabi Media, Sharjah Media, Rotana Media, and Etisalat, and is also supported by DU.

The project was the result of a Federal Cabinet initiative and has been led by the National Media Council and the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority.

It has been underway since January 2010 and was endorsed by the Ministerial Council for Services in March 2010, with the first steps being large scale surveys and the setup of the sample panel representing the UAE population. 850 homes have been chosen to take part and become the tview panel and have the people meter boxes installed in their homes and connected to the television screens.

In addition to the data provided in full to subscribers, EMMC will make extracts of the tview ratings information publicly available on its website and will distribute summaries to trade and press. – Emirates News Agency, WAM


Abu Dhabi's Masdar Institute gaining status in attracting talented faculty from across the world

            Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, an independent, research-driven graduate-level university focused on advanced energy and sustainable technologies, yesterday announced it has graduallys gained status as a UAE organisation that attracts professionals and faculty from across the world, similar to other globally-acclaimed institutions.

Dr. Amer Al Hinai from Sultan Qaboos University (SQU) in Oman is currently spending his sabbatical leave as a visiting Assistant Professor in the Electrical Power Engineering (EPE) program at Masdar Institute. Dr. Al Hinai is an Assistant Professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at SQU. His areas of interest include Power Systems: Control and Operation, Multi-Agent Systems: Application to Control of Power Systems, Optimisation Techniques and Applications to Power Systems.

The presence of Dr. Al Hinai reflects Masdar Institute's efforts to strengthen ties with GCC countries, while reiterating the status of the Abu Dhabi-based institution as a destination for regional scientists keen on conducting cutting-edge research.

Dr. Marwan K. Khraisheh, Dean of Engineering, Masdar Institute, said: "Faculty members spend their sabbatical leaves mostly in globally-renowned institutions away from this region to further develop their professional capabilities or to continue their research work. However, Dr. Al Hinai's presence in Masdar Institute demonstrates his preference for an institution that offers the perfect environment for research similar to any other global academic institution here in the GCC region. We are confident Dr Al Hinai will find the experience at Masdar Institute enriching and productive." Dr. Amer has carried out more than 20 research projects related to energy savings, power system analysis, power system protection, load shedding, power system quality and transient stability of power systems. He has published over 30 research papers in international journals '&' conferences, and more than 32 technical reports.

Dr. Al Hinai said: "Being involved with the EPE program at Masdar Institute matches my specialisation and interest. This indeed will help me carry on related research and collaboration with EPE faculty and students. Though both Sultan Qaboos University and Masdar Institute are similar in many ways, the Abu Dhabi institution stands apart in offering tailored postgraduate programs with research focus on renewable energy and sustainability.

"The knowledge exchange among the GCC member countries and between the UAE and Oman is crucial for social and human development, as well as to diversify the economy to achieve sustainable development. Knowledge exchange is a translation of GCC's interest in supporting projects of scientific and technological research that stimulates creativity and innovation, while promoting the concept of the knowledge-based economy." Beside his research activities, Dr. Amer has also conducted several training/short course sessions in Electrical Power System. He has served as IEEE-SQU students chapter advisor for two years and is currently the IEEE-Oman section Secretary.

Dr. Amer Al-Hinai received a B.Sc. in Electrical Engineering from Sultan Qaboos University in 1997 and joined the University as a Demonstrator the next year. He received his M.Sc. and Ph.D in Electrical Engineering from West Virginia University, Morgantown, US.

Similar to Abu Dhabi-based Masdar Institute, Sultan Qaboos University implements various sustainability measures including organising conferences focused on energy and environment sustainability, collaborating with local, regional, and international institutions on sustainable energy, and conducting externally and internally-funded research projects. It has also established a Renewable and Sustainable Energies Research Group, a research centre dedicated for environmental studies, as well as post-graduate and doctoral research projects on sustainability. The SQU has also earned distinctive credit for designing and building the first eco house in Oman.

Established as an on-going collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Masdar Institute integrates theory and practice to incubate a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship, working to develop the critical thinkers and leaders of tomorrow. With its world-class faculty and top-tier students, the Institute is committed to finding solutions to the challenges of clean energy and climate change through education and research. – Emirates News Agency, WAM


Aviation provides big lift for UAE economy

            The aviation industry contributes more than Dh145 billion (Dh39.47bn) to the UAE economy, or 14.7 per cent of GDP, justifying the country's huge investment in airports and airline networks, the International Air Transport Association (Iata) said yesterday.

Tony Tyler, the chief executive of the Iata, said airlines in the Arabian Gulf had been the "catalyst" for transforming and rapidly expanding the region's economies.

"Governments here understand the power of connectivity to drive economies, and with this understanding governments have created a business-friendly environment for air transport with low taxes and world-class infrastructure." said Mr Tyler, speaking at the World Passenger Symposium (WPS) in Abu Dhabi.

"Including aviation-enabled tourism, our industry supports some 14.7 per cent of GDP and 14 per cent of the workforce in the UAE."

The airline industry has undergone a dramatic shift in recent weeks as legacy carriers have embraced Gulf airlines through various partnerships.

Accused by airline executives in recent years for being propped up by oil money, Emirates Airline, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways have all recently agreed deals, changing the industry zeitgeist.

In September, Emirates and Qantas signed a deal to route the Australian carrier's flights to Europe through Dubai rather than Singapore.

Then last week, Etihad signed a 10-year "major strategic agreement" with Air France-KLM and Qatar announced it was joining the Oneworld alliance, which includes British Airways.

"It's a new era of global aviation in my opinion," said James Hogan, the chief executive of Etihad, on the sidelines of the WPS.

"Like any business cycle, you have to change and innovate or you die. And I think you are seeing the result of all the Gulf carriers being innovative and taking advantage of our geographic position and partnering with airlines that see that same opportunity."

Mr Hogan added that Etihad would directly contribute US$8.05bn to the Abu Dhabi economy this year - about 10.6 per cent of the emirate's non-oil GDP and 4.3 per cent of total GDP.

In its latest study, developed in conjunction with Oxford Economics, the Iata said the airline industry contributed 14.7 per cent of GDP, or Dh145bn, in the UAE in 2010.

It directly supported 224,000 jobs and a further 209,000 indirectly in sectors such as tourism, the report said.

"More broadly, aviation has taken centre stage in the economic development of the Gulf region," said Mr Tyler.

Opening the WPS, Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, rebuked global criticism that Gulf airlines were propped up by government subsidies.

"Interventions by governments, still all too common, generally tend to impede the industry's ability to manage true demand and supply," he said.

"False beliefs about government subsidies to certain airlines in our region have caused some governments to deny those airlines full access to their markets. Such actions harm not only the airlines but also the service providers and aircraft manufacturers that depend on a healthy, growing airline industry."

Government authorities are investing further in airport infrastructure across the UAE, potentially creating further employment.

A consortium of banks recently agreed to help fund the new Midfield Terminal being built at a cost of more than Dh10bn for Abu Dhabi Airports Company.

Meanwhile, Dubai Airports last year announced it would invest US$7.8bn in an airport expansion programme for Dubai International as it aims to boost its capacity from 60 million passengers a year to 90 million by 2018.

Already, passenger numbers at Gulf airports are rapidly increasing. The latest Iata air passenger traffic survey for August showed that passengers numbers jumped 16.7 per cent for Middle East airlines, but just 5.3 per cent for the industry as a whole.

The aviation body also upgraded this year's anticipated global airlines earnings to US$4.1bn from its June forecast of US$3bn, driven by greater profitability at Middle East carriers. – The National

Armada hotel opens doors at Dubai Investments Park           

            Dubai Investments Park (DIP), the largest mixed-use development in the UAE and a subsidiary of Dubai Investments, recently opened doors to its state-of-the-art budget short-stay offering, the Armada hotel.

Set in an ideal locale for business travellers, the hotel is spread over 200,000 square feet of leased land. The 252-room property will add to the presence of two other hotels at DIP - The Courtyard by Marriott and The Premier Inn Hotel.

Omar Mesmar, GM, Dubai Investments Park, said: “DIP is committed to providing the highest level of infrastructure facilities and services. In line with this strategy, the park hosts eight dedicated plots for hotel development.” – The Gulf Today


Plans for region’s first e-shopping mall unveiled

            The Middle East will have its first-e-Shopping Mall soon, it was revealed at the Gitex Technology Week on Tuesday, offering a major boost to the e-commerce industry.

Backed by Dubai’s Department of Economic Development (DED), Tejuri, the e-Shopping Mall will build on the success of Tejari FZE, the B2B online portal that pioneered supply management technologies and professional services over the past decade, Tejari said in a statement, adding that the e-Mall will empower retailers, SME businesses and consumers.

Tejari further said that the official launch date for the e-Mall would be announced soon.

Suhail Al Banna, chief executive of Tejari FZE, said in a statement that the move is a step in the direction of using technology to narrow the gap between the retailer and the consumer.

“Tejuri will add a new dimension to the shopping experience that Dubai is famous for by building on our successful B2B platform, Tejari,” he said, adding that the initiative is in line with Dubai Government’s commitment to advance technologies geared at “simplifying interactions in the e-marketplace”. – Gulf News

Dubai braces for festivities as Eid Al Adha falls on Oct 26

Just as Saudi Arabia announced that the first day of Eid Al Adha will fall on Friday, October 26, Dubai is all set to launch the fifth edition of ‘Eid in Dubai’ on Thursday, October 18.

            The Supreme Court in Saudi Arabia has announced that the Day of Arafah will be on Thursday, Zul Hijjah 9, 1433, ie October 25, and the first day of Eid Al Adha on Friday, October 26.

The court said that it has decided on the completion of the lunar month of Zul Qaadah on 30th day and the start of the Zul Hijjah on Wednesday, October 17.

Starting Thursday, Dubai will be dressed up with decorations all around to welcome the ‘Eid in Dubai’ extravaganza, adding to the festive atmosphere. A fantastic display of fireworks that will illuminate the night skies over Dubai Creek at 9pm will open the festivities, a pattern that will be followed daily with firework shows.

Eid in Dubai, organised by the Dubai Events and Promotions Establishment (DEPE), an agency of the Department of Economic Development, has been extended from the usual four days of festivities to more than 16 days following the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to help provide the ultimate unforgettable holiday experience for families.

Sheikh Mohammed has also given his blessings to an innovative initiative called ‘Dubai 24 Hours’, a non-stop shopping experience in selected malls during the ‘Eid in Dubai’ celebrations. Participating malls will make history by opening their doors for 24 hours every Thursday and Friday during the celebrations from October 18 to November 2.

Eid in Dubai will also provide customers with chances to win some fortunes. The DEPE, along with the Dubai Shopping Malls Group, will launch a promotion offering shoppers who spend Dh200 at participating malls the chance to enter in a raffle draw and win prizes up to a million dirhams. This is the first of its kind initiative and is already creating a lot of interest among the retailers.

A unique line-up of singers and artistes from across the globe, with performances that are as diverse as the cultural scene of the city’s society, will also add colour to the celebrations.

International singing star Enrique Iglesias, Arabic singers Rabih Saqer, Majed Al Mohandas, Molhem Zain, Fares Karam and Nahwa, and Indian artiste Shreya Ghoshal includes the performers in Dubai during this year’s festival.

Visitors to Dubai during the Eid Al Adha celebrations will be greeted with the traditional generosity of Emirati hospitality, with special tents set up at the Dubai International Airport, malls and main streets.

On the first day of Eid Al Adha, the DEPE will be offering Eid treats to people in mosques across Dubai.

Wonderful surprises will be awaiting 10 families arriving to Dubai to spend their Eid Al Adha holidays, as they will be chosen from Dubai International Airport arrivals and presented with Eid tokens, including shopping vouchers of Dh10,000. – Khaleej Times

Vettel-Alonso fight drives interest in Abu Dhabi GP

            Sebastian Vettel’s fight with Fernando Alonso for the Formula One title has led to an increase in interest in this year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, according to Yas Marina Circuit CEO Richard Cregan.

Three consecutive wins have seen the German Red Bull driver take the lead in the drivers’ standings, six points ahead of his Spanish counterpart with just four races to go.

The narrow gap at the top means that unlike 12 months ago the destination of the world title will not be known before the F1 circus arrives in the UAE capital on November 2.

“Personally, I think it’s great. We saw in last weekend’s race that the strategy was there from the beginning to ensure that Vettel won, and Webber was second, so another strong team performance as well as driver performance.

“For us it’s great. I think there’s going to be a very exciting end to the season and we’re looking forward to it,” Cregan told Sport360°. “I think when people start to see that it’s going to be a very close competition and drivers are fighting for a championship, I think that’s when it gets really exciting.”

The circuit’s CEO said ticket sales were slightly ahead of where they were this time last year. “I think the great thing is we have a lot of returning customers every year.

“This year is the same, but a great thing we have seen is more overseas customers buying. I think since the last two races we have seen a surge in ticket sales. It has helped us because they know they are in for a special weekend.”

But Cregan believes it is important the event maintains its local feel through projects such as the Yasalam programme. Promoting local motorsport is also high on the agenda, and Cregan is happy they are building a calendar of events to make use of the track year-round.

“We did experiment with having a lot of international races but we decided that we had to, if you like, step back on that strategy and use some of that funding to develop local motorsport.

“So, while still having international events like the Gulf 12-hour race, we have the GTs coming next year, we have Formula 3 coming, but we still have to concentrate on developing local motorsport because that’s what’s important and I still believe there are a lot of very competitive UAE national drivers out there.”

Cregan’s aim is to use the fledgling Middle East Drag Racing championship, as well as drifting events, to entice local drivers to the circuit. – Sport 360°

Al Ain & UAE star Abdulrahman pens Nike deal

            UAE playmaker Omar Abdulrahman had double cause for celebration after his country’s resounding 6-2 win over Bahrain on Tuesday night.

As just hours before netting the Whites’ final goal against their Gulf rivals, Sport360° can reveal the precocious Emirati put pen-to-paper on a “long-term” sponsorship deal with sports brand giants, Nike.

The lucrative deal underlines Abdulrahman’s burgeoning reputation both here in the UAE and throughout the Middle East and comes on the back of his impressive summer.

Dazzling displays for UAE’s Olympic side at London 2012 was soon followed by a two-week trial with English Premier League champions Manchester City.

Despite impressing City boss Roberto Mancini enough to be offered a permanent deal, Abdulrahman chose to pledge his immediate future to Pro League champions Al Ain as they plot AFC Champions League glory in 2013.

However, with City recently announcing their own six-year deal with Nike, beginning from the 2013-14 season, speculation will no doubt arise over a renewed bid for the starlet given that both will be backed by the same sponsor.

Abdulrahman’s link-up with Nike makes him the fourth UAE star to do so in recent months, following in the footsteps of his international skipper Ismail Mater (Al Wahda) and fellow team-mates Hamdan Al Kamali (Al Wahda) and Amer Abdulrahman (Bani Yas).

The deal undoubtedly strengthens Abdulrahman’s position of one of the leading lights of Gulf football with many commentators predicting a bright future in the game for 21-year-old.

In joining Nike’s stable of the Emirates biggest and brightest talent, Abdulrahman will be seen strutting his stuff in Nike’s Mercurial boots - the same make worn by Real Madrid and Portugal superstar Cristiano Ronaldo.

Carry on impressing as he has done for both club and country in recent month and it won't be just boots Abdulrahman has in common with Ronaldo. – Sport 360°

UAE team in Pakistan to facilitate Malala transfer

            A special UAE medical mission arrived in Pakistan yesterday to evaluate Malala Yousafzai's injuries and to facilitate her safe transfer to a medical facility outside of Pakistan.

Malala received severe injuries from an assassination attempt last week in the Swat Valley.

UAE officials have been working closely with Pakistani authorities to arrange for the specialised care and Malala's transfer is being coordinated closely between the two Governments.

            "The attempt on Malala's life was not only an attack on a defenceless child, it was an attack on her and every girl's right to a future unlimited by prejudice and oppression. Her assailants must be universally denounced and brought to justice. Malala bravely confronted extremists in their attempts to ban girls from attending school. We must all stand with Malala in promoting tolerance and respect," said General His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces. – Emirates News Agency, WAM


Abu Dhabi Fund to provide Dh 26 million to fill deficit in Djibouti's budget

            Abu Dhabi Fund for Development has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Republic of Djibouti for supporting latter treasury deficit in the budget through providing a grant with a total value of approximately Dh 26 million.

The MoU was signed by Mohammed Saif Al Suwaidi, Acting Director General of Abu Dhabi Fund for Development and Elias Mousa Doualeh, Minister of Economy and Finance and in charge of industry and planning for the Republic of Djibouti.

Commenting on the event, Acting Director General of the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development said: "This MoU comes in implementing of the directives of the leadership of the UAE to support the socio-economic development in the Republic of Djibouti, which suffers from difficult economic conditions and to help them to overcome those circumstances".

He added: "Fund's financial contribution is aimed at supporting Djibouti budget deficit, due to the drought in the African region, which led to higher energy prices, fuel and food, and thus resulted in worsening the economic situation and overloaded the state treasury with additional burdens." On the other hand, the Minister of Economy and Finance of Djibouti praised the initiative of the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development to support and enhance the development process in Djibouti, and added that the Djiboutian government appreciates the efforts of Abu Dhabi Government in the field of humanitarian assistance in developing countries.

"The grant will be used to meet the state treasury deficit in the budget and improve the difficult economic conditions," he added.

It is worth mentioning that previously Abu Dhabi Fund for Development has funded several developmental projects in different sectors in the Republic of Djibouti with a total value of approximately Dh 100 million. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

Gargash heads UAE team to FM meet

            The Deputy Kuwaiti Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Sabah Al Khalid Al Sabah, on Sunday inaugurated the preparatory meeting of the Foreign Ministers ahead of the Asian Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) Summit, to be held in Kuwait from Oct.16-17.

Dr Anwar Mohammed Gargash, State Minister for Foreign Affairs, led the UAE delegation to the meetings on Saturday. The final communiqué includes 22 articles on the economic cooperation among the Asian countries.

The UAE minister thanked Kuwait for hosting the forum, lauding the initiative of Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmed Al Jaber Al Sabah, Emir of Kuwait, for inviting the leaders to attend the first forum. “It reflects the keenness of Kuwait on boosting the co-operation among the Asian countries.” He also thanked the Kingdom of Thailand, general co-ordinator of the forum, for its efforts. Gargash welcomed the joining of Afghanistan to the forum. He added that the membership has so far reached 32 states.

The UAE minister underlined that the summit would be convened amid rapid changes being experienced by the world, adding that “this requires concerted efforts to adopt firm strategies to further strengthen 20 cooperation fields endorsed by the member states.” He added that the UAE has given the issues of international security and peace a maximum priority in the light of its respect to the United Nations convention and international law provisions, especially on respect of sovereignty of countries, non-interference in the internal affairs, non-use of violence or threat, and resort to the amicable means to settle the conflicts.

Gargash added that “this firm political strategic method of the UAE is not confined to the bilateral and regional relations, but also reflects it approach in tackling the whole issues.” He said that the UAE cares about the issues of renewable energy to provide sources of sustainable and clean energy, citing that Irena has been endorsed as an observer in the UN. Gargash called on those who did not yet join the Irena to do so. Gargash said the UAE hosted early this year the World Future Energy Summit.

He added that the UAE welcomes the resolutions of (Rio + 20) Conference held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, last June.

Gargash called for expansion of inter trade, opening of markets and exploiting investment opportunities and increasing the economic growth rates among the member states to boost the economic competitive capacities in the world markets.

He hoped the forum would have good impact on the cultural communication among people to encourage the culture of tolerance and dialogue. He disclosed the UAE would host the third meeting of the cultural cooperation this year.

The Kuwait Deputy Prime Minister stressed the keenness of Kuwait on supporting the development in Asia through financing of different development projects through the Kuwait Fund for Economic Development in cooperation with the Asian governments. He added the total volume of Kuwait grants and development assistance stood at about US$5.5 billion. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

The UAE stands on a firm foundation of national progress

At the beginning of the month, opportunists sought to mislead the UK media and public opinion by making ridiculous claims that Emiratis have been smothered in a climate of oppression and injustice. In an article in The Guardian, a leader of Al Islah, an Islamist organisation tied to the Muslim Brotherhood, claimed that an environment of fear has overtaken Emiratis in the UAE, alleging that some 60 members of the group arrested this summer have been tortured, and positing that Al Islah is a reformer in the UAE. But the claims are unconvincing, if not preposterous.

It does not need to be said that the people of the UAE are overwhelmingly satisfied with their lives and with their leaders. Indeed, the country stands today as a model of development and leadership that Arabs across the region want to emulate and learn from. Emiratis, living in a difficult neighbourhood, have enjoyed a level of stability and rising standards of living that are the envy of many. Indeed, we truly count our blessings.

An international survey released this year shows that more than 91 per cent of UAE citizens are, in fact, satisfied with the direction of our young nation; that is higher than in European nations such as Germany (88 per cent), the United Kingdom (87 per cent), France (76 per cent) and Italy (64 per cent).

People in the UAE know that while other governments in the region such as Iraq under Saddam Hussein, Libya under Muammar Qaddafi and Syria under the Assads squandered their wealth on military hardware, ill-advised foreign adventures and destabilising other countries, UAE leaders were investing in the modernisation of the state and in the welfare of their people.

By many accounts, the UAE offers a quality of life that is among the best in the Middle East and North Africa region. We have security, a rapidly growing economy; the electricity never goes out and we have rapidly rising life expectancy.

Even with the onslaught of the global financial crisis, prudent policies have allowed the United Arab Emirates to withstand the challenges of crisis and enabled the country to progress, with determination, self confidence and a unity of purpose.

That is why groups such as Al Islah have simply not managed to build a real following in the decades they have been around.

The Arab Spring has presented an altogether new challenge, as political players across the Gulf have become more active. The exploitation of western sympathy for Arab Spring revolutions has been tempting for marginal elements in the Emirates, including members of Al Islah.

Where once they presented themselves as a purely religious organisation, suddenly they have become political. Where once they proudly discussed their connection to the Muslim Brotherhood, today they claim no such tie exists.

Everyone knows, of course, that the narrative employed by such fringe elements does not correspond to the reality in the country. They have a pernicious agenda that has nothing to do with the advocacy of democracy and human rights, their claimed objectives. Rather, their intentions appear to be guided by allegiance to a foreign organisation in Egypt, and ultimately the destruction of rule here in the UAE.

But there is a clear reason that they have not succeeded: the people are not listening to them. They know that the economic factors that brought about the North African uprisings are not present in the UAE. There is no "religious problem" in the country either: the UAE is a deeply Arab and Muslim nation. The country's leaders and citizens do not need anyone to teach them lessons about piety and faith.

And yet, we celebrate the diversity in our midst: even as Al Islah members decried the existence of churches on our soil, this month the nation celebrated the appointment of the first woman Anglican pastor in the Middle East. There are numerous churches and temples in the country, and no one has any problems with their existence, except for members of Al Islah.

Indeed, the UAE has been a factor of peace, stability and progress in the region and in the world. It has been a steady partner with the West and the whole international community in safeguarding global security. The country's relationship with the United Kingdom, and the West in general, has always been based on mutual respect and common interests.

Yet the complacency, not to say the complicity, of some in the West regarding groups such as Al Islah has been disturbing to Emiratis. At the end of day, who really benefits from exporting subversive activities to the Gulf region?

Are western economic or strategic interests served by foreign-inspired plots that aim to disrupt the stability and security of the UAE and the Gulf region as a whole? Is the region, which holds up the UAE as a model, served by them? Are women, who have gained markedly, or our next generation of children served by them?

The recent arrests have raised many questions, all of which will be answered when the men appear in court in the coming months. At the end of the day, the peoples of the UAE and the Gulf region cannot be expected to stand still when their national security is at stake. They have the right and obligation to uphold the rule of law and heed their national security imperatives.

There is no reason today why certain quarters in the United Kingdom or elsewhere in the West would give support to the dubious designs of opportunists from any camp. Moral principles and common wisdom should dictate supporting the true forces of progress, stability and freedom. Dr Salem Humaid is an Emirati writer – The National

Abu Dhabi's GDP grows 6.8 percent in real terms in 2011: SCAD

            Statistics Centre - Abu Dhabi (SCAD) released yesterday preliminary data that Abu Dhabi GDP at constant prices grew from Dh 567.8 billion in 2007 to Dh 606.6 billion in 2011, achieving an annual growth rate of 6.8 percent.

These results demonstrate that the emirate's economy has bounced to levels above those that dominated prior to the global financial crisis, giving it a huge competitive advantage and boosting its appeal to local and foreign investors.

The report shows the first figures of the GDP at constant prices, along with the key developments in Abu Dhabi economy over the past few years. These are the first detailed figures confirming that the Emirate's economy has evidently overcome the repercussions of the global financial crises, as detailed data point to significant growth in real terms across all activities and sectors, both oil and non-oil. Growth in the GDP at constant prices during 2011 surpassed all the forecasts and estimates made by local and international parties.

Statistics Centre - Abu Dhabi had announced in August the GDP at current prices, which refers to the value of total economic output measured in prevailing in the market prices. Abu Dhabi's GDP's at current prices for 2011 amounted to Dh 806 billion, marking an annual growth of 29.9 percent. However, market prices are prone to constant upward and downward changes. Therefore, the GDP in real terms does not reflect actual economic developments, necessitating the use of GDP at constant or real prices, which adjust nominal value for price changes and, accordingly, reflects the actual developments in output of goods and services, excluding any impact of price changes.

According to SCAD, Abu Dhabi's GDP at constant prices (for the base year 2007) grew by 63 percent over the past decade, rising from Dh 372.1 billion in 2001 to Dh 606.6 billion in 2011. The economic performance in the course of the past ten years tells the success story of Abu Dhabi in harnessing natural resources to serve a sustainable development process and ensure that the people enjoy one of the highest living standards in the world.

The per capita GDP has increased proportionally with this development, reaching Dh 286,000 in 2011 (at constant prices for the base year 2007), the second highest GDP per capita in the world.

However, this economic success story is only one aspect of providing a decent living for citizens and expatriates, which would not have been possible without the progress that has been achieved in other walks of life. This achievement can be attributed to the economic policies pursued by the Emirate, which aim to diversify sources of income by diversifying the economic base. Non-oil sectors now contribute the largest share of the GDP.

The impressive economic growth experienced by the Emirate of Abu Dhabi in recent years has been characterised by the rapid growth of the non-oil economy, with the pace of moving away from dependence on oil being the fastest in the region.

According to SCAD, this robust growth at constant prices presents unequivocal proof that the Emirate of Abu Dhabi has fully recovered from the impacts of the global economic crisis, with data indicating record net gains of Dh 38.78 billion (at 2007 price) during the year 2011, which saw the GDP at constant prices grow to Dh 606.06 billion, up from Dh 567.8 billion in 2010. This remarkable growth was also manifest in the real GDP per capita, which advanced in 2011 to Dh 286,000 at constant 2007prices.

Supported by its remarkable resilience, huge financial surpluses, strong growth in non-oil sectors and activities, high oil prices, along with several other factors, the economy of the emirate was fast to overcome the consequences of the global financial crisis, regain stability and, interestingly, achieve some benefits from the crisis. For instance, inflation retreated to only 1.9 percent during 2011. In addition, the crisis gave impetus to non-oil activities, which achieved a strong growth rate during 2011.

A thorough review of the economy of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi would confirm that it has made vast strides and achieved a high level of development and diversity in a short span of time, making continuous gains under a wise management that learns from past experience in its endeavour to take best advantage of available opportunities.

This is reflected in the fast-paced economic progress the Emirate has experienced over the past years, in the course of which major projects were undertaken, translating a practical vision and an insightful outlook on the future. This impressive growth enhanced the attractiveness of the national economy to investors worldwide and established the Emirate as a hub for concluding major business deals.

In recent years Abu Dhabi economy has advanced in leaps and bounds towards the establishment of a solid infrastructure, founded on economic diversity and comprehensive development. It has emerged as the most dynamic economy in the region, breaking through from an economy depending almost entirely on public spending, which is directly affected by fluctuating oil revenues, to a diversified economy that has evolved into regional financial, commercial and tourist centre.

Despite the importance of oil to the economy of Abu Dhabi, the Emirate pursues an ambitious strategy to expand and diversify the economy in order to fortify it against volatile oil prices. In this regard, it can be seen from the figures announced by SCAD that oil accounted for only 52.4 percent of Abu Dhabi GDP in 2011 at 2007 prices, confirming that the Emirate's plans to expand the economic base and diversify the sources of income are progressing successfully, in line with the government's efforts to achieve the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030.

On the other hand, the figures released by SCAD yesterday show that non-oil activities contributed approximately 47.6 percent of the emirate's real GDP in 2011, achieving a relatively high real growth rate of 4.1 percent at constant prices for the base year 2007.

A glance at historical trends shows that the output of non-oil activities at constant prices (base year 2007) has doubled 2.07 times over the past decade, growing from Dh 139844 million in 2001 to Dh 288845 million in 2011, making such activities a major contributor to the Emirate's economy. The aforesaid developments in the real output of non-oil sectors attest to the success of the Emirate's programs to expand the economic base and diversify the sources of income.

In parallel with this, the private sector has achieved impressive growth and gained numerous competitive advantages in the fields of production and exports, enabling it to play a more effective future role in facing up to the economic uncertainty on the horizon, both regionally and internationally.

Therefore, particular attention is paid to empowering the private sector and expanding its role in the diversification process to create the investment climate conducive economic development.

SCAD's recently released preliminary data on the GDP of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi at constant prices (base year 2007) indicate that most economic activities and sectors achieved positive growth in real terms at varying degrees in 2011, most notably the transport, storage and communications activity, which grew by 12.5 percent, restaurants and hotels (up 11.4 percent), real estate (up 10.9 percent), manufacturing (up 9.8 percent), mining and quarrying (up 9.4 percent), health and social services (up 7.5 percent) and education (up 5.2 percent). Real growth for other non-oil activities ranged from 1.0 percent for construction to 3.5 percent for wholesale and retail trade.

During the past three years prices in the Emirate Abu Dhabi have been markedly stable. Annual inflation remained below 3.1 percent. The Emirate's inflation rate had hit an all-time high of 14.9 percent in 2008, but bounced to the lowest level ever (0.8 percent) in the following year, responding to a set of direct measures taken by the Government of Abu Dhabi stabilise prices on the one hand, and also as one of the favourable outcomes of the global financial crisis. In 2011 the inflation stood at 1.9 per cent. – Emirates News Agency, WAM


Dana Gas, Crescent Petroleum Kurdistan Production Reaches 80,000 barrels per day on 4th Anniversary

            Dana Gas and Crescent Petroleum have announced that the total production in their gas operations in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq has reached 80,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day at the 4th anniversary of production.

Total investment to date is close to US$1 billion and total cumulative petroleum production to date has exceeded 67 million barrels of oil equivalent, making it the largest by the private sector in Iraq's oil and gas sector.

The daily production includes 340 million cubic feet of gas per day and 15,000 barrels per day of condensate liquids, and there are plans for further expansion. In total, over 279 billion cubic feet of gas and 13 million barrels of condensate liquids have been produced by the companies since the start of production in October 2008, with the gas supply to local power stations enabling 1,750 MW of new electricity supply locally.

This has ensured almost continuous power supply for 4 million people in the Kurdistan Region, in contrast to the electricity crisis in other parts of Iraq, and provided US$5.4 billion of savings in fuel costs for the government, with annual savings of US$2.5 billion going forward and major environmental benefits in cutting greenhouse gas emissions while transforming and energising the economic and social development of the entire region at the same time.

The project partners had by the end of September 2012 invested a total of US$975 million under contracts signed with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) for the Khor Mor and Chemchemal blocks in April 2007. Major achievements of the project so far include: installing a 180km gas pipeline across challenging mountainous terrain that required the clearing of minefields; first gas production after only 16 months; drilling successfully to tertiary reservoir formations at depths of 2,300 metres, and importing and installing over 64,000 tonnes of equipment in over 3,500 truck-loads, with pipe material supplied from China and Thailand, and the state-of-the-art gas processing plant imported from the USA.

During the project's construction phase, work opportunities were provided for over 2,000 Iraqi workers from all ethnic groups and sects, supported by expatriate workers from over 20 nationalities in the region and worldwide. The companies have successfully implemented a nationalisation programme, and already achieved the target of 80 per cent local staff ratio in their operations by the end of 2011, while currently implementing a major training programme for local staff.

Crescent Petroleum and Dana Gas have also implemented a corporate social responsibility programme to support the local communities, including providing school supplies, drinking water treatment, generators and fuel enabling 24 hour electricity for the local villages, mobile medical units, and youth sports facilities. These initiatives are assisting the local communities in improving their standard of living, health, well-being, security and stability and the development of human capital in the Kurdistan Region. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

Gitex Technology Week takes off

            The 32nd edition of Gitex Technology Week 2012 was opened in Dubai on Sunday by Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Executive Council for Dubai Government, under the theme, “Where Technology Means Business”.

And Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, toured the exhibition halls along with Sheikh Maktoum Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum and top government officials as well as industry professionals.

The show, being held at the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC), saw a big number of eServices across government entities being launched.

Gitex, widely regarded as one of the world’s top three international ICT events, follows the highly successful consumer electronics retail show, Gitex Shopper, which experienced record-breaking attendance and sale revenue this year.

Thousands of trade and business visitors streamed through DWTC’s doors within the first hours of what is expected to be Gitex’s most globally influential edition yet. Over 130,000 industry professionals and more than 3,500 suppliers from 144 countries across five continents are expected throughout the week. More than half of the total exhibiting companies are international, with countries like Algeria, Denmark, Malaysia and New Zealand debuting at the show. This year Gitex’s focus extends to Africa and it has seen an increase in exhibitors from African countries including Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Nigeria and South Africa, according to organisers.

Over 80 per cent of leading global ICT brands, featuring C-level executives representing ICT budgets of over US$50 billion, are attending Gitex this year. The exhibitors and speakers’ list is packed with industry heavyweights such as Cisco, Dell, Du, Etisalat, Facebook, Google, Hewlett Packard, Huawei, Kaspersky, Microsoft, Nokia, Oracle, RIM, Samsung, SAP and Symantec. Notable new exhibitors include Chinese telecommunications equipment company ZTE, Saudi Telecom Company, Sage, Vocalcom and African IT distributors Mitsumi.

Helal Saeed Al Marri, Chief Executive Officer, Dubai World Trade Centre, said: “Gitex is the region’s unrivalled platform for industry players to capitalise on the steady growth of the region’s ICT market as global and regional investors look to the lucrative emerging markets such as the Middle East Africa (MEA) for business and opportunities.”

While the first day witnessed launching [of services] across the government entities, Gitex will tackle the latest developments and threats posed in the field of cyber security, including recent energy sector attacks in the region, wireless security and mobility threats.

The Mobile Apps & Content World is set for a particularly busy week, and is forecast to grow by 40 per cent this year. In addition to networking with the top regional and international industry brands, visitors have access to upcoming technologies including mobile wallets and ticketing, smart TVs, 4G enabled phones, new-to-market tablets and much more.

Top industry speakers from BlackBerry, Etisalat, Facebook, Gemalto, Microsoft, Nokia, SAP and many more are set to deliver talks on developments in mobile apps. John E. Davies, Vice President, Intel World Ahead Programme, Intel Corporation, will discuss mobile content and the factors that are driving Arabic content throughout the Middle East. – Gulf News

Thuraya launches mobile satellite industry's fastest handheld hotspot

            Industry leading Mobile Satellite Services operator, Thuraya Telecommunications Company yesterday announced the launch of its Thuraya XT-Hotspot product.

XT-Hotspot, which is a pocket-size router will create a Wi-Fi zone for multiple users to connect smartphones, laptops, and tablets to the internet over Thuraya's mobile satellite network with the fastest satellite data speeds on a handheld of up to 60 kbps in the most remote of areas.

Thuraya's Vice President of Marketing, T. Sanford Jewett said "Thuraya is busy expanding our product line with innovative products to provide our users with convenient and practical mobile communication solutions. The XT-Hotspot is yet another example of Thuraya's commitment to delivering simple and cost-effective communication tools that enhance the value of our satellite services."  – Emirates News Agency, WAM


Windows 8 App debuts at Gitex 2012 ahead of Windows 8 general availability on October 26

            More than 138,000 visitors to Gitex, the foremost technology show in the region, will have a seamless high-tech Gitex experience this year thanks to the collaboration between Microsoft, LINK Development and The Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC), organisers of Gitex Technology Week 2012.

Collaboration between the three corporations, each an industry leader, led to showcasing the most trending application built on Microsoft technology, even before the official launch of Windows 8 towards the end of October. The app will provide show visitors an easy navigation path through different parts of GITEX.

This new world premier for Dubai and the region will give visitors an exclusive sneak preview and experience of the Windows 8 app for Gitex before the official launch of Windows 8 later this month. Visitors to the technology gala will be greeted with the app and guided through it.

LINK Development, a leading provider of integrated software solutions across the Middle-East, in collaboration with Microsoft, has developed a new Windows 8 mobile application exclusively for Gitex to bring the event to life through technology and to give thousands of international, regional and local visitors to the premier ICT show in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia (MEASA), a unique way of staying in touch with the latest happenings, announcements and an easy way to find the location of exhibitors stands at the five-day event. This LINK Development Windows 8 app will bring a distinctive experience to GITEX for the first time in the Middle East.

Designed especially for GITEX Technology Week, which began yesterday (14th of October), the new application aims to provide a new experience to visitors by providing them in-depth prior information about more than 3,500 individual exhibitors from 77 countries and their products and services. Additionally, the visitors will have access to the agenda of the conferences and events throughout the week, thus bringing all the information together at a click of a button. This fast and fluid Gitex app features a high-end professional Windows 8 application design with a 'par excellence' usage of the screen, a great touch experience and pinch-to-zoom-in options. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

Etisalat begins Gitex at speed of 300Mbps

            Etisalat's customers will become the first in the Middle East to enjoy transformational Internet speeds in their homes as Etisalat announces launch of 300Mbps speeds, allowing superfast access to content, gaming, video streaming, social media, downloads and much more.

As part of Etisalat's eLife double play and triple play service, Etisalat is set to launch the blazing, 10 times faster Internet speeds for residential customers by end of October 2012.

            As of yesterday, eLife service now offers up to 100Mbps home broadband double or triple play options for customers to enjoy Internet, TV and fixed-line services on a single, convenient account. eLife 100Mbps triple play subscription (Internet, TV and fixed-line) is available to customers at the market's best-in-value rate.

Since launch of eLife services, number of customers subscribed to the service has reached half a million. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

Emirates ID announces possession of world's largest number of civil integrated biometrics

            Emirates Identity Authority has announced the possession of the world's largest database of civil integrated biometrics within the UAE population register system with a total of around 103 million decimal and rounded fingerprints as well as the prints of the palm, hand and hand side and over 15 million facial prints and digital signatures, until mid of 11th October.

On the sidelines of its participation in GITEX Technology Week 2012, which kicked off in Dubai world Trade Centre yesterday, the Emirates ID announced that it had submitted an official application to the World Record Academy to register its attempt to achieve a record, the first of its kind in the world, that would bring it new international recognition of the unprecedented figure it achieved.

"This achievement is one of the fruits that gained from UAE leaders' prudent decision to create Emirates Identity Authority that aimed at developing an advanced system to manage the population register. This is contributing to strengthening national and individual security in the State, as well as supporting the comprehensive development programs in the country," Dr. Engineer Ali Mohamed Al Khouri, Director General of Emirates ID said.

The record made by the Emirates Identity Authority, is a new addition to the globe achievements in various fields that confirms the clear and future vision of the leadership of the State that ensures the success of this national and strategic project serving the supreme national objectives and the interests of the nation, he added.

He confirmed that Emirates Identity Authority after its founding in 2004 has moved forward toward completing a world class and sophisticated population register system. This system provides unique identification and secured verification for every citizen or resident in UAE by giving them a unique personal numbers linked to his/her biometric characteristics such as fingerprints.

Emirates ID developed its strategic plan by the end of 2009, thereby contributing to doubling the number of population registers and hence the fingerprints of individuals over the past three years by 6 times up to the end of last September to a total of around 102 million civil integrated fingerprints record up to last September 2012, compared to around 14 million fingerprints record in the same period of 2009. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

RTA rolls out ‘smart taxi’ pilot project

            Taxi passengers may soon be able to book movie tickets, check in for a flight or check out the latest offers and deals on the go if Dubai Taxi Corporation’s smart taxi pilot project is successful.

Five of the high tech taxis are undergoing road trials. If successful, the system will go live across Dubai Taxis from 2013.

The smart taxis are equipped with interactive ‘infotainment’ LCDs that provide customers with access to the internet, important government services and smart advertisements.

“One of the key features of the smart taxi is ‘smart advertising’. The system will change the advertisement depending on the locations. For example, if the taxi is passing by Wild Wadi, it will advertise the promotions that are going on at that time.

“Similarly, it will have advertisements about other promotions and deals,” said Eng Yousuf Al Ali, CEO of Dubai Taxi Corporation.

He added that if the trial is successful more taxis will be launched next year.

We are conducting the trial now with different technology available as well as the sources of power that could be used. We will also look at the feedback that we get from customers through the application that will be available on the LCD,” he said.

The infotainment touch-enabled LCD will also have applications that allow customers to pay utility bills, book cinema tickets, access tourism information, and have tickers running at the bottom of the screen with breaking news.

The new taxis will also have smart digital meters that will calculate fares based on accurate GPS fed distance measurements, while also having new LED taxi lights on top, which will also run useful information for the public.

The ‘smart taxi’ was launched on Sunday during Gitex Technology Week 2012, which was inaugurated by Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Executive Council.

The DTC, which is a subsidiary of the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), also announced on Sunday that the 20 ‘VIPTaxis’, it launched in August, will also be available now on call 24/7 on 042080808 with a starting fare of Dh50. – Gulf News

Nol-enabled SIM cards to be available early next year

            Special Nol-enabled SIM cards that are required to make public transport payments using smartphones will be available early next year, a senior Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) official told Gulf News.

RTA yesterday announced that commuters using silver NOL cards will be able to pay fares using their smart phones from early next year.

The service will be available for commuters using Near Field TechNology (NFC) equipped-handsets, provided they have a Nol-enabled SIM card.

“We are working closely with telecom providers Etisalat and du to make sure the SIM cards are available in the market as soon as possible,” said Mohammad Yousuf Al Mudharreb, Director of Unified Automated Fare Collection Department at RTA.

To avail the mobile payment facility a commuter has to replace his current SIM with the Nol-enable SIM card, which has an application and an e-purse.

Balance in the e-purse can be credited either online at www.nol.ae or through ticket counters at Metro stations.

“All Nol-enabled SIM users will have an application in their Smartphone through which they can check their balance, check previous transactions as well as their card numbers,” informed Al Mudharreb.

The NFC is currently available on a selected few smart phones like Samsung Galaxy S3, Blackberry etc.

He added that beginning 2013, the telecom service providers will publish a list of compatible handsets.

NFC is a set of standards for smartphones to establish radio communication with each other by touching them together or bringing them into close proximity. – Gulf News

Dubai visa services now on smartphones

            The General Directorate for Residency and Foreigner Affairs (GDRFA) in Dubai has launched a new Smartphone application that allows residents to make queries on visa issues.

The free app will allow users to apply for visa renewals, access M-Visa services, and elicit answers for their queries on general visa issues.

The GDRFA introduced its new e-service during the 32nd edition of Gitex Technology Week which kicked off yesterday.

Major General Mohammad Ahmad Al Merri, director general of GDRFA, told Gulf News that the new service is meant to speed up transactions for the issuance of different kinds of visas and ease procedures. “The new e-services of the GDRFA will offer the public an easy access to our services and also make it easier for them to apply for different kinds of visas,” he said.

“The public can reach many of our services through our Smartphone app which includes applying for visas, contacting Amer mobile vans, applying for visas,” he said.

The Amer van is a mobile office which was introduced last year. It has added several new services since its inception.

“Amer van, which renders most of the services given by the GDRFA to its customers, is a vehicle dispatched to the doorstep upon the request of a customer or company. The van is fitted with the necessary equipment which can process and complete the GDRFA’s transactions fast,” Major General Al Merri said. “These mobile services will enable our customers in any place in the world to be provided with better and fast services by using the latest technology,” he added.

The GDRFA app allows users to apply for M-Visa services in which a customer’s mobile phone becomes an enabling device to replace the original visa.

“The sponsor will be informed immediately after M-Visa is issued from GDRFA through mobile phones in an SMS, Major General Al Merri said. “Sponsors will receive two different text messages: one of them contains the visitor’s name with a visa number and the second message includes the image of an encoded barcode which is compatible to the visa.”

These messages will be sent to visitors irrespective of their country or mobile network.

The employee to whom a visa is issued in such manner must display the text message stating his visa status to the visa officer upon arrival at the Dubai International Airport. The visa officer scans the barcode on the cellphone to track the original visa which is then printed out.

A special counter has been designated at the airport to offer this service.

Major General Al Merri said: “The M-Visa service will shorten the passport control entry process and will save visitors’ time. M-Visa service is valid for visitors who are coming across through Dubai International Airport only,” he said.

Customers will also be able to enquire about the status of their transactions through mobile phones thanks to the new app.

A smart TV application allowing the public to enquire about all visa and residency-related issues around the clock is also set to be launched soon.

The special TV-based service can be accessed at home or at the office.

Major General Al Merri said the smart TV application also allows users to obtain information about the department’s transactions and offers users all needed information related to residency and visa laws. “By using the smart TV application, the public can use the social media tools of the department,” he said. – Gulf News

It’s the end of speculators in UAE real estate market

   Is it the end of speculators and over-leveraging in the UAE real estate market?

If Tamweel, the Islamic home mortgage company, figures are to be relied on then 90 per cent of home buyers in the UAE are end-users.

The Dubai Financial Market-listed company’s findings are based on analysis of home finance extended by it between January 2011 and June 2012.

Although average finance-to-value ratio stood at 80 per cent in 2008, Tamweel says the ratio currently stands at 75 per cent, indicating end-users are seeking to keep their leveraging to minimum.

“The past 18 months have witnessed a profound shift in the UAE home finance sector,” said Varun Sood, Acting Chief Executive Officer, Tamweel.

“Customers now are very savvy and will have thoroughly done their homework on both the property and the home finance product. Importantly, customers are no longer seeking to over-leverage themselves, and are instead fully prepared for significant equity participation, which is a very healthy characteristic of the UAE home finance sector today.”

However, Complete Limited, a global property firm that manages over 800 properties across 13 global markets, says loan-to-value ratio stood at around 70 per cent across the board, but raised for good cases. In the United States of America, 60 per cent is most likely to be the maximum.

The company claimed that local and international banks were ready to lend to investors from the Middle East who have a “good stable” income, thanks to the region’s perception as “safe haven”.

Chris Allen, Head of Mortgages, Complete Ltd, Dubai, said: “For those investing and hoping for an increase in value over the next few years, fixed rate mortgages are very popular, knowing that the interest rate cannot move for the following five years and that the rental income covers the mortgage is a huge feel good position for most buyers.”

Last week, Emirates 24/7 reported that increasing mortgage availability and low interest rates are boosting sale of completed units in Dubai.

“Buying homes in UAE may just have gotten more easier. Since early this year several top banks have cut interest rates in a bid to attract the real estate mortgage loans and that has had a positive impact on the Dubai real estate market,” Juma Ahmed Majid Al Ghurair, Managing Director of Al Manal Development, had told this website.

Property transactions jumped 21 per cent to Dh63 billion in the first half of 2012 compared to the same period last year in Dubai.

However, in 2011, the Dubai Land Department reported transactions worth Dh143 billion, with 60 per cent of the total transactions done through mortgage. It said this indicates the “recovery of the property financing and the return of healthy activities.”

An NCB Capital report has revealed that the mortgage markets in the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council remains extremely underdeveloped by global standards.

In the UAE, it was only four per cent in 2005, but is estimated to have surged to around 14 per cent in 2009, while Kuwait and Qatar stood at around 14 and nine per cent, respectively. In Saudi Arabia, it is only around one to three per cent, while in Bahrain it is estimated at 4.5 per cent. – Emirates 24|7

Bank loans up 3.2% YoY in August

            Domestic credit by UAE banks grew by around 3.2 per cent YoY in August although they were slightly down compared to the previous month.

Deposits with the banks recorded one of their biggest monthly increases of Dh13 billion in August after a big decline in June.

Figures by the Central Bank showed the surge in deposits boosted the combined assets of the country’s 23 national banks and 28 foreign units by around Dhnine billion in August following a drop in July.

From around Dh1,056.8 billion in August 2011, total loans provided by the 51 banks operating in the second largest Arab economy grew to nearly Dh1,090.5 billion, an increase of about 3.2 per cent YoY, the report showed.

Lending also was up by around 1.8 per cent in the first eight months of 2012 but edged down by nearly 0.1 per cent in August compared with July.

Personal loans grew by nearly 3.6 per cent in the first eight months of 2012 and by 0.3 per cent over July.

Deposits climbed to one of their highest levels of around Dh1,127.1 billion at the end of August from Dh1,114.9 billion at the end of July after declining by around Dh18 billion in June, the Central Bank said in its latest monthly report.

The surge in deposits boosted the banks’ combined assets to Dh1,733.8 billion at the end of August from Dh1,724.6 billion at the end of July, maintaining their position as having the largest financial base in the Arab banking sector.

The report showed UAE banks are pushing ahead with a provisioning drive to consolidate their position, allocating around Dh900 million for non-performing loans (NPL) provisions in August. This boosted the total loan loss provisions taken by the banks to a record Dh64.2 billion, an increase of Dh8.9 billion in the first eight months.

With their collective capital standing at Dh277.9 billion at the end of August, the largest in the Arab banking sector, the combined capital adequacy ratio of UAE banks stood at as high as 20.8 per cent at the end of June, according to the Central Bank which put Tier 1 adequacy at 16.8 per cent. – Emirates 24|7

Abu Dhabi Film Festival 2012: Tickets sold out for Emirati student Short Narrative competition

            There was a queue of people waiting for standby tickets for the Emirati student Short Narrative competition. Luckily us filmmakers who had a movie screening, had a few reserved tickets so we were able to get ourselves and our actors in!

Thank goodness our movie is a two-man team production so the few tickets given to us meant we didn’t have to wait and squeeze in seconds before the screening started.

There were 16 movies screening, Mahyas directed by Lamya Al Mualla is our movie, a silent, black-and-white comedy. We were happy to see it got the attention of the audience, who found it funny and we got positive comments about it.

The other 15 movies seemed to us to have a pattern: all 16 movies were either narrated or silent, yet even though they all had those similar features, each film had its own different character that made it different to the others. The movies I enjoyed and felt really showed emotion and passion where Auto pilot directed by Najiha Hana Zaimuddin and The Settler directed by Maram Ashour.

Another film that left most of the Gulf and Arab audience in shock and speechless for addressing a sensitive and strong topic was 3aib whose director is “anonymous” most likely because the subject of the story defied both Arab tradition and religion, but most likely will push the door for taboo topics a little more open. – The National

Christo explains avant-garde vision in heart of UAE Empty Quarter

What happens when one of the world’s foremost experimental artists wants to create his greatest permanent work in the UAE’s most conservative region?

Christo Javacheff hopes to do just that, and explained his innovative vision to Al Gharbia residents last week.

"The worst thing," Christo told an Abu Dhabi audience last week, "is a work that makes people indifferent."

There's not much chance of that, based on a career that has given him single-name recognition as one of the world's most avant-garde artists.

Christo was the guy who wrapped Germany's Reichstag in fabric, who created a 40km-long fence made of sheets of white nylon running across the hills of California into the sea, and who created 7,500 bright-orange gateways in New York's Central Park.

And he wants the legacy project of his 50-plus year career to be The Mastaba, a mammoth trapezoid of oil barrels in the desert of the Empty Quarter that will stand higher than the biggest pyramid in Egypt.

Indifferent? That's hardly a likely scenario, as Christo discovered when he and his entourage ventured to the western region to explain his dream to the residents there.

Al Gharbia is, arguably, one of the UAE's most conservative regions and not usually associated with avant-garde artists who live in Manhattan lofts and talk about creating works where the human reaction is as much a part of the art as the physical structure.

What do you think, one Emirati man was asked after Christo had explained how 410,000 barrels would be fashioned into the biggest sculpture the world has ever seen.

"It's crazy," he said, smiling.

"But I think you have to have that to build something like this. I think it will be a good thing for the region."

There are plenty of reasons to be perplexed by modern art but for this project, one aspect in particular stands out: Christo isn't seeking anything from the locals for the substantial cost of building The Mastaba, other than four square kilometres in the dunes north of Hameem and the permission of the authorities.

Nearly as baffling is that while the UAE is now associated with a range of record-breaking constructions, it has been considered as a location for The Mastaba since the early 1970s, not long after the nation was created. Now, it seems, The Mastaba is an idea whose time has come. During a question-and-answer session after the showing of a documentary about Christo's work at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival on Friday, he predicted a completion date of 2015. A firm decision about the project is expected to be announced in a matter of months.

Back when The Mastaba was first conceived, Abu Dhabi was hardly on anyone's radar, let alone that of the art world's cultural elite. Christo and his wife and collaborator Jeanne-Claude first visited in 1979 and found the perfect site beside what was then an unmade track through the desert.

The Mastaba was pushed on to the back burner while they pursued other projects which made their name, including the Reichstag, wrapping the Pont Neuf bridge in Paris, surrounding 11 islands in Miami with pink floating fabric, and The Gates in New York.

But Christo and Jeanne-Claude revisited the UAE until her death in 2009. Since then he has returned several times, most recently this month when he met Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed, the Ruler's Representative in the Western Region, then lectured at universities and visited residents at Madinat Zayed, the nearest city.

At Khalifa University, he explained The Mastaba's provenance by showing how oil barrels had been one of his favourite media since the 1950s, most notably in 1962 when he built his own Iron Curtain, using 100 barrels to block a street in central Paris as a political statement against the construction of the Berlin Wall the year before. Critics described the ensuing traffic jam as the artwork, rather than the wall of barrels, which was removed after eight hours.

The artwork consisted of both the physical construction and the virtual one, involving the learning process required to achieve it and reaction of those who live in the intended location. For previous installations, he has faced death threats from outraged locals.

"Our projects are unique images. We'll never do another Gates, never surround another island. We know how to do it. That's the most important thing, that with each project, we don't know how to do it," he said.

"All our projects have a soft period when they exist only in drawings and sketches. Thousands of people try to help us and thousands of people try to stop us. You have 100,000 - a million - people thinking about a work of art that doesn't exist.

"It's why we don't do commissions, because the project creates the artwork.

"All these projects are totally useless, irrational and have no reason to exist. Nobody needs these projects."

So why Abu Dhabi?

"This isn't just anywhere. It's not like I'm closing my eyes and using my finger to choose Abu Dhabi. It was a matter of circumstance," Christo said.

"We tried Texas and never got permission."

It was the same with a sculpture park in the Netherlands.

"In 1972, we became friendly with the French ambassador to the United Nations. He said we should know about this country which has just become independent.

"Sheikh Zayed was very open and very visionary. But we knew almost nothing about Abu Dhabi.

"In 1974, there was an election and a new president of France, Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, who nominated our friend as Foreign Minister. We said, 'Now we need to go to Abu Dhabi'. He arranged it with the French ambassador to the UAE.

"All our projects rely on circumstances and luck. That's why this project is so honest, because it happened that way."

Mastaba is an Arabic word meaning a mud bench and dates to Egypt at the time of the pharaohs. Once Christo and Jeanne-Claude travelled to Abu Dhabi, they discovered some of the locals were familiar with the word.

He drew his first sketch of The Mastaba, Project For Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, in 1977, imagining what the landscape might look like. The couple visited two years later, ruling out a potential location on the Abu Dhabi-Al Ain Road as too populated, then chose the current site on the road to Hameem.

"There was almost no road. It was one track," he said.

They returned to New York carrying sand from the Abu Dhabi desert and, more importantly, a definite vision for The Mastaba.

All their other major works had always been ephemeral, with the Reichstag, Pont Neuf bridge, surrounded islands, California fence and The Gates in Central Park all removed after two weeks.

The Mastaba, however, will be permanent. That augurs well for the Western Region, which will benefit both from the construction phase and then as The Mastaba opens and draws observers.

If there's one thing Christo is capable of doing, it's attracting crowds. Five million people visited the Reichstag during the two weeks it was wrapped. Four million visited The Gates in Central Park over a similar span.

An economic analysis has been done by Christo's team, although not released, but they will be hoping The Mastaba emulates the fortunes of a similarly extravagant piece of artwork, the Eiffel Tower, which was valued this year as being worth more than Dh2 trillion to the French economy.

When Christo and his entourage travelled to Madinat Zayed last week to meet locals, they drove into the dunes for a meeting that seemed more of a photo op than consultation. For all that, there was genuine discussion.

"Why near Hameem?" one Emirati man asks Christo. "Why not near here? Can't we change the location? It's away from here. Not many people live near Hameem."

The unspoken part of the conversation is that this is the site he picked out with his late wife - and they slept there beside a scale model of The Mastaba to see what it was like in the dawn light. But he explains instead that the road to Hameem is being upgraded.

"You come to me tomorrow," the man responds. "We find location."

There is good-natured banter in which the man agrees not to be offended if Christo determines the dunes of Hameem are more attractive than the ones outside Madinat Zayed.

The group soon retire to the air-conditioned comforts of a majlis in town, where he used a lavishly produced hardcover copy of a book about The Mastaba to show a wider group of locals what is planned.

There's more discussion, especially about the orientation of The Mastaba in light of the prevailing sand drifts and the way its surroundings will remain completely natural.

"It's the wind," another man says, via an interpreter. "The sand will fill between the barrels. He's afraid that the project will be covered by sand, seemingly without appreciating that The Mastaba will be 150 metres tall, the equivalent of a 50-storey building.

"If you plant trees, it will be OK."

"No," Christo replies bluntly.

"No trees?"


The man who earlier described the project as crazy tells Christo: "We've never seen anything like this."

And Christo responds: "Artists always do things that people have never seen." – The National

Big boost for UAE water polo

            Executive director of the UAE Swimming Association Ayman Saad says the recently concluded International Water Polo and Synchronised Swimming Championships at the Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Sports Complex has paved the way for introducing water polo to sports enthusiasts in the UAE.

The competition, which wrapped up on Saturday and featured teams from China, Kuwait, Greece and Egypt, was created as a test event for the upcoming 9th Asian Swimming Championships set to take place in Dubai next month.

Saad, however, revealed that bigger plans are in place for water polo to spread across the UAE and that it was important to showcase the sport to help attract athletes and fans in the country.

“We had organised synchronised swimming or water polo events in the UAE before, so it was a great test event for the Asian Championships next month. But it’s also a starting point that will help pave the way for water polo events especially,” Saad told Sport360°.

“This sport is new for us, and soon we will create training centres for water polo in several emirates. We are signing a good coach who will help with the system and structure, and we are also getting an excellent guest speaker from Serbia who will speak to the coaches during the Asian Championships.

“The plan is to have a decent water polo UAE national team within three years.”

Saad also hailed the organisation team, which he led, over the past few weeks to make the competition happen.

“From an organisational point of view, we did a fantastic job, and of course the venue helps a lot. Such a grand complex really makes my job very comfortable.

“I believe the water polo pool we have is even better than the one at the London venue where they played the Olympics. “We will promote the Asian Championships well. It’s important to advertise it.

“People now have developed the swimming culture, but still we need to push for synchro and water polo,” he added. The final medal tally in the synchronised swimming competition in Dubai was China: 4 gold, 1 silver; Greece: 3 gold, 4 silver; and Egypt: 2 silver, 5 bronze, while Greek club Olympiakos won the water polo competition with a 13 -2 win over a determined but outclassed Partizan Raiffeisen in the final. – Sport 360°

Mohammed bin Zayed praises Bill Gates' efforts and contributions in the humanitarian fields

            His Highness Gen. Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces attended a lecture delivered by Bill Gates, Co-chair of the Bill '&' Melinda Gates Foundation on "Catalytic philanthropy: changing the world through giving".

Sheikh Mohammed paid homage to the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan who had always been calling for helping people without looking to their religion, race or creed.

He recalled Sheikh Zayed's values and vision about the need to extend helping hands to the needy people wherever they are and regardless of their ethnic backgrounds or beliefs.

He also praised Bill Gates' efforts and contributions in the humanitarian fields.

"I have learnt that Bill Gates is active in three countries where polio is spreading. He pledged US$ 2 billion to fight that disease in Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan. It is a noble scheme and we are fortunate to take part in it. I thank him for this initiative and I appreciate his persistence in overcoming all difficulties to reach his noble goals," he said.

Bill Gates started his lecture by shedding light on his early days, saying computers were his passion and how he dreamt of programmes that would enable more interaction and creativity among people.

He said that in 2008, he decided to start a new full time career through Bill '&' Melinda Gates Foundation and then he and his friend Warren Buffett agreed that it was time to seriously engage in charity and humanitarian work.

Bill Gates said he was proud of the partnership made in 2011 with Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan to provide life saving vaccines to children in Afghanistan and Pakistan to prevent diseases, particularly polio which was responsible for rendering 300,000 children disabled every year until the world decided in 1988 to eradicate it.

"His Highness Sheikh Mohammed and I spoke yesterday about the need to continue this successful partnership. I am very excited that His Highness has shown commitment to this partnership." Bill Gates also cited statistics about polio fatalities among children less than five years of age.

"Our foundation spent US$15 billion to treat children in poor countries," he said.

He added that around 7 million children die every year because of cholera and malaria. He referred to the cooperation of the UAE and the USA in providing vaccines for the diseases which contributed remarkably in reducing fatalities.

He also revealed that the foundation spent US$ 500 million to improve agricultural systems and to help farmers beat poverty and hunger.

Bill Gates said it was important to nurture youth who are considered "the best investment for any country in the world." "Investment starts from one's own self. If you have a passion in a certain field, all you have to do is to develop your skills in that field to become an expert. You can also start a company like I did when I founded Microsoft which I was thinking of selling but I didn't." "You are lucky to have all these excellent universities in Abu Dhabi. It is important to support education to create jobs especially in the private sectors." He concluded by saying that he founded his foundation on the same principles of Microsoft.

"Our foundation has around 1,000 employees with specialised teams for each charity scheme."  – Emirates News Agency, WAM


Bill '&' Melinda Gates Foundation partners with the Aman Foundation to transform family health

            Arif Naqvi, Chairman of Aman Foundation, and Bill Gates, Co-chair of the Bill '&' Melinda Gates Foundation signed a five-year framework agreement on family planning and health in Pakistan. They will also explore further areas for collaboration to advance global health and development.

The Aman Foundation and the Bill '&' Melinda Gates Foundation believe that all people have the right to live a healthy and productive life. They recognise that achieving the Millennium Development Goals will require new partnerships, along with innovative funding mechanisms to encourage those with significant resources help the world's poorest people improve their lives.

Today, more than 200 million women in developing countries who do not want to get pregnant lack access to contraceptives, information, and services, which lead to complications in pregnancy and childbirth.

The maternal mortality rate in Pakistan is currently 276 per 100,000, and infant mortality at birth stands at 62 deaths per 1000 live births. In light of these worrying figures, both Aman and the Gates Foundation have pledged to invest US $5 million each to address the gaps in reproductive health and family planning services in Pakistan. Bill Gates, Co-chair of the Bill '&' Melinda Gates Foundation said: "This is a significant co-investment partnership for our foundation which leverages Aman's on-the-ground knowledge in family planning and maternal and child health in Pakistan. It is also an example of the kind of smart partnerships that hold huge promise for the future. Investments in family planning have a transformational effect on the health and wealth of nations. "Together both Foundations have pledged a historic philanthropic commitment.”We will benefit from mutual learning, co-funding opportunities and the expertise of both an international and local civil society. The Aman Foundation's innovative work in the health and education sectors will improve maternal and child health and family planning outcomes among women in under-served populations and specifically communities of Karachi" said Arif Naqvi, Chairman Aman Foundation.

Recently, Aman Foundation participated in the London Family Planning Summit which was organised by the Bill '&' Melinda Gates Foundation, the British Government and UNFPA. The aim of the Summit was to "mobilise global policy, financing, commodity and service delivery commitments to support the rights of an additional 120 million women and girls in the world's poorest countries to use contraceptive information, services and supplies, without coercion or discrimination, by 2020". At the Summit, Aman Foundation was recognised as the only private organisation from the developing world to have committed substantial funds towards this cause. The London Family Planning Summit 2012 and Karachi Declaration 2009 directly inform this partnership in the areas of family health.  – Emirates News Agency, WAM

UAE a great player in international relations, says Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed

            The UAE will host the regional organisations forum, which is the first event of its kind to be held in the region. The event brings together the decision-makers and heads of international bodies to shed light on the most pressing global issues from 12 -13 November.

This comes in conjunction with convention of the Global Agenda Summit - Davos, and within efforts to highlight the role of the United Arab Emirates in the convergence of views among the international bodies to promote mutual cooperation in the service of humanity.

H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Foreign Minister, said the world event reflects the position occupied by the UAE on the strategic international events map, and its contributory role to achieving the global compliance and restoration of confidence in the performance of agencies and international bodies, and promotion of the joint action system among the international bodies so as to ensure the hopes and aspirations of nations and peoples.

Professor Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economy Forum, said the global economy faces main challenges due to the financial instability and successive crises that led to the widening of income gaps, increment of imposed restrictions on resources, surging in poverty and unemployment rates and lack of security. He added that the international bodies should step up the efforts to upgrade the joint action mechanisms to meet the requirements of peoples.

"We are proud to work with the UAE government represented by the UAE foreign minister to develop communication and dialogue among the international bodies worldwide through the International Organisations," he added.

For his part, Mohammed Abdullah Al Gergawi, Minister of the Cabinet Affairs and Chairman of the Organising Committee of the Global Agenda Summit, stressed the importance of holding such forum, which will bring together the elite of international experts and thinkers to brainstorm on how best to make the world a better place for communication among cultures and peoples.  – Emirates News Agency, WAM

Sultan hosts banquet dinner in honour of Emirates Publishers Association in Frankfurt

            Frankfurt: H. H. Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council member and ruler of Sharjah hosted on Tuesday evening the banquet dinner in honour of the delegation of Emirates Publishers Association in Frankfurt.

The event was attended by H. H. Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Chairperson of the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shorouq) and Chairperson of Emirates Publishers Association.

Sheikh Sultan exchanged views during the banquet with the delegation members on the issues of publishing and publishers, and the obstacles they face. He stressed the importance of encouraging the publishing in the UAE to play its role in provision of books to the UAE libraries in particular and the Arab libraries in general.

The Ruler of Sharjah commended the efforts of the Association, indicating that "the spread of culture is not an easy task as challenges require perseverance." He pledged his support to the publishers.

On her part, Sheikha Bodour thanked Sheikh Sultan on the behalf of Association for his concerted support.

During the banquet, the selection of Habib Al Sayegh as the Cultural Personality of year 2012 for the 31st edition of the Sharjah International Book Fair (SHIBF) was announced.

Abdullah bin Mohammed Al Owais, Head of the Department of Culture and Information in Sharjah, Dr Amr Abdul Hamid, Adviser to Sharjah Ruler for the Higher Education and Scientific Research Affairs, Ahmed bin Rakad Al Ameri, Director of SHIBF and other senior officials were also present. – Emirates News Agency, WAM


Iranian Foreign Ministry denies spokesman's statements on UAE's Islands

            Tehran: A source at the Iranian Foreign Ministry has denied the veracity of the statements concerning the UAE's islands of Greater and Lesser Tunb and Abu Musa attributed to its spokesman, Ramin Mehmanparast, which were published yesterday on a website affiliated to the Islamic Consultative Assembly of Iran, noting that the Ministry has the legal right to take action against the body responsible for the misinterpretation of those statements.

He explained that the misinterpretation of the spokesman's remarks had been unprofessional, adding that "The selection of the title (of the published story) and subject in this inappropriate way and the distortion of the statements made by the spokesman, whether intentionally or unintentionally, raise doubts about the intentions behind this." The denial was posted on all Iranian websites including the websites of the official News Agency of Iran, IRNA, and official Farsi language Iranian radio and television. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

DP World announces official support to the UAE's bid to host Expo 2020 in Dubai

            In a major show of support for the UAE's bid to host the 2020 World Expo in Dubai, the senior leadership of DP World announced yesterday its commitment to serve as a "Premier Partner" of the bid. This follows a formal signing ceremony with His Excellency Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Chairman of DP World.

DP World, which employs more than 30,000 staff and operates over 60 terminals across six continents, will engage internal and external stakeholders through a wide range of outreach initiatives to raise awareness about the country's bid to host the first World Expo ever held in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia.

Reem Al Hashimy said: "DP World is one of the many success stories in the UAE. We are very excited that the firm has joined our World Expo 2020 bid campaign. As a Premier Partner and as a global port operator, DP World will play a key role in demonstrating that the UAE has the geographical reach, infrastructure and human capital essential to host this monumental event in 2020." Highlighting the strength of the firm's commitment to the Expo bid, Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem said: "Dubai and the UAE are home to our flagship terminal, Jebel Ali Port. This is where our successful journey to become a global port operator began and we are proud and honoured to be named a Premier Partner of the UAE's bid to bring this important global event to Dubai. We will work with the Expo Bid team and our fellow Premier Partners to attract international support, showcasing the UAE's unique capabilities, including highlighting Jebel Ali's readiness to provide the logistical support required to make Expo 2020 a global success." DP World joins five other UAE-based organisations that have already been named as Premier Partners of the Expo 2020 bid, including Dubai Airports, Emirates Airline, Emirates NBD, Etisalat and Jumeirah Group.

World Expo - one of the oldest and largest international events - takes place every five years and lasts for six months. Since 1851, World Expos have provided unique opportunities for people from across the globe to come together and appreciate the world's cultural diversity and technological wonders.

Dubai is competing against four other candidate cities bidding to host the 2020 World Expo, including Ayutthaya (Thailand), Ekaterinburg (Russia), Izmir (Turkey), and Sao Paulo (Brasil).

The winner will be announced in November 2013 following a vote by the 161 member nations of the Bureau International des Expositions, the intergovernmental organisation in charge of overseeing the calendar, bidding, selection and organisation of World Expos. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

UAE participates in COMCEC meetings in Istanbul

            Istanbul:  The 28th session of the OIC's COMCEC meeting was opened yesterday in Istanbul by the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The UAE delegation to the meeting is being headed by Economy Minister Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri.

Al Mansouri said the UAE was keen to take part in all OIC meetings and activities, given their importance at all economic, commercial, cultural, political and social levels.

He added that the UAE was among leading countries in intra-COMCEC trade. The country's trade with Islamic countries reached US$ 50.5 billion in 2009, or 11.7 percent of the OIC's total trade. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

UAE poised to become leader in renewable energy

            There is no shortage of natural resources in the UAE which holds the world’s sixth-largest oil reserves and has the fifth-largest national gas reserve, a privileged position which has garnered substantial economic benefits for the nation ever since the union in 1971.

In recent years, however, with ecological scarcities plaguing the planet, and energy consumption continuously on the rise, the UAE has sought to considerably reduce its dependency on oil. Instead, it has focused on the sustainable development approach, which encourages the use of renewable resources that can be naturally replenished and create pure ‘clean’ energy that can supply electricity, cooling and heating requirements. Indeed, with global energy demand set to double or even triple by 2050, the emirates has demonstrated an unyielding commitment to a renewable energy future, launching a host of initiatives which aim to significantly reduce its carbon footprint.

Dubai — A solid ground for sustainability

The second largest of the seven emirates, Dubai boasts abundant natural resources — many of which can expedite the delivery of renewable energy. In the past decade, the Government of Dubai has established a slew of plans which aim to reap the benefits of this resource-endowment as well as drive the emirate’s eco-mission and shape the future of global sustainability. One of the most ambitious of these projects is the creation of a multi-billion-dirham solar-energy park managed by the Dubai Water and Electricity Authority (Dewa) and to be completed by 2030. Announced in January 2012, The Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park symbolises a true milestone for the UAE, especially as it intends to reach a capacity output of 1,000 megawatts (MW) by 2030.

According to Saeed Al Tayer, Vice-Chairman of the Supreme Council of Energy for Dubai (DSCE), this park will provide five per cent of Dubai’s total power needs by 2030, using a range of solar power technologies such as concentrated solar power, stirling dishes, parabolic dishes and photovoltaic cells.

“This important step, which comes within a global movement to create energy using renewable resources, will further preserve natural resources and curb CO2 emissions as well as help establish a clean and healthy environment to live in,” Al Tayer said.

The Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, which will be managed and operated by Dewa, is instrumental to the DSCE’s Dubai Integrated Energy Strategy 2030 — a long-term programme launched in 2011 which aims to diversify the emirate’s energy mix to include renewable energy and reduce its consumption by 30 per cent by 2030. The strategy is set to diversify the city’s energy production by encouraging potential business opportunities, public-private partnerships and substantial investments. The Dubai Carbon Centre of Excellence (DCCE) — instituted in 2011 — also plays a pivotal role in safeguarding the city’s energy security, offering a wide range of carbon diminution services and consolidated advice to both public and private organisations.

It is also important to note that the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has kept sustainability and reduced carbon emissions in mind while planning for the Dubai Metro, a regional first, in addition to other modes of public transportation. The RTA is taking its efforts a step further by aiming to reduce consumption in its buildings, modes of transport and customer service operations.

Dubai Metro is considered one of the leading modes of public transport that uses clean energy, as it is electrically operated and is a modern driverless way of transport. It is another addition to the RTA’s sustainable initiatives like using diesel in public buses that run on advanced engines that comply with the highest European standards.

The Dubai Municipality works based on a strategic vision that fosters an investment-friendly ecosystem and innovative planning in the green economy, implementing a number of programmes, projects and initiatives that aim to enhance sustainable opportunities for development. The municipality’s liquid waste management efforts have led to significant impact on the environment, sustainable development, treatment plants and an increase in the quality of the final water product. These efforts have also led to the development of green belts around the city and planting desert plants at various locations. The municipality adopts green building standards that have shed a positive light on Dubai in implementing best practices, recycling and water treatment.

These initiatives are all working to meet the initiative of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, who inaugurated a long-term economic initiative to build a green economy in the UAE, under the slogan ‘Green Economy for Sustainable Development,’ which covers the fields of Green Energy, Green Economy, Green City, Green Policy and Programmes, Green Living, and Green Technology.

This initiative aims to create sustainable development for Dubai and the UAE. One of the ways the Supreme Council’s member companies intend to achieve this is by making Dubai a hub for sustainable energy management. These members, comprising Dewa, the Dubai Aluminium Company Limited (Dubal), the Emirates National Oil Company (Enoc), the Dubai Supply Authority (DUSUP), the Dubai Petroleum Corporation, the Dubai Nuclear Energy Committee and the Dubai Municipality (DM) — which the Emirate has managed to forge such a solid and unified vision for a sustainable future. They are all working to realise this through the Dubai Integrated Energy Strategy 2030, which plans to reduce energy consumption as well as introduce a diverse energy mix to power the Emirate, including nuclear energy, clean coal and renewable energy.

A zero-carbon city

Another example of the UAE’s ‘greener’ approach was the establishment of Masdar in 2006 — an Abu Dhabi-based enterprise dedicated to advancing sustainable development. In the past six years, the firm has placed itself at the forefront of the country’s eco-strategy, impacting a wide range of sustainability issues including matters of innovation, research and development. The organisation’s all-encompassing commitment to alternative sources of energy is especially epitomised by Masdar City, an extensive project being built by the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company — a subsidiary of the Mubadala Development Company. Located 17 kilometres from the capital centre, it is described as a “high-density, pedestrian-friendly development where current and future renewable energy and clean technologies are showcased, marketed, researched, developed, tested and implemented.”

In effect, the project can accommodate 40,000 residents, providing them with a fully-integrated eco-friendly lifestyle replete with solar panels, a multi-storey wind tower and even a research-driven university (the Masdar Institute). In parallel, Masdar Power — a developer of renewable power generation operations — in collaboration with Abengoa Solar and Total, is also building the 100 megawatts Shams 1 Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) in Abu Dhabi, a 30 megawatts wind farm and a PV array on Sir Bani Yas Island. Centering on photovoltaic solar energy, offshore wind energy and CSP, the division’s contributions extend well-beyond national borders with projects such as a 1,000 megawatts London Array offshore wind farm and another one in the Seychelles. Since the company’s very inception, Masdar has also continued to make hefty investments in the power industry — primarily through its private equity firm Masdar Capital — providing substantial financial backing to fund large-scale developments and achieve renewable energy capacity. By June 2009, it was clear that the UAE’s pledge to tackle energy efficiency was serious. After all, Abu Dhabi’s Masdar City was chosen to house the permanent headquarters of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) — a world-renowned inter-governmental organisation which endorses various sources of renewable energy. Comprising 101 state members in addition to 58 national signatories and applicants worldwide, IRENA works to offer major support to both developed and developing countries in their mission to enhance the use of renewable energies. Through their membership, these countries have further access to a treasure trove of ecological data, groundbreaking green technologies and policies as well as related financial strategies. While the selection of the UAE to house IRENA’s offices marks the first time that an international agency of such calibre is hosted in the Middle East, it certainly did not come as a surprise given the nation’s relentless support of ecological projects. Serving as a focused, cooperative and independent catalyst for the development of renewable energy, the IRENA has truly fast-tracked the UAE and world’s eco-expansion.

A global platform

Throughout the years, the UAE’s trail-blazing efforts to move the eco-needle have garnered immense recognition among the international community. In fact, as a result of its pioneering leadership in environmental practices, and rich desert oasis, the city of Dubai was elected to host the World Energy Forum (WEF) this year, under the Patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. This is the first time that this conference is taking place outside the headquarters of the United Nations in New York, the event’s 2012 edition takes place at the Dubai International Convention Centre from October 22-24, 2012 and centres on the theme of ‘A Forum For World Leaders.’ With The United Nations designating 2012 as the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All, it was also the emirate’s strong eco-approach — manifested by its Green Economy Initiative — as well as its position as a politically stable global hub for finance, tourism, business and trade, which provided it hosting privileges.

The World Energy Forum brings together world leaders from Member States of the United Nations as well as corporations and international organisations, to examine solutions to expand access to sustainable energy services. The forum will bring together than 40 heads of state, 100 ministers and 200 industry leaders in the energy sector, subject-matter experts, policy and decision makers to share views and discuss energy and its sustainability with the ultimate goal of providing safe sustainable energy to everyone and achieving economic and social development for the peoples of the world.

This forum also shows how the UAE is taking up the collective approach of nations around the world to create a sustainable future for the world. In the past decade, the UAE has certainly undergone an ecological awakening, implementing myriad eco-plans and placing the use of renewable energy high on the country’s political, social and economic agenda. In truth, it is the emirates’ impressive quality of social services combined with the exponential growth of its infrastructure, remarkable safety record and leadership commitment which has led it to become a global partner in sustainable development.

Today, the UAE seeks an even greater role to mend the ecological crisis and continues to take strategic leaps — in the form of policies, events, partnerships or projects — towards a greener environment and economy. The cornerstone of ecological sustainability, renewable sources will not solely help meet the power demands of the future, but also guarantee the health and well-being of generations to come. – Khaleej Times

UAE non-oil trade grows to Dh 412.5 b in 5 months

            UAE non-oil foreign trade maintained positive growth rates in the first five months of this year. The FCA initial statistics showed that the growth rate in the UAE non-oil foreign trade reached 10% in this period compared to the same period in the last year.

The total non-oil foreign trade rose by Dh 35.9 billion to Dh 412.5 billion compared to Dh 376.6 billion in the period of comparison.

The imports increased by 13% from early January to late May this year, raising the UAE non-oil exports by Dh 31.3 billion from Dh 238.4 billion in 2011 to Dh 269.7 billion in the same period of this year, the FCA said in a press release yesterday.

The Authority highlighted that the exports grew within the above period by 38% from Dh 43.8 billion to Dh 60.5 billion, while re-exports hit Dh 82.4 billion in this period.

In terms of weight, the UAE total foreign trade hit about 44.8 million tons in 2012 January- May, including 23.1 million tons in imports, 17.7 million tons in exports and 3.9 million tons in re-exports.

The daily average weight of consignments (exported, imported and re-exported) processed by different customs outlets hit about 187 thousand tons per day (23 thousand tons per hour).

In May alone, the UAE foreign trade hit about Dh 92.2 billion, including Dh 60.7 billion in imports, Dh 13.7 billion in exports and Dh 17.8 billion in re-exports.

Asia-Pacific region, retained its first place among the UAE top non-oil foreign trade partners with a total trade of Dh 181 billion with the UAE - 45% of the total trade in the first five months.

Europe came in the second place with Dh 104 billion (26%) of the total trade followed by Middle East and North Africa with Dh 60.6 billion (15%), America and the Caribbean with Dh 37.2 billion (9%), Western and Central Africa region with Dh 11.9 billion (2.9%) and COMESA with Dh 10.8 billion (2.7%).

The total of UAE non-oil foreign trade with the Gulf Council Countries (GCC) hit Dh 38.6 billion in the first five months of this year. This total consisted of Dh 16.9 billion in imports, Dh 9.4 billion in exports and Dh 12.3 billion in re-exports.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), kept its top place among the UAE trade partners from the GCC in the first five months of this year. The UAE total trade with the KSA reached Dh 12.5 billion (32%). Kuwait came in the second place with Dh 9.1 billion (23%) followed by, Oman with Dh 8.6 billion (22%), Bahrain with Dh 4.4 billion (12%) and finally Qatar with Dh 4 billion (10%).

"The UAE total foreign trade with Arab countries hit about Dh 62.1 billion in 2012 January- May. This total is divided into Dh 29.6 billion in imports; Dh 13.4 billion in exports and Dh 19.1 billion in re-exports", the Authority added.

The initial statistics in this period showed that gold came at the top of the imported goods with Dh 47.3 billion, followed by diamond with Dh 18.4 billion, jewellery with Dh 17.2 billion and cars with Dh 15.7 billion.

Gold was the top among exported goods with Dh 31.5 billion, followed by polyethylene and propylene polymers in crude forms with Dh 5.4 billion, jewels and pieces of jewellery with Dh 2.3 billion and petroleum and other oils with Dh 1.3 billion.

Diamond, came first in re-exports in 2012 January- May with Dh 18.5 billion, followed by jewels and pieces of jewellery with Dh 9.4 billion, cars with Dh 6.7 billion and mobile phones with Dh 5.2 billion. The total trade of markets and free zones, the FCA said, hit Dh 6.5 billion for this period. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

1,000 launches seen at Gitex Tech Week

            Gitex Technology Week will witness around 1,000 launches when it opens doors next week, where more than 3,500 suppliers await around 130,000 industry professionals to visit their stands.

Now in its 32nd year, the event is widely regarded as one of the world’s top three international information and communication technology events. The show runs from October 14-18 under the theme, “Where Technology Means Business”.

The event’s organiser, the Dubai World Trade Centre, or DWTC, expects a five to 10 per cent increase in visitor numbers compared to last year, its chief executive officer Helal Saeed Almarri told Khaleej Times at a news conference on Wednesday.

The DWTC estimates that 1,000 launches will take place during Gitex. Among the most eye-catching events is the official launch of a partnership between hip-hop artist 50 Cent and UAE-based company Shift. The rapper is set to appear at Gitex for the Middle East launch of his SMS Audio headphones.

Microsoft will be previewing Windows 8, which is expected to be generally available on October 26, as well as a number of locally relevant applications for citizens in the UAE.

The Middle East and Africa’s ICT market is increasingly attractive and predicted to far outpace spending in developed markets with market liberalisation, strong competition and the dynamic demographics of the region.

As developed economies experience a slowdown, global organisations and investors are looking to emerging markets such as the MEA for growth. According to the International Data Corporation, IT spending in the MEA region will surpass US$65 billion in 2012, growing at nearly 12 per cent year on year. By comparison, Europe will see a 1.2 per cent growth in Euros in European ICT purchases in 2012, shrinking the continent’s share of the market, according to a report by Forrester Research.

Almarri said: “Gitex Technology Week has always been a vital force in driving the ICT sector to generate both profit and performance in the industry, not only throughout the Middle East and Africa region but also on a global stage. As the momentum of traditional ICT markets slows down and reaches saturation in developed nations, the Middle East and Africa region offers lucrative opportunities for investors and global companies in a rapidly expanding industry.”

“Gitex Technology Week’s growing international impact has also led to the strategic co-location of the International Telecommunication Union Telecom World 2012, the leading platform for high-level networking, strategic debate and knowledge-sharing for the global ICT community, which will take place for the first time in Dubai alongside Gitex Technology Week,” Almarri added.

As a leading ICT event in the region, Gitex has highlighted key focus areas including Africa and its burgeoning ICT market, start-ups and innovation in an SME Zone, the Consumerisation of IT, Big Data and the ongoing cloud phenomenon among others.

With the ICT sector in the Middle East forecast to reach US$173 billion and 7.5 per cent of GDP by 2015, according to Booz & Company, Gitex continues to play a lead role in the advancement of the technology industry by providing the ideal platform for business investment and future growth.

With over 80 per cent of leading global ICT brands expected, featuring C-level executives in attendance representing ICT budgets of over US$50 billion, the exhibitors and speakers list is packed with industry heavyweights such as Cisco, Dell, du, etisalat, Facebook, Google, Hewlett-Packard, Huawei, Kaspersky, Microsoft, Nokia, Oracle, RIM, Samsung, SAP and Symantec. Notable new exhibitors include Chinese telecommunications equipment company ZTE, Saudi Telecom Company, Sage, Vocalcom and African IT distributors Mitsumi. – Khaleej Times

Electronics trades up at Dh51b in Q1 2012

            The trade in electronics and their accessories grew by eight per cent during the first quarter of 2012 reaching Dh51 billion compared to Dh47 billion in the same period of 2011, the Dubai Customs announced on Wednesday.

According to the data produced by the Statistics Section at the Strategy and Corporate Excellence Department of the Dubai Customs, the electronics imports during the first quarter of 2012 reached Dh28 billion against Dh27 billion in the first quarter of 2011.

The export and re-export of electronics during the first quarter of 2012 accounted by Dh23 billion, compared with Dh20 billion in the same period of 2011.

Ahmad Butti Ahmad, the Executive Chairman of Ports, Customs and Free Zone and Director General of Dubai Customs, said: “Dubai foreign trade of electronics and their accessories reached Dh192 billion in 2011 compared with Dh155 billion in 2010 with an increase of 24 per cent.”

Increasing demand for new high technology products and changing lifestyles tilting towards greater dependence on modern technology are the real stimulants that will keep the cogwheel of the electronics market moving,” he added.

Telephones are among the UAE’s top electronics products representing 37 per cent of the imports, followed by portable digital automatic data processing machines, colour terminals for receiving satellite broadcasts, storage units and digital video and cameras.

The portable digital automatic data processing are among the most popular machines in terms of exports, representing 34 per cent overall, followed by telephones for cellular networks and wireless networks, ignition wiring sets used in vehicles, aircraft and ships, semiconductor media and electrical cables.

Moreover, telephone devices also represent 47 per cent of electronics re-exports followed by portable digital automatic data processing machines, colour terminals for receiving satellite broadcast, parts and accessories and storage units.

The following countries supply more than 67 per cent of Dubai’s imports of consumer electronics during the first quarter of 2012: China by 45 per cent at Dh13 billion, Malaysia by seven per cent, followed by Vietnam, Hungary and South Korea. - Gulf News

Emiratisation to get a big boost

            Emiratisation is gaining steam in the UAE’s private sector with plans to increase the workforce to 200,000 soon. The Emirates National Development Programme (ENDP) has recruited 10,000 nationals in Dubai for various private companies since 2007. Now there are plans to fast-track the programme by launching campaigns and roping in corporates, according to officials.

Essa Al Mulla, Executive Director of the National Workforce Development, said: “In a 2011 study, excluding the non-economically active population, approximately 2.8 per cent of the Emirati population in Dubai were found to be unemployed. We are aiming at a zero per cent unemployment rate in Dubai.”

Authorities said the task of attracting citizens to private companies will be a massive challenge and the ENDP’s current priority is to raise awareness among local youth that it pays to work in this sector.

Al Mulla said in Dubai the government can provide subsidies of Dh6.5 billion to eradicate the unemployment problem in UAE, but it will not create a strong workforce. He said that he is personally opposed to providing subsidies and encouraged youth to join different sectors instead.

He was speaking at the launch of the ‘CEO for a Day’ campaign for Emirati youth, jointly organised by the ENDP and Horizon Group, a communication company.

The official said a similar campaign was launched a few years ago and met with some success. “The previous campaign was focused on raising awareness among private companies. The main aim of the current campaign is to change the perceptions of local students towards jobs in the private sector.”

“Young Emirati students live under the assumption that there is no opportunity for career growth in the private sector. That must change and we need to expose them to the career benefits of working in the private sector.” He added that flexible working hours, higher pay scales, and more holidays are some of the reasons why young nationals prefer a government job. “We want to focus more on raising awareness towards the project because that is our biggest challenge.”

Yiannis Vafeas, Joint Managing Director of Golin Harris, one of the firms under the Horizon Group umbrella, informed that the campaign currently is open to third and fourth year students of Zayed University.

Interested students can apply for the programme on a dedicated Facebook page for consideration by a team of experienced ENDP human resource specialists.

Vafeas said: “Shortlisted candidates will later be interviewed and the ones selected will shadow a CEO or the managing director of a company for a day. Since 80-100 private companies have already professed interest in the programme, we will be recruiting about the same number of candidates. The campaign will run from December 4-6. We decided to choose 3rd and 4th year students because they are close to enter the workforce.”

The campaign will extend to several industries like telecommunications, banking, retail and tourism.

It hopes to develop into an annual event providing authorities with a long-term marketing tool, which will help promote awareness of the private sector’s employment opportunities amongst UAE nationals.

Meanwhile, the Executive Committee of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council reviewed a special report on the Emiratisation Performance Indices of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi in Q2 of 2012. It discussed a number of proposals aimed at raising the percentages of Emiratisation, and activating the electronic portal of Abu Dhabi Tawteen Council.

Chaired by Mohammed Ahmed Al Bowardi, Chairman of the Executive Committee, the meeting called on all government and semi-government agencies to use the electronic portal of Abu Dhabi Tawteen Council to help them in employment process and review of the Emiratisation indices. – Khaleej Times

Bus fares in Abu Dhabi to be increased by up to 100%

            The fares for public bus services across Abu Dhabi will be increased by up to 100 per cent as of November 1 to stop misuse of the network, a senior official told Gulf News on Wednesday.

Fares were previously just Dh1 and officials spoke of how often passengers don’t bother to pay the fare.

By increasing the fare from Dh1 to Dh2, and adding a fully automated collection service, officials hope to make sure bus journeys are paid for.

The automated service is planned to be similar to the Nol card system on Dubai’s Metro where a card is scanned showing when passengers enter and leave stations and the distance they travel.

The new fare structure unifies public transport tariffs throughout the emirate, making it Dh2 within Abu Dhabi city, while in the suburbs the tariff will start from Dh2 in addition to 5 fils per km, with Dh5 being the average, said Saeed Mohammed Fadel Al Hameli, General Manager of the Bus Office at the Department of Transport.

He added that the tariff for inter-city public transport will start from Dh10 in addition to 10 fils per km with Dh25 being the average.

Al Hameli said the new structure was adopted after months of in-depth studies into all economic aspects relating to the use of the public transport system to provide a more efficient and reliable public transportation service.

Al Hameli added: “We are continuously striving to upgrade and enhance the public transportation network in order to provide commuters with a comfortable and safe transport system whereby the means of transportation becomes the ideal choice for commuters — this will ultimately reduce traffic congestion and protect the environment.”

Al Hameli also announced that a fully automated fare collection system will be introduced by the end of next year to efficiently monitor the use of the network and payment of the right tariffs.

The current bus fleet includes around 800 modern buses accommodating more than 170,000 commuters per day.

In addition, more than 500 buses operate in Abu Dhabi city, over 200 in Al Ain and 80 buses have been allocated for inter-city travel, all of which operate at an average of 18 hours per day.

Al Hameli said plans are in place to increase the fleet to 1,360 buses within the next three years.

Furthermore, several new bus routes have been introduced recently across the emirate, such as Mussaffah bus station-Al Ain International Airport, Abu Dhabi International terminal–Al Ain bus station and Abu Dhabi bus station–Al Ain bus station.

Additional routes will also be introduced in the next few months as part of the DoT’s efforts to boost the usability of public transport.

Meanwhile the Department of Transport has also launched Ojra bus cards in Al Ain and the Western Region — the cards are currently available in the capital.

In addition, “Reaya” cards are on offer for senior citizens, aged 60, and individuals with special needs, in Abu Dhabi emirate.

“Hafelaty” cards are available for students in Abu Dhabi emirate as a part of efforts to develop and enhance the public transport system in Abu Dhabi, said Al Hameli.

Passengers may purchase “Ojra” bus passes for unlimited weekly or monthly use for a nominal charge of Dh30 per week or Dh80 per month. Annual Ojra cards, entitled “Hafelaty”, are available for students for Dh500, while senior citizens over the age of 60 and individuals with special needs will be eligible for a new “Reaya” card that entitles them to free unlimited travel on all of the DoT buses.

Ojra cards are available for purchase at accredited selling points and at all Red Crescent centres across the emirate. It is worth mentioning that terms and conditions apply on all cards. – Gulf News

Toyota recalls more than 65,000 vehicles in UAE

Just over 65,000 Toyota units - of which the bestselling Camry totals 35,647 units - sold in the UAE will come under the latest recall programme announced by the Japanese carmaker for a faulty power window switch defect.

These units – which also includes the Corolla, Yaris, RAV 4 and Sequoia - were sold between February 2006 and May 2010. 

“Following communication with Toyota Motor Corporation, we have begun a customer service campaign on the Power Master Window Switch on some vehicles in the Toyota range,” said Simon Frith, managing director at Al Futtaim Motors and the dealership for Toyota.

The purpose will be to inspect the sliding electrical contact module in the driver’s side Power Window Master Switch. 

If customers had applied commercially available lubricants to address any sticky feeling of the switch, it is possible that the switch could melt, according to a statement issued by the dealership. – Gulf News

Drivers in danger as heavy fog hit across the UAE

            Heavy fog that blanketed the country early on Wednesday is set to return, bringing with it more traffic chaos.

Vehicles were brought to a standstill on Wednesday as fog made driving conditions treacherous.

Rush-hour commuters faced huge tailbacks as visibility was reduced to less than 100 metres in some areas.

In Abu Dhabi, the difficult conditions caused crashes involving 16 vehicles on one stretch of road. The vehicles were involved in accidents on Al Rahba road.

Among the crashes, a bus loaded with workers collided with a car on Al Ajban bridge near Al Rahba, injuring 50 people.

“Most of the injuries are minor, as 17 of those involved were treated on-site while 33 others were taken to Al Rahba Hospital to be examined,” Lieutenant Colonel Jamal Al Ameri, head of Public Relations at the Directorate of Traffic and Patrols, told Gulf News.

Speaking to Gulf News, Um Khalid, an Emirati mother of four, said that she witnessed another accident on the same road near Al Rahba Hospital.

“Police, ambulance and road safety trucks filled the Dubai-Abu Dhabi road. I was taking my daughter to school when I saw this because I knew it was foggy and did not want to take the chance of letting her get in her school bus,” the 43-year-old said.

Abu Dhabi Police advised drivers to refrain from using hazard lights while driving in the fog and to keep fog lights on and maintain a safe distance.

“We are launching a safety plan to help motorists during fog hours. We will increase the number of patrol cars on both inner city and external roads, and we will be preventing heavy vehicles and trucks from travelling on both roads,” said Colonel Hamad Nasser Al Beloushi, director of the Traffic and Roads Section at Abu Dhabi’s Traffic and Patrols department.

Sharjah Police urged motorists to use fog lights instead of hazard lights.

Furthermore, regular traffic updates and safety guidelines will also be announced on various radio stations.

Elsewhere, commuters between Sharjah and Dubai reported 90-minute delays on their way to work.

Dubai Police warned drivers to be careful in heavy fog, saying that in the early hours of the morning 141 traffic accidents took place across the emirate. No serious injuries were reported.

The Dubai Police control room received 1,323 calls from the public during the foggy hours yesterday morning.

Police said the main reason for accidents was drivers not slowing down when they encountered fog.

A Dubai Police official said: “We are warning drivers in the next few days to expect fog at any time. It is the biggest danger on the roads.”

The number of highway patrols has been increased since the start of the fog season, and equipment was standing by to move damaged vehicles off roads quickly.

Early birds hoping to beat the morning rush hour by leaving home at 5.30am found themselves stuck on Al Wahda Road and Ittihad Road in Sharjah.

On radio, people were calling in saying ‘don’t leave home if you’re in Sharjah’. Drivers were reported to be going at half the normal speed on Sheikh Zayed Road.

On Airport Road in Sharjah (officially Dhaid Road), an Indian school teacher said she had to keep to under 30km/h because “you couldn’t see anything”.

The teacher, in her 20s, added: “The fog was intense, scary. People had stopped and pulled over on the side of the road.”

Similarly, a van driver told Gulf News that fog was dense on the Abu Dhabi-Dubai highway causing vehicles to inch their way forward.

“Fog had covered everything and it was extremely difficult to drive at around 5am as the road and the pavements were barely visible,” Mustafa Khan said.

Lt Colonel Shuaib Kajour, director of Ajman’s traffic police, told Gulf News Ajman recorded 14 accidents due to fog which resulted in one minor injury.

Major Saeed Obaid Bin Aran, director of the traffic department at Umm Al Qaiwain police. told Gulf News traffic flow was smooth and only two minor accidents were recorded in the emirate. Police in Fujairah reported no heavy fog, clear conditions and normal traffic flow.

With the changing weather affecting the traffic situation in the country significantly the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has urged people to be doubly cautious in order to avoid accidents.

“Driving during these conditions requires certain precautions to be taken to avoid accidents, the probability of which multiplies by the impact of these changes,” said a senior official at the Traffic Awareness section of the Traffic and Roads Agency at RTA.

The National Centre of Meteorology and Seismology (NCMS) said foggy mornings are expected to continue throughout the coming few weeks as the UAE transitions to the autumn season and temperatures dip.

According to the NCMS, motorists are urged to stay cautious on the roads between midnight and 8am, when the fog is usually heaviest. – Gulf News


Guinness world record for hand washing set

            Washing your hands with soap is more effective against the transmission of infections than using vaccinations, stressed a senior municipality official on Tuesday.

“According to international surveys, 80 per cent of the diseases are transmitted through touching people in unhygienic conditions. People are not aware of the importance of hand washing when mingling with others, and we can keep away from a number of diseases by simply washing our hands with soap,” said Redha Hassan Salman, director of the Public Health Department at Dubai Municipality.

Speaking alongside the fifth anniversary of Global Hand washing Day, launched by Lifebuoy in collaboration with Dubai Municipality under the title ‘Hands for Hygiene,’ Salman pointed out that the message is being sent to residents and people visiting, “and as we are now at the start of the flu season and the Haj season, it is very important for people of all ages to stop their bad habits of not washing their hands.”

In celebration of Global Handwashing Day, Lifebuoy and Dubai Municipality on Tuesday set a new Guinness world record with the highest number of people from different nationalities — 72 — to wash their hands simultaneously.

More than 200 people gathered at the Asateer Tent at Atlantis, The Palm, and washed their hands for a complete minute at a designated area that was equipped with 17 sinks, each containing 12 taps.

The event was aimed at promoting how a simple habit such as washing hands at key moments can prevent diseases spreading and lower deaths around the world.

“Unfortunately, more than 1.1 million children die yearly due to hygiene related diseases. Hand washing with soap at key moments can reduce this number to half and is recognised to be the simplest yet most efficient method to reduce disease infections,” said Arijit Ghose, managing director for Unilever Gulf.

With the collaboration of the municipality during 2012, Lifebuoy aims to reach 500,000 students aged between 5-11, across 600 schools in the UAE, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Bahrain.

In 2010, the collaborators spread the message to 100,000 students, which then rose to 200,000 in 2011, and aims to reach two million students in the Gulf by 2020. – Gulf News

            Manchester City's new midfield star Javi Garcia is coming to Abu Dhabi for a special autograph and photo session with fans on next Saturday evening.

The Spanish international will be at the club's official shop, CityStore in Marina Mall, from 6.30pm to 7.15pm pm to meet local supporters.

"Everyone at the club is aware of the strong links to Abu Dhabi and I am really looking forward to meeting the fans," said Garcia.

"I have heard a lot about the city from the other players and I will be around for a few days to really get out and see everything it has to offer." Manchester City continues to strengthen the links with Abu Dhabi and the rest of the UAE.

They run an official School of Football at Zayed Sports City and have a free membership scheme for supporters across the country called Sky Blue. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

Science festival begins in Capital

            The Abu Dhabi Science Festival (ADSF) began under the patronage of General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, here on Wednesday.

Declaring the second edition of the festival open, Chairman of the Crown Prince’s Court Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan said the UAE, under the leadership of the President, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, seeks to raise education to the global standards so that the growing generation could strongly contribute to the national development.

The science festival is a strategic initiative by the Abu Dhabi Technology Development Committee (TDC). Sheikh Hamed thanked TDC and its educational partner Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec) for organising the event, which will eventually contribute to the human development in the fields of science and technology.

After the official opening, Sheikh Hamed went around various stalls at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (Adnec) and expressed happiness for its marvellous organisation.

For the next 11 days, visiting children and families are expected to be wowed by the wonder of science as they attend the most exciting festival of the year. Building on last year’s huge success, the festival is a science-packed adventure this year, with even more thrills to enthral the audiences.

Till October 20, the festival will run daily at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC), the Corniche (West Plaza), in addition to bespoke locations in Al Ain, Al Gharbia, and Abu Dhabi city.

The initiative is dedicated to the engagement and inspiration of the nation’s children with science-related hands-on activities as part of a wider plan geared towards building a talent base in Science, Technology and Innovation (STI). By experiencing the festival’s amazing, interactive and hands-on activities, organisers expect that the children’s scientific curiosity is stimulated, ultimately inspiring them to pursue scientific education and invigorating careers in medicine, engineering and other STI fields. – Khaleej Times

World's largest hot air balloon to fly on the UAE horizon

There's good news for those who love taking a close look at the UAE horizon. The world's largest hot air balloon will be in the UAE from October 17. The balloon when fully inflated is as big as a 12-storey building.

Balloon Adventures Emirates, a company that specialises in hot air balloon adventures, is showcasing, A6-BOB, this season’s newest addition to their fleet of balloons.

“BOB is not just another hot air balloon – He is the largest balloon in the Middle East. When fully inflated this balloon stands almost 40m tall, the same height as a 12-storey building,” the company said in a statement.

On October 17, 2012, the balloon will be showcased before balloon adventurists and the media. It is claiming to be the world's largest balloon company.

“BOB was built in 2012 using the latest balloon technology. He was manufactured by the world’s largest balloon manufacturer ULTRAMAGIC, making this N-500 model state of the art. The balloon can be licensed to hold up to a maximum of 30 passengers, however Balloon Adventures Emirates will fly with only 24 passengers per flight, to make things more spacious for their valued guests,” the statement  said.

“The balloon adventure starts just before dawn to enjoy the luminous sunrise over the desert dunes. After taking off, the journey lasts approximately one hour, embarking on a magic carpet ride through a breath-taking sea of red sand dunes and trying to spot the local camels and free running gazelles that still occupy the flying area,”
reported Middle East Newswire.

Balloon Adventures Emirates has been operating in the UAE since 2005 and boasts the most experienced commercial pilots in the world. The company is licensed by the General Civil Aviation Authority (Air Operator’s Certificate AT024). All balloons undergo a strict maintenance programme involving regular tests at their own facilities. – Emirates 24|7

6th edition of ADDF to kick off today with screening of Richard Gere movie

            The sixth Abu Dhabi Film Festival will open on Thursday with the gala screening of Arbitrage, featuring acclaimed Hollywood star Richard Gere and directed by Nicholas Jarecki.

The 2012 edition of the festival will reflect the growing talent and influence of UAE filmmakers in the region’s film industry as well as offer Arab cinema’s strongest representation at the annual film extravaganza.

For the first time, UAE nationals will join international filmmakers as juries to judge films in the competition.

A record number of submissions have been received from Emirati filmmakers with their films competing against the very best of international cinema and to top this, the festival has its first Emirati director. 

Ali Al Jabri, the first Emirati to hold the prestigious post of Festival Director, said he was proud to see the quality and diversity of work emerging from the local industry.

Joining international filmmakers on the festival’s jury this year are Nawaf Al Janahi, who directed feature films Sea Shadow and The Circle, and a number of internationally acclaimed short films.

Al Janahi will join the ‘New Horizons’ jury this year. Ahmad Hasan Ahmad, an award-winning UAE filmmaker with more than 30 short films, music videos and commercials to his credit, will join the ‘Short Film Competition’ jury.

The festival will also focus on Arab cinema like never before, as it will be showcasing an outstanding selection of films from the Arab world.

Some of the region’s most celebrated stars, as well as up-and-coming talent of the Arab film and television are set to attend the festival, which will continue till Oct.20.

The audience will have a rare opportunity to attend world premieres of the latest productions by some of the most celebrated Arab filmmakers, including Nouri Bouzid, who will present Hidden Beauties, Moussa Haddad, who will showcase Harraga Blues, and Rachidd Benhadj, who will reveal Perfumes of Algiers.

This edition will become even more special as Egyptian legend Sawsan Badr will become the first Arab celebrity to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award in the festival’s history.

Another aspect, which makes this festival important this year, is participation of international luminaries representing all aspects of filmmaking craft who will bring their expertise to Abu Dhabi to assess the quality of the films screening in competition at this year’s festival.

Internationally-acclaimed Indian actress Shabana Azmi, star of more than 120 Hindi films and numerous international productions, will preside over the panel.

She will be joined by the producer of Academy Award winning film No Man’s Land Cédomir Kolar, renowned Egyptian film critic Samir Farid, Iranian actress-turned-director and screenwriter Niki Karimi, and French-Moroccan director Ismaël Farroukhi, who won the Best Director from the Arab World award at the ADFF last year, among many other awards. – The Gulf Today

Bill Gates hails UAE's support to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation over its disease and poverty eradication campaign

            Bill Gates, the founder and partner in The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has lauded the UAE's support to the charity and health projects in a number of countries worldwide.

He referred to the huge support of His Highness General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, in combating polio in Pakistan, Afghanistan and the region in general. He added the move comes in line with the humanitarian and charity approach supported by President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Bill Gates commended here yesterday at a round table conference held at Emirates Palace, the UAE charity and humanitarian organisations for their sustainable humanitarian roles. He added that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is planning to collect US$6 billion to fight and eradicate polio, and reduce the famine worldwide. – Emirates News Agency, WAM


Mohammed bin Zayed receives Bill Gates

            His Highness General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, received yesterday at Al Bateen Palace Mr. Bill Gates, Co-Chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

His Highness discussed with Mr. Gates the challenges facing poor nations and focused primarily on health issues of infants and children in disaster-stricken areas.

The meeting, which was attended by H.H. Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chief of the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince's Court, also discussed the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, how much has been achieved so far, the importance of continuous support and what still needs to be done towards the final eradication of the disease.

The two sides stressed the importance of making concerted efforts, working with the concerned international organisations and launching Public Health Philanthropic Initiatives in order to combat deadly and crippling diseases and protect poorer nations against epidemics and other health problems.

The meeting also discussed possible future collaboration on new charitable and philanthropic initiatives around the world, especially in poor and disadvantaged areas.

Also present at the meeting were Reem Ibrahim Al Hashemi, UAE Minister of State, and Mohammed Mubarak Al Mazrouei, Under-Secretary of the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince's Court, as well as the delegation accompanying Mr. Gates.

Earlier last year, His Highness General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and Mr. Bill Gates, Co-Chair of the Bill '&' Melinda Gates Foundation, announced pledges of US$50 million each for the purchase and delivery of vital vaccines in Afghanistan and Pakistan with the ultimate goal of forever preventing this disease from harming children.  – Emirates News Agency, WAM


Abdullah bin Zayed attends opening of Media Summit, Gates focusing on Redefining Digital Media Frontiers

            Hundreds of leaders from the worlds of media and technology gathered for the launch of the Abu Dhabi Media Summit 2012, held under the patronage of His Highness General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.

Attended by HH Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Summit was opened by Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Media Summit and Chairman of the Executive Affairs Authority, who set the tone of the three-day event by outlining Abu Dhabi s vision for the development of a thriving media sector in the UAE serving the region.

Bill Gates, co-founder of the Bill '&' Melinda Gates Foundation, then took to the main stage to deliver his keynote address, entitled Philanthropy, Technology, and the Gulf s Humanitarian Opportunity . In his speech, Mr Gates talked about how the unique gifts of the Gulf region along with rising technology, strategic philanthropy, and new media give the region a key role in the fight against poverty and disease.

The event was also attended by representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the UAE National Media Council, the Executive Affairs Authority of Abu Dhabi, Mubadala Development Company, and other government departments. Senior management from global organisations including Google, Warner Brothers, CAA, Viacom International, Fox International, Twitter, Pinewood Shepperton and Ridley Scott Associates were also in attendance.

The Summit, being held at the Yas Viceroy Hotel from October 9-11, is being held under the theme of Redefining the Digital Frontier . Over the three days, some of the biggest names in the global media industry will address some 400 invite-only delegates CEO s of leading media production, research, finance and content companies.

The Summit sees global leaders in media and technology exchange ideas about the key trends shaping the world and the ways in which people are communicating about them. The event is an invaluable forum for the analysis of trends, the sharing of insights and the identification of opportunities for everyone involved.

Day Two of the event will feature more than a dozen unique sessions with leading media figures from across the Middle East and further afield, discussing vital issues in the industry s future. And the Summit s final day, Day 3, will allow entrepreneurs, students and young professionals to drive the evolution of sector across the region. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

Al Ansari Exchange and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation sign MoU on collaboration for global health

            Al Ansari Exchange, a Foreign Exchange and worldwide remittance company in the UAE, and the Bill '&' Melinda Gates Foundation yesterday announced a partnership in support of two major health priorities: polio eradication and treatment and the prevention of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs).

A joint commitment of US$10m was made, with each side committing to provide half of that amount over the next five years.

The agreement, which was jointly signed in Abu Dhabi by Bill Gates, co-chair of the Gates Foundation, and Mohammed Ali Al Ansari, Chairman of the Board of Al Ansari Exchange, will kick off with an initial co-funded contribution of US$4m to support polio eradication activities in Pakistan and Afghanistan and the prevention and treatment of NTDs in sub-Saharan Africa. Administered through the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, initial funds will go towards improving polio vaccination campaign quality.

The NTD funding will be administered through the END Fund, the world's first private philanthropic initiative to combat the seven most common NTDs in Africa, and target 12 million people, including 3 million school-aged children in Mali. Worldwide, NTDs affect more than one billion of the world's poorest people, including 500 million children. By supporting the delivery of drugs for the most common NTDs, the collaboration can help millions of people to live healthier lives and lift themselves out of poverty.

Bill Gates, Co-Chair of the Bill '&' Melinda Gates Foundation, said: "The partnership we signed today is an example of focused, strategic philanthropy that will have a lasting impact on the lives of families living in the poorest parts of the world." Mohammed Ali Al Ansari said, "Al Ansari Exchange's enthusiasm to positively transform society is a passion that distinguishes the company from its peers. We consider corporate social responsibility an integral part of our business model as it allows us, our clients and our partners to appreciate the essence and value of the core services we offer. We are pleased to partner with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for this project, which will benefit millions of people and hundreds of communities from different countries." Al Ansari Exchange and the Bill '&' Melinda Gates Foundation share a common vision that new and smart partnerships, along with innovative funding mechanisms can significantly advance global health and development priorities.  – Emirates News Agency, WAM


The First Human Development Report of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi 2011/2012 unveiled

            The Abu Dhabi Department of Economy and the United Nations Development Programme yesterday unveiled the first Human Development Report of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi 2011/2012 at the Intercontinental Hotel in Abu Dhabi.

The event was attended by high level governmental representatives and officials including Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Maryam Al Roomi, Minister of social affairs, Nasser Ahmed Alsowaidi, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (DED), Dr. Saeed Al Shamsi, Assistant Foreign Minister for International Organisations, Paolo Lembo, UAE United Nations Resident Coordinator, United Nations Development Programme Resident Representative a.i., Mohammed Omar Abdullah, Undersecretary, Department of Economic Development (DED) Abu Dhabi, Dr. Mugheer Khamis Al Khaili, Director General of ADEC, Fahad Saeed al Raqabani, Director General of ADCED, Habiba Al Marashi, Chairperson EEG and President, UN Global Compact GCC Network in addition to a number of ambassadors and members of the Diplomatic Corps in the UAE.

The Human Development Report of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi 2012/2011 is the first report issued by the Emirate of Abu Dhabi showcasing its interest in human development in the context of the development plans and programs adopted. This report reflects the position of the accomplished human development throughout the past forty years covering education, health and standard of living.

The report reflects the wisdom and the confidence the leadership of Abu Dhabi enjoys to give this significant priority to building human talents, and the optimal use of natural resources to shape the Emirate as a global capital city. Moreover, the report provides an objective human development state dissertation and assessment, listing the positive and negative elements that affected the current findings.

Commenting on the launch, Paolo Lembo, UAE United Nations Resident Coordinator, United Nations Development Programme Resident Representative a.i. mentioned: "At the core of Abu Dhabi cultural heritage is a moral commitment to value human life and respect individual freedoms, as best expressed by the ancient tales of early inhabitants of the area: a spirit that bears little record in academic texts but is firmly recorded in the memories of the ancient members of the community. It is this spirit that the first Abu Dhabi Human Development report wishes to celebrate and transmit to the new generation, to firmly anchor the vision of the future on the most noble values of their past."

"We hope that the Human Development Report for the Emirate of Abu Dhabi would be part of a series of regular reports, intended to widen its spread and frequently partake in the government and media circles, universities, schools, research centres and NGOs discussions and decisions." he continued.

Nasser Ahmed Alsowaidi, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (DED) emphasised: "It must be noted that the goal of the authors of this report was not to prepare a theoretical, academic research paper, but to provide a living instrument to trigger the public debate, urge policy formulation and respond to people and government hopes in raising awareness among citizens on the challenges facing the Emirate at a time of worldwide crisis." Dr. Mohammed bin Huwaidin, Associate Professor and Chair of Department of Political Science, UAE University, the Lead Author of the Abu Dhabi Human Development Report (ADHDR) said: "Undertaking the effort to compile this report stems from the government's efforts to open a dialogue about the best practices and models of development aiming to enhance the growth of Abu Dhabi in the next decade. The report endeavours primarily to broaden the base of the national debate on human development beyond the traditional financial growth, amid diagnosing the current status of human development in Abu Dhabi through suggesting innovative policies to decision-makers in their quest to cast attention on reforms that will allow us to achieve development opportunities." Sheikh Nahyan thanked in his inaugural speech the department for issuing this important report. He also commended the supportive role of the UNDP in preparation of the report.

The UAE minister said, "The report reflects the UAE's leadership endeavour to build a prosperous community, whose pillars are human resources and knowledge".

The First Human Development Report for Abu Dhabi 2011/2012 Highlights: The education index showed that the average years of schooling for groups of citizens and non-citizens in the emirate of Abu Dhabi's total population fall within the average of first 42 countries that have been classified according to the Human Development Report 2010 with very high human development. This reflects the world sophisticated position of the emirate. Still, this is evidence of the learning regression compared to other countries' human development due to the presence of large numbers of non-citizens with low levels of literacy. This is due to the preference ratio of citizens, especially males, who leave school in early stages to enrol in early labour.

The field of education saw developments quantity and quality significantly during the last forty years; it has increased the number of schools to reach to 489 public and private schools in 2010, up from a 146 schools in 1980, where the governmental schools formed the largest percentage of the total schools, reaching to 305 schools in 2010 compared to 184 private school.

The Emirate of Abu Dhabi is rated globally amongst the countries with the highest stage of human development according to the UNDP classification. With this classification, the Emirate of Abu Dhabi is ranked 29 globally, along with the Republic of Slovenia, according to the Human Development Index. The value of this evidence is restricted to the population of non-citizens in the emirate stood at 0.760, where the capital of Abu Dhabi is globally ranked 53 amongst the countries with high human development.

The changes in the economic and social conditions, and growth of the population, and the internal migration of citizens from other emirates to work in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, led to increase the numbers of both employed and unemployed citizens, where the increased number of working citizens from 12 thousands in 1975, 96.0% of the national labour force, to about 93 thousand, 88.0% of the national labour force in 2010.

Furthermore, the number of unemployed increased from about 450 in 1975, 4.0% of the national labour force, to about 12700 in 2010, 12.0% of the national labour force. As for non-citizens, it is expected that all foreigners are legally working with a under the sponsorship system in the United Arab Emirates. Overall, the rate of employed non-citizens forms about 98.0% of the labour force in all years; up from about 110 thousand in 1975 to more than one million in 2010. Thus, in 2010, the unemployment rates range to a ratio of 2% of the labour force. The number of unemployment increased from about 2,400 in 1975 to more than 26 thousands in 2010. Thus it appears that the rate of 2.0 per cent reflects almost a normal ratio among non-citizens in the emirate.

The report estimates the rate unemployment among local citizens in the emirate in 2011 at about 11.6%, where it is at its highest in Al Ain area, 16%, followed by the area of Abu Dhabi, 9%, and West of Abu Dhabi, 8%. It is worth noting that the unemployment rate is prominent among females, reaching 41.8 per cent compared with the rate of males, which is only 3.8%.

The gross domestic product at current prices doubled for the capital of Abu Dhabi between 1975 and 2010 about 24 times; increasing from 26 billion dirhams in 1975 to 620 billion dirhams in 2010, with an average annual growth rate of about 9.0 per cent. Excluding oil, non-oil GDP at current prices rose from around six billion dirhams in 1975 to more than 312 billion dirhams in 2010, where it doubled more than 55 times, or had an average annual growth rate of around 11.5% on average.

Nevertheless, the cost of living in the emirate in 2010 increased by about four times from the original cost in 1975; which means that the family who required around Dh 1000 to spend on goods and services per month in 1975, required more than Dh 4000 per month in 2010 to consume the same goods and services per month.

Comparing the adopted Abu Dhabi 2030 vision for growth, the annual average rate of growth in real GDP between 2008 and 2010 was negative, -1.6% ; that is mainly due to the declining oil revenues in 2009. Although the oil revenues rose again in 2010, it did not reach the level that was prevailed in 2007. Therefore, it is necessary to achieve economy real growth of 12.2% average between 2011 and 2015, in order to compensate for this growth slowdown. The average growth target between 2010 and 2015 is 7%. As for the growth in non-oil GDP, it stood at 3.2% a year between 2008 and 2010; about 6% less than expected. However lower oil revenues and the continued non-oil sectors growth, raised the degree of contribution to the GDP to 48% on average in this period, which is close to the ratio target in 2015. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

SCAD: 1.3% inflation rate in 9 months

            Statistics Centre - Abu Dhabi issued yesterday its monthly report on the consumer price index (CPI) and the inflation rate in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi during the last nine months and the month of September 2012, with the year 2007 fixed as the base year. It also details CPI results by welfare levels and types of households.

The first nine months SCAD indicated a 1.3% increase in consumer prices for the first nine months of 2012, compared with the same period of 2011, as shown by the increase in the CPI from 122.8 points during the first nine months of 2012, up from 121.2 points during the same period of 2011. The rise resulted from price movements (rises and falls) of the consumer goods and services during the first nine months of 2012 compared to the same period in 2011.

Largest Contributors: The report shows that the "Food and non-alcoholic beverages" group accounted for the largest rise in the index during the first nine months of 2012 compared with the same period of 2011, contributing 55.5% to change. Rises in the "Food and non-alcoholic beverages" group came as a result of increases in the prices of most of its subgroups. The prices of "Coffee, tea and cocoa" subgroups rose by 9.0%, "Meat" by 8.3%, "Fish and seafood" by 6.5%, "Oil and fats" by 6.2% and "Vegetables" by 5.4%.

The second highest contributor to the overall increase in the CPI over the first nine months of 2012 was the "Restaurants and hotels" group, accounting for 48.1% of the increase. This contribution resulted mainly from an increase of 17% in the prices of this group.

The prices of "Furnishings, household equipment and routine household maintenance" rose by 3.1% during the first nine months of 2012 compared with the same period of 2011. This group contributed 11.7% of the total increase achieved by all groups during the two periods. The most important subgroups that caused this increase were "Glassware, tableware and household utensils" up by 5.4% and "Goods '&' used services in the ordinary household maintenance" up by 3.2% respectively.

The "Education" group accounted for 12.3% of the overall increase occurring during the first nine months of 2012 compared with the same period of 2011, while the "Transport" group contributed 6.1% to the rise in consumer prices for the periods compared, with its prices increasing by 0.8%.

Price Falls: Among the main groups that slowed down the rise in consumer prices during the first nine months of 2012 compared with the same period of 2011, was the "Housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels" group which contributed -42.1% as the prices of this group decreased by 1.3%.

The 3rd Quarter of 2012:  SCAD maintains that the average rise in consumer prices for the third quarter of 2012 was 1.2 per cent, compared with the same period of 2011.

The "Restaurants and hotels" accounted for 60.7 per cent of the increase in the CPI, while prices for this group increased by 20.9 per cent.

The next highest group contributor to the overall year-to-date increase in the CPI for the third quarter of 2012 was "Food and non-alcoholic beverages" which accounted for 37.2 per cent.

The main group that slowed down the rise in consumer prices during the third quarter of 2012 compared with the same quarter of 2011 was "Housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels" which contributed -56.6 per cent of the overall change in the CPI index. The average prices of this group decreased by 1.8 per cent.

The CPI for Q3 2012 compared with Q2 2012 increased by 0.6 per cent. The rise was due to a significant increase of 1.9 per cent of the prices for "Restaurants and hotels".

CPI in September 2012 compared with the CPI of September 2011 SCAD's report reveals that the average consumer prices increased by 1.1% in September 2012 compared with the same month in 2011, with the CPI at 123.7 points in September 2012, up from 122.3 points in September 2011. This increase in prices is due to the net movement (increases and decreases) of consumer prices during the mentioned months.

The most significant groups, which experienced increases in prices during September 2012 compared with September 2011, were the "Restaurants and hotels" group with an 18.1% increase, followed by "Clothing and footwear" with 3.8%, "Alcoholic beverages and tobacco" with 3.0% and "Food and non-alcoholic beverages" group with 1.9%. Meanwhile the "Housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels" group decreased by 1.3%.

CPI in September 2012 compared with the CPI of August 2012 In September 2012, the average consumer prices increased by 0.3% compared with August 2012, with the CPI increasing from 123.3 points in August 2012 to 123.7 points in September 2012. This overall increase in prices between the two months reflects the net movement (rises and falls) of the prices for consumer goods and services during the two months compared.

The "Education" group recorded the largest increase at 3.0%, while "Furnishings, household equipment and routine household maintenance" rose by 2.9%, "Miscellaneous goods and services" rose by 1.0% and "Food and non-alcoholic beverages" group increase by 0.5%.

Average CPI by Household welfare level for the first nine months of 2012 compared with the same period of 2011 The rise of 1.3% in consumer prices during the first nine months of 2012 compared with the same period in 2011, resulted in a surge of 1.5% in consumer prices for households of the bottom welfare quintile for the same period of comparison. The corresponding rise for other welfare levels was 1.1% for households of the top quintile and 1.4% for the middle quintile.

Average CPI by Household welfare level in September 2012 compared with the same month in 2011 The rise in consumer prices in September 2012 by 1.1% compared with September 2011 caused a rise in consumer prices for households in the bottom welfare quintile by 1.4%, while prices increased for households in the top and middle quintile by 1.1%.

Average CPI by Household welfare level in September 2012 compared with August in 2012 The 0.3% rise of consumer prices consumer prices in September 2012, compared with August 2012, caused an increase of 0.4% in consumer prices for households in the middle welfare quintile as well as the bottom middle welfare quintile while the top middle welfare quintile increased by 0.3%.

Average CPI by Household type for the first nine months of 2012 compared with the same period of 2011 The 1.3% rise in consumer prices for the first nine months of 2012 compared with the same period of 2011, pushed up consumer prices for citizen households by 1.4%, non-citizen households by 1.0% and share households by 1.7%.

Average CPI by Household type for the month of September 2012 compared with September 2011 The 1.1% rise in consumer prices in September 2012 compared with September 2011 caused a 1.0% rise in consumer prices for citizen households during the same period. Prices for non-citizen households increased by 1.1%, while prices for share households increased by 1.7%.

Average CPI by Household type for the month of September 2012 compared with August 2012 The 0.3% rise in consumer prices in September 2012 compared with August 2011 caused a 0.4% rise in consumer prices for citizen households during the same period. Prices for non-citizen households increased by 0.3% during the two mentioned months. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

DGCX records highest monthly volumes in history

            Dubai Gold and Commodities Exchange (DGCX) registered its highest ever monthly volumes in September, reaching 971,675 contracts, a 100% increase from the same month last year. The Exchange's total monthly volume was valued at US$38.08 billion, the highest ever monthly trading value it has ever recorded.

DGCX ended the third quarter of the year with year-to-date volumes of 6,724,161 contracts, a significant rise of 143% from last year.

DGCX's currency segment rose 105% year-on-year to end the month on 901,712 contracts. One of the key performers of the month was Euro futures, which recorded a massive year-on-year jump of 415%, aggregating 38,851 contracts - the highest monthly volumes the contract has achieved this year. Indian Rupee Futures maintained its high-growth trend this year, rising 101% year-on-year to reach 859,739 contracts in September.

Among precious metal futures, Gold continued its robust performance in September, rising 46% from last year to aggregate 58,897 contracts. Silver futures grew 133% from last month, while copper increased by 8% to reach 1,781 and 7,852 contracts respectively.

Gary Anderson, Chief Executive Officer, DGCX, commented, "DGCX's record breaking volumes this month have been driven by its ability to facilitate greater liquidity and tighter spreads in its contracts. The rising profile of the exchange in the region and increased awareness of the investment potential of Gold futures have promoted high levels of retail participation in the contract, significantly boosting trading volumes over 2012. DGCX's ability to offer extended trading hours have led to it becoming a benchmark market for Indian Rupee futures, driving consistent growth in the contract. DGCX is today the biggest offshore market in the world for Indian Rupee derivatives. " – Emirates News Agency, WAM

UAE leads as ME M&A activity doubles to US$15.7bn

            Middle Eastern M&A activity recorded deals worth US$15.7 billion during the first nine months of 2012, more than double the activity seen during the same period in 2011 (US$7.5 billion), and the strongest first nine months since 2008. 

According to Thomson Reuters’ investment banking analysis for the Middle East region for the first nine months of 2012, the UAE has emerged as the most active country in the region with US$4 billion of deals. 

“In respect to M&A activity during the first nine months of 2012, telecommunications was the most targeted industry in the Middle East with US$6.4 billion. The United Arab Emirates was the most active Middle Eastern country with US$4 billion of the total M&A activity so far during 2012,” said Russell Haworth, Managing Director, Middle East & North Africa, Thomson Reuters. 

In respect to investment banking, Middle Eastern fees reached US$402.2 million during the first nine months of 2012, a 23 per cent increase from the first nine months of 2011 when fees reached US$327.5 million. 

“Investment banking has seen strong activity across Middle Eastern markets during the third quarter of 2012. This is clearly evident by the fees generated from the equity capital markets underwriting which reached US$81.5 million. This marks the strongest first nine months for fees in the region since 2008,” Haworth added. 

Middle Eastern debt capital markets fees during the first nine months of 2012 reached US$81.9 million, nearly double the US$41.9 million seen during the same period in 2011. On the other hand, M&A fees recorded US$103.3 million during the first nine months of 2012, down 14 per cent from the same period last year (US$120.3 million). 

“Islamic debt issuance reached US$23.4 billion from 63 issues during the first nine months of 2012, an increase of 50 per cent from the same period last year, and the strongest first nine months since 2008. The top Islamic issuer nation during the first half of 2012 is Malaysia with 57 per cent of the activity, while the strongest industry is the financial sector,” Haworth said. 

Fees from syndicated lending reached US$135.5 million, up 38 per cent over the first nine months of 2011 and accounting for 34 per cent of the overall fee pool.  Fees from equity capital markets underwriting recorded US$81.5 million, marking the strongest first nine months for fees in the region since 2008. 

RBS topped the Middle Eastern completed M&A fee rankings for the first nine months of 2012, earning 12.2 per cent of the fee pool. Qatar National Bank topped the Middle Eastern ECM fee rankings with US$16 million, followed closely by Saudi Fransi Capital with US$15.9 million.

Deutsche Bank and Saudi British Bank topped the debt capital markets and syndicated lending fee league tables, respectively. 

In respect to M&A activity, Goldman Sachs topped the Middle Eastern Involvement M&A Ranking during the first nine months of 2012 with US$5.9 billion, while Credit Suisse took second place with US$4.8 billion.

HSBC topped the Middle Eastern target M&A Ranking, controlling 26 per cent of the market. The largest Middle Eastern deal so far this year was Qtel’s US$2.2 billion offer for the Kuwait-based telecommunications operator, Wataniya, in August. 

Equity capital markets issuance reached US$2.5 billion during the third quarter of 2012, down 39 per cent from the previous quarter. ECM activity during the first 9 months of 2012 totalled US$7.5 billion, down 16 per cent from the same period last year. Follow-ons accounted for 76 per cent of ECM activity during the first nine months of 2012, while IPOs accounted for 22 per cent. 

The largest Middle Eastern ECM transaction during the third quarter was a US$1.6 billion a follow-on from Mobile Telecommunications Co Saudi Arabia. Bolstered by this deal, and Qtel’s US$1.9 billion follow-on in May, Telecoms was the most active sector in the Middle East during the first nine months of 2012 with 42 per cent. Qatar National Bank topped the Middle Eastern Equity Capital Markets ranking during the first nine months of 2012. 

Middle Eastern debt issuance reached US$6.3 billion during the third quarter of 2012, a 6 per cent decline from the second quarter total of US$6.7 billion. t took activity during the first nine months of 2012 to US$23.9 billion, up 52 per cent on the same period in 2011. 

Investment grade corporate debt accounted for 70 per cent of all Middle Eastern DCM activity during the third quarter. HSBC took the top spot in the Middle Eastern bond ranking for the first nine months of 2012 with a 14 per cent share of the market. – Emirates 24|7

Dubai to cut time on airport formalities

            Dubai International Airport expects to cut by half the time taken by arriving and departing passengers to complete formalities, according to Major General Mohammed Al Marri, Director of the General Department of Residency and Foreigners Affairs.

But the time taken to complete arrival formalities at all the three terminals of the airport cannot be same because of differing distances from the place of arrival to the immigration counter, he added.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has instructed that the movement of travellers, especially tourists, through Dubai Airport should be speeded up, said General Al Marri in exclusive statements to Emirates 24/7.

"We have already taken many steps to reduce congestion in the arrival halls, particularly in the morning. The morning shift now starts at 6am instead of the earlier 7.30am and 10 officers have been added to the staff,” he said.

Administrators have been undergoing training in faster check-in of travellers, particularly during the busy morning hours, he said.

The idea of rotating airport officers to enable them to work in different places and conditions, has been adopted. Shifting officers to terminals experiencing congestion has helped speed up arrival and departure formalities, he added.

Al Marri said shifting of the eye scanning device to the passport counter has also helped reduce the time for airport procedures.

Speaking on traffic congestion on the Hatta-Oman and Dibba-Musandam roads, Al Marri attributed this to increase in the number of private cars and buses travelling between UAE and Oman.

Staff has been increased to help in the movement of vehicles and reduce traffic jams. However, the Dibba-Musandam route comes under the emirate of Fujairah, he pointed out.

A new building is being built at the Hatta border to help reduce traffic congestion. It is expected to be opened by January 2013, he added. – Emirates 24|7

Abu Dhabi Municipality launches new online service for recreational facilities

            The Municipality of Abu Dhabi City has recently launched a new online service via its official website (http://www.adm.gov.ae) relating to parks and recreational facilities as part of a strategic plan aimed to widen the scope of e-services offering, better serve community members, and provide ultra modern services enabling customers and the public access to municipal services in parks and recreational facilities across Abu Dhabi.

The launch of the new online service is part of a drive to promote e-services and open up communication channels with the community to deliver best-in-class services, and keep members of the community informed of services provided and various events hosted by gardens '&' parks in Abu Dhabi.

This e-service will provide a direct link enabling customers to choose their fancied events and destinations and offer them a direct access to gardens and parks where they will have an overview and a thorough briefing about the potential of gardens '&' parks in Abu Dhabi, along with the services and recreational events provided by the Municipality in these facilities.

The portal provides a short account of the objectives '&' services of parks in addition to a full review of Abu Dhabi parks and garden which include: Khalifa Park, Assema Park, Tourist Club Park, Bani Yas Public Park, Bani Yas Ladies '&' Children Park, Al Khalidiya Public Park, Al Maqtaa Park, Al Shahama Park, and the new Airport Park. It also includes tables of the full events '&' activities hosted by parks and gardens in Abu Dhabi.

Through this e-gate, the Municipality is offering a service for making private bookings for schools and tourist groups in order to streamline the movement of visitors in keeping with program of events held and the occupancy of the venue.

The Municipality was also keen on providing a window to receive customer complaints '&' observations in order to continue improvement of services in keeping with the aspirations and needs of the community. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

Seven UAE beaches awarded Blue Flags

            UAE residents have all the more reason to enjoy the sun and surf of the country's beautiful shoreline as Emirates Wildlife Society in association with WWF (EWS-WWF), announced in partnership with the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE), that several beaches across the emirates have just been awarded the prestigious Blue Flag; an internationally recognised eco-label designed to help protect and develop beaches and marinas around the world.

In total seven more beaches and marinas spanning Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Fujairah have been granted the international award after meeting a number of strict criteria designed to raise environmental coastal standards. Another confirmed beach is due to be announced later this year; bringing the grand total of Blue Flag beaches and marinas in the UAE to 12. This follows a successful pilot year in 2011, in which the UAE's first four Blue Flags were awarded.

These newly awarded sites join a global list of 3,849 beaches and marinas across 46 different countries, from the tropical shores of the Caribbean islands to the rugged cliffs of New Zealand. The beaches and marinas awarded the flag include: - Emirates Palace beach - Abu Dhabi, - Emirates Palace marina - Abu Dhabi, - Jebel Ali Golf Resort and Spa beach - Dubai - Jebel Ali Golf Resort and Spa marina - Dubai - Open Beach Jumeirah - Dubai - Al Mamzar Beach Park - Dubai - Le Merdien Al Aqah Beach Resort - Fujairah Lisa Perry, Programmes Director at EWS-WWF, stated: "It is with great pleasure we are able to announce that seven more sites have been awarded the Blue Flag in the UAE with another due to be announced later in the year. The commitment of beach and marina management and operators across the country is very encouraging and are proud of the success of Blue Flag in the country so far. We call upon more to apply for this prestigious award to help us raise the bar of costal excellence in the country.

"Blue Flag beaches and marinas are accessible for UAE residents and tourists alike and through the Blue Flag programme we are working, with the management of these sites, to ensure that these areas are kept clean, safe and protected for generations to come." The Blue Flag programme is awarded on the basis of compliance of up to 32 criteria for beaches and 24 criteria for marinas covering four key areas: environmental education and information, water quality, environmental management, safety and services.

The Blue Flag programme in the UAE is proudly sponsored by Applied Materials. Michael Baxter, Director Corporate Affairs of Applied Materials commented: "EWS-WWF is playing a critical role in promoting environmental information '&' education in the region. It is crucial to raise environmental awareness and increase good environmental practices among the tourist industry, tourists and local populations to achieve a healthy balance between biodiversity protection and sustainable tourism development. We are delighted to sponsor the Blue Flag program in the UAE, which is playing a key role in the protection of natural habitats and the regions' resources so generations to come can enjoy." EWS-WWF is the national coordinator of the programme and initiated a successful pilot phase at Abu Dhabi Corniche beach in 2011. The EWS-WWF team has since been working with authorities and stakeholders to raise environmental standards of beaches and marinas nationwide. Other beaches that also currently fly Blue Flag in the country are; Le Meridien Mina Seyahi in Dubai, Yas Marina and Al Bandar Marina in Abu Dhabi, all of whom were awarded in 2011. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

UAE adopts the World Animal Health Information System

            The Ministry of Environment and Water, in collaboration with the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), has implemented the World Animal Health Information System (WAHIS), an internet-based computer system that processes data on animal diseases in real-time and then informs the international community.

OIE Members use WAHIS to notify the OIE of relevant animal disease information.

The system consists in two components: an early warning system to inform the international community, by means of "alert messages", of relevant epidemiological events that occurred in OIE Members, and a monitoring system in order to monitor OIE Listed diseases (presence or absence) over time Whenever an important epidemiological event occurs in a Member, the Member must inform the OIE by sending an Immediate Notification (terrestrial and aquatic animals) which includes the reason for the notification, the name of the disease, the affected species, the geographical area affected, the control measures applied and any laboratory tests carried out or in progress. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

Mongoose mayhem on Ras Al Khaimah farm

An Emirati teacher in Ras Al Khaimah had the surprise of his life when he found and captured a wild animal on his farm after it had attacked chicken and sheep.

The teacher, Adel Abd Allah Naqi, caught a mongoose and trapped it in a cage hoping that a local zoo would adopt it. After contacting some zoos, they asked him to either deliver the animal himself or set it free. However, as the mongoose is an untamed animal, the process of delivery would be tough and dangerous for Naqi. If set free, it would be challenging to capture again, especially since it had taken several days for the mongoose to fall into the trap.

“I started to notice that some of the chicken and sheep in my farm were disappearing so I thought it might be a wild cat or a dog,” Naqi recounted. “As more and more of the chicken were disappearing, I started to think that there could be a wilder animal so I set up a trap for it.”

Naqi, whose farm is located in an area called Al Shaghi, has been seeking help from professionals that take care of such animals.

Mongooses are carnivorous animals that feed on insects such as beetles but are also known to attack snakes including the venomous cobra. They are mostly found in mountains and their size ranges from 18 to 60 centimetres with a tail that is approximately as long as their bodies.

Wildlife expert at the Dubai Zoo, Dr Ridha Khan, explained that there are two species of mongooses; the grey and the white-tailed. The latter is very much local to the UAE.

“A mongoose’s bite may cause rabies. This also applies to the bite of other animals such as foxes, cats and dogs especially if it penetrates the skin,” Dr Khan warned, adding that such animals should be handled with a lot of care.

Upon contacting him regarding the mongoose in Ras Al Khaimah, Dr Khan volunteered to take it and provide care for the animal. – Gulf News

When Sharjah made aviation history

Al Mahatta Museum stands proudly on the same spot where the first airport in the UAE used to be. On the 80th anniversary of that unforgettable landing of the first west-bound flight here on Tuesday, many in the emirate reminisced the days when Sharjah was the hub of the UAE’s aviation industry.

Emirati historian Dr Saif  Al Badwawi, 53, was just eight years old when he witnessed the weekly flights of the Imperial Airways from Australia to Sharjah via Karachi, then to London, and the daily flights of the British Royal Air Force (RAF). “I and my friends used to come to this international airport to watch the aircraft coming in and out of the British military camp. I was a student of the Boys School of the Trucial Oman Scouts (TOS) in 1951. At some other times, I came with my friends to watch movies at the Sharjah Cinema, both were inside the RAF camp.

“In my young mind, I was impressed to see how huge the airport facilities were as they stood out in a great expanse of sandy area near the seaside. No other buildings were there. The runway was where the present King Abdul Aziz Street is. The original airport is now the site of the Al Mahatta Museum,” Al Badwawi says.

In 1956, a new Control Tower was opened, which operated until the new Sharjah International Airport opened in 1977.

“As Sharjah developed into a metropolis, this first airport faded out from its significant background.” A senior researcher at the Cultural and Information Department in Ajman, Al Badwawi says Sharjah became the choice of the British Imperial Airways’ long journey from London to the Far East for refuelling stop in 1932. This prompted late Sheikh Sultan bin Saqr Al Qasimi, then Ruler of Sharjah, to set aside this area.

Emirati Ahmad bin Askar Al Naqabi, who was sent by Sheikh Sultan to study at the Kuwait Military Academy and joined in 1975 as Hawker Hunter striker at 25 and later took Advance Flying and Weapons training at the Military Amendola Airbase in Italy, says that the entire Sharjah airport was the only one lighted up at night.

“I am proud and I can say it’s a dream come true for Sharjah to be able to have the first international airport in the UAE in the past. I have served in the Air Force for almost 20 years with skills using the more sophisticated and more modern Mirages 5 and 3 with 2.2 Mach speed. I used to fly in and out of this airport,” he adds.

Capt Martin Slater, 64, an aircraft engineer who flew in to Sharjah from London for the 80th anniversary of the first landing, says that the H-P42 12-seater plane had been used in Sharjah’s airport between 1932 and 1938. “This aircraft used to come from London to Sharjah via Karachi for refuelling and proceed to Australia.”

He used to fly Auster Autocraft, the first aircraft of Gulf Aviation, the same type which could be seen among the exhibits at the hangar of Al Mahatta Museum. “Sharjah was the choice of the Imperial Airways when it decided to come to the Arab side instead of using the airport in Bushire in Iran. The facilities in the old airport here included ten rooms where the passengers could stay overnight before proceeding to India and London.” He says that Sharjah is very lucky that this land and the old  buildings, including the fort, and the original runway, that is King Abdul Aziz Street, have been preserved. “Thanks to the Ruler of Sharjah,” he says. Sharjah’s golden year in aviation came on October 5, 1932 when the first passenger flight from Croydan Airport in East London landed in Sharjah. The first west-bound plane, Hanno (Hannibal class) built by Handley Page, came with four passengers on board.

Eighty years after, at a hangar in Al Mahatta Museum, visitors find such aircraft as the 1937 AVRO Anson IG AKVW-UK from the Royal Air Force (RAF) used for the RAF Flying Training School and then the Air Observer Navigation School. The aircraft later changed hands to Gulf Aviation Ltd in 1950, and to Aden Airways in Yemen before it found its way to Al Mahatta Museum between 2004 and 2005. A World War vintage, 1945 Douglas DC 3/C-474-AM22 S/No. 33340 built in Oklahoma City in the USA used as a C474 for the US Army and Air Force and later leased to the UK’s RAF as a Dakota MKIV is among the precious collections at the flight museum.

Two other aircraft on display are the DH114 Heron 1B-6 ANFE S/14034 Heron built in 1953 at Chester, England, and the De Havilland Comet2 G-AMXA. Heron joined the fleet of Doves of Gulf Aviation Service in 1956, regularly flying the longest scheduled return journey every Monday to Bahrain, Doha, Sharjah and Muscat. Comet2 used to fly from London to Khartoum, Sudan, and held the record for speed and distance and the world’s first commercial jet plane. It was used by the RAF between 1958 and 1974 and flew in to Sharjah for refuelling.

Sheikh Abdullah Al Thani, Chairman of the Civil Aviation Department, led the 80th anniversary celebrations here on Tuesday. – Khaleej Times

11 days of fun with science

            The adventure begins today across the emirate as the much-anticipated Abu Dhabi Science Festival 2012 opens to the public for the second year.

For the next 11 days, children and adults alike will be enthralled and treated to the wonders of science as they participate in numerous hands-on activities that are meant to spark kids’ curiosity and inspire them to pursue scientific education or careers in medicine, engineering and other Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) fields.

The Science Festival will explore the different fields of science — chemistry, biology, physics, general science, geography, animation, environmental and sport science — through its hands-on workshops, interactive exhibits and spectacular science shows.

This year, a life-sized T-Rex Animatronic Dinosaur will stalk the exhibition halls of the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) while Dr Megavolt will show off a high-voltage performance. Other shows include Visualise, a mischievous mix of physical theatre and science that demonstrates how our world works; The Bigger Bang Show; Science Circus; Extreme Freeze; and Explodaganza or all big bangs and explosions under one thrilling adventure. 

At the workshop, students can explore the Jungle Safari and go on an incredible journey through deepest, darkest jungle to learn about animals. They also will have the chance to taste what astronauts eat in space, experience G-force, make a camera from a biscuit tin, see what liquid nitrogen does to a banana, create their own chocolate ‘caviar’ and the literally hair-raising experience of static electricity.

The festival will also see the return of many of last year’s favourites including the Dig-up a Dinosaur and the Emergency Room.

This year’s show will occupy 20 per cent more floor space at the ADNEC in anticipation of a larger turnout than last year, and will also run daily at the Corniche (West Plaza). The emirate-wide event will also excite audiences at several malls in Abu Dhabi (Al Wahda and Mushrif Malls), Al Ain (Al Ain Mall) and Al Gharbiyah (City Mall).

The Abu Dhabi Science Festival is being held under the patronage of General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.

The festival is once again collaborating with the Edinburgh International Science Festival (EISF), the world’s first science festival, as its Programming Partner. – Khaleej Times

Fog Day 2: Dubai residents still on cloud 9

The UAE’s official weather forecaster, the National Centre of Meteorology and Seismology (NCMS), has issued a warning as dense fog has led to visibility falling to near zero in various parts of the country this morning.

Traffic congestions on various routes, most notably the Sheikh Zayed Road going from Dubai towards Abu Dhabi, as a result of the dense blanket of fog as well as numerous accidents that have resulted due to commuters not slowing down or taking enough safety precautions.

Drivers are being advised to remain extra cautious on the roads, and avoid driving altogether if possible until the fog burns out in due time.

The NCMS forecasts fog not only for the early morning, but for the evening and night across the UAE. The foggy conditions are likely to stay for the rest of the week. – Emirates 24|7

Discount village development for Dubai will cheer 'bargainistas'

A new outlet village offering discounted designer items is set to be built in Dubai, just a stone’s throw from Mall of the Emirates.

Meraas Holding, the developer behind The Beach retail and leisure development at Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR), will begin the construction of what it bills as a village of 160 shops on the intersection of Al Khail road and Umm Suqeim road next year.

The development will be built in two phases, with phase one to feature 100 upmarket brands, while phase two will consist of 60 additional outlet stores.

“The outlet village is envisioned to emerge as an iconic and a must-visit destination for visitors and residents alike,” said Meraas. “Unlike traditional ‘outlet’ malls, the outlet village will retail high-end luxury brands at discounted prices.”

Outlet villages and malls first came to prominence in the United States, offering end-of-season products at discount prices. They have been successfully replicated in Europe.

Meraas said it took its inspiration from a European village.

The UAE already boasts the Dubai Outlet Mall, a similar concept that was built in 2007 by Al Ahli Holding on the edge of the city, near Emirates Road.

It has not had the same success as some of Dubai’s other malls, but it has 240 stores offering discounts of 30 per cent to 90 per cent and said in August that retailers had benefited from a 20 per cent increase in sales this year, compared with last year.

Richard Adams, a director at Acuity Middle East, a retail and business consultancy, said the Meraas village could be a success if it attracted residents from Dubai to shop regularly.

“Over the next two to three years, we are going to see a significant shift in domestic consumption patterns,” he said. “Much of the luxury-focused weekend traffic that has been coming to Dubai from Abu Dhabi will increasingly spend in the capital’s new malls.

Across the UAE, developers are investing billions of dirhams in building shopping malls and retail districts.

In Dubai, Meraas and Nakheel are two of the sector’s biggest investors.

Meraas is developing The Beach at JBR, including an open-air cinema and 70 retail outlets. It is also constructing The Island 2 in Jumeirah, a mixed-use development, with retail outlets and an upmarket boutique resort featuring low-rise apartment buildings and a marina.

Nakheel plans to borrow Dh300 million (US$81.6m) from banks to build The Pointe, a shopping, restaurant and marina complex on the tip of the Palm Jumeirah.

It is also doubling the size of Dragon Mart and considering doing the same for Ibn Battuta Mall, as well as constructing a mall on the Palm Jumeirah.

Emaar Properties announced this year that it would expand the size of Dubai Mall by 92,000 square metres.

Meanwhile, Abu Dhabi is undergoing an even greater retail revolution as developers try to capture residents who often travel to Dubai to do their shopping.

A total of 200,000 square metres of retail space is expected to be completed by the middle of this year, on top of the 1.67 million square metres already available in the capital, according to the property consultancy Jones Lang LaSalle.

A number of malls are set to be finished this year or next in the capital and there are also new smaller developments such as Etihad Towers, Galleria at Sowwah Square and Emporium at Central Market, all forecast to open in the next couple of years. – The National

Dubai ready for 'the best' with World Cup programme

The 2013 Dubai World Cup Carnival promises to be another battle of the best with US$37.36 million (Dh137.1m) up for grabs in prize money.

Seven Group 1 contests, 10 Group 2 events, seven Group 3 and three Listed races will form the programme at Meydan racecourse and starts on January 10.

It will end with the Dubai World Cup meeting on March 30, which will feature nine races for the second year in succession.

Malhi Al Basti, Meydan Group Board Member and Chairman of the Racing Committee, said: “The success of the Dubai World Cup Carnival and the Dubai World Cup has brought international prominence to racing in Dubai and the UAE.

“Each year we welcome the best in racing to Dubai for our Dubai World Cup Carnival, a season that is the goal of horsemen from around the world. It is our privilege to share our passion for this wonderful sport that connects the world through the power and beauty of the horse.”

The Dubai World Cup programme features the Group 1 US$5m (Dh18.3m) Dubai Sheema Classic, the Group 1 US$5m (Dh18.3m) Dubai Duty Free, and the world’s richest race, the US$10m (Dh36.6m) Dubai World Cup, sponsored by Emirates Airline. Super Saturday, which acts as an indicator to the Dubai World Cup meeting, takes place on March 9.

The UAE flat racing season will start at Meydan on November 8 with 20 races scheduled. – Sport 360°

Focus on UAE's Sheikh Khalid as he returns to rallying

            Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi returns to action in the region with an unbranded car at the Jordan International Rally, round four of the FIA Middle East Championship Rally (MERC), to get in the groove after nearly a year out of the sport.

Sheikh Khalid, who recently formed Abu Dhabi Racing (ADR), has won the MERC title in 2004, but thereafter went on to compete in the FIA World Rally Championship driving for Ford Abu Dhabi WRT.

However, after Abu Dhabi decided to pull out of the WRC at the end of the 2011 season, Sheikh Khalid’s career was in a limbo, until his company, ADR, signed a five-year deal with Citroen Racing to field three cars at the WRC from the 2013 season.

Sport360° had last week exclusively revealed ADR’s formation and the deal with Citroen, and Sheikh Khalid’s return to the WRC with the first round in Monaco in January 2013.

At the Jordan International Rally, Sheikh Khalid would not be looking for points, but will instead concentrate on getting back in the groove after undergoing surgery last December for a troublesome knee and a back ailment.

Sheikh Khalid had told Sport360° last week that he is still recovering from the surgery, but said: “I think I am fine now to drive. I want to test myself in Jordan.”

The Abu Dhabi-based driver said that while in Jordan he would drive an unbranded car, a Ford Fiesta S2000 with Briton Marshall Clarke as co-driver, and hopes to be back in full form in time to challenge at the penultimate round of the MERC, the Dubai International Rally from November 29-December 1.

The Jordan rally will actually prove to be a big test for Sheikh Khalid because he will race against two formidable rivals – Qatar’s Nasser Al Attiyah and Saudi Arabia’s Yazeed Al Rajhi.

Both Al Attiyah and Al Rajhi also currently drive in the WRC, the former going off the road at the last round of the FIA championship in France where two spectators were injured.

Abdulaziz Al Kuwari currently leads the championship with 40 points after the third round in Syria was cancelled due to ongoing political turmoil in that country.

Misfir Al Marri sits in second with 37 points followed by Roger Fegali in third with 25 points. However, Sheikh Khalid’s return to the MERC has rekindled new interest in the regional championship because it renews his age-old rivalry with Qatar’s Al Attiyah.

Action gets under way on Thursday with the prologue and ends on Saturday afternoon. – Sport 360°

Abdullah bin Zayed: UAE keen to strengthen ties with Ukraine

            Although relatively new, relations between the United Arab Emirates and Ukraine are growing stronger in economic, commercial, military, industrial and scientific fields, Foreign Minister H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan has said.

Sheikh Abdullah made the remarks while speaking at a joint press conference in Abu Dhabi yesterday with Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs Kostyantyn Hryshchenko, following the closing session of the 2nd UAE-Ukraine Joint Ministerial committee meetings.

"The joint committee meeting explored various opportunities for cooperation. The meeting itself was an opportunity to enhance bilateral relations and to exchange views on current international developments," he said.

Sheikh Abdullah said the Ukrainian Minister visited Masdar City in Abu Dhabi to get acquainted with the projects being developed there. He also spoke about his visit to Kiev to discuss ways of strengthening ties and to identify opportunities available to Emirati business sectors.

For his part, Hryshchenko said he was pleased to be in the UAE. He praised the progress of relations between the two countries, adding that the joint committee meetings represented an ideal platform to discuss means to boost cooperation, particularly in the fields of agriculture and aerospace.

He also underlined the visit to be made by the Ukrainian President to the UAE.

Asked about the situation in Syria, Hryshchenko said Ukraine was concerned with the developments there and urged the international community to shoulder its duty of finding a peaceful solution to the Syrian crisis.

He commended UAE's stance on the Syria and the statements made by Sheikh Abdullah which indicated UAE's keenness to address the issue.

Sheikh Abdullah said the current situation in Syria was a result of ignoring to carefully study and heed the statements issued by the Arab League which sought to provide the best political solutions and to involve the international community and the Security Council.

"As Arabs, we were unable to deliver a tangible solution or to rally the international community to do so," he added.

"It is important that the international community should realize its huge responsibility of maintaining peace and stopping operations by the Syrian regime in civilian areas." Sheikh Abdullah said the current situation will have dire consequences on the whole region and will further deepen the sectarian rift in Syria. He added that both the UAE and Ukraine agree on the need to immediately end fighting which the Syrian regime is responsible for.

On the Turkish Foreign Minister's initiative, Sheikh Abdullah said a similar solution was proposed by the Arab League a year ago.

"We prefer political solution and the Arab League would be pleased to see a political solution and will provide all facilities for it. This, however, doesn't mean we stop supporting the Syrian opposition or work through the UN General Assembly and the Security Council.

He also noted that the conflict in Syria has begun to spill over into neighbouring countries, including Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq.

Asked about the people detained in the UAE pending investigation, Sheikh Abdullah said the Muslim Brotherhood objects to the idea of national and sovereign state and therefore, it was no surprise that their international organisation is seeking to undermine countries' sovereignty and laws.

"We have to communicate with different countries for cooperation and discussion. There are mistakes being made by individuals and organisations to undermine nations." Sheikh Abdullah said that nobody objects to any activity undertaken by individuals who respect nations' sovereignty and laws, "but there will be a problem for those nations if a certain organisations that think they have the capacity to breach sovereignty." "The UAE and other countries of the world do not tolerate organisations that see themselves as dominant and above the system. As nations, we respect each other and try to provide the best services to our respective citizens but we do not accept that other parties are trying to exploit our openness."

Earlier, the UAE Foreign Minister, H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and his Ukrainian counterpart Kostiantyn Hryschenko, co-chaired the second meeting of the UAE-Ukraine Joint Ministerial Committee in the presence of top UAE officials.

In his welcome address, Sheikh Abdullah affirmed the UAE's firm determination to expand joint political cooperation, calling for greater concerted coordination between Abu Dhabi and Kiev in issues of mutual concern at international forums.

He said the two-way trade exchange had reached US$ 500 million in 2011 and invited the Ukrainian government to take advantage of the UAE economic competitive edges like its strategic location in the Middle East, its state-of-the art infrastructure, trade and investment opportunities on offer in hope the UAE would become Ukraine's number one trade partner in the Middle East.

Sheikh Abdullah said the Abu Dhabi meeting provides a fitting platform to explore more investment opportunities in new sectors for further strengthening bilateral relations in areas of economy, trade and investment.

The second meeting, the UAE foreign minister indicated, had discussed a broad range of issues concerning joint cooperation in diverse sectors as investment, trade, economy, small and medium scale enterprises, industry, health, oil and gas, energy, renewable energy, standardisation and meteorology, higher education, defence, culture, justice, space, sports, customs and innovation.

Sheikh Abdullah unveiled that the UAE and Ukraine will sign during the upcoming visit of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych to the UAE five agreements on air services, joint protection for classified information, and defence cooperation and memorandum of understanding on security cooperation, draft treaty on mutual legal assistance and extradition of criminals.

Sheikh Abdullah expressed his hope Ukraine would back the UAE bid to host World Expo 2020 in Dubai. He said Kiev would host the third meeting of the joint committee.

For his turn, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Kostiantyn Hryschenko, said the two sides explored mechanism of boosting bilateral relations.

He referred to the meeting of the Ukrainian president with foreign ambassador accredited to Ukraine in which he stressed the importance of furthering bonds with the UAE.

The Ukrainian foreign minister said that the powerful business delegation accompanying him to the meeting had presented packages of promising investment projects in agriculture, shipbuilding and aviation industries.

Ukraine, he noted, had seen steady economic growth and created feasible business opportunities to attract Emirati investors since the first meeting of the joint committee.

The minister said he was impressed with what he had seen at Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company (Masdar) and expressed his country's interest to benefit from the advanced technology in renewable energy and to encourage Ukrainian students to join the vital specialisation.

He added that around 100,000 Ukrainians visit the UAE every year for trade and tourism. He invited Emiratis to visit Ukraine and enjoy its cultural and tourist attractions.

At the end of the meeting, the two minister signed minutes of the second meeting of the joint ministerial committee.  – Emirates News Agency, WAM

UAE non-oil trade grows to Dh 320.3 b in four months

            UAE non-oil foreign trade maintained positive growth rates in the first four months of this year rose by Dh 17.3 billion to Dh 320.3 billion compared to Dh 303 billion in the period of comparison.

The FCA initial statistics showed that exports increased by 10% from early January to late April this year, raising the UAE non-oil exports by Dh 18.4 billion from Dh 190.6 billion in 2011 to Dh 209 billion in the same period of this year.

"The exports grew within the above period by 33% from Dh 35.1 billion to Dh 46.9 billion, while re-exports hit Dh 64.4 billion in this period", said the FCA.

In terms of weight, the UAE total foreign trade hit about 31.8 million tons in 2012 January- April, including 17.5 million tons in imports, 11.2 million tons in exports and 3.1 million tons in re-exports.

The daily average weight of consignments (exported, imported and re-exported) processed by different customs outlets hit about 132 thousand tons per day (17 thousand tons per hour).

"In April alone, the UAE foreign trade hit about Dh 81.8 billion, including Dh 52.7 billion in imports, Dh 12.5 billion in exports and Dh 16.6 billion in re-exports", the FCA said.

Asia-Pacific region, retained its first place among the UAE top non-oil foreign trade partners with a total trade of Dh 145.6 billion with the UAE - 46% of the total trade in the first four months.

Europe came in the second place with Dh 80.2 billion (25%) of the total trade followed by Middle East and North Africa with Dh 43.4 billion (14%), America and the Caribbean with Dh 28 billion (9%), Western and Central Africa region with Dh 9.2 billion (2.9%) and COMESA with Dh 8.3 billion (2.6%).

The total of UAE non-oil foreign trade with the Gulf Council Countries (GCC) hit Dh 26 billion in the first four months of this year. This total consisted of Dh 9.3 billion in imports, Dh 7 billion in exports and Dh 9.7 billion in re-exports.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), kept its top place among the UAE trade partners from the GCC in the first four months of this year. The UAE total trade with the KSA reached Dh 9.9 billion. Oman came in the second place with Dh 6.4 billion followed by, Kuwait with Dh 3.5 billion, Qatar with Dh 3.2 billion and finally Bahrain with Dh 3 billion.

The UAE total foreign trade with Arab countries hit about Dh 44.5 billion in 2012 January- April. This total is divided into Dh 19.5 billion in imports; Dh 10 billion in exports and Dh 15 billion in re-exports.

The initial statistics in this period showed that gold came at the top of the imported goods with Dh 35.7 billion, followed by diamond with Dh 15 billion, cars with Dh 12.5 billion and jewelry with Dh 10 billion.

Gold, was the top among exported goods with Dh 24.4 billion, followed by polyethylene and propylene polymers in crude forms with Dh 4.7 billion, jewels and pieces of jewelry with Dh 1.5 billion and petroleum and other oils with Dh 1.1 billion.

Diamond, came first in re-exports in 2012 January- April with Dh 15.5 billion, followed by jewels and pieces of jewelry with Dh 6 billion, cars with Dh 5.1 billion and mobile phones with Dh 4.3 billion. The total trade of markets and free zones hit Dh 5.1 billion for this period. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

Abu Dhabi Media Summit 2012 begins tomorrow

            Under the patronage of His Highness Gen. Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, the Abu Dhabi Media Summit 2012 will open tomorrow here at the Yas Viceroy Hotel.

Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates will give the opening keynote of three-day summit with the participation of over 400 leaders from the across the global media industry.

The theme for the 2012 Summit is Redefining the digital frontier. The focus will be on digital media in emerging markets and on the technology disruption that is creating new distribution channels, marketing opportunities and audiences.

Summit sessions will focus on the nurturing of digital skills and talent; emphasise cross-industry perspectives and East-West dialogue; uncover the forces that are shaping the media landscape and identify new sources of innovation outside traditional western media centres.

The Abu Dhabi Media Summit features a unique combination of high-profile public sessions, off-record forums and private conversations. It brings together top-tier global media, technology, venture capital and creative industry players and their emerging-market counterparts. Selected entrepreneurs and start-up companies are also featured, bridging the gap between established industry leaders and disruptive entrants.

This year the Summit will also feature new sessions that give local and regional media entrepreneurs unprecedented access to global entrepreneurs and venture investors in a series of show-cases, work-shops, master-classes and inspirational talks.– Emirates News Agency, WAM

Etihad Airways and Air France-KLM unveil new strategic partnership

            Etihad Airways and Air France-KLM have signed a historic agreement to codeshare on flights across the airlines' networks, the first phase of a much larger strategic partnership which commences on 28th of current month.

The wide-ranging codeshare agreement will see Etihad Airways and Air France-KLM offering joint codes on destinations in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Australia. At the same time, Air France is announcing a new codeshare agreement with airberlin, Europe's sixth largest airline, in which Etihad Airways holds a 29.21 per cent stake.

James Hogan, Etihad Airways' President and Chief Executive Officer, said: "This deal, Etihad Airways' 40th codeshare, marks a momentous milestone for both airline groups and offers countless opportunities to develop an unrivalled commercial relationship.

"It reflects the core elements of Etihad Airways' 10-year master plan, driven by organic network growth, combined with the forging of strategic codeshare partnerships and minority equity investments in other airlines.

"The linking together of these three components, as we continue to strengthen our bilateral agreements, means all the pieces of our plan are coming together." Collectively, the two airline groups expect to carry more than 85 million passengers in 2012.

Air France-KLM and airberlin yesterday also announced a mutual codeshare agreement allowing customers of each of the two carriers to fly seamlessly on all the routes operated by the other between France and Germany.

Hartmut Mehdorn, Chief Executive Officer of airberlin, said: "Our cooperation with the Air France-KLM Group represents another milestone for airberlin in developing a unique, global flight network in conjunction with these world-beating airlines.

"This strategic step will add further interesting services to the choice we can offer our passengers and will have a positive influence on our operations. In this way we will considerably strengthen our presence in the European market and link our Berlin hub to even more destinations." Jean-Cyril Spinetta, Air France-KLM Chief Executive Officer, said: "This new partnership between Air France-KLM and Etihad Airways and airberlin reflects our Group's strategic positioning to ensure the best possible services between Europe and the rest of the world, by developing our network and airline partnerships.

"Working with Etihad Airways allows us to offer our customers a range of new attractive destinations," Mr Spinetta added.

Initially, the agreement between Etihad Airways and Air France-KLM will see the Abu Dhabi-based carrier's EY code placed on Air France flights between Paris Charles de Gaulle airport and Bordeaux, Copenhagen, Madrid, Nice and Toulouse.

The EY code will also be placed on KLM flights between Amsterdam and Abu Dhabi, Billund, Cardiff, Newcastle, Oslo and Stavanger.

Air France will initially place its AF code on Etihad Airways flights between Abu Dhabi and the Seychelles, the Maldives, Colombo, Dhaka, Kathmandu and Islamabad.

KLM will initially place its KL code on Etihad Airways flights between Abu Dhabi and Sydney, Melbourne, Islamabad, Colombo and Lahore.

Hogan added: "This deal enables us to further extend our global reach and now gives us a combined network of 321 destinations - the largest of any Middle East carrier.

"The agreement also opens up many new markets for our passengers in Europe and reinforces the importance of strategic commercial partnerships as one of the key enablers for accelerated growth of our network.

"Partnerships are delivering a major source of our revenue growth, by extending our network reach and putting our brand directly in front of millions of new customers. This year to date, they are providing 18 per cent of our revenues and will be a major contributor to our sustained profitability growth this year and into the future." – Emirates News Agency, WAM

Etihad Rail CEO participates in U.S. Global Infrastructure Conference

            Dr. Nasser Saif Al-Mansoori, CEO of Etihad Rail during his participation in the Global Infrastructure Conference held in Washington, has shed light on the major infrastructure milestones achieved in UAE.

The conference was hosted by Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton and participated by senior government officials from the UAE, Colombia, India and Indonesia, and business executives from over 90 American companies with the aim of identifying new investment opportunities for U.S. companies, particularly in markets that will see ambitious infrastructure development over the coming decades.

In her keynote speech, Secretary Clinton emphasised the importance of infrastructure to the future growth of the world economy and underscored her country's commitment to working with countries like the UAE to develop innovative ideas and partnerships to spur economic growth.

Following Secretary Clinton's speech, the conference broke out into industry-specific sessions with Dr. Al-Mansoori anchoring the panel for the session entitled Transportation Opportunities in the UAE,' which was moderated by Susan Kurland, Assistant Secretary for Aviation and International Affairs of the U.S. Department of Transportation.

In his session, Dr. Al-Mansoori highlighted the long-term impact of infrastructure in driving economic development and sustainable growth. Discussing the major infrastructure milestones achieved in the UAE, particularly in recent years, he went on to describe the positive impact and contribution of such projects, not just with regards to the quality of life for both UAE Nationals and residents, but also in the unlimited opportunities that have transpired for the UAE's various industries as a direct result. Such rapid growth and development, he explained, are thanks to the visionary leadership of UAE leaders and their dedication and commitment to developing a state-of-the-art infrastructure that will strategically diversify the nation's economy.

He further emphasised that infrastructure is a vital component of every vision and strategic plan in the UAE, opening doors for internal and external investment, as well as building partnerships and facilitating knowledge transfer.

Other members of the UAE delegation to the conference included senior officials and experts from Etihad Rail as well as from Abu Dhabi Water '&' Electricity Authority, Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Company, Abu Dhabi Ports Company, and the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates in Washington, D.C. The Dh40 billion Etihad Rail project embodies the UAE's leadership vision to diversify the economy and sustain social development and economic growth, in line with the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030 and the UAE Vision 2021. Upon completion, the 1,200km Etihad Rail network - which will cater to both freight and passengers - will connect urban and remote communities, facilitate trade, open up communication channels and foster economic development. The network will also form a vital part of the GCC Railway Network - linking the UAE to Saudi Arabia via Ghweifat in the west and Oman via Al Ain in the east.

Etihad Rail has already brought US expertise on board for the rail project. Joint venture Parsons-Aecom - with US-based Parsons - was awarded the Project Management Consultant contract for the entire railway network in 2011. Furthermore, last year Etihad Rail signed a deal with U.S.-based Electro-Motive Diesel (EMD), one of the world's largest builders of diesel-electric locomotives, to design and manufacture seven heavy haul freight locomotives scheduled for Stage One of the rail network. These locomotives are set to be delivered later this year.

Construction work on Stage One, which links Shah and Habshan to Ruwais, is already underway, and the tendering process is already in progress for Stage Two, which will connect the railway to Mussaffah, to the Gulf ports (Khalifa and Jebel Ali Ports) and the Saudi and Omani borders. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

EMAL and Fluorsid 'seal the deal' for aluminium fluoride

            Emirates Aluminium (EMAL) signed a contract for the provision of aluminium fluoride (AlF3) with the Italian-based company Fluorsid.

The contract extends the existing relationship between the two companies and ensures the future supply of a crucial element in the aluminium making process to EMAL.

The contract - worth US$93m over three years - will have Fluorsid supply AlF3 to the flagship industrial project between 2013 and 2016. EMAL's potline will consist of 1,200 pots after completion of Phase II, with each pot consuming roughly18kg of AlF3 per tonne of aluminium produced.

The signing was held at EMAL's premises at Al Taweelah where the Italian Ambassador to the UAE, Giorgio Starace, was on hand to witness the signing by EMAL President and CEO, Saeed Fadhel Al Mazrooei, and Fluorsid's Managing Partner, Tommaso Edoardo Giulini. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

Abu Dhabi plans two new industrial cities

            Abu Dhabi is planning to launch two new industrial cities in the Western Region on an area of 17 square kilometers, according to the Higher Corporation for Specialised Economic Zones (HCSEZ).

            One of the two cities will be built on an area of 14 square kilometres in Al Ruwais and will specialise in petrochemicals and building materials while the other will be built on an area of 2.5 square kilometres in Madinat Zayed and will specialise in oil and gas industries, food industries and logistic services. The two projects have been endorsed by Abu Dhabi Executive Council.

Strategic plan

The two cities come as part of the emirate’s strategic plan for industrial expansion, which includes a number of initiatives that are being implemented by the HCSEZ in co-ordination with the entities concerned, particularly the Department of Economic Development.

There is a study to launch a number of new industrial cities over the two coming years with the aim of supporting the industry strategy currently being followed by Abu Dhabi, the HCSEZ said.

The industrial sector in Abu Dhabi currently includes more than 1,200 industrial projects for the private sector. Of these, 800 projects are currently operating while the construction work will start in 400 other plants in the upcoming period. This shows how the economic development strategy in Abu Dhabi depends on the contribution of the private sector. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

Taqa all fired up over plan to power oilfields in southern Iraq

Abu Dhabi's power company plans to provide electricity to the oil sector in southern Iraq to help to fuel the nation's ambitious crude production targets.

Abu Dhabi National Energy (Taqa) hopes by next year to announce the details of a power project at one of the south's massive oilfields.

"We're working on a project with partners that we've put together," said Frank Perez, Taqa's executive officer for power and water. "The oil and gas majors, particularly in the south, have huge concessions and have huge power needs, and they need someone to build some plants for them and provide them energy within their area of influence and the area of their concessions."

Royal Dutch Shell, BP and China National Petroleum Corporation are among the oil majors that secured rights to gigantic oilfields after the latest war and are helping to increase pumping levels from today's 3.3 million barrels per day (bpd) to as much as 12 million by 2020, according to initial oil ministry targets.

Taqa, which bought into a 1,000 megawatt power plant in northern Iraq's Kurdistan region in April, is moving in the opposite direction of many oil companies that have abandoned the south for the north in the past year. ExxonMobil, Chevron and Total have all abandoned or run the risk of losing venture opportunities in the south by signing exploration contracts with the semi autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government.

Baghdad enforces a blacklisting policy against companies that sign oil production contracts in the north, although it has not penalised contractors or power companies. Taqa is in a privileged position, however, because it holds a one-fifth stake in WesternZagros, which mainly pumps oil in Kurdistan.

Last month David Cook, Taqa's executive officer for oil and gas, gave up his seat on the board of WesternZagros, although Taqa has the right to name another director.

"As Abu Dhabi we're big investors in the country, and Taqa certainly is comfortable supporting both - all the activity in the region," said Mr Perez in an interview at the company's headquarters. Taqa's current plans echo hopes in 2008 of setting up a subsidiary in Iraq to rebuild the nation's power grid. At the time, the then chief executive, Peter Barker-Homek, said that the subsidiary, to be named Taqa Babylon, would invest US$100 million (Dh367m) in Fallujah, Basra and Baghdad.

Mr Barker-Homek left the company in 2009 and since then the company has shifted its strategy from far-flung acquisitions in Canada and the Caribbean to regional expansion.

Providing power for oil majors is also safer than building plants for local communities, which can be vulnerable to attacks, said Mr Perez.

Taqa's joint venture plant in the Kurdish town of Sulemanieh is also making progress. Next year Taqa will add a further 500MW to its 1,000MW capacity by making gas use more efficient and recovering waste heat to use to drive additional turbines.

Supplying power to central Iraq is also a possibility for the Kurdistan Regional Government, which distributes the electricity from the plant to consumers, added Mr Perez. Last year, Kurdistan began selling power to Kirkuk, a neighbouring province that both central Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government lay claim to. – The National

Abu Dhabi plans two new industrial cities

            Abu Dhabi is planning to launch two new industrial cities in the Western Region on an area of 17 square kilometers, according to the Higher Corporation for Specialised Economic Zones (HCSEZ).

            One of the two cities will be built on an area of 14 square kilometres in Al Ruwais and will specialise in petrochemicals and building materials while the other will be built on an area of 2.5 square kilometres in Madinat Zayed and will specialise in oil and gas industries, food industries and logistic services. The two projects have been endorsed by Abu Dhabi Executive Council.

Strategic plan

The two cities come as part of the emirate’s strategic plan for industrial expansion, which includes a number of initiatives that are being implemented by the HCSEZ in co-ordination with the entities concerned, particularly the Department of Economic Development.

There is a study to launch a number of new industrial cities over the two coming years with the aim of supporting the industry strategy currently being followed by Abu Dhabi, the HCSEZ said.

The industrial sector in Abu Dhabi currently includes more than 1,200 industrial projects for the private sector. Of these, 800 projects are currently operating while the construction work will start in 400 other plants in the upcoming period. This shows how the economic development strategy in Abu Dhabi depends on the contribution of the private sector. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

UAE hotel and tourism sector to reach US$7.5 billion by 2016

            The hotel and hospitality market in the UAE is forecast to grow at more than 10 per cent a year for the next four years, dramatically outpacing growth in the overall economy.

Revenues from the hotel and hospitality market will reach US$4.9 billion (Dh17.99bn) this year, up from US$4.5bn last year, and will eventually grow to US$7.5bn by 2016 as tourists continue to flood into the country, according to Alpen Capital’s latest GCC industry report.

The growth in the UAE hospitality market will also outpace the overall GCC market, which is expected to increase at 8.1 per cent per year until 2016.

“The GCC hospitality sector is poised for a healthy growth owing to factors such as favourable economic conditions combined with infrastructure development, increased bids to host high-profile global events and government support to the private sector,” said Sameena Ahmad, managing director at Alpen Capital.

“All these factors have contributed to the steady increase in tourist arrivals which in turn has facilitated the growth of the hospitality industry in the region.”

The predicted growth in the hospitality market in the UAE is three times as high as the expected growth in the overall economy, according to the IMF, which predicts the UAE to expand between 2.8 per cent and 3.6 per cent each year until 2016.

Alpen believes tourist arrivals in the UAE will grow at 5.3 per cent each year, keeping pace with hotel supply, which will increase from 96,992 hotel rooms in Dubai and Abu Dhabi to 125,383 in 2016.

It expects the average price of a room to rise from US$183 last year to US$220 by 2016. “[The] UAE Government’s investment in infrastructure is likely to emerge as a huge positive,” said Alpen’s report. “These factors are likely to enhance tourism activities in the country, which in turn would boost hotel demand.”

Tourism is one of the key pillars of Abu Dhabi’s Economic Vision 2030 and has been one of the crucial drivers of Dubai’s economy this year. All factors point to a flourishing hospitality market after hotels in Dubai welcomed 10 per cent more guests in the first six months of the year compared with the same period last year, according to the Department of Tourism Commerce and Marke­ting in Dubai.

Revenues at hotels jumped 22 per cent to Dh9.7 billion (US$2.64bn) in the first half as guests stayed longer in Dubai and were encouraged to spend more.

Meanwhile, Abu Dhabi too has received a record number of guests this year, and although the emirate is now deemed to be oversaturated with hotels, analysts predict this situation will not last for much longer than next year. – The National

Nakheel reaps almost Dh1 billion after villa buyers queue overnight

            As Dubai's property firms started to take stock after last week's Cityscape exhibition, Nakheel, the developer behind the Palm Jumeirah and The World projects, had more cause to celebrate than most.

The company said it had taken deposits on nearly Dh1 billion (US$272.2 million) of property for the first phase of villas it plans to build at its Jumeirah Park site between Sheikh Zayed Interchanges five and six.

The developer held a sales launch on October 1 for the three, four and five-bedroom villas, the day before Cityscape, at its sales offices at the foot of the Palm Jumeirah. The launch attracted more than 100 people, some of them queuing through the night, to buy the villas.

Nakheel, which was also marketing the houses at its lavish stand at Cityscape Global at Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre, said that by the end of the exhibition last week it had taken deposits for nearly two thirds of the 360 luxury villas at the scheme.

The developer said that it had received deposits for a total of Dh977m (US$266m) of property from hopeful investors for 225 of the villas which are being marketed at between Dh3.4m and Dh5.1m. A total of 202 homes were sold during the sales launch, the developer said and a further 23 at Cityscape.

A Nakheel spokesman said the developer was "very pleased", with the Jumeirah Park sales.

Estate agents in Dubai said that a few of the investors who had put down deposits for some of the best located villas in the scheme were already selling them on for premiums of about five per cent - despite recent attempts to crack down on property speculation in the UAE.

"Deals are being done for property which is in the right location," said Mario Volpi, the sales and leasing manager at Cluttons' Dubai office. "As always it's a case of supply and demand and for the right product you can still sell through a power of attorney."

Despite its impressive Cityscape sales this time around, Nakheel's sales at Jumeirah Park pale into comparison compared with the first time the scheme was launched back in September 2006 before it was put on hold due to the global financial downturn.

At the time it was reported that all 900 properties released sold out within hours of going on sale with queues of more than 400 people forming at the Nakheel Sales Centre 12 hours before sales started. A further 100 buyers waited at Nakheel's other sales centre at Ibn Battuta Mall.

Originally Nakheel planned that the 370-hectare Jumeirah Park scheme would comprise of more than 2,000 three, four and five bedroom villas.

And agents were quick to warn property developers not to get carried away with the upturn in sentiment. – The National

NBAD inaugurates subsidiary in Malaysia

            Kuala Lumpur: The National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD), the Number One Bank in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), has made Malaysia its regional hub to lead expansion in the country and across Southeast Asia.

NBAD inaugurated its wholly owned subsidiary National Bank of Abu Dhabi Malaysia Berhad (NBAD - Malaysia) in Kuala Lumpur with an investment of RM310 million (Dh372.1 million, US$101.3 million).

NBAD ambitious plans in Southeast Asia include expanding to 30 branches in Malaysia in the next decade and into Indonesia and Singapore.

Malaysia is chosen as NBAD regional hub given its significant economic clout in the region and its robust trading activities with GCC. The UAE stood as Malaysia's biggest trading partner in the GCC in 2011 with MYR 21.06 billion (Dh 24.42 billion) of trade flows.

Bilateral Trade with the GCC stood at MYR 43.76 billion (Dh 50.76 billion). This figure is expected to grow 41% as a result of Malaysia-GCC Framework Agreement on Economic, Commercial, Investment and Technical Cooperation signed in Abu Dhabi in January 2011, which would set the platform for a Free-Trade-Agreement (FTA).

"Southeast Asia is one of the fastest growing regions in the world with strong commercial links to UAE. Malaysia is the region's largest trading partner with the Gulf region and in the UAE in particular, making it a natural choice for us to establish a Subsidiary here," said Michael H. Tomalin, the Group Chief Executive of NBAD.

Malaysia is one of the largest economies in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which also includes Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand.

NBAD-Malaysia, which is a fully-licensed conventional commercial bank, offers wholesale banking with the strategy to offer other banking products and services. NBAD-Malaysia would primarily focus on providing working capital and trade finance facilities to wholly or partially government-owned companies (GLC), top-tiered Malaysian companies, multi-national companies, established manufacturers and exporters who transact with Middle East countries.

            In 2004, NBAD, the most profitable bank in the UAE, became the first UAE bank to earn more than Dh1 billion in net profits. The Bank achieved another groundbreaker for the country's banking industry when in 2010 it earned more than US$1 billion in annual net profits.

NBAD's international network, which is the largest and most widespread among UAE banks, spans 15 countries across four continents. It stretches from China and Hong Kong in the Far East to Malaysia in Southeast Asia; Oman, UAE, Bahrain and Kuwait in the GCC; Jordan in the Levant; Egypt, Sudan and Libya in Africa; Switzerland, France and the UK in Europe; and the United States of America in North America.

The Bank has further expansion plans.

In the first half of 2012, NBAD's international operations increased its operating profits by 28% compared with corresponding period in 2011, contributing 16.3% to the Bank's Dh 4.1 billion ($1.1 billion).

NBAD-Malaysia branch is located in Menara Maxis, Kuala Lumpur City Centre, Kuala Lumpur. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

Retail outlets up for grabs on Dubai Metro stations

            As many as 174 retail outlets at Dubai Metro stations will up for grabs as the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) makes them available for rent.

The outlets — 106 on the Red Line and 68 on the Green Line — will be offered to various service providers selling merchandise like books, stationery, novelties, and gifts in addition to beauty parlours and banks.

The outlets are expected to bring in new customers to the Metro while also enhancing the service for current users.

The RTA recently held an open house for potential tenants of the Dubai Metro retail outlets.

The gathering was held at the RTA head office in the presence of Abdullah Al Madani, CEO of Corporate Technical Support Services Sector; Saeed Al Merri, Director of Contracts & Procurement; Ramadan Abdullah, Director of Rail Operation and Abdullah Yousuf Al Ali, Director of Commercial & Investment in addition to several other RTA officials.

Al Madani reiterated the RTA’s intention to foster joint cooperation with all customers in different sectors — considering them strategic partners teaming with the RTA in realising its vision of Safe and Smooth Transport for All.

“These gatherings have [made an] immense contribution to the advancements and progress made, uplifting the standing of Dubai as a premier business and economic hub in the region,” he said.

He added that interested parties can contact the RTA through its toll free number 8009090 and get more information on how to book the outlets.

During the gathering a presentation was made to showcase the high profile and pioneering achievements made by the RTA over the years.

The presentation also highlighted that more people are using the Metro, during the first half of this year it saw a massive increase compared with the previous two years.

The number of commuters on both the Red and Green Lines, combined from January to June 2012, reached 8,840,651 passengers. – Gulf News


Dubai releases Academic Plan Guide

            Dubai's Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) has released an Academic Plan Guide to assist prospective education operators open a school in Dubai.

Announced to coincide with the Education Investment MENA conference held on October 8-10, the guide sets out the criteria by which KHDA evaluates applications from potential school operators.

Entitled "Opening a School in Dubai," the handbook gives applicants detailed instructions and advice for preparing an academic plan that meets KHDA requirements, describes the process and criteria KHDA uses to evaluate proposals for new schools and includes extracts from prior successful submissions.

Mohammed Darwish, Chief of Regulations and Compliance Commission, said: "KHDA is committed to supporting the establishment of high quality education institutions to meet the needs of Dubai's expanding population. Transparency and ease of access to information are some of the key principles of our approach, and are directly aligned with that of private sector investors and the schools community - to establish schools that give students access to good quality education. We are confident that this guide will encourage serious and quality investors." Giving the keynote address at the Education Investment MENA conference, Dr Abdulla Al Karam, Director General of KHDA, emphasised the resilience of the private education sector in Dubai, adding that the sector grew through the years of economic downturn, and is expected to grow further in future. "Private education offers solid returns for investors that provide students with good quality education," he said. "When investors focus on delivering high quality education, students benefit, and their investment gets good returns." – Emirates News Agency, WAM

DMI-MGM deal: James Bond's 'Skyfall', 'Hobbit' first & exclusive on Dubai One

            On Monday, Dubai Media Incorporated (DMI) signed a new international cooperation agreement with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) to give DMI exclusive rights to broadcast MGM material until 2015.

The agreement was signed by Ahmad Abdullah Al Shaikh, Managing Director and General Manager, and Meyer Chris Auatengr head of the distribution and acquisitions of World TV at MGM, in France. 

The agreement gives DMI the exclusive TV rights to a number of new films for the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) over the next three years.

These include the latest James Bond ‘Skyfall’, starring Daniel Craig, as well as the ‘The Hobbit’. 'Dubai One’ will be the only Mena channel to screen these.

The agreement was signed on the sidelines of the MIPCOM - in Cannes, France.

The event is attended by more than 12,000 decision-makers in the industry from more than 100 countries.

The agreement strengthens the DMI strategy in terms of media tie-ups with the most important content providers in the world and its approach which aims at providing a rich and diverse offering to different segments of viewers.

Ahmad Abdullah Al Shaikh, Managing Director and General Manager of DMI confirmed that the DMI is very keen to work to access to the highest levels of performance which comply with the orientations of the Government of Dubai.

Ahmad Al Shaikh welcomed this agreement which underlines DMI’s pioneering role in media and its efforts to be the most effective bridge to connect Arabs with different cultures of the world.

He added: “The agreement allowed non-Arabs in the region the opportunity to communicate with their culture through the distinguished product which is not incompatible with our values and our morals.” – Emirates 24|7


Tawazun Advanced Defence Systems unveils new UAE-made rifle at Milipol Qatar

            Following the introduction of its STR-12 precision rifle earlier this year, Tawazun Holding's designer, developer and manufacturer of long-range rifles, Tawazun Advanced Defence Systems (TADS), has unveiled the second generation variant at the internal state security event, Milipol Qatar, currently taking place in Doha.

The STR-12 rifle will be designed and produced in the TADS manufacturing facility, located in the Tawazun Industrial Park in Abu Dhabi. It has a similar design to its predecessor and features improved ergonomics and tactical flexibility. It boasts a set of advanced technical add-on features designed to fulfil the needs of professional defence tactical shooters. TADS adapted the weapon to modern combat requirements and integrated qualities such as simplicity and reliability.

            TADS provides unique solutions for remote, long-range, high-impact, and precise combat weaponry by utilising advanced UAE engineering to deliver world-class innovative products. The company also produces sport and long range rifles with changeable barrels in the three main calibres, as well as tactical and long range hunting rifles. TADS has a range of its own trademark advanced hand-held ballistic calculators and also offers customers sniper training and after-sales support.

Milipol visitors will be able to see TADS products on display at the Tawazun stand within the UAE pavilion in the Doha Exhibition Centre until October 10th. In addition to TADS, the Tawazun Holding stand is showcasing armoured vehicles made by defence automotive manufacturer Nimr, military and sporting weapons produced by Caracal International, shooting management offerings from Remaya, autonomous systems solutions from Abu Dhabi Autonomous Systems Investments (ADASI) as well as munitions manufactured by Burkan and Caracal Light Ammunition (CLA). – Emirates News Agency, WAM


Emirates ID receives 250,000 applications for children registration in 33 days

            Emirates Identity Authority announced that it has received over 250,000 applications for issuing ID cards to children under 15 years in the last 33 days of the registration deadline of national and resident children across the UAE.

The deadline for children registration expired last Wednesday.

Emirates ID said it received more than 120,000 applications for issuing ID cards for national and resident children under 15 years in the last 10 days of the deadline, which expired on September 30 but was extended for 72 hours, during which it received more than 52,320 applications.

Emirates ID added that in September (i.e. the last month of the one-year children registration deadline), it received applications equal to 3 times the applications received during August and July for issuing ID cards for children under 15 years.

Emirates ID announced the expiry of all registration deadlines of the Emirates and population of the UAE with the exception of the individuals, whose residence visas were issued in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah and would expire before December 31, 2012, and the resident children under 15 years across the UAE whose residence visas would expire before the year-end. These two categories should register in the ID card by the time of renewal of their residence visas.

Emirates ID affirmed that the registration and renewal process went smoothly at all typing centres across the UAE for one full year without denying the relative slowdown on the last day of the deadline at the level of the payment gateway Noqodi of Emaratech, which runs the registration e-form, due to the large numbers of customers who thronged for registration in the last minute. As a result, the Emirates ID announced a 72-hour extension in response to the demands of a large section of parents who could not register their children within the deadline announced in September 2011 in light of the Cabinet's decision no. 25 issued in the middle of last year.

Emirates ID clarified that its decision to extend the registration of children for 3 days helped the parents of more than 52,320 children avoid delay fees. This reflected the Emirates ID's keenness on gaining the satisfaction of customers by facilitating their registration and confirmed that priority was given to completing the population register system and ID card project as part of its strategic plan 2010-2013. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

Shark protection in Arabia could throw lifeline to endangered sharks

            Effective conservation measures in the Arab world could help to secure the future of shark species that are threatened with extinction globally, a conference was told yesterday.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List ranks the level of threat faced by a wide range of animals including sharks, rays and related species.

However, the figures apply to worldwide populations, and a lack of research in the region means it is not known whether or not populations here have fallen to dangerously low levels.

If further studies show there are thriving populations here then some species could be thrown a lifeline if adequate measures are taken to protect them by the region's governments.

The region's shark populations possess strong genetic diversity, and researchers believe there are important breeding grounds here.

"In the Arabian Sea there are 47 threatened species, six are critically endangered, six are endangered and a further 35 are vulnerable," said Dr Nick Dulvy of the IUCN Shark Specialist Group

"This doesn't necessarily mean they are under threat in this region, this mean that their global status is vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered. But it highlights that there are opportunities within this region to secure the status of these species globally."

There are no detailed figures for the region's shark populations because shark research is in its infancy in this part of the world. The first study was conducted off Oman only three years ago, though since then a number of doctorate researchers have begun.

Dr Dulvy was addressing government officials from across the Arab world and fellow scientists on the first day of the Shark Conservation in Arabia Workshop in Dubai. The event is being held so the latest research findings and developments can be shared.

A key to safeguarding threatened species is ensuring genetic diversity. Dr Dulvy said recent research had highlighted that one of the top four most genetically distinct areas included the Arabian Sea, the Arabian Gulf and the Red Sea.

"What's not in the Red List is the hidden diversity," he added. "The more work we do in this region the more we realise that there's a whole series of different shark species that have been discovered or rediscovered in the last 10 years."

Another speaker, taxonomy expert Dr Will White, told delegates about one such species, the smooth tooth blacktip shark. This was first described in 1985 from a single specimen caught off Yemen 100 years earlier - but in 2008 the species was rediscovered when 25 were found off Kuwait.

"It has a very restricted distribution, mostly just occurring in the Gulf," he said.

The biggest threat to the survival of sharks is fishing. The fins are highly valued in China where they are used to make soup. The UAE is the fifth largest exporter of shark fins. However, many other countries are involved in the trade, which is largely unregulated.

Dr Dulvy said: "We know from Red List data that half of the 69 high-volume or high-value sharks and rays in the fin trade are threatened. This is one of the most severe threatening processes described for any vertebrate group."

The workshop heard about regional studies that have been launched to discover more about the whale shark, the world's largest fish which can grow to more than 20 metres in length.

Whale sharks form large groups that can number several hundred, and in other parts of the world these often consist mainly of males. Unusually some of these found in Arab waters contain large numbers of females, underlining the importance of the region in terms of breeding.

The Shark Conservation in Arabia workshop has been organised by the International Fund for Animal Welfare in partnership with the Ministry of Environment and Water and Sharkquest Arabia. The invitation-only event continues until Thursday. – The National

Dubai Customs foils bid to smuggle 1.6kg of cocaine

            Dubai Customs inspectors at Terminal 1 of Dubai International Airport foiled an attempt to smuggle 1.6kg of cocaine hidden inside 83 capsules in an African passenger’s stomach while arriving in the country from an African state.

Ali Al Maqhawi, Director of Airports Operations at Dubai Customs, said that the inspectors’ vigilance and their high-level alerts played a great role in seizing the smuggled substances. He said that a customs inspector at Terminal 1 got suspicious of an African passenger as he seemed nervous, confused and anxious when searched.

Al Maqhawi said that inspectors searched the passenger’s luggage and found no illegal substances but when they put him through the body scanner they saw strange objects in his stomach that were suspected to be capsules containing narcotic drugs.

After being interrogated by the Airport authority police, the suspect admitted that the objects in his stomach were capsules containing cocaine, Al Maqhawi said, adding that it was found later that 83 capsules were hidden in his stomach, containing a total weight of 1.6kg of cocaine.

Al Maqhawi said that as per the joint co-operation and between Dubai Customs and the General Headquarters of Dubai Police, the passenger was handed over to Anti- Drugs Department at Dubai Police along with a seizure report and the seized capsules to take the necessary legal action, valuing the customs inspectors’ vigilance and their speedy handling of the case.

The official added that right after the interrogation, the passenger was immediately referred to the nearest hospital as the capsules could have exploded in his stomach at any time, threatening the passenger’s life.

The accumulated experience of customs inspectors enabled them to handle the case efficiently, as they have previously dealt with similar stories of substances hidden in passengers’ stomachs since smugglers have innovated smuggling methods and are unaware of the great risks posed by storing poisonous substances in one’s abdomen. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

Dubai to host Water Polo & Synchronised Swimming events

            Following the success of the opening leg of the FINA/ARENA Swimming World Cup in Dubai last week, sports fans in the UAE are in for another feast exciting aquatic action in the coming weeks.

Later this week and for the first time ever, Dubai will play host the inaugural International Water Polo and Synchronised Swimming Championships at the Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Sports Complex.

Aside from being the first time these Championships have been held, it is also the first time both water polo and synchronised swimming competitions have ever been conducted in Dubai.

The Championships, which get underway on Thursday and conclude on Saturday, will feature four international standard water polo teams competing over three days in a round robin format, all playing each other once.

The teams competing in this inaugural water polo event are the Kuwaiti National Team; Olympiakos FC of Greece; the Heliopolis Club of Egypt, and seven-time European champions Partizan Raiffeisen of Serbia. 

Meanwhile, the synchronised Swimming Championships will feature completion in the solo, duet and team disciplines and will see Vouliagmeni Nautical Club of Greece, Egypt's Shooting Club of Egypt and Chinese Junior National Team battle for honours.

All three teams have an impressive international pedigree in synchronised swimming, with the Chinese taking silver in the teams event and bronze in the duets at the 2012 London Olympic Games.

Greece and Egypt also featured in the Olympic finals, the Greek women’s duets team coming eighth, and Egypt taking seventh in the teams competition.

The synchronised swimming competition will take place from 2.00pm-5.00pm on 11, 12 and 13 October, with solo, duets and teams on the first two days and the free combination competition on the final day.

The water polo games will be held after the synchronised swimming on the same days at 5.30pm and 7pm.

The event is being held in the lead up to the 9th Asian Swimming Championships which will also be held in Emirate from November 15-25.

The Asian Championships will be the first time all four disciplines of swimming, synchronised swimming, water polo and diving will be held in one event in one venue. – Sport 360°











































































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