EMIRATES NEWS (29/11/2012)

Key Points:

Khalifa, visiting Ukrainian President hold talks over bilateral relations and cooperation

Ukrainian President seeks UAE investments

Emirati woman elected Director General of AWO

Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum approves development of 30-million sq. ft leisure and entertainment destination

Dubai Events, Mondo TV forge alliance to produce and distribute Modhesh series worldwide

SCAD: non-oil merchandise trade through the ports of Abu Dhabi Grows to Dh 12.3 billion in August 2012

High-tech learning in Abu Dhabi

Mansour inaugurates 6th Emirates International Date Palm Festival

4000 people form largest picture mosaic depicting President and Rulers set new Guinness record

Thousands of creatively-dressed cars to take part in Union Car Parade on Yas Island

Nation shows the way

Al Ain’s historic souq to reopen after restoration

World Parachuting Championships "Mondial 2012" kicks off 28 Nov


Khalifa, visiting Ukrainian President hold talks over bilateral relations and cooperation

            President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan held yesterday a round of talks with the visiting Ukrainian President, Viktor Yanukovych, over mechanisms of boosting bilateral relations in areas of economy, investment and tourism and increasing two-way trade exchange and investment opportunities, tapping potentials both countries can offer to elevate joint cooperation for the best interest of the two friendly countries.

The two presidents also exchanged views on a broad range of issues of mutual concern and latest regional and international developments.

Sheikh Khalifa said during the talks, which conducted at Al Mushrif Palace in the presence of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, His Highness General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, that the UAE was keen to further strengthen its bonds with Ukraine, hoping that bilateral relations would see broader cooperation.

The UAE President also express the hope the visit of the Ukrainian head of state would boost UAE-Ukraine relations of friendship and cooperation and would open up new avenues of joint cooperation.

For his part, the Ukrainian President Yanukovych said he was delighted at visiting the UAE and at meeting with President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa. He lauded the UAE achievements in various walks of life, which he noted, had earned it a prominent standing at regional and international arena thanks to the wise stewardship of Sheikh Khalifa.

He also expressed Ukraine's sincere interest to extend bridge of joint cooperation, and create more promising opportunities for economic, tourist and investment cooperation.

Both the UAE and Ukraine, he noted, possess encouraging potentials for constructive partnership that will serve mutual interest and bring benefits to the two friendly peoples.

Later, Sheikh Khalifa and his guest, the Ukrainian president, attended ceremonies for signing a series of bilateral agreements and memoranda of understanding.

UAE Minister of Justice Dr. Hadef Al Dhaheri and his Ukrainian counterpart Oleksandr Lavrynovych signed three treaties on legal mutual assistance on criminal matters, legal mutual assistance on civil and commercial matters and extradition of criminals.

An air transport services agreement was inked by UAE Minister of Economy Sultan Al Mansouri and Chairman of Ukraine's State Aviation Authority Anatoly Kolisnyk.

Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, and Dmytro Tabachnyk, Ukrainian Minister of Education and Science, Youth and Sports, signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in higher education and scientific research.

A memorandum of understanding between the UAE General Authority of Youth and Sports Welfare, and Ukrainian Ministry of Education and Science, Youth and Sports, was signed by Abdul Rahman Mohammed Al Owais, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development, and Ukrainian Minister of Education and Science, Youth and Sports.

A number of Sheikhs, ministers, top officials and members of the delegation accompanying the Ukrainian president were present at the signing ceremony.

The eventual day was concluded by a lunch banquet hosted by Sheikh Khalifa in honour of his Ukrainian counterpart and his entourage. - Emirates News Agency, WAM


Ukrainian President seeks UAE investments

Strategic cooperation with the UAE is one of the top priorities of the Ukrainian government, visiting Ukrainian president said on Monday, calling on the UAE to pump more investment into Ukraine’s industry, future energy, minerals, oil and gas equipment, agriculture, infrastructure, aviation, heavy industries, airports, rail stations and manufacturing industries.

“The series of agreement Ukraine signed yesterday with the UAE will contribute to attract UAE investment into Ukraine’s market as the investment climate in Ukraine is more welcoming to foreign investment and the government offers packages of incentives to foreign companies and investors,” said President Viktor Yanukovych while addressing the UAE-Ukraine Business and Investment Forum here.

“We view the UAE a leading achiever especially in economic and banking sectors and we would like to draw lessons from its experience in these industries,” he indicated.

He told the business gathering that UAE-Ukraine trade and economic exchange had seen marked growth over the recent years. - Emirates News Agency, WAM


Emirati woman elected Director General of AWO

Cairo: The Executive Council of the Arab Women Organisation (AWO) elected on Monday Dr. Sheikha Saif Al Shamisi from the UAE as the Director General of the Organisation.

Al Shamisi succeeds Wadoda Badran of Egypt to assume this position.

The 11th meeting of the AWO Executive Council opened in Cairo on Sunday and the election of the new Director General was on the agenda, said Director General of the UAE General Women's Union Nora Al Suwaidi.

Five countries including UAE had submitted nominations for the post of the Director General. Al Shamisi won 11 votes from the total 14 votes to steer the Cairo-based organisation.

Al Shamisi worked earlier as the Assistant Under Secretary of the Ministry of Education and is an academician who has extensive experience in the area of activities for the progress of women. - Emirates News Agency, WAM


Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum approves development of 30-million sq. ft leisure and entertainment destination

            Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, has approved the development of an Dh10-billion destination that focuses on delivering a multi-faceted leisure and entertainment experience to residents and tourists of Dubai.

Master developers Meraas Holding has been mandated to develop this unique project that will be located at Jebel Ali and feature five distinct theme parks based on movies, animals and fun characters that shall appeal to all demographics.

Dubai Adventure Studios, the first phase of the development, plans for which were announced by Meraas in December 2011, will anchor the new destination. Set to host popular Hollywood brands, the adventure studios will also showcase a range of adrenalin-challenging rides and attractions that will be accessible to people of all ages.

A theme park that leverages the immense global appeal of Indian cinema through a component named as Bollywood Parks will form another exciting dimension of this destination. Meraas has partnered with several major film studios in Mumbai for leveraging content, while a large theatre within Bollywood Parks is expected to showcase Broadway style musicals to enrich Dubai's annual entertainment calendar.

The water and marine life park, on its part, will additionally prove a definitive aspect of the development. Vying with global developments of its kind, the park will showcase aquatic life, animal encounters and live shows, besides featuring cutting-edge rides and attractions. The park is expected to attract 16 million visitors annually.

Meanwhile, a first of its kind children's theme park will cater to the need of toddlers, preschoolers and primary school children. The night safari will innovatively showcase the many adventures of the wild desert. The theme parks will be connected by a vibrant district featuring retail and dining offerings that provide an exceptional lifestyle component to Dubai's latest L'&'E destination.

The first component of the development of this destination is expected to be completed by 2014.

Chairman of Meraas Holding, Abdulla Ahmed Mohammed Al Habbai, said: "Meraas has been working with several industry experts to bring together a powerful mix of components that fulfil the need for a pure entertainment-based destination. The new initiative comes in response to Dubai's status as a top global touristic destination which will contribute to the growth of the economy. With work on critical infrastructure including transport links gaining speed in the emirates, Dubai's projections for the tourism sector are optimistic and well-founded. We expect the comprehensive offering to set a new benchmark within the leisure and entertainment industry and offer tourists one more reason to visit Dubai." Featuring first-of-its kind rides and attractions, as well as innovative food and beverage concepts, and themed hotels, the theme parks are set to complement Dubai's existing leisure and entertainment components. The development is anticipated to further reinforce Dubai's strong positioning in the sector through providing a stimulating source of entertainment to the resident and visiting population.

Meraas Holding is a Dubai-based real estate company with operations and assets in the UAE and overseas. It prioritises the creation of integrated master-planned communities that embody global standards of sustainability and quality.  - Emirates News Agency, WAM


Dubai Events, Mondo TV forge alliance to produce and distribute Modhesh series worldwide

            Dubai Events and Promotions Establishment (DEPE), an agency of the Department of Economic Development in Dubai, and the licensors of Modhesh, the popular locally developed cartoon character, has forged a strategic alliance with Mondo TV, one of Europe's renowned animation production and distribution companies, to produce and distribute worldwide an animated cartoon series on Modhesh.

Under the agreement signed between DEPE and Mondo TV, 26 episodes of the Modhesh cartoon series, each of them lasting 13 minutes, will be produced in both Arabic and English, and subsequently distributed on a regional and international level.

The Modhesh series will feature a variety of educational topics that will offer a learning experience to children in an entertaining way that will help inculcate noble values and important lessons in children and contribute toward their character and personality development.

The agreement stipulates that the cost of producing the series and the revenues earned from the distribution and licensing rights will be shared jointly by DEPE and Mondo TV. The agreement also offers Mondo TV exclusive international distribution rights to this cartoon series for a period of five years.

Mondo TV is currently participating in DEPE's pavilion at the "Character Dubai 2012" exhibition, which is being held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Majid Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Culture and Arts Authority from November 27-28 at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre.

CEO of Dubai Events and Promotions Establishment, Laila Suhail, said, "Modhesh, which was launched as a cartoon character during Dubai Summer Surprises in 2000 has become a big hit with children across the region. For the past few years DEPE has been working towards taking Modhesh to the next big level, which is, the international scene. The signing of this strategic partnership with Mondo TV will further enhance our efforts to build on the astonishing fame of Modhesh and turn it into a global icon admired by children around the world." Suhail also pointed out the importance of the licensing and cartoon industry and the great business opportunities offered by this sector, as well as its positive impact on the national economy.

She added, "We have worked hard to develop this cartoon character and transform it into a brand by itself with its own licensing rights, and in the process we have also signed a number of agreements and partnerships with specialised international companies in developing the Modhesh brand. We are confident that the production of the Modhesh series in collaboration with Mondo TV will be a huge step forward on the road to international fame for this lovable children's character." Commenting on the agreement, Matteo Corradi, a member of the Board of Directors and Senior Vice President of International Sales, Mondo TV, expected to finish production in less than a year so that it is ready to be telecast in the UAE next year." Corradi predicted that the popularity of the Modhesh brand will be universal and widespread, especially after the completion of production and distribution of the proposed cartoon series, which will also offer numerous business opportunities for DEPE in terms of the licenses granted on behalf of the brand for many commercial products.

"Character Dubai 2012" is an exclusive trade event for production, marketing and licensing of cartoon characters, animation, and films, and features the most diverse collection of properties and brands. Among those participating will be licensees, distributors, licensing agents, manufacturers, wholesalers, brand '&' property owners, licensors and retailers.

This is the 5th consecutive year in which DEPE is participating in "Character Dubai", and is part of its overall strategy to enhance the visibility of Modhesh and Modhesh World. DEPE, which organises the annual Dubai Shopping Festival, Dubai Summer Surprises, and 'Eid in Dubai' celebrations, also runs Modhesh World during the summer in Dubai.

Mondo TV's presence at the DEPE stand (S3-621) in Sheikh Saeed Hall No. 3, will provide it an opportunity to promote the Modhesh series to thousands of trade visitors attending the 2-day event.

With his sunny disposition, energy, enthusiasm, and optimism, Modhesh is an embodiment of all that Dubai represents. Created in 2000, Modhesh was launched as the mascot for the region's biggest summer event - Dubai Summer Surprises. However, due to its immense popularity among children and families, it went on to become a character that is loved across the Middle East. Today, Modhesh is a successful brand on its own with a diverse merchandise consisting of over 1,000 products.

The Rome-based Mondo TV, which was founded in 1985, is a public company, listed on the Italian stock exchange. Mondo TV is a pioneer in the field of broadcasting and television production in Italy and, has nine companies under its umbrella, including one of the leading European companies that specialises in the production and distribution of TV cartoons and movies. - Emirates News Agency, WAM


SCAD: non-oil merchandise trade through the ports of Abu Dhabi Grows to Dh 12.3 billion in August 2012

            Total value of Abu Dhabi's non-oil merchandise trade in August 2012 was Dh 12,035 million, of which Dh 8,764 million (72.8 percent of total) was imports, Dh 2,189 million (18.2 percent of total) was non-oil exports of and Dh 1,082 million (9.0 percent of total) was re-exports, official figures showed.

''Total non-oil merchandise trade grew by Dh 294 million (2.5 percent) in August compared with July 2012, with non-oil exports increasing by Dh 1,130 million (>100 percent) while imports retreated by Dh 656 million (7.0 percent) and re-exports by Dh 180 million (14.2 percent) over the same period of time,'' Statistics Centre - Abu Dhabi (SCAD) said in its monthly report on non-oil merchandise trade through the ports of the Emirate of Abu for the month of August 2012.

Non-oil merchandise trade: August compared with July 2012 Analysis of trade data for August compared with July 2012 fall of 7.0 percent in imports, due to a drop in of Dh 288 million (12.1 percent) in the imports of "Manufactured goods classified chiefly by material" and fall of Dh 249 million (5.4 percent) in "Machinery and transport equipment".

Meanwhile, the value of non-oil exports increased by over 100 percent, with increases of Dh 642 million (>100 percent) in "Machinery and transport equipment", Dh 266 million (69.7 percent) in "Chemicals and related products" and Dh 192 million (>100 percent) in "Miscellaneous manufactured items".

On the other hand re-exports slipped by 14.2 percent over the same period, primarily due to a fall of Dh 165 million (18.7 percent) in "Machinery and transport equipment".

Non-oil merchandise trade in August 2012 compared with August 2011 A year on year comparison of non-oil merchandise trade data ( for August 2012 compared with August 2011) indicates a rise of Dh 2,011 million (20.1 percent) in total trade, with non-oil exports increasing by Dh 1,781 million (>100 percent), and imports decreasing by Dh 125 million (1.4 percent) over the same period, due to decreases of Dh 283 million (34.8 percent) in the "Other commodities" group and Dh 96 million (2.2 percent) in "Machinery and transport equipment", which were partially offset by increases of Dh 155 million (22.9 percent) in "Chemicals and related products" and Dh 72 million (3.6 percent) in "Manufactured goods classified chiefly by material".

Non-oil exports increased by over 100 percent, reflecting increases of Dh 731 million (>100 percent) in "Machinery and transport equipment", Dh 553 million (>100 percent) in "Chemicals and related products", Dh 227 million (93.0 percent) in "Manufactured goods classified chiefly by material" and Dh 199 million (>100 percent) in "Miscellaneous manufactured items".

Meanwhile the value of re-exports increased by Dh 355 million (48.9 percent), due to increases of Dh 254 million (54.8 percent) in "Machinery and transport equipment" and Dh 58 million (41.2 percent) in "Miscellaneous manufactured items".

Non-oil merchandise trade by country: August 2012 SCAD's report also details the imports, non-oil exports and re-exports in August 2012 by value and trading partner, revealing that the top countries of origin for imports were South Korea, which was the source of imports worth (Dh 1,170 million), USA (Dh 990 million) and Saudi Arabia (Dh 865 million). These three countries supplied 34.5 percent of Abu Dhabi's total imports in August 2012.

Saudi Arabia was the top destination of Abu Dhabi's non-oil exports in August 2012, importing merchandise worth (Dh 542 million), followed by Bahrain (Dh 295 million) and Qatar (Dh 243 million). The combined contribution of these three countries represented 49.3 percent of total non-oil exports in August 2012.

Bahrain topped the list of destinations for Abu Dhabi's re-exports, receiving merchandise worth (Dh 273 million), followed by Qatar (Dh 192 million) and Saudi Arabia (Dh 178 million). Re-exports to these top three countries made up 59.5 percent of total re-exports during August 2012.

Historical series of monthly trade data- January 2010 to August 2012 SCAD further explained that the largest monthly figure for imports through the ports of Abu Dhabi over the period from January 2010 to August 2012 was Dh 12,777 million, recorded in October 2011, while the largest non-oil exports figure (Dh 3,261 million) was recorded in August 2010, and the largest re-exports (Dh 1,360 million) in May 2012. - Emirates News Agency, WAM


High-tech learning in Abu Dhabi

New methods of learning dominate today’s education landscape, and the emirate of Abu Dhabi is following suit by introducing some of the most advanced methods and tools to enhance young minds.

In addition to launching culturally-relevant educational material, the Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec) has also worked to develop the professional skills of teachers and staff this year.

Other initiatives have focussed on improving infrastructure in the emirate at both public and private schools.

At the core of Adec’s policies is the introduction of the New School Model (NSM) curriculum, which emphasises creative thinking and problem solving over rote learning. The curriculum had already been implemented at all public schools up to Grade 4, and this year introduced hundreds of Grade 5 public school pupils to the new style of learning.

“Now that the NSM has been implemented in all Cycle 1 [Grades 1 to 5] schools, we are working to develop the curriculum to suit Cycle 2 schools [Grades 6 to 9]. These changes will be revealed early next year,” Dr Mugheer Al Khaili, director general at the Adec, told Gulf News.

To support the implementation of NSM, the Adec has also employed more than 2,000 qualified teachers from the UAE and other countries over the last four years. This year, every graduate from Abu Dhabi-based universities with the skills required to teach English, maths and science has also been recruited by the Adec for positions in public schools.

Dr Al Khaili added that the Adec had also set up a public-private partnership to train school leaders in the necessary leadership skills.

“This partnership ended in 2012, and we believe our school leaders now possess the required skills to lead their schools,” the director general said.

In addition to school leaders who have received training, a number of professional development workshops have refreshed the skills of teachers in the emirate. At an event earlier this month, Adec announced the launch of the NSM Sabbatical Programme, which will provide knowledge of early childhood development, the English language and the latest pedagogical techniques to nearly 150 Emirati teachers. In addition, thousands of public school teachers are also improving their proficiency of the English language via another initiative launched in October.

Technical innovations

Adec efforts have also ensured that all public schools in the emirate are connected to an advanced information technology network.

“The network, which cost more than Dh300 million to set up, provides fast access to the internet, thus enabling pupils to conduct research and enhance their knowledge. It also allows teachers to access Adec services easily and swiftly,” Dr Al Khaili said.

In addition, more than 9,000 touchscreen desktop computers have also been distributed among public schools, and 3,000 smart boards have been installed.

Reaching out to parents about their children’s academic performance has also been a key part of Adec efforts in 2012. Hundreds of parents have been trained to use the electronic Student Information System (eSIS), which provides information about children’s school records and academic progress, Dr Al Khaili said.

In addition, a guidebook has also been released this year to equip parents with the skills needed to promote Arabic language learning among their wards. – Gulf News


Mansour inaugurates 6th Emirates International Date Palm Festival

            H.H Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Presidential Affairs and Chairman of Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA) yesterday inaugurated the sixth edition of Emirates International Date Palm Festival - a weeklong celebration of the date fruit and its culture, tradition and heritage - at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre in Abu Dhabi.

About 160 exhibitors from 18 countries are participating in the festival, in addition to national pavilions from seven countries.

In opening remarks, H.H Sheikh Mansour noted that the event highlights date as a strategic food staple for people in this region for decades and became a symbol for their ancient cultural traditions and heritage.

"The blessed tree was fondly tended to by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founder of the UAE. Our wise leadership, namely President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and His Highness Gen. Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, have followed in his footsteps and continued to extend patronage to all efforts aimed at promoting and nurturing the date palm," H.H Sheikh Mansour added.

He stressed on the economic value of date palm for the UAE, a major exporter of date and its products.

The festival, he noted, offers an opportunity for stakeholders to forge commercial ties, get firsthand experience of industry trends and innovations around the world, exchange knowledge and share experiences with experts from around the world.

The Emirates International Date Palm Festival will be held in conjunction with SIAL Middle East 2012, the regional edition of one of the world's largest food exhibitions  - Emirates News Agency, WAM


4000 people form largest picture mosaic depicting President and Rulers set new Guinness record

            The largest picture mosaic formed by 4000 people depicting President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, H. H. Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council member and ruler of Sharjah and Their Highnesses, the Supreme Council members and Rulers of the emirates, set a new Guinness World Records yesterday in a gathering held under the theme "Loyalty Day" to celebrate the UAE's 41st National Day, held in Sharjah at the Sharjah Police Academy.

The picture which measured 80 meters long and 40 meters wide was verified by Guinness World Records Adjudications Manager Talal Omar as a new record which breaks the previous World record set last October by 1936 people.

Also, more than 21000 national and expatriate students and people from Sharjah schools, universities, military academies and government departments gathered in to form a huge human flag that was a bit smaller than the world's largest human flag in Pakistan last October with more than 24000 people.

In presence at the celebration were H.H. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed bin Sultan Al Qasimi, crown prince, deputy ruler of Sharjah and chairman of the board of Sharjah Police Academy, sheikhs and senior officials.

Commander-in-chief of Sharjah Police and chairman of the Loyalty Day higher organising committee Major General Humaid Al Hadidi, in a speech at the celebration, noted that the formation of the picture and the flag expresses true love for the nation and its leadership.  - Emirates News Agency, WAM


Thousands of creatively-dressed cars to take part in Union Car Parade on Yas Island

Abu Dhabi's Yas Island Leisure Drive will come alive in a sea of red, white, black and green patriotism during a Union Car Parade to mark the UAE's 41st National Day (December 2), as thousands of creatively-dressed cars and 4x4s blare their horns and vie for shares of a Dhs100,000 'Best Decorated' vehicle competition.

With an eye-catching top prize of Dhs25,000 and Dhs20,000 for second place, the Union Car Parade is expected to draw colourful entries from every corner of the Emirates.

The remaining prize fund will be divided into eight additional cash prizes ranging from Dhs15,000 to Dhs5,000.

"Emiratis are a very patriotic people and many of us are very passionate about cars. These factors align every year for National Day - a momentous celebration where everyone in the country shows off the UAE's colours and comes together as one society under one flag," said Sultan Al Muhairi, General Co-ordinator of 41st National Day Celebrations, Abu Dhabi Tourism '&' Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi), which is organising the competition in partnership with Abu Dhabi Police.

"The Union Car Parade is a community-driven initiative designed to encourage even more nationals and expatriates to decorate their vehicles and get into the spirit of the UAE nation," he added.

The Union Car Parade will start on Yas Island at 5pm. The participating public is being encouraged to arrive at Abu Dhabi's leisure and entertainment district by 2pm to ease traffic congestion and take part in a host of activities led by Etihad Airways, the UAE's national carrier.

Winners will be announced by 9PM. With other headline events due to be revealed in coming days, a wide array of National Day themed celebrations will keep children and adults of all ages entertained over the extended holiday weekend.

The breakwater opposite Abu Dhabi Corniche and next to Marina Mall will be one of the key activation areas and will feature Emirati theatre shows at Abu Dhabi Theatre (November 26, 28, 30 and December 2), a two-day Sailing Regatta (December 2-3) and a one-off Cultural Festival at the Abu Dhabi Heritage Village on National Day.

In an historic first, the exciting programme of events is truly emirate-wide this year and, in addition to several headline activations in Abu Dhabi's heritage heartland of Al Ain, superstar singers from across the Arab world will perform Khaleeji concerts at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC), as well as Dalma Island and Madinat Zayed in Abu Dhabi's culture-rich Western Region on December 1 and 2. Also at ADNEC, the sixth Emirates Palm '&' Dates Festival runs until December 1.

Meanwhile, residents of the northern UAE who want to visit the UAE capital for National Day can take advantage of an exclusive RAK Airways offer of one-way flights from Ras Al Khaimah Airport to Abu Dhabi International Airport on December 2. - Emirates News Agency, WAM


Nation shows the way

            Just name it. Almost all kinds of international sports events are held in the UAE in some form or other, making the nation a leading sporting arena and destination in the region.

As reputed hospitality providers, the UAE has hosted many extravaganzas in the past years, and the 2011-12 season has proved to be another extension of the ongoing process of promoting sports for a healthy lifestyle, thanks to the vision of the nation’s leaders.

Soccer is a passion in Arab countries and the UAE is no exception. The notable UAE achievements, apart from the 1990 World Cup qualification, are the 2002–03 AFC Champions League won by the current UAE Pro-League champions Al Ain FC who also finished second in the 2005 AFC Champions League.

The latest achievement in soccer was when, in November this year, the UAE Beach Soccer National Team claimed the bronze medal in the second Beach Soccer Intercontinental Cup.

During the 2011-12 season, the UAE officially announced that it would make an effort to bid for the 2024 Olympics.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, had initiated the process way back in 2008 when he said that the UAE would be a possible contender to host a future Olympics.

Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Sports Council, said in July last year: “Hosting the Olympic Games in the Middle East would be a dream come true for the entire region, and we fully intend to place a bid once I am totally satisfied that we are prepared to host the greatest sporting event in the history in a way that would add value to the Olympic movement itself, as well as the youth of the Arab world.”

Abu Dhabi joined Dubai as another one of the region’s top sports destinations by holding the region’s first ever Formula 1 car racing event at the iconic Yas Marina circuit four seasons ago, apart from the many other events the Capital holds in golf, tennis, martial arts, soccer world club soccer showdowns and sea sports.

The Dubai World Cup horse race, the richest in the sport, is an event that keeps equine sports lovers spellbound, not only here but also abroad.

The Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Sports Complex, another standout creation in world-class sports venues built in the UAE, has hosted many world events including the ninth Asian Swimming Championships from November 15 to 25.

The UAE Paralympics team created history at the 2012 London Games after the Summer Olympics by bagging gold, silver and bronze medals.

UAE Paralympic hero Abdullah Sultan Al Aryani opened the account by clinching a gold medal in shooting.

Mohammad Al Hammadi brought more when he won the silver in the 200-metre wheelchair race, category of T-34, in front of 80,000 spectators at the London Olympic Stadium.

On the last day of the Paralympics, Al Hammadi grabbed his second medal, the third for the UAE, when he won bronze in the 100-metre wheelchair race, category of T-34.

The President, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan; Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid; and General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, were among the first of the leaders in the UAE to congratulate the Paralympic medal winners.

The enormous efforts of the country’s leaders and senior administrators have seen traditional sports thrive amongst the citizens.

One of the UAE’s oldest traditions is falconry. It was considered a way of life for the leaders of tribes a long time ago. There was another localised sporting activity that went side by side – races held for saluki hunting dogs.

In sea sports, traditional boat races are held to preserve the long time maritime heritage of the nation. Traditional sailing races are held at regular intervals during the period from October to April at the world-class marine centres in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah. Majestic wooden dhows assemble at the start line, evoking the customs and traditions of a bygone era.

Thoroughbred camel racing is another speciality of the locally nurtured sports stage. Camels are first put through their paces when they are about two years old. Initially, the animals are trained to obey basic commands issued by the jockey.

Camel racing, a passionately followed traditional sporting activity, is extremely popular in the Emirates. It was originally staged in an informal setting, at weddings or special festivals, but now customised tracks have been built throughout the country where race meetings are held in the winter months from October to April, culminating in the annual camel race festival at Al Wathba which attracts entrants from all over the world.

Major events in a wide range of sports — from horse racing to motor racing, golf, tennis, soccer, 7s rugby, cricket, sailing, powerboat racing and almost every other competitive sport — are regular features of the calendar here.

Aside from the international circuit events, the UAE has a healthy indigenous sporting environment with the local community participating in a wide variety of clubs and establishments.

School sports events are widely promoted by the government and private institutions following various international and local curricula.

The expat communities with the support of their clubs and associations hold sports and recreation activities immediately after the summer months and some of them invite internationals from abroad to give disciplines like cricket, badminton, soccer, volleyball, basketball, martial arts and hockey, amongst others, a further boost locally. – Khaleej Times


Al Ain’s historic souq to reopen after restoration

            Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) will next week reopen, after renovation, Al Ain city’s historic Souq Al Qattara, which dates back to the mid-20th century.

The souq was founded by the late Sheikh Shakhbut Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, a former Ruler of Abu Dhabi, midway on the palm-lined road linking Al Qattara and Al Jimi oases.

Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, chairman, TCA Abu Dhabi, said, “The souq played an important social and commercial role for the population of Al Ain in the early part of the 20th century and it is fitting that its reopening coincides with the 41st anniversary celebrations marking UAE National Day and the spirit of the nation.

“The souq is a physical testimony to a past time of renaissance much as we begin to celebrate the renaissance of the Emirati people with the foundation of the Federation, thanks to the tremendous efforts of the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan and his then fellow founders, the Rulers of the Emirates.

“Efforts to restore and develop heritage and historical sites in various parts of Abu Dhabi emirate, which particularly involves reviving Al Ain’s oases and sites, are inspired by the foresight of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan and are carried out under the aegis of General Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and the Deputy Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.”

National asset

Sheikh Sultan highlighted Souq Al Qattara’s significance as a cultural and touristic asset. “Traditional, heritage-rich markets have always been key tourist attractions around the world,” he said, describing the historic souq as “a great addition to the wealth of archaeological and heritage sites in Al Ain, the city that has been inscribed in the Unesco list of world heritage sites, in recognition of its perennially genuine local urban features.”

TCA Abu Dhabi recently opened Al Qattara Arts Centre as part of its endeavours to develop the historic Al Qattara Fort in Al Ain Oasis. The centre provides residents and visitors alike with space to nurture their talents, engage in a creative process by practising arts and culture.

The Souq Al Qattara reopening is also meant to boost interchange with the centre as various programmes and events are rolled out.

Souq Al Qattara is characterised by its distinct location between two oases and by its setting within a host of important historic buildings that includes the Bin Ati Al Darmaki fort, which was reopened as an art centre.

Souq Al Qattara will be open to the public daily from 9am-8pm throughout December and January. – The Gulf Today


World Parachuting Championships "Mondial 2012" kicks off 28 Nov

            The Higher Organising Committee of the World Parachuting Championships "Mondial 2012" yesterday revealed details of preparations for the world-class tournament to be held between from November 28 to December 9 over Jumeirah skyline, with record participation of 1600 participants from 57 countries.

Addressing a press conference, Dr. Ahmed Saad Al-Sharif, Member of The Higher Organising Committee of the FAI World Parachuting Championships Mondial 2012 said: "Dubai is promising an international championship that will be the talk of the sports world. The successful arrangements are a matter of pride not only to the UAE but also to the wider Arab world as the UAE is once again positioning itself on the world sports calendar.. This mondial was held only once earlier where now it is doubled in the number of participations, which clearly shows the tremendous efforts being exerted by Dubai to organise an international event to be added to the Emirate's record on the world stage." Under the directives of the wise leadership of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai, the UAE is today a sports capital of the.

Dr. Shareef added: "It is a great coincidence that this tournament comes at a time the UAE is celebrating the 41st National Day. Dubai's skyline will be full with UAE flags during performances by "Forsan Al Emirate". The public is invited to attend the event and we are organising free transportations from and to the venue from a number of stations in the vicinity. This tournament is clear evidence on the far sighted sports vision of Dubai under the directives of HH Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, President of Dubai Sports Council." The World Parachuting Championships includes 13 competitions including Formation Skydiving, Accuracy Landing, Water Speed Skiing, Free Flying, Free Style and for the first time in the Middle East, Para Skiing.

Yousef Al Hammadi, Director, FAI World Parachuting Championships Mondial 2012 said: "The organising team has worked day and night to present a world class event that reflects Dubai great reputation in the world under the supervision of Sheikh Mansoor bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Tournament President".

He added: "From the moment Dubai won its bid to host this event, preparations began in full swing where responsibilities and tasks were identified and distributed amongst teams. HH Sheikh Hamdan directed to have a tournament that will be a success story and that will be a matter of pride not only to the UAE but also to the entire pan Arab region." Al Hammadi added: "The trust imposed by the FIA has a great impact on motivating us to succeed. This trust was based on a great sportive journey by UAE since its inception." championship Mohammed Yousef, Deputy Director, FAI World Parachuting Championships Mondial 2012 and Head of the Technical Committee added: "We would like to let you know that the international criteria adopted by Dubai was hailed by FIA while approving Dubai to host this event which ensured to the international sportive communities that it was a wise decision. Adding new competitions to the championship that wasn't played earlier is also giving us a global edge. We have completed all preparations where the standards given to us by FIA were all adopted in due diligence." Youssef added that in Dubai the scene and experience that the players will feel is like no elsewhere where every player will see in his eyes The Palm, Burj Khalifa, Burj Al Arab as well as the sky towers in Jumeirah Beach Residence and people on the balconies hailing them.

He added that six planes are already in place for the championship and two are prepared for any unforeseen occasions. - Emirates News Agency, WAM

Key Points:

Malicious voices will not hinder UAE progress: Mohammed bin Zayed

Abdullah bin Zayed receives Foreign Minister of Vatican

UAE decries non convening of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference this year

UAE enjoys world’s easiest tax structure: report

Al Bateen records more flights during F1 season

Flydubai celebrates milestone month

Dubai Duty Free maintains double-digit growth

JW Marriott Marquis Dubai to boost tourism

World’s tallest hotel apartment in Dubai Marina by 2013

MBR City to build on key sectors that already drive Dubai’s economy

Cranleigh Abu Dhabi set to be largest campus in UAE

Sheikh Nahyan opens ABB's world class learning zone in the Middle East

NMC marks 41st National Day anniversary

Musical celebration of National Day

Celebrations move into top gear

Pink Caravan encourages families to work together against breast cancer

Bid to smuggle diamonds worth Dh4m foiled

McIlroy wins DP World Tour Championship


Malicious voices will not hinder UAE progress: Mohammed bin Zayed

            The UAE history has not begun with the born of the federation 41 years ago but from time immemorial, His Highness General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, has said.

During an inspectional visit to the Zayed II Military College in Al Ain as part of the country's celebrations of the 41st National Day, Sheikh Mohammed recounted how the forefathers and ancestors made tremendous sacrifices at a time that was more critical than ours' because of the rare resources and harsh living conditions.

''They devoted themselves to protect the homeland and dignity,'' Sheikh Mohammed said, urging the current generation to take guide of those pioneers who paved the way for the prosperity and security we are enjoying today.'' He also spoke about challenges the region is facing, affirming the need for all to work diligently and loyally in the service of the nation and to be ready, at all times, to confront potential threats especially at this age of the State, during which it earned international respect and appreciation thanks to the founding fathers, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and the late fellow rulers.

''Each era has its own challenges and with your firm determination and sincere will, we will achieve the impossible to serve the homeland,'' Sheikh Mohammed said, addressing the College's cadets.

The drive of welfare and devotion, he emphasised, will forge ahead and no malicious voices and stances can hinder it. - Emirates News Agency, WAM


Abdullah bin Zayed receives Foreign Minister of Vatican

H.H.Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Foreign Minister, yesterday received in his office Vatican's Foreign Minister Archbishop Dominique Mamberti.

The two sides discussed issues of mutual concern and ways to bolster the cooperation ties in the best interest of the two friendly countries.

Mohammed Mahmoud Al Khaja, director of the office of Foreign minister and Vatican's Non Resident Ambassador to UAE Archbishop Petar Rajic were present. - Emirates News Agency, WAM


UAE decries non convening of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference this year

            The United Arab Emirates has regretted the lack of possibility on convening the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference 2012 as stated in the Final Act of the Conference in 2010.

The United Arab Emirates calls on all parties and organisers of the conference to work very hard to hold the conference as soon as possible in 2013. It also calls on all countries in the region to participate at the conference in the spirit of consensus and cooperation.

It continues to support the efforts of State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland Jaakko Laajava on consultation with the parties to prepare for the conference.

The United Arab Emirates reiterates its firm position in support of all international efforts to create a Middle East free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction to contribute to the achievement of peace and security. It attaches great importance to a successful conference on this goal.

The United Arab Emirates also confirms that a successful conference and taking of practical measures towards achieving the goal of free Middle East of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, would further contribute positively to building confidence among the countries of the region and strengthening of the regional security. - Emirates News Agency, WAM


UAE enjoys world’s easiest tax structure: report

            Companies in the UAE enjoy the world’s least demanding tax framework, according to a new report compiled by the World Bank, International Financial Corporation, or IFC, and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

Qatar and Saudi Arabia are second and third respectively in the ranking of countries with the lightest administrative burden in paying taxes. Bahrain comes 7th, Oman 10th and Kuwait 11th in the ranking.

Companies operating in the UAE, which was last year ranked sixth globally for having the easiest tax structure, pay an annual total tax rate of 14.9 per cent, make four payments a year and spend just four hours preparing the administration required for payments, said the report.

The UAE is among those few countries in the world without a personal income tax regime. In April this year, the UAE Minister of Finance and Deputy Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum reiterated that the country has no plans to impose income tax or new service fees on individuals and companies to fund any fiscal deficit.

Released yesterday, the Paying Taxes 2013 study looks at tax regimes in 185 economies, including 13 from the Middle East, and finds that companies in the Middle East pay a total average tax rate of 23.6 per cent compared to a global average of 44.7 per cent, the lowest of any region in the world.

On average a medium company in the Middle East makes 17.6 payments (frequency with which the company has to file and pay different types of taxes and contributions), and spending 158 hours (time to prepare, file and pay three major types of taxes including labour taxes, mandatory contributions and consumption taxes), a figure which is well below the world average and the lowest for any region.

Labour taxes and social contributions account for the largest part of these three indicators in the Middle East, which is quite different to the average global profile. The average Total Tax Rate for Middle East region is 23.6 per cent, well below the world average of 44.7 per cent and the lowest of any region. The UAE and Saudi Arabia are ranked first and third respectively in 2013; up from sixth and 7th in 2012, while Qatar remains second for the fourth year.

Dean Kern, Tax Leader, PwC Middle East, said economies in the Middle East feature so prominently in the top jurisdiction of the Paying Taxes indicators. “This can be largely attributed to the relatively few taxes levied and the reliance on other sources of government revenues. With increased spending requirements and populations demanding greater economic rights, governments in the Middle East will face a challenge to raise additional tax revenues in the future, either by introducing new taxes, expanding the tax base or increasing tax rates,” Kern said in a statement.

“Electronic filing and payment reduces paperwork and complexity in tax systems and can help increase tax compliance and reduce the cost of tax administration,” said Augusto Lopez Claros, Director, Global Indicators and Analysis, World Bank Group.

“The report finds that over the last several years there has been a gradual reduction in the number of payments and in the number of hours spent by a medium-sized company to comply with its tax obligations. This reduction across all regions of the world in the burden of tax administration is a welcome development,” said Claros. – Khaleej Times


Al Bateen records more flights during F1 season

            Al Bateen Executive Airport, the dedicated business aviation airport of Abu Dhabi Airports Company (ADAC), witnessed a spur in traffic during the 2012 Formula 1 season.

The executive airport recorded 210 total commercial aircraft movements during the F1 race period between October 28 and November 5, with the November 3 and 5 being the peak days.

This growth represents a 38 per cent increase in aircraft movements when compared with the same F1 race period in 2011. The executive airport welcomed aircraft from all over the world carrying VIPs, Formula One drivers and other prominent figures of the international community.

In parallel to this traffic surge, Al Bateen registered a tangible increase in the number of visiting aircraft, which made up 63 per cent of the total aircraft movements at its facility within the race season, and recorded 42 per cent increase compared to the period of 2011 race.

In addition, the airport marked the November 4, the day of the race, as one of the busiest days for the Al Bateen apron as it registered a 78 per cent increase in number of aircraft on ground compared to last year’s race day, with a total of 32 aircraft either parked or on ground.

In this regard, Ahmad Al Haddabi, Chief Operating Officer of Abu Dhabi Airports Company, stated:

“ADAC had an exciting week during the Etihad Airways Formula One Grand Prix, offering its award-winning services to all of the F1 guests at its international airports, and specifically at its dedicated VIP airport, Al Bateen Executive Airport, which welcomed the “who’s who” of the

Formula 1 crowd. ADAC is glad to always be part of the Abu Dhabi F1 team and jointly celebrate the Emirate’s success during this event.” - Emirates News Agency, WAM


Flydubai celebrates milestone month

            This is a milestone month for flydubai to highlight the carrier’s record growth across Central & Eastern Europe (CEE) and Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) network, according to the low-cost airline.

Flydubai celebrates a number of route anniversaries in its CEE and CIS network in November, reaffirming its commitment to expansion and connectivity while highlighting its growth in the UAE’s aviation market.

The carrier’s remarkable regional development include: the Dubai carrier witnessed a 45 per cent year-on-year growth in the total number of flydubai’s annual flights to the CIS and CEE markets between October 2011 and September 2012. The number of monthly flights to this market increased by 109 per cent in September 2012 compared to September 2011, flydubai said.

“More than 40 per cent of our route development this year has taken place in CEE and the CIS. The geographical prioritisation of these market has been key to flydubai’s continued growth and highlights our commitment to offering real choice and excellent quality service for passengers while boosting tourism and trade between our regions. flydubai has also been instrumental in increasing air traffic between the UAE and Russia by 85 per cent; and the UAE and Ukraine by 112 per cent,” flydubai’s chief executive officer Ghaith Al Ghaith said.

Three years since launching operations to Baku, Azerbaijan, on 22nd November 2009, Dubai’s innovative airline has established flights to 16 destinations across 11 countries in the CEE and CIS region. It also has the most comprehensive network of all Middle Eastern carriers to this area and is the only scheduled operator flying direct to Dubai from Belgrade, Skopje, Bishkek, Kharkiv, Donetsk and Tbilisi. Key to the airline’s growth has been its strategic approach to drive expansion. Through  adding new aircraft and destinations each year, flydubai has opened up previously under-served markets, bringing affordable travel to more people, more often.

The latest figures from Dubai International Airport reveal that passenger traffic from the CIS and Russia climbed 54.4 per cent in the first half of this year compared to the same period in 2011, in large part due to flydubai’s on-going expansion in this region.

Developments in the past 12 months include launching a twice weekly service to the Russian cities of Kazan and Ufa late last year, along with starting the first ever direct service to Kharkiv, Ukraine from Dubai in addition to Kiev and Donetsk. flydubai continues to increase its frequency to the region with adding a fourth weekly flight to Yerevan from 29 November 2012.

Offering 58 regular flights per week, flydubai’s CEE and CIS network includes Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, and Ukraine providing an array of destinations appealing to the leisure, business travellers and those visiting friends and family.   

Elsewhere, flydubai recently announced that flights to Malé, the capital the Maldives will begin in 19 January 2013. The latest addition to flydubai’s expanding network has proven particularly popular among travellers from Russia and CIS with figures revealing a 15.7 per cent  increase in tourist arrivals in the first quarter of this year compared to the same period in 2011. In parallel to its expansion plans, flydubai has also grown its fleet to 27 Boeing 737-800 NG aircraft to cater to increasing demand from the business and leisure passengers across its route map. – Khaleej Times


Dubai Duty Free maintains double-digit growth

Dubai Duty Free is looking to achieve a double-digit growth in sales for the year as sales up to the end of October reached Dh4.71 billion, or US$1.29 billion, showing an 11 per cent increase over the same period last year.

The latest sales figures put the operation on track for year-end sales of an estimated Dh6 billion (US$1.6 billion). The Perfumes category, which accounts for 15 per cent of total sales at Dubai Duty Free, retained the No.1 spot as sales rose to Dh727 million  (US$199 million) in the ten-month period.

Impressive sales figures have been recorded across all three Terminals for both departing and arriving passengers: (YTD) Terminal 1 has recorded a nine per cent increase, while Terminal 2 has shown an impressive 16 per cent increase. Terminal 3, which is dedicated to Emirates Airline, has seen sales grow by 12 per cent while Arrival sales across all Terminals is up by 15 per cent.

Commenting on year to date sales, Colm McLoughlin, executive vice-chairman of Dubai Duty Free said: “2012 is shaping up to be a fantastic year and I am pleased that our sale per head, which is around US$49, and our penetration level of close to 50 per cent, continues to be so strong. We are looking forward to a busy few weeks ahead and closing the year with record sales.”

Notable increases were seen in Confectionery which rose by 18 per cent to Dh377 million (US$103 million) while Electronics showed an 11 per cent increase to Dh367 million (US$100 million). The watch category was up by 11 per cent and registered sales of Dh311 million (US$85 million) and Cosmetics rose by 17 per cent with sales of Dh299 million (US$82 million).

Subcontinent passengers make up the biggest group of spenders, accounting for 24 per cent of total sales at Dubai Duty Free, followed by Far Eastern passengers, primarily Chinese, who account for 19 per cent of sales. Despite the economic gloom in Europe, European passengers come in third place as the highest spenders, accounting for 16.4 per cent of sales, with Middle Eastern passengers following closely behind accounting for 16 per cent of sales. African-bound passengers make up 12 per cent of sales, with Russian travellers accounting for seven per cent of sales. – Khaleej Times


JW Marriott Marquis Dubai to boost tourism

Sheikh Mohammed toured different parts of the hotel, which houses the largest celebrations hall in the Middle East, world class business facilities, 19 restaurants and many more luxury offerings.

Concluding his visit, Sheikh Mohammed expressed satisfaction with the successful completion of the iconic luxury project and described it as a boost to the tourism sector in the emirate of Dubai that has become synonymous with unparalleled business and tourism ventures.

The property is owned by Emirates airline and the total cost of the project once completed will be approximately Dh2.5 billion with 1,608 rooms.

Earlier this month, the hotel welcomed its first guest after soft opening while grand opening is scheduled to take place in February next year.

“We are opening one tower with 804 rooms this month…. The second tower will take maximum two and half years,” general manager of the hotel Rupprecht Queitsch told Khaleej Times in an interview before its soft opening. Regarding the completion of the project, he said: ”Hopefully by the end of 2014 or beginning of 2015.”

Officially recognised as the world’s tallest hotel at a height of 355 metres, only 26 metres short of the Empire State Building, New York, the JW Marriott Marquis is Dubai’s world-class convention and business destination hotel. – Khaleej Times


World’s tallest hotel apartment in Dubai Marina by 2013

The 432-metre high, Marina 101, in Dubai Marina, billed as the world’s tallest serviced hotel apartment building, will be completed before end of 2013, according to its developer.

Speaking to Emirates 24|7, Abu Ali Malik Shroff, Chairman, Sheffield Real Estate, confirmed: “We have funds in place and we are proceeding with the construction. We expect to handover the building before the end of next year.”

In 2010, Shroff told this website that despite default rates by bulk investors in the tower were as high as 60 per cent, the company has not yet terminated a single contract.

“Our first priority is to complete the tower and we are proceeding with construction. We are in constant talks with our investors and we are trying find solutions,” he restated.

Marina 101, launched in June 2006, comprises 101 floors, rising approximately 432-metres along with the crown and covering a total built up area of 1.68 million square feet.

The first 32 floors will be dedicated to a 5-star hotel, while the rest floors from 34 to 100 will be furnished apartments.

Retail space will only be on the ground floor.

Apart from five restaurants in the hotel tower, there will be 252 one-, 204 two- and 42 three-bedroom apartments with eight penthouses from the 97th to the 100th floor.

Sheffield has a land bank of two million square feet, but has no intentions of selling any, Shroff has said earlier.

“We plan to hold on to it till such time we are sure that the market will accept new projects.”

On Sunday, Dubai launched ‘Mohammed Bin Rashid City’, a mega development which will contain a huge park, 30 per cent bigger than Hyde Park in London, and will be surrounded by the largest mall in the world called ‘Mall of the World’, capable of receiving 80 million visitors a year.

It will also include over 100 hotel facilities to meet the requirement for accommodation.

Nakheel, a wholly owned Dubai government developer and Emaar Properties, Dubai’s largest developer by market value, have successfully launched new projects this year.

Citibank has stated that recovery of Dubai’s real estate sector is in line with the wider economic upturn and strong economic fundamentals of the emirate.

“For investors, we think the economic recovery and pick-up in the real estate market is unambiguously good news in the near-term.

“They signal a strengthening in cash flows to the Dubai sovereign and its Government Related Entities, most of which have a significant stake in the local economy and, specifically, the property sector,” said Farouk Soussa, Middle East economist at Citi in Dubai. – Emirates 24|7


MBR City to build on key sectors that already drive Dubai’s economy

The Mohammad Bin Rashid City (MBR) is expected to build on the sectors that already drive Dubai’s economy as well as attract a larger mix of international retailers and stimulate competition among major malls in the emirate, analysts say.

The mega-development was announced after Dubai showed signs of recovery from the global financial crisis of 2008, which was when several massive projects were put on hold.

The question on the minds of many is, is it happening too much too soon again?

“If it were to come in one go, it would be too much too soon, that’s why it’s important for it to be phased over a long time,” said Craig Plumb, the head of research with Jones Lang Lasalle.

At the moment, the market now cannot absorb 100 new hotels or the world’s biggest mall — this will take time and demand-generating offerings such as the Universal Studios theme park that is being planned, he said.

Dubai will not see a repeat of the excessive lending and announcements of grand projects that were eventually put on hold during the crisis, said Mario Maratheftis, global head of macro research at Standard Chartered bank.

Different market conditions

“What we saw before was excessive lending and excessive growth, which we are not seeing now. The credit growth is pretty tight and the market conditions are different than before. Lending growth is minimal and I don’t think that will change in 2013,” he said, adding that there will be an appetite for funding long-term projects. Some analysts believe there is more space for retail expansion in Dubai now.

“There’s no question that Dubai needs more mall space. There is a theory that Dubai is ‘over-malled’ but Dubai Mall is seeing footfall of 54 million this year that’s expected to reach 60 million,” said Shane Eldstrom, director of education at the Middle East Council of Shopping Centres. “When you have properties performing at these levels you know there’s room for more space at this retail potential.”

Mohi-den Bin Hendi, president and chairman of the board for Bin Hendi Enterprises, the major retail group, said that the plan for the world’s largest mall was a “challenge” but will be “definitely viable.” – Gulf News



Cranleigh Abu Dhabi set to be largest campus in UAE

            The first boarding school in Abu Dhabi is to be opened by the Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC) in partnership with a 147-year-old English school.
            The Abu Dhabi branch of Cranleigh School is set to open in late 2014 and will be located on seven hectares of the
Saadiyat Island, making it the largest campus in the country. It will accommodate more than 1,600 students aged three to 18 years.

"We are proud to have forged this partnership with one of the UK's most well-established educational institutions," said Mubarak Hamad Al Muhair, the managing director of TDIC.

"Cranleigh Abu Dhabi will aim to provide a first-class academic education, not only for the residents of Saadiyat but for the wider community of Abu Dhabi."

The school's campus will be located in the Cultural District of Saadiyat Island, next to Manarat Al Saadiyat, and will include a 650-seat auditorium, 2,900 square metre sports centre and 19,300 square metres of outdoor fields.

In addition, separate male and female boarding facilities will be available, although the majority of students are expected to be daytime pupils.

With New York University Abu Dhabi and a preschool nursery set to open in the coming years, the addition of Cranleigh Abu Dhabi is intended to further complement the island's educational facilities.

"Cranleigh will play its part in delivering a world-class school of which both Saadiyat and Abu Dhabi can be proud," said Anthony Townsend, chairman of governors at Cranleigh School. – The National Read more: http://www.thenational.ae/news/uae-news/education/cranleigh-abu-dhabi-set-to-be-largest-campus-in-uae#ixzz2DIsgEKHo Follow us: @TheNationalUAE on Twitter | thenational.ae on Facebook


Sheikh Nahyan opens ABB's world class learning zone in the Middle East

            Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, has attended the inaugural ceremony of ABB's first hub for learning, development and collaboration in the Middle East.

Sheikh Nahyan told Emirates News Agency (WAM) after the inauguration ceremony that ABB has been providing significant functional contributions and training in the area of energy technology and automation since its inception in 1976.

ABB, the leading power and automation technology group established the learning zone, a flagship facility based in the iconic HQ building in Abu Dhabi, UAE. The learning zone, set over 1,000 square meters, showcases ABB's products, services and solutions, and offers customers, engineers and students over 180 training courses on leading edge technologies in a unique environment.

"This one-of-a-kind facility provides a special environment for customers and other key stakeholders from across the Middle East. They can enrol on any of the 180 professional and engaging courses led by highly knowledgeable course leaders across multiple disciplines and products", said Frank Duggan, Head of Global Markets and Region Manager for ABB in India, Middle East and Africa.

The learning zone will be used by both the Emirati community and other stakeholders across the region, bringing knowledge and expertise under one roof and further demonstrating ABB's commitment to securing deep roots and investment in the UAE's future.

ABB collaborates with the local community and is actively building its Emirati Ambassador program. As part of this, ABB supports Emirati students by offering certified training in the professional and technically advanced environment that will help to secure their careers for the future.

The learning zone will be used by both the Emirati community and other stakeholders across the region, bringing knowledge and expertise under one roof and further demonstrating ABB's commitment to securing deep roots and investment in the UAE's future.

"On completion of their courses, engineers and operators will gain valuable knowledge which will in turn improve effectiveness and efficiency, helping ABB customers to increase productivity, efficiency and safety of their processes", said Frank Duggan.

At the core of the learning zone concept is a series of valuable lessons - essentially useful knowledge and skills attendees can expect to gain on completion of the courses and transfer back to their work place. The lessons demonstrate how a special learning experience at the technically advanced learning zone can add value to customers across different technical fields and industries.

Valuable lesson 17 states: "Your most effective safety equipment is knowledge. A hardhat may protect your mind, but an educated mind can protect the lives of thousands. Our state-of-the-art training centre, the ABB learning zone in Abu Dhabi, will teach operators of ABB safety systems to unlock their full operational potential and make their plant or industry more productive and safer." The facility includes five training rooms with interactive whiteboards, an auditorium to accommodate 90 people, digital display panel zone with an interactive augmented reality pod and discrete discussion areas.

A range of demonstration equipment is available for hands on experience, such as the Distributed Control System 800xA in a mock-up control room environment, which demonstrates the Operator Effectiveness concept. Another interactive tool includes the solar augmented reality demo that allows visitors to be given a virtual tour of a solar plant via a large screen. The learning zone can be used by engineers, customers and students who would like to enhance personal development and improve their technical skills and knowledge.

ABB is a leader in power and automation technologies that enable utility and industry customers to improve their performance while lowering environmental impact. The ABB Group of companies operates in around 100 countries and employs about 145,000 people. - Emirates News Agency, WAM


NMC marks 41st National Day anniversary

            National Media Council (NMC), yesterday organised heritage ceremony at its headquarters in Abu Dhabi to observe the 41st national day anniversary. The floors were adorned with the national flag as part of the national day sessions.

The event was attended by the directors of departments, heads of sections and representatives of strategic partners.

The celebrations commenced with the national anthem, followed by police band, which performed national songs. The students presented Emirati folklore shows in expression of their joy about the national day.

Director General of NMC congratulated President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and Their Highnesses Members of Supreme Council and Rulers of Emirates on the occasion.

As part of the sessions, NMC has in cooperation with the Abu Dhabi Blood Bank organised the blood donation campaign in which all the employees took part. - Emirates News Agency, WAM


Musical celebration of National Day

When Emiratis come together it’s a force to be reckoned with; a passion for patriotism unleashed. The recording of this year’s official National Day song proves just that.

Not content with just a song, the musical celebration of the 41st National Day has a full-blown recording session and music video.

tabloid! managed to sneak behind the scenes to meet the faces of the UAE who made the vision a reality.

It’s 6am on an early November day at the Abu Dhabi Heritage Village and while some unload boxes of equipment, others gather the children — some as young as seven — and start arranging costumes.

Although the early start has clearly taken its toll, the excitement of starring in a music video for UAE National Day keeps spirits high.

“Action!” shouts director Abdul Aziz Ahmad and the cameras roll, poet Arif Al Khaja and composer and singer Fayez Al Saeed’s new National Day song, Ya Khalifatna (Oh! Our Khalifa), playing in the background.

As the sun rises and the heat builds up, a new level of patience is required. The youngsters, who maybe expected something more glamorous, feel the strain but soldier on regardless. Mums are on hand with dates and water to keep energy levels high.

Everyone is a mixture of relief and ecstacy when Ahmad finally announces “it’s a wrap” more than 12 hours after it all began.

Commissioned by Abu Dhabi-based twofour54, the 2012 National Day song has been inspired by the much-loved UAE song Zanaha Zayed (Zayed Beautified It or Beautified With Zayed).


Written by renowned Emirati poet Al Khaja and originally recorded in 1996, the song has inspired a generation and is a favourite among people of all ages. This year, Al Khaja was presented with the task of combining the original lyrics of Zanaha Zayed with the lyrics of last year’s National Day song Amrak Al Sami (Your Supreme Order), a song he also wrote, to create a 2012 “wonder song”.

The melody has been composed by prominent Emirati singer and composer Al Saeed and was recorded in Al Saeed’s Dubai studio, performed by a group of six Emirati singers and local musicians.

Ahmad, a Creative Lab Community member, wrote, directed, shot and produced the music video, after going head-to-head with wannabe directors from across the UAE with his proposal. The Creative Lab Community provides grants and development assistance to Arabs to make short films, cartoons or television pilots, and has completed 39 projects. Judges at twofour54 say his idea was chosen because he was “filled with passion for the project”.

“I was honoured to be a part of such a prestigious project,” said Al Khaja, sipping coffee. “It doesn’t really get much better than to be asked to represent your country in this way.”

Al Khaja went to school at Al Azhar before launching a career in the media sector taking on roles at Al Bayan newspaper as a sports reporter, Al Shabab magazine and Dubai Television. But poetry was always in his heart.

“It was a hobby more than anything,” he said. “But it was something which was in my blood. I remember writing down words and lyrics since I was 16 and not really understanding why. I just had an urge to write. Words were beautiful to me.”


Al Khaja is no stranger to the world of music. The Emirati is the power behind many musicals. His work has mesmerised audiences and has had a great impact on the cultural development in the UAE.

“This opportunity has given me a chance to revisit words I wrote a long time ago and combine it with more modern ones. That’s very special because it means we can bridge a gap between old and young.”

Al Khaja says the new combined lyrics for the 2012 song tell the story of how the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan made the UAE a beautiful place and how His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, is following the same path.

“We wanted the song to create harmony through music in the UAE.”

Singer, producer and composer Al Saeed is more than qualified to create a masterpiece.

Now 38, he was discovered in the early ’90s by composer Moussa Mohammad, who helped him find his feet in the industry.

Al Saeed studied literature before finding the strength to stand up to many people around him – including his parents – who didn’t believe a career in music would be beneficial.

“I faced some obstacles from my parents but I overcame them,” he said.

“I started out at the beginning of the 1990s and I started with songs at school like the daily assembly songs we used to sing at school. With support from friends and my brothers and a lot of encouragement I got involved in music.”

Inspired by poets Gassan Al Hassan and Moussa Mohammad, Al Saeed set about writing his first songs in the early ’90s. It wasn’t long before the government picked up on his talent and sent him to perform a song called Yahya Al Insan at the Carthage Festival in Tunisia.

“For this song I used words by Arif Al Khaja,” he said. “It was the first time I had represented my country and I was still quite young. It was a new experience and it was the first time I had ever sung in front of a large audience. I think there were more than 10,000 people. I was performing with big stars like Kathim Al Sahir, Lutfi Bushnak and Angham. They were already famous and I was just starting out. The whole experience created a very emotional bond for me with my music.”

When Al Saeed was asked to be a part of this new project he jumped at the chance.

“It was always something I would agree to. This is our country and the song means a lot to people. It is something to be extremely proud of.”

With plans to be a leading director one day, Ahmad has a different focus than most. “It’s the job of someone who delivers a message. That’s how I see it,” he says, taking a five-minute breather from the set.

“I don’t have a role model director because it would restrict me. I think it would limit me to follow in someone else’s footsteps so instead I just keep treading mine.”

Ahmad was selected by twofour54 for his passion and determination — something which is very apparent when face-to-face with the 23-year-old.

“My earliest memories are creative ones,” he said. “Singing, dancing, artwork. And then came the cameras. I want to make people see what I see, which actually carries a lot of responsibility.”

Ahmad chose seven actors to represent the seven emirates of the UAE. The script took just minutes to write as Ahmad says he had a very clear vision. He hired the help of his friends, many of them also involved in the Creative Lab Community, and set about casting and pre-production ahead of the big shoot.

“It’s been about two weeks in the making, I guess. We haven’t had long to bring all the elements together. It is supposed to show unity. The coming together of the UAE. But I would like to stress that it’s not fact. What happens in the video isn’t historical fact, it’s a creative way of showing unity through the years. The creation of something very special. It can be interpreted in many different ways, which I think is important.”

Meet the second assistant director: Abdullah Al Junaibi

The Emirati has high hopes of being a filmmaker and video editor. At just 23, Junaibi says he was grateful to be given the opportunity to work on such a great project.

“This is the first time I’ve ever been on a set, and I am learning so much. Just to be around the cameras and the action is very good for me. The way Abdul [director] is speaking to the cast is inspirational and I am taking as many notes as I can.”

Meet the casting director: Salama Yousuf

A media student at Zayed University, 20-year-old Salama says she’s has learnt more in two weeks making the music video than in three years of studying. “It’s just natural that you learn more when you are on the ground actually experiencing how it all works,” said the Emirati from Abu Dhabi. “It was my job to cast each role, which was very exciting. I looked through CVs and pictures and had to pick people who had the right look and personality for each role. The most challenging thing was having a backup for each because some people got cold feet and pulled out. We have people from seven up to 60, which is tough as you are catering to such different needs. It was quite hard to get some of the older people involved because they were shy. Some needed a lot of reassurance.” Salama says the biggest learning curve was trying to squeeze everything into one day. “I have never known 12 hours to go so quickly in all my life.”

Meet the designer: Mariam Al Shamsi

Presented with the task of creating the cover for this year’s National Day song CD cover, Mariam was full of ideas.

The 21-year-old from Abu Dhabi studies graphic design at Zayed University and says she is “privileged” to be the designer for such a great project.

“I was so happy to be selected for my design concept. It is an honour for me. I am so proud and have enjoyed designing something which means so much to people in the UAE. The concept of the cover is to bring the past and the present together. I was inspired by a newspaper article from 1996 where people were just talking about an airline for Abu Dhabi. Etihad was just a dream back then and now it’s a reality. I wanted to show that vision.”

Mariam designed the cover in just one day and took a further two days to perfect her work.

Don’t miss it

Ya Khalifatna will be played in malls, coffee shops, exhibition centres and across the UAE from this weekend. Copies of the CD will be distributed through Abu Dhabi Media Company and the song will be available to download from twofour54.com. – Gulf News


Celebrations move into top gear

            Students of the Emirates College for Educational Development in the capital stood resplendent in a pattern depicting the UAE national flag to mark the school’s celebrations of the country’s 41st National Day on Sunday.

Celebrating the UAE’s diversity in the spirit of the National Day, three Dubai-based malls — Deira City Centre, Mall of the Emirates and Mirdif City Centre — are welcoming residents and tourists with the “Many Faces, One Nation” campaign — a fun, interactive event that gives all visitors the opportunity to share their love of the UAE.

Additionally, until Dec.2, each of the malls will be hosting a variety of exciting cultural and educational activities promising fun and festivity for the entire family.

Deira City Centre, Mall of the Emirates and Mirdif City Centre’s “Many Faces, One Nation” campaign gifts visitors with a keepsake souvenir of 41st UAE National Day celebrations. Until Dec.2, digital photo booths will be set up at each mall for guests to pose, and express their love for the UAE. All photo greetings will be shared on the three malls’ Facebook pages to spread messages of national pride to all audiences and are also available for download as a memento.

Participants will also have the chance to win one of two shopping sprees worth Dh15,000 in GiftCards valid at Deira City Centre, Mall of the Emirates and Mirdif City Centre with every snapshot. Spreading national cheer, the malls will also be handing out UAE flags or traditional giveaways to visitors and offering kids face-painting over National Day weekend.

Art gallery

From Nov.29-Dec.3, Mall of the Emirates in partnership with the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Community Development will be hosting a first-of-its kind Art Gallery sponsored by the Ministry of Presidential Affairs and the office of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Featuring an assortment of works from prominent artists in the region, the exhibition will also reveal exclusive images of the UAE and of Sheikh Khalifa and the Late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, former President of the UAE and founding father.

The Art Gallery will also welcome appearances by UAE celebrities who have all contributed to the evolution of the nation’s thriving arts and culture landscape, including actors, poets, writers and VIP representatives from the government.

Maze walkthrough

Mirdif City Centre will also feature an exclusive event in partnership with Dubai Customs from Nov.29-Dec.2.

Presented as a large display offering a variety of activities and cultural experiences, the showcase attraction is the “Maze”, a heart-shaped walk-through adventure incorporating the Spirit of the Union theme with touchscreen games at every turn and the chance to win prizes upon completion.

Other activities include a “Joy of the Union” photo station which allows visitors to select their own UAE-themed background, a Heritage and Children’s area where families can participate in both traditional and modern arts and crafts such as weaving, puppet making, mask and origami making, painting and more.

Adding a musical touch to the festivities, Mirdif City Centre will also host performances by local drumming and folklore band Yoola.

On Dec.2, guests are in for a special treat with a 5pm flash mob performance celebrating the Spirit of the Union, National Anthem playing at 7pm to welcome the Dubai Government, and to be closed with an energetic march by the Dubai Customs inspectors before a surprise grand finale event.

Kids’ workshop

Deira City Centre will feature a Kids Activity Workshop on the Centre Stage from Nov.28-Dec.2, where parents and children can spend the day creating all sorts of UAE National Day arts and crafts.

A complimentary event, the Kids Activity Station will promote creativity amongst kids and educate them on the importance of the UAE National Day through fun and educational activities. The mall’s popular Love Art initiative, which aims to promote local talent within the community, will feature a special photo exhibition celebrating the UAE’s heritage by the Emirates Photography Society and will be hosted in the Bridge Gallery by the Metro Link.

Combining history with modern elements, and culture with fun activities, the three malls will create a festive atmosphere for residents and visitors looking to soak in the spirit of the Union on the occasion of 41st UAE National Day. – The Gulf Today


Pink Caravan encourages families to work together against breast cancer

            Pink Caravan's commitment to spread its message of breast cancer awareness across the UAE saw the campaign making its mark on the Festive Family Fair, held at the Dubai Polo and Equestrian Club on November 24th, by ExpatWoman.com.

An initiative of the Friends of Cancer Patients charity (FoCP), Pink Caravan is a yearlong campaign, which aims to educate the community about breast cancer, as well as provide free screenings to men and women across the Emirates. Statistics show that one out of eight women is likely to contract breast cancer, a disease with an almost 95 percent cure rate if detected at an early stage.

Ameera BinKaram, President of the Board Of Trustees and a Founding member of the Friends of Cancer Patients charity said, "We believe that knowledge is the first step towards cure. Lack of access to information is the main reason why many Emirati and expatriate women are being afflicted with this disease, and the societal inhibition of talking about breast cancer within the more local communities, unfortunately means that education about the importance of self-examination is often limited. The family unit forms the core of any community and through our presence at the Festive Family Fair we want to show people that by working together we can overcome the effects of this disease." This year's third annual Pink Caravan Ride in February will see volunteer horse riders, along with the campaign's mobile clinics, trek across all seven emirates of the UAE in February 2013.

At the Festive Family Fair, Pink Caravan reached out to all family members to help them understand more about breast cancer, awareness and self-examination. Pink Caravan is also appealing to any riders who would like to be part of the 2013 ride.  - Emirates News Agency, WAM



Bid to smuggle diamonds worth Dh4m foiled

            Dubai Customs inspectors foiled an attempt to smuggle more than a kilogramme of diamonds by two Arab nationals, who concealed the diamonds in their stomach so as to avoid paying customs tariffs.

The diamonds, in total, were valued at Dh4m.

According to Ali Moqhawi, Director of the Department of Airport Operations at Dubai Customs, the smugglers were coming separately from two African countries, but the skilful customs inspectors at ports detected their smuggling attempts.

He revealed that the details of the first case date back to the time when the customs inspectors at the airport terminal No.1 suspected an Arab national traveller on his way to customs who was behaving strangely.

When he was searched at the front desk, nothing was found.

His luggage was also clear and so was subjected to a body scan that showed strange objects in his stomach. On being questioned, investigators found that he concealed 316 grammes of diamonds in his stomach.

Moqhawi added that in a similar incident, an Arab traveller at the Dubai International Airport headed to the gold office in Terminal 1 to declare an amount of diamond ore. He presented the certificates of the diamond but his actions aroused the suspicions of the customs inspectors.

After he underwent a scan, objects were detected in his guts. On being questioned, investigators found that he concealed 700 grammes of diamonds in his stomach.

The two suspects were referred to the office of the Dubai Police at the airport for further procedures. – The Gulf Today


McIlroy wins DP World Tour Championship

            Rory McIlroy saw off a record surge from Justin Rose to win the 2012 DP World Tour Championship by two strokes on Sunday with an overall score of 23-under-par 265 on the Earth Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates.

It set the seal on a perfect season for the Northern Irishman, who had already won the money lists on either side of the Atlantic, the World No 1 spot and his second Major, the US PGA Championship.

Rose had struck a course record 62, with eight birdies and an eagle on the 14th, taking him to 21-under par at the top of the leaderboard having risen from tied for seventh after round three.

It forced joint overnight leader McIlroy — on 18-under par after three bogeys and four birdies — to make up four strokes from the last five holes to win. He managed to birdie all five to card a 66.

Luke Donald, the other joint overnight leader, gained only one more stroke from his first three rounds with a 71 after two bogeys and three birdies. This left him third, three shots off second-placed Rose.

McIlroy’s triumph was his fifth European Tour event victory in 155th tournament appearances. With this win he set a new record for single-season earnings with just over €5.5 million (Dh26.2 million). He’s now finished in the top ten places in ten of his 15 tournaments on the European Tour this season.

McIlroy said: “It’s unbelievable. I said at the start of the year I wanted to come here and hold two trophies on the 18th green come Sunday evening and that’s what I’ve managed to do.

“I didn’t get off to the best start today, just like the previous three days. As well as that, I saw Justin [Rose] making a charge up the leaderboard and I heard a cheer and presumed he had got to 21-under on the last.

“I knew I had to do something special and kick-started it all with a couple of good birdies on 14 and 15 as well as on 16 and 17. That gave me a little bit of a cushion heading up to the last.”

He added: “I couldn’t have wished for any better end to the year. Especially backing up 2011 after winning a Major [the US Open] to win another this year [the US PGA Championship] and to be part of an unbelievable story at the Ryder Cup [McIlroy was part of the Europe team which beat the USA away from home].

“Finishing off the season like this, it’s been an incredible year and hopefully I can emulate or even surpass it next year.

“I’m very pleased with myself. I could have come into the week complacent, thinking I’ve already wrapped up the Race to Dubai. But I wanted to end the season in style.”

Asked what he’d be doing with what are now his old clubs, following a US$250 million switch from Titleist to Nike next season, McIlroy joked: “I may just keep them as a memento. I’ve got a few weeks to get into some new equipment. Even though 2012 has literally just ended, I’m excited for 2013 already.” – Gulf News

Key Points:

Mohammed bin Rashid City announced

UAE leadership’s achievements highlighted

UAE to nourish future with Expo 2020

Abu Dhabi Fund grants 77.1m loan to Lesotho for Metolong Dam

RCA spends Dh512.6m on humanitarian assistance in 2011

British MPs arrive in the UAE

Saif bin Zayed voted Personality of the Year by AFO

UAE economy to reap oil windfall gains

Identifying priorities key to businesses: RAK FTZ

Abu Dhabi completes region’s longest traffic tunnel

UAE browsers safer than most when spinning around the Web

Abu Dhabi Falconry Competitions to kick off 29 Nov

Global Village unveils Union Festival

Rise in demand for activities focusing on Emirati culture

UAE National Day holidays: 4-day break for public sector, private sector gets 3-day weekend


Mohammed bin Rashid City announced

            Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has announced the establishment of a new city within Dubai, setting new benchmarks in urban development in the region.

Comprising four key components, the new city, which will be called "Mohammed Bin Rashid City", will feature world class leisure facilities and provide an integrated environment for the development of entrepreneurship and innovation.

The first component focuses on family tourism, and will include a park that is equipped to receive 35 million visitors, and the largest family centre for leisure and entertainment in the Middle East, Africa Indian subcontinent and region. This centre will be set up in collaboration with Universal Studios and include over 100 hotel facilities to meet the needs of visitors from the region.

The second component, focusing on retail, will feature the largest shopping mall in the world. The third component will include the largest area for arts galleries in MENA. The fourth component will see the development of a unique area that will provide an integrated environment for entrepreneurship and innovation in the region.

Making the announcement, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed emphasised, "The current facilities available in Dubai need to be scaled up in line with the future ambitions for the city. Therefore we have to start work immediately on the third phase of development that is aligned to our Vision till 2030 and boost the UAE economy to enable it to enter a new era in which it will become the capital of entrepreneurship, arts, culture, and family tourism for over 2 billion people." His Highness Sheikh Mohammed highlighted that the current accelerated growth rates require Dubai to start immediate preparations for the future because within just six years, the number of passengers passing through Dubai airport will reach more than 90 million people.

"Our development initiatives concerning infrastructure in all sectors should be aligned with this growth rate and we have the determination to reach our objectives and be the first in the region to achieve them," His Highness said.

"We have a vision and high aspirations. The future does not wait for those who are hesitant. We do not anticipate the future. We build it," Sheikh Mohammed concluded.

The new city will be located between Emirates Road, Al Khail Road and Sheikh Zayed Road, and will include Mohammed bin Rashid Gardens Project. It will be connected to Downtown Dubai and Business Bay through a crossing that will be named the "Cultural Crossing" which will include art galleries and create the largest area for arts in the region.

"Mohammed Bin Rashid City" will feature a massive park which will be 30% bigger than Hyde Park in London. It will be surrounded by the largest mall in the world called "Mall of the World", which will be capable of receiving 80 million visitors a year, and include over 100 hotel facilities to meet the requirement for accommodation.

"Mall of the World" will be connected to a family entertainment centre which will be developed in collaboration with Universal Studios International. This centre will be the largest in the region and is expected to attract 6 million visitors each year.

"Mohammed Bin Rashid City" will be designed keeping in mind global environmental standards, and will include a specialised area in creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship. This area will provide an integrated environment to support entrepreneurship and attract talents looking for a platform to support their projects and innovations in various sectors, paving the way for a new economy based on knowledge, creativity and innovation.

The new city will include residential areas built on green building standards in terms of energy consumption, waste treatment and conservation of natural environment. It will also feature a number of golf courses under well-known international names. The new city project will be implemented by Dubai Holding and Emaar Properties and will be marked as the biggest joint venture in real estate industry regionally.

The tourism sector in Dubai is growing by 13% annually; with growth in hotel revenue exceeding 22% to reach more than Dh 16 billion. The hotel occupancy rate was 82% in the year 2011, which was the highest globally, and the number of visitors to Dubai Mall reached 62 million in 2012, with 25% growth in retail sales in 2011.

In attendance at the announcement were H. H. Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and H.H. Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai. - Emirates News Agency, WAM


UAE leadership’s achievements highlighted

            Under the patronage of Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister for Higher Education and Scientific Research and in the presence of a number of officials, intellectuals and dignitaries, the Al Khaleej Studies Centre in Dar Al Khaleej for Press, Printing and Publishing on Saturday organised a forum under the title ‘March of the Union.’

The forum tackled the Union march and the achievements made by the state over the past years, in addition to the Union’s role in promoting the state to bring it to the ranks of developed countries at all levels.

The organisation publishes the Al Khaleej and The Gulf Today newspapers and magazines.

At the beginning of the forum, Dr Abdullah Omran, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Dar Al Khaleej, greeted the guests, thanked Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak and welcomed all the attendees.

Dr Abdullah said, “I am pleased to host this elite group of people on the occasion of celebrating 41 years of the March of the Union. Dar Al Khaleej played a significant role since 1970 in the building of this great edifice. Though Dar Al Khaleej experienced tough times and has been fought against by several parties, including British colonialism and the Shah of Iran, we persisted and fought until we issued Dar Al Khaleej newspaper in 1970, to be a help and an honest word in building the Union after Britain decided to withdraw in 1968.”

At the end of his speech Dr Omran said, “Dar Al Khaleej contributed and participated in the support of the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, and is honoured by hosting the brother and friend, Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak, who has contributed much during the past years.”

After Dr Abdullah’s speech, Khalfan Al Roumi said on behalf of Sheikh Nahyan, “We meet today on the eve of the year 41 since the founding of the Union, which could not have been achieved without the awareness, patriotism and efforts made by the founding fathers until the dream came true.”

Sheikh Nahyan said, “I am pleased to attend this forum with you on the March of the Union and I thank Dar Al Khaleej for organising this meeting, which stems from its keenness and interest in the homeland’s affairs and aspirations and from its remarkable commitment to deepen the principles of loyalty and belonging to the United Arab Emirates. We will always take pride in its values, principles, leaders and in its sons and daughters.

“We are always proud of what it represents as a developed, unique cultural model representing co-existence, tolerance, reconstruction and construction, stability and prosperity.

“Also, we are proud of our glorious past and our successful present and let’s work together for a prosperous future.

“I also feel proud when I talk about our country on the occasion of the Union’s glorious day as we see the greatness of its people and the wonderful record of our loyal leaders who were honest in their words and their deeds. Whenever Union Day comes, we remember the bright successive images and feel gratitude to the great leader and prudent founder the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who had the wisdom and guidance credited in turning this country in record time to a towering castle and building the people of this country on a straight and good ground,” Sheikh Nahyan added.

The forum was also attended by Khalid Abdullah Omran, Deputy Editor in Chief and General Manager of Dar Al Khaleej for Press, Printing and Publishing, Aysha Abdullah Omran, Editor in Chief of The Gulf Today and Amira Abdullah Omran, Editor in Chief of the Kul Alusra magazine. – The Gulf Today


UAE to nourish future with Expo 2020

            The World Expo 2020 masterplan that has been just unveiled is an amazing roadmap to the UAE’s future directions and is a masterstroke that would help further enhance Dubai’s place in the community of global cities.  UAE’s bid to host the World Expo 2020 in Dubai will also open a multitude of opportunities for trade, investment and technology, and reflects the vision of the country’s Rulers to establish beyond doubt the UAE’s credentials as a regional economic powerhouse and an international hub for conventions, events and exhibitions.

The jubilant and prosperous nation has thanked the wise leadership of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai. Investors, industrialists and entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds have hailed the campaign.

In a major step towards the UAE’s 2020 World Expo campaign, the Expo 2020 team yesterday unveiled the masterplan for Dubai Trade Centre-Jebel Ali, the proposed site to host the six-month event if the country’s bid is successful.

The world continues to search for a new global economic paradigm to power future growth and sustainability, with Dubai’s rapid economic growth making headway to host the World Expo 2020.

If Dubai’s bid to host the mega event goes through, it will become the only country in the Arab world to host the event which has a history of over 150 years.

The wave of support from across the globe continues to gain momentum as Dubai remains the hot favourite destination for the Expo, as its modern and state-of-the-art infrastructure plays a large role in improving the emirate’s bid.


The World Expo, one of the oldest and largest international events established before a century and a half, takes place every five years in  different cities around the globe and lasts for six months, attracting millions of visitors.

Since 1851, World Expos have been a platform to communicate the world’s most brilliant ideas, bringing the global community together to learn, share and grow, while introducing significant new technologies and innovations.

The UAE is bidding to host the World Expo 2020 in Dubai under the theme ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future.’

The World Expo has never been held in the Middle East, Africa and South East Asia in the history of the event.

Each World Expo is also a catalyst for economic, cultural and social transformation that generates important legacies for the host city and nation.


Dubai, which scores a first in most of the world’s major event and has proved that it has colossal facilities, has been one of five cities that is competing to host the World Expo in 2020.

The other candidate cities include: Ayutthaya (Thailand); Ekaterinburg  (Russia); Izmir (Turkey); and Sao Paulo (Brazil).

Dubai’s bid to host the Expo 2020 would be a significant addition to the emirate’s growing list of milestones. With its bid focused on sustainability, transport & logistics and new models of economic growth, Expo 2020 would not only be a major step for the Middle East, but also for the whole world.


Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Civil Aviation

Authority and Chairman of Emirates Group, who serves as Chairman of the Higher Committee for Hosting the 2020 World Expo in Dubai, made a final inspection of the UAE pavilion running concurrently with the General Assembly meetings. The pavilions at the exhibition showcase the infrastructure of each bidding city to substantiate its claim of the ability to host the global event. The exhibition is part of the effort to win the votes of the 161 member states in the amalgamation.

The Higher Committee was formed by a decree last May by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum. On the economy and financial crisis, Sheikh Mohammed said: “This crisis is behind us now. Our country and our institutions managed to ride out the global financial crisis.”

The Committee submits regular reports directly to Sheikh Mohammed on the outcomes, milestones, challenges, solutions, proposals and recommendations towards achieving the ultimate goal of ensuring success in hosting the World Expo 2020.

According to Ahmed Bin Shafar, CEO of Empower, the UAE has a proven track record in organising mega events since the nineties, backed by the country’s world-class infrastructure, especially following the stupendous success in organising the World Energy Forum 2012 in Dubai attended by some prominent heads of state.

He added that the UAE has the expertise, backed  by strategic location and infrastructure that has helped it win the bid.


The winning city will be announced in November following a vote by the 160 member nations of the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) in Paris, France on Thursday. The international organisation is responsible for overseeing the bidding, selection and organisation of World Expos.

Dubai’s presentation to the International Exhibition Bureau to host the Expo 2020 brought in a few surprises on Thursday, such as a subway system for the exhibition area and a personal endorsement from Microsoft founder Bill Gates, who is also the founder and co-chair of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the world’s largest private foundation.

Gates, who made a surprise appearance, also gave his personal endorsement of Dubai’s bid, saying the city “would be a great location to host a World Expo.”

All five of the cities bidding for the event gave 20-minute presentations at the Paris headquarters of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Dubai’s presentation was delivered by Reem Al Hashemi, the Minister of State. The UAE delegation to the IEB was led by Sheikh Ahmed.

One of the sub-themes of the UAE bid to host World Expo 2020 in Dubai has been the focus on economic development.

Al Hashemi said, “We are committed to delivering an unforgettable World Expo.” She also called it “the whole nation’s bid.”

According to the presentation, two-thirds of the world’s population lives within eight hours of Dubai. Twenty-five million visitors are expected to attend, with 70 per cent of those attending coming from outside the UAE.

Mattar Al Tayer, Chairman of the Board and Executive Director of the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), who was at the presentation, said Dubai also has infrastructure plans that include air, sea and land transport. Those plans include extending the Dubai Metro to the Al Maktoum Airport. Al Tayer said he hopes any legacy left behind by the World Expo would extend to more than just business.


Dubai is scheduled to present its completed dossier for its Expo 2020 bid on December 3, at which time additional information, such as the proposed budget to build the exhibition centre and upgrade any infrastructure, would be announced.

This was the third set of presentations to the International Exhibition Bureau. Two more presentations are scheduled before the announcement of the winner, which is likely to happen in October 2013.


The event itself will be held equidistant between Dubai and Abu Dhabi on 438 hectares of land, allowing visitors the choice of arriving in either of the two cities.

The site masterplan has been designed by HOK, Populus and Arup.

The focal point of the exhibition will be a central pavilion called Al Wasl, which means “The Connection” in Arabic.

The plans for the arrangement of pavilions from visiting nations is inspired by Arabian souqs or markets, the site integrates the UAE’s unique architectural heritage and environment of vibrancy and trade. Smaller buildings will be located near the centre of the exhibition with larger buildings on the outside. To comply with its sub-theme of mobility, Dubai said it plans build an underground railway  system to connect the Al Wasl with the outer pavilions.

In keeping with the clean energy theme, the proposed exhibition site will also be covered by a canopy of photovoltaic material, which should produce enough solar power to cover 50 per cent of the Expo’s electricity needs. At night, the underside of the canopy will act as a screen for video presentations and light shows.

After the Expo is finished, Dubai plans to turn the pavilion grounds into a research and development centre or a university, according to Al Hashemi.

Mid this month, Sheikh Mohammed selected eight individuals to serve as “Expo Ambassadors” to support the country’s bid to host the 2020 World Expo in Dubai.

These Expo Ambassadors, who were selected based on the quality of their submission to the recently concluded “Be part of it” competition, represented the UAE at Thursday’s high-level reception, that took place on the eve of the country’s upcoming presentation to the General Assembly of the 161 member nations of the BIE.

Analysts say that the UAE is at the forefront of the Arab countries in growth rates as well as quality of life. All these key success factors have played a critical role in enhancing Dubai’s chances of winning the bid for hosting this world-class event that comes third in importance, after the World Cup and the Olympics.

The promotion of Dubai as a host for Expo 2020 is substantiated with each global achievement made in each individual category.

Over 180 firms from the UAE and around the world have pledged to help raise awareness of the country’s bid to host the 2020 World Expo in Dubai, following the recent launch of an online initiative for corporate bid supporters.

The “Support the bid” programme, accessible on the Expo 2020 website, provides corporate visitors with an application form to become Expo 2020 bid supporters, along with access to campaign resources, including Expo brand guidelines, fact sheets, posters and high-resolution logos for company banners and email signatures.

In total, companies from 14 different countries have pledged to support the UAE’s Expo 2020 bid, including firms from across the Middle East, Australia, Canada, India, the UK and the US.

The Expo 2020 website offers visitors background information on the history of World Expos, highlighting the UAE’s strategic advantages as potential host of this truly global event. Visitors can also learn more about the many benefits that hosting the Expo would provide the UAE, and how supporting the bid can help create new opportunities for companies across the region and around the world.


In line with its vision to promote Dubai as a leading tourist destination and global commercial hub, the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) was named a lead sponsor for the UAE’s bid to host the Expo in Dubai.

DTCM and the Expo team will work together to raise awareness about the country’s bid campaign through a series of ongoing outreach initiatives, which include hosting conventions, branding, and distributing informational brochures across the city.

The UAE has a long history with the World Expo stretching back four decades to the 1970 expo held in Osaka, Japan.

We want to bring the expo to the world and the world to Dubai, was Al Hashemi’s parting shot.


According to The Global Competitiveness Report 2012-13 released by the World Economic Forum in Geneva recently the UAE has been ranked 24th out of 144 countries globally, jumping three ranks from last year.

The report evaluates the countries competitiveness along the 12 pillars corresponding to three main stages of economic development: Stage 1: Factor Driven; Stage 2: Efficiency Driven; and Stage 3: Innovation Driven.

The UAE had joined the innovation and creativity driven economies since 2006. As a result it has been ranked ahead of New Zealand, Australia, Italy and Spain.

Switzerland, for the fourth consecutive year, tops the overall rankings while Singapore remains in second position and Finland in third position, overtaking Sweden (4th).

These and other Northern and Western European countries dominate the top 10 with the Netherlands (5th), Germany (6th) and United Kingdom (8th).

The United States (7th), Hong Kong (9th) and Japan (10th) complete the ranking of the top 10 most competitive economies.

“Despite growing its overall competitiveness score, the United States continues its decline for the fourth year in a row, falling two more places to seventh position,” the report says.

“In addition to the burgeoning macroeconomic vulnerabilities, some aspects of the country’s institutional environment continue to raise concern among business leaders, particularly the low public trust in politicians and a perceived lack of government efficiency. On a more positive note, the country still remains a global innovation powerhouse and its markets work efficiently.”

Countries in Southern Europe, i.e. Portugal (49th), Spain (36th), Italy (42nd) and particularly Greece (96th) continue to suffer from competitiveness weaknesses in terms of macroeconomic imbalances, poor access to financing, rigid labour markets and an innovation deficit, the report shows.

“Persisting divides in competitiveness across regions and within regions, particularly in Europe, are at the origin of the turbulence we are experiencing today, and this is jeopardising our future prosperity.” Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum, said in a statement.

“We urge governments to act decisively by adopting long-term measures to enhance competitiveness and return the world to a sustainable growth path.”

The report indicates that Switzerland and countries in Northern Europe have been consolidating their strong competitiveness positions since the financial and economic downturn in 2008.

The UAE has improved its ranking by three to the 24th position from last year’s 27. However, The UAE is the only Arab country included in the top category of leading economies — Global Economics driven by Innovation.

Reem Al Hashimi, Minister of State and Chairperson of the Emirates Competitiveness Council said the report is an authentication from the international community about the status of UAE as one of the most advanced and innovative countries, thanks to the wise UAE leadership for the UAE’s 2021 vision to make the UAE one of the most competitive countries in the world by 2021.

She added that the UAE’s competiveness index regarding the labour market efficiency surged by 21 points to seventh globally, reiterating that the UAE would score better results in the next global competiveness reports.

The UAE topped the list of Arab countries and ranked 5th globally in the World Bank’s Doing Business Report for ease of trading across borders.

Similarly, it ranked 1st among Arab countries and 17th worldwide on the UN’s recent World Happiness Report and 16th internationally in the IMD s World Competitiveness Yearbook. – The Gulf Today


Abu Dhabi Fund grants 77.1m loan to Lesotho for Metolong Dam

            Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD) injected Dh77.13 million in Metolong Dam project in Lesotho through a new agreement with the Lesotho government.

The agreement was signed in Abu Dhabi by ADFD's director general Mohammed Saif Al Suwaidi and deputy finance minister of Lesotho Mats'epo Ramakoae.

"Through contributing to this strategic project, we aim to improve the quality of life of the local community by developing the water sector. The project will provide to provide an additional 71000 cubic meters/day of drinking water to the capital city of Maseru and neighboring towns. It will also reinforce food security and expand irrigated lands to boost the country's agricultural production," Al Suwaidi said.

"The agreement reflects the approach and priorities of the wise leadership of Abu Dhabi to supporting developing nations and harnessing all potentials to back their sustainable development," he noted.

According to the Lesotho official, the new agreement will enable the government to provide clean water, boost agriculture, food security and economic stability for the local population. The dam is expected to meet demands on water up to 2025.

The dam is being built on the South Phutiatsama River to contain 53 million cubic meters of water in its reservoir.

The dam project also includes water storage and purification facilities, four stations to pump water to four cities, 89 kilometers of water pipelines and other electro-mechanical works.

In 1987, ADFD funded two development projects in Lesotho with Dh 6.7 million. - Emirates News Agency, WAM


RCA spends Dh512.6m on humanitarian assistance in 2011

            Some Dh 512.6 million were spent by the Red Crescent Authority (RCA) on humanitarian operations in the UAE and overseas in 2011, the agency reported Saturday.

A total of Dh 346 million were spent on the agency's operations in 50 countries last year to help thousands of families affected by natural disasters and conflicts.

Relief operations launched by RCA in 29 countries in 2011 cost more than Dh 51.6 million.

Somalia, Libya and Pakistan were the major beneficiary countries of RCA's operations.

Around 417 thousand families in the UAE received a total of Dh 166.6 million in assistance from RCA's domestic humanitarian programmes, it said in a report. - Emirates News Agency, WAM


British MPs arrive in the UAE

            Nine members of the British Parliament arrived in the United Arab Emirates yesterday on a four-day visit.

The delegation members come from the main two British political parties, and are coming in order to see the realities of life in the United Arab Emirates and develop the bilateral partnership between the UAE and the UK.

During their visit, they will meet senior political and business leaders and will visit Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Al Ain.

The delegation members include a Government Whip and a former Government Minister, and two members of the shadow Ministerial team of the Opposition Labour Party.  - Emirates News Agency, WAM


Saif bin Zayed voted Personality of the Year by AFO

            Acting upon the directives of the Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, HH Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, the Arab Family Organisation (AFO) has launched the AFO Award for Family Cohesion.

The Award, established under the patronage of the Sharjah Ruler, also voted Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior HH Sheikh Lt. General Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan as the winner of the inaugural edition of the Award as the 'Personality of the Year for Family Cohesion and Social Security'.

The Board of Trustees of the Award, at a meeting presided over by the Chairman of the AFO Dr. Jamal Bin Obeid Al Beh, also decided to give the 'Steadfastness under Occupation' award to the Al-Dalou Family in the Gaza Strip.

A committee has been formed to visit the head of the family in Gaza and invite him to the UAE to receive the award.

The AFO Chairman thanked Sheikh Saif for his numerous efforts to support family security and social cohesion in the country. - Emirates News Agency, WAM


UAE economy to reap oil windfall gains

            The UAE economy will benefit greatly from the high oil prices during 2012 although given the investment programmes and handout schemes which were announced during 2011, much of the money has already been earmarked for spending, say experts.

“Still, Abu Dhabi — and by extension the UAE — should benefit from achieving a healthy budget surplus, despite the generous spending plans,” Samuel Cizsuk, Consultant at the UK-based KBC Process Technology Ltd told Gulf News.

“Thanks to high oil prices this year, we think that the UAE will run a fiscal surplus of around 10 per cent of GDP (gross domestic product). However, our house view is that oil prices will fall next year as the global economy (and thus oil demand) weakens. We expect oil prices to fall to US$85 per barrel and, as such, think the UAE’s fiscal surplus may narrow to around 5 per cent of GDP,” William Jackson, Emerging Markets Economist at the London-based Capital Economics Ltd told Gulf News.

“But even if oil prices do fall as we expect, the UAE’s fiscal position is still pretty healthy. As such, the authorities should have ample scope to cushion the blow from external headwinds by increasing their spending,” Jackson added.

The extra-cash being generated from high oil export revenues would likely help the UAE government boost its investment in the national infrastructure projects and meet its GDP growth target for next year.

The UAE finance ministry said in October the state recorded a budget surplus of Dh36.2 billion (US$9.9 billion) in 2011. According to a Reuters calculation, the surplus revealed was equivalent to 2.9 per cent of the 2011 GDP of the UAE.

“[High oil prices] is good news as the investment need in Abu Dhabi’s oil and gas sector also is very high in the coming years ahead, particularly in 2014 and onwards, when a renewal of the ADCO concession -in whatever form is finally decided on - will unlock significant project investment not only from the international oil companies, but also from Adnoc itself,” Cizsuk added.

As matters stand, the UAE is well placed to derive maximum gains from the high global crude prices. It now has a strategic advantage over its regional peers after it commissioned the strategic Habshan-Fujairah oil pipeline in July this year. The pipeline gives the world’s third-largest oil exporter a direct access to the Indian Ocean and the option to bypass the Strait of Hormuz for its crude shipments, if that critical water channel ever gets choked. At present, almost a third of the world’s seaborne oil passes through this water channel.

By the end of the year, this 1.5 million-barrels-per-day pipeline will be fully operational, which is almost 70 per cent of the UAE’s crude output.

Burgeoning demand from China and India has kept oil prices on a boil in 2012 despite flagging demand from the U.S. and Europe where the Euro member countries continue to grapple with high sovereign debt and economic slowdown issues. Brent crude, which has seldom dropped below US$100 a barrel in 2012 is a pointer to the fast-narrowing demand-supply gap in the oil market.

However, in October, the Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA), which advises 28 industrialised countries on energy policy, reduced its forecast for global demand, saying slower economic growth may limit fuel consumption.

Oil prices declined after the IEA cut the outlooks for 2012 and 2013 by 100,000 barrels a day each from a month earlier. The IEA forecast world oil demand of 89.7 million barrels a day this year and 90.5 million in 2013.

Economic expansion isn’t happening fast enough to curb unemployment, said International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde.

The IEA also said global markets will become better supplied in the next five years as demand growth slows and production rises in North America and the Middle East.

Worldwide fuel consumption is projected to rise to 95.7 million barrels a day in 2017 from 89 million last year, the IEA said. Output is forecast to advance about 1.5 million barrels a day each year to 102 million barrels a day in the same period. – Gulf News


Identifying priorities key to businesses: RAK FTZ

            Ras Al Khaimah Free Trade Zone, or RAK FTZ — one of the fastest-growing and most cost-effective free trade zones in the UAE — recently organised a special business event for its clients in Dubai.

The event showcased a series of presentations from prominent speakers, which shed light on key priorities in the changed business landscape across the region. It was attended by more than 400 clients of the free trade zone, from different industries such as trading, consulting, and industrial.

Maryam Al Murshedi Al Shehhi, deputy director-general of RAK FTZ, welcomed the attendees and opened the session. In her welcome note, she highlighted the development and growth of RAK FTZ.

“We have 1,935 new companies in the RAK FTZ family this year, and by the end of 2012, we expect this number to increase significantly. We would like to credit this performance to a host of factors — from our transparent, investor-friendly policies to our strategic location,” she said.

“We would like to thank our clients for their confidence in our unique business model. This initiative to host a business lunch for our clients is aimed at boosting our interaction and commitment to our clients’ growth journey.”

The panel of speakers at the event included Marcus Wallman, partner for commercial advisory at Al Tamimi & Co, and Ammar Haykar, litigation partner at Al Tamimi & Co, who addressed the audience on “Contracting under the UAE law”. This address was followed by Liz Martins, senior economist for Global Banking and Markets at HSBC Bank Middle East Limited, whose topic was about “The Middle East and North Africa in a troubled global economy”.

The event also encompassed a speech by motivational speaker Carol Talbot, owner of Matrix Training Solutions, which focused on “Leading from the Inside Out”.

The networking lunch after the event was attended by Shaikh Faisal bin Saqr Al Qasimi, chairman of RAK FTZ, who spoke with the attendees.

Kholoud El Fouly, director of client relations at RAK FTZ, said: “By gathering our clients and bringing together a panel of experts to talk about the matters that add value to their businesses, we hope that it will produce a host of valuable ideas, support their particular needs and gain insights that can add value to their businesses.  

The successful event is one of the many activities planned by RAK FTZ for its clients. El Fouly also revealed that RAK FTZ clients could expect more events in 2013. – Khaleej Times


Abu Dhabi completes region’s longest traffic tunnel

            Abu Dhabi has completed the region’s longest traffic tunnel that stretches more than three km and the project will be tested before it is officially launched within the next few days, the semi official daily Alittihad said on Sunday.

Work on the project, which cost more than Dh5 billion, began nearly five years ago as one of the largest road construction ventures ever to be carried out in the UAE.

The tunnel had been due to be completed at the end of 2010 but was delayed because of technical and topographical snags, according to the Abu Dhabi Municipality which is carrying out the project on the capital’s eastern flank.

South Korea’s Samsung Construction is carrying out the project, which will also link the mainland to the nearby Reem Island, where at least 100,000 inhabitants will live. The causeway to the island has already been completed.

More than 2,000 workers were involved in the construction of the 3.5 km tunnel, which starts from the eastern entrance of Abu Dhabi city and runs under Alsalam street towards Port Zayed on the western tip of the capital.

Around two km of the tunnel would be embedded nearly 15 metres underground while the rest would be open and near the surface level.

Officials said the tunnel is part of a long-term blueprint by Abu Dhabi to expand its inhabited areas and road networks to cope with a sharp rise in the population, which officials expect to nearly triple in the next 20 years.

A municipality statement said the road could have a capacity of 12,000 moving cars per hour in both directions once it becomes fully operational. – Emirates 24|7


UAE browsers safer than most when spinning around the Web

            The UAE is one of the safest countries in the region for internet browsing, according to a report from the Russian security firm Kaspersky Lab.

Last month, the Emirates ranked 71 in the world for infections coming through the Web, with about 17 per cent of all internet users regularly facing malicious software through browsing and surfing online. The average global infection rate is about 28 per cent.

Infections through removable devices such as USB sticks is about 19 per cent, ranking the UAE at 65th place.

"The UAE is in a better position than other countries and the number of attacks are slowly going down if we compare them to previous quarters. It looks safe enough here in the UAE," said Vladimir Zapolyansky, the deputy director and head of technology positioning at Kaspersky.

The most common Web threats in the UAE are Trojan viruses, accounting for almost 61 per cent of threats. Trojans disguise themselves as legitimate computer files or software, and are designed to grant hackers access to the data stored on the computer.

The results are somewhat surprising given that the Middle East is the world's most targeted region for cyber attacks. In recent years, sophisticated attacks targeting government institutions and specific businesses have become prevalent.

"We did not find anything related to targeted attacks in the Emirates [last month], unlike Iran, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, where it is very dangerous," said Mr Zapolyansky.

Most recently the Flame virus that targeted specific individuals in the Middle East carried three extra pieces of malware. Only one has been identified, dubbed the mini- Flame. Security specialists are still analysing the other two pieces.

"They were discovered in August, but we still don't know what they are. They could be targeting this region or elsewhere," said Mr Zapolyansky. "It depends on the motivation of the attackers because if they have the motivation, they can attack any country or computer. It depends on their imagination." – The National


Abu Dhabi Falconry Competitions to kick off 29 Nov

            Preparations have been completed for the Abu Dhabi Falconry Competitions which kicks off at Shabkhat Al Sarami area, in Al Wathba, Abu Dhabi, on 29 November, the organising committee of the event announced.

The event is organised by Emirates Falconers Club 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 in Al-Wathba, Abu Dhabi, under the supervision of the Abu Dhabi Sports Council.

As registration for the competitions was closed, more than 600 falconers and 1109 birds are expected to take to the skies over the five-day contest which will highlight three disciplines.

The committee also said it had prepared the Etisalat Village with 30 shops to provide all traditional products and veterinary services.  - Emirates News Agency, WAM


Global Village unveils Union Festival

            Famous Emirati artists will serenade Global Village visitors from Monday until December 2 as part of the 41st National Day celebrations.

Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Executive Council, directed Global Village officials to organise the Union Festival at the theme park.

The 11-day event will bring together Diana Haddad, Ali Al Katheeri, Majid Al Shamsi and Fadhel Al Mazroui for a series of special concerts at Global Village.

Traditional Emirati folk dances like Razfa, Liwa, Indima, Ayala and Nouban will be performed. Complementing the celebration is a one-hour poetry night with an Emirati theme on December 1.

The theme park will likewise celebrate Dubai’s cultural diversity by hosting several cultural shows from the UAE, Kuwait, Yemen, Algeria and India. The Ukrainian fire show, with fire dances choreographed to authentic Arabic music, is expected to take centre stage.

As the largest participant in the Union Festival, the UAE pavilion will be richly decorated. Traditional Emirati incense burners will be spread all over the pavilion in addition to perfume testers.

Visitors will have the opportunity to experience a traditional Emirati kitchen. Kiosks, designed to resemble typical Emirati kitchens, will serve fresh snacks and desserts at the festival.

Traditional Areesh huts will be built around the park to welcome visitors with Arabic coffee, authentic dates and Arabic incense.

At the Yemeni pavilion, a folk group will showcase a song dedicated to the UAE leaders. The song is composed using one of the poems of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum poems, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, mixed with a few lines from the poems of famous Yemeni poet Hassan Abdul Haq.

Colourful rickshaws will line up outside the Indian Pavilion, which will also feature a specially-designed show.

Visitors will also be able to view the developments in UAE society through 3D Projection Mapping at Global Village’s management building.

One lucky visitor will also get to drive home a 2013 Chevrolet Camaro in a special draw.

Global Village will also distribute 10,000 shawls in the colours of the national flag, Union pins and flags. – Gulf News


Rise in demand for activities focusing on Emirati culture

            Expatriate and tourist demand for activities aimed at understanding the Emirati culture has increased over the last five years according to the Shaikh Mohammad Centre for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU).

Established in 1998, SMCCU is a non-profit and self-sustaining organisation that aims to remove barriers between people of different nationalities and educate them about the UAE culture, customs and religion.

“We have grown — quadrupled — in terms of the number of activities and audience over the last five years. In the old days, we would be happy with one activity a day. Now we have around eight activities a day from morning till evening,” Nasif Kayed, SMCCU’s general manager, told Gulf News.

Based on its 2011 End of Year Report alone, 2,570 guests participated in SMCCU’s Cultural Breakfast Programme, an increase of 64 per cent compared to 2010 figures.

Its Cultural Lunches also increased by 76 per cent, and the Bastakiya Walking Tours and Heritage Tours also saw participation rise by 360 per cent. Grand Mosque and Diwan Mosque Visits, on the other hand, increased almost four-fold compared to the previous year.

Cultural breakfasts and lunches are held every week inside the centre, which is a typical wind tower house in Bastakiya house in Bur Dubai.

The gathering resembles that of a typical Emirati meeting over a meal, with an Emirati host talking about the UAE culture and customs.

“This increase could mean two things. First, demand for activities that focus on cultural understanding is rising. And second, people are beginning to recommend us because of our reputation,” Kayed said.

“The first time you visit Dubai you will want to see the Burj Khalifa, Dubai Mall. But sooner or later you’ll want to know about the Emirati culture,” he added.

To meet this increasing demand, Kayed said they will continue to study and introduce programmes as needed in the future, beginning with a monthly documentary feature this month.

SMCCU will feature relevant documentaries at the Dubai International Financial Centre once a month, which began this month.

The first documentary feature was held on Friday titled ‘Legacy of a Prophet.’

For more information on the centre’s activities, visit www.cultures.ae. – Gulf News


UAE National Day holidays: 4-day break for public sector, private sector gets 3-day weekend

The Federal ministries and entities will be off work on Sunday and Monday; December 2 and 3, to mark the 41st National Day, according to a circular issued yesterday by Humaid Mohammed Obaid Al Qattami, Minister of Education and Chairman of the Federal Government Human Resources Authority.

The circular, which based on law no. 11 of 2008 on government human resources, said work will resume on Tuesday, December 4, 2012.

Al Qattami congratulated President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Their Highnesses, Members of the Supreme Council and Rulers of the Emirates and people of the UAE on the occasion.

Private sector holiday

The private sector institutions and companies will be off work on Sunday, December 2, 2012, on the occasion of the 41st National Day of the UAE, according to a circular issued yesterday by Saqr Ghobash Saeed Ghobash, Minister of Labour.

Ghobash extended his congratulations to President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Their Highnesses the Supreme Council Members and Rulers of the Emirates and people of the UAE on the occasion.

Key Points:

Korean leader hails UAE achievements

Mohammed bin Zayed and Korean President visit Barakah, site of peaceful nuclear energy program

ADNOC and KNOC signed a 6 million barrels storage agreement for strategic joint stockpile

Mohammed bin Rashid holds talks with visiting Finnish President

Masdar Institute to keep large scale wind parks connected during severe fault conditions

Sharjah and Ajman sign production sharing agreement for developing offshore gas field

UAE signs agreement with Mexico to avoid double Taxation on Income

UAE backs Syrian people, says Gargash

UAE, Bahrain top economic freedom list

Major partners, Abu Dhabi hub give Etihad Airways advantage between Europe and Australia

Emirates SkyCargo creates new Thailand trade lane with Phuket Launch

UAE ranks as one of the top 10 Mobile Network Performing Countries in 2012: Cisco Global Cloud Index

Dubai takes the next step in its bid to host the World Expo 2020 in Paris

Stage set for Sharjah GP

Magic of Water set to unfold in Sharjah

Art blossoms in the desert

Zayed University to take aim at QS World Rankings

Emirates puts Lyon on the map at DP World Tour Golf Championship


Korean leader hails UAE achievements

The President, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, held talks with visiting President Lee Myung-bak of South Korea at Al Rawda Palace here on Wednesday.

General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler’s Representative in the Western Region, were also present.

Sheikh Khalifa welcomed the Korean president, noting the distinguished bilateral relations between the two countries in the past. 

During the meeting, he also stressed the desire of the UAE to expand its cooperation with the Korean side, especially in the economic and technological fields.

The President said that relations between the UAE and Korea were based on mutual understanding and always sought further development, through the implementation of bilateral agreements and through the carrying out of strategic development projects, as well as through increasing the volume of bilateral investment.

On his part, the Korean president praised the great achievements of the UAE under the wise leadership of President Sheikh Khalifa, which, he said, had enabled the country to enjoy a prestigious position at both regional and international levels.

He also expressed his happiness at visiting the UAE and at meeting Sheikh, noting that his visit came in the context of the desire of the leadership and governments of both countries to develop cooperation in various fields.

During their talks, the two leaders discussed bilateral relations, existing cooperation and ways of strengthening it and the latest international developments.

The Korean president conferred on Sheikh Khalifa the Grand Order of Mugunghwa, the highest decoration awarded by the Korean government to presidents and heads of state.

He also conferred on Gen. Sheikh Mohammed the Gunghwa Order, presented to crown princes and heads of governments.

Sheikh Khalifa and Gen. Sheikh Mohammed both thanked President Lee for the honours conferred upon them, expressing their hope that there would be further development in relations between the two countries in various fields.

The meeting was attended by Sheikh Tahnoun bin Mohammed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Ruler‘s Representative in the Eastern Region; Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed Al Nahyan, National Security Adviser; Lt. General Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior; Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs; and Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Foreign Minister; in addition to a number of other sheikhs, ministers and senior officials.

Also present were the UAE Ambassador to Korea, and the South Korean Ambassador to the UAE along with the delegation accompanying the Korean president.


Mohammed bin Zayed and Korean President visit Barakah, site of peaceful nuclear energy program

His Highness General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, has reaffirmed the close UAE-Korea friendship under both UAE President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Korean President Lee Myung-Bak.

Sheikh Mohammed praised President Myung-Bak's keenness to promote bilateral cooperation and take it to a new level of progress, particularly with regards to the peaceful nuclear energy program in the mutual interest of both countries and their peoples, and the effective role of the Korean government in supporting the strategic partnership between the two nations.

In particular, Sheikh Mohammed commended the role played by Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) in supporting the UAE's strategic plans to develop a peaceful nuclear energy program with the highest standards in safety, security, and quality, as the nation meets its future energy needs.

The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi was speaking on the occasion of the visit yesterday by the Korean President to Barakah, the selected site of the UAE peaceful nuclear energy program in the Western Region of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi for the purpose of producing electrical power for the UAE.

During the visit, the two dignitaries were updated on the key milestones and accomplishments achieved by Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) and the project's prime contractor, Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO), over the last year. The visit also provided an opportunity to witness the progress of construction of Units 1 '&' 2 at Barakah. ENEC and KEPCO reported that they have made a strong start on construction work, following regulatory approval. The companies said they have completed 22.75 per cent of overall construction, putting the project 8 weeks ahead of schedule.

Sheikh Mohammed thanked President Lee and noted that the impressive progress achieved to date would not have been possible without President Lee's foresight and strong commitment.

The dignitaries received updates from ENEC and KEPCO officials in a series of key areas: - Safety officials reported on the advancements in occupational health, nuclear safety and the alignment of key performance indicators to international best practice.

- Licensing and permitting officials reported on the achievement of the Construction License for Units 1 '&' 2 from the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR) and the No Objection Certificate from the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD).

- Nuclear fuel officials reported on the successful award of nuclear fuel supply contracts that will provide fuel requirements for the first 15 years of operations, securing more than 450 million KWh to power the growth of the UAE.

- External affairs and communications officials reported on the positive results of the variety of communications campaigns and stakeholder engagement strategies, which have contributed to positive perceptions of nuclear energy across UAE citizens.

- Human resources officials announced that ENEC has achieved 65 per cent Emiratisation index and reported on the achievements of the Energy Pioneers initiative, ENEC's academic scholarship program to support the next generation of Emirati nuclear specialists.

In addition, a group of Emirati students enrolled in the Energy Pioneers of the UAE programme had the opportunity to meet Sheikh Mohammed and Lee Myung-bak, to present to them their experiences as students of the program.

The visit also included a concrete pouring celebration in which Sheikh Mohammed and President Lee initiated a concrete pour for what will one day form a portion of the reactor containment building. The pouring of safety-related concrete at Barakah began in July 2012, following the approval of the Construction License by the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation and the NOC from the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi.

Sheikh Mohammed and the Korean President were accompanied by H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler's Representative in the Western Region, H.H. Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed Al Nahyan, National Security Advisor, HH Lt. General Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, H.H. Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chief of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince's Court, H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Foreign Minister, Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoun Al Nahyan, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA), Mohammed bin Dhaen Al Hamili, Minister of Energy, a number of top officials and members of official delegation accompanying the Korean President.

"The Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation is honoured to host His Highness General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces and His Excellency Lee Myung-bak, President of the Republic of Korea," said engineer Mohamed Al Hammadi, ENEC CEO. "The visit is an important milestone for ENEC as it reflects the continued strong support to the program from the leadership of both the UAE and the Republic of Korea.

"We are delighted to be able to report such strong progress on the project. Our partner KEPCO has brought world-class expertise to this project, ensuring that we meet our goal of delivering the gold standard of peaceful nuclear energy development." On his part, Jun Yeon Byun, Executive Vice President of KEPCO, said: "We share the vision to construct and operate the Barakah plants in adherence to the highest standards of safety and quality and will continue to progress on the achievements of our program".

ENEC is scheduled to submit the construction license application for units 3'&'4 to the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulations before the end of this year. - Emirates News Agency, WAM


ADNOC and KNOC signed a 6 million barrels storage agreement for strategic joint stockpile

His Highness General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and H.E. Lee Myung-bak, the Korean President, yesterday attended the signing ceremony of an Oil Storage and Management Agreement between Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) and Korea National Oil Corporation (KNOC) at the Emirates Palace Hotel.

The agreement, signed by Abdulla Nasser Al Suwaidi, Director General of ADNOC), and Mr.

Moon Kyu Suh, President and CEO of KNOC, provides for 6 million barrels of crude oil for the Korean Strategic International Joint Stockpile Program.

This agreement comes as a result of the Memorandum of Understanding for cooperation in the oil and gas sector which was signed in March 2011 between the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and Korean government. This agreement is reviewed by both as a win-win cooperation.

The agreement provides for joint cooperation between Abu Dhabi and South Korea and will enhance the energy security of Korea and reduce the burden on the Korean government budget and provide a right to purchase Abu Dhabi crude oil in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) in the event of an oil shortage.

The agreement will enhance Abu Dhabi's standing as one of the world's most secure sources of Energy; ADNOC has pre-positioned crude oil in a strategic hub for the Northeast Asia region.

Sheikh Mohammed and the Korean President also attended the signing ceremony of a Memorandum of Understanding on Co-operation in the medical field between the General Command of the UAE Armed Forces and the Korea Health Industry Development Institute (KHIDI).

The General Command of the UAE Armed Forces was represented by Major General Mohammed Saeed bin Maran Al Dhaheri, Chief of the Joint Logistics Command, while the Korea Health Industry Development Institute (KHIDI) was represented by KHIDI's President Ko Kyung-hwa.  - Emirates News Agency, WAM


Mohammed bin Rashid holds talks with visiting Finnish President

Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum yesterday held talks with the visiting President of Finland, Sauli Niinisto, over ways of boosting bilateral relations for the best interest of the two friendly peoples.

Sheikh Mohammed expressed his hope that the UAE and Finland would build stronger channels of communication to facilitate broader cultural and economic exchange, and open up more opportunities before Emirati and Finnish experts to share knowledge and expertise as well as to learn lessons from successful experiments to serve overall development goals in both countries.

The Finnish head of state praised the prudent vision of the UAE leadership, which he said, had enabled the country to occupy a prominent ranking among the most, fastest developing nations in the region. He also lauded the remarkable achievements the UAE has made, which promoted it as a destination of choice for the world major businesses wishing to establish their presence in the region. - Emirates News Agency, WAM


Masdar Institute to keep large scale wind parks connected during severe fault conditions

Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, yesterday announced faculty and students from the Electrical Power Engineering (EPE) programme have filed a patent application with the US Patent and Trademarks Office.

The technology that could be applied in wind energy will support the grid with shunt and series compensation to mitigate voltage dips, which are caused by grid faults or severe disturbances. The technology presents a new configuration and transient management scheme that achieves superior fault ride through performance in response to all types of grid fault, extreme fault duration and multiple faults.

The wind turbine configuration in the system is capable of alleviating unwanted electrical phenomenon and providing support to the electricity grid.

Such innovative technologies and patents in renewable energy sources are expected to offer both short-term and long-term benefits to the UAE, supporting the economy by outsourcing the technologies and establishing local manufacture for promoting renewable energy.

The patent assumes significance following the recent report on the supply of power for the first time by London Array offshore wind project to the UK grid. The project - Masdar's collaboration venture with Dong Energy and E.ON - will be one of the world's largest offshore wind farms when completed.

Development of Phase-1 of London Array remains on track with 151 of the 175 wind turbines installed along with the successful installation of the offshore and onshore substations and cables. Expected to be completed in March 2013, the 630MW first phase will generate enough power to supply 470,000 homes.

The application for Fault Handling System For Doubly Fed Induction Generator' was filed by the team of faculty members Dr. Mohamed El Moursi, Assistant Professor, Dr. Weidong Xiao, Acting Head of EPE program, and Po-Hsu Huang, EPE Master's student.

In addition to the patent application, the IEEE, world's largest professional association for the advancement of technology, accepted the paper Novel Fault Ride Through Configuration and Transient Management Scheme for Doubly Fed Induction Generator in its publication IEEE's Transactions on Energy Conversion. The Masdar Institute team has excelled in its collaboration with MIT counterpart Prof. Dr James Kirtley for this research work.

Dr. Fred Moavenzadeh, President, Masdar Institute, said: "Our academic programs are designed to further stimulate the creative-minded students and seek novel solutions in sustainable technologies. The filing of a U.S. patent application by the EPE programme faculty members and student reflects the academic excellence and quality guidance that are offered at the research-based institution as mandated by the country's leadership.

"Our efforts in human capital development will continue as we expand the scope of new technology patents while ensuring that Abu Dhabi provides the best environment for the creation of intellectual property rights. We congratulate the faculty and students for their commitment that continues to bring accolades and worldwide recognition in research and education to Masdar Institute and Abu Dhabi," he added.

Dr. Weidong Xiao said: "IEEE Transactions on Energy Conversion is the top journal in the field of wind power generation where reviewers are among top experts in the field of electric power engineering. Even in the top engineering universities around the world, the achievement is considered outstanding for an MSc student to start the research, perform simulation, write up the paper, and get it published on the top journal within one year." The Masdar Institute research team has also submitted a number of papers to IEEE Transactions, which is under revision and review process. They are looking forward to excelling high quality publications and strong collaboration to promote wind and solar energy research in the UAE.

Serving as a key pillar of innovation and human capital, Masdar Institute remains fundamental to Masdar's core objectives of developing Abu Dhabi's knowledge economy and finding solutions to humanity's toughest challenges such as climate change. - Emirates News Agency, WAM


Sharjah and Ajman sign production sharing agreement for developing offshore gas field

Neighbouring emirates of Sharjah and Ajman have signed a production sharing agreement (PSA) for joint development of an offshore oil field between their coastal borders.

Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Deputy Chairman of Sharjah Petroleum Council, signed the PSA for the government of Sharjah, while Sheikh Ahmed bin Humaid Al Nuaimi, Ajman Ruler's Representative for Administrative and Financial Affairs, signed for the government of Ajman, in the presence of CEO of Dana Gas Rashid Al-Jarwan.

The agreement will further consolidate bonds across the emirates and boost national economic development.

Dana Gas runs the oilfield, located about 40 kilometres off the coast of Ajman and Sharjah.

The PSA will see Sharjah and Ajman governments developing the already discovered gas field by horizontal drilling, building an offshore processing platform and extending a 25 km pipeline to transport gas. - Emirates News Agency, WAM


UAE signs agreement with Mexico to avoid double Taxation on Income

The United Arab Emirates, represented by Ministry of Finance (MoF), signed yesterday an agreement with Mexico to avoid double taxation on income at the Ministry's headquarters in Abu Dhabi.

The agreement is aimed at strengthening mutual economic and trade relations and to develop investments between the two countries, where Mexico is currently the head of the G-20 countries.

Younis Haji Al Khouri, Under Secretary of MoF and Mexican Ambassador to the UAE, Francisco Alonso, signed the agreement on behalf of respective countries, in the presence of Khalid Ali Al Bustani, Assistant Undersecretary of International Financial Relations Sector at MoF and Dr. Hamed Nasr, Economist at MoF.

The agreement included several financial and tax benefits for investments of the public and private sectors in the UAE, which allows the establishment of a strategic cooperation and integration with Mexico and other countries of Latin America. Mexico is considered one of the most important emerging economies at the level of Latin American countries, and one most prominent countries included in the global index of government bonds.

Commenting on signing the agreement, Younis Haji Al Khouri, Undersecretary of MoF, emphasised the importance of establishing strong commercial and economic relations between the UAE and Mexico through improving the investment climate and the exchange of expertise and partnerships between the public and private sectors of both countries.

He shed light on the importance of the agreement as one of the main legal pillars and mechanisms of increasing the flow of investments, developing trade and tourist exchanges, and promoting the air transport industry in both countries. This agreement will also ensure a privileged position for the UAE's economy in all Latin American countries for its recognised infrastructure, monetary capabilities and fiscal policies that attract direct foreign investments.

In this context, Al Khouri highlighted the 67 concluded agreements to this day to avoid double taxation with 27 European countries, and 10 of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), 9 Arab countries and 13 Asian countries in addition to 5 African countries, along with all of New Zealand, Canada and Mexico. These agreements included the leading trading partners of the UAE in different continents. - Emirates News Agency, WAM


UAE backs Syrian people, says Gargash

Dr Anwar Mohammed Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, has stressed the UAE's commitment to support the Syrian people in their current crisis.

He added that the UAE has been taking part effectively in the Syrian Friends meetings, which resulted in setting up of the Task Group entrusted with reconstruction and rebuilding of Syria's future economy.

The remarks were made yesterday at the "Partnership for future investment in Syria" Conference, sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and organised by Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

"We are all aware that Future Syria should be built on solid economic ground within framework of transparency, power of law and the latest economic practices. After decades of suffering of the Syrian people, a new generation open to the world should be rehabilitated to motivate creativity and innovation seen among Syrians abroad," he added.

Gargash underlined that the UAE would not spare any effort to support the Syrian people, noting that the conference was a springboard for coordination of communication between the Syrian private sectors at home and abroad to unify their efforts and exchange views on shape of economy of future Syria.

Sultan Al Mansouri, Minister of Economy, said the convening of this conference comes within a realistic approach on how best to advance Syria's economy.

He reiterated the UAE's commitment to employ its various experiences, exchange expertise and attract foreign investments.

Al Mansouri announced that a group of Emirati companies had expressed their willingness to invest in future Syria, among others, Taqa, Mubadala, DPW, Masdar and Etisalat.

The participants discussed how the Syrian economy could benefit from the UAE's experience in development of infrastructure.  - Emirates News Agency, WAM


UAE, Bahrain top economic freedom list

Toronto: Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are home to the highest levels of economic freedom among Arab nations, according to the annual Economic Freedom of the Arab World report.

The report published by the Fraser Institute, Canada’s leading public policy think-tank, in partnership with the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Liberty (FNF) and the International Research Foundation (IRF) of Oman.

Bahrain, which ranked first last year, improved its overall score to 8.1 out of 10 from 8.0. The UAE also scored 8.1, tying with Bahrain after ranking second overall in 2011 with a score of 7.9. Jordan moved into the third spot from eighth overall, improving its score to 7.9 from 7.4 last year.

Kuwait stood at fourth position with a score of (7.8), Lebanon and Oman scores (7.6 -tie), Qatar at 7th position with (7.4) score, Saudi Arabia occupied 8th position with a score of (7.3) and Yemen scored (7.2) for 9th slot.

Comoros and Tunisia (6.8 -tie) for the 10th position. Egypt (6.7) stood at 12th place.

The report was released in conjunction with the annual Economic Freedom of the Arab World meeting in Tunis. The meeting attracted delegates from nations throughout the Middle East and North Africa.

“Economic freedom is the key to increasing prosperity, creating jobs, and reducing poverty,” said Fred McMahon, Dr Michael A. Walker Research Chair in Economic Freedom and co-author of the Economic Freedom of the Arab World: 2012 Annual Report.

“In this way, economic freedom liberates people from government dependence and opens the door to democracy and other freedoms. The Arab Spring showed us that the region craves economic freedom.”

The Economic Freedom of the Arab World report compares and ranks Arab nations in five areas of economic freedom: size of government, including expenditures, taxes, and enterprises, commercial and economic law and security of property rights, access to sound money, freedom to trade internationally and regulation of credit, labour, and business.

Research shows that individuals living in countries with high levels of economic freedom enjoy higher levels of prosperity, greater individual freedoms, and longer life spans.

“Increases in economic freedom that are, in effect, a return to the classical Arab model of free trade and open markets would help generate the economic dynamism needed to create the jobs and prosperity that the region requires for a successful future,” said Salem Ben Nasser Al Ismaily, the report’s lead author, chairman of IRF, and a member of the Fraser Institute’s board of directors. – The Gulf Today


Major partners, Abu Dhabi hub give Etihad Airways advantage between Europe and Australia

Etihad Airways has forged a powerhouse group with partner airlines Virgin Australia, airberlin, Air France-KLM, Alitalia, and Czech Airlines which can now offer air travellers unparalleled services between Europe and Australia.

As a result of Etihad Airways' sophisticated codeshare and equity acquisition strategy travellers from France, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, as well as a host of other European destinations, can now connect seamlessly to and from Australia over Abu Dhabi.

The major European airlines now have the opportunity to carry passengers into the UAE's capital city and then codeshare with Etihad Airways and Virgin Australia's combined 24 flights a week to Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, offering a unique service for the Australian market.

James Hogan, Etihad Airways' President and Chief Executive Officer, said: "We continue to see huge demand for flights to Australia from across Europe's major cities. Through our codeshare strategy and partnerships with airberlin, Air France-KLM, Alitalia and Czech Airlines, we are not only catering for this demand but offering flights from destinations that were previously offline." "The new offering demonstrates the increasing role Abu Dhabi has within global aviation. The hub will continue to experience greater numbers of transit passengers who enjoy short transfer times and then connecting to Australia with the joint Etihad Airways and Virgin Australia offering." He added, "As these codeshare partnerships mature further we will continue to see a shift in the way air travellers fly between Europe and Australia and Abu Dhabi further cement its place as a leading global hub." More than 14 million passengers will pass through Abu Dhabi Airport this year, 13 per cent more than in 2011.

Etihad Airways and Virgin Australia have developed a highly successful, multi-tiered partnership that includes code-sharing on flights, joint marketing initiatives and reciprocal earn-and-burn on their respective frequent flier programs.

Virgin Australia began operating three Sydney-Abu Dhabi services each week in February 2011.

John Borghetti, Virgin Australia's Chief Executive Officer, said: "The Middle East is an increasingly popular hub for travellers, with the number of trips from Australia to Europe via the Middle East growing by 40 per cent over the past two years .

"Since we launched our comprehensive alliance with Etihad Airways in early 2011, we have worked together to expand our joint network and deliver new initiatives for the benefit of our customers, including increased baggage allowances and new lounges." He added, "We expect demand for travel via the Middle East to continue to grow and we will work with Etihad Airways to ensure we provide a comprehensive offering." Etihad Airways and Air France-KLM's historic agreement to codeshare on flights across the airlines' networks came into effect on 28 October 2012. The codeshare agreement extended the Abu Dhabi-based carrier's network to 321 destinations.

The wide-ranging codeshare agreement sees Etihad Airways and Air France-KLM offering joint codes on destinations in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Australia.

During the first phase of the agreement, the Air France-KLM group has placed its KL code on Etihad Airways' flights between Abu Dhabi and Sydney, Melbourne. Phase two is expected to see this cooperation greatly enhanced on Etihad Airways' Australia services within the next six months.

Italy's flag carrier, Alitalia, recently announced that direct flights between Rome and Abu Dhabi will commence on 1 December 2012. The new flights will be a codeshare operation with Etihad Airways. Alitalia already has its AZ code on Etihad Airways flights from Abu Dhabi to Melbourne and Sydney.

Czech Airlines has its OK code on Etihad Airways flights between Abu Dhabi and Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

airberlin operates flights on a daily basis from Berlin and Dusseldorf to Abu Dhabi and from there passengers can connect with flights operated by Etihad Airways to Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney. - Emirates News Agency, WAM


Emirates SkyCargo creates new Thailand trade lane with Phuket Launch

Emirates SkyCargo, the freight division of Emirates, has strengthened its operations in Thailand, with Phuket to become the second Thai gateway that connects it to international trade opportunities across its network of 126 destinations.

The launch of a daily non-stop flight to Phuket on 10th December 2012, operated by an A340-300 with a belly hold capacity of 13 tonnes, will take the weekly cargo capacity into and out of the country to more than 640 tonnes. This capacity is spread across four flights to Bangkok and one to Phuket.

Phuket, the largest island in Thailand, located in the Andaman Sea, will become the 15th route launch for Emirates this year and the second in South East Asia following the launch of Ho Chi Minh City in June.

"Thailand is a major economic centre in South East Asia. Phuket, which is a very popular tourist destination, plays an important role in Thailand's economy and with the launch of this service we will be able to connect businesses on the island to opportunities across our ever expanding global network," said Ram Menen, Emirates' Divisional Senior Vice President Cargo.

Imports into Phuket are mainly meat, spare parts, diving equipment, office supplies and fish, while the top exports include tuna, live shrimp and crab. Due to the popularity of Thailand as a tourist destination, there is also strong demand for the movement of personal effects and household goods into and out of the island.

Emirates currently operate four daily flights between Dubai and Bangkok, including one with its flagship Airbus A380 aircraft.  - Emirates News Agency, WAM


UAE ranks as one of the top 10 Mobile Network Performing Countries in 2012: Cisco Global Cloud Index

In the second annual Cisco Global Cloud Index (2011 - 2016), Cisco forecasts that global data centre traffic will grow 4-fold and reach a total of 6.6 zettabytes annually by 2016 and ranks the UAE as one of the top 10 Mobile Network Performing Countries in 2012.

Other key highlights from the Study for the UAE include: Mobile network performance: o Download speed of 3,133kbps o Upload speed of 1,353kbps o Latency speed of 120ms Overall consumer and business fixed network cloud performance: o Download speed of 8,002kbps o Upload speed of 2,952kbps o Latency speed of 51ms Consumer fixed network cloud performance: o Download speed of 8,004kbps o Upload speed of 2,953kbps o Latency speed of 51ms Business fixed network cloud performance: o Download speed of 10,180kbps o Upload speed of 4,164kbps o Latency speed of 79ms Overall consumer and business mobile network cloud performance: o Download speed of 3,133kbps o Upload speed of 1,353kbps o Latency speed of 120ms Consumer mobile network cloud performance in the UAE: o Download speed of 8,004kbps o Upload speed of 2,953kbps o Latency speed of 51ms The company also foresees that Middle East and Africa will have the highest cloud traffic growth rate at 79% Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR); followed by Latin America (66% CAGR); and Central and Eastern Europe (55% CAGR).

Cisco predicts that global cloud traffic, the fastest growing component of data centre traffic, will grow 6-fold - a 44% combined annual growth rate (CAGR) - from 683 exabytes of annual traffic in 2011 to 4.3 zettabytes by 2016.

The vast majority of the data centre traffic is not caused by end users but by data centres and cloud-computing workloads used in activities that are virtually invisible to individuals. For the period 2011 - 2016, Cisco forecasts that roughly 76% of data centre traffic will stay within the data centre and will be largely generated by storage, production and development data. An additional seven percent of data centre traffic will be generated between data centres primarily driven by data replication and software/system updates. The remaining 17% of data centre traffic will be fuelled by end users accessing clouds for web surfing, emailing and video streaming.

From a regional perspective, the Cisco Global Cloud Index predicts that through 2016, the Middle East and Africa will have the highest cloud traffic growth rate, while the Asia-Pacific region will process the most cloud workloads, followed by North America.

Rabih Dabboussi, general manager of Cisco UAE, "As cloud traffic continues to proliferate in a new world of many clouds, the Cisco Global Cloud Index provides all cloud computing stakeholders with a very valuable barometer to make strategic, long-term planning decisions. This year's forecast confirms that strong growth in data centre usage and cloud traffic are global trends, driven by our growing desire to access personal and business content anywhere, on any device. It is clear that the next-generation Internet will be an essential component to enabling much greater data centre virtualisation and a new world of interconnected clouds." - Emirates News Agency, WAM


Dubai takes the next step in its bid to host the World Expo 2020 in Paris

Paris: Dubai’s Higher Committee for Hosting the 2020 World Expo the will gave a 20-minute presentation at the International Exhibitions Bureau (Bureau International des Expositions, BIE) before noon. The presentation is expected to unveil portions of the UAE’s master plan for the expo, and is also likely to focus on Dubai’s ability to host the global event.

The World Expo is the third largest global, non-commercial event in terms of economic and cultural impact, after the Fifa World Cup and the Olympic Games. World Expo aims to promote several aspects of society including art and design, education, culture, science, international trade, technology and tourism.

If Dubai wins its bid, the expo is expected to provide jobs for residents and citizens. The estimated budget for development of infrastructure ranges between US$2-US$4 billion (Dh7.3-Dh14.6 billion).

Hosting an World Expo can bring between 20 and 45 million visitors to the host city, an influx of thousands of new businesses prior to and during the event, representation from over 160 countries, and potentially billions of dollars in new economic activity.

If Dubai hosts the event, it will likely take place near the Al Maktoum Airport and would open in October 2020 and run for six months.


Four other countries are also competing for the honour of hosting the Expo: Turkey, Brazil, Russia, and Thailand.

Today’s presentation is the third of five to be given to 160 country members of the Bureau des Expositions by the UAE. The winning city will be announced in November 2013 in Paris.

If Dubai is selected, it would be a first time the international expo has been hosted in the Arab World.

On Wednesday night, the UAE hosted a reception and gala dinner at the Palais Garnier. It included a welcoming address by Sheikh Ahmad Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and CEO of Emirates airline and Group and President of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, and the managing director of the Higher Committee, Reem Al Hashimy, UAE Minister of State.

Opera singer and UAE national Sara Al Qaiwani performed at the event, as did singer Leona Lewis of X Factor fame. – Gulf News

Dubai hosts world’s best

The European Tour’s (ET) season-ending finale — the DP World Tour Championship — gets into full swing early on Thursday, with 57 of the continental circuit’s best golfers teeing off on a title tilt.

The Race to Dubai (RTD) may already have been run earlier this month, but there’s still plenty at stake over the course of the next four days at Jumeirah Golf Estates here as an all-star field vie to finish off the season in suitable style.

World number one Rory McIlroy will be aiming to round off another highly impressive year that’s seen him claim his second major, retain the Ryder Cup for Europe and win both the ET and PGA money lists.

“I’m very proud and honoured to have won The Race to Dubai this year,” the Northern Irishman, 23, said.

“I’ve had four goes at it since 2009. I came close a couple of times and it was great to be able to do it this year.

“It’s been a phenomenal year. I’ve still got one more tournament yet and I want to try to finish the season strongly.

“I would like to pick up two trophies at the end of the week. That’s the big thing. You have to stay right to the end, so I might as will make it matter.

“I really want to play well this week and finish this season on a high. There have been a lot of high points this year and it would be great to finish on one as well.” McIlroy’s chances are sure to be challenged though given the sheer calibre of the competition, with Luke Donald – the world number two and 2011 RTD victor — also eyeing a concerted late push for more glory.

“Coming back here after what I did last year brings back a lot of great memories,” the 34-year-old said.

“It’s an event with the top 60 guys from the year and another chance to obviously play against some of the best players in the world and try to win the tournament.

“I’m excited to be here. Not just because of how big an event it is, but just because this is my last event and it’s one more opportunity to get some success before the end of this year.”

Ian Poulter, the world number 13, is looking to improve upon his second-place finish behind Adam Scott at the Australian Masters on Sunday with another strong showing in the emirate. – Khaleej Times


Stage set for Sharjah GP

The F1H20 World Powerboat Championship, or the Sharjah Grand Prix, will be held at the Khalid Lagoon on December 6 and 7.

The powerboat race will be held as part of the Sharjah Water Festival 2012, to be held from December 6 to 21, Mohamed Ali Al Noman, chairman of the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development, said at a Press conference at the Corniche Al Buheirah Hotel here on Wednesday.

Sharjah is hosting the F1H20 World Powerboat Championship for the 13th consecutive year, the organisers said.

The event every year attracts more than 75,000 spectators. The Emirate also bagged the UIM Best Organiser Award for five years —2000, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2007. 

With two races remaining, one in Abu Dhabi and the last one in Sharjah, the defending World Champion Alex Carella of the Qatar Team is leading the drivers table with 59 points, while Ahmed Al Hameli of Team Abu Dhabi is second with 50 points.

Philippe Chiappe of the CTIC China Team is third with 48 points.

Double World Champion, Sami Selio of Finland and the Mad Croc Team have 41 points. – Khaleej Times


Magic of Water set to unfold in Sharjah

‘Circus in Water’ will dominate the 30 breathtaking fun and entertainment shows for families and kids, at this year’s Sharjah Water Festival at Al Majaz Park and Khalid Lagoon. The festival, from December 6 to 21, is expected to draw 200,000 visitors to the emirate from across the globe.

Dubbed as “Magic of Water,” the mesmerising acrobatic feats on water will be performed by an internationally acclaimed Russian Circus for the first time in the region. In 2011, “Circus in Ice”, which was performed for the first time in the UAE, drew a big crowd of families and kids during the 5th Sharjah Water Festival.

This year’s Sharjah Water Festival, which was unveiled at a Press conference on Wednesday by Mohammed Ali Al Noman, Chairman of the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA), will begin with the F1H20 World Powerboat Championship, Sharjah Grand Prix on December 6 and 7 in the Khalid Lagoon.

The 16-day event will unveil a more spectacular and exotic Water Festival this year with shows like Magic of Water, the Ohmies American Musical, Sinbad’s Adventures, Mouj Fantasy Show, Puppetry Shows from Myanmar and Poland, Toy Box Shows (USA), Arlecchino and the Witch Rosega Ramani, Roaming Musicians and Carnival.

“We are expecting 50 per cent of the 200,000 expected visitors to come from the GCC and European countries, considering that SCTDA is quite successful with our road shows in these places to publicise the Sharjah Water Festival.” He said that the SCTDA has also conducted road shows in  at least 30 schools in the emirate. “We have been expecting more than 20,000 schoolchildren to participate from these schools. We have come up with new events to ensure this year’s water festival will surpass the record of 50,000 children who participated in 2011.”

The Chairman said that a study by the SCTDA on the economic impact of the Sharjah Water Festival on the emirate’s market showed a staggering Dh30 million. Referring to the emirate’s selection as the Capital of Arab Tourism for 2015 by Arab tourism ministers, he said, these achievements have been made possible because of the vision and guidance of His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, and the continuous support of Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Crown Prince and Deputy Ruler of Sharjah.

“The Sharjah Water Festival last year drew more than 180,000 visitors bringing loads of fun and joy to the emirate for ten days. This year, we, at the SCTDA are working tirelessly to bring to you a festival more memorable and grander and successful than ever,” he said. – Khaleej Times


Art blossoms in the desert

Guggenheim and the Louvre museums, a Picasso retrospective, copyrights for authors, Bolshoi Ballet, Shakespeare’s Globe theatre or the art of Henri Cartier-Bresson’s photography were on nobody’s mind in Abu Dhabi 41 years ago.

Four decades have passed since the birth of the United Arab Emirates and the country’s performance on the stage of arts and culture is worthy of a standing ovation.

“Abu Dhabi acknowledges the lack of art infrastructure. It recognises the absence of a thriving and balanced cultural ecosystem, but a strong vision is driving this city to resolve these missing elements. There is a cultural scene that is evolving,” said Rita Aoun-Abdo, executive director of culture at Tourism Development and Investment Company, at the opening of Abu Dhabi Art fair earlier in November.

Indeed, much is missing. Modern museums and galleries, an art academy and a conservatory, concert halls, art cinema establishments, literature clubs and, not to mention, an art tradition, coupled with art marketing and education that create that all important appreciation for the arts among all UAE’s citizens and residents.

Sharjah leads the way

            That said, much has been achieved too. From the early 1970s, Sharjah built its reputation as the UAE’s arts capital, with 17 museums housed in its Heritage District alone. Fine art exhibitions, concerts, an annual book fair and various festivals aside, Sharjah’s mark on the world of arts and culture is the Art Biennial. Organised every two years since 1993, the now international contemporary art festival has been, for years, the national and international launching platform for Emirati artists.

Dubai too has developed a strong arts and cultural scene, with internationally recognised festivals and events such as Art Dubai or the Dubai International Film Festival, but especially its private art galleries.

Contemporary UAE art

Dubai is also the birthplace of many of today’s greatest Emirati artists, including Hassan Sharif, considered by many to be the founding father of the UAE’s contemporary art scene.

Born in 1951 in Dubai, where he still lives and works, Sharif is not just a prominent artist, but the founder of several art establishments such as the Emirates Fine Art Society and Art Atelier in the Youth Theatre and Arts, Dubai.

From cartoon drawings and caricatures, exhibited back in the 1970s, Sharif’s art has evolved to art installation, for which he uses objects that he buys in the market — blankets, shoes, spoons, car tyres.

In a material world, where art by far has no immunity to commercialism, Sharif’s works remain honest, but that is not to say that the artist has anything against cash for art.

“Commercialism is healthy. An artist must create from his self, from what inspiration dictates him, but he also needs to sell. There are some idiotic works out there on sale for lots of money. You cannot call them art and their makers are not artists. This is not what I’m talking about. Art, real art, must go with life, and in our times we live in a consumer world. Art too has to deal with it,” he once told Khaleej Times.

Art scene in Abu Dhabi

At more expensive levels, art investment is a serious matter. Globally, art revenues are as high as oil. That is one reason Abu Dhabi emirate, the latest to develop its art “industry”, planned big, aiming to become not just a national, but a Middle Eastern art hub.

Here too things started slow, with the Abu Dhabi Cultural Foundation established in 1981, an exhibition space for local artists, a concert hall for classical Arabic music and the occasional theatre performance and a video room for art film screenings.

With the establishment of the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage in 2005, soon followed by the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority and Tourism Development and Investment Company, all government organisations involved in the arts and cultural development of the emirate, an influx of fine arts, music, cinema and literature took over the city — and Al Ain too.

Abu Dhabi Classics, the eight-month-long season of classical music was established; Abu Dhabi International Film Festival, promoting largely Arab movies and emerging filmmakers is another artmark; WOMAD, the World of Music Art and Dance was another great international annual festival; Abu Dhabi Art, which started as a French art fair, became a serious international art market; Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Festival is a beacon for fine arts, performance arts and art education, founded by Hoda Al Khamis Kanoo; the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair is hugely significant not just for this once a year opportunity to buy great and rare titles here, but especially for its winning fight against piracy.

Soon after the financial crises in 2008, the Abu Dhabi government decided to reorganise and all arts and cultural events, festivals and developments are done through one institution — the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority.

The new organisation had to cut some of these events — Abu Dhabi Classics and WOMAD being the most significant losses on the Capital’s cultural calendar — but reinforced the Abu Dhabi vision 2030 by continuing the diversification of economy though cultural developments as well.

These developments have become the “abc” of the future UAE cultural history, happening not without speed bumps and highly anticipated the world over: the Guggenheim and Louvre museums, as well as the Zayed National Museum and the Performing Arts Hall, all to be built on Saadiyat Island, and all architectural monuments created by the world’s most renown architects.

“Abu Dhabi is a city that has towers, traffic, a central area, just like Western cities. If this culture is so different, then why so similar,” asked Frank Gehry, the future Guggenheim Saadiyat Island museum architect, dismissing the myth of West and East being fundamentally different.

Jean Nouvel, the French architect who will design the Louvre; Norman Foster, the British architect of Zayed National Museum; and Gehry came to Abu Dhabi Art this November, where they met and spoke in public for the first time in three years. Their talk drew hundreds of people, dismissing yet another Abu Dhabi myth that the people of the UAE Capital don’t give a second thought to the matter of arts!

Closely linked with other developments, with education, tourism and cultural heritage, the arts have flourished through communities, different societies and cities. – Khaleej Times


Zayed University to take aim at QS World Rankings

Zayed University, the country’s youngest federal institution, is on a mission to grab the world’s attention.

Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, Minister for Higher Education and Scientific Research and president of the university, has said it is time to aim for world rankings.

That means increasing research output and graduate studies, for which goals have been set.

The university is gaining pace in research, a key area for rankings

“Our research has gone up about 30 per cent over three or four years,” said Dr Larry Wilson, the provost. “Many papers are appearing in top-level journals … the kind of thing that leads to international rankings such as citations.”

There are other areas where Zayed University, now in its 15th year, receives high marks.

“We already score highly in areas such as diversity of faculty,” said Dr Wilson. “We’re not going to score highly on diversity of students like universities such as the American University of Sharjah does because they have a more international student body.”

But he said the university had about 150 international students in postgraduate programmes.

Sheikh Nahyan said last month: “Now as we settle into our two permanent campuses and are able with fewer distractions to plan for our future, it is time to consider the validation of quality and prestige that international rankings confer upon a university.

“International prominence requires Zayed University to become a national leader in graduate education.”

Only about 10 per cent of the student body is enrolled in master’s programmes.

“That percentage needs to grow,” said Sheikh Nahyan, setting a target to double the percentage of graduate students over the next five years.

“That means, of course, not only increasing the number of students enrolled in existing programmes but also offering new full-time and executive master’s programmes in relevant fields. After the five-year period we will assess our readiness to offer doctoral degrees as well.”

Dr Wilson said putting a doctoral programme in place was a “big step and needs major resource commitment”, but the school would first focus on broadening its master’s offerings.

Academics are being hired with that in mind.

“We currently have 21 master’s programmes and that is not for international rankings, but to serve the needs of the community,” Dr Wilson said.

“In time, we’ll carry on moving up the rankings. It’s something we want to do but it will take time. We don’t play to the international rankings system like some institutions do.”

UAE University first made it to the QS World Rankings top 500 in 2009 and has since risen to 370. It is also ranked 48th on the top 50 universities under-50 list, which is for relatively new schools.

Dr Abdulla Al Khanbashi, vice chancellor of UAEU until last month, has overseen its rise.

“It’s encouraging for everyone in the university to be in the top 400 and it benchmarks what we do and our achievements to an international group,” Dr Al Khanbashi said. “Some universities in there have been around for hundreds of years and we’re very young.”

He said a good ranking attracted good students and helped parents to measure a university’s quality against international standards.

It also promotes competition – something positive for students, parents and academics.

“It makes everyone work for some type of improvement, in policies, standards,” Dr Al Khanbashi said. “It’s a competition.”

The American University of Sharjah entered the QS rankings last year in the 601+ bracket. This year, it has risen to the 401-450 bracket, scoring highly for its diverse student body and research production.

Abu Dhabi University was one of 2,500 universities to apply for the QS rankings this year and was among the best 500-550 universities.

“As a very young university of nine years, this is a remarkable achievement,” said Dr Nabil Ibrahim, the university’s chancellor.

Dr Ibrahim said the world-ranking process is a comprehensive way of assessing academic quality and effectiveness based on a number of measures, including faculty qualifications, research productivity and employability of graduates. – The National

Read more: http://www.thenational.ae/news/uae-news/education/zayed-university-to-take-aim-at-qs-world-rankings#ixzz2CvSpFk9O  Follow us: @TheNationalUAE on Twitter | thenational.ae on Facebook


Emirates puts Lyon on the map at DP World Tour Golf Championship

Emirates, the Official Airline of the DP World Tour Championship, has provided lucky golf fans the chance to play alongside some stars of the game as the tournament week got under way yesterday with the Pro-Am.

14 amateurs were part of five different Emirates teams, playing alongside recent European Cup Ryder winners Miguel Angel Jimenez and Sergio Garcia from Spain, Padraig Harrington from Ireland, Jamie Donaldson from Wales and Charl Schwartzel from South Africa.

It was a day to remember for the fourth Emirates team. Led by recent Hong Kong Open winner, Miguel Angel Jimenez, the team consisted of Lutz Stammnitz, Peter Strub and Richard Vogel.

"It was a once in a lifetime experience to have been able to play golf with recent Ryder Cup winner Miguel Angel Jimenez, who has achieved so much in the game. Walking down the fairway with him was a fantastic experience and I've learned a lot to help me improve my game," said Richard Vogel, from Germany, who plays off 23.

To celebrate the launch of flights to Lyon on 5th December, Emirates will see its hospitality suite overlooking the 18th green looking like a typical street in the French gastronomy capital. Guests will be able to sample fine French gourmet cuisine whilst soaking up the atmosphere. A digital augmented reality application has also been developed to show guests a video of Lyon in a unique way.

The Emirates Lifestyle booth will also give spectators the chance to win the Golf Trip of a Lifetime'. Emirates cabin crew will be showing golf fans how they can win return flights to Glasgow with three nights accommodation and a round of golf at the world famous Old Course Hotel at St Andrews. Emirates Cabin Crew will also be serving champagne and cold '&' hot towels, giving spectators a small taste of the Emirates experience at the event.  - Emirates News Agency, WAM


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