Khalifa meets Pakistani president

Khalifa meets Pakistani president

Rahim Yar Khan, Pakistan: President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan has met Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, during his current visit to Pakistan.

Present at the meeting was H.H. Sheikh Sultan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the President's Representative.

Welcoming Sheikh Khalifa and wishing him a good stay in Pakistan, President Zardari said the current visit reflects the deeply-rooted relations and friendship between the two countries and the two peoples.

He hailed the role of the UAE in helping the Pakistani people through projects to improve services in different areas of the country, as well as through humanitarian assistance to the Pakistani people who fully appreciate the leadership, the government and the people of the UAE.

For his part, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa expressed gladness at visiting Pakistan and meeting President Zardari. He commended the level of relations and cooperation between the two countries.

Sheikh Khalifa said: "We look forward to continued promotion of the fraternal relations between the UAE and Pakistan and to realising welfare and well-being for the two peoples." The meeting reviewed the bilateral relations between the two countries and ways to enhance them in different spheres in service of their common interests. - Emirates News Agency, WAM


President issues decree establishing National Defence College

President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan has issued a decree containing the Federal Law No.1/Year 2012 establishing a college under the name of the 'National Defence College'.

The college, to be affiliated to the General Command of the Armed Forces, will be based in Abu Dhabi city and will specialise in preparing and qualifying the military and civilian leadership.

The college will also identify and assess the challenges facing the national, regional and international security and will study the principles and requirements for managing and employing the state's resources in order to protect national interests.

Article 2 of the decree stipulates the formation of a Supreme Council for the National Defence College with the Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces as its chairman, and the Minister of Interior, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, the Minister of Cabinet Affairs, the National Security Advisor, the Chief of Staff of the Armed forces, the Secretary General of the Supreme National Security Council, the Director General of the Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies and Research and the Commander of the National Defence College as members.

The Deputy Commander of the National Defence College will be the rapporteur of the Council.

Article 3 defines the terms of reference of the Supreme Council of the National Defence College. These include the ratification of strategic plans to prepare and qualify military and civilian leaders and the adoption of regulations, curricula and the educational and training programmes and plans developed in accordance with the educational policy of the college.

The Council will also ratify the general policy of the college regarding admission and registration and will determine the strategic priorities and issues of national, regional and international security. - Emirates News Agency, WAM



Mohammed bin Rashid launches 'Thank You' Campaign

Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has urged that the Accession Day celebrations this year, be dedicated to thank and honour general labour staff such as domestic workers, janitors, public transportation drivers, construction workers, office support workers and others in different categories.

Sheikh Mohammed tweeted asking all concerned authorities not to mark any celebrations for his Accession Day on January 4, as there are other important segments of the community that deserve our appreciation and gratitude, urging the celebrations to be held with them this year. He recalled the last Accession Day celebrations, where he dedicated to honour orphans as well as mothers.

The vice president also tweeted that workers in these categories play an active role in our society. "Some of them have spent many years doing a great job and they deserve a big ‘thank you' from the community," he observed. "We want to thank them, celebrate with them and let them know that their services are valued and respected as they make our lives better." Dubai ruler said that kindness, humanity and compassion towards workers in these categories not only reflect the principles of our society, but also the Islamic values which encourage us to recognise the good service they undertake.

He concluded by inviting everyone to thank these groups by showing their appreciation or giving them gifts, posting their photos on Twitter, as well as other social media pages, and sharing them with him through his Twitter account (@HHShkMohd), because the goal is to spread the message of kindness, mercy and compassion in our society. - Emirates News Agency, WAM


Abu Dhabi pumps Dh20bn into cities to raise workers' living standards

Thousands of labourers will move into new, high-quality apartments next year, built as part of a push to improve their living standards

The emirate has invested Dh20 billion to construct 23 labour cities. They already house almost 200,000 people but will eventually accommodate nearly double that amount.

The Ministry of Labour has introduced wage protection schemes and continued the pattern of previous years of giving workers a three-hour break in the middle of the day during the hottest months of summer.

Land for the cities was set aside in 2005 in industrial zones of Abu Dhabi and Al Ain. They offer sports and social activities, parks, markets, mosques, cinemas, internet facilities and cable television.

They have health clinics and hospitals, supervised hygiene and food services and security.

The workers’ city in Al Ain opened in May and accommodates 5,690 residents but could eventually be increased to house more than 10,000.

Mubarak Saeed Al Dhahiri, undersecretary at the Ministry of Labour, said “operation village” would improve the quality of labour accommodations in Al Ain.

There are about 160,000 labourers in the Al Ain region.

The ministry has been cracking down on hygiene standards at existing camps, conducting regular inspections and fining more than 5,000 companies between June 2010 and May this year.

Abu Dhabi requires workers to be accommodated off-site, rather than on construction sites or in other crowded places with unsanitary conditions.

In May 2009, the Government launched its Wages Protection System to guarantee that workers’ salaries were transferred to their own bank accounts each month.

Companies that do not participate are fined and banned from hiring.

Professional catering companies have been brought in to prevent workers having to eat meals prepared in unsanitary conditions.

They are regulated and inspected by the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority.

The municipality has also set up an electronic monitoring system to ensure companies adhere to health, safety and environmental standards for workers. Permits to proceed with work are only granted if these standards are met. – The National


UAE rebuilds lives with Dh7.7bn of aid

With the UAE increasingly taking a lead in humanitarian efforts, it is no surprise that the country, and Abu Dhabi in particular, is one of the world's biggest donors.

The Government has been quick to help other nations in times of crisis, providing assistance through its charity organisations.

A report released in September by the Office for the Coordination of Foreign Aid revealed that the UAE gave Dh7.74 billion of aid last year.

Most went to programmes designed to meet the eight UN Millennium Development Goals, which include ending poverty and promoting universal education.

About Dh218 million was given to support education projects in 56 countries, Dh337.6m went to health projects in 35 countries and environmental projects in 62 countries received Dh124.3m.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, donated US$50m (Dh184m) to the United Nations Children's Fund and the World Health Organisation for polio vaccines in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The UAE also partnered with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to make contributions to the polio campaign.

"The Crown Prince made a significant commitment to partner with us on polio," said Mr Gates during a visit to the capital in October.

Pakistan, one of the largest beneficiaries of the UAE's polio campaigns and other humanitarian assistance, said its relationship with the Emirates was built on shared values and cultural ties. "The UAE is not just a friend to Pakistan. I would say it is more like a brotherly relationship," said Ahsan Raza, the head of mission at the Pakistan Embassy in Abu Dhabi. "

The UAE's support was vital in rebuilding infrastructure after the 2005 earthquake and floods in 2010 and last year, he added.

"The UAE has helped to rebuild schools, homes, hospitals, roads and bridges in affected areas and that has been very important in helping people in Pakistan affected by these natural disasters."

The UAE has already pledged millions in aid next year. Last month, the Government announced more than US$2m for UN development activities next year.

"The UAE is one of the major contributors from the Gulf, second only to Saudi Arabia," said Brigitte Khair Mountain, the head of office at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees external relations hub for the GCC.

The agency received US$200,000 this year from the Government. – The National


Abu Dhabi and Dubai top "Cities of the Future" list for 2013

Abu Dhabi and Dubai have headed the Arab Region's "Cities of the Future" list for 2012/2013.

Financial Times Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) Research Unit, in its findings revealed that Dubai ranked first followed by Abu Dhabi as a preferred investment destination, in most survey aspects, notably the immense financial and infrastructural potential both emirates enjoy, making them a suitable, if not a perfect, business environment.

One of the most important aspects affecting foreign investment and maintaining the competitive position for Abu Dhabi and Dubai was the availability of skilled professional and specialised human resources.

Compared to the last year, 2010/2011, Abu Dhabi has improved by 10 positions in the global ranking. The FDI Cities of the Future list 2012/2013 has also featured 7 Emirati cities and regions in a total of 19 Arab cities, including 5 Saudi cities, 2 Bahraini cities and one each in Qatar, Lebanon, and Jordan.

Alongside Abu Dhabi and Dubai, the FDI list has placed Ra's al-Khaimah on fourth position, Al Gharbia and Sharjah sixth and seventh, Al Ain tenth, followed by Al Fujairah in fourteenth place, and Ajman in seventeenth in the Arab World.

The Emirati cities have dominated the top positions with regards to infrastructure development standards, according to the FDI list.

The report said that Al Gharbia's geographical proximity to Abu Dhabi and Dubai as well as the development of facilities and the available oil and gas resources had greatly contributed to its leading position on the global list. Sharjah's position had risen due to its ability to increase foreign investments by 53% during 2011.

Dubai on the other hand maintained its position as top Middle Eastern investment destination for the third consecutive year , accounting for 30% of the direct foreign investment in the Middle East during the first nine months of the current year and the same share of the gross foreign investment. The Financial Times' FDI Unit attributes this success to the city's attractiveness for direct foreign investment. It has attracted about 13% of the investment projects, valued at Dh 367M, US$100M.

Another reason is its status as a leading import and export centre and transport hub in the region with an airport with links to over 180 international destinations and modern ports that enjoy a highly developed infrastructure.

The FDI assembles Foreign Direct Investment data of 54 cities classified according to 6 categories including the assets, financial potential, human resources, ,cost efficiency , quality of life, infrastructure and business environment.

A new category has been added , "Foreign Direct Investment Strategy", for which 15 cities have presented details pertaining to their current Foreign Direct Investment promotion Strategy. - Emirates News Agency, WAM


UAE economy to grow by 3.25-5 per cent

The UAE economy is expected to grow at a rate between 3.25 to 5 per cent in 2013 in a world still grappling with economic and financial challenges. And much of that growth is a result of government projects tendered in 2013, according to experts interviewed by Gulf News.

According to Dr Waddah Taha, chief analyst and economist at Zarouni Group, the closer estimate of UAE growth would be between 3.25 to 3.5 per cent for 2013.

“I am optimistic yet cautious about international challenges and their impact on the UAE economy,” he said. What is more important, however, is not growth rate but rather the containment of inflation and its negative effects, he cautioned. “We know that real economic growth is calculated after deducting inflation; once this is done we can judge that the economy is acting positively thereof.”

Taha added that the 2012 unprecedented prosperity is a by-product of many factors such as oil revenues, high government spending and improved business climate in the seven emirates.

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Dr Numan Ashour, chief analyst and economist at CNBC Arabia, agrees. He said what’s most important is to control inflation as prices are getting higher while income remains capped. “My expectation is that the growth rate will be between 4 to 5 per cent in 2013 as the government will be financing real estate projects worth up to Dh300 billion in 2013.”

Rents and prices

Ashour added that in Dubai the rents and prices of properties increased by 13 per cent in fourth quarter of 2012 and this is expected to be the case in 2013 as many foreign, local and regional investors are heading towards Dubai to invest in real estate market as a safe haven. Ashour added that the UAE government has set targets for growth in 2013 for some sectors, remarking that the revenues in 9 to 10 months nowadays equal those of a whole year in 2011 and 2010. “The aviation sector is set to grow by 18 per cent in 2013, the tourism sector by 20-22 per cent and industry and trade sectors by 11 per cent,” he said.

Dr Ashour added that the government has given the green light to the banking sector to start financing real estate projects. “The banking sector which has deposits of more than US$1.6 billion right now, up by 9 per cent from 2011, has been given a carte blanche to start financing defaulted projects and to facilitate financing new ones that help create job opportunities such as tourism hotels, malls and others,” said Dr Ashour.

The UAE economy is supported by an increased number of tourists. Dubai this year has seen 15 million tourists visit while Abu Dhabi managed to attract 2 million. Ras Al Khaimah has also done well with about 1 million visitors and in 2013 the number is expected to rise, said Dr Ashour. – Gulf News



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