More development projects underway, says Mohammed bin Zayed

More development projects underway, says Mohammed bin Zayed

His Highness General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces and Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council, has said the plans and projects underway are designed to translate into reality the vision of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

"This vision aims to foster Abu Dhabi progress and development as it should be and strengthen the UAE's status as an economic and social example to be emulated by other world countries, Sheikh Mohamed said in remarks he made during the Executive Council meeting he chaired at the Crown Prince Court.

The meeting discussed the latest developments of plans and projects in various sectors and the aspired-for objectives tailored to enhance the progress of development in the emirate. "The noblest objective we work towards is to ensure every citizen's welfare and stability. As such, most of our efforts are geared to allow our sons to enjoy the benefits of development and help them contribute, through their creative potentials, to the overall development of the country," the Crown Prince said.

Abu Dhabi Emirate will inject huge financial allocations to help fund capital projects during the coming five years, 2013-2017. A total of Dh 330 billion will be distributed to various sectors. The Council stressed the need that these projects should be in compliance with the standards which guaranteed, when implemented, the achievement of the objectives stated in the Abu Dhabi 2030 vision. The capital projects will encourage the development of economic development in the emirate and offer necessary services to its citizens.

The private sector will be an essential partner with the public sector in carrying out many of these projects, and this will have positive impact on the economic situation in the emirate by revitalising work in all sectors. Based on this, and with the aim of improving services to investors and businessmen, the Council discussed the status of work in the Abu Dhabi Business Centre, which is planned to be inaugurated in the first quarter of this year.

The centre, an affiliate of the Department of Economic Development, will provide services to businessmen and investors as well as various government institutions.

The allocations, intended for the emirate's economy, are in line with the Abu Dhabi government policy to diversify its economic resources and reduce dependence on oil and gas industry revenues. Therefore, the government has launched several initiatives aimed to improve the investment environment by offering incentives and facilities to investors.

To that end, the emirate has developed a number of specialised economic zones covering different industrial and trade fields. These offer various exemptions to investors, as well as advanced infrastructure in terms of transport and communication networks, making the emirate a springboard to other countries in the region.

Part of the financial allocation has been used to create 5,000 new job opportunities in 2013 for emirate nationals in various sectors in a way that will upgrade public performance.

The Abu Dhabi government has been offering advanced training courses to qualified emirate nationals and many are being sent abroad to acquire international experience and technical skills.

During the meeting, the Council members discussed the performance of various government sectors during the past year. The extent to which the stated objectives in the 2012 general budget have been realised were checked, as well as how much progress was made in major projects within the set timeframe.

Social development projects were given priority in the Council's deliberations due to their direct impact on public life. The Council members underlined the necessity to move forward with the social development projects in accordance with the timetables already stated because these projects are closely associated with progress being made to projects in other sectors.

As such, the council discussed the main indicators in the health sector and reviewed progress in the Al Mafraq's new Hospital Project, where 33 per cent of the work has already been completed. The hospital, which accommodates 739 beds, is expected to offer quality services especially in emergency cases. It includes a full-fledged centre to treat first degree burns.

As for the Cleveland Clinic, 60 per cent of work in the project has been completed. The hospital will have 364 beds and can be expanded to 490 beds.

Regarding the health clinics and centres in Abu Dhabi and the Eastern Region (Al Ain), 90 per cent of the work in seven clinics has been completed. Work in two other clinics is still at the initial stages, having reached only 15 per cent.

The Council members also reviewed work in government schools planned to be opened in the 2013/2014 school year. Fifteen schools will be inaugurated in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain. They can accommodate 15675 students. The Abu Dhabi Future School Programme was also discussed. It includes building of 34 schools and 10 buildings for kindergartens; 24.3 per cent of work in the project has already been completed. Infrastructure work in the school buildings is progressing in accordance with the specified timeframe.

Another major project is the New York University, where 57% of the project has been completed. The university will be inaugurated in 2014.

In terms of housing projects, the council looked into the status of work in the Watani project, where progress has reached advanced stages. The project, which includes 703 villas, is expected to be completed in the second quarter of this year. It is located in Khalifa City (A) near the Abu Dhabi Golf Club.

Another major project is Al Ghareba in Al Ain. The first stage of this project, which includes 600 villas expanding over 154,7 hectares, is expected to be completed in the third quarter of this year. The Sila'a housing project is also expected to be completed in the third quarter of this year. It will provide 448 villas on a plot of 130 hectares in the Western Region.

The Strategic Tunnel project in Abu Dhabi is of special economic importance as one of the vital infrastructure projects. All stages of work in the project were discussed. Digging work between work shaft number 8 and 9 of the tunnel in Al Wathba area has been completed, and this means that the 5th breakthrough of the tunnel has been accomplished. The tunnel is 41 kilometres long with 43 kilometres of sub-tunnels and a pump station of 30 cum/second capacity.

As for the Al Mafraq-Al Ghwaifat road project, the first stage (80 kilometres) of the project has been completed together with five intersections. Tenders have been forwarded to consultants and contractors for the remaining three stages of the 328 kilometres long road which is divided into four stages.

During the meeting, the Executive Council endorsed a new payment of housing loans totalling Dh 3 billion that will be distributed to 1500 people from the three areas of Abu Dhabi Emirate. Names of beneficiaries will be decided at a later stage.

The Council's decision to offer these loans emanates from the keenness of the UAE President to ensure honourable, dignified and stable life for citizens and their families. It is also in line with the policy adopted by Abu Dhabi Emirate decades ago that makes citizens' affairs a top priority for the government agenda, thereby securing their social and economic stability.

The new payment of loans meets citizens' housing demands in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and the Western Region. There will be 834 beneficiaries from Abu Dhabi, 618 from Al Ain and 48 from the Western Region. Over the past three years 6,416 housing loans valued at Dh 13 billion have been distributed to the citizens from Abu Dhabi emirate.

The Council approved the establishment of housing projects providing 786 housing units and plots of land in Mezyed, Umm Ghafah and Ne'mah in Al Ain as well as in Bida Al Mutawa in the Western Region.

Under the Council's decision, Abu Dhabi General Services "Musanada" has been assigned to appoint a contractor to carry out the housing project in Mezyed and Umm Ghafah in the Eastern Region (Al Ain ). The project includes 110 villas, 71 in Mezyed and 39 in Umm Ghafah, of 480 sq m each. The project will be established on a total area of about 230,000 square meters.

Musanada was also assigned to appoint a contractor to carry out the housing project in Bida Al Mutawa. The project, to be established on 323,000 square metres, includes 60 housing units, of 455 square metres each, a mosque and other infrastructure facilities such as water, electricity and sewerage networks.

Musanada will also appoint a contractor and a consultant to carry out the second stage of infrastructure works in Ne'meh housing project, located 25 km away from Al Ain city centre. The project includes the construction of roads, water, electricity and sewerage networks for 616 plots of land.

It is noteworthy that the number of housing units and villas in nine housing projects being implemented amounts to more than 12,500.

The Council decided to launch a project to establish organised manor complexes aimed to offer support to animal breeders who do not benefit from the government fodder subsidy programme. Such central manors will help prevent environmental damage and at the same time provide all the necessary infrastructure facilities such as veterinary services, quarantine centres and markets for animal products. They will also contribute to food and environment security by providing support to animal breeders, improving animal husbandry products and augmenting trade activities in this sector.

Meanwhile, the Council has directed Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority to coordinate with government and semi-government authorities to open new channels that encourage marketing animal husbandry products in the local market to support local breeders and increase local productivity.

In terms of the government excellence sector, the council has assigned The Abu Dhabi Systems '&' Information Centre to appoint a service provider for the Government Contact Centre (800555) in Al Ain provided that the service provider concludes contracts with emirate nationals to train them and employ them in the centre.

By establishing full Emiratisation at the Centre, the council aims to provide new job opportunities for UAE nationals and qualify them to serve as a link between the government and its customers. It also aims to promote partnership between the public and the private sector and benefit from the private sector's experience and encouraging Emiratisation in it.

The Executive Council has approved the first stage of the plan to update the sewerage system network in Abu Dhabi in order to increase its capacity and meet the demands of newly established urban areas and the accelerated population increase.

The project will serve several areas such as Al Nahdhah Al Jadeedah, Al Wathba, Bani Yas, Khalifa City (B), Al Falah, Al Heliyah, Al Mua'zzaz, Al Shawamekh and Al Mafraq.

The primary objective of this project is to cover a wide area in Abu Dhabi and collect waste water from the existing 12 waste water pumping stations and take it to a single pumping station that is being constructed. This project is designed to shift the flow of waste water to the strategic tunnel, which is one of the longest sliding sewerage tunnels worldwide. - Emirates News Agency, WAM


Wadeema's Law redefines 'child protection'

   A local paper has hailed UAE Government for moving with remarkable speed to ensure that the tragic death of an 8-year old girl - Wadeema, buried in the desert after being tortured during a seven-month period last year - will not be repeated.

As "The National" reported yesterday, a draft child-protection law has now been passed on to the Federal National Council for review. Among its provisions are rights that all children will have and responsibilities the Government will need to fulfil.

The first part of this change is the creation of child protection units, backed by legal powers that will allow them to enter homes and collect evidence. "The law would change the onus of protection, making the state responsible for preventive intervention. In extreme cases, children might be removed from their parents without a court order. In a society that is conservative and has historically seen the family as the appropriate forum for dealing with social problems, this is a big and potentially controversial change," the paper commented in its yesterday's editorial According to the newspaper, the second proposal is potentially more far-reaching. The law establishes responsibilities on the part of the Government, not merely to disseminate information on child well-being and to enforce laws, but also to produce results: one proposals says the Government would be tasked with lowering the dropout rate in schools and providing equal opportunities to all children. Clearly this is easier proposed than delivered, but the intent is what matters here. It means, in the long-term, that "UAE policy across health, education and perhaps even employment sectors will be shifted to take children into consideration. The draft also calls for new building codes mandating child-safety locks on high-rise windows; warnings on crude content at cinemas; and bans on child employment." Wadeema's Law will now be looked at by the full FNC, which may propose changes. But if it is adopted in anywhere like its current form it will, we can all hope, mean there will no repeat of the shocking abuse Wadeema suffered, the paper pointed out.

"And it will redefine what "child protection" is, making the welfare, health, safety and security of all our children a shared responsibility." - Emirates News Agency, WAM


UAE Cabinet approves new laws to safeguard community, business

The UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, has said that the UAE will continue to develop legislation and laws to protect the community and markets from various types of crimes and fraud, in accordance with the best systems and international standards.

He made his remarks during this morning's Cabinet meeting at the Presidential Court, in the presence of H. H. Lt. General Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, and H. H. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs.

The Cabinet endorsed the new federal laws on commercial fraud and human trafficking.

Sheikh Mohammed noted that the continuous amendment of laws pertaining to consumer protection and fighting commercial fraud are in accordance with the directives of the government to build transparent and professional markets in which sellers and consumers enjoy full rights and duties.

"The consumer protection consolidates the principle of transparency and impartiality in the business sector," he said, noting that "the enactment of laws for protection of consumers regulates markets and raises their standards, as well as reflecting the state's keenness to protect citizens from any harmful practices in the local market." The general provisions of the new federal bill include several articles covering all types of commercial fraud, such as the sale, display or possession of counterfeit goods or corrupt or counterfeit awards, in addition to the provisions related to the prohibition of misleading commercial advertisements.

The bill tightens punishments for breaches of regulations relating to food, drugs and medicines and others due to the seriousness of such offences that may pose a threat to human and animal health as well as to the environment.

It also lays down a mechanism to deal with counterfeit or rotten goods. The bill obliges importers to return these goods to their source of origin within a specified period, or to destroy them. It also sets out other penalties for multi-purpose shops and other business irregularities.

Based on the new draft law, the "Higher Committee to Combat Commercial Fraud" has been formed in accordance with the decision of the Council of Ministers. It will be chaired by the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Economy. The committee will study reports of fraud and deceit referred to it by the competent authority and take the necessary decisions.

The Cabinet also amended some provisions of the federal law No. (51) of year 2006 on human trafficking, to ensure the rights of victims and provide medical, psychological and security care in line with the state's strategy and international conventions in this respect.

The Council of Ministers endorsed the estimated budget for the General Pensions and Social Security Authority for the fiscal year 2013. Total revenues were set at over Dh4. 451billion, while the estimated total expenditures were estimated at over Dh3.7 billion.

The Cabinet also approved the hosting of the headquarters of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements in the Middle East, which aims to protect nature and environment through the promotion and dissemination of organic agriculture systems, exchanging of information and ideas among its members and to help develop and review the standards of the federation regarding the production, processing and trading of organic products.

The Council of Ministers also approved a draft agreement between the UAE Government and Turkey on the implementation of electric power projects and the development of coal mines in Turkey.

The Cabinet endorsed eight agreements concerning avoidance of double taxation on income with Fiji, Mexico, Iraq, Lithuania, Benin, Japan, Libya and Ecuador to strengthen the partnership, economic cooperation with these countries.

It also approved the agreement on Avoidance of Double Taxation and Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to income tax signed between the United Arab Emirates and Panama and two agreements on the regulation of air transport services between the UAE and Swaziland and Latvia.

The Agreement of Co-operation and Mutual Assistance in Customs Matters between the UAE and India was also approved. This is intended to strengthen the economic partnership and trade exchange between the two countries through facilitating customs procedures. - Emirates News Agency, WAM


International relief and humanitarian organisations laud Khalifa's aid initiative towards Syrian refugees

Amman: International humanitarian and relief organisations operating in Jordan have commended UAE President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan for ordering immediate winter assistance worth US$5 million for Syrian refugees in Jordan.

Representatives of key UN agencies highly appreciated the major role the UAE is playing in extending a helping hand to the Syrian refugees in Jordan. They noted that UAE, as usual, was at the forefront of aid providers.

Andrew Harper, Representative of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Jordan, David Terzi, Head of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) mission in Jordan, Dominique Hyde, UNICEF Representative in Jordan, Jonathan Campbell. Regional Programme Advisor at World Food Programme, and Mohammed Al Mutlaq, Chairman of Jordanian Red Crescent, made their remarks during a meeting with Dr. Abdullah Nasser Al Ameri, UAE Ambassador to Jordan.

They acknowledged that the  Sheikh Khalifa's timely initiative would contribute in a very effective way to improve the living conditions of those refugees in the current tough winter weather.

The UAE and its relief and humanitarian organisations, they added, had carried out a raft of relief, humanitarian, and health programmes to assist Syrian refugees in Jordan since the Syrian crisis erupted.

They UN air workers said the UAE had set an example in delivery of prompt relief assistance that cater to the actual needs of targeted groups in need.

The UAE has sent hundreds of tonnes of relief supplies and distributed hundreds thousands of food parcels to refugees in their camps. Last year, the UAE established one of the world's largest mobile hospitals in Mafraq to deliver healthcare services to refugees. It receives an average of 500 patients a day. Another two mobile clinics were also launched.

For his part, the UAE ambassador said the UAE leadership gives proper attention to relief efforts aimed at easing suffering of Syrian refugees. - Emirates News Agency, WAM


Argentina's President arrives Abu Dhabi for Sustainability Week

Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, President of Argentina, arrived here yesterday to attend the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW). Hosted by Masdar, Abu Dhabi's renewable energy company, ADSW events will run from 13 to 17 January.

Argentina's head of state, who will be among the keynote speakers of the event, was welcomed by Reem Al Hashemi, Minister of State, UAE Ambassador to Argentina Mohammed Isa Al Za'abi, and Argentinian Ambassador to the UAE Ruben Eduardo Caro,.

President Kirchner's keynote address, combined with the first energy ministerial of South American and Arab countries taking place one day later, underscores the growing ties between the Middle East and South America, particularly in the field of renewable energy. - Emirates News Agency, WAM


Renewable energy atlas goes live

The world’s first open-access global solar and wind atlas has gone live, as part of the efforts to make the planet more environmentally-friendly.

The move, which took place on Sunday, was the first outcome of the annual general assembly of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) meeting in Abu Dhabi, ahead of the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week and the World Future Energy Summit, scheduled from January 15 to 17.

The Global Atlas is the largest-ever initiative to help countries assess their renewable energy potential.

“In the next 10 years we expect a huge rise in the investments in renewable energy. The Global Solar and Wind Atlas will help us make the right decisions,” said Martin Lidegaard, Danish minister of Climate, Energy and Building, and president of the third session of the IRENA Assembly.

“With 22 countries now taking part (in the Atlas) and more expected to join in the coming months, it is a clear sign of our growing political will to transition to clean, renewable energy,” said Adnan Amin, IRENA director-general.

The atlas is accessible at - Khaleej Times


IRENA General Assembly opens in Abu Dhabi

The third session of the Assembly of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) opened here yesterday at St Regis hotel in Abu Dhabi.

Delegates from 150 countries are participating in the assembly which is the foremost annual renewable energy event, setting the global policy agenda for the transition to a sustainable future based on renewable resources and technologies.

The delegates include nearly 80 at ministerial level, including ministers of energy and environmental affairs from leading countries for renewable energy deployment and emerging countries that seek to scale-up renewables massively to support future growth.

The two-day conference is being held within the framework of 'Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week' (ADSW), the international meeting of heads of governments, policy-makers, business leaders and academics. - Emirates News Agency, WAM


Masdar to set up green recycling facility in Capital

A new recycling facility will be set up by Abu Dhabi’s Centre of Waste Management, with environmental benefits expected across the board.

The Materials Recovery Facility, set up by UAE renewable energy company Masdar, will collect recyclable waste from the city and its neighbouring areas.

The Centre of Waste Management (CWM) says the facility will be the most energy efficient recycling plant in the UAE, while it says the centre will significantly lower carbon dioxide emissions and the fuel consumption of CWM’s fleet of cars - though neither Masdar or CWM would give further information on this, the reduction in fuel consumption will presumably come from a reduction in waste transportation.

The news of the facility came during an agreement signed yesterday between Masdar and CWM. Masdar City alone is expecting to produce 22,000 tonnes of waste a year, but its target is to recycle half of it.

“We, at the Centre of Waste Management, are glad to join hands with Masdar, the leading initiative in the fields of renewable energy and clean technology worldwide. The comprehensive agreement will lay the foundation for fruitful developments that support the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030,” said CWM general manager Mohamed Rashed Al Hameli.

The agreement also stipulates that Masdar will host an Eco Waste Exhibition during next year’s Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, focusing on environmental-friendly waste management. CWM will also collaborate with the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology on research and development and offer student scholarship programmes to help develop the sector. “Masdar’s collaboration with the Centre of Waste Management illustrates our goal of advancing sustainable technologies to drive economic growth through human capacity building and commercially driven ventures,” mentioned Sultan Al Jaber, CEO of Masdar. – Khaleej Times


UAE students paint a picture of a green future at Masdar contest

Maitha Sultan Saif Al Nuaimi was one of five winners of the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology's national student art competition yesterday.

Masdar to set up green recycling facility in Capital.

The 13-year-old Emirati impressed with a colour drawing of a city powered by renewable energy from Masdar.

Lucy Choi Ji Soo, 15, won for his drawing of an hourglass showing renewable energy emerging over time.

The three other winners were Madhur Singal's painting, My dream, a green UAE; Mostafa Sedky's concept of how renewable energy reduces the carbon footprint of buildings; and Mohammed Zoheb's painting of a leaf growing in the desert.

The students were asked to submit art that artistically and creatively addressed the question: "What does a green, sustainable future look like in the UAE?".

The contest was held ahead of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, which started yesterday.

More than 50 entries were received from 18 schools across Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah. Winners will each receive an iPhone 5 or an iPad mini. – The National


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