Netherlands announces support for Dubai Expo 2020
The Netherlands Minister of Foreign Affairs, Frans Timmermans, has announced his country's official support for the UAE's bid to host Expo 2020 in Dubai. The Minister announced this news during a bilateral meeting with H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs, in Dubai.
In a press release after the announcement, the minister was quoted as saying, "The Netherlands is very pleased to support the UAE in its bid for Expo 2020. The consultation and assessment to decide a balanced position was lengthy. The Netherlands was extremely impressed with the efforts the UAE has invested in their bid for Expo 2020. The plans and strategy the UAE has put in place are remarkable."
While in Dubai, the Minister also met with Dutch companies that have a presence in the UAE. The chairmen of the Netherlands Business Council and the Benelux Business Council both welcomed the decision, while Dutch businesses have expressed a strong voice in favour of supporting the UAE's bid for Expo 2020.
Members of the Business Council believe they can contribute substantially to the UAE to help realise plans for hosting the event. With over 250 Dutch companies in the country, the Netherlands has a substantial presence representing many different sectors, such as oil and gas, water, hospitality, architecture, and creative design. Many UAE landmark projects have been developed with the aid of cutting-edge knowledge from the Netherlands.
One of the most internationally recognised symbols of Dubai and the UAE is Palm Island, land for which was dredged out by the Dutch company, Van Oord. While in the UAE, the Minister went on a boat trip to view the latest Van Oord land reclamation project, Jumana Island, a venture by Meraas Development, one of the key developers in Dubai.
The Netherlands wishes the UAE the best of luck in its endeavours to win the bid to host Expo 2020 in Dubai.
Planning begins for major National Day weekend celebrations
Abu Dhabi Tourism '&' Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) is finalising a mega activities programme which will bring the emirate alive during the 42nd National Day weekend running November 28 - December 2 this year.
Abu Dhabi's stunning Corniche will burst with activity for the whole of the weekend with attractions and challenges for all - residents and visitors while women's-only activities will run on Al Bateen Beach. Additional celebrations are being planned for the emirate's heritage heartland of Al Ain and its Al Gharbia Western Region with concerts and fireworks on the drawing board for Delma Island and Madinat Zayed.
"We are in close co-ordination with our stakeholders to pull together a National Day weekend calendar which we will release in October and which will incorporate all the activities of government and private organisations," explained Faisal Al Sheikh, Director Events Bureau, TCA Abu Dhabi.
"People can anticipate an action-packed weekend to satisfy the tastes of residents and visitors alike and which will undoubtedly make Abu Dhabi the place to be for the 42nd National Day. Visitors to the emirate will leave with lasting memories of celebrations which will have a distinctly traditional and Emirati flavour with most of the activities being free-to-attend." On the drawing board are two mega firework displays along Abu Dhabi Corniche running for 10 minutes each at 8pm on December 1 and 2nd.
"We anticipate those stakeholders with Corniche-focussed operations will be able to package around this and look forward to hearing their ideas," added Al Sheikh.
Also in the pipeline is a huge car parade for December 2nd to be held on Yas Leisure Drive on Abu Dhabi's entertainment district of Yas Island.
"The parade is scheduled to begin at 5pm but the fun will start much earlier - at 2pm - with the car park around Du Forum being thronged with fun activities for all the family," explained Al Sheikh.
Over in Al Ain, the National Day weekend will also see aviation enthusiasts and families gather for the 10th Al Ain Aerobatic Show.
"Again we are planning a show which will have an anniversary and Emirati feel," said Al Sheikh. "There's tons of choice throughout the whole emirate this year for all to join in the National Day celebrations."
Expo 2020: UAE impresses Expo inquiry missions
Sultan Al Mansouri, Minister of Economy, says: "The UAE's geographical location, its proven credentials in areas of global strategic importance and Dubai's status as the most connected city in the world have placed it as a clear front-runner in the race to Expo 2020. Our optimism on a winning bid is certainly high. The UAE has impressed the Expo inquiry missions with its theme, public support and financing plans for the event. There is an overwhelming confidence based on the well laid out strategy under the direction of the country's leadership and the concerted efforts being undertaken at all levels across the country to successfully host the Expo.
Over the years, the UAE has shown its competitive edge in global development indices. Significantly, in the World Economic Forum's latest Global Competitiveness Index, the UAE ranks highest among the countries which have cities bidding for the World Expo 2020. The possibility of Dubai emerging the winner is certainly high now that the UAE has already raised the benchmarks for the Expo bid.
It is difficult to pick out any particular sector that will benefit most from the Expo. Previous events elsewhere have shown that the benefits are felt across the economic spectrum. In the case of Dubai, we expect that such a high-profile event will support all pillars of its economy, particularly sectors such as construction, tourism, hospitality and transport.
There is no doubt that a successful bid for the Expo will infuse the local economy with new energy in the coming years. The Expo has never been held in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia, and therefore a successful bid will translate into long term benefits for not just the UAE but the region as a whole. We expect that the event will spur significant employment generation as well as trade and investment opportunities across the region.
The World Expo 2020 represents the Ministry of Economy's focus on collaborative efforts to achieve true advancement. In line with Dubai's Expo bid theme — Connecting Minds, Creating the Future — the Ministry will be at the forefront to support the initiative as a celebration of innovative new partnerships to create enduring benefits for future generations.
The Expo is a rare opportunity for the UAE to showcase its potential as a centre of innovation and a host nation for mega global events. It offers a perfect platform to present the UAE as a unique destination; a safe haven untouched by social, economic and political turbulence.
Hilal Saeed Al Marri, Director General of the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing and CEO of Dubai World Trade Centre, is cautiously optimistic when asked to weigh up Dubai's chances of winning the bid for Expo 2020. He, however, does not hesitate to outline the reasons that detail why Dubai is in a good position to triumph when voting begins on November 27th.
Speaking to Gulf News, he said, "Dubai has many advantages that would make it an ideal host for the World Expo: it is within an eight-hour flight of two-thirds of the world's population and has a fully integrated transport and infrastructure network including Dubai Metro, the first metro in the GCC. It is home to Dubai International, the world's second-ranked airport in terms of international passenger traffic and two world-class airlines, Emirates and flydubai; this level of connectivity is something that makes it a unique location.
The positives, according to Al Marri, do not end there. One can gauge that he is just warming up when he adds, "Dubai also has an extremely strong meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) market and an equally robust tourism industry. In the first half of this year, DTCM enjoyed its busiest first-half ever with more than 5.5 million visitors coming to Dubai, an 11.1 per cent rise on the same time the previous year.
Al Marri is of the opinion that "Hosting Expo 2020 in Dubai would certainly have a positive impact on all sectors of Dubai's economy, including tourism and would also facilitate global partnerships that will have lasting benefits for future generations.”
The bid's sub-themes are Sustainability: intelligent sources of energy and water; Opportunity: new paths of economic development; and Mobility: new systems of logistics and transportation. As these sub-themes are globally relevant, Expo 2020 in Dubai will explore the drivers of growth and aim to find solutions to the world's most pressing challenges through discussion, innovation and collaboration.
"An Expo 2020 in Dubai would be the first time this event will be held in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia region,” he continued. "Not only would this be enormously exciting, and a privilege for the UAE, but it would also have a positive impact and create opportunities for countries and people far beyond our borders.
"Studies also indicate than 277,000 jobs are forecast to be created by Dubai Expo 2020 and for each one of these an additional 50 jobs are expected to be sustained across the wider region. Dubai Expo 2020 will leave a powerful legacy, both in terms of the Expo site itself and also as an inspiration for future generations.
One thing all stakeholders in Dubai, including DTCM, are doing is supporting the UAE's bid by working together to ensure they showcase the very best Dubai has to offer.
Al Marri endorsed this fact stating, "For Dubai, the UAE and the region, hosting an Expo is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be part of a dynamic international agenda aimed at establishing global partnerships to work together to boost economies; bridging geographical divides by increasing connectivity and trade; and encouraging sustainable growth and development.
"World Expo 2020 is an incredible opportunity for the UAE to host a global event of this scale to showcase the country's success, innovation and growth.
"The UAE's strategic position as a bridge between East and West, and North and South, provides a powerful platform for the world to come together and unlock the potential of the future. The country is also the focus of aspiration for millions of people from around the world. It stands out as a symbol of hope - where people from around the world come to live, work and realise their dreams.
As an Emirati, Al Marri is part of a diverse diaspora that is witnessing the rapid changes and progress recorded in the country and especially Dubai. "The UAE is also set to see further economic development, enhanced infrastructure and a host of new employment opportunities along with an even stronger global reputation,” he endorsed. "As a monumental gathering held once every five years, Expos are among the largest and most prestigious events in the world and will serve to attract new opportunities, new endeavours and offer enormous potential for all who live and work here.”
Al Marri concludes by stating that an Expo in Dubai is not just for the people of this emirate alone, or for that matter, for the UAE. "The most important thing to bear in mind is that a World Expo in Dubai would truly be an Expo for the world, as people from more than 202 nationalities already live and work here in peace and security. The UAE is also within a four-hour flight of one-third of the world's population and within an eight-hour flight of two-thirds. This means that for the first time in the event's history, the vast majority (70 per cent) of World Expo's millions of visitors will come from outside the host country's borders.”
2,000 Saker Falcon chicks hatched under Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi project in Mongolia in 2013
The Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD) has confirmed that nearly 2,000 Saker Falcon chicks were hatched in 2013, as a result of its artificial nesting programme in Mongolia.
The project, which is implemented in partnership with the Ministry of Nature, Environment and Tourism in Mongolia, was launched in 2010 with the aim of increasing the wild Saker falcon population.
This announcement was made during the Saker Falcon Task Force - Stakeholders' Action Planning Meeting which concluded yesterday in Abu Dhabi. Hosted by EAD, the meeting discussed developments on the Saker falcon (Falco cherrug) Global Action Plan.
In 2010, EAD, on behalf of the United Arab Emirates government, signed an agreement with the government of Mongolia with the aim of building 5,000 artificial nests in the Mongolian steppes in a bid to encourage breeding among the species and increase the world's population of Saker falcons. EAD reported that 3,700 chicks have been born since the project was first launched.
Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, Secretary-General of EAD, commenting on the project's progress, said, "This initiative was introduced to promote sustainable breeding practices and to provide birds with safe and secure breeding environments in a bid to boost global population numbers. I am happy to report that in addition to the success we have seen with the breeding, we have also built up the capabilities of local biologists and have incorporated an educational programme in schools in Mongolia as well as two schools in Abu Dhabi, in partnership with the Abu Dhabi Education Council." Several of the artificial nests placed have been fitted with cameras which record continuously, allowing officials to record the falcons' eating habits and predator threats. This year, the project has also been extended to address the problem of Saker falcons being threatened by power-line electrocution, a major cause of falcon mortality in Mongolia and China, which affects about one falcon each week. Officials took a number of steps to address this issue, including adding insulation covers on the power-lines.
"By leading global efforts to save one of the world's most endangered falcons, we can help boost population numbers for a fragile species whose population has dwindled globally to a mere 2000-5000 pairs. By working with the Mongolian government, we are achieving our common vision of preserving this endangered species and safeguarding an important symbol of Emirati culture and heritage," Al Mubarak added.
Locally known as Hurr, meaning free in Arabic, the Saker falcon is the second largest falcon in the world and is also considered one of the toughest. They are the most well suited falcon for Arab falconry due to their adaptability to desert climates and their resilience. Their willingness to engage in ground combat with their prey makes for a fierce and reliable hunter. The Saker Falcon is predominantly a bird of open landscapes, occupying a diverse range of habitats from agricultural land, steppe, deserts and semi-deserts and mountains. Saker Falcons are the most commonly used raptor by Arab falconers.