EMIRATI NEWS (4/4/2011)

Stop meddling in our affairs: GCC countries tell Iran

            The GCC Ministerial Council has expressed concern over Iran's ongoing interference in the GCC countries' internal affairs by conspiring against their national security and sowing communal sedition among their citizens, in an apparent violation of these countries' sovereignty and independence good neighbourliness principles, international laws and conventions and the UN and OIC charters.

            The Council also denounced Iran's flagrant interference in the internal affairs of Kuwait by planting espionage networks in its territories and attempting to undermine its security, stability and interests of its citizens. It praised the efficiency of Kuwait's security forces and pledged support to all measures Kuwait had taken to protect its national security.

            The Council also welcomed the return to calm in Bahrain and lauded the wisdom of its leadership. It condemned the Iranian interference in the Kingdom's internal affairs and reiterated legitimacy of the Peninsula Shield forces presence there, on the basis of joint defence treaty among the GCC countries which forms the legal foundation for that presence.

            The Council also took exception to the Iranian false accusations against Saudi Arabia and called on the Islamic Republic of Iran to cease its hostile policies and to adhere to the principles of good neighbourliness.

            It also voiced concern over developments in Yemen and deteriorating security state there. It urged all concerned parties in Yemen to consider national interest and to resort to national dialogue in order to reach a comprehensive deal that would help regain peace and achieve the aspirations of Yemeni people for reform and decent living.

            The extraordinary meeting of the ministerial council was held under the chairmanship of UAE Foreign Minister H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan. - Emirates News Agency, WAM


CoS inspects UAE forces taking part in enforcing no-fly-zone over Libya

            Chief of Staff of the UAE Armed Forces Lt. General Hamad Mohammed Thani Al Rumaithi, yesterday made an inspection visit of the UAE force in Italy which is taking part in the international patrols enforcing the no-fly-zone over Libya under the UN Security Council resolution 1973.

            He was received by the Commander of the UAE Force, pilots and technicians.

            Al Rumaithi conveyed to the officers, NCOs and personnel greetings of the UAE leadership. He expressed appreciation to the role played by the force in protecting the brotherly Libyan people.

            UAE's participation in enforcing the no-fly-zone over Libya comes as an extension of the continuous humanitarian operations in support of the Libyan people.

            Emanating from its keenness to contribute to the efforts of protecting civilians in brotherly Libya, the UAE has committed six F-16 and six Mirage aircraft to participate in the patrols that enforce the no-fly zone over Libya. - Emirates News Agency, WAM


UAE's initiative to host Anti Piracy Conference gets positive international response

            The UAE's initiative to host an International Maritime Counter-Piracy Conference has attracted widespread interest and enthusiasm from governments, industry and experts on maritime issues and international law.

            Several foreign ministers from around the world, CEOs from the world's top shipping lines and a wide range of experts will participate in the event jointly organised by the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and global port operator DP World in Dubai on April 18-19.

            A website for the conference has been launched to enable invited participants to register. It also hosts a number of papers designed to stimulate discussion and generate policy ideas, which will be published alongside the event. The papers reflect cutting-edge academic and expert thought on global counter-piracy.

            In 2011, piracy in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean threatens to become even more threatening than previous years, with a greater frequency of attacks over a wider range than in previous years.

            The UAE initiative has therefore attracted significant global attention, at a time when all stakeholders recognise the need for a coordinated and sustained effort by governments, security forces and industry to address the issue in its entirety. The UAE position as a global hub for trade and commerce together with its significant regional and international partnerships are expected to make the event a key platform for the coordination of the urgent international response to end the threat piracy presents to global peace and security.

            Parallel to the main conference, the UAE and the United Nations will hold a fundraising event in support of the Trust Fund to Support Initiatives of States Countering Piracy off the Coast of Somalia. The aim of the fundraiser is to attract new and traditional donors to the Fund, which was established in January 2010 by the UN Secretary-General at the request of the international Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia.

            This fundraiser is an opportunity for participants to translate regional and global concern into action. The co-hosts hope to forge new partnerships between governments and industry, between "North" and "South", and between the regions and countries affected by piracy off the coast of Somalia resulting in substantial contributions to the UN Trust Fund from Government and industry participants in the conference.

            Dr Saeed Al Shamsi, Assistant Foreign Minister for the International Organisations Affairs at the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs has indicated that the UAE will make a significant contribution to the UN Trust Fund at the conference. He added that the contribution will reflect the importance the UAE's commitment to this issue, underlining its ongoing commitment to the international efforts in the field of counter-piracy.

            In the first two months of 2011, despite a heightened level of international response, at least 80 commercial cargo ships came under attack in the Gulf of Aden alone - with 19 vessels hijacked. Some 40 ships are currently estimated to be under pirate control, together with 800 mariners held captive. In addition to the devastating human cost of piracy, the financial cost to global trade is also huge, with estimates as high as US$12 billion a year. - Emirates News Agency, WAM


Female leaders to discuss role of women in clean energy revolution during C3E

            Distinguished female leaders from around the world will discuss "The Role of Women in the Clean Energy Revolution" during the Clean Energy, Education and Empowerment (C3E) Initiative, an event taking place as part of the second Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) held in Abu Dhabi next week.

            Held on 6 April, the event is being hosted by the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the CEM Secretariat, and the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology. The objective of C3E, an initiative of the CEM, is to prepare, inspire and connect women leaders in the clean energy field and encourage them to lend their innovative power to create the energies of the future.

            C3E was launched at the first CEM in July 2010 with participation from eight governments, including the UAE, and 30 distinguished women from the clean energy field. The Initiative is of particular interest and importance to Masdar Institute, the world's first graduate university focused on research and development of science and technology relevant to sustainability, which has pursued a high female student representation, currently at 37 percent. It has also distinguished Emirati woman professor Dr. Amal Al Ghaferi as its first UAE National faculty member.

            Masdar Institute's commitment to the empowerment of women scientists is inspired by the vision of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the late President of the UAE, who believed strongly that women should play a critical role in society and strived to put them on an equal footing with men.

            Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, UAE Special Envoy for Energy and Climate Change and CEO of Masdar, said: "In accordance with the directives of the wise leadership and in line with the efforts led by Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Supreme Chairwoman of General Women Union and of the Family Development Foundation of UAE that aims to support and empower women in all fields of life, we do our best to develop women's capabilities particularly in science, technology and engineering".

            "With this in mind, the UAE has collaborated with partner countries at CEM to launch the C3E initiative. This is in line with our strong conviction of the pivotal role of women in all sectors of the economy. Since renewable energy is a relatively new and developing industry, the time is right to increase the participation of Emirati women and provide the necessary support for them to assume leading roles, and actively contribute to the efforts of securing the future of energy".

            He further stated: "To advance clean technology solutions quickly enough to mitigate the impact of climate change, it is important for us to make the most of all the expertise we have available to us. In addition to encouraging global collaboration on this issue, we must also encourage the greater involvement of women. The C3E initiative was established to do exactly this. The distinguished women participating have all made significant contributions to the clean energy and sustainability sectors. We hope this year's event can empower the next generation of women to provide their own contributions. The UAE is fully committed to advancing the role of women in the clean energy revolution, and we are proud to host the C3E." - Emirates News Agency, WAM


Irena elects Kenyan as first director general

            Adnan Z. Ameen will become the first permanent director-general of International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena),Ihas learnt.  Ameen, a Kenyan national, won two thirds of the votes in an election at a meeting held on Sunday night in the capital, the diplomats who attended the meeting told Gulf News.  He won 76 votes out of 112 votes whereas his rival candidate Pedro Marin, the former Spanish energy secretary, won 38 votes. One vote was invalid, they said.  His appointment to the post must be ratified by the first assembly of the agency which is being held in the capital on Monday and Tuesday. – Gulf News


Dubai Islamic Bank buys US$102m stake in Tamweel

            Dubai Islamic Bank PJSC paid Dh374.7 million (US$102 million) to buy a controlling stake in Tamweel PJSC as the United Arab Emirates' biggest Islamic lender sought to boost mortgage financing in Dubai.

            Dubai Islamic paid Dh318.6 million in cash and Dh56.1 million in treasury shares for the stake, according to the bank's annual report distributed last Thursday. The lender in September raised its share in Tamweel to 58.3 per cent from 21 per cent, without disclosing the value of the transaction.

            The deal implies a payment of Dh1 for each Tamweel share, according to Bloomberg calculations. Tamweel's shares last traded at Dh0.99 on November 20, 2008, when they were suspended pending a reorganisation. They had a book value of Dh2.23 at the end of December, Tamweel's results show.

            "I was anticipating a payment of Dh0.70 a share, so the acquisition is certainly more expensive than I had expected," Raj Madha, a Dubai-based analyst at Rasmala Investment Bank Ltd., said in a phone interview yesterday. "What is more interesting about the transaction though is the funding guarantees that Tamweel received which will help its longevity."

            Tamweel and Amlak Finance PJSC, another Dubai-based Islamic mortgage company, halted lending after the global credit crisis blocked their access to funds. The UAE federal government set up a committee in 2008 to study the revival of the two companies, which had relied on market borrowings to fund their mortgages. Tamweel began lending again from November 1.

            Dubai Islamic Bank also revalued each Tamweel share to Dh2.70 after a valuation of the company, according to the report. As a result, the bank booked a fair value gain of Dh637 million from the acquisition in 2010.

            The bank's shares, in which the Dubai government holds a 30 per cent stake, gained 1.4 per cent to Dh2.25 at 1.33pm in Dubai yesterday.


Getting control

  • Dh0.99 - Tamweel shares in November 2008 trading

  • Dh2.23 - book value of Tamweel shares in December

  • 1.4% - gain in Dubai Islamic Bank shares yesterday. – Gulf News


Abu Dhabi to link visas with national IDs

            Abu Dhabi is set to start linking the issuance and renewal of residence visas with the registration of national ID cards within the next three months, senior officials said on Sunday.

            The process will be carried out in an organised manner and will begin from June or July, Major General Ahmad Nasser Al Raisi, Director-General of ADP Central Operations and Chairman of the Executive Committee at the Emirates Identity Authority (EIDA) board of directors, told Gulf News.

            Another senior official explained that the process will be conducted at the Preventive Medicine Centre (PMC), in Mussaffah.

            "The expatriates who are undergoing visa medical tests at Mussaffah PMC have to first register for ID cards when the linking process is completed," Dr Ali Al Khoury, Director-General of EIDA, told reporters.

            The linking process will be extended to PMCs in Abu Dhabi and other regions of the emirate later this year, he said.

Unveiling plans

            The officials talked about the plan on the sidelines of the ID World Abu Dhabi 2011, an annual summit on globalised information and communication technology innovation, security and mobility, which began in the capital yesterday.

            The summit under the patronage of Lieutenant General Sheikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, is organised by Wise Media, an international consultancy company.

            The European Union, EIDA and Abu Dhabi Police endorsed the event.

Eida has already linked the issuance and renewal of visas with ID card registration in three emirates — Umm Al Qaiwain, Fujairah and Ras Al Khaimah — as part of its 2010-2013 strategy to enrol all expatriates in the country by the end of 2013.

            Visa medical tests at centres of preventive medicine in Dibba Al Hisn and Al Dhaid, in Sharjah, were also linked with ID card registrations last month.

            The initiative looks to extends the linking process to small PMCs across the country, besides an emirate-wide extension of the system. – Gulf News


Al Jazeera tops in UAE

            Al Jazeera has been named the most watched and most trusted news channel in the UAE, according to the latest syndicated survey released by YouGov Siraj.

            Around 42 per cent of the 1,509 respondents said Al Jazeera was their favourite news channel, while 38 per cent named it their most trusted.

            "At a time when appetites for news have clearly increased across the region, TV remains the most popular source. While social media has hit the headlines for putting forward new ideas and opinions, understanding how issues are being reported is crucially important to our clients and our industry," said Guy Taylor, managing director of Grayling Momentum in the Middle East.

            BBC World News English was ranked second with 35 per cent saying it was both the most watched and the most trusted channel. This was followed by CNN at 32 per cent and 30 per cent respectively. Sky News, which will soon be opening an Arabic service from Abu Dhabi, was ranked tenth with only seven per cent.

            The results reflect changes in viewing habits and renewed interest in news channels amid the regional turmoil.

            "There has definitely been a shift in media consumption overall. There is increasing dependency on news channels. There are a lot of people who have family in Egypt, Syria, etc., who are looking at the news to find out what's happening in their own countries," said Taylor.

            Al Jazeera's move to the top spot also shows a shift in perception. Results from a similar survey conducted in 2006 put BBC World at the top. The PAX survey, conducted by Synovate, reported that BBC World was the most watched global channel with a daily audience of 14.6 per cent, while the CNN had a daily reach of 12.5 per cent. The survey was based on 56 news channels and 2,600 individuals.

            Al Jazeera's coverage of regional events boosted its status among North America-based news networks. US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton also recently praised Al Jazeera for its coverage of the events in the Middle East. "Not long ago, Al Jazeera was looked at with great scepticism. Now it seems to be one of the most popular news channels," said Taylor. – Gulf News


Pink Caravan raises awareness of cancer

            More than 200 women have visited the Pink Caravan mobile clinic during the first two days of its journey around the UAE, an official from the organising committee said on Sunday.

            "We have received very positive feedback from residents and were able to reach our daily target of 100 women per day," Ameera Bin Karam, President, Friends of Cancer Patients (FoCP) organisation, told Gulf News.

            The mobile medical clinic supporting the early detection of breast cancer was set up at Mega Mall on Saturday and received 111 visitors, and the Pink Caravan yesterday then went on to Falaj Al Mualla Clinic in Umm Al Qaiwain and Al Dhaid Hospital in Sharjah.


            Ameera said the horse-back riders were a key factor in attracting the attention of women who passed by the Pink Caravan.

            "With the help of clinics, our three medical teams were able to conduct early breast cancer detection examinations for women as young as 20 years old. UAE nationals and expatriates alike were curious and were eager to visit the mobile clinic, and the campaign also helped us to start a database of UAE women," said Ameera.

            The Pink Caravan will continue its journey on Monday to Masafi Hospital in Fujairah and Al Manama Clinic in Ajman, where it will conduct free tests for early detection of breast cancer to visitors.

            Along with the free screening of breast cancer for those interested, all participants were offered an informative explanation on how to perform monthly self examinations for early breast cancer detection through workshops and brochures.

            "The Pink Caravan is an integrated programme that will show its presence in more than 10 clinics across all the country's emirates, including remote areas.

Trained and professional health providers will offer their services during the 10-day journey in three strategic sites on the campaign's route, either in the medical clinics, or schools, or other sites such as shopping malls and others," said Dr Sawsan Al Madhi, secretary-general of Friends of Cancer Patients and head of the Medical Awareness and Medical Committee of the Pink Caravan Campaign.

            The Pink Caravan will continue until April 11 and will pass through Dubai, Ras Al Khaimah and Abu Dhabi, in addition to being accompanied by the UAE Genetic Diseases Association in order to carry out free blood tests for genetic diseases.

            The caravan campaign will also donate a model designed to show women how to perform breast self-examinations, and this model will be donated to all medical clinics to ensure the continued education and awareness of women who regularly visit these clinics.

            First activity

            Ameera Bin Karam, president, Friends of Cancer Patients (FOCP) organisation, told Gulf News that the Pink Caravan is the first activity of their new breast cancer awareness project, which runs until February 2014.

            "As the UAE does not have a cancer registrar, we are cooperating with Tawam Hospital and Dubai Health Authority and have found out that out of all the cancer cases in the UAE in 2009 and 2010, breast cancer accounts to 40 per cent of the cases," she explained.

            The Pink Caravan - Riding for Courage, is an initiative of the FOCP, which operates under the umbrella of the Supreme Council of Family Affairs in Sharjah. The journey is also supported by Sharjah Islamic Bank.

            Ameera pointed out that the role of FOCP is to raise awareness on the importance of regular screening and self-checks, since there is more than a 90 per cent cure in cancer patients when it is detected early. The caravan will pass through Ajman, Umm Al Qaiwain, Ras Al Khaimah and back to Sharjah before heading to Dubai. It will end its journey at Sheikh Khalifa Medical City in Abu Dhabi.


The Pink Caravan will visit various locations from April 2-11

April 2: Mega Mall, Sharjah

  • April 3: Al Dhaid Hospital, Sharjah

  • April 4: Masafi Hospital, Fujairah, and Al Manama Clinic, Ajman

  • April 5-6: Al Madam Clinic and Al Thamid Clinic, Sharjah. – Gulf News


Awards recognise patrons of the arts

            Forty individuals and organisations who have contributed more than Dh130 million in the past year towards the development of the Dubai arts scene were honoured yesterday.

            More than half of the people recognised at the second Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Patrons of the Arts awards were new donors.

            "This year was more challenging in terms of making the ceremony truly cultural. It's heart-warming that so many people support Dubai's arts and culture," said Saeed Nabouda, the acting director general of the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority.

            The ceremony at the Jumeirah Zabeel Saray Hotel, on the Palm Jumeirah, was attended by Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, who handed out the awards, and Sheikh Majid bin Mohammed, the chairman of the arts authority.

            The awards are given to patrons who contributed more than Dh5m each year over a three-year period.

            Visual arts accounted for almost 51 per cent of the total support, followed by film at 33 per cent, the performing arts at 11 per cent and literature at 5 per cent.

            Mohammed al Murr, the vice president of the authority, said the event was "a mark of gratitude and respect to those who work to shape the cultural dynamic of Dubai in the long-term".

New supporters included Tala Badri, the owner of a musical arts centre, Dr Samiha Lufti, an Emirati physician, and Tecom Investments, a company that develops knowledge-based industries.

            Distinguished patron awards went to Dr Farhad Farjam, the owner of the Farjam Collection, as well as Dubai Pearl, Abraaj Capital, Emirates Airline, Jumeirah, Majid Al Futtaim Group and Tecom Investments. – The National


Emirate’s legacy celebrated

            His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, inaugurated the Sharjah Heritage Days on Sunday. The annual event once again puts the spotlight on the rich heritage of the Emirate and its attraction for domestic and international visitors.

            Organised by the Directorate of Heritage, Department of Culture and Information of Sharjah, the 9th edition of the Sharjah Heritage Days will run till April 18 in the Heritage area of old Sharjah and across the cities of Central and Eastern regions of the Emirate.

            Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority director-general Mohamed Ali Al Noman said that the Authority is proud to be associated with the annual festival celebrating Sharjah and Emirati culture and traditions as it helps the efforts to promote the Emirate as an international tourist destination for the entire family.

            He said that the Sharjah Heritage Days promotes the Emirati customs and traditions, adding that the event each year attracts thousands of tourists.

            Commenting on the Sharjah Heritage Days, Noman said that this event and other cultural events and activities held in the Emirate regularly have turned it into a “cosmopolitan centre of civilisation that we are all rightly proud of.” – The Gulf Today


Gulf Film Festival begins in Dubai on April 14

            The fourth edition of the Gulf Film Festival open its doors to industry professionals, students and media on April 14. The event will run until April 20.

            The fourth edition will be held at the InterContinental Hotel and Grand Cinemas at Dubai Festival City.

            The 2011 festival includes out-of-competition segments, a master class by renowned director Abbas Kiarostami and other special events. All screenings are free and open to the public. Creative and business professionals working in and around the region's film industry are expected to attend the festival.

            Online registration, via www.gulffilmfest.com, will be open until April 13. Onsite registration will continue at Dubai Festival City after April 14. – Gulf News


Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge: Empty Quarter beckons

            The second leg of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge will on Monday see the world-class field of rally drivers and riders head deep into the famed Rub Al Khali, or ‘Empty Quarter'.

            The 285km stage will test the competitors from over 30 countries to the maximum as they get to grips with the towering sand dunes that help make the rally one of sport's biggest tests.

            Day two of the rally proper starts at 8am just west of the E45 MZ road, 36km north of Mezaira'a.

            The drivers and riders will race over 100km west before swinging round and heading into the massive sand dunes of the Rub Al Khali desert, south of Liwa.

            They finish back at the event's bivouac desert base, which this year, for the first time, is located next to the luxurious Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort.

            The competitive stages of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge got underway on yesterday with Leg One of the rally departing Al Dhafrah, outside the capital.

            In the cars category, French rallying legend Stéphane Peterhansel started the day in first place in his Mini All4 Racing, ahead of his Team X-Raid colleague, Leonid Novitskiy (Russia) and Miroslav Zapletal (Czech Republic).

            On the bikes, Spaniard Joan Barreda, riding a Beta PKL 450, set off first, having finished ahead of David Fretigne (France) and Dubai-based Sam Sunderland in the Super Special Stage.

Luis Henderson from Uruguay started first for the Quads, while Russian driver Eduard Nikolaev Mohammad led off in his KAMAZ-Master truck. – Gulf News

UAE Armed Forces free ship from pirates

            A unit from the UAE's Anti-Terrorist Special Forces, supported by the Air Forces and Air Defence units, yesterday successfully freed a UAE-flagged vessel, MV Arrilah, from pirates in the Arabian Sea, east of Oman, an official source from the Armed Forces said.

            The vessel, belonging to the Abu Dhabi National Tanker Company, ADNATCO '&' NGSCO, had been attacked and seized by pirates on the morning of 1st April.

            "The Anti-Terrorist unit, supported by the UAE Air Forces and Air Defence units, and in coordination with the U.S. 5th fleet, boarded the vessel yesterday, following which the pirates surrendered. The MV Arrilah, together with all of its crew, is now heading towards the UAE coast," the source added. "The pirates are under guard and will be handed over to officials of the UAE Ministry of Interior on arrival at Jebel Ali." "The decisive operation is evidence of the determination of the UAE Government to respond swiftly to any acts of piracy and indicates the UAE's resolve not to yield to such threats," the source concluded. - Emirates News Agency, WAM


One dead, 61 injured in Abu Dhabi-Dubai highway pile-up

            An Asian man was killed and nearly 61 people hurt in a pile-up early Saturday that left wreckage of 127 vehicles scattered near Al Samha area at the highway linking Abu Dhabi with Dubai. The accident is believed to have been caused by a motorist who was driving on high speed in early morning when the highway was enveloped by thick fog. Brigadier Hussein Ahmed Al Harthy, Director of Traffic and Patrols at Abu Dhabi Police said traffic patrols arrived at the scene five minutes after being notified and immediately started to provide an alternative traffic line for ambulances and to remove the vehicles involved in the accident. - Emirates News Agency, WAM


UAE relief team continues operations at Libyan-Tunisian borders

            As the transit camps for thousands of migrant workers who have fled the fighting in Libya continued to expand, the UAE relief team continued its humanitarian operations on ground.
The relief operations, in implementation of the directives of UAE President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the relief workers kept themselves busy providing food aid, medical supplies and shelter to the refugees and helping them to get repatriated to their home countries.

            Abdul Rahman Ibrahim Abdul Aziz, head of the UAE relief team, said that the humanitarian operations targeted both the Libyan citizens as well as the migrant workers fleeing the warfare.

            The relief convoys continued to arrive at the Ras Jdir camp to assist thousands of the displaced and stranded people at the Libyan-Tunisian borders to ease their suffering amid dire conditions, he added.

            He also said that the humanitarian efforts were taking place in coordination with the Tunisian Red Crescent Authority, the International Committee of the Red Cross and other humanitarian international organisations.  The 700 makeshift tents in the camps managed by the UAE relief team are capable of sheltering up to 7000 refugees.

            Over 250 tonnes of medicines, essential food supplies and blankets have been distributed during the last few days. - Emirates News Agency, WAM


RCA, UNRWA join hands to aid Palestinian refugees

            The UN agency for Palestinian refugees has commended humanitarian initiatives launched by the UAE under instructions of 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, and His Highness General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, for alleviating suffering of the Palestinian people.

            The Commissioner-General of United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), Filippo Grandi, has also expressed gratitude to H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler's Representative in the Western Region, and President of the UAE Red Crescent Authority (RCA), for his efforts towards improving the living conditions of Palestinians inside Palestine and at refugee camps in some Arab countries. He lauded Sheikh Hamdan's initiatives as significant contributor to mobilising support and assistance for refugee issues.

            The UN official has made his remarks during a meeting with RCA Chairman Ahmed Al Mazrouie that took place on the sideline of the Dubai International Humanitarian Aid '&' Development Conference (DIHAD).

            While reviewing progress of RCA-funded and UNRWA-supervised development projects inside Palestine and at refugee camps, the two humanitarian agencies affirmed their determination to advance their constructive partnership to ensure better future for Palestinian refugees.

            The UNRWA chief presented to the RCA a group of new proposed projects in areas of housing, health and education with hope that the RCA would contribute to their implementation as part of its mission of supporting the Palestinian people to overcome the current circumstances.

            He indicated that the RCA swift response in the Palestinian scene is contributing substantially in meeting urgent and pressing requirements of the Palestinian people.

            He termed the RCA development projects in Palestine as a shining spot in its honourable record of humanitarian achievements.

            He explained that he himself touched the vast impact of the RCA projects in improving the living conditions in Palestinian provinces.

            He said that UNRWA is looking forward for broader partnership and cooperation with the RCA for the best interest of the Palestinian people.

            For his part, the RCA official said that RCA has embodied the vision of the UAE leadership towards Palestine in a slew of humanitarian and development projects worth so far Dh810 million.

            He added that RCA-UNRWA agreements had enabled both sides to boost their joint field operations that had made a qualitative leap in services provided to refugees in different vital sectors.

            The RCA and UNRWA have signed two cooperation agreements for construction of Palestinian refugees camps in Lebanon. Under the first agreement, 343 housing units will be built at Burj-el-Shamali refugee camp, while the second agreement calls for constructing 149 at Nahr el Bared refugee camp.

            A third agreement will see the RCA and UNRWA building 140 housing units accommodating 670 refugees at el Nerab camp in Syria in addition to the establishment of a health centre serving 18,000 refugees.  - Emirates News Agency, WAM


Mohammed bin Rashid meets British Defence Secretary in Dubai

            Vice-President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum received yesterday at the Zaabeel Palace, British Defence Secretary Liam Fox and the delegation accompanying him.

            Deputy Ruler of Dubai H.H Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum was present. They held talks on the distinguished relations between UAE and UK in various fields, especially in the area of military cooperation. The discussions also dealt with the developments in the Arab region and the ways to strengthen the foundations of stability, development and peace.

            The British minister hailed UAE's stance as well as the humanitarian support by its government and the people to the international peace efforts aimed at establishing stability and peace for all peoples of the world. - Emirates News Agency, WAM


UAE Foreign Minister opens new building of the UAE embassy in Lisbon

            UAE Foreign Minister HH Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan inaugurated on Friday, the new premises of the UAE embassy in Portugal, in the presence of Portuguese Foreign Minister Dr. Luis Amado and Minister of Economy, Innovation and Development Vieira da Silva.

            Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed and Luis Amado unveiled the commemorative plaque marking the opening of the new embassy building. Then they toured the new building and Sheikh Abdullah expressed admiration over the architectural design of the facility and specially commended the replica of the sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque that adorns the entrance of the embassy. Sheikh Abdullah then held a meeting with the Portuguese ministers and ambassadors of other Arab countries.

            He underlined the growing bilateral relations between UAE and Portugal. UAE Ambassador to Portugal Saqr Nasser Al Reesi presented Sheikh Abdullah and Dr. Luis Amado with mementoes to mark the occasion.

            The Ambassador said that that the new five-story building combines the architectural styles of 19th-century classical Europe and the modern era and overlooks the Lisbon city and the Tagus river.

            The ceremony was attended by Juma Mubarak Al Junaibi, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Salem Al Kaabi, Director of Projects and Buildings at the Ministry and other officials. - Emirates News Agency, WAM


First Gulf Bank pulls the plug on Libyan operations

            First Gulf Bank has shut its operations in Libya to comply with UN sanctions just months after opening a second branch there, says its chief executive.

            The Libyan business was part of an international expansion strategy, which has also opened offices in India, Singapore and Qatar.

            "It's a case of wait and see, like for any other foreign investors," said Andre al Sayegh, the bank's chief executive, of the Libyan closure. "The bank has a management agreement, but it has been discontinued because force majeure is going on."

            One of the Libyan branches is at the Rixos Hotel in Tripoli, where the Libyan government is currently housing a contingent of foreign reporters.

            First Gulf jointly managed the operation with the Libyan government economic and social development fund, each side having provided half of the bank's US$400 million (Dh1.46 billion) of authorised capital.

            "We cannot judge the political issues," Mr al Sayegh said. "Nobody has a crystal ball."

            The bank, which is the fourth-largest in the UAE by assets, would abide by sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council while Muammar Qaddafi remains in power. First Gulf is listed on the Abu Dhabi stock market.

            The bank's international expansion will go ahead despite the Libyan setback, Mr al Sayegh said. It is seeking to upgrade its representative offices in Qatar and India, following the upgrade of its Singapore office to a full branch in 2009.

            "We're looking more towards Asia just now," he said. Mr al Sayegh said he expected the UAE to benefit from uncertainty elsewhere in the region.

We're privileged to be present in Abu Dhabi," he said.

            "There is a lot to do in Abu Dhabi. Our balance sheet can support those projects, and it's very important to play a role as a financial institution within the domestic economy."

            First Gulf Bank plans to focus on investment banking, investment management and careful management of the bank's balance sheet. It reported profits of Dh3.42bn last year, a increase of 3.3 per cent on 2009, as provisions for bad loans stabilised.

            The financial crisis has taught banks the importance of moderate lending strategies and improving asset quality, he said, predicting impairment charges would decline across the industry this year as economic recovery picked up.

            "As well as that, we will start seeing, if not this year maybe next year, some reversal of provisioning … because provisions were taken on some of these institutions and corporates [that] are still healthy and operating in the country," Mr al Sayegh said.

            "You cannot play with the balance sheet of financial institutions, and this is what some did not really understand, unfortunately."

            Although the bank may experience bursts of aggressive growth, its expansion of credit would be measured and carefully considered, he said. – The National


International Renewable Energy Agency meets in capital to elect leader

            As the curtain rises today in Abu Dhabi on the meeting of the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena), members from around the world have a big decision to make: who is going to be its first permanent leader?

            The UN agency tasked with promoting the adoption of alternative energy is in the capital for a three-day session, and delegates from more than 60 countries will choose today between the interim director general Adnan Amin and Pedro Marin, the former Spanish energy secretary.

            "It's a long, convoluted process," said Mahenau Agha, a spokeswoman at Irena. "There's a long consultation that will happen with all the member states."

            Putting in place a director general after the October departure of its former head, Helene Pelosse, will be critical for Irena as it seeks more member countries and puts its financial matters in order.

            Delegates will cast secret ballots today unless a unanimous consensus emerges at the start. Their selection will be made official tomorrow, when Irena has its first meeting as an official organisation and will gain the power to demand mandatory financial contributions.

            Mr Amin, a Kenyan citizen, was director of the UN System Chief Executives Board for Co-ordination and later deputy director general before being selected to head Irena after Ms Pelosse's departure.

            Mr Marin, who served as Spain's energy secretary until this year, gained a name as a champion of renewable energy, particularly solar.

            But when solar subsidies were retroactively cut in December he defended the move, saying the Spanish government needed to keep energy prices under control during economic uncertainty.

            Mr Amin and Mr Marin were the last standing from 69 applicants for the post. The winner will have to set the tone of the relationship with Abu Dhabi and help the agency increase its budget.

            Irena has been closely affiliated with the UAE since June 2009 when the country won a campaign to host the agency's international headquarters, the first global base of any inter-governmental agency to be located in the Middle East.

            The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Irena now work in tandem, with a team at the ministry dedicated to the agency's affairs.

            Irena is scheduled in 2013 to move to Masdar City, the emirate's carbon-neutral development, which is eager to house such prominent anchor tenants. It will share a building with Masdar, the Government's clean-energy company in charge of the development.

            Irena is also on track to open an office in Bonn, Germany, this spring.

            Administrative issues, which include adding to the list of 150 countries that have signed Irena's statute, will remain in Abu Dhabi.

            The new director general will need to persuade countries such as China, Russia and Brazil to formally join. – The National


Aldar moves into inspiring new home at HQ

            Aldar Properties PJSC, Abu Dhabi's leading real estate developer, investor and manager, is the first company to move into its new home, at HQ.

            All Aldar's head office staff relocate this week to the distinctive circular, Grade- A quality office building, at Al Raha Beach, Abu Dhabi.

            Aldar chief executive officer, Sami Asad, said: "We are delighted to be moving into our new home. The flexible, open-plan office spaces will provide an inspiring workplace from where we can execute the next stage of Aldar's developments." HQ offers 50,089sqm of lettable space with an international Grade-A specification fit-out and a range of integrated tenant services. There will be a comprehensive range of facilities that include male and female gyms, prayer rooms, food and beverage outlets, convenience stores and other tenant services.

            Situated within 10 minutes of Abu Dhabi Airport and Yas Island, HQ has attracted the attention of renowned international and local firms as well as government agencies. Aldar will be joined immediately at HQ by ATIC, Global Foundries, ABB and the Insurance Authority of the UAE.

            Mr Asad continued: "We are excited to be welcoming such renowned companies and leading organisations as our neighbours at HQ. With the map of our city changing at such a pace, this move positions us close to growing residential communities, recreational facilities, with transport links connecting us to the city and the region." - Emirates News Agency, WAM


Statistics Abu Dhabi: 2010 Inflation at 3.1%

            Statistics Centre - Abu Dhabi issued its annual report on the consumer price index (CPI) for the year 2010, which analyses the CPI calculations for the year under review with the year 2007 fixed as the base year, the report also compares the results obtained with the CPI data for 2009 and details CPI results by welfare levels and types of households.

            The report puts inflation in 2010 at 3.1%, compared with 0.8% in 2009, as shown by the rise in the CPI from 115.8 points in 2009 to 119.3 points in 2010.

            The report shows that the "housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels" group contributed 55.4% of the overall y-o-y increase in prices during 2010, due to a surge of 4.9% in house rents.

            The next highest contributor to the overall year-over-year increase in the CPI in 2010 compared to 2009 was the "Food and non-alcoholic beverages group", which accounted for 36.8% of the rise in the index during the aforesaid period due to increases in the prices of most of the component subgroups of this main group, as the prices of the "Sugar, jam, honey, chocolate, and confectionery" increased by 26.6%, "Vegetables" by 15.1%, "Meat" by 12.9%, "Fruits" by 6.7%,

            "Fish and seafood "by 6.5%, "Food products not elsewhere classified" by 5.5% and "Coffee, tea and cocoa" by 1.8%.

            The "transport" group contributed 19.2% to the year-over year rise in consumer prices for the periods compared as a result of an overall increase of 6.5% in its component subgroups, namely, the cost of "operation of personal transport equipment", which grew by 8.1% and the "transport services" subgroup which advanced 1.7%.

            The "Education" group accounted for 13.7% of the overall increase in consumer prices during the year 2010 compared with 2009, reflecting a surge of 14.5% in "tuition fees".

            On the other hand, one of the key groups that reined in consumer prices during 2010 compared to 2009 was the "clothing and footwear" group, which detracted 28% from the overall rise in consumer prices for the period under review, during which the prices of this group retreated by 8.3% as a result of a drop in the prices of the "clothing" and "footwear" subgroups by 6.9% and 22.7%, respectively.

            The report explains that the 3.1% rise in consumer prices during 2010 compared with 2009, has led to an increase of 3% in consumer prices for households of the bottom welfare quintile during this period, compared with 2009. The corresponding rise for other welfare levels was 2.7% for households of the top quintile and 3.3% for the upper middle welfare quintile.
Analysis of the overall inflation of (3.1%) in terms of its impact by type of household for the same periods of comparison shows that consumer prices have risen by 2.7% for national households, compared to 3.5% for non-national households and 2.7% for collective households.

            SCAD's report explains that rises in the CPI do not necessarily correspond to higher prices for all the goods and services that make up the consumer basket, nor do they mean that all goods and services have increased by the same percentage (3.1% in this case); for there are goods and services whose prices have risen at rates above the overall rate (3.1%) and others whose rate of increase was below this general average. There are also goods and services whose prices have fallen. However, the net change or the combined outcome of these changes (upward and downward movements) in the prices of the consumer basket during 2010 compared with 2009 produced an average increase in prices by 3.1%.

            The report points out that the "Housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels" group remained the largest contributor to inflation in 2010, having accounted for 55.4% of that increase. This contribution resulted from a surge of 4.4% in the prices of this group and due the group's sizable weight, which constitutes 37.9% of the total weight of all expenditure groups. The main driver of inflation within this group was house rents, which advanced by 4.9%. It is worth noting that this subgroup constitutes 87.7% of the group's total weight.

            As the report indicates, the second largest contributor to the overall year-over-year increase in the CPI in 2010 compared to 2009 was the "Food and non-alcoholic beverages group", which accounted for 36.8% of the rise in the index during the aforesaid period due to increases in the prices of most of the component subgroups of this main group, with the prices of the "Sugar, jam, honey, chocolate, and confectionery" subgroup rising by 26.6%, "Vegetables" by 15.1%, "Meat" by 12.9%, "Fruits" by 6.7% "Fish and seafood "by 6.5%, "Food products not elsewhere classified" by 5.5% and "Coffee, tea and cocoa " by 1.8%. On the other hand, the prices of the "Bread and cereals" and "Oils and fats" subgroups retreated by 5.6% and 5.0%, respectively.

            The "transport" group contributed 19.2% to the year-over year rise in 2010 consumer prices compared with 2009 as a result of an overall increase of 6.5% in its component subgroups, namely, the "transport services" subgroup which advanced 1.7%, due mainly to a rise of 9.9% in the cost of air transportation. In addition, the cost of "operation of personal transport equipment" grew by 8.1%.

            The "Education" group accounted for 13.7% of the overall increase that occurred during the year 2010 compared with 2009.

            The "clothing and footwear" group, detracted 28% from the overall rise in consumer prices for the period under review 2010 compared with 2009, during which the prices of this group retreated by 8.3% as a result of a drop in the prices of the "clothing" and "footwear" subgroups by 6.9% and 22.7%, respectively.

            Monthly Sub-indices of the Main Expenditure Groups, Compared with the General Index: The Annual CPI Bulletin of Statistics Centre - Abu Dhabi reveals that the sub-index for "Food and non-alcoholic beverages" group was higher than the general index for all the months of 2010: the average sub-index of this group for the months of 2010 was 125.1 points, while the general index stood at 119.3 points on average over the same period, which means that the group "Food and non-alcoholic beverages" had a positive contribution to inflation in 2010.

            The bulletin indicates that the average sub-index for the "Alcoholic beverages and tobacco" in 2010 was 118.3 points, i.e. below the general index, which stood at an average of 119.3 points.

            Similarly, the "Clothing and footwear" slowed down the rise in general level of prices in 2010, as the sub-index for the group in 2010 averaged 112.4 points, compared to an average general Index of 119.3 points.

            The of "housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels" group was characterised by higher prices than the general price level during all months of 2010, indicating that this group, which has a relative weight of about 38%, dominated by house rents, has contributed positively to inflation i.e. pushed up the general level of prices in 2010.

            Conversely, the sub-index for "Furnishings, household equipment and routine household maintenance" (116.7 points) was below general during the months of 2010 (119.3 points), revealing a negative contribution to inflation by this group during reporting period.

            SCAD's bulletin reports a lower sub-index, compared with the general index for the communications group over all the months of 2010, while the sub-index for the "Education" group was higher throughout the period referred to.

            Lastly, the sub-index for the "Miscellaneous goods and services" was on average lower than the general index, indicating the group in question contributed towards reining in inflation during 2010.

            SCAD's bulletin explains that price movements in 2009 and 2010 directly affect the y-o-y rates of inflation for the months in 2010, which exhibited a steady upward trend from (1.4%) in January to (4.1%) in the month of November, before retreating to (3.3%) in December 2010.

            SCAD's report also elaborated on the impact of the CPI movement on different welfare levels, the report finds that the rise in consumer prices during 2010 by 3.1% above the price levels for the year 2009 resulted in a surge of 3.0% in consumer prices for households of the bottom welfare quintile for the same period of comparison. The corresponding rise for other welfare levels was 2.7% for households of the top quintile, 3.3% for the upper middle quintile and 3.5% for the lower middle quintile, which suffered by the largest increase among the five welfare levels.

            Detailed by its impact according to household type, the overall 3.1% year-over-year rise in consumer prices for the months of 2010 pushed up consumer prices for national households by 2.7%, compared to 3.5% for non-national households and 2.7% for collective households.

            In preparing its CPI reports, Statistics Centre - Abu Dhabi follows the methodologies adopted internationally in this field, using a broad and highly representative basket of goods and service, to ensure accuracy in the calculation of the monthly and yearly index. SCAD is the sole officially authorised source for monitoring and reporting changes in prices and inflation in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.

            SCAD's Price Indices Section has recently developed the computing of the CPI so that it is compiled according to households' types and levels of welfare. As for the welfare level approach, the population is divided into five segments (quintiles) representing five levels of welfare, based on average per capita annual expenditure. Each quintile reflects the consumption pattern represented by that quintile. In regard to the household type approach, the population is divided into three types of households as set out in the results of the Household Income and Expenditure Survey (2007-2008), namely, national, non-national and collective households.

            To represent all regions of the Emirate, the selected sample of items included in the Consumer Price Index basket uses actual data from the 2007 household income and expenditure survey. The sample of outlets were selected in such a way as to represent points of purchase for a large base of consumers all over the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, taking into account the geographical distribution of sources within the emirate. - Emirates News Agency, WAM


UAE population up by 65% in four years

            The UAE’s population has grown exponentially to 8.26 million in mid-2010, a growth of 64.5% in four years, as strong economic growth attracted workers from all over the world.

            According to latest population estimates put out by the National Bureau of Statistics on last Thursday, the population of Emiratis have increased by 96,833 to 947,997, or 11.47 per cent, in the last four years.

            The bureau has based its estimates on administrative records of the Ministry of Interior and data on births and deaths obtained from the Ministry of Health.

            Abu Dhabi, the largest emirate in terms of land mass,  has the biggest population of 404,546, or 42 per cent,  of the UAE nationals also.

            The bureau said that population in mid-2010 was estimated using the model of exponential growth between 2008 and 2009 due to lack of actual population figures.

            It said that population census, which was scheduled to take place in April 2010 was not conducted. Indians, Pakistanis and others form majority of the population in the country.

            The UAE’s expatriate population was 7.266 million in mid-2009, just before the economic meltdown happened, which rose to 7.31 million in mid-2010, showing an increase of 49,458 despite the fact that thousands of jobs were eaten up by the economic crisis.

            However, the economy is on recovery mode since then, after a brief period of slow growth, due to the impact of the global economic crisis.

            Dubai’s economy may grow six per cent in 2012 after expanding 3.5 per cent to 4 per cent this year, Farouk Soussa, Citigroup Inc’s chief economist for the Middle East, said last week.

            “The UAE’ economy is expected to grow closer to 4 per cent this year,” according to Mohammed Lahouel, chief economist at Dubai’s Department of Economic Development.

            The new statistics show net migration inflows dropped from 1.15 million in 2007 and 1.8 million in 2008 to a mere 57,793 people in 2009, when the UAE economy contracted by 2.5 per cent. – Khaleej Times


No dates yet for launch of UAE's telecom satellite

            A new satellite control centre on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi has yet to flip the switch after the scheduled March 30 launch of its communications satellite was scrubbed for the time being.

            Bloomberg has reported that Yahsat, a subsidiary of Mubadala Development Co. in Abu Dhabi, moved back its launch date to a "later date" reportedly due to technical reasons.

            Yahsat, Bloomberg reported, decided to postpone the launch of its new Y1A satellite from French Guiana and the apparatus involved in blasting the Ariane 5 rocket skyward is under technical review.

            The delayed launch precedes plans by Yahsat to launch a second communications satellite, Y1B, in the second quarter of 2012 from Kazakhstan.

            Yahsat officials are pinning big hopes on the Y1A satellite that is set to cover a large swathe of the planet from Africa eastward through the Middle East and into Southeast Asia.

The new Y1A satellite is to provide TV broadcasting and telecommunications services for subscribers. Officials couldn't be reached by Gulf News at Yahsat offices in Abu Dhabi by press time.

            However, at a press conference in February, top officials said they were aware that even when launch dates are set for new satellites, delays happen more often than not.

            "This is a big project for us, for Yahsat, for Yahsat shareholders, for Mubadala and for Abu Dhabi as a country. This will enable our government and the UAE to have satellite capabilities," Jasim Al Za'abi, CEO of Yahsat, told reporters in February. "The pride we take as a team is being able to operate this system in house."

            Martin Gee, Chief Technical Officer at Yahsat, said at the time that statistical research by Arianespace showed that usually there is only a 15 per cent chance that a satellite will be launched on its target date. "Key things to be aware of is that it is state of the art proven technology, but a lot of complex technologies have to come together for the successful mission," Gee said at the press conference.

            Once launched at a later date, the new Y1A satellite will orbit earth at 35,786 kilometres above the Earth or roughly one tenth the distance to the moon. – Gulf News


Abu Dhabi applies unified tenancy contracts

            The Municipality of Abu Dhabi City and the Municipality of Al Ain City have launched "Tawtheeq" project for the registration of leasable properties and tenancy contracts to participate in the regulation of the real estate sector in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain Cities.

            The two municipalities called upon property management companies to expedite the registration of their leasable properties and tenancy contracts in order to facilitate and provide improved services to their customers.

            They said that in the near future, registered tenancy contracts will be a mandatory requirement that has to be satisfied prior processing transactions with respective strategic partners, including concerned government departments, authorities, and entities, which will not process any transaction requiring the submission of a tenancy contract unless duly registered in Tawtheeq system and coordination is currently being made towards this end.

            The two civic bodies stated that the decision of the Executive Council No 4/2011, stressed on the development and maintenance of a register at the municipality titled "Lease Contracts Register," to be applied to all tenancy contracts, whether concluded with immediate effect as of this date or those already valid and concluded before the launch of the system.

            Tawtheeq system aims to regulate the relationships and safeguard rights of the parties involved in the leasing process in accordance with a clearly defined mechanism, compile a unified database for all residential, commercial and industrial units and provide accurate statistics about various types of properties; which sets a uniform platform for streamlining the property and tenancy contracts registration of written or electronic form in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain cities.

            Khalifa Mohammed Al Mazroui, General Manager of the Municipality of Abu Dhabi City, said, "Tawtheeq system would constitute a key reference for regulating the relationship between the parties involved in the leasing process, and protecting their rights in full consistency with the municipality's mission towards the community and its keenness on delivering distinguished and outstanding services as per global practices".

            Dr Mattar Saif Al Nuaimi, General Manager of the Municipality of Al Ain City, said: "This cooperation, which is an initiative from the Municipality of Abu Dhabi City to launch Tawtheeq project for tenancy contract registration, is in line with the Abu Dhabi Emirate's strategy and the 2030 vision that enables the registration of leasable properties using cutting edge technologies and best techniques.

            "The electronic system features high-tech and specifications and provides users with the tools necessary for completing all their rental transactions in a clear, transparent and accurate manner. Customer service, simplifying of processes, and confidentiality and flow of information are among the top priorities of this project, which will be build close relationships between all stakeholders under government supervision ensuring all rights of customers in this regard. – Emirates 24|7


Adnoc, Occidental JV for Shah field

            The Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) and Occidental Petroleum Corporation have signed a partnership agreement to participate in the development of Shah Gas Field in the emirate of Abu Dhabi.

            Under the agreement, ADNOC and Occidental shall bear all the costs of the project of developing Shah Gas Field.

            The Shah gas project involves development of high-sulphur content reservoirs within the Shah field, located onshore approximately 180 km southwest of the city of Abu Dhabi.

            The project will involve development of several gas gathering systems, construction of new gas and liquid pipelines and processing trains to process 1 billion cubic feet of high-sulphur content gas. This is anticipated to produce approximately 500 million cubic feet per day of network gas and a significant amount of condensate and natural gas liquids.

            Abu Dhabi Gas Development Company Limited which was established by Emiri decree in February 2010 to manage, operate and develop Shah Gas Field project on behalf of Adnoc and Occidental where Adnoc will hold a 60 per cent share while Occidental will hold a 40 per cent share.

Production from the field is scheduled to begin in 2014. – Emirates 24|7


Inspectors save 11 hawksbill turtles covered in sea debris

            Young Hawksbill turtles, covered in different types of sea waste, were found on the shores of Dubai recently.

            Inspectors of the Marine Environment and Wildlife Section of Dubai Municipality rescued 11 young Hawksbill Sea Turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) of length 3-5 inches and weighing 50-150 grams. They were found during the inspectors' daily patrols of coastal areas.

            Most of their [turtles] body parts were covered in different types of sea waste which hindered their movement and also resulting in malnutrition.

Special centre

            Dubai Municipality handed over the turtles to a specialised centre to conduct required tests as a preparation for its rehabilitation and then to release them back to their habitat.

            "The Hawksbill Sea turtles are highly migratory species. They travel through the oceans of the world frequently and this migratory behaviour has made it harder for policy makers to make laws to stop hunting them. As they migrate often, they have become shared resources among nations. If one country makes law to save the Hawksbill Sea Turtles another country hunts them. It is hard to enforce the law to save the Hawksbill turtles. This has given poachers the chance to hunt them and trade them which is the main reason for their rapid decline," said Mohammad Abdul Rahman Hassan, Head of Marine Environment and Wildlife Section. "This beautiful creature has a long history. Many years ago they were found in abundance around the world. But they are now in such a condition that some years later you might need to go to museums to find them instead of sea shores, even not live turtles, rather their bones and carapace."

            Hassan said: "The impact of our reckless activities is pushing the environment to its extreme conditions. Imbalance among the elements of the environment has been prevailing around us. So first our duty is to create awareness among all to take care of the elements of the environment and save it."

            Dubai Municipality officials in the Marine Environment and Wildlife Section can be contacted during working hours on phone numbers: 04-6826/606 6822 or after working hours in the emergency number 800 900.

Sand temperature factor

            Adult hawksbill turtles can grow up to 1 metre in length and weigh about 80kg on average. The heaviest hawksbill ever captured weighed 127kg.

            The turtle's shell, or carapace, has an amber background patterned with an irregular combination of light and dark streaks, with predominantly black and mottled brown colours radiating to the sides. The hawksbill turtle has several characteristics that distinguish it from other sea turtle species.

            Studies have determined that the sand temperature during incubation determines the sex of the sea turtle. Warmer temperatures will result in a greater proportion of female hatchlings, whereas cooler temperatures will produce a larger number of male hatchlings. After mating, females drag their heavy bodies high onto the beach during the night. The female then lays a clutch of eggs and covers them with sand. This is the only time that hawksbill turtles leave the ocean. It is thought that sea turtles may live for more than 60 years. – Gulf News


Al Ain Paradise sets a new record

            The Oasis city has once again set a new world record by displaying hanging baskets with millions of flowers, in the shape of a huge pyramid.

            Al Ain Paradise, as it is known, has found its way in the Guinness Book of World Records — which has recognised it as the world's largest garden — for the second time.

            Many visitors said it was a unique experience to see millions of flowers in different colours, types, and settings — in a city known for its desert dunes and an arid environment.

            The garden was originally created in March last year, making an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records for having 2,500 baskets full of colourful flowers arranged in a fabulous manner.Some unruly visitors, however — in just a few months — destroyed the garden and stole plants from it too.

            This resulted in a huge loss for the 7,000 square feet orchard, located in the Zakhir district.

Akar Landscaping, its creators, were eventually forced to shut the garden down for repair work.

            The garden now occupies an area of 21,000 square metres — including the corridors and walkways of the internal length of 2,400 metres approximately — more than double its earlier size.


            It now has 2,965 flower baskets, instead of the previous 2,500 baskets, in addition to the flower pyramids. A theatre and a meeting area have also been added to the park.

            A miniature Eiffel Tower, with a height of 12 metres and equipped with sophisticated lighting, has been erected to add more aesthetic value to the park. Al Ain Paradise also contains a 95 metre-long water stream.

            It has been designed in the form of a natural rock dam where the water flows through in a circular course.

            Some 300 engineers, technicians and workers took part in the rebuilding of the park.

Beauty in the details

            "We have now made security arrangements to prevent any destruction to the garden," said Abdul Nasser Rahhal, General Manager of Akar Landscaping.

            He said vertical landscaping technologies have been used to create the flower pyramid that has a variety of flowers from America, Europe, Japan, Germany and Italy. Akar added that brochures — detailing the various types of flowers — have been published to educate people on the dos and don'ts when visiting the park.

            Sheikh Tahnoun Bin Mohammad Al Nahyan, the Ruler's Representative in the Eastern Region, inaugurated the garden in a ceremony that was attended by members of the Royal Family, Shaikhs, and a number of other government dignitaries.

            Jack Brockbank, Official Adjudicator of the Guinness Book of World Records, said he was amazed to such the garden. "Some 1,500 pots have been used in the making of flower pyramid… it's incredible," he said.

            He said it was the world's largest garden with hanging baskets and people should visit it for an incredible experience. He also presented Sheikh Tahnoun with a certificate of recognition from the Guinness Book of World Records.

            Al Ain, which is known as the oasis city of the UAE, has twice won the second position in the Nations in Bloom contest — an international competition that selects leading cities from around the globe for good landscape management and environmental practices. – Gulf News


Abu Dhabi to host short film festival

            Short film enthusiasts now have a platform all to themselves when Tropfest Arabia premieres in the capital in November.

            Known as the world's largest short film festival, Tropfest was founded by the award winning actor and director John Polson, as a short film festival for friends and family at the Tropicana Cafe in Sydney, Australia almost 20 years ago.

            "It is clear that over the last few years the short film industry has been growing throughout the Middle East. As this industry continues to develop so too does the need to provide budding film makers with a channel through which to showcase their creative talents. We hope that the introduction of Tropfest Arabia will do just this," Polson said.

            Criteria for entering Tropfest Arabia are that the film must be made specifically for the festival, with the first public screening happening during the event. Each film must be no more than seven minutes long (including credits).


            Further information on Tropfest Arabia including details on how to submit a film can be found at http://www.tropfestarabia.com– Gulf News


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