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Mohamed bin Zayed and King of Jordan discuss fraternal ties, regional issues

posted on 02/05/2016

His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan held talks in Abu Dhabi yesterday which centred on bilateral relations and ways to enhance them, as well as regional and international issues of mutual interest.

Present were H.H. Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed Al Nahyan, National Security Adviser and H.H. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs.

Sheikh Mohamed welcomed the King of Jordan and his accompanying delegation and praised the strong fraternal relations between the two countries.

The two sides discussed the strategic relations between the UAE and Jordan and means to enhance them in a way that will achieve their common goals and future vision. Also discussed were a number of current issues.

At the end of the talks, the two sides expressed delight over the level of bilateral ties and the mutual interest in improving these. They also reiterated the importance of boosting Arab joint action to confront the risks and challenges and to contribute in boosting regional security and stability and to propagate values of tolerance, understanding and peaceful co-existence.

The two sides also emphasised the importance of international cooperation and coordination to stand up in the face of extremism and violence and to combat terrorist groups.

In attendance were Ali bin Hammad Al Shamsi, Deputy Secretary General of the National Security Council, Mohamed Mubarak Al Mazrouei, Under-Secretary of the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince's Court, Lt. General Hamad Mohamed Thani al Romaithi, Chief of Staff of the UAE Armed Forces and Lt. General Juma Ahmed Al Bowardi Al Falasi, Military Advisor to the Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces. – Emirates News Agency, WAM –


UAE at forefront of efforts to promote inter-religious interaction and communication: Nahyan bin Mubarak

posted on 02/05/2016

The UAE will always remain at the forefront of the efforts aimed at achieving interaction and communication among all religions and promoting values of co-operation, love and peace across the Arab World and the world at large, Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, has affirmed during an Easter service at St Antony Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Abu Dhabi last night.

In an address to the congregation, Sheikh Nahyan expressed his hope the celebration would always be a spiritual gathering for reflecting noble human feelings and for reiterating commitment to values of love, fraternity and coexistence in peace and security so as to ensure a promising and prosperous future.

The church service, he said, underscored the longstanding, deep-rooted ties between the peoples of the UAE and Egypt and the two countries' keenness to further solidifying these bonds in the best interest of the two countries and the Arab World at large.

'We in the UAE always pray to the Almighty Allah to protect Egypt. We are proud that our leaderships and peoples are committed to further consolidate bonds of fraternity, love and co-operation. The UAE, under the leadership of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, is firmly keen to boost ties with Egypt,' Sheikh Nahyan said.

Reverend Anthony Michael paid profound thanks and gratitude to President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, Their Highnesses Supreme Council Members and Rulers of Emirates, and the government and people of the UAE, for the religious tolerance the Egyptian Coptic and other Christians enjoy and the freedom to perform their religious practices freely and peacefully.

Those who attended the service included Ali Al Hashemi, Adviser for Religious and Judicial Affairs at the Ministry of Presidential Affairs; Wael Al Sayed Mohammed Gad, Ambassador of Egypt to the UAE; representatives of the General Authority for Islamic Affairs and Endowments, President Affairs Court, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince's Court, Egyptian diplomats, representatives of Christian faith in UAE, Reverend Anthony Michael and Reverend Bishoy Fakhri, pastors of the Cathedral Church in Abu Dhabi. – Emirates News Agency, WAM –


UAE nationals abroad serve as ambassadors to the nation: Al Qubaisi

posted on 02/05/2016

BRUSSELS: UAE nationals working or travelling abroad are ambassadors of their nation who must present a positive image of their nation's history, culture, ethics and heritage, Dr. Amal Abdullah Al Qubaisi, Speaker of the Federal National Council (FNC), said during a meeting with UAE nationals in the Belgian capital of Brussels.

'The UAE citizens overseas are up to this responsibility and they represent their nation in the best way,' she told the meeting, organised by the UAE Embassy in Brussels on the occasion of the FNC delegation to the Kingdom of Belgium.

She affirmed that UAE citizens travelling abroad for study, tourism and investment receive support and advice from the government's legislative and executive authorities in whatever they need.

The government of the UAE, under the chairmanship of Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, close follow up of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, is providing best care to its citizens, sending them abroad to prominent academic and research institutions to hone their skills and gain best experience and knowledge to serve their nation.

'The FNC is working diligently to probe the concerns and requirements of the citizens and communicate them in the form of recommendations to the leadership and the Federal Cabinet, both of which answer them,' she said.

President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, she affirmed, is always keen to learn about the citizens' needs.

She told the meetings that her talks with the EU officials, top MPs and decision-makers were 'constructive' and had achieved their objectives.

On their part, the citizens wished their nation would achieve further progress and development under the prudent guidance of President Khalifa. – Emirates News Agency, WAM –


UAE women rising in positions of power and influence

posted on 02/05/2016

More and more UAE women are finding seats at the table. From government cabinets and multinational boardrooms to mentoring and funding associations and CEOs of their own start-ups, women in the UAE are influencing cultural and economical advancements for their country.

The UAE is a leader in the Middle East in terms of closing the gender gap in business and government. Maryam Mohammed Al-Rumathi, Chairwoman of the Emirates Business Women Council, reports that women now occupy seven out of 40 seats on the National Union Council; businesswomen account for 15 per cent of board seats for UAE chambers of commerce and industry; and women-owned businesses contribute 10 per cent of the total value of the private sector in the UAE.

Managing Director of Al Gurg Group Raja Easa Al Gurg is a potent example of women rising in power and influence. Ranked second in Forbes list of most powerful Arab women in the business category, Raja Al Gurg also holds a place on Forbes most powerful women in the world list for 2015.

Chief executive of Al Jaber Group Fatima Al Jaber and CEO of GE Gulf Dalya Al Muthanna also make Forbes most powerful Arab women list in the business category. In government, Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, Minister for International Cooperation & Development, and Maryam Mohammed Al Roumi, Minister of Social Affairs, are recognised for their contributions in advancing the UAE.

Moving women into the private and public sectors is essential for the UAE to realise its aspirations to become a major player in the global economy as a diverse and innovative contender.

As director of the International Money Fund Christine Lagarde points out: the gender gap in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region's labour force is almost triple the average of that in other developing regions. If this gap had been reduced to just double the average in the past decade, Gulf countries could have seen $1 trillion in output or annual gains of six percent of the GDP.

Global management consultants A.T. Kearney report that reducing the gender gap by just 25 per cent can add 100 million women to the labour force by 2025 and increase the size of the OECD economy by 12 per cent by 2030.

While the UAE is a leader in the region in terms of women entering the workforce, with a 63 per cent increase, the ratio of women to men in senior positions in the Gulf countries remains one of the lowest in the world, an average of just nine per cent in GCC countries compared to 35 per cent in the Americas, 29 per cent in Africa and 21 per cent in Europe. Across the world in 2014, 17 per cent of Fortune 500 board seats were held by women. In GCC countries during the same year, women-held board seats ranged from 0.01 per cent to 1.7 per cent.

Emirati women constitute 76.8 per cent of those enrolled in UAE universities, far surpassing the educational levels of men in the region, but education levels haven't translated into a commensurate rise of their numbers into positions of power and influence.

The government is keen to support women in the workforce, their place on boards and their ability to start their own businesses with initiatives like compulsory quotas for board membership and start-up funding. Yet Emirati women only own two and a half percent of small and medium enterprises in the country. – Khaleej Times -


Emaar net profit increases by 17% to AED 1.205 billion in Q1 2016

posted on 02/05/2016

Emaar Properties PJSC has recorded first-quarter (January to March) 2016 net profit of AED 1.205 billion (US$ 328 million). This is an increase of 17 per cent compared to the net profit of AED 1.026 billion (US$ 279 million) during the same period last year.

Led by significant progress in construction of its projects, Emaar's Q1 2016 revenue was AED 3.529 billion (US$ 961 million), 17 per cent higher than the Q1 2015 revenue of AED 3.024 billion (US$ 823 million).

Recurring revenues from the shopping malls and hospitality businesses during Q1 2016 were AED 1.555 billion (US$ 423 million), 44 per cent of the total revenue. International operations, led by the strong results primarily in Egypt among other markets, contributed AED 499 million (US$ 136 million) to revenue, a growth of 44 per cent over Q1 2015 revenue and accounting for 14 per cent of Emaar's Q1 2016 revenue.

Mohamed Alabbar, Chairman of Emaar Properties, said: "The first-quarter results are a clear indicator of the growth we have achieved across all our three core businesses this year. Property sales in Dubai and other key international markets have gained momentum, a testament to our differentiating strength in offering the right property of choice for investors in premium locations.

"We are building on this positive trend by developing premium projects in exceptional locations, especially in Dubai, to support the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, to establishing the city as a global leader in all sectors, and to complement the preparations for the Expo 2020 Dubai. This is highlighted by the launch of the iconic new tower in Dubai Creek Harbour and the planned opening of Dubai Opera in Downtown Dubai this year. Both will serve as magnets for investors and visitors."

Alabbar added: "We are also launching a new Retail District in Dubai Creek Harbour and expanding The Dubai Mall, in addition to rolling out 35 new hotels and serviced residences in Dubai and other international markets. The sustained recurring revenue from these assets will help create long-term value for our stakeholders."

Highlighting its commitment to shareholders, Emaar has distributed a cash dividend of 15 per cent of the share capital, equivalent to AED 1.074 billion (US$ 292 million) for the year 2015.

Emaar recorded Q1 2016 revenue of AED 1.974 billion (US$ 537 million) from its property business, 32 per cent higher than the same period in 2015.

In Q1 2016, Emaar has recorded strong sales of AED 5.151 billion (US$ 1.402 billion), a growth of 41 per cent over Q1 2015, led by robust sales in Dubai. The value of sales in Dubai during this quarter reached AED 4.194 billion (US$ 1.142 billion), 70 per cent higher than the first quarter of 2015.

In Egypt, where Emaar Misr, the subsidiary of Emaar Properties is listed on The Egyptian Exchange, sales during the first three months amounted to AED 683 million (US$ 186 million).

Property sales in Dubai were led by strong investor interest in Harbour Views at Dubai Creek Harbour, The Address Residences Dubai Opera and premium Sidra villas in Dubai Hills Estate. Emaar has awarded construction contract for Dubai Creek Residences in Dubai Creek Harbour and construction is progressing as per schedule.

Dubai Hills Estate has also evolved as a smart and green city with visitors treated to green avenues, serene lakes, waterbodies and roads. Featuring a brand-new championship golf course, it has achieved significant progress in construction. Premium villas have been developed that exude style and sophistication.

During Q1 2016, Emaar Malls (DFM: EMAARMALLS), the shopping malls and retail business majority owned by Emaar, recorded revenues of AED 833 million (US$ 227 million) and net profit of AED 529 million (US$ 144 million), recording a growth of 22 per cent. Emaar Malls also distributed 10 per cent of the share capital, equivalent to AED 1.301 billion (US$ 354 million), as cash dividend to the shareholders.

Emaar's hospitality, commercial leasing and entertainment businesses reported revenues of AED 722 million (US$ 197 million) during the first quarter of 2016.

The Address Hotels + Resorts, its flagship hotel brand, achieved 93 per cent occupancy rate during the first quarter, higher than the industry average.

Emaar Hospitality Group is rolling out the first property under its new Rove Hotels, a contemporary midscale hotel and residences brand developed as a joint venture with Meraas, in May. Rove Downtown Dubai, located right next to The Dubai Mall and with direct access to restaurants along Mohammed bin Rashid Boulevard, will feature 420 rooms.

With 196 million sq. m of land bank in the UAE and key international markets, Emaar has assets valued at over AED 165.7 billion (US$ 45.1 billion). – Emirates News Agency, WAM –


GITEX 2016 launches new global start-up movement

posted on 02/05/2016

GITEX Technology Week will launch and host GITEX STARTUP MOVEMENT, one of the most global start-up gatherings in the world with over 30 countries represented, as it brings together entrepreneurs, innovators, investors, mentors and buyers for the first time in Dubai.

The GITEX STARTUP MOVEMENT will convene over 400 start-ups and more than 1,000 entrepreneurs, investors and mentors from the global start-up ecosystem. The exclusive set-up will highlight the most innovative start-ups around the world and provide them a platform to sell, form partnerships and attract investors. Participants will also be able to pitch for prizes, attend an interactive conference to address challenges faced by entrepreneurs and meet leading industry figures. The initiative has already garnered tremendous interest and momentum from supporters across the globe including Business France, Cross Trade agency in Singapore, Digi Robotics in the UAE, Egypt's Information Technology Industry Development Agency (ITIDA), Japan's Jetro agency, Marco Trade Export in Morocco, Star Systems agency in Iran and STC from KSA.

The Arab world has a burgeoning youth demographic. More than 60 per cent of the 350 million population is under the age of 25. Young millennial Arabs are online, mobile, using technology and becoming entrepreneurs with the strong support of government initiatives. The UAE leads the way in the region on revolutionary smart cities transformation and diversification of economies. Across Middle East & Africa, entrepreneurs are at the heart of the digital revolution as ICT spending increases across the region.

"Start-ups from all over the globe, women, youth and Arab entrepreneurs are a very real force of change that is making a positive impact in our society. They need supportive ecosystems to nurture and enable their growth and success. GITEX Technology Week has a strong legacy as one of the leading international tech events and is uniquely positioned to turn the spotlight on start-ups. With a force of 146,000 technology professionals and 22,000 C-suite executives at GITEX, Start-ups gain immediate access to a powerful industry network and massive technology marketplace, entry into growth markets in Middle East & Africa, and can future-proof their business plans, products and services." said Trixie LohMirmand, Senior Vice-President, Exhibitions and Events Management, Dubai World Trade Centre.

The public sector in the UAE is already committed to facilitating a conducive environment for entrepreneurship through its AED 2 billion knowledge fund, which is part of the country's National Innovation Strategy, and aims to accelerate the start-up movement towards a sustainable knowledge-based economy.

GITEX STARTUP MOVEMENT will form the centrepiece of the 2016 edition with emerging technologies sectors in the region equally set to benefit, as the event will showcase IoT applications, next-gen technologies and digital marketing solutions that are expected to revolutionise the global economy by 2025.

The Middle East, through its early adoption of emerging and next-gen technologies is poised to benefit from the global industrial shift and start-up organisations in the region are well positioned to become innovators and leaders. The region is already projected to spend around US$60 billion on 3D Printing, Robotics, Drones, Digital Marketing and Smart Living/Wearables by 2020.

As the Middle East embarks upon rapid transformations towards Smart Cities, the demand for innovative solutions is ever increasing. GITEX STARTUP MOVEMENT will connect entrepreneurs with key government buyers, VCs, angel investors, seed capital and mentors from around the world.

The marketplace is wide open for disruption and innovation by both established technology providers and start-ups. Technology buyers are hungry to differentiate themselves from their competition. They are open to be early adopters of technology that can revolutionize their customer experience or open up new market possibilities in key industries such as retail, healthcare, education, finance, travel and energy. GITEX STARTUP MOVEMENT will provide that breadth and depth of technology and services for all our trade visitors invested in innovation and enterprise," LohMirmand said.

Delegates will be have the opportunity to visit country zones and showcase pods that will feature the most exciting start-ups offering drones & robotics; IoT, AR, VR & AI; finance; retail; healthcare; education; energy; travel & hospitality; media & marketing; and transport & logistics, to name a few.

GITEX Technology Week will feature dedicated zones that will showcase exhibitors and live demonstrations of emerging solutions and providers from 3D Printing, Robotics, Drones, Digital Marketing, Wearables and IoT and Smart Living, as well as industry Vertical Days to streamline the visitor experience looking for specialist knowledge. GITEX brings together, leaders, influencers and innovators from the industry and a compelling programme of networking sessions.

GITEX Technology Week is expected to attract more than 146,000 visitors from over 140 countries, including 22,000 C-suite executives and 3,500 exhibitors from 55 countries. – Emirates News Agency, WAM –


Dubai Financial Market Company announces Q1 net profit of AED 86 million

posted on 02/05/2016

Dubai Financial Market Company yesterday announced a first quarter net profit of AED 86 million, a 27 per cent increase compared to Dh67.7 million during the corresponding period of 2015.

The company's total revenue increased by 11 per cent to AED 127 million in Q1-2016 compared to Dh114.5 million during Q1-2015. The revenues comprise AED105.6 million of operating income and Dh21.4 million of investment returns.

Meanwhile, operating expenses reached to AED46.2 million during Q1-2016 compared to AED46.8 million during the same period of 2015.

DFM's trading value increased 7.56 per cent during the first quarter to Dh40.58 billion compared to Dh37.7 billion during the corresponding period of last year. Trading commission is the main revenue stream for the company.

Essa Kazim, DFM chairman, said: "DFM Company's revenue and profit have relatively increased during the first quarter of 2016, which represents a positive development taking into consideration the fluctuations of regional and international markets due to the repercussions of lower oil prices. From our point of view, the market has handled such unfavourable circumstances with a high level of resiliency and successfully managed to maintain a good level of activity supported by investors' confidence in the lucrative investment opportunities DFM provides. Accordingly, trading value has increased by 7.56 per cent compared to the first quarter of 2015 and the General Index soared by 6.5 per cent, one of the best performing indices amongst main stock markets across the world.

"Undoubtedly, this performance underlines investors' strong recognition of the strong fundamentals of the national economy, which maintains its high levels of sustainable growth, as well as the healthy performance of the listed companies. Such strong fundamentals limit the implications of global circumstances and contain it within short periods." – Emirates News Agency, WAM –


DEWA receives 5 bids for Phase III of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park

posted on 02/05/2016

Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) has received 5 bids from international organisations for the third phase of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, said Saeed Mohammed AlTayer, MD & CEO of DEWA. The lowest recorded bid at the opening of the envelopes was US 2.99 cents per kilowatt hour. The next step in the bidding process will review the technical and commercial aspects of the bids to select the best one.

DEWA had released a request for the Expression of Interest (EOI) for the 800MW third phase of the solar park on 8 September 2015 and received 95 EOI responses from international solar organisations between 8 29 September 2015. DEWA requested companies submit their requests for qualification before November 2015. This was followed by a Request for Proposals (RFP) to qualified bidders on 28 December 2015.

"DEWA is able to keep up with developments in energy and has demonstrated its flexibility to do so. This is based on its success in implementing the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050 launched by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, which has targets to provide 7% of Dubai's total power output from clean energy sources by 2020. This target will increase to 25% by 2030 and 75% by 2050," said Al Tayer.

"This strategy includes initiatives such as the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, which is the largest single-site project to generate electricity from solar energy in the world, with a planned capacity of 5,000 megawatts (MW) by 2030, and total investment of US$13.6 billion (AED 50 billion) to save approximately 6.5 million tonnes per annum in emissions."

"The wide participation in this vital sector reflects the trust and interest of international investors to invest in mega energy projects with Dubai Government. DEWA is leading by example in performance, efficiency, productivity, and excellence, in providing electricity and water services at the highest international levels of reliability and availability," concluded Al Tayer. – Emirates News Agency, WAM –


Air Arabia is Best Low-Cost airline in ME

posted on 02/05/2016

Air Arabia, the first and largest low-cost carrier in the Middle East and North Africa region announced on Sunday that it has won the Best Low-Cost Airline in the Middle East Award in the Business Traveller Middle East 2016 ceremony held in Dubai.

The carrier's winning of the award comes in recognition of its tireless efforts to keep pace with the needs of business travellers and companies ensuring hassle-free and flexible booking, as well as highest degree of comfort on board.

CEO of Air Arabia, Adel Ali said "We're proud of the award which represents shining evidence of our success in enabling business travellers' access global destinations easily with comfortable trips.” – The Gulf Today -


UAE Pavilion wins Best International Pavilion Award at Morocco's 11th International Agriculture Show

posted on 02/05/2016

MEKNES: The United Arab Emirates, Guest of Honour at the 11th International Agriculture Show in Morocco, SIAM, which is being held in Meknes, has won the Best International Pavilion award at the event.

Rashid Mohammed Khalfan Al Shariqi, Director-General of the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority, ADFCA, received the award during a banquet hosted by His Majesty King Mohammed VI of Morocco last night in Meknes, in the presence of Abdelilah Benkirane, Prime Minister of Morocco.

Al Shariqi expressed his delight at winning the award as the Best International Pavilion in the in the exhibition, saying that this great success was accomplished thanks to the great support from President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and the follow-up of H.H. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Presidential Affairs and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority. – Emirates News Agency, WAM –


Umm Al Emarat Park earns Green Flag status

posted on 02/05/2016

Umm Al Emarat Park has been awarded the Green Flag, an international award given to the best green spaces according to a set of criteria established by the UK organisation.

"Working towards securing the Green Flag Award for Umm Al Emarat Park began during the early stages of park design and construction. We wanted to make sure that it met the required criteria for different award categories," said Tanuja Kothari, project director at Al Ain Properties, which built the park.

The criteria met by the park since its reopening in March last year includes sustainability, community involvement, cleanliness, safety, conservation and heritage.

During its first year, the park, which was formerly known as Mushrif Park, hosted 35 events that attracted more than 800,000 visitors.

Park manager Abdessalem Khabir said: "The Green Flag award is an acclaimed accolade that recognises best practices in managing green spaces. It has been a wonderful experience working closely with the judges and showcasing our beautiful park to them." – The National -


Mohammed bin Rashid assigns the UAE Gender Balance Council to oversee the implementation of the ‘Gender Inequality Index’

posted on 02/05/2016

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has assigned the UAE Gender Balance Council to support the implementation of the ‘Gender Inequality Index', which is issued annually by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

In line with the UAE Vision 2021, the Index is designed to enhance the country's efforts in driving women's participation in national development. His Highness also instructed the Council to oversee the Index and the implementation of best practices and processes to ensure federal institutions achieve their gender balance targets, which will support the UAE's vision to become one of the world's top 25 countries for gender equality by 2021.

HH Sheikha Manal bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, President of the UAE Gender Balance Council, President of Dubai Women Establishment (DWE) and wife of HH Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Presidential Affairs expressed her gratitude and happiness at the trust that HH Sheikh Mohammed has bestowed on the Council.

HH Sheikha Manal praised HH Sheikh Mohammed for the continuous support extended by him for women's development in the UAE, which reflects the leadership's commitment to enhancing the role and contribution of women in building the nation's future.

HH Sheikha Manal is also confident that the ‘Gender Inequality Index' will play an important role in driving further progress in the field of gender balance and contribute to the development of society. HH highlighted that the Council will implement a clear framework to consolidate the efforts of various government entities and further raise the UAE's international rank in gender equality.

Frameworks for Promoting Greater Gender Balance Mona Ghanem Al Marri, Vice President of the UAE Gender Balance Council, who chaired the second board meeting on behalf of HH Sheikha Manal, said that the implementation of the ‘Gender Inequality Index' will have a significant impact on promoting gender balance in the coming years. She stressed that the Index is an example of the UAE's efforts to create frameworks that support women's development, and provide a favourable environment for women to work and secure their future, as well as the future of their family, community and nation.

Mona Al Marri said that in line with the directives of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the UAE Gender Balance Council will immediately launch three initiatives that will support the efforts of individuals and organisations to enhance gender balance in the UAE. The first initiative includes documenting the efforts of supporting bodies through the "UAE Gender Balance Seal"; the second involves the implementation of the "UAE Gender Balance Order"; and the third is the establishment of "Best Three UAE Gender Balance Initiatives Award".

Mona Al Marri said that the guidance of HH Sheikh Mohammed has always been a source of inspiration for the Council. She praised the Council members for their efforts in achieving key strategic objectives as well as enhancing the role and participation of Emirati women in the continued development of the country's society and economy to the levels aspired for by the UAE's leadership.

A number of performance indicators will be used to measure gender equality across government departments and entities, in order to strengthen gender balance in all public sector institutions. The indicators will also measure the extent to which government entities in the UAE are providing a friendly and supportive environment for working mothers, through a survey conducted by a neutral party. These indicators will be implemented through a comprehensive work plan and activated at a federal level.

During the meeting, Mona Al Marri expressed her appreciation for the continued efforts of the members of the UAE Gender Balance Council since its inception and their commitment to the outcomes and objectives established during the first meeting. Highlighting a number of positive indicators and successes achieved since the Council's first meeting, Mona Al Marri said: "The recent Federal National Council elections witnessed an increase in female representation from 17.5% to 22.5%; the appointment of a woman as the President of the Council for the first time in the history of the UAE and the Arab world; and an increase in female representation in the new cabinet to 27.5%, all of which reflect our leadership's confidence in the ability of women to contribute to national development and their sincere desire to promote women's role in decision-making."

Mona Al Marri also commended the Council's efforts to launch a number of initiatives to promote women's participation in the election process during the preparation period for the last parliamentary elections, in cooperation with the National Election Committee. She highlighted the need for strategies to foster an electoral culture amongst women in preparation for the next elections.

In regards to the UAE's ranking in international reports on gender balance and equality, Mona Al Marri added: "In 2015, the UAE ranked 19th in the Global Gender Gap Report issued by the World Economic Forum, and 1st in the GCC and 2nd in the Arab world in the Gender Inequality Index of the Human Development Report, which means that all of us have a huge responsibility to harness our efforts to enhance women's participation across all sectors, which will further raise the UAE's ranking in international gender balance reports."

The meeting was attended by the members of the UAE Gender Balance Council including: Dr. Abdul Rahim Yousef Al Awadi, Assistant Foreign Minister for Legal Affairs; Abdullah Nasser Lootah, Director-General of the Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Authority; Nasser Al-Hamli, Assistant Under-Secretary of Government Coordination Sector at the Ministry of Presidential Affairs; Abdullah bin Ahmed Al Saleh, Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Economy for Foreign Trade and Industry Affairs; Dr. Abdul Rahman Al Awar, Director General of the Federal Authority for Government Human Resources; Huda Al Hashimi, Assistant to the Director-General for Strategy and Innovation; Naji Al Hai, Acting Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Community Development; and Reem Al Falasi, Secretary General of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood.

The UAE Gender Balance Council was established to reduce the gender gap across all government sectors in the country; enhance the UAE's ranking in global reports on gender equality; and promote gender balance in decision-making positions. The Council also aims to launch innovative initiatives and projects that contribute to greater gender balance, which will position the UAE as a model for gender balance and a benchmark for legislation. – Emirates News Agency, WAM –


Saif bin Zayed issues directions to launch Ministry of Interior Youth Council

posted on 02/05/2016

H.H. Lt. General Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior, has issued a directive to launch a Ministry of Interior 'Youth Council' to support the outstanding energies of youth at the ministry and to empower them in line with future plans; using them to identify the main challenges and to propose appropriate solutions and programmes, as well as to launch initiatives that support the ministry's plans and objectives.

The Ministry of Interior identified the steps, which are characterised as transparent and objective, to select the members of the council, whose ages will range from 20 to 30 years old, and to be selected from all sectors.

The establishment of the Ministry of Interior Youth Council is consistent with the Emirates Youth Council, launched by Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, to promote sustainable communication with the youth of the UAE, to listen to them and be briefed on their ideas and opinions in finding solutions to challenges so that the government can provide a better 'incubator environment' to realise their dreams and aspirations, and enable them to play a key role in the process of construction and prosperity in the UAE. – Emirates News Agency, WAM –


Mohammed bin Rashid attends the 1000 Guineas Classic

posted on 02/05/2016

Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum today attended the 1,000 Guineas Classic at Newmarket racecourse.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed was accompanied by Crown Prince of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and Deputy Ruler of Dubai and UAE Minister of Finance His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

Godolphin's 'Usherette', ridden by M Barzalona and trained by Andrea Fabre, won the Dahlia Stakes and its winning prize was received by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

Favourite 'Minding' galloped to a breath-taking victory in the Fillies Classic, while Handicap Stakes was dominated by the UAE horses, with Taqdeer, owned by Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, finishing first, followed by Godolphin's Prize Money and New Caledonia for Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

The race meeting was attended by a number of Sheikhs, senior officials, owners and fans. – Emirates News Agency, WAM –


National Media Council organises Poetry Evening at Abu Dhabi International Book Fair

posted on 02/05/2016

The National Media Council has organised a Poetry Evening at the 26th edition of the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair, currently running at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company, ADNEC, with the participation of two famous Emirati poets, Ali Al Khawar and Awad Khalifa bin Hasom Al-Darmaki, and introduced by the poet and media personality, Dareen Khalifa.

The Poetry Evening was attended by many people interested in poetry and culture, along with a group of poets and writers from different Arab countries.

Ali Al Khawar's recitations revolved around the meanings of pride, national pride and loyalty, and encompassed a variety of poems of daily stories and topics.

Awad Khalifa bin Hasom Al-Darmaki delivered a collection of poems that characterise symbolism and rely on intensification of similes and imagery.

The poetry evening included discussions and presentations about the importance of poetry readings at book fairs, strengthening the sense of belonging and loyalty among people of the UAE, and the consolidation of the love of the homeland in their hearts, building more bridges with poets from different countries.

During the evening, a documentary film was presented where the Emirati poet Ali Al Khawar, with participation from Dareen Khalifa, delivered the poem, "Adam and Eve", on the occasion of the Sayidaty Magazine Award for Excellence and Innovation Ceremony.

At the end of the evening, the NMC awarded the poets with commemorative shields. – Emirates News Agency, WAM –


Winners of Sheikh Zayed Book Awards honoured in Abu Dhabi

posted on 02/05/2016

Seven winners of the 10th Sheikh Zayed Book Awards were given Dh5.5 million in prizes for their immense cultural contribution to society at a ceremony held at the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair on Sunday evening.

Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, who was accompanied by Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, presented the winners with their awards in the presence of key intellectual and literacy guests.

Six of the winners received Dh750,000 each, a gold medal and a certificate of merit with the exception of the winner for the Cultural Personality of the Year, who received Dh1 million prize.

The Lebanese-born French novelist Amin Maalouf, 2016 Cultural Personality of the Year, was the star of the evening and was praised for his achievements as an exceptional novelist.

In a moving speech, Maalouf thanked everyone who had selected him and said, "The future belongs to all those who love science, arts… the future belongs to those who love books, it belongs to those who love life.” Maalouf was the only winner to give a speech at the ceremony.

Speaking to Gulf News on the side-lines of the ceremony about the importance of the award he said: "It is important to give culture a primary place in society. We tend to give a lot of importance to other aspects of life that are important like politics or economy but culture is sometimes considered secondary while I think one cannot build self-esteem in a society without culture.”

Maalouf was given the award in recognition of his achievement as a novelist, who has conveyed in French some key moments in the history of Arab and other Eastern peoples to the entire world.

He said he was very happy when he learnt that he had won the award and "wanted to come here and meet the marvellous people who thought I deserved this award.”

Speaking about his next project he said, "When I go back to Paris at the end of this month I will begin concentrating on my next book. Like I do always, I isolate myself and then work on a new book.”

Asked what he was going to do with the Dh1 million prize money he joked: "I haven't thought about the money, there is any money?”

The Sheikh Zayed Book Awards are presented every year to outstanding Arab writers, intellectuals, publishers as well as young talents whose writings and translations of humanities have scholarly and objectively enriched Arab cultural, literary and social life.

The Sheikh Zayed Book Awards were established in memory of the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, and his pioneering role in national unity country's development. It is an independent cultural award administered by Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi), with a total monetary value of seven million dirhams. Two categories, the Children's Literature and Young Author, did not meet the awards standards this year and consequently the Board of Trustees opted to withhold the awards allocated to them.

The winners of Sheikh Zayed Book Awards

About Maalouf: Cultural Personality of the Year

Born in 1949, Amin Maalouf, holds a degree in economics and sociology from Beirut University. He worked in the Beirut-based daily Al Nahar newspaper, reporting on international and political affairs. He had first-hand experience of the Lebanese civil war, and then moved to Paris with his wife and children, where he worked for the weekly newspaper Al Nahar Al Arabi and worked at the French Jeune Afrique.

Contribution to the Development of Nations Award: Al-Sarab (The Mirage) by Dr Jamal Sanad Al Suwaidi from UAE.

The Literature Award: Ma Wara'a al-Kitaba (Beyond Writing) by Egyptian novelist Ebrahim Abdul Majeed.

The Literary and Art Criticism Award: Al-Fikr al-Adabi al-‘Arabi (Arabic Literary Thought) by Moroccan Professor Said Yaktine.

The Translation Award: Dr Keyan Yahya from Iraq for The Meaning of Meaning by Ogden and Richards.

The Arab Culture in Other Languages Award: ‘Angles et Grandeur' by Professor Roshdi Rashed from Egypt.

The Publishing and Technology Award: Dar Al Saqi from Lebanon. – Gulf News -


Grammy-winning music legend Julio Iglesias "super excited" about performing in Sharjah

posted on 02/05/2016

The Grammy Award-winning Latin-music legend, Julio Iglesias, is "super excited" about performing for the first time at Al Majaz Amphitheatre in Sharjah this week on Tuesday. "I am very happy and super excited to perform at Al Majaz Amphitheatre in Sharjah as I have been told that this is a great venue and I cannot wait to be there," he said in response to queries from Sharjah Media Centre.

When asked about his relationship with music and what it means to him, the celebrated singer and songwriter said, "Music is my life. I cannot understand life without music. Everything I do in my life is related to music."

Responding to the question if he thought his music resonated with values like peace, friendship, communication and respect, which are championed by Sharjah and the UAE, Iglesias said, "Of course I do. Music is the perfect instrument to bring people together no matter what borders, colour or creed they represent."

Iglesias, who has sold more than 300 million records in 14 languages during his nearly five decades in the business, has 80 albums to his credit, making him one of the best-selling artists of all time. He also happens to be the father of Latin pop sensation, Enrique Iglesias.

He holds two Guinness World Book of Records distinctions for selling the largest number of records in most languages and the Best Selling Male Latin Artist for 2013.

When asked about how he created his music and who influenced him, he said that it is a natural process and that some of the greatest initial influences on him included Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley. "They had a big impact on me and my music," he said.

When asked to name his favourite songs and albums that are closest to his heart, Iglesias said, "I have written so many songs in my life and I consider all the songs I have written my kids, and it is very hard for an artist to choose between his children."

In response to a query on what his fans in the UAE and the region should expect from his first Sharjah concert, and whether there are any surprises in store for his audience, the music legend said, "I would like to keep the surprise a surprise. I can only say that I am happy to be back performing in the UAE and it is going to be great fun."

Asked about his message to his many fans in the UAE and the Middle East, he said, "I am very, very thankful to all my fans in the UAE that throughout all these years, they have kept my music alive in their souls." – Emirates News Agency, WAM –


Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival remains a top draw

posted on 02/05/2016

The Sharjah Children's Reading Festival (SCRF) concluded its eighth edition on Saturday, with the event attracting 254,000 visitors over 11 days.

The figure represents an 18 per cent increase on the attendance figures for last year's event. The region's leading literary festival for young people, which ran from April 20-30 at Expo Centre Sharjah, featured a line-up of 1,518 events spanning reading activities, interactive workshops and entertainment shows, all of which had been formulated to develop children's talents and enrich their knowledge.

This year's SCRF, organised by Sharjah Book Authority (SBA), was held under the theme ‘Shine Out,' with the event coinciding with the UAE's ‘Year of Reading 2016' initiative launched by President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

During his visit to the festival, His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, allocated Dh2.5 million to provide more books for children and young people at Sharjah's public, school and university libraries.

Ahmad Bin Rakkad Al Ameri, Chairman of SBA, said; "The eighth edition of Sharjah Children's Reading Festival was a success, as evidenced by its 18 per cent increase in the number of visitors compared with last year's edition. Its high level of attendance over the 11 days is testament to its importance as a cultural platform that instils a love of reading in children and encourages them to view books as their friends and a source of great pleasure in their lives.”

Al Ameri added that the overwhelming response to the festival from children, families, teachers, school administrators and all stakeholders concerned with children's reading, could only inspire SBA to continue to add new events and services in the coming years to meet the interests of younger visitors and keep pace with the spirit of the age. He said that the SBA would redouble its efforts to ensure that the festival remains a creative and educational environment for children in the UAE, as well as for visitors from fraternal countries.

Highlighting another first for the festival, Al Ameria added: "SCRF launched the world's first virtual reality book at SCRF 2016, which enables the child to engage with its events and be influenced by its characters directly. We adopted the use of digital virtual technology in books with the aim of attracting children and encouraging them to read by taking advantage of their passion for technology and its latest developments.”

SCRF 2016 drew 130 publishers from 15 countries. The UAE topped the list with 55 publishing houses, followed by Lebanon with 25 and Egypt with 20. Canada, China, India and the United Kingdom were among the many other countries that had a significant presence at this year's festival. Books in several languages were displayed, most notably Arabic, English, French, Hindi and Urdu. – Gulf News -