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Dubai gets higher resolution update on Google Earth

posted on 02/07/2016

Aerial views of the famous Palm and World islands, as well as the rest of Dubai, are now sharper than ever, thanks to the latest satellite imagery released recently by Google.

Google has updated its Google Earth app with fresh cloud-free and seamless imagery from NASA's Landsat 8 satellite, allowing users to view the planet's landscape in "greater detail, truer colour".

In the new view of the emirate, details like the fronds of The Palm Jumeirah or the shape of The World islands are much clearer.

”With this new update to Google Earth, users around the world will now see an even more beautiful, seamless and sharper than ever version of Dubai,” a Google spokesperson told Gulf News.

The fresh images can now be accessed through all of Google's mapping products. Users can simply open up Google Earth or turn on the satellite layer in Google Maps.

The clearer images are also made possible through the use of new processing techniques.

"Satellite images are often cloudy, but not always over the same place, so we looked at millions of images and took the clearest pixels to stitch together this cloud-free and seamless image,” Chris Herwig, program manager, Google Earth Engine, wrote in his blog.

Landsat 8 was launched into orbit in 2013. It's considered more superior than its predecessors, capturing twice as many images as Landsat 7. "This new rendition of Earth uses the most recent data available -- mostly from Landsat 8 -- making it our freshest global mosaic to date," wrote Herwig.

"Our previous mosaic used imagery from Landsat 7 only, which at the time was the best image of its kind. Unfortunately, Landsat 7 images captured after 2003 were affected by a hardware failure, resulting in large diagonal gaps of missing data." – Gulf News -


UAE candidates for Mars mission could soon taste-test Red Planet crops

posted on 02/07/2016

Martian food will soon be on the menu for potential astronauts, including two from the UAE, who are in the race to travel to the Red Planet in 2026.

As part of the Mars One project, scientists from Wageningen University and Research Centre in the Netherlands were able to grow food in Martian-like soil that is safe for human beings to eat.

Radishes, peas, rye and tomatoes were among the 10 crops the experiment was able to yield without containing dangerous levels of heavy metals present on Mars, such as aluminium, iron, cadmium zinc and lead. If the level of heavy metals in the soil is too high, crops become poisonous.

"These results are very promising," said senior ecologist Dr Wieger Wamelink. "We can ¬actually eat the radishes, peas, rye and tomatoes and I am very curious what they will taste like."

It will cost about €25,000 (Dh102,278) to test the remaining six crops, including potatoes. Project participants will be first to eat the "Martian vegetables".

"We have to be aware that some plants take up heavy metals and [although] they may look nice, they will be inedible because they will be toxic," said Mikolaj Zielinski, a Polish astronaut candidate representing the UAE.

"So we have to learn how to grow and add nutrition extracts to Martian soil.

"Growing, preparing, monitoring and making sure it'll be safe is what will be challenging, and that's more exciting."

Nutritionists said that checking the nutrient content of food and water and monitoring levels of heavy metals in the soil would be vital on the mission, during which astronauts will suffer a ¬decrease in muscle mass and bone density.

"The biggest danger is heavy metal contamination through crop harvesting, which is so far under control," said Stephanie Nammar, an independent clinical dietician and nutritionist, who founded the nutrition website in Dubai.

"Other risks might be the water quality and the nutrient content of Martian food, which should be equal to normal foods in vitamins and minerals. Exercise and nutrition are the best countermeasures to adjust to life under gravity on the Mars surface." Gravity on the Red Planet is less than 40 per cent of that on Earth.

She said aquaponics – a system in which plants are fed on fish waste – could be a solution to heavy metal poisoning because plants would be grown in water rather than soil.

Heavy metals are "known to induce organ damage, even at lower levels of exposure", Ms Nammar said. "They are classified as human carcinogens according to the US Environmental Protection Agency. It is very hard to get rid of heavy metals. Once they reach the toxic level, there is no turning back."

Although the human body is constantly exposed to different levels of heavy metals from the environment, it has a built-in ¬detoxification system that helps us to flush them out, and limiting exposure is key.

"They need to make sure that their immune system and detoxification systems are working at their best so in case they are exposed, they can clean it out efficiently," said Caroline Kanaan, a nutritionist at Child Early Intervention Medical Centre in Dubai.

The right balance of minerals in the soil to decrease the risk of toxicity was an issue to watch, she said.

"Selenium is a mineral that should be considered [essential] to have in sufficient amounts," she said. "On Earth, there are ¬already some widespread selenium deficiencies in the soil that may be contributing to health problems.

"It would be important to have a standard for the minimum amount of minerals in the food in addition to the maximum."

Another challenge is that the four crops grown so far are lacking in protein.

"Additional legumes and grains, such as chickpeas and beans, must be added to the diet, along with food containing probiotics like yoghurt," Ms Nammar said.

"Some studies show that friendly gut bacteria found in probiotics cleanse the body of heavy metals. Meat is hard to have on Mars because it involves a lot of space, needs a food source and energy.

"But chicken is a better option, because they are easier to handle. A healthy diet consists of having proteins, carbohydrates, fats and fibres." – The National -


Twenty-year-old woman becomes first Emirati from NYUAD to receive Fulbright scholarship

posted on 02/07/2016

A 20-year-old economics and theatre graduate has become the first Emirati from New York University Abu Dhabi to receive the coveted Fulbright scholarship to study in the US.

Come September, Sara Bahermez will be packing her bags for Maryland to begin a two-year graduate programme at Towson University.

"I'm excited to work and study with the incredibly highly esteemed faculty members at Towson University, whom I know will challenge me toward further growth," said the class of 2016 graduate.

The Fulbright programme was founded in 1946 in Washington DC to provide a bridge between the US and the world.

It now reaches out to more than 160 countries, with the UAE having sent its first scholar in 2006.

Ms Bahermez said the strong foundation provided by her alma mater, the Mohammed bin Zayed Scholarship and her family were the reasons she could continue her higher education.

"I look to my family, who have been incredibly supportive in my educational endeavours and who pushed me to strive toward zenith and pave my own path," she said.

Under the scholarship Ms Bahermez's tuition, housing, living costs and an annual round-trip flight will be covered by the US State Department.

Annually, the programme provides 8,000 grants and, of those, roughly 1,600 are US students, 4,000 are foreign students, 1,200 US scholars and 900 are visiting scholars.

Of the more than 360,000 past recipients, 54 have won Nobel Prizes and 82 have won Pulitzer Prizes.

Ms Bahermez added: "I look forward to using my higher education and Fulbright experience to be an active participant in the transformative economy and ever-growing global culture in the UAE." – The National -


Demand for power, water in Abu Dhabi to rise to 962 million gallons, 19630 megawatts in 2023: Officials

posted on 02/07/2016

Abu Dhabi officials yesterday said demand for water and electricity in the emirate of Abu Dhabi is expected to rise to 962 million gallons per day and 19630 megawatts, respectively, by 2023, officials of the Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority (ADWEA) noted yesterday during a seminar held at Al Bateen Majlis.

Based on this outlook the utility is acting on directives from the leaders to meet the increasing residential and industrial demand for power with new projects, Chairman of ADEWA, Abdullah Ali Musleh Al Ahbabi, said during a seminar, titled "Together to Save our Natural Resources". A group of senior officials were in attendance.

He recalled that His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, had said (in December 2011) that water is more important than oil in the United Arab Emirates.

Al Ahbabi further noted that Abu Dhabi also meets part of the demand for power and water in other emirates.

Acting Managing Director of the Abu Dhabi Distribution Company (ADDC), Saeed Mohammed Al Suwaidi, said 500 million gallons of water, with a quality of 96 percent (one of the world's highest rates) are pumped every day to the emirate's residential, government, industrial, commercial and agricultural sectors.

The current capacity of the emirate's power station stands at 6000 megawatts per hour, he said.

In Abu Dhabi, scarcity of natural resources, population growth, expanding urban development, rising demand for power and water, as well as the environmental footprint and high costs of power and water production, all pose fundamental challenges to the emirate's water and electricity sector, Al Suwaidi noted. - Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Mauritania inaugurates Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Street

posted on 02/07/2016

NOUAKCHOUTT: Mauritanian Minister of Interior and Decentralisation, Ahmedou Ould Abdallah, on Thursday inaugurated a 30-kilometre street named after Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Street, the late founder of the UAE, to connect the centre of the capital with the International Umm Al Tunisi Airport, which went under construction work a few days ago.

The inauguration ceremony was attended by Ambassador of the UAE to Mauritanian, Eisa Abdullah Al Kalbani, Mauritanian ministers of economics and development; finance; habitat, urban affairs and territorial administration; equipment and transport; the Wali (governor) of Nouakchott, the Saudi ambassador to Mauritania, and other figures.

In a speech, President of the Urban Community of Nouakchott, Maty Mint Hamady, paid a tribute to the late Sheikh Zayed who passed away in the last ten days of Ramadan in 2004. She said the late leader left behind a rich humanitarian legacy that benefited all people without any discrimination. He was a humanitarian leader who transformed the UAE into an oasis for giving, charity, solidarity and generosity.

She said that by giving this name to the street, President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, the government and the Urban Community of Nouakchott wanted perpetuate the memory of the late Sheikh Zayed for serving his country, the Arab nation and humanity and promoting the culture of charity.

Ambassador Al Kalbani thanked Mauritanian for naming the street in Nouakchott after the late UAE leader, which, he noted, greatly enriches the occasion.

Paying a tribute to the late leader, the Ambassador said Sheikh Zayed will always be remembered because of the good deeds he did for the UAE, the Arab Nation, the Muslim Nation and the whole world.

He added that the initiative reflects the strong growth of fraternal ties between the UAE and Mauritania, thanks to the directives of the leaders of the two countries, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz.

The UAE ambassador further noted that the inauguration of the new street coincides with the Arab Summit, to be held this month in Nouakchott. - Emirates News Agency, WAM -


TRA educates guardians to guard children against online blackmail

posted on 02/07/2016

The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) has urged users of social networking sites and guardians to safeguard privacy on social networking sites to protect children from exposure to blackmail.

This announcement was made at a symposium attended by the TRA on online blackmail. It was organised in cooperation with the Dubai Police's Al Amin Service and the Community Development Authority in Dubai at Rashidiya Majlis to educate parents about online blackmail involving children, which results from the unsafe use of the Internet in general and social networking sites in particular.

The TRA directed mothers to use parental control applications and review games and applications pre-loaded on smart devices.

The symposium covered four major themes, technical, security, legal and social issues, in addition to discussing the Child Protection Act axis. It highlighted the most important procedures to be followed by parents in protecting their children from electronic extortion attempts and maintaining the privacy of social networking site users in general.

It cautioned against compromising privacy, noting that blackmailers select their victims based on the information they publish on social networking sites, such as personal data, images, and geographic location. The forum also warned of terrorist groups that draw children and the youth using social networking sites.

The symposium stressed that the UAE law criminalises more than 52 activities involving social networking sites, including extortion, fraud, defamation and abuse of the state and others, calling for public access to the state's laws and legislation through the "UAE legislation" application. - Emirates News Agency, WAM -


UAE denounces terrorist attack in Bahrain

posted on 02/07/2016

The UAE has strongly condemned the terrorist blast which caused the death of a woman and left her three children injured in the Kingdom of Bahrain's East Ekr.

H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation condemned in the strongest possible terms "this heinous terrorist crime that targeted unsuspecting people in contrary to all human values, the principles and tenets of Islamic Shari'a." He also denounced all attempts to justify terrorism and incitement.

In a statement, the UAE minister asserted full support and solidarity with the Kingdom of Bahrain "in the face of such serious terrorist crimes against the security of the kingdom, its stability and unity of its national fabric."

Sheikh Abdullah called for stepping up concerted efforts at all levels to counter terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.

He extended the UAE's heartfelt condolences to the leadership, government and people of the Kingdom of Bahrain, as well as to the victim's family. Sheikh Abdullah also extended the UAE's wishes for speedy recovery of the injured children. May Almighty Allah protect the Kingdom of Bahrain from all evils. - Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Flyover opens to Abu Dhabi-bound traffic

posted on 02/07/2016

The second half of the Shaikh Zayed Road flyover opened for traffic on Friday morning.

The 16-lane flyover bridge, which is part of the Dubai Water Canal project, has been under construction since November 2014.

In January this year, the Roads and Transportation Authority (RTA) had opened the first part of the flyover — Sharjah-bound — for traffic.

On Friday, the other six lanes of the Abu Dhabi-bound bridge were opened, while two more lanes are expected to open mid-July.

The 800-metre-long flyover, located near Interchange two on Shaikh Zayed Road, rises up to 8.5 metres, allowing yachts and boats to operate underneath.

The opening of the flyover fully will allow for the remaining canal drilling work underneath.

Once ready, the 16-lane flyover will take motorists eight metres over Dubai Canal, a man-made waterway that will cut across Shaikh Zayed Road, Al Wasl Road and Jumeirah Road before emptying into the sea.

Mattar Al Tayer, Director-General and Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of RTA, had said in a previous statement that, "by opening the southern bridge, RTA has effectively completed all works listed under Phase 1 of the Dubai Water Canal project”.

Phase 1 included construction of an 800-metre-long flyover on the Shaikh Zayed Road comprising eight lanes in each direction, building a traffic diversion on Shaikh Zayed Road to allow for the construction of the flyover, besides shifting the utility lines in the vicinity.

"This bridge is characterised by a unique design with waterfalls flowing from the top, and smart lighting fixtures controlled via a dedicated app supported by a database for tracking the lighting condition, and sharing information and operational commands. A full coverage is provided all over the place enabling RTA to interact with the social media through 3G technology,” Al Tayer had said.

In June, the RTA opened Al Wasl Road flyover comprising three lanes in the direction of Dubai and two lanes in the direction of Abu Dhabi in addition to two lanes for serving the traffic coming from Al Wasl Road heading to Al Athaar Road.

He added: "Once the three flyovers crossing the canal are open, the contractor of Phase III will complete the canal digging works underneath the flyovers, besides building quay walls of the canal, constructing three footbridges linking the two banks of the canal at distinctive locations, and setting up 10 marine transit stations.”

Work will also include landfilling to build an artificial peninsula along the Jumeirah Park that will double the beach line of the park, increase the park area, and make a room for more leisure activities. – Gulf News -


Khalifa Foundation launches phase one of Iftar Project at Al Aqsa Mosque

posted on 02/07/2016

Al QUDS: The Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation yesterday launched the first phase of the Iftar Project, providing meals for those who are fasting at the Al Aqsa Mosque.

This comes in implementation of the directives of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and the follow up of H.H. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs and Chairman of the Foundation.

A spokesman at the organisation said that 9,000 meals will be provided throughout the project, adding that yesterday, 2,500 meals were served to Palestinian families in the Al Aqsa Mosque. The meals contained basic food items, including rice, chicken, dates, water, and juice.

The beneficiaries expressed their gratitude to the UAE and its leadership on this yearly humanitarian gesture. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -