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Solar Impulse 2 arrives back in Abu Dhabi after completing first ever zero-fuel flight around the world

posted on 26/07/2016

Solar Impulse 2 landed at 4 a.m. on Tuesday at Abu Dhabi's Al Bateen Airport, after flying around the world without using a single drop of fuel.

The plane finally completed its circumnavigation of the globe using only solar energy after what proved to be the one of the journey's most difficult legs, as pilot Bertrand Piccard had to battle turbulence throughout the flight, arriving back in Abu Dhabi, where Solar Impulse started in March last year, after taking off from Cairo on Sunday and flying for about 48 hours.

With co-pilot Andre Borschberg, Piccard has flown more than 40,000 kilometres and for more than 500 hours during the 16 legs of the Masdar-sponsored adventure. Along the way, the Swiss duo broke eight records, and the landing in Abu Dhabi was put in the books as the ninth, being the completion of the first round-the-world flight using zero fossil fuels and only the power of the sun.

Speaking to reporters, Mr Piccard said, "This was a life-long journey for me. This was a moment that I dreamt about and that I wanted to share with everyone in a message that the future is clean."

On Monday, the Masdar Chief Executive spoke to Mr Piccard, telling him that His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, "has been following up on all steps taken since the departure of Solar Impulse from Abu Dhabi, and he sends you his best regards and welcomes you back to Abu Dhabi".

According to today's edition of The National, the return flight to Abu Dhabi proved to be one of the most difficult legs of the journey. Aside from not sleeping, Mr Piccard had to stabilise the plane at less-than-ideal situations throughout the flight. To calm his nerves, the team held a small concert with violinist Zhang Zhang performing live in the mission control room in Monaco, broadcasting live to the pilot.

However, the flight was more emotional than it was difficult, Piccard said. He addressed the team directly to expressed his gratitude. "I thank you so much for having trusted me in something that was completely crazy," he said. "You are always with me in the cockpit. You chose adventure, you chose exploration, you chose to do something amazing, and I thank you so much. In the beginning, I did not know if it was a good idea. I think it became a great idea, thanks to you, and thanks for all the people who came with me."

Piccard spent time reflecting on the significance of the solar aircraft, saying, "I can look at the four motors, I can see them energised on nothing but the sun," he said just before his last momentous landing. "I look at it and it is like science fiction, it is like magic, but this is the reality and the future."

After landing, Mr Piccard made his rounds hugging the members of his team at the airport as the Solar Impulse was towed into the makeshift hangar for the last time. - Emirates News Agency, WAM –


Government services should exceed expectations of customers, says Mohamed bin Zayed

posted on 26/07/2016

His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, has underlined that the efficiency and excellence were the key components of the government services' delivery.

He added that the government services, which meet the needs of people, must exceed expectations of customers and beneficiaries, and should take lead when setting the development plans and programmes based on fast, distinguished and efficient delivery of the services in various departments and institutions.

Sheikh Mohamed said, "The work, performance and efficiency do not have a specific time as they are ongoing and continuous processes."

The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi made the remarks while receiving the Abu Dhabi Farmers' Services Centre staff accompanied by Khalifa Mohammad Al Mazrouei, Under-Secretary of the Department of Municipal Affairs and Transport and Chairman of the Board of the Abu Dhabi Farmers' Services Centre.

He added, "There are plenty of simple factors, but they are important and essential in the delivery of services and have good impact on the customers," stressing that "Our duty in this life is to serve the people and fulfil their aspirations."

Sheikh Mohamed said that the government sectors have resources, support and capability to speed up the delivery of services with efficiency in a manner that makes them compete efficiently with their counterparts in the private sector in service of people.

"Progress in the field of competition is clarity of vision, competence and dedication to achieving better results," he said.

Sheikh Mohamed commended the centre for its services and programmes in the development and regulation of the agricultural sector in order to serve the overall development process. - Emirates News Agency, WAM –


Nouakchott Declaration stresses centrality of Palestinian issue, calls for developing counter-terrorism mechanisms

posted on 26/07/2016

NOUAKCHOTT: The Arab leaders stressed yesterday in the conclusion of the Nouakchott Summit, held in Mauritania, their commitment to developing anti-terrorism mechanisms, boosting security and peace, warding off the culture of extremism and hate speech.

The Nouakchott Declaration emphasised the centrality of the Palestinian issue and urged for comprehensive, just and durable peace based on the Arab initiative.

The 27th Arab summit discussed a number of conflicts, especially in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Libya, and also discussed plans and initiatives to enhance the Arab cooperation.

The Arab leaders welcomed the French initiative that calls for convening an international peace conference before the end of this year. They noted that before the conference all the Israeli settlement activities must be halted to help achieve the Palestinian people's dream of establishing their independent and sovereign state with East Jerusalem as its capital in accordance with the time frame.

The communique called on the parties in Libya to pursue building of state to deal with terrorist groups. It appealed to the parties in Yemen to give dialogue a chance and work out of Kuwait with positive results to restore Yemen's security, stability and its territorial integrity at the earliest.

The communique called Syrians to reach a political solution that preserves the unity of Syria, and safeguards its independence. It supports Iraq to preserve its territorial integrity and backs it in the face of terrorist groups to liberate its territory from the Daesh terrorist organisation.

The leaders welcomed the progress made regarding the Somali national reconciliation and the rebuilding of state institutions. They stressed their solidarity with the Republic of Sudan in its efforts to promote peace and development and in safeguarding its national sovereignty. They welcomed the national dialogue process, and ongoing efforts related to activating the Sudan's initiative on the Arab food security as one of the Arab national security pillars.

The Arab leaders backed the Arab and international humanitarian relief efforts to provide urgent relief aid to those affected by wars and conflicts, be they refugees or displaced people. They also called for developing the Arab humanitarian relief work mechanisms to meet urgent humanitarian needs and help those affected and the host countries.

They renewed their call for obliging Israel to join The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), and to subject its nuclear facilities and programmes to the international inspection and the comprehensive safeguards system. The Arab leaders also called for making the Middle East free from the weapons of mass destruction. - Emirates News Agency, WAM –


Liwa Dates Festival contributes to UAE dates becoming the world's most wanted

posted on 26/07/2016

Some 35 government and private companies have set up pavilions in the exhibition area of Liwa Dates Festival, promoting the latest trends and achievements in the business of dates.

Among the active participants in the festival are: Al Dhafra, one of UAE's largest dates company, which recently reported that the Emirates are now the world's biggest exporter of dates exceeding 100,000 tons per year; the UAE University, which has a dedicated research programme for the cultivation of date palm trees and Talah Board, a new company that wants to turn discarded palm tree fronds, which usually end up in landfills, into wooden boards, something that has never been done before. The company is now at the festival to convince farmers to give them their palm waste, for which they will even get a bit of cash: AED 85 per ton when collected or AED 150 per ton when delivered by farmers to Talah Board's factory in Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi (Kizad).

There is also the Abu Dhabi Farmers Services Centre, which six years ago was the first to show farmers here how to prune, treat and care for date palms.

"When we first started cutting down infected bits of the palms and pruning them, farmers got very angry with us, thinking we are damaging their trees. We even got death threats! Now they all know how to better care for the palms and they are teaching their friends and neighbours," said a representative of the Centre.

One of the farmers working with the Centre, Saleh Al Mansouri, brought to the festival his - and UAE's - first harvest of dates grown using hydroponics, an agricultural method using water mixed with nutrients instead of soil to grow plants.

"I have 32 types of fruit trees in my farm in Liwa, including 30 palm trees. Hydroponics is an ideal system for our environment as it saves 90% of water from irrigation, and it doesn't affect the quality of the fruit," he said.

Not just orchards, but vegetables greenhouses and even a fish farm are in Mansouri's "backyard".

Liwa, Madinat Zayed and Al Ain are the cradle of UAE's date palm farming, and while they are also oasis of centuries old Emirati traditions, when it comes to agriculture, modernity is heartily welcomed.

Now in its 12th year, the Liwa Dates Festival, organised by the Cultural Programmes and Heritage Festivals Committee - Abu Dhabi -this July 20 - 30 in Mazeirah, the main town of Western Region's Liwa Oasis, has had a major impact on raising the bar on date palm farming.

It did so by substantially awarding the best produced dates and the best kept farms.

"One of the condition to win a best dates award is the state of the farm. When judges choose the best dates entered in the competition, they go to inspect the farm, which adds to the final score. They look at the general aspect of the farm, at irrigation efficiency - not to waste water - and whether it uses pesticides and other chemicals, which we strongly advise against," explained Abdullah Butti Al Qubaisi, Director of Projects Management and Communication at the Committee.

"Over the years, we witnessed great improvements in farming practices and, as a result, the quality of dates has improved too," he added.

"Furthermore, winning at Liwa Dates Festival is not just about the financial prize. Winners become well known and their dates get highly demanded on the market," Al Qubaisi also said.

It is this circle of wealth - sustainable, healthy agricultural methods that produce high quality dates that yield greater financial income - that is the ultimate aim of Liwa Dates Festival: to help the economy of Al Gharbia while preserving and enliven its deeply rooted heritage.

Thus, the festival not only awards the best 15 positions in 10 ratab (half ripe dates) competitions with top prizes varying from AED 50,000 for Biggest Etheg - branch of dates to AED 200,000 for Best Nukhba - basket of mixed ratab, but it also encourages heritage related arts and crafts, through competitions, but also through the traditional souk, where Emirati women get to sell their handicrafts and traditional products. - Emirates News Agency, WAM –


SEDD promotes Sharjah as sustainable economic destination

posted on 26/07/2016

The Sharjah Economic Development Department (SEDD) is promoting Sharjah as a sustainable economic destination.

The SEDD has participated in different local and international exhibitions and forums in the first half of this year.

The department works on preparing and implying the economic plans, conducting economic studies, introducing investment systems, and providing the appropriate investment atmosphere by facilitating procedures on investors. It also works to strengthen trade and investment cooperation with the counterparts from various regional and international countries. – Gulf News -


TDIC awards Jawaher Saadiyat main construction contract to Al Jaber Building

posted on 26/07/2016

The Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC), master developer of major tourism, cultural and residential destinations in Abu Dhabi, announced yesterday that it has awarded the main construction contract for Jawaher Saadiyat to Al Jaber Building LLC, following a competitive tendering process.

The contract is valued at AED 370 million and the project is on a 24-month delivery from mobilisation on site.

Ali Majed Al Mansoori, TDIC's Chairman of the Board, said, "We are pleased to announce the awarding of the main contract for Jawaher Saadiyat, the latest residential community at the Saadiyat Beach District, which adds to Saadiyat's appeal as a destination of choice in the market. TDIC has already received much interest from investors for Jawaher due to its prime location overlooking the Saadiyat golf course and the sense of exclusivity it offers to residents. We are confident that once completed, it will drive demand for our real estate offerings on Saadiyat even further."

Obaid Khaleefa Al Jaber Al Marri, Chairman of Al Jaber Group said, " We are proud to be chosen by TDIC to execute this project. Having previously developed more than 7,000 villas in numerous prestigious projects, Al Jaber Building is looking forward to join hands with TDIC to develop yet another great milestone."

Located within the Saadiyat Beach District and overlooking the spectacular views of the Saadiyat Beach Golf Club, Jawaher Saadiyat will feature 83 exclusive units comprising 4 to 6 bedroom villas and 4-bedroom townhouses designed in a contemporary and modern style. The villas' built-up area ranges from 636 to 1,268 square metres, and include two to four shaded car parks. The townhouses built-up area ranges from 462 to 464 square metres and include two shaded car parks. - Emirates News Agency, WAM –


Aldar Properties eyes Al Ain as key growth market

posted on 26/07/2016

Aldar Properties PJSC (Aldar), Abu Dhabi's leading listed property development, investment and management company, views Al Ain as a key expansion market for its retail portfolio, driven by its significant local population and vibrant business landscape.

According to Urban Planning Council's "Plan Al Ain 2030", the city population will witness a 3 fold- increase over the next two decades. As a result, driven by strong consumer demand, the city's retail sector is set for rapid growth as retail space per resident is expected to increase to approximately 1.115 square meters by 2030.

Al Ain's strong fundamentals and its cultural significance within the Emirate of Abu Dhabi have led it to become a key destination for Aldar's development strategy with the Garden City playing host to Al Jimi Mall, Remal Mall, Shabhat Plaza, and its residential development – Oyoun Village.

Al Jimi Mall, Al Ain's first and favourite shopping and entertainment destination attracting 8 million visitors annually, is currently undergoing in massive expansion programme to add a further 65 stores, including a 10-screen cinema, and a retail park to the existing 94 outlets, bringing the total leasable area to 75,000sqm. The Mall will be expanded to include some of the world's leading retailers. The expansion project is set to be completed in 2018.

Remal Mall is a unique shopping destination designed to integrate traditional Arabic architecture with a number modern features throughout. The mall's gross floor area is approximately 128,890 m2, occupied by flagship brands, a hypermarket, and a food court. Remal Mall currently has more than 175 outlets with a total leasable area of 46,920sqm, hosting many local and international brands .

Aldar Properties' additional assets in Al Ain include the Shabhat Plaza and Al Oyoun Village, both community-based retail experience. Shabhat Plaza development is located approximately 10km to the south of Al Ain city centre.

The residential neighbourhood consists of 1,045 units for UAE nationals, in addition to a full range of educational, health and retail facilities. Al Oyoun Village is specifically designed for families and strategically situated on the fringes of Al Ain next to the Al Ain Sports Club. Consisting of 148 villas of detached and semi-detached townhouses, this neighbourhood offers a visually appealing mix of traditional Arabic and contemporary influences in addition to being located near to Remal Mall. At the heart of this homely community, residents can enjoy an exclusive clubhouse that includes access to a gym, swimming pool, tennis courts and other sports facilities.

Talal Al Dhiyebi, Chief Development Officer at ALDAR Properties PJSC, commented, "Al Ain is traditionally known for its natural heritage, and the unique lifestyle it offers residents. The growing retail sector is supporting evidence of how the city is evolving to become a cultural and community hub. At Aldar, our ambition in Al Ain is to complement the existing entertainment and lifestyle amenities in the city to offer visitors a memorable shopping and leisure experience." - Emirates News Agency, WAM –


Mobile restaurants to be allowed by ADDED but with special requirements

posted on 26/07/2016

The Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development, ADDED, has issued a decision that allows the licensing of restaurants that provide their services through mobile vehicles, subject to there being an existing restaurant or foodstuff catering license that is either owned 100% by a UAE citizen or with a local partner.

Mohamed Munif Al Mansouri, Executive Director of ADDED's Abu Dhabi Business Centre, said that this decision reflects ADDED's commitment to promote the contribution of service activities across the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, creating additional services for community members in the emirate.

He stressed that ADDED's permission for such activities was coordinated with several government bodies, including the Department of Municipal Affairs and Transport, Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority, ADFCA, the Civil Defence General Directorate and Abu Dhabi Traffic Department.

Al Mansouri added that the decision will be subject to several conditions and controls that would regulate the licensing of mobile vehicle restaurants. It will start with the initial approval from ADDED's Commercial Protection Directorate, an approval that doesn't allow the client to start practicing business until the final permit is issued by ADDED's Permits and Advertising Section.

"ADDED's Directorate of Commercial Protection will be mandated to decide on the locations where vehicles or trucks can practice this activity and to cancel such a permit if it detects any violation by the licensee. Moreover, there are certain specifications to be observed by vehicle manufacturers as they should be exclusively designed to practice such an activity," added Mr Mansouri.

He pointed out that all ADDED branches will receive applications for mobile restaurants permits which will be sent to the ADDED Headquarters for initial approval while clients complete other requirements and procedures for this activity.

Ahmed Tarish Al Qubaisi, Acting Director of ADDED's Directorate of Commercial Protection, said that there are several stages for the issuance of a permit for such an activity, starting with the client's review of the application form on the inquiry page on the ADDED website, which includes all requirements and controls for practicing the activity.

He noted that clients who wish to apply for a permit for mobile restaurants should abide by a number of important commitments, including refraining from parking in unpermitted locations, selling unpermitted items, using a vehicle that is not compliant with the specifications, non-commitment to the set timings, continuing for extra hours, leaving waste in the location, producing noise or loud music, putting tables and chairs outside dedicated places, putting unpermitted stickers or advertisements, or performing the service on public roads and causing traffic jams.

He added that the Directorate of Commercial Protection will review clients' applications to decide approval or refusal as per the terms and conditions. Once approved, the application is referred to the Permits and Advertisements Section which will issue letters to external bodies for their approvals, followed by the final permit from the Permits and Advertisements Section.

Al Qubaisi concluded by saying that ADDED is now developing comprehensive software that covers all the procedures for issuing a permit for mobile restaurant activity as part of the e-services package provided to clients on practicing commercial activities across the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. - Emirates News Agency, WAM –


DFM Company posts net profit of AED 139.6 million during first half of 2016

posted on 26/07/2016

Dubai Financial Market (PJSC) yesterday announced its financial results for the first half of the year ending 30 June 2016, recording a net profit of AED 139.6 Million, compared to AED 200 million during the corresponding period of 2015, a 30% decrease.

The net profit of the second quarter of 2016 reached AED 53.5 Million, a 60% decrease compared to Q2- 2015 level of AED 132.4 Million.

The Company recorded a total revenue of AED 227 Million in H1-2016 compared to AED 292.6 Million during H1- 2015. The revenue comprised of AED 184.8 Million of operating income and AED 42.2 Million of investment returns. The Company expenses reached AED 92.7 Million compared to AED 92.5 Million recorded during H1-2015.

During the second quarter of 2016, the Company's revenue reached AED 100 Million compared to AED 178.1 Million in the second quarter of 2015, whilst expenses amounted at AED 46.5 Million in the same period compared to AED 45.7 Million during Q2- 2015.

The DFM trading value declined 32.7% to AED 69.5 Billion during the first six months of this year compared to AED 103.4 Billion in the corresponding period of last year. Trading commissions represent the main revenue stream of the DFM Company.

Essa Kazim, Chairman of Dubai Financial Market (PJSC) said: "The slowdown in trading activity during the first half of 2016 has overshadowed the revenue and profit of the DFM Company. Meanwhile, the market has demonstrated a high level of resiliency considering the unfavourable circumstances of lower oil prices as well as international markets' volatility.

The DFM General Index has been one of the best performing amongst leading indices globally advancing more than 5% during the first half. Additionally, foreign investors (Excluding Arabs and GCC Nationals) have increased their participation on the market from 16% during the first half of 2015 to 17% during the same period of 2016 and they were net buyers of AED 1.4 Billion, a 53.6% increase, which clearly underlines their growing confidence in the market."

Commenting on DFM's drive to build a new headquarter in the Business Bay, Essa Kazim said, "Preparations are underway to outline necessary plans for the implementation including engaging project managers and advisors. We are looking for front-line premises that serves the objectives of DFM and its participants including; brokerage firms, financial services' advisors, custodians and other service providers. We are emphasising on building a smart and sustainable headquarter in line with our "Smart Borse" strategy and the leading position of Dubai as a global financial hub."

The DFM has received a cost-free plot of land exceeding 10 thousands square meters with approximate value of AED 231 Million from Dubai Properties in order to build the new headquarter.

Highlighting some of the first half's milestones, Essa Kazim said, "The DFM maintained its development efforts aimed at enhancing market infrastructure and regulations as per international practices. Within this context, DFM has launched the "Direct Deals Service" to streamline bulk deals on shares of a listed company within a fair and transparent environment while exempted from the price cap in effect (15% up and 10% down). Furthermore, DFM's efforts to provide investors with new financial instruments have gain momentum as the market recorded AED 527 million of trading in Rights Issues of three listed companies, which clearly indicates investors' momentous interest towards this new tool."

He added that the market also welcomed the listing of Afkar Capital's Exchange-Traded Fund (ETF) end of June in a first of its kind step. This development reinforces DFM's strategy of innovation and diversification and provides investors with an alternative investment tool to access some of the leading listed companies in the UAE."

During the first half of this year, DFM has successfully accomplished the Cash Dividend Distribution for the financial year 2015 for the fifth consecutive year. AED 10.5 billion of cash dividend has been disseminated to 223,000 investors. The number of listed companies that have outsourced the dividend distribution process to DFM increased from 13 companies during the previous year to 26 companies this year.

In addition to this, the DFM organised its International Investor Roadshow in London last May as part of its constant efforts to further strengthen links between listed companies and international investors. The roadshow has achieved outstanding success as international institutions expressed its plans to further strengthen their presence in Dubai's capital market amidst growing confidence towards the national economy's outlook and ability to maintain high growth as well as its great resilience in adapting with global developments due to its enormously diversified structure that includes various dynamic and highly growing sectors. - Emirates News Agency, WAM –


Growth for Abu Dhabi’s Etihad helps to fuel US economy

posted on 26/07/2016

Etihad Aviation Group on Monday put a value on its contribution to the US economy fuelled by the expansion of the airline and its hub in Abu Dhabi.

In a report commissioned from Oxford Economics, a UK research firm, EAG reckoned its economic contribution to be US$10.7 billion, including supporting 108,000 jobs across the US.

The report comes at a time when EAG's chief executive, James Hogan, is in the US for the launch of the airline's new lounge at LAX.

Mr Hogan emphasised the impact that EAG's success will have on employment in the US. "The figures from the report clearly show the catalytic incremental effect that the Etihad Aviation Group will have in the job market and on the US economy in the years to come," he noted.

The $10.7bn headline number includes the operation of direct flights to six hub cities in the US – New York, Chi¬cago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington and Dallas – as well as significant capital spending with US-based suppliers, mainly new aircraft.

Oxford Economics' report calculates the "core economic contribution" at $3.8bn, supporting 30,300 jobs.

The larger number includes an estimated $1.9bn of spending by 280,000 international visitors carried by Etihad to US cities. It also factors in $1.1bn of "knock-on catalytic effect", that is to say the boost to business from carrying individuals who do business in the US.

In 2016, Etihad expects to operate more than 4,700 flights to and from the US and carry about 1.2 million passengers, including transit to important emerging economies, the company says.

The Oxford Economics report estimates that Etihad business will expand over the next few years to the extent that EAG's contribution to the US economy will rise to more than $18bn by 2024, supporting more than 171,000 jobs.

"EAG [and its partners] have made great strides to stimulate air travel to and from the United States, have created vital air corridors connecting global markets, and have become a key contributor to the US economy," said Mr Hogan.

It has been previously reported that talks are scheduled for this month with the state department over claims against Gulf airlines first made last spring by the dominant US carriers – American, United and Delta – of unfair competition, claims which have since been robustly refuted by Etihad, Emirates and Qatar Airways.

The Gulf carriers have made the case over the past year that the Open Skies policy has benefited US carriers with improved market access, as well as the US economy broadly.

"The industry feeling is that the case the three US carriers put forward doesn't have anywhere to go," said John Strickland at JLS Consulting, noting that the Gulf airlines are by far the best customers for Boeing, ordering more of its upcoming long-range aircraft – the 777X – than the US carriers combined.

Akbar Al Baker, chief of Qatar Airways, in a recent interview said he'd had visits from mayors of a dozen US cities who are looking for flights to replace those lost through the industry's consolidation.

"But the unknown is what might happen if there is a President Trump after the autumn election," said Mr Strickland. Mr Trump has been vocal against international trade deals in general.

The US state department has also heard from US airlines that oppose their compatriots' efforts as anti-competitive, including Alaska Air and JetBlue, two of the country's most popular carriers, as well as cargo flight operator FedEx. – The National -


UAE Consul-General in New York joins with local organisations to support needy families during Ramadan

posted on 26/07/2016

NEW YORK: On behalf of the United Arab Emirates Consulate in New York and the Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation, the UAE Consul-General, Majid Al Suwaidi, has provided a US$10,000 donation to the Islamic Circle of North America, ICNA, Relief USA, which was chosen as a beneficiary by the New York Police Department's Muslim Officers Society.

In addition, the UAE provided meals to over 100 needy families identified by the NYPD Muslim Officers Society during the Holy Month of Ramadan.

"Ramadan is a time for reflection and giving back to the community," said the UAE Consul-General. "We are fortunate enough to be able to help these organisations, and hope that this will inspire others to do the same."

The NYPD Muslim Officers Society was founded in January 2006, and formally recognised by the Police Commissioner on May 19th, 2008. It was formed to promote American patriotism and encourage the demonstration of respect and honour among Muslims in law enforcement who have contributed to the building and preservation of the United States of America. The Muslim Officers Society is open to all members of the service, both civilian and uniformed.

"We thank the UAE and the Khalifa Foundation for their generous contribution," said Lt. Adeel Rana, President of the New York City Police Department Muslim Officers Society. "The NYPD Muslim Officers Society felt a sense of pride for being part of the Khalifa Foundation's assistance programme. It was an emotional moment to see smiles and tears from families when they received their assistance. The ICNA shelter is also excited and looking forward to using these funds to help those in need."

Established on September 1st, 1968, the Islamic Circle of North America was a response to the growing need for a supportive Muslim community in North America. The organisation initially focused on educating its growing membership about Islam.

In the UAE, the 19th Day of each Ramadan commemorates Zayed Humanitarian Day, to mark the anniversary of the passing of the UAE's founder, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. UAE citizens and residents are encouraged to be generous and filled with a sense of spirit to give back to their communities and provide a helping hand to those less fortunate and deserving to honour the life and legacy of Sheikh Zayed. - Emirates News Agency, WAM –


ERC renovates, equips Omer Al Mukhtar School in Aden

posted on 26/07/2016

ADEN: Emirates Red Crescent (ERC) has rehabilitated the Omer Al Mukhtar School in Sheikh Othman district at the Governorate of Aden, enabling it to resume its educational role.

The school, which was damaged by Al Houthi militia and Saleh group, face-lifted and provided with 400 boards, seats, educational equipment, umbrellas and covered patios.

Sheikh Othman Ahmed Al Mahzar, Sheriff of Sheikh Othman district, Aden, thanked the UAE for its continued support to the people of Yemen, especially in the education sector that has been affected much. He also commended the ERC for its efforts. - Emirates News Agency, WAM –


Yemeni Government praises Arab coalition forces support for security services in Aden

posted on 26/07/2016

ADEN: The Yemeni Government has praised the role played by the Arab Coalition Forces led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in supporting the security forces in Aden.

This came during a security meeting held yesterday in Aden, under the Chairmanship of the Yemeni Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, Major General Hussain Mohammed Arab, according to the official Yemeni News Agency.

The participants stressed that this support has enabled the security forces in Aden to fight against terrorist and disruptive elements.

The meeting approved a number of actions that will contribute to addressing the security situation in the province, most notably the formation of a committee to address the security situation of Aden International Airport. - Emirates News Agency, WAM –


Nol cards to give access to Dubai parks, museums

posted on 26/07/2016

Visitors to public parks and museums in Dubai will be able to use Nol cards to pay the entrance fees, Dubai Municipality officials told Gulf News on Monday.

Nol is a smart payment system for all public transport modes in Dubai, including metro, buses, water buses and taxis regulated by the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA). The RTA had earlier this month announced its plan to extend the use of Nol cards as an e-wallet for commercial payments.

The civic body is now working with the RTA to introduce Nol payment for public parks in the emirate by the end of the year, said Mohammad Abdullah Al Zafein, director of the Information Technology Department at the municipality.

"We want to utilise the Nol cards to give access to parks,” he said.

According to Al Zafein, all major public parks that collect entrance fees will be fitted with smart gates to allow payment of entrance fee using Nol cards.

Visitors will be able to use their Nol credit loaded in the plastic card or Smart Nol, a mobile app that works with Near Field Communication (NFC) technology.

Unlike in the public transport system, a family or any group of visitors to parks can use one Nol card to paying the entry fee for multiple visitors, Al Zafein explained.

"We would like to make things easier for people,” he said.

Abdul Majid Al Mulla, assistant director at the department, said the smart payment option will be extended to Dubai museums in the next phase. A time-frame for this was not immediately announced.

Automatic response from call centre

Al Mulla said another initiative of the IT department that will be launched by the end of this month is an automatic response system for the municipality's call centre with the hotline number 800 900.

If somebody calls up the call centre to make a complaint or for an inquiry and the line is busy as the staff are responding to others' calls, All Mulla said, the system will cut the call and will automatically call back the customer and connect him or her to a call centre employee when the line becomes free.

This is aimed at cutting the waiting time for callers and avoiding unanswered calls, he said.

Municipality services go smart

The officials were speaking after the municipality's announcement about transferring all its e-services into mobile services.

As part of the Smart Dubai initiative, all electronic services offered by various departments in the municipality are now available on the mobile platform.

As many as 351 e-services were transferred to 204 smart services and applications on smart devices in the first phase of the initiative. By 2018, the department will complete all its proposed programmes for the Smart Dubai initiatives, the civic body said on Monday. – Gulf News -


Dubai Marina tower firefighters awarded for saving pets’ lives

posted on 26/07/2016

Firefighters who battled the Sulafa Tower blaze will be recognised for saving the lives of many animals trapped in the 75-floor skyscraper.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) Asia-Pacific, an international animal rights organisation, will award Dubai Civil Defence for its efforts after receiving emails from tower residents praising firefighters. Peta said that the DCD would be sent a Hero to Animals Award and a letter.

"We found out about their heroic actions as a result of several kind residents, who emailed us about it over the weekend," said Peta Asia-Pacific spokeswoman Ashley Fruno.

Last Wednesday's fire in the Dubai Marina tower spread quickly, damaging apartments on at least eight floors. There were no human casualties.

Residents said that firefighters made countless trips up the building to rescue animals. But although some were brought down to safety, several pets died in the incident.

Carla Julian, a Sulafa Tower resident, said she saw firemen bringing animals to their relieved owners.

"We saw them bringing down birds, cats and dogs," she said. "Some pets were in their carriers, while others were brought down in laundry baskets or their kitty litter boxes. Some were also carried by hand."

Jason Baker, Peta Asia-Pacific's vice president of international operations, said that the DCD's compassion and heroism was an inspiration.

"Residents of Dubai are very fortunate to have emergency service personnel who are ready to protect both its human and animal residents," he said.

A DCD spokesman said that it was the duty of firefighters to save lives – and that duty was not limited to human lives.

"This is not the first time. It is our duty to protect lives and souls, and this is not just -humans we're talking about but animals and even plants," he said. "These are all part of the complete circle of the universe."

He also said that the DCD had been involved in a number of animal rescue cases.

"We have received calls in the past to rescue animals in distraught situations, such as a cat being stuck in a high tree or an animal stuck somewhere," said the spokesman.

Mr Baker said that the firefighters had set a tremendous example for others to follow.

"We each must always come to the aid of animals in distress," he said. "The city is lucky to have such kind emergency responders, who do not hesitate to help humans or animals in need."

Meanwhile, some residents of Sulafa Tower have moved back in their apartments and said they were slowly readjusting to their new situation.

Ms Julian, who lives on the 23rd floor and who took her cat down to ground level herself when the fire took hold, said that her apartment was unaffected but she had only just returned to it because of the smell.

"There's still a very strong smell in the corridor but both my cat, Miss Bradshaw, and I are readjusting and slowly getting back to normal," she said. "You could still see the sad faces, people recovering from the damaged apartments, there's an awful lot of loss, property and personal effects."

But Lebanese Mazen Slim, who lives in a duplex on the 74th and 75th floors, said that he would not be able to move back into his apartment for at least another two weeks.

"I was abroad and got back yesterday and I thought that my apartment was not affected but the parquet floors are all black, the AC units are affected and, because of the smell, it is not liveable," he said.

"I'm fortunate that it's material things and it is unfortunate that some pets died and some had to be hospitalised."

Mr Slim, who is staying at his brother's house, said he hoped to move back in as soon as possible. – The National -


A dream experience that is still burning bright

posted on 26/07/2016

Mubarak Salah swells with pride as he recounts his Rio experience.

The young employee from Dow Chemical who is with the Dubai Sports Council as a graduate of the Hamdan Bin Mohammad Programme for Sports Leadership Development, is fresh back from Brazil after being chosen as one five global torch bearers in the torch ceremony through the old Brazilian capital of San Salvador last month.

Salah was part of a global search and he was nominated to represent the Middle East region along with four other continental representatives hailing from Germany, Singapore, USA and Argentina.

"Being part of the torch ceremony is like being in a dream world. I was in Brazil for the 2014 Fifa World Cup, and now less than two years later, all I can say is that the country is ready to host the Olympic Games,” Salah told Gulf News.

"I can just imagine the feeling of being an athlete at an Olympic Games. I wish all our UAE athletes the very best of luck, and I hope they return home with medals,” he added. – Gulf News -


Rio 2016: UAE’s team will be the country’s largest Olympic contingent

posted on 26/07/2016

The UAE is set to send its largest contingent of individual athletes to the Olympic Games over the next week.

Thirteen athletes will represent the country in six different disciplines. For one of the four females in the delegation – swimmer Nada Al Bedwawi – the occasion will be even more historic.

The youngest athlete in the group will be the country's flag-bearer at the opening ceremony on August 6.

Al Bedwawi, 18, made history last year when she became the first UAE woman to represent the country at the World Swimming Championships.

• More: Meet the UAE's Olympians | Schedule

"She's a young lady and she's good and we've given her big support to have the UAE flag," said Dawood Al Hajri, assistant secretary general of the National Olympic Committee. "She will be in the front; this is the first time."

In fact, Sheikha Maitha bint Mohammed bin Rashid, daughter of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, was the first female to lead the country into an Olympic Games, carrying the flag at the opening ceremony at the Beijing Games in 2008 as a taekwondo competitor.

The best hopes of a medal are likely to rest upon the three-man shooting squad, which includes the veteran Olympian Sheikh Saeed bin Maktoum.

Sheikh Saeed, a multiple winner at Asian and World level, will be appearing at his fifth consecutive Olympics while Saif bin Futtais is the country's biggest hope for a medal.

"Our three shooters embarked on a long-term programme after the London Games to have them as prepared and ready as possible," the UAE Shooting Association said. "This is the first time we have had three qualifiers in our team. They have participated in numerous world championships, grand prix events and training camps so they are well prepared."

As well as swimming and shooting, the UAE will have participants in cycling, judo, weightlifting and athletics.

Yousif Mirza, the country's leading cyclist, will be taking part in the 250-kilometre road event as the first cyclist from the UAE at the Olympics since 1996 and the first ever to compete in the road race.

Mirza qualified after finishing second in the Asian Cycling Championship in Thailand last year.

"We've been preparing Yousif for the past year to compete at Rio," said Osama Al Shafar, the president of the UAE Cycling Federation. "Rio is going to be one of the longest races ever, with the best of the best riders from all over the world.

"Most of the Tour de France riders will finish now and go over to Rio. These cyclists have just done 4,000km so they have mileage on their legs. Yousif has been preparing. It's going to be tough for him but we wish him all the best."

The Zika virus has forced the withdrawal of several leading names from the Games, especially in events such as golf and tennis. There is no vaccination for Zika but Al Hajri said the UAE squad had taken all the precautions that they could for it.

"All of the players have been vaccinated for different things," he said.

"We go according to what the UAE's Ministry of Health and other international health agencies have advised."

Ahmed Al Kamali, the head of the UAE's Athletics Federation, said he was happy with the number of athletes Rio-bound, and was aiming to double that number for the Tokyo Games in 2020. We are lucky to have that number in our delegation," he said.

"We still have to work very hard for 2020, to get more athletes. I'm sure, for me, athletics will be double – six – instead of three but the number for this year is fantastic."

This article was updated on Monday, July 25. Originally we said that Nada Al Bedwawi would be the first female athlete to be the UAE flag-bearer at an Olympic Games when in fact is was Sheikha Maitha bint Mohammed bin Rashid, who competed in taekwondo at the 2008 Beijing Games and was also the country's flag-bearer at the opening ceremony. We apologise for the mistake.

UAE delegation

Shooting: Sheikh Saeed bin Maktoum, Saif bin Futtais, Khaled Al Kaabi


Alia Saeed (10,000m), Bethlhem Desaleyn (1500m)*, Saood Al Zaabi (1500m)

Weightlifting: Aysha Al Balooshi, Yousif Mirza

Swimming: Nada Al Bedwawi, Yaqoub Al Saadi

Judo: Ivan Remarenco, Sergiu Toma, Victor Scvortov. – The National -