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Mohammed bin Rashid approves Happiness Meter results

posted on 29/05/2016

Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, yesterday said that customer satisfaction is not enough and that their overall happiness is one of the goals of the government.

He said this should also be a goal of the private sector and the whole of society.

"Achieving welfare and happiness for nationals and expatriates is what drives our national agendas for all sectors," Sheikh Mohammed said at a meeting during which he approved the results of the Happiness Meter, an initiative he had launched a year ago.

Eighty-nine per cent of the public were satisfied with government services in Dubai, according to the meter which polled more than two million customers at 28 government departments.

The meeting was held at the Executive Office in the presence of H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, H.H. Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler, H.H. Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation, Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Chair of the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, Mohammed bin Abdullah Al Gergawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs and the Future and Chairman of the Executive Office of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, and other officials.

He instructed the local government departments to introduce the Happiness Meter in the private sector organisations.

Sheikh Mohammed also honoured Dubai Customs, which emerged the best government department in terms of customer happiness.

He noted that customers of the Roads and Transport Authority accounted for the majority of those polled.

The initiative was designed to instantly measure the level of satisfaction of the public about government service provided at 328 locations in 38 departments using networked electronic devices.

The Happiness Meter also sends daily reports to decision makers to enable them in monitoring government services that people are most satisfied with, and identifying the geographical areas where these services are being provided.

Other departments honoured yesterday included the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, the Knowledge and Human Development Authority, Dubai Courts and Dubai Police.

Data is being analysed to know why 10am every Tuesday was the happiest hour for the public.

Meanwhile, H.H. Sheikh Mohammed also endorsed Dubai's Happiness Agenda which includes 82 projects,16 main programmes and four strategic plans: Explore, Change, Educate and Measure.

Dubai Culture and Arts Authority was signed in as the first partner of Happiness Agenda. – Emirates News Agency, WAM –


UAE confirms support to France's Middle East peace initiative

posted on 29/05/2016

CAIRO: The UAE yesterday confirmed its support for France's initiative and all Arab and international efforts to achieve a comprehensive and just solution for the Palestinian issue based on international resolutions and firm principles.

This was announced by Dr. Anwar bin Mohammed Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs in a speech before the extraordinary meeting of the Arab foreign ministers in Cairo.

"We listened with interest to the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas who presented a comprehensive briefing about the developments of the vital Palestinian issue. The UAE takes a keen interest in following and supporting the Palestinian issue and undertaking its role as a member of the Arab Nation. It calls for a just and comprehensive settlement to the Palestinian issue based on international resolutions and firm principles," he said.

He expressed the hope that the French initiative for would contribute towards reviving stalled peace talks and that the French would continue to mobilise international support for their initiative aimed at solving the Palestinian issue.

Speaking about the Libyan issue, Gargash said, "A solution to the Libyan crisis is one of our priorities. We are working in this direction and stress the importance of intra-Libyan reconciliation, unified Libyan stance that is inclusive of all their country's regions. We consider that the foundation of this track is a punctual and non-selective accomplishment of the Skhirat agreement. The top priority would be the Libyan House of Representatives' endorsement of the Government of National Accord (GNA) so as to avoid multiple legitimacies the negative consequences of which has dominated the Libyan political landscape and complete the process of constitutional construction that serves as the optimal guarantee of a sustainable solution and the unity of Libya and decisively counter terrorism and extremism plaguing several Arab states."

Speaking on Yemen, Gargash thanked Kuwait for hosting the current peace talks and expressed appreciation of the Kuwaiti leaders' keen interest in the success of this hard effort.

"We reiterate that a political solution is the only exit that would bring all Yemenis together. This should be based on UNSC Resolution 2216, the GCC Initiative and the outcome of the outcomes of the Comprehensive National Dialogue".

Gargash noted that the cause of this crisis is the Houthi rebellion which pushed Yemen and the region into violence and chaos. "Their crude coup attempt against a political choice has led to catastrophic results."

The solution in Yemen, he said, should be based on the UN-led peace initiative.

He expressed appreciation of the efforts being made by United Nations Special Envoy to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed.

An exit from the crisis in Yemen requires that all Yemeni serious should make serious and necessary efforts and prioritise the interest of Yemen over narrow and private interests.

"Hopefully, it could be an opportunity to inform the (Arab) Ministerial Council about the great success in defeating terrorism in the city of Mukalla, thanks to the leadership of the strong Arab Coalition. The city was liberated in a carefully-planned military plan which is perhaps the most counter-terrorism operation in decades. The terrorist principality was removed and its organisation, training and supply capabilities were destroyed. The operation proved that eliminating terrorism is one of the goals of the Arab World which bears the brunt of the violence and criminal acts of this terrorism, Minister Gargash added.

Gargash said, "We look forward to the Nouakchott Summit and have the hope that it would play its role in bolstering pan-Arab unity against foreign interference, one of the dangers threatening us."

He thanked the Mauritanian government and noted that he is confident that its efforts will bear fruit. – Emirates News Agency, WAM –


UAE participates in 4th interfaith dialogue in Copenhagen

posted on 29/05/2016

COPENHAGEN: The United Arab Emirates has adopted a comprehensive vision for combating extremism and terrorism, taking into account the intellectual and cultural dimensions feeding them, said Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid Al Qasimi, Minister of State for Tolerance.

In a speech she gave on behalf of H.H. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, on Friday at the session of the 4th Interfaith Dialogue Conference in Copenhagen, Sheikha Lubna lauded the conference's main theme of confronting extremism, saying that extremism is the main source of terrorism.

"Extremism feeds terrorism, providing it with necessary elements. It considers difference as a justification to reject, degrade and target others," she added.

Sheikha Lubna said the UAE strongly believed that countering extremism and terrorism requires a concerted international effort, a societal enlightenment and an ongoing dialogue about the need to respect freedom of belief, to appreciate diversity and to step up interaction to eliminate misconceptions.

She went on to say that the UAE adopted legislation on combating violent extremism and terrorism, including law no. 1 of 2004 on combating terrorist crimes, the federal law no. 39 of 2006 on international judicial cooperation and criminal assistance and federal law no. 7 of 2015 on establishing the Abu Dhabi-based Hedayah Centre, the first-ever international Centre dedicated to countering violent extremism.

In 2015, the UAE also enacted anti-discriminatory law, which criminalises any acts that stoke religious hatred and insult religions through any form of expression.

The country established the Abu Dhabi-based Muslim Council of Elders in 2014 which seeks to promote peace in Muslim societies and consolidates the values and principles of Islam, a religion far removed from extremism and violence. The council, headed by the Grand Imam of Al Azhar Dr. Ahmad Al Tayyib, and by prominent scholar Sheikh Abdullah Bin Bayyah, brings together a group of distinguished Islamic scholars and experts known for their wisdom, sense of justice, independence and moderation.

Sheikha Lubna said the UAE established, in collaboration with the US, the Sawab Centre to combat extremist messages through social media. – Emirates News Agency, WAM –


UAE “a model for women’s empowerment in the region”

posted on 29/05/2016

In a bid to enhance gender equality and women's empowerment in the country, the UAE Gender Balance Council held a meeting with the European - UAE Human Rights Working Group on Saturday.

The meeting was led by the vice-president of the council, Mona Al Merri, who said that for a society to be productive, it has to use the talents and capabilities of women who represent around half of the UAE population.

Speaking about the UAE's experience in women's empowerment and gender equality, Al Merri said without the efforts and pioneering initiatives undertaken by Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan in promoting the development of women in the UAE, "women would not have the opportunities they have today”.

Also present at the meeting were Rosamaria Gili, Deputy Head for GCC, Yemen and Iraq in the European External Action Service, who led the European - UAE Human Rights Working Group; Dr Omar Abdul Rahman Al Nuaimi, Assistant Undersecretary for Policy and Strategy at the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation; Naji Al Hai Mubarak, acting Undersecretary at the Ministry of Social Affairs; and Shamsa Saleh, CEO of the Dubai Women Establishment.

Al Merri noted that the UAE is a young country that has seen huge positive changes since its formation in 1971. She recalled that in the year of its formation, when the late Sheikh Zayed sought to appoint graduates in government positions, he could find only a total of 45 graduates, of which only four were women. Compared to this, today, women account for 70 per cent of university enrolment. This is a tremendous change that has happened in a short period of time, she said, adding that the high enrolment is an indication of what UAE women can do in the future.

Al Merri pointed out that UAE women are at the forefront of various spheres of life, and are not just playing their roles in the background. She said that the visibly high level of women's participation in society give expatriates, who have chosen the UAE as their home, a perspective that is very different to the regional stereotypes portrayed in the media.

The empowerment of women is "quite striking” in the UAE, a member of the European delegation said. The delegation voiced the opinion that the UAE offers a positive home-grown model for women's development and empowerment for the region. It is better to create a model for the region that is from the region, the European delegate noted. – Gulf News -


UAE chairs 5th meeting of Working Group for Stabilisation of Counter-ISIL-Coalition

posted on 29/05/2016

BERLIN: The UAE and German have co-chaired the fifth meeting of Working Group for Stabilisation of Counter-ISIL-Coalition.

Faris Mohammed Al Mazrouei, Assistant Foreign Minister for Security and Military Affairs chaired the UAE delegation in the meeting.

The participants discussed the latest developments and restoring stability to the liberated areas from Daesh, and training of Iraqi police and the role of women. They also tackled the latest developments in mine clearance and efforts of the UN Funding Facility for Immediate Stabilisation (FFIS).

In this regard, the UAE announced a donation of AED 36.7 million to support the FFIS' efforts, especially for reconstruction and rehabilitation projects that support the restoration of stability in Iraq.

The meeting also witnessed the participation of representatives from the humanitarian sector for the first time, as they reviewed the expected scenarios of Mosul liberation process and emergency humanitarian aid plans.

The UAE expressed its concern on the role of the popular crowd in Iraq to liberate areas under the control of Daesh forces. It also confirmed that the process of liberating these areas must be led by the Iraqi army and police as well as local tribes in these areas and the support of the international coalition to fight Daesh. – Emirates News Agency, WAM –


Recent Cabinet changes will bolster future government to achieve ambitious goals, says Mansour bin Zayed

posted on 29/05/2016

H.H. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, stressed that the strong and active presence of the UAE's diplomacy in the regional and international arenas in terms of hosting numerous international agencies and conferences, as well as its active participation in international efforts to fight terrorism and extremism, has enabled it to acquire an outstanding international image.

He noted that the UAE strives to build a regional and international environment based on peace, stability and mutual trust. The country offers development and humanitarian aid, as well as active contributions to peacekeeping operations to protect the civilian population and take part in the rebuilding of the affected areas and elsewhere.

In an exclusive interview to Deraa Al Watan and Joint Command and Staff College magazines, Sheikh Mansour said that the recent ministerial changes were proof that the government of the future is determined to achieve ambitious goals, notably a new government structure in which the youth will play a pivotal role, vis-a-vis its role in the future. The future government aims to bring about a qualitative development in the methods and tools of governance, and upgrading of vital service sectors such as education and health, among others, as well as investment in human resources to ensure the prosperity and happiness of its citizens.

It also reflects the vision of the wise leadership and its aspirations to ensure more development and prosperity in various fields, and consolidate the leading position of the UAE at regional and global levels.

Following is the text of the interview: Q – The UAE is working to build balanced political, economic and social relations with many countries. Openness with the rest of the world and building bridges of friendship, co-operation and understanding are the basic pillars of the state's foreign policy. How do you assess this policy in light of its aspirations? A – Experience has demonstrated the soundness of the approach of our foreign policy since the founding of the state by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. Even today, this policy, which is characterised with an active and strong presence in the regional and international arenas, is guided by the shrewd vision of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

The foreign policy is directed towards national interest, maintaining the state's sovereignty and reinforcing the GCC system, establishing Arab integration, and protecting the environment, apart from respecting human rights, and contributing to the development of a fairer international system, which is more equitable and participatory in a way that supports international co-operation while addressing common global challenges.

A strong and active presence of our diplomacy on the regional and international arena, and hosting of many international agencies and conferences, active participation in international efforts to fight terrorism and extremism, and striving to build a regional and international environment for peace, stability and mutual trust, has enabled the UAE to acquire an outstanding image internationally.

The UAE also offers development and humanitarian aid, and actively contributes to peacekeeping operations to protect the civilian population and rebuild the affected areas, and others. We look forward to opening up to the world's future, and enhancing the country's position as a regional leader in specialised fields, such as human rights, energy and climate change, international security and co-operation, and to ensure care for its citizens abroad.

Q – The recent ministerial resolutions announced by the government, including the creation of the Minister of Happiness, Minister of Tolerance, and Minister for Youth Affairs, has brought widespread attention on the UAE, both, locally and globally. In your capacity as the Chairman of Ministerial Development Council, how do you interpret these radical changes, and are they compatible with the aspirations of the state? A – The recent changes are proof that the future government is determined to achieve set ambitious goals, and notably, the new government structure in which young people participate plays a pivotal role, and envisions the future. It aims to create a qualitative development in the methods and tools of governance, and upgrade vital sectors of services, mainly education and health, as well as invest in building human resources in order to ensure the prosperity of the nation and the happiness of citizens.

The government reflects the vision of the wise leadership and its future aspirations to achieve further development and prosperity in various fields, and consolidate the UAE's leading status at the regional and global levels.

Q – The National Service Project seeks to serve the country, protect its gains, establish the values of loyalty among young Emiratis, and strengthen their personal leadership development skills. How do you view national service and its importance? A – Our state has great and important achievements to its credit in the construction and development process at the human resources and physical levels. The sustainability of these achievements require protection. And this protection will be provided by young Emiratis equipped with values of belonging and loyalty. The readiness to sacrifice for our society and achievements are the safety valves to tackle external challenges.

The UAE is proud of its sons and daughters who answered the call of duty in a manner that surpassed all expectations. We are confident that the UAE will remain safe, as long as such high spirit exists among the youth. We appreciate the role of the armed forces in attracting conscripts to join national service, and the army's role in instilling loyalty, discipline, commitment, and values of seriousness in the recruits, along with enhancing their military capabilities.

Q – In a tribute to the sacrifices of the martyrs, the UAE President, who is also the Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, decided to establish 30th November each year as Martyrs' Day. How do you see this glorious day in the history of the UAE? A –The UAE soldiers heeded the call to protect the nation, back the legitimacy in Yemen and protect its people. Some fell on the battlefield and the leadership cherishes these sacrifices. To commemorate their glorious sacrifices, the leadership decided the 30th November each year as a day to celebrate the theme of sacrifice and to make the martyrs symbols the next generation will be proud of. Their deeds will resonate in memory of UAE and humanity.

We salute the souls of the martyrs and bestow solace on their families, relatives and friends. The martyrs are the feathers in the cap of the nation, Emiratis and the leadership. Their heroism will remain a beacon of hope that will lead generations throughout the UAE's history.

Q- Women play an important role in building the society and in promoting the values of loyalty and belonging. How do you see the achievements of Emirati women, particularly with regard to their accession to positions in various national service and military fields? A- Our state has paid special attention to the empowerment of women in all fields and at all levels to help them play their natural role as participant actors in the sustainable development process. Before the establishment of the UAE, Emirati women had been partners with men in the construction as they stood firmly by their side in times of crisis. They accompanied the men in days of bliss and woe.

We are not surprised by the rush of Emirati women to the call of national service to contribute to the preservation of the achievements of the state. This is their instinct and part of upbringing to demonstrate the values of loyalty in all fields. We are proud of the fruits of the empowerment as women have become key partners in leading the development process in the country, and occupying the highest positions in the sovereign, executive and legislative authorities, in addition to their strong presence in the Arab, regional and international women work areas, as well as their achievements as shown by reports issued by regional and international organisations.

Q- The UAE has taken important steps towards addressing the issue of demographics. How do you assess deferred and immediate solutions to this issue? A- Given safe and stable environment in the UAE, and provision of employment opportunities in all sectors, and the ease of movement of capital and free trade, and because of the burgeoning urban growth, the UAE has been turned into an attractive environment for the qualified, experienced aspirants and owners of capital. Everyone works under an umbrella of respect and justice, free from discrimination.

The state provides a conducive atmosphere to various communities to practice their cultures. This unique coexistence among nearly 200 nationalities has been praised by international organisations. The state is making a serious effort to restore balance to the demographics by reforming the labour market, and removing obstacles that hinder the course of Emiratisation, and restructuring industrial and business sectors to shift from the stage of relying on labour-intensive to production processes based on the knowledge economy, the use of advanced technology, and attracting qualified labour, skills development, the intensification of scholarship for postgraduate studies, as well as encouraging citizens to enrol in the private sector.

Many private and semi-private companies have begun to accommodate citizens in promising jobs.

Q- The UAE participates, through its armed forces, in promoting international security and stability. How do you assess the role of our armed forces and their participation in peacekeeping operations? How do you view the role and functions of the UAE Armed Forces in Yemen? A- The UAE establishment had then passed two years when it had sent troops to Egypt to participate in the October War. And three years later, it dispatched a task force to Lebanon to participate in the Arab Deterrent Force. Since then, the UAE Armed Forces have backed sisterly states and participated in the peacekeeping missions and taken part in the relief campaigns, starting with Egypt, through Lebanon, Kuwait, Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Bahrain, and the fight against terrorism.

It participated in the Desert Decisive Storm in Yemen. The UAE soldiers performed efficiently as testified by the military strategists and international relief experts. The UAE participation in these campaigns stems from a firm conviction to stand by our brothers and friends, and help them out of their crises, which is a national duty and humanitarian act dictated by our faith, our culture, our civilisation and our sense of belonging. We are an integral part of this great Arab homeland, and we are part of the global system that seeks to enhance security and stability.

The role of our troops in Yemen won the admiration from world's military commands who praised their combat experience. From this platform, we commend the efficiency of our armed forces, and their skills of combat, as well as their relief and humanitarian efforts, which raised the UAE flag high. We say to our brave soldiers: you are the strong Emirates fortress, and the protectors of its achievements and future. You are source of our pride.

Q- The Joint Command and Staff College will soon celebrate the graduation of its 25th batch. On 25th September, the 25th anniversary of the college's founding (Silver Jubilee) will be marked. What would you like to say to the college staff on both occasions? A- The two occasions reflect the high level of interaction and harmony among the armed forces divisions. Observing them is a celebration of the sense of belonging and loyalty and an expression of deep faith in the value of teamwork; the protection of the homeland and its achievements, with the support of the leadership of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who is also the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who is also Minister of Defence, and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and the commanders of the land, air and naval forces, officers and soldiers of the troops.

This harmony reflects strength and marking the silver jubilee is a proof of continuous solidarity and success. I congratulate all the commanders and personnel of various military divisions, and wish them every success in the service of the nation.

Q- The UAE is working on providing the best educational components, as human resources are the real capital and the most important element in the cultural development process. How do you evaluate the education in the state? And what are your expectations for the future of education? A- The education and innovation are the core of the government action within our national agenda. The UAE has achieved a quantum leap in the performance of public education and higher education, leading to the integration and compatibility optimisation in educational outcomes, and commensurate with the needs of the UAE society and the labour market.

Our educational institutions provided tens of thousands of qualified graduates to the labour market. Our universities today enjoy the international academic accreditation and are compared to the highest level institutions. Despite these accomplishments, we look forward to more achievements. The development process in the education sector is an ongoing process that does not stop.

Our ambition is to attain the first rank in the world. We have started to focus on scientific research and innovative projects to promote and build the society based on the knowledge economy. Those who followed the recent Government Summit will realise that the UAE is seriously preparing to gain access to the knowledge society by developing and attracting talent and expertise in the field of scientific research and innovation, and to diversify the sources of funding research and innovative projects, create incubators for innovation in public and private universities, and encourage cooperation among business, government and civil society institutions. We are confident that the future of the UAE will be more prosperous.

Q- Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum launched the National Strategy for Innovation. In your opinion, how could innovation culture be stimulated and enriched in our national institutions, especially in the field of education, research and development? A- The National Strategy for Innovation aims to stimulate innovation in renewable energy, transport, health, education and technology, water and space areas. Most of these areas are related to public services and infrastructure, which means the development of these sectors aims to improve life in a manner that preserves the natural resources of the state, and establishes a future life where the focus will be on renewable energy and advanced education to meet the requirements of development to move the economy towards becoming a knowledge economy.

The promotion of these sectors will be through innovation and development as per scientific approaches, studies and research that feed the philosophy of innovation. This is currently happening in the renewable energy, space research and education sectors. We need more creative ideas and innovative projects to achieve development. These will be attained through scientific research in the field of qualitative education that could be reflected in the strength of the economy and the standard of living and quality.

So we focus at the current stage on stimulating innovation in education. We have put forward a range of initiatives, which would be implemented in cooperation with institutions and stakeholders.

Q- The UAE President launched the initiative to make 2016 as the year for Reading. What do you think about this initiative? A- This presidential initiative is closely linked to the national strategy for innovation. No innovation without reading. We do not mean here to read for fun or entertainment, but a serious reading that develops intellectual and cognitive abilities to motivate innovation. It is assumed that any important idea we learn from a book leads us to a second and a third idea, and so on.

The process of reading generates ideas and theories at individual and institutional levels. Therefore, the launch of the reading initiative is meant to encourage people to share responsibility and decision-making, and contribute to the development desired by our state so as to be always at the forefront. Frankly, if we do not make a book a permanent companion, we will not achieve what we aspire in terms of progress and development.

Reading is a tool, means and goal for building and qualifying human beings to live better in the twenty first century. We have to make the book our friend and comrade; because it is the most faithful, and the biggest benefit.

Q- The UAE launched the scientific and ambitious programme to explore Mars. What are the goals of this programme? Is it a prelude to other ambitious programmes in this respect? There has been talk here about the probe of Hope that the UAE will send into space to reach Mars by the year 2021. This project has many dimensions, including scientific. It is set to explore Mars, and will be the first probe of its kind to study the climate on the Red Planet round the clock and through all seasons. It will be the first real weather station on Mars that will contribute to the provision of data.

Such data will help scientists track changes in the Martian atmosphere, and will help in the study of climatic changes taking place on the earth planet. The second fundamental dimension is that the UAE will contribute to the space studies as more than 70 UAE nationals will get involved in the project. In addition, the key technologies of the project, will be designed, manufactured and assembled locally. This means we will have the nucleus of the space industry technology, which is growing steadily at global level.

There is no doubt that the success of this project will usher in many projects in the space technology. The UAE will part of this industry, especially the ground control station will have the satellite data round the clock. This will make the UAE an important partner in this field.

Q-How do you evaluate the development achievements? And what are future expectations in light of the political and economic empowerment phase launched by the UAE President and the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces? A-Our state has scored the qualitative development in a short period of time, including all walks of life. The UAE tops Arab world in availability of services and ranked among the top at the global level. We will continue the developmental projects through ambitious initiatives and projects that put the visions of the UAE President into practice in the areas of political and economic empowerment.

The UAE is moving in this field with insight and from one stage to another based on results and field data. The Shura values, participation and openness are not alien practices to our people or imported from abroad. They are Emirati authentic legacies and enshrined in our historical and political experience. The doors remain open between the leadership and the people in this unified federal state. This was expressed by my brother, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, when he said, "The house is unified politically, economically and socially, and in all areas."

Q- The diversification of sources of income is a guarantee for balanced sustainable development. How far is the economic diversification policy successful at a time when the world is witnessing a decline in global oil prices? A- The UAE government has been working for years on the projects that diversify sources of income based on a premise that the oil wealth will not last forever, and therefore, when we raise our sustainability logo, it means diversity. And when we launch renewable energy projects, space technology projects, military industries and productivity, and the oil derivative projects, open opportunities for the establishment of small businesses, invest in education and human resources, all this means diversification.

In light of the diversification policy the contribution of non-oil sector to the GDP exceeded 70%. The World Trade Organisation praised the UAE's economic diversification policy. The decline in global oil prices, makes us more eager to continue to diversify the economy and increase efficiency and competitiveness policy. We have started planning our economy for the coming years, away from the oil trade.

Q – The cabinet recently decided to form the Council of Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises and Projects. What are the desired objectives of this council? A- It is part of the state's efforts to diversify the economy and income. The move towards small and medium enterprises is a global trend, and enhances the process of development and competitiveness, contributes to the sustainability of the economy, and helps in diversification.

The council will contribute towards supporting these projects, providing expertise and marketing of products. This will open the door for the participation of different social strata in the development process, and give a strong boost to initiatives, while benefiting from knowledge and skills. Anything great starts small.

Q – The tourism potential varies in the UAE in light of the enormous possibilities. But we have noted the significant tourist demand among citizens to go abroad. What do you think about that? How can we encourage domestic tourism as an alternative to foreign tourism for citizens? A – The tourism sector in the UAE has made great strides. The UAE has been ranked first in the Middle East in the travel and tourism sector. It was also ranked 30th among 139 countries, surveyed by Competitiveness Travel and Tourism Report for the year 2011, issued by the "World Economic Forum." There is no doubt that the sector is now more sophisticated compared to the year 2011.

Now, domestic tourism is so active during the summer, but it is difficult for any state to create domestic tourism as an alternative to foreign one. We must not forget that the climatic conditions in the UAE play a role in this area. In summer, citizens prefer the moderate weather abroad, while we see tourists and visitors come to us seeking the desert and the sun.

We emphasise that domestic tourism is booming and the UAE has become the first Gulf destination in light of the availability of all modern tourism standards and its components. There are serious efforts being made to benefit from the advanced infrastructure in developing tourist facilities and services, with the aim to enhance the competitiveness of domestic tourism and make it more attractive to citizens and tourists from the GCC, Arab and foreign states.

Q – In light of the ongoing changes in many Arab countries, how do you see unfolding events in Arab countries, and their impact on Arab Gulf security? A – The Arab system had experienced something similar before, and was able to overcome it. However, the current situation is now different for several reasons. Some Arab countries have become weaker due to their inability to ensure security, and provide the basic needs to their people. This makes them a fertile environment for the seeds of terrorism to grow backed by weapons, money and incitement from enemies of the Arab world.

There is no doubt that the Gulf region is positively and negatively affected by this environment, but the solid support of the people of the GCC states for their leaders has helped preserve its security and stability. But as leaders and peoples we must be cautious and vigilant to keep at bay those who seek to tamper with the security of the region and interfere in its internal affairs.

This requires a high degree of co-ordination with the Arab brothers, unifying vision and efforts, particularly with regard to the fight against terrorism, and liquidating the sources of its funding and arming.

Q – Your love for equestrianism and encouragement for camel sports is well-known. Why do you focus on these kind of traditional sports? And how do you see the future of these sports in the country? A – Heritage sports are part and parcel of our deep-rooted authentic values. We, in the UAE, are always striving to transfer the experience of our forefathers to the younger generation and polish their personalities to actively contribute to the development process. Thankfully, we are proud of the achievements in the field of traditional sports. We are committed to the legacy of the late founding father Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who cared for the heritage and knew how best to preserve it, because it represented human identity. That heritage value has been incorporated in the school curricula.

Q – The national football team and football in general receives constant and special support and encouragement from you to achieve the best results both regionally and globally. How do you see the future of football in the country? And what is your evaluation of the professional experience? A – No doubt, the UAE enjoys the advantage of advanced training centres and sports academies, which contribute to the rehabilitation of the younger generations, and hone their skills to put them on the right track, thanks to the support of the leadership. Our wish is to see the sport as a lifestyle for all members of the community, be they citizens or residents. We are optimistic about the future of football in the UAE. It is progressing as evidenced by the positive results achieved by the national football teams during the last period under the supervision of national cadres.

Despite our satisfaction at what has been achieved, we aspire for more during the coming period. We look forward to achieving the continental championships at the level of clubs and national teams, and reaching the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

In terms of professional experience in the UAE, it is a good experience by all standards, and serious steps have been take towards achieving the desired goals, but it still faces many challenges, notably of relying on companies and promoting commercialisation values. We hope that the coming period would witness a movement to develop clubs at all levels, which will help them to win championships in different sports. – Emirates News Agency, WAM –


UAE, Kosovo sign two agreements on avoidance of double taxation, protection and promotion of investment

posted on 29/05/2016

PRISTINA: UAE, represented by the Ministry of Finance (MoF), signed two final agreements on avoidance of double taxation on income and the protection and promotion of investment with the Republic of Kosovo.

The signing ceremony took place in the capital Pristina during an official visit of the UAE delegation headed by Younis Haji Al Khoori, Under-Secretary of MoF to the Republic of Kosovo.

The two agreements were signed by Younis Haji Al Khoori on behalf of the UAE. Dr. Abdullah Hoti, Minister of Finance of the Republic of Kosovo signed the avoidance of double taxation agreement and Hykmete Bajrami, the Minister for Trade and Industry of the Republic of Kosovo signed the agreement on the protection and promotion of investment; in the presence of the UAE delegation and number of ministers and senior government officials in the Republic of Kosovo.

Younis Haji Al Khoori stressed the UAE's commitment to strengthening its international relations network to attract foreign investments and increase the trade intercontinental movement. He then said, "These agreements support in achieving the UAE's development goals, diversifying sources of national income and supporting the growth of foreign investments as well as protecting it from any non-trade and political risks related to the transfer of profits and revenues in convertible currency.

These agreements also provide full support to companies and individuals from double taxation and added value taxes whether direct or indirect."

The UAE delegation headed by Younis Haji Al Khoori met with Isa Mustafa, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Kosovo and Petrit Selimi, Acting Foreign Affairs Minister of the Republic of Kosovo.

The Prime Minister of the Republic of Kosovo welcomed the delegation and highlighted the UAE's strong position as a strategic partner and access to trade and investments with the GCC and South Asia.

During the meeting, Al Khoori stressed the key components and achievements of the UAE economy during the past few years, adding that the country is a trade hub and the second largest economy in the region.

He also highlighted the UAE's experience in the innovation sector, programmes for planning and implementing public budget, as well as public sector strategy and its performance indicators. "The future projects that the UAE aims to accomplish, such as Expo 2020, provide qualitative investment opportunities for private sector in various economic development fields, primarily in construction, tourism and service sectors."

Al Khoori stressed the importance of both countries collaboration in various economic fields and particularly in energy and renewable energy, health, agriculture as well as tourism.

The UAE official said the country has an advanced infrastructure which emphasises the country's competitiveness level in foreign trade globally. He added that the UAE banking sector one of the largest and strongest on a regional level, plays an important role in supporting investments.

He stressed that the collaboration between both countries is significant in fields of agricultures and food security. He also called for consolidating joint work, exchanging expertise as well holding official meetings with senior officials in both the public and private sectors. This will enhance investments and commercial relations while taking into consideration the strategic location of both countries.

Prime Minister of Kosovo Isa Mustafa highlighted investment opportunities of the Republic of Kosovo particularly in areas of tourism, roads, agriculture, energy and renewable energy. "The Republic of Kosovo has reinforced its legislative and legal structure through conducting several economic reforms, with a main aim to attract foreign investments across all economic sectors and particularly that of water and agriculture which has long attracted European and Asian investors," he said.

Mustafa called for the public and private institutions of the Republic of Kosovo to benefit from the UAE's advanced infrastructure and its outstanding experience in organising elite conferences as well as commercial and investments exhibitions in the region. "We look forward to signing more collaborative agreements with the UAE in fields of studies and research, consolidating joint work, and exploring future investments opportunities in retail and construction fields," he said.

UAE, represented by MoF, has signed 97 final agreements on avoidance of double taxation on income and 58 agreements on protection and promotion of investment with key economic and trading partners. This is in line with the country efforts to consolidate its position on regional and international levels and establish an attractive investment environment that attracts public and private sector investments. – Emirates News Agency, WAM –


UAE to host UNEP FI 2016 global roundtable

posted on 29/05/2016

The UAE will host the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) 2016 roundtable in October, Dr. Thani Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, announced at the Second UN Environment Assembly (UNEA).

The event, which will take place from 25th – 27th October, will bring together than 400 representatives from financial, governmental and civil organisations from around the world are expected to attend the event.

The announcement was made by Al Zeyoudi during the press conference held on the side-lines of the UNEA, held in Nairobi, Kenya between 23th- 27th May.

Dr. Al Zeyoudi and Eric Usher, the head of the UNEP FI, and several dignitaries and media representatives, attended the press conference.

The UAE's delegation, led by Al Zeyoudi, wrapped up its high-level participation in the assembly alongside ministers and high-level officials from more than 195 UN members.

The assembly included several ministerial meetings and sessions that discussed national, regional and international environmental challenges. The participants also evaluated governments' ability to successfully implement the goals of sustainable development.

The sessions included discussions on the financial and organisational issues that pertain to UNEA and setting in place the laws and procedures that would be adopted during the upcoming period.

In a speech during the event, Al Zeyoudi highlighted the efforts carried out by the country to protect the environment and support the transformation towards a green economy.

During the event, the United Nations Environment Programme announced that the UAE, represented by the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment and in collaboration with the UAE's Central Bank, will host of the roundtable Finance Initiative meetings taking place in October this year.

Speaking about the UAE's hosting the UNEP FI roundtable, Al Zeyoudi said: "The UAE's hosting of the 14th edition of this global event supports the initiative launched in 2013 by His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to position Dubai as the world's capital of Islamic economy. It also supports global efforts to provide the financing needed to obtain sustainable development."

Al Zeyoudi, who was a key speaker at the ministerial forum, stressed the importance of supporting international efforts and carrying out the necessary steps needed to achieve Sustainable Development Goals 2030 especially the goals that pertain to environmental sustainability.

He held several bilateral meetings with ministers and high-level officials from various environmental organisations such as the new general director of the UNEP, the head of the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) and the general director of the Global Green Growth Institute. – Emirates News Agency, WAM –


UAE tops list of intra-OIC trade

posted on 29/05/2016

Secretary-General of the Federation of UAE Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Humaid bin Salim, said the UAE was at the top member of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation in terms of intra-OIC trade in 2014 with US$121.7 billion accounting for 15.2 per cent of the total intra-OIC trade.

Turkey came second with US$77.8 billion (9.7 per cent of total intra-OIC trade) and Saudi Arabia with US$74.3 billion (9.3 percent).

Bin Salim was commenting on the federation's participation in the 15th Trade Fair of OIC Member States, held from 22th to 26th May in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

The UAE's pavilion included a number of national companies including Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) and others.

Some 30 OIC members are taking part in the trade fair. – Emirates News Agency, WAM –


Dubai Water Canal flyover on Sheikh Zayed Road to open fully in July

posted on 29/05/2016

The second half of the Sheikh Zayed Road flyover, part of the Dubai Water Canal project, will be open by July, the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) said on Saturday.

Work on the 16-lane flyover began in November 2014 and in January this year RTA opened the first part of the flyover for Sharjah-bound traffic. From July, Abu Dhabi-bound traffic will also move on the flyover, allowing for canal drilling work underneath.

Mattar Al Tayer, director-general and chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of RTA, said that work on the canal is on schedule and 92 per cent of the project has been completed.

The flyover, located near interchange two on Sheikh Zayed Road, stretches for 800 metres and will allow passage of yachts up to 8.5 metres high.

Meanwhile, RTA has awarded a contract worth Dh703 million for Phases 4 and 5 of the canal project.

Phase 4, which costs Dh307 million, will see completion of infrastructure works required to serve property development on both sides of the canal, including roads works and utility lines.

Phase 5, which is being carried at a cost of Dh396 million, will link the Business Bay Canal with the Dubai Water Canal terminating at the Arabian Gulf. Work includes building quay walls of precast concrete slabs all along the stretch of the canal and diverting utility lines and key services to give way for completing the construction work of the canal.

Phase 5 also includes the treatment of hyper-saline water of the Business Bay Lakes, removing sand barriers in the course of the Canal, and constructing three marine transport stations on both sides of the canal.

Both phases are set for completion by the end of September.

The canal stretches 3.2km from the Business Bay Canal up to the Arabian Gulf, cutting across Sheikh Zayed Road, Al Safa Park, Al Wasl Road and Jumeirah Road.

The canal's width ranges from 80 to 120 metres, and has a depth of up to 6 metres with the tide. Bridges crossing the Canal rise more than eight metres allowing 24-hour free navigation in the Canal, which will add 6km to the Dubai Waterfront.

The canal will be served by modern water transport means, including water taxis and ferries.

Work under phase two of the project includes constructing bridges on Al Wasl and Jumeirah roads as well as building a multi-tier interchange to better organise traffic movement between Al Wasl, Hadiqa and Athar roads, replacing the existing traffic lights.

According to RTA, 86 per cent of phase two has been completed, with a flyover linking Athar Road to Hadiqa Street already opened for traffic.

In Phase 3, 75 per cent work has been completed, including drilling, building quay walls, and constructing three pedestrian bridges linking the two sides of the Canal at key locations to ease pedestrian mobility.

10 marine transport stations are also being built under phase three.

Marine transit modes are expected to lift more than 6 million passengers annually around the canal manmade islands off the coast. – Gulf News -


Sheikh Mansoor Festival races set to boost Arabian racing in Italy

posted on 29/05/2016

ROME: The HH Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival is all set to trigger a huge boost to the Purebred Arabian racing scene in Italy when three of its major race series will be worked off on ‘Emirates Race Day' at the Capanelle race course in Rome on Sunday, May 29, 2016.

The Festival which has staged Endurance rides here in Italy, will be making its debut with Arabian horse flat racing through the Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Cup (Listed) race, the HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies World Championship race and the HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Apprentice World Championship race.

"This will be the biggest day for Purebred Arabian racing in Italy and with over 500 delegates from all over the world, who are here for the World Arabian Horse Racing Conference, in attendance on Sunday, it is a great opportunity for the Italians," said Ms Lara Sawaya, Executive Director of the HH Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival, Chairperson of Int'l Federation of Horse Racing Academies (IFHRA) and Chairperson of Ladies & Apprentice Racing Committees in the International Federation of Arabian Horse Racing Authorities (IFAHR).

The Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan race is a Listed event with ten runners contesting over 2400 meters and Al Janoob under Anna Pilroth is the top weight. The added importance of this race is the fact that it is one of the three legs of the Festival's European Triple Crown and this has attracted four international runners.

But the one to watch is Ziyadd under Pierantonio Convertino, a 4-year-old trained by Antoine Watrigant for owner HH Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs.

The biggest danger for Ziyadd could come from Tornado Byzucchele under Antonio Fadda and Nasco under Domenico Migheli while Al Janoob, Fedayn, Nil Ashaal and Lares De Pine are all capable of finishing in the frame.

In the HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies World Championship race, 2015 world champion Astrid Wullschleger partners Mirko, the veteran runner starting as favourite despite being the top weight. Irish lady jockey Lisa O'Neil on Sibillina should also fancy her chances as will Moroccan Bouchra Marmoul on Sole Di Chia, Poland's Anna Gil on Tintudi Gallura and Australian Cecily Eaton on Tabasco.

The other jockeys and the horses Denmark's Rikke Bay Torp on Tiffany, German Silvia Pattinson on Tersilia, Omani Fatma Al Manji on Quadrieoglio, South Korea's Lee Keumjoo on Turriga and Jessica Marcialis representing hosts Italy on Monnalisa.

In the HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Apprentice World Championship race, South Korean Jeonghee Jeong on the unbeaten Urge De Gallura will be the favourite. Australian Jordan Childs on Ultzana, Italian Gabriele Cannarella on Triade, Great Britain's Gemma Tutty on Usini and Argentina's Lucas Berticelli on Usuym are all expected to be in the running for a place in the top.

The others in the fray are Belgian Zoe Vande Velde on Makbar Du Piboul, Brandon Duchaine of Canada on Unika Dorado, French jockey Adrien Moreau on Urlo Di Chia, Moroccan Omar Lakjal on Urugano Di Chia, Oman's Saif Al Balushi on Unu Di Gallura.

The HH Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival is sustained by the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority and coordinated by Abu Dhabi Sports Council, with National Feed and Flour Production and Marketing Co. LLC as associate sponsors, IPIC as Strategic Partner, The National Archives as the official partner and Emirates airline as the official carriers, in cooperation with Emirates Racing Authority, IFAHR, Emirates Arabian Horse Society, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, General Authority of Youth and Sports Welfare and sponsored by Al Aweer Stables, Ayadii LLC, Global United Veterinary Services LLC, Bloom, Petromal, Rise General Trading Co. LLC, Hayatna, Wathba Stallions, Abu Dhabi Falconers Club, Emirates Falconers Club, Mohamed Bin Zayed Falconry and Desert Physiognomy School, Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC), Al Awani General Enterprises, Kabale, Omeir Travels, Dr Nader Saab Switzerland, Laboratories Fadia Karam Cosmetics, YAS Channel, Racing Post, Paris Turf, Al Wathba Centre, the UAE's General Women's Union, The Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, the HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Sports Academy, Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition 2016, Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club, Eastern Mangroves Suites-Abu Dhabi by Jannah, Anantara Eastern Mangroves Spa and Resort. – Emirates News Agency, WAM –


Young Abu Dhabi drivers given early start in road safety

posted on 29/05/2016

Over the past two weeks, thousands of youngsters have been getting instructions in the correct way to drive by taking mini pedal cars around a mock-up of a town centre, complete with road signs, pedestrian crossing, roundabout and traffic lights.

My First Licence — I Know My Road Rules helped 3,000 children from nine schools in Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi to learn basic road rules and signs, before giving them the chance to put what they learnt into practice on the streets.

Hesham Ahmed Khan, 6, a Year 1 pupil at Gems Cambridge International School, said it was fun learning about the road signs and the basic road rules.

"We learnt about red, yellow and red traffic signals, the roundabout, U-turn, stop and other signs," he said. "We need to put our seat belts on, and my dad should not be using the phone while driving or we'll crash."

Ali Salem Al Mazrouie, 5, said he learnt that children should not sit in the front seat as the airbag can cause injuries in a crash.

Shouq Al Jasmi, 6, agreed, saying: "I need to sit on the back of the car with my seat belt on. Talking on the phone while driving is bad."

At a zebra crossing, children were taught to look left and right twice and make sure that the road is clear before they can cross, said six-year-old Janina Fathima Sirujuddeen. "Inside the bus, we should put our seat-belts on and not talk too loudly because we'll distract the driver," she said.

Each child who completed the practice driving session received a mock-up licence, carrying their name, photograph and school, an interactive story book on road rules and a "We Know Our Road Rules" magnet.

Organisers and school officials were impressed by the children's knowledge of road safety rules.

"It leads them from safe passengers to safe drivers, isn't it?" said Kelvin Hornsby, the school's new principal.

"That's what you're looking for because everybody in the car has a responsibility to play for their safety."

Albie Huyser, the school's vice principal, said the message could be passed on to the parents.

"We make a big issue about how to help and support your parents, how to look for any dangers on the road," she said. "This initiative is absolutely worth it. They can tell their parents ‘fasten your seat-belt. Don't speak on the phone while driving'."

Instilling good road-safety habits from a young age is important, said Roshanara Sait, director of Ciel Marketing & Events, which organised the campaign along with BMW Group Middle East.

"If the child can influence a parent's driving style, it would have more effect than paying a fine," she said. "If you can save one life, it would really make a huge difference."

Leanne Blanckenberg, corporate communications manager for BMW Group, said: "These children will one day be motorists on our roads. We therefore need to instil good road-safety habits and ensure they are aware of their responsibilities as pedestrians, passengers and future drivers from an early age to ensure safer roads for the future."

The campaign ended on Thursday (May 26) at Gems Winchester School. It was supported by the Abu Dhabi Police, Roads and Transport Authority and Knowledge and Human Development Authority. – The National -