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Female weightlifter Aisha Al Balushi to represent UAE at Rio Olympics

posted on 01/07/2016

Emirati female weightlifter Aisha Al Balushi will be representing the UAE in Rio Olympic Games, to be held in Brazil in August, officials of the Emirates Weightlifting Federation (EWF) announced Thursday in a press conference.

Al Balushi's nomination to Rio came after the UAE weightlifting team had earned second consecutive qualification.

Al Balushi, who will participate in the 58kg weight category, was part of the UAE's team at the Asian Championships in Uzbekistan in April, where she scored 22 points earning the spot for the Rio Olympics.

Sheikh Sultan bin Mejren, president of the Emirates Weightlifting Federation (EWF), dedicated the achievement to the leaders of the UAE. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Ipic-Mubadala merger won’t change investment strategy

posted on 01/07/2016

While no changes are expected in the investment strategy of International Petroleum Investment Company (Ipic) and Mubadala after the merger of the two companies, the combination is likely to work very well for Abu Dhabi's economy for seeking better and stable returns, analysts said.

"This merger I don't expect it to signify any particular change in the investment strategy of the businesses. It's basically to achieve economies of scale, combine the two, reduce some overlaps and reduce some extra costs which might be there,” said Anita Yadav, head of fixed income research at Emirates NBD, speaking to Gulf News.

She said Ipic investment is generally related to downstream projects to ensure end market for Abu Dhabi's oil whereas the focus for Mubadala is mainly to invest in sectors away from oil in order to reduce economy's reliance on hydrocarbons.

"Although Ipic and Mubadala have slightly different objectives, the decision makers are generally the same senior officials from the Abu Dhabi government. Yes, the sectors are different but when you are taking an investment decision you have to think about returns, the risks, timings, benefits etc, the process for which is roughly the same for both entities.”

"The combination will probably will work very well. I think even after the merger their focus and strategy is unlikely to change materially.”


Mubadala and Ipic have wide range of investments across the globe including in Europe, Asia and the US.

Mubadala has partnerships with Boeing, Airbus, Total, Global Foundries etc, where as Ipic investments include Austria's OMV, Pakistan's Parco, Japan's Cosmo Oil, Spain's Cepsa and other companies.

The two companies have combined assets of $130 billion (Dh477 billion) with Ipic and Mubadala having $65 billion each, a source close to the discussions on the merger told Gulf News.

Mubadala was set up in 2002 via an Emiri decree under which it cannot be dissolved before the expiry of its 50-year mandate for diversifying the Abu Dhabi economy. Mubadala also has a mandate to invest in development and social goal oriented projects or sectors.

According to Yadav, general valuation in the global energy sector have declined recently in response to lower oil prices and it make sense for a merged entity to prudently consider even increasing its investments in this sector, particularly in the downstream or refinery projects.

Financial strength

Adrian Nizzola, partner in Simmons & Simmons expected the new entity to do much of the same but better.

"I expect it will leverage off its greater cumulative experience know how and financial strength to seek better and more stable returns, and add greater value to the Abu Dhabi in capital and knowledge base,” he said.

"With the current global market uncertainties, there are investment opportunities, and I expect Abu Dhabi Inc, is tooling up to take better advantage of them. I think the merger is a sign of things to come, and there are likely to be similar restructurings in the region.”

The latest decision comes in less than two weeks after the merger talks of FGB and National Bank of Abu Dhabi.

The two banks confirmed on June 19 that they commenced discussions regarding the possibility of a merger or a combination of the two businesses. – Gulf News -


UAE, Macedonia sign open skies agreement

posted on 01/07/2016

The UAE and Macedonia have signed an open skies agreement to allow an unlimited number of their designated national flag carriers to operate unrestricted scheduled charter and non-charter operations with full traffic rights between all points.

The agreement allows for full flexibility on the routes, capacity, and types of aircraft.

Director-General of the GCAA, Saif Mohammed Al Suwaidi, representing the UAE, and Ambassador of Macedonia to the UAE, Sasho Tashevski, signed the agreement.

Al Suwaidi, in statements following the signing ceremony, stressed that the new agreement will help in reviving economic sectors in the UAE, such as tourism and trade, and strengthening bilateral relations between the two countries.

To date, the GCAA has signed 170 agreements with civil aviation regulators of other countries. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Dubai International Airport passenger numbers climb ever higher

posted on 01/07/2016

Passenger numbers at Dubai International Airport rose by 7.2 per cent year on year in May to 6.7 million, led by a surge from the Arabian Gulf and Eastern Europe.

During the first five months of the year, Dubai International welcomed 34.6 million passengers through the airport, a 7 per cent increase on the 32.3 million passengers during the same period a year ago.

Eastern Europe was the fastest-growing source market in May, rising by 16.6 per cent, followed by travellers from the Gulf, up 16.3 per cent, and Asia, up 10 per cent.

India was the biggest source country, providing more than 980,000 visitors, followed by Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom and Pakistan.

"With near-record numbers expected in the coming weeks as a result of the seasonal ­travel peak, we are looking at solid growth for the first half of 2016," said Paul Griffiths, the chief executive of Dubai ­Airports.

"Our focus is on maintaining and enhancing service levels, despite the high volumes," he said.

Cargo volume through the airport increased by 4.7 per cent in May to more than 226,000 tonnes compared with more than 216,000 tonnes in May last year. – The National -


flydubai announces increased flights to Bucharest following rising demand

posted on 01/07/2016

Dubai-based flydubai has announced the addition of two new flights a week between Dubai and Bucharest, and will now fly daily to the Romanian capital.

"We are delighted to announce our daily flights to Bucharest," said Ghaith Al Ghaith, Chief Executive Officer of flydubai. "At flydubai, we are committed to expanding connectivity to destinations that have historically been underserved from Dubai. Since the launch of our Bucharest route in 2012, we have witnessed increasing demand from GCC passengers visiting the city and Romanian expatriates using our hub in Dubai to connect and visit family and friends around the world."

flydubai's passenger traffic between Dubai and Bucharest continue to grow year-on-year, and it remains a particularly popular route for Business Class passengers. The airline has seen great demand from passengers travelling to Dubai and further afield on the flydubai network, whether for business or leisure.

"The launch of daily routes to Bucharest will provide greater convenience and connection options for flydubai passengers travelling to Dubai and beyond. Popular connecting routes from Bucharest include Colombo, Delhi, Kuwait, Male (Maldives), Mumbai and Zanzibar," said Jeyhun Efendi, Senior Vice President Commercial, UAE, EU, ME, CIS, for flydubai. "Our Business Class offering, which provides passengers with spacious seats, a choice of meals, generous checked baggage allowance and fast track immigration and security, is particularly popular on this route. It demonstrates our commitment to continually innovate and offer our passengers a range of different travel options and the latest on-board entertainment."

flydubai offers its passengers a variety of features on-board, including an award-winning inflight entertainment system, comfortable seating and hot meals. The airline recently introduced WiFi connectivity and Live TV for the first time on selected flights as it continues to roll out the service across the rest of its fleet. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Dubai Canal project offers new pathways of prosperity

posted on 01/07/2016

The completion of the Dubai Canal project over the next few months could help to transform the city by opening a waterway, currently stranded in Business Bay, for leisure use and by creating swathes of valuable new real estate.

The 3.2-kilometre extension of Dubai Canal from Business Bay to the Arabian Gulf is progressing at pace, with an elevated southbound stretch over Sheikh Zayed Road set to be open today, allowing for the removal of the old carriageway below.

Erwin Bamps, the chief executive of the luxury yacht manufacturer Gulf Craft, said that the opening of the canal will create an island of Bur Dubai and some of the city's most prominent districts including Jumeirah, DIFC and Downtown Dubai.

"It's quite a change," he said.

He said that it would breathe more life into the creek beyond the banks of Deira and Bur Dubai, where the abras, water taxis and tourist boats currently ply their trade.

It will allow for tourist cruises and RTA water taxis to travel the full length of the canal, offering views of Burj Khalifa and Downtown Dubai as they travel along it.

Mr Bamps said he had also held discussions with Dubai Properties on how best to create new waterfront communities

The developer, which is part of government-owned Dubai Holding, is building out its creekside Culture Village project and recently announced plans to spend Dh1 billion developing Marasi Business Bay – a waterfront community along a 6km stretch of the existing canal running through Business Bay.

Its proposals include up to 200 "water homes" supported by stilts on the canal bed, five marinas containing more than 120 berths, floating restaurants and more than 100 shops and restaurants along a new 12km promenade.

Mr Bamps said work needs to be done on making the canal more accessible if this and other waterside developments are to attract tourism and investment, but that the creek offered an alternative to a densely populated Dubai Marina, which has limitations for boat owners.

Anyone looking to venture into the Arabian Gulf needs to submit a journey plan to coastguards for approval before setting off. An extended canal should, in theory, offer more spontaneity for boat owners and attract more hobbyists – "smaller boat owners, who are a little bit afraid when they don't see the beach any more".

Mr Bamps added: "If you want to create a lifestyle around boating on the canal, you need to be able to take your boat and park it like a valet, have your dinner and return."

The extended canal links other current and planned projects along the creek's banks such as Emaar's Dubai Creek Harbour, which is set to feature Dubai's newest tall tower and mega-mall, and Al Habtoor Group's ­Dh10bn Habtoor City and Damac's Aykon City. In late last month, Damac said that it had sold 800 serviced hotel and residential apartments at Aykon City ­within 12 weeks of launch, averaging five sales per day.

Mike Collings, the regional director of the project-management consultancy Turner & Townsend, said: "The whole of that canal area is going to be a massive development and there seems to still be a market interested in purchasing it."

"As long as that continues, it's going to keep the sector busy," he said.

"It is going to expand the city and maybe diversify it, which might not be a bad thing."

David Godchaux, the chief executive of the property consultancy Core UAE, an associate of Savills, said that once the canal is operational, it could thrust Jumeirah into the spotlight as a prime investment area. He said that Jumeirah is largely ignored by the investment community, because freehold land is generally not available to non-GCC nationals, although Meraas Holding's new City Walk residential buildings is the first of several new exceptions.

Mr Godchaux said the creation of substantial freehold plots alongside the canal banks "is, in my opinion, really going to establish Jumeirah as the prime district in the whole city".

He said that Dubai still doesn't have an established prime ­central area of the city like London, Paris or New York, as districts including Downtown, Palm Jumeirah and Emirates Hills can all lay claim to being the most exclusive.

"Jumeirah is going to become that. When you look at the location, you have many kilometres of beachfront, you have access to fantastic infrastructure [and] limited land between the sea and Sheikh Zayed Road." – The National -


Mohamed bin Zayed issues resolution, reconstituting board of directors of Abu Dhabi Fund for Development

posted on 01/07/2016

His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces and Chairman of Abu Dhabi Executive Council has issued a resolution reconstituting the board of directors of Abu Dhabi Fund for Development under the chairmanship of H.H. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan and H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan as Deputy Chairman.

The resolution named the following as members of the board of directors: Reem bint Ibrahim Al Hashimy, Ahmed Juma Al Zaabi, Saeed Eid Saeed Al Ghafli, Fares Mohamed AL Mazrouei, Mohammed Najm Mohammed Abdul Rahim Al Qubaisi, Alyazia Ali Saleh Al Kuwaiti, Manager of public debt Office – Department of Finance. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


HSBC Bank Middle East Limited completes transfer to Dubai International Financial Centre

posted on 01/07/2016

HSBC Bank Middle East Limited (‘HBME') yesterday said it has transferred its place of incorporation and head office from Jersey to the Dubai International Financial Centre (the "DIFC") effective today, 30 June 2016.

As a result of the transfer, HBME is now lead-regulated by the Dubai Financial Services Authority (the "DFSA"). HBME remains locally regulated in each of the countries in which it operates by the country's Central Bank and its other regulators. The re-location has no material impact on HBME's business in the MENA region.

David Eldon, Chairman of HSBC Bank Middle East Limited, said: "HBME in the MENA region has been operating under a very effective regulatory regime administered by the Jersey Financial Services Commission ("JFSC") for twelve years. I would like to thank the JFSC for the effective supervision that they have provided during that time.

"As we look to the future, aligning our business and regulatory oversight geographically makes strong strategic sense. The DIFC and its independent regulator, the DFSA, combine to offer a world-class financial services centre. HSBC has operated certain businesses within the DIFC since 2006, so we know the jurisdiction and regulator well, and we look forward to developing our broader relationship with them."

Essa Kazim, Governor of the DIFC, added: "We are pleased to welcome HBME to DIFC, the global financial hub for the Middle East Africa and South Asia region. The relocation of HSBC's regional management office to DIFC reinforces the attractiveness as well competitiveness of the UAE economy to international players in the banking and financial services sector.

"Furthermore, the transfer will attract assets valued at more than US$40 billion on the balance sheet to DIFC. HBME operations at DIFC will be regulated by our independent regulator DFSA for the entire Middle East region, further strengthening the credibility of our regulatory regime and benefit our clients and stakeholders. I am confident that through its presence at DIFC, HBME will play an important role in fostering closer ties among the financial communities in the MENA region." – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Ruler of Sharjah approves resolutions to provide decent living standards to citizens

posted on 01/07/2016

H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah has approved a number of resolutions to address issues facing 8,000 citizens in the emirate who benefit from aid provided by the Ministry of Community Development and the Department of Social Services.

According to the resolutions, an annual amount of AED 15 million shall be allocated to pay rents for the beneficiaries, along with construction and furnishing of new houses for them.

Sheikh Sultan also issued directives to settle the beneficiaries' debts, totaling AED 320 million. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Carter Centre commends UAE contributions to Guinea-worm eradication campaign

posted on 01/07/2016

His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, has gifted US$5 million to The Carter Centre for the eradication of Guinea-worm disease, Dracunculiasis.

For more than two decades, the UAE has been a major partner in the Guinea-worm eradication campaign, beginning with a financial commitment made by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan in 1990. In 2012, President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, renewed the UAE's pledge to this public health cause by earmarking US$10 million to The Carter Centre, making the country not only one of the first champions of this effort, but also one of its most prominent donors. Current support includes a 2015 gift of US$5 million from His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.

Dr. Maha Barakat, Director-General of the Health Authority Abu Dhabi, HAAD, and Saif Saeed Ghobash, Director-General of Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority, TCA, inaugurated a preview of the exhibition, "Countdown to Zero: Defeating Disease" at Yas Mall on Monday. Organised in partnership with The Carter Center in Atlanta, GA, in collaboration with the American Museum of Natural History in New York, the exhibition highlights global efforts to eradicate and eliminate human disease, including Guinea-worm, which could soon become the second human disease ever to be eradicated, after smallpox. The preview exhibition will run at Yas Mall until 10th July, and the full exhibition will open in the UAE later this year.

The Carter Centre, in partnership with various entities and stakeholders, has led global efforts to eradicate Guinea-worm disease since 1986. The Carter Centre is a non-profit organisation founded in 1982 by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn, and works to advance human rights and alleviate human suffering.

Former President Carter recently acknowledged this support by giving Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan the second of fifty limited-edition prints of his painting, White Dove. The gift will be showcased to the public at the full exhibition, which will be held later in the year.

"For more than two decades, the United Arab Emirates has been an instrumental partner in the Carter Centre's global effort to eradicate Guinea-worm disease, an ancient affliction. The Centre is pleased to further collaborate with the UAE to bring the exhibition Countdown to Zero to the Emirates and explore the challenges and successes of disease elimination in the modern, interconnected world," said Ambassador (retired) Mary Ann Peters, Carter Centre CEO.

Carter Centre Trustee, Douglas Nelson, represented the Carter Centre during the opening of the preview exhibition in Yas Mall. Mr. Nelson currently serves as the Chairman of the Centre for Disease Control Foundation, and is the retired President and CEO of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, one of the largest philanthropic organisations in the United States.

Guinea-worm is a parasite that enters the human body in contaminated drinking water. While there is no cure or vaccine for Guinea-worm disease, it can be eradicated through community health education, and low-tech interventions, such as filtering all drinking water via cloth water filters. The Carter Centre-led Guinea-worm eradication campaign has driven the global incidence of Guinea-worm disease down to only 22 cases reported in 4 endemic countries in 2015, a reduction of more than 99.99 percent since 1986. To date, 198 countries have been certified as free of Guinea-worm disease by the World Health Organisation, the only agency that can officially certify the eradication of a disease. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


UAE's MBRF to distribute 'Smart Reading Kits' to refugee kids

posted on 01/07/2016

Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation, a member of Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives, yesterday announced an initiative in which 'Smart Reading Kits' will be distributed to refugee children aged between 3 and 11, as a gift from Her Highness Sheikha Al Jalila bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, in partnership with the UAE Red Crescent.

According to a release by the Dubai Media Office, the initiative is part of the 'Reading Nation" campaign, which was launched during the Holy Month of Ramadan by Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum to provide five million books to students and children in refugee camps.

The initiative has been launched under the patronage of the Chairman of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

The move is part of the Foundation's aim to promote the spread of knowledge in the Arab region, and contribute to building knowledge-based communities. The move also aims to instill greater hope among refugee children who have suffered from armed conflicts that have deprived them of their basic right to education and learning.

Jamal bin Huwaireb, Managing Director of the Foundation, said that one of the key aims of the initiative is to help refugee children across the world live a normal life and aspire and plan for a better future for both them and their communities through opportunities for learning and acquiring knowledge.

He said the distribution of the Kits will be done in phases. In the first phase, 200,000 'Smart Reading Kits' will be distributed to Syrian children in refugee camps in Jordan, while the second will target children in need across the world.

The 'Smart Reading Kit' includes a number of educational books, coloring books, learning tags, and a smart pen that reads letters and words, and teaches children correct pronunciation. The Kit aims to help the children develop their learning and reading skills through innovative techniques.

Dr. Mona Al-Bahr, CEO of the Al Jalila Cultural Centre for Children, said UAE citizens feel proud to belong to a country that is helping 'The Reading Nation' regain its cultural glory.

She also said that the 'Reading Nation' campaign will focus on the development of the Arab community from its roots, through children who represent the future of the nation.

She praised the Foundation's initiative, which she said is an exceptional humanitarian initiative focused on refugee children, as it seeks to equip them with tools to continue their learning, despite being in refugee camps, and help them become strong and productive members of their communities and their nations in the future.

Earlier in the month of Ramadan, as part of the 'Reading Nation' campaign, the Foundation launched a campaign to distribute 100,000 books to a number of public libraries in Yemen, as well as refugee camps in the Arab world.

The campaign started with distributing 1000 books to each library in Yemen as part of the goal of supporting refugees and spreading knowledge across the Arab world. – Khaleej Times -


A walkathon worth 500 charity Iftar meals

posted on 01/07/2016

Hundreds of Dubai residents, including people who were fasting, walked a kilometre before Iftar for a cause on Jumeirah Corniche yesterday.

Called ‘Walk for Good, Make a Difference', the campaign got the support of around 500 residents who walked a kilometre just before they ended their fast yesterday. The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) and Dubai Sports Council co-organised the event. Some 500 Iftar meals were donated to mosques in Jumeirah.

"The idea is to promote the idea of staying healthy and fit during Ramadan. People tend to indulge a little bit more than usual on food and sweets in the evenings. So it's good to stay healthy during the month by doing exercise,” Moaza Al Merri, Director of Marketing and Corporate Communication at RTA, told Gulf News.

""And since we're doing it this Ramadan, we're linking it to the spirit of giving. By putting your effort walking an hour before Iftar, what we'll do in return is we'll contribute a meal on your behalf to people in need.”

The walkathon was done in batches. Iftar meals were distributed at the finish line as well. – Gulf News -


Shoppers throng Ramadan Night Market

posted on 01/07/2016

Do you need retail therapy at 1am? Are you craving food well after midnight?

Head to the Ramadan Night Market.

Open from 8pm to 2am daily, the market is drawing bargain hunters, foodies and fun-seekers by the hundreds every night.

From clothes, shoes, accessories, jewellery, cosmetics and much more, 300 stalls cater to every taste of a shopper in addition to a food court, entertainment and children's play area.

Expected to attract some 100,000 people in total over the 10 days of its duration, the market addresses the change in people's routine during Ramadan and their need for a late evening of leisure and culinary adventures.

Ramadan Night Market claims to be Dubai's biggest night souq. The event is packed even after midnight on work days.

Regular visitor Divyesh Kumar said: "Last year, there was a bigger hall but this year there are more stalls in a smaller area, so there's more variety. I can see new items on offer and the prices are reasonable, with some good bargains.”

Also new this year is the Dh5 entry fee per person, with children under five allowed in for free.

Another shopper, who only identified herself as Ankita, said many stalls don't keep fixed prices and are willing to bargain. "Since the prices are already good, generally, you don't have to spend too much energy on haggling. What I like here is the variety in jewellery,” she added.

There are many stalls offering up to 80 per cent discounts and deals such as ‘buy one, get one free'.

Some stalls even give away a gift with every purchase and offer home delivery on certain purchases. One can even win a free return ticket daily, courtesy of Jet Airways, by simply visiting the market.

However, it is not just shopping that pulls crowds at the market, said Samantha Miranda, brand manager, Sumansa Exhibitions.

"Ramadan Night Market is more than just a shopping extravaganza; it's an opportunity to simply relax, eat some good food, get an adrenalin rush while playing exciting games and basically spend some good family time. We realise the importance of indoor entertainment, particularly during hot summer and the fact that most children are on vacation, so this fun-filled consumer fair with diverse range of interests is just the right answer,” Miranda added.

Activities and entertainment include gaming zones, rides, living statues, cartoon character mascots, free health check-ups, a henna majlis for ladies and a new confetti theatre for children.

The food court meanwhile is equally diverse, with Indian, Chinese, Arabic and international treats served hot and fresh from the stalls.

Parking is available at the free parking lots across the road from Zabeel Halls and the Convention Tower. There is also a valet and paid parking option.

More information is available on

The annual bazaar is held every Ramadan for the last five years at Dubai World Trade Centre. This year the market is being held from June 23 to July 2 at Zabeel Hall 5. – Gulf News -


New Ramadan Majlis to support art

posted on 01/07/2016

The Cultural Office of Sheikha Manal Bint Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, President of the UAE Gender Balance Council, President of Dubai Women Establishment and wife of Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, recently hosted the first edition of a newly launched annual Ramadan Majlis series at Dubai Ladies Club.

The inaugural edition of ‘The Cultural Office Ramadan Majlis' brought together prominent figures and thought leaders in a dialogue entitled ‘Art for a Cause', which was led by Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi, founder of the Barjeel Art Foundation.

The majlis was attended by guest of honour Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Sheikh Sultan Bin Khalifa Al Nahyan Humanitarian & Scientific Foundation, top officials and dignitaries.

As part of this first edition, Al Qassemi led an informative talk about the impact of art in the charity sector, and participants engaged in a question-and-answer session.

The ‘Art for a Cause' edition of the majlis continues The Cultural Office's ongoing work to launch and support philanthropic initiatives, such as the ‘Selah Art Programme'. The year-long initiative, designed to help children communicate their emotions using artistic expression, concluded this month, culminating in an exhibition of the children's artworks at Dubai Mall's Fashion Avenue, which were also on display during the majlis.

Mona Bin Kalli, director of The Cultural Office, said the Ramadan Majlis "will provide a key platform for influential figures to come together each year and embrace as well as support the development of the arts by actively participating, and exchanging their opinions and ideas.”

Al Qassemi added that the initiative is "a welcome blend between the vibrant art and culture scene in Dubai and the spirituality of the holy month. I would like to thank the Cultural Office of Sheikha Manal Bint Mohammad in highlighting the importance of giving to humanitarian causes not only in Ramadan but around the year.” – Gulf News -


642 Emiratis to receive AED383m in loans, grants from Zayed Housing Programme

posted on 01/07/2016

The government-sponsored Sheikh Zayed Housing Programme has approved AED383 million in loans and grants for 642 Emiratis eligible for housing subsidies.

Of these, 503 citizens will receive loans while the other 139 will receive grants because they are people with special needs.

The move was in line with directives from President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. It is followed up by H.H. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs.

Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Programme, Dr. Abdullah bin Mohammed Belhaif Al Nuaimi, who is also Minister of Infrastructure Development, noted that the government seeks to enhance the quality of life of Emiratis and ensure they that the UAE is a happy country as part of the seven-year UAE National Agenda leading to the UAE Vision 2021.

The Programme's new housing compounds were specially designed to support widows, divorced women and elderly people by special community initiatives that ensure services are delivered right to their doorsteps. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Dubai Police seize four million narcotic pills in six months

posted on 01/07/2016

Dubai Police's Anti-Narcotics Department seized more than 4.17 million narcotic pills in the first half of 2016 as compared to the 65.28 million seized in the same period last year.

Dubai Police recorded 748 drug cases so far this year, as compared to 686 cases in the same period of 2015.

Colonel Eid Mohammad Thani Hareb, Director of the Anti-Narcotics Department, said they also seized a total of 120.8kg of various drugs, in addition to 2,195 marijuana seeds during the first six months of 2016.

These included 35.5kg of marijuana, 14.9kg of hashish and 2.3kg of poppy seeds.

The department also confiscated 33.4kg of heroin, 33.8kg of cocaine, and less than one kilogram each of opium, shabu (methamphetamine), spice and qat (Arabian shrub).

In the same period in 2015, the department seized a total of 100.6kg which included 69.1kg of heroin, 16.7kg of cocaine, 4.3kg of hashish, 3.7kg of marijuana in addition to small amounts of shabu, spice, qat and others.

Col Hareb said 977 people were arrested in the first half of the year in drug-related activities, an increase from 946 during the same time period last year.

Of those 977 people arrested, 363 had western passports, 195 were Arabs, and 419 were GCC nationals.

The majority of those arrested, 376 people, were arrested for using drugs, 31 were caught dealing, 94 were promoting, 129 for bring in drugs, 330 for possession, and 17 for smuggling drugs.

The department also helped provide 132 tips-off and information to international authorities which helped in many arrests.

Two cases in which Dubai Police tip-offs led to arrest were when the authorities in Copenhagen, Denmark seized five kilograms of cocaine from a traveller and 485kg of heroin was seized on board a wooden dhow in Australian waters.

The department has also helped in shutting down 11 websites in the past six months for promoting and selling drugs.

"We believe that raising awareness is key to the fight against drugs, that is why we have held 111 lectures and 67 awareness exhibitions during the first six months of 2016.

He added that there are 58 recovering addicts who are under the department's recovery programme, to ensure they do not go back to using drugs. – Gulf News -