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Liwa: where the dunes meet the ocean, by Sheikha Al Ghawi

posted on 25/07/2016

Nestled somewhere in between the vast blue ocean and the expansive desert, the Liwa oases are bracing for yet another season of summer festivities and heritage.

Liwa is home to the stunning sand dunes, breath-taking oases and the famous desert-tolerant Ghaf trees, which were planted there on the orders of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. It is also home to the most anticipated summer event, the date festival.

The festival's site looks like a bee-hive, with tents being prepared for the visitors, baskets of different types of dates going in and out, the 'Ruqaq,' a popular type of local bread, being baked in the traditional ovens and poets indulging in a rhymed dialogue.

Larissa Anthon, a visitor from Russia, expresses admiration for the vibrancy and teamwork she sees there, contrary to the image of isolation that is associated with desert.

"I thought people here are extroverts due to the nature of the place but when I arrived, I was taken by their warmth and hospitality. They come and greet me as if they know me for long. Their folklore singing is amazing," she notes.

The current edition of the Liwa Date Festival sees date farmers competing for cash prizes amounting to AED 6 million in total.

"The festival is a panorama of the area's history," says Rakan Maktoum Al Qubaisi, one of the key organisers.

"The festival has succeeded in highlighting and sustaining the customs and traditions of Bedouins and their unique way of life. It has also put the Western Region on the map of major tourist destinations," he adds.

"Such success would not have been achieved without the wise leadership's unlimited support and keenness to preserve the heritage and to maintain the legacy of our forefathers," he says. - Emirates News Agency, WAM –


Farming technologies to business innovations under one roof

posted on 25/07/2016

"This is the first palm plantation in the world that works on hydroponics" reads a sign above Saleh Al Mansouri's stand. A native of Mazeirah, the largest town in Liwa Oasis, Al Mansouri participates for the first time in the Liwa Dates Festival with dates grown using hydroponics system.

An agricultural method using water enriched with nutrients instead of soil to grow plants, hydroponics was first introduced to the UAE about six years ago by the Abu Dhabi Farmers Services Centre.

"I'm a member of the centre, but I started working with hydroponics in 1999, in Singapore. In my farm, I began using hydroponics in 2010, but it was only for vegetables. Only three years ago, I planted palm saplings in hydroponics system," said Al Mansouri.

"This method allows to save 90 per cent of water," he pointed out.

The palm trees have now reached 'adulthood' and this summer they are producing their first dates. Al Mansouri has 30 palms of madjdool, khallas and dabbas varieties of dates and he brought samples of his first harvest at the festival.

"The quality of the dates is just as good as the ones grown traditionally, in soil. If you taste them, you can't tell the difference," he mentioned.

Now in its 12th year, the festival, taking place in Liwa till July 30, attracts not only some of the best quality dates in the country, but also some of the latest innovations, technologies and businesses related to date palm farming.

With 6.7 million palm trees in Abu Dhabi emirate alone, roughly 10 trees for every person, the business of date palms and their by-products is growing every year. The latest idea on how to make money from dates comes from Talah Board, a new company with headquarters in Dubai.

The company has set up a stand at the festival, hoping to convince farmers to sell their palm waste that usually ends up in landfills or gets burned on farms (an illegal practice), to make wooden boards.

The idea is environmentally beneficial to start with, but it also makes sense financially, as locally made wooden boards would be far cheaper than imported ones.

"The idea came from our chairman, Hatem Farah, who thought why import floor boards from China or Europe, when we can make them here. Sure, we don't have forests in the region, but we have palm trees, and palm trees have very strong fibre; it is not very good for burning or composting, but it is very good for making boards," said Rami Farah, CEO of Talah Board.

The company is in the process of completing its board making factory in Kizad (Abu Dhabi emirate), which will have a capacity of producing 75.000 cubic metres of board annually.

"The palm waste boards would be too light to be used as floor boards, but are ideal for construction industry, for interior design applications and for furniture," Farah told Khaleej Times. – Khaleej Times -


Abu Dhabi rolls out the red carpet as Solar Impulse 2 enters final straight

posted on 25/07/2016

Solar Impulse 2 (Si2), the solar-powered plane attempting to become the first aircraft in the world to circumnavigate the Earth without using a drop of fossil fuel, will complete its epic journey in the early hours of Tuesday morning, returning to the city where its adventure began in March last year.

The iconic aircraft's arrival in the UAE capital will mark the triumphant conclusion of a voyage that has taken in sixteen stops around the world, including a number of countries where the investment of Abu Dhabi's renewable energy company Masdar is already pushing the boundaries of clean technology, extending access to sustainable energy and reducing carbon emissions. Masdar is the official host partner of Solar Impulse 2.

Solar Impulse Initiator and Chairman Bertrand Piccard is piloting Si2 on the last leg of its round-the-world trip from Cairo, bringing full circle an adventure that began when Andre Borschberg, CEO and Co-Founder, departed Abu Dhabi in March 2015. Both men have taken the controls of the aircraft during its pioneering flight.

Anticipation is building across the UAE, with a welcoming committee of UAE and international dignitaries expected to receive Solar Impulse 2 at around 04:00 Tuesday morning, at Al Bateen Executive Airport.

"To have flown more than 40,000 kilometres powered only by the sun shows that solar energy has truly arrived as a viable technology, and has significant potential for wider development," Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Masdar, Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi, said. "Solar Impulse 2's arrival in Abu Dhabi will be an emotional moment for the Solar Impulse team and a proud occasion for the people of Abu Dhabi and the UAE. Our shared commitment to the realisation of a more sustainable future will inspire continued innovation in clean technology and renewable energy long after the Si2's final flight."

"Solar Impulse will stand forever as a tribute to human ingenuity and our capacity to work together to solve common challenges," Al Ramahi said.

Over its entire mission, Solar Impulse 2 has completed more than 500 flight hours, cruising at altitudes of up to 9,000 metres and at an average speed of between 45km/h and 90km/h.

A total of 19 world records have been set, or are still pending with the World Air Sports Federation (FAI). These include Andre Borschberg's feat of flying for five consecutive days and nights over the Pacific Ocean from Japan to Hawaii, the longest flight duration achieved by any type of aircraft flying solo, and Betrand Piccard's historic crossing of the Atlantic Ocean, the first by a solar-powered airplane.

Solar Impulse Initiator, Chairman and Swiss pilot Bertrand Piccard said: "Solar Impulse has demonstrated that modern clean technologies can achieve things that were considered impossible a few years ago. Our mission now is to continue to motivate people, corporations and governments to use these same solutions on the ground wherever they make sense – for mobility, construction, lighting, heating, cooling and other uses – to improve the quality of life on Earth."

Solar Impulse CEO, Co-Founder and fellow pilot Andre Borschberg said: "By flying around the world thanks to renewable energy and clean technologies, we have demonstrated that we can now make our world more energy efficient. It's not a question of whether it's possible; it's only a question of implementation. Solar Impulse is like a flying smart grid: producing, storing and distributing energy in an efficient way. If we can make it work on an airplane, we can make it work in our cities and communities."

The UAE representative escorting Solar Impulse 2 on its round-the-world trip, Hasan Al Redaini, added: "Abu Dhabi has been a natural partner of the Solar Impulse project, which has captured the imagination of millions people and shed new light on renewable energy as a viable technology."

Si2 began its epic journey from Abu Dhabi in March 2015, with sixteen stopovers along the way in Oman, India, Myanmar, China, Japan, the United States, Spain and Egypt. - Emirates News Agency, WAM –


A look into the street art scene in Abu Dhabi and Dubai

posted on 25/07/2016

A woman in a burqa drinks Arabic coffee, a boy in a ghutra leads his camel by the harness and a falcon spreads its wings – the spray-painted pictures are fantastically lifelike.

Completed in five weeks by Miami-based Elio Mercado and his team of nine artists, the 600-metre installation, alongside the main Abu Dhabi to ¬Dubai motorway, was launched this month and has already attracted great attention.

The project comes on the back of a similar initiative in Dubai's City Walk retail development that showcased 16 pieces of street art from the world's leading urban artists.

Both have achieved what all public art should: provoking discussion among the local creative community on the nature of the art form.

The works have also inspired debate among local artists; given the obvious cost and creative resources spent on these projects, were they really the best way to reflect the country's vibrant artistic community?

We asked Aldar and Dubai City Walk to comment on outsourcing the artists but neither had responded by the time of going to press.

Katharina Moeller, co-founder of the Abu Dhabi Arts Collective, says that while it is a great idea to introduce more art into the public arena, the initiative could have been carried out more ¬organically.

"There are so many talented artists who work in this exact realistic style here in Abu Dhabi," she says. "I believe it would have been easy to find artists from the city itself to produce a very similar mural, and this would have given artists here a chance to contribute to the city they love."

Fathima Mohiuddin, a street artist born and raised in Dubai, identified this same issue in 2011 when founding The Domino – a platform that connects artists with organisations looking to commission public art.

Since then, she has facilitated murals in a variety of corporate and public spaces, including the offices of Emaar and Virgin ¬Megastores in Dubai, as well as at festivals such as Mother Of The Nation in Abu Dhabi.

A tireless advocate of street art, Mohiuddin believes public installations have the potential to represent communities in two ways: through the creator of the work, and the substance of the content.

"I've always worked for that and there's quite a big community of individuals who have been actively pushing for public art to happen in this country, with these goals of substance in mind," she says.

"However, as this kind of art has become more trendy in the UAE, I think a lot of values are being compromised. I understand why somebody may want to fly in one of the big names – as a young scene and community we may not necessarily be at the skill level that a lot of these artists are at – but it feels like we are importing something that is supposed to start on a local level first and, therefore, missing the point."

Building a local skills base

Mohiuddin raises an interesting point. Perhaps the decision to search abroad for artists is essentially a practical one.

"Public art is a highly specific skill set, quite distinct from other forms," says Maya Allison, founding director and chief curator of the New York University Abu Dhabi art gallery. "In many cases it requires the engagement of serious engineering and materials consultants, as the work is meant to be semi-permanent. Unlike in a museum, public art must be able to withstand weather conditions and human interaction without becoming damaged or being a risk to the visitor."

Allison is involved in running the annual Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award at the university – an initiative that challenges young artists to design a piece of art to be shown in several outdoor locations, including on the campus. She points to such programmes as sowing the seeds for a future in which locally based artists will be favoured over international talent for large-scale projects.

"It may be as simple as a question of needing time for the education and experience of this generation to ripen to the point that these elements can all work at once," she says.

One thing is certain: whereas two years ago the debate about public art was focused on its absence shortage, now there is a general consensus that there is no longer a shortage.

In Sharjah, two large-scale murals by Dubai-based artists have been completed in the past couple of years. Organised by Jederiya, an initiative from the Maraya Art Centre, one of them is an eye-catching piece created by eL Seed in January of last year.

The French-Tunisian calligraffiti artist painted the words of an Arabic poem in twisted freestyle lettering on the walls of a building on Bank Street.

In March, British-Iraqi artist Marwan Shakarchi, whose goes by the artist name Myneandyours, adorned a wall in Al Khan with his trademark clouds.

"The importance of any mural in the public sphere is the shock factor," says Shakarchi. "It needs to be unexpected so that you become curious and start thinking about it. My clouds do not tell you anything, they just exist – and that leaves the possibilities open for anyone to interpret them as they like."

It is hoped that the increase in public art, and greater awareness, will result in future opportunities for local artists.

Jill Hoyle, manager of Tashkeel studio hub and gallery in Dubai, helped to arrange a public mural by resident artist Ruben Sanchez. She says further education is key.

"If people learn about the importance of street art, then it will almost certainly open doors for our home-grown artists," she says. "Besides, art in the public space is much bigger than street art."

She is right – street art and murals are only one aspect of public art. Sculptures and installations are equally as important and can be even more engaging if done properly. For example, Maraya Art Park in Sharjah opened in 2013 with a portable interactive sculpture by Iraqi artist Wafaa Bilal called The Hierarchy of Being – a giant camera obscura that allows visitors to see the world upside down. This year, several commissioned outdoor sculptures were created as part of the park's Imitation Game ¬exhibition.

Maraya also manages Al Noor Island, which hosts several installations. Director Giuseppe Moscatello says they are always looking for more opportunities.

"We are actively growing Maraya Art Centre's public-art platform as we look for suitable spaces and create new artist collaborations," he says.

In January last year, Mexican artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer's Pulse Corniche was set up in the capital by Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority and the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi team. Though a short-term installation, the canopy of light beams projected upwards by powerful searchlights was memorable for many.

Knowing your art

Then there is the debate about what public art really means. In a country where soaring temperatures mean it is difficult to spend time outside for several months of the year, does public art have to be in the street?

Rachael Brown is co-founder of Capsule Arts, a Dubai-based art consultancy company that works with developers in the hospitality industry to install original pieces of art in malls and hotels. One of their latest projects was Rove Hotels, for which local artists were commissioned to create art for public areas.

"When you look at the geography of Dubai and how people interact here, you see people using hotels as a social environment more so than any other country," she says.

"Therefore, our hotels and our malls have become our public spaces."

The main challenge, she concludes, is not a lack of public art in the UAE – whether it is out on the street or in communal spaces – but the lack of knowledge about it, both among the public and the artists themselves.

"There has been so much growth over recent years in this area and there needs to be a bit of education alongside that," she says.

"Sculptures or artworks go up overnight and people don't pay attention, or they don't understand. In New York, for instance, people seek out the Robert Indiana Love sculpture and they take time to know about the artist.

"I think the next step in the UAE is to give people more information and to have more collaborations with local artists to bring them into the foreground." – The National -


Leading Emirati artist showing in group exhibition in New York

posted on 25/07/2016

Ebtisam Abdulaziz, who is of the UAE's leading contemporary artists, is currently exhibiting in a group exhibition in New York.

Having moved to Washington DC two years ago, Abdulaziz is now enjoying a new wave of success in her already fruitful career. Trained as a mathematician before going on to pursue fine art, Abdulaziz has carved her own distinct style and artistic identity - often using code, systems or self-written formulae within her work.

In Relevant Notes, at Cara Gallery, Abdulaziz is exhibiting her newest series Remapping New York. "These acrylic on canvas works seek to depict cityscapes with a technique similar to that of a film negative in order to emphasise the spaces and emptiness rather than the objects within the frame of vision," explains Abdulaziz. "The works force an inversion of the default perspective of the viewer (which tends to emphasise objects over emptiness) by highlighting what is typically viewed as background and bringing it into the foreground in vibrant colours."

The blue, she goes on, represents the sky and yellow, the reflected sun. Short lines and symbols are the street markings and the white or blank portions of the canvas contain the outlines of buildings or trees. "The work forces the audience to experience absence as presence and presence as absence, inviting viewers to consider their relationship to both."

The exhibition is open until the end of the month and it contains the work of 11 artists who all explore space, materials and nature.

For more info visit: – The National -


Lucky 13 to fly UAE flag at Rio Olympics

posted on 25/07/2016

The UAE will be sending a full squad of 32, including 13 athletes in six different individual sports for the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games starting on August 5.

Of the 13 athletes, ten have earned direct qualification while another three have been awarded wild card entries. The direct qualifiers include three shooters and judokas each, who will be joined by two track and field women distance runners, one cyclist and one weightlifter.

The three UAE shooters are former Asian champion Shaikh Saeed Bin Maktoum Al Maktoum and Saif Bin Futais Al Mansouri in the Skeet category, while Khalid Al Ka'abi will be in action in the Double Trap. Moldovan-born judokas Victor Scvortov (73kg), Sergiu Toma (80kg) and Ivan Remarenco (-100kg) will be the three judokas representing the UAE, while Ethiopian-born Alia Saeed Mohammad (10,000m) and Betlhem Desalegn (1,500m) will be donning the UAE colours at a second Olympic Games.

In cycling, Khor Fakkan-born and Al Nasr Club squad member Yousuf Mirza Al Hammadi will feature in the demanding 270km road race, while Aisha Al Beloushi will figure in the 58kg women's weightlifting competition.

The three wild cards have been handed to middle distance runner Saud Al Za'abi (1,500m) along with swimmers Yaqoub Al Sa'adi and Nada Al Badwawi, who at 16 will be the youngest member and also the flag bearer for the UAE at the opening ceremony on August 5.

"Our biggest medal hope will be in the shooting and judo,” Dawood Al Hajri, Assistant General Secretary, UAE National Olympic Committee (UAE NOC) told media at the formal unveiling of the squad on Sunday.

"This is the first time that the UAE has such a big squad of athletes, a majority of who have earned their place via qualifying during the run up the Olympic Games,” he added.

So far, the UAE has won just one medal at an Olympics through Shaikh Ahmad Hasher Al Maktoum's gold in double trap at the 2004 Athens Games. In London, the UAE had a squad of eight athletes plus the football team that went out at the end of the preliminary round itself.

"We have the best athletes going to Rio this time, and we expect them to represent the UAE in the best possible manner on the international stage,” Shaikh Ahmad Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, President, UAE NOC, said in a written statement.

"These are the best athletes we have in the UAE at the moment and I am confident that they will do everything to raise the flag of the UAE in Rio,” he added.

Ahmad Al Tayeb, Director, Technical and Sports Affairs, UAE NOC will be the Chef de Mission, while the official delegation will include Abdul Rahman Al Owais, Vice President and Chairman of the Executive Board, UAE NOC, Mohammad Al Kamali, General Secretary, UAE NOC Ahmad Al Raisi, Head of the Olympic Planning Committee, Abdul Mohsin Al Dossary, Head of the Technical Commission and Al Hajri.


Shooting: Shaikh Saeed Bin Maktoum Al Maktoum (Skeet); Saif Bin Futais Al Mansouri (Skeet); Khalid Al Ka'abi (Double Trap).

Judo: Victor Scvortov (73kg); Sergiu Toma (80kg); Ivan Remarenco (-100kg).

Athletics: Alia Saeed Mohammad (10,000m); Betlhem Desalegn (1,500m); Saud Al Za'abi (1,500m).

Cycling: Yousuf Mirza Al Hammadi (270km road race)

Weightlifting: Aisha Al Beloushi (women's 58kg)

Swimming: Yaqoub Al Sa'adi (100m backstroke); Nada Al Badwawi (100m freestyle). – Gulf News -


Mohamed bin Zayed names IDEX 2017 committee's chairman, members

posted on 25/07/2016

His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces and Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council, has issued a resolution naming the committee members of the International Defence Exhibition (IDEX 2017), under the chairmanship of Major General Faris Khalaf Al Mazrouei.

The resolution also names Major General Ishaq Saleh Mohamed Al Baloushi as Deputy Chairman of the committee.

The committee's members will include representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation; the General Headquarters of the Armed Forces; the General Headquarters of Abu Dhabi Police; the State Security Department; the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince's Court; the Finance Department - Customs; the Department of Municipal Affairs; the Department of Transport; the Executive Affairs Authority; the Health Authority - Abu Dhabi, the Abu Dhabi Airports Company and the Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company.

According to the resolution, the committee shall be mandated to manage, control and approve the security plans for IDEX 2017, and to form a team from the relevant authorities to assist in performing the tasks, and coordinating with all stakeholders on organising the exhibition, in addition to any other responsibilities. - Emirates News Agency, WAM –


ENEC and KHNP sign Operating Support Services Agreement for the Barakah Nuclear Power Plant

posted on 25/07/2016

The Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation, ENEC, and Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power, KHNP, have signed an Operating Support Services Agreement, OSSA, at a ceremony held at ENEC's headquarters in Abu Dhabi in the presence of senior management representatives from both companies. Under the agreement, KHNP will dispatch experienced and qualified nuclear plant personnel to the Barakah Nuclear Power Plant, BNPP, including main control room operators and local operators, to support ENEC's operating subsidiary, the Nawah Energy Company.

Mohamed Al Hammadi, Chief Executive Officer of ENEC, and Seok Cho, CEO of KHNP, affirmed the joint commitment of both companies to the safe operations of the four APR-1400 nuclear units under construction at Barakah in the Western Region of Abu Dhabi.

As part of the scope of the OSSA to contribute to safe operations and maintenance of the nuclear energy plants, an estimated 400 KHNP experts will support operations at the Barakah site every year until 2030.

As per regulations of the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation, FANR, KHNP experts will be required to pass regulatory exams to be licensed to operate and manage APR-1400 technology in the UAE.

Al Hammadi said, "ENEC continues to progress construction to the highest international standards of safety, quality and excellence. The OSSA provides the framework for KHNP to share its knowledge that it has accumulated throughout its 40 years of experience in operating 25 nuclear power plants in South Korea, with ENEC."

"We are entering a crucial phase in the development of the Barakah plant, and we are looking forward to working with the experts from KHNP to ensure the operational readiness of the Barakah plant," continued Al Hammadi.

"Over the next decade and beyond, the agreement will continue to build on and enhance the existing long-term nuclear energy partnership between the UAE and South Korea," he added.

The construction of the Barakah NPP commenced in 2012, and is scheduled for completion in 2020. With four reactors online, the facility will deliver up to a quarter of the UAE's electricity needs and save up to 12 million tons in carbon emissions every year.

The project at Barakah is progressing steadily. Overall, construction of Units 1 to 4 is now more than 66 percent complete. All four units will deliver safe, clean, reliable and efficient nuclear energy to the UAE grid, pending regulatory reviews and licensing. - Emirates News Agency, WAM –


Ras Al Khaimah gets Eid tourism boost from Emirati staycationers

posted on 25/07/2016

Staycationers from the UAE helped to lift Ras Al Khaimah's tourism performance during Eid Al Fitr holiday.

The emirate reported 16,636 hotel guests during Eid Al Fitr, up 10.7 per cent compared to the same period last year, the Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA) said yesterday.

Average occupancy at the hotels touched 86.6 per cent, up from 78.5 per cent a year earlier. More than half of the guests – about 56.5 per cent – were UAE residents. The other top five source markets were India, Egypt, the UK and Germany, which together accounted for about 18.5 per cent of guests.

The public sector received a seven-day holiday starting July 3 as part of the Eid Al Fitr holiday. The private sector had a two-day holiday starting July 6.

The Ras Al Khaimah tourism agency expects to attract 100,000 new visitors this year, with a total of 840,000 visitors for the entire year. That would be up 13.5 per cent from 740,383 tourists last year.

The emirate is also ramping up its hotel room numbers. Among the latest is a Tulip Inn, which is due to open this month with 104 rooms. The emirate had 4,789 rooms at the end of the first quarter, according to research company STR. This year, RAKTDA pushed ahead with its year-round destination marketing campaign, highlighting the emirate's attractions for adventure sports and history buffs.

"We have worked closely with our industry partners to promote the emirate's offering and optimise visitation during the summer months and beyond," said Haitham Mattar, the chief executive of RAKTDA. – The National -


Dubai Steps to rise up to 100m height

posted on 25/07/2016

Pictures of one of Dubai Municipality's upcoming big projects, Dubai Steps, has been recently released online with further details surfacing.

The Dubai Municipality previously made a vague announcement about the project in April, but recent pictures of the probable shape of the giant staircase emerged from the Dubai Media Office's Twitter account and revealed that the steps will soar 100 metres above the ground.

The exact location of the project, however, is still under talks. Union Square on the Deira side of Creek is among the preferred locations, but Dubai Steps can go somewhere else under Dubai Creek or Dubai Marina.

With its innovative design, the project, which will be a 25-storey structure consisting of 500 steps, will challenge sports enthusiasts and serve as a new tourism landmark in Dubai.

The structure will also be allocated to hold various events. According to a municipal official, the construction will take up to one year, serving as a continuation for vertical projects like Dubai Frame, which is currently under construction in Zabeel Park.

The official also pointed out that the giant staircase will not hold a large surface area as it will solely depend on base area only. The official also hinted that a large space will be dedicated for an outdoor sports club and different recreational events. – Khaleej Times -


UAE's EGA named among top ‘rapidly globalising companies’

posted on 25/07/2016

Emirates Global Aluminium (EGA), one of the world's leading aluminium producers, has been named one of the top rapidly globalising companies in the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) 2016 Global Challengers report.

This is EGA's second citing, having also been included in the 2014 edition of the BCG Global Challengers report which focuses on the innovative business models, strategies and challenges arising from emerging markets, EGA said in a statement.

EGA is one of three UAE companies included in the 2016 report, the others being Etihad Airways and Etisalat, said a statement.

The report is the outcome of an analytical study into how the companies in the report are performing. As with prior editions it identifies the top 100 companies that are vying for leadership of key industries and driving global economic growth, it said.

EGA's managing director and CEO, Abdulla Kalban, said: "Our company's repeat inclusion in the report recognises the impact of our global reach in promoting the UAE across the world, as well as our substantial contribution to the nation's economic diversification strategy to reduce dependence on the energy sector."

"Indeed, the value-add of the aluminium industry to the UAE manufacturing sector is enormous in terms of gross domestic profit (GDP) contribution, exports and employment opportunities," he said.

The report states that home-grown global challengers like EGA know how to win in volatile and uncertain times. Specific mention is made of their resilience during global expansion despite slowdowns in macroeconomic growth, drops in commodity and currency prices, the crash of equity markets and the rise of global geopolitical risks.

Kalban added: "This is a valued accolade, given that the global aluminium industry has been facing substantial challenges including global macro-economic uncertainty, growth slowdown in China, a stronger US dollar and falling oil prices."

EGA's core midstream assets – Dubai Aluminium (Dubal) and Emirates Aluminium (EMAL) - produce superior quality, high performance primary aluminium products for use in the electronics, aerospace, automotive, construction, industrial, transportation, packaging and printing sectors.

More than 90 per cent of EGA's annual production is exported to about 300 customers in at least 60 countries, primarily in Asia, the Middle East, North Africa, Europe and the Americas.

EGA also owns Guinea Alumina Corporation (GAC), which is developing a 12 million tpa bauxite mine in Guinea, West Africa; and Al Taweelah Alumina, which is currently developing a 2 million tpa alumina refinery in the UAE.

These upstream investment projects, once complete, will not only consolidate EGA's position as a vertically integrated business, but also secure critical resources for EGA's midstream operations, it stated. - Emirates News Agency, WAM –


Dubai Future Foundation announces seven key "future challenges", open to applications from companies around the world

posted on 25/07/2016

Mohammad bin Abdullah Al Gergawi, Minister of the UAE Cabinet Affairs and The Future, and Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees and Managing Director of Dubai Future Foundation, yesterday asserted that the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai - monitored closely by H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the board of Trustees of the Dubai Future Foundation - stress the need to speed up the adoption of the necessary practical steps, as well as to combine efforts from various government institutions, in the quest to achieve the targets of "Dubai Future Accelerators".

The initiative seeks to enhance the UAE's global position in the field of shaping the future, and attract the brightest and most innovative minds to sectors of strategic priority for the country.

In a press release, Al Gergawi added, "The ‘Dubai Future Accelerators' initiative, launched by H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, under the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, constitutes a support system for businesses and start-ups that are most in-line with government strategies, especially with the support from government and semi-government institutions that represent the most vital sectors in the government's agenda, such as health, education, transportation, infrastructure, renewable energy, etc."

He explained that the current challenges facing some of the vital sectors for the cities of the 21st century require in-depth study and continuous foresight for the rapidly-changing future. He stressed the importance of engaging the emerging enterprise sector with R&D centres and innovators from around the world to create a supportive platform for their role in creating solutions to these challenges.

Today the Dubai Future Foundation announced seven "future challenges", part of its landmark "Future Accelerator" program.

The Dubai Future Accelerator is an expansive program that brings together top international companies and entrepreneurs to address seven key "21st century opportunities".

This includes the application of cutting edge technologies like AI and robotics, genomics, 3D printing, distributed ledgers, biomimicry and biotechnology, as well as new business models and ways of working.

The Dubai Future Accelerator will focus on the identification and deployment of futuristic prototypes at a city-wide scale. It links innovative companies and solutions with leading government departments to create breakthrough initiatives and transformational change.

"The Dubai Future Accelerator is the most ambitious program in the world. It is designed to link our most powerful and influential government leaders with the world's most ambitious companies and entrepreneurs to create radical new solutions to change the world," Mohammed Al Gergawi said.

"The challenges represent some of the most urgent issues facing cities in the 21st century. They also represent some of the most cutting edge opportunities to address them," said H.E. Mohammed Al Gergawi.

- Seven founding entities participates in establishing the world's Largest Initiative.

Humaid Mohammed Al Qatami, Chairman and Director General of the Dubai Health Authority (DHA), said that Dubai Future Accelerator is an extraordinary shift in the science of strategic planning and building the future, created by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. He stressed the importance of securing the necessary tools and capabilities of the future in order to achieve a head-start in realising sustainable development, building a knowledge-based economy, and possessing the tools of innovation in various fields, including the field of health, which represents the hub of this ambitious initiative.

Major-General Khamis Matar Khamis Al Muzainah, Commander-in-Chief of Dubai Police, praised the Dubai Future Foundation initiative, Dubai Future Accelerators, aimed at building the future today through innovative systems to attract the best solutions and projects of the highest possible economic value for the UAE. He described the project as promising and said that it will contribute to the development and qualitative shift of Dubai, as it focuses on finding innovative solutions and attracting talent to participate in the development process.

Matar Al-Tayer, Chairman of the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), said, "The Dubai Future Accelerator program is one of the most important platforms to develop innovative solutions," assuring that achieving the desired outcomes from Dubai Future Accelerator and making Dubai the most innovative city in the world calls for the consorted efforts of all bodies and institutions, as well as for attracting talents, and forging partnerships with the companies and institutions that work innovatively and search for out-of-the-box solutions.

Hussein Nasser Lootah, Director General of Dubai Municipality, lauded the Dubai Future Accelerators programme, which will help cement the UAE's global position in the innovation and creation. He said, "Future accelerators and incubators would effectively contribute to implement innovative ideas in reality, which serves the government's agenda in various sectors. They create a singular opportunity for cooperation to implement the department's ideas and projects and develop them to serve broader segments of society."

Ahmad bin Byat, Vice Chairman and Managing Director of Dubai Holding, said, "As an organisation that places great emphasis on innovation in business, Dubai Holding is delighted to be part of Dubai Future Accelerators and lend support to Dubai Future Foundation in strengthening the emirate's global competitiveness. We see this as another exciting platform for Dubai Holding to support the development of an innovation-led economy, as it is set to be the world's largest public-sector structure designed to rapidly turn business ideas into reality and boost entrepreneurship in the UAE."

Dr Abdullah Al-Karam, Chairman of the Board of Directors and Director General of the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) and member of the board of trustees for Dubai Future Foundation, said, "The initiative supports Dubai's efforts to continue coming up with innovative ideas, executing them, and using every opportunity to ensure a brighter future for the emirate. The initiative allows entrepreneurs, experts, and public- and private-sector institutions to make use of the innovation-friendly environment, which will allow us to find new and innovative ways to provide educational services to cater to the aspirations of future generations."

Saif Al Aleeli, CEO of Dubai Future Foundation, said, "The Foundation will work in coordination with founders the initiative to ensure a quantum leap within its sectors, which, in turn, will contribute in boosting Dubai and the UAE's position as a global capital for implementing future technologies and transforming future concepts into tangible projects."

- Seven Future Challenges The challenges, sponsored by the following key government departments and enterprises, address the most important opportunities and technologies of the 21st century.

The challenges, and the institutions responsible for them, are: - Reduce water and energy consumption (in the home, in production and distribution, and/or in commercial application), led by the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority.

- Prototype automated transport systems that could cut congestion in half and reduce transport-related CO2 emissions (across all modes, but in particular focusing on freight and fleet mobility systems such as taxis and public transport), led by the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority.

- Test automated, recycled, and nature-inspired building materials and solutions that use energy and CO2 (including robotics, automation, bacteriological, mycology, algae, biomimicry, regenerative systems, sand-based 3D printing materials, and others), led by the Dubai Municipality.

- Harness Dubai's remarkable genetic diversity to enhance diagnostic speed and effectiveness (using genomics, analytics, telepresence and personalised medicine), led by Dubai Health Authority.

- Test 21st century assessment systems and personalised learning solutions that work across curriculums (with an emphasis on Arabic language education, STEAM, well-being, coding, and other disciplines, led by the Dubai Knowledge and Human Development Authority.

- Deploy digital solutions across hospitality, real estate and telecommunications industries that reduce paperwork, increase transaction speeds, and increase customer satisfaction by an order of magnitude (Blockchain, digital personalisation, etc.), led by Dubai Holding.

- Test integrated behavioural, genetic and biological systems for identifying, tracking and sharing information on criminals, in particular across borders and between jurisdictions, led by the Dubai Police.

- Applications Open to Companies Around the World The official website of the initiative,, provides further details about the challenges facing each sector, how to play a part in solving them, as well as some important dates. In addition to that, the website explains the selection criteria and assessment process, based on which the Foundation will select the companies that will participate in the first session of "Dubai Future Accelerators".

Last week, Dubai Future Foundation launched the unique "Dubai Future Accelerators" initiative, part of Dubai's future agenda launched by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, in April 2015.

The initiative aims to provide an integrated programme to accelerate the development of the work of local, regional and global emerging companies working in the field of future technology within key innovation sectors. It also looks to contribute in expanding and facilitating global cooperation in the field of innovation, as well as offering an original platform for emerging companies to work with the relevant government entities and provide solutions to the toughest challenges in their respective sectors. - Emirates News Agency, WAM –


Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange, Abu Dhabi Global Market sign MoU to strengthen cooperation

posted on 25/07/2016

Abu Dhabi Securities Market (ADX) and Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) have entered into an agreement to foster bilateral cooperation.

Chairman of ADX, Hamad Abdullah Al Shamsi, and Chairman of ADGM, Ahmed Al Sayegh signed the memorandum of understanding (MoU) at ADGM Office in the presence of senior officials from both organisations.

The agreement supports ADX's commitment to the growth of the financial services sector in the emirate of Abu Dhabi and the development of a sustainable financial environment under the auspices of Abu Dhabi Vision 2030, a joint press release from the two organisations said.

The MoU establishes a framework that strengthens the bilateral cooperation between ADX and ADGM. It reinforces ADX's ongoing efforts to collaborate with financial centres in the region and globally.

Through the MoU, ADX and ADGM can jointly explore and develop financial products and services that will further boost the economic growth and investment sector of Abu Dhabi.

Both entities will set up a working group to develop strategic objectives and cooperation initiatives. The MoU will also enable both organisations to work on key areas such as provision and exchange of expertise, financial markets assistance and cooperation, training and others.

Chairman, ADX, Hamad Abdullah Al Shamsi, said: "We look forward through this MoU to create new opportunities to promote further cooperation and synergy between the two markets and in various fields. We hope this agreement will contribute to strengthening the level of coordination between us which will benefit our joint activities and contribute to the economic growth in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi."

He added: "ADX is committed to achieving the vision of the Abu Dhabi government by strengthening the capital market, developing a system for asset and wealth management, channelling financial surpluses in the financial sector towards investing in the core sectors, and activating non-traditional financing methods.

Economic diversification alongside focusing on non-oil sectors is one of the main long-term goals of Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030."

Chairman, ADGM said, Ahmed Al Sayeghm: "The MoU is a strategic and symbolic extension of our close relationship with Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange. ADX has been an important contributing partner since the inception of ADGM and continues to be a significant stakeholder in the development of Abu Dhabi as an international economic hub. This collaboration allows both teams to work closely in establishing the objective of an exchange in ADGM. In addition, we will explore and develop a wider range of financial products and service offerings that can be available to, and traded by, both local and global market participants and investors in ADGM."

He added: "United by the mission of furthering Abu Dhabi's economic and financial growth, ADGM will continue to work closely with stakeholders to develop the ecosystem, support local institutions to become regional and global champions, and welcome international institutions to anchor themselves in Abu Dhabi. As an international financial centre, we are committed to provide a sustainable business and financial eco-system that will continually draw leading companies and healthy investments into our marketplace and support financial and non-financial entities in Abu Dhabi and the UAE to thrive." - Emirates News Agency, WAM –


FGB partners with UAE Exchange to provide residents with cash advance service

posted on 25/07/2016

FGB, one of the leading banks in the UAE, is launching a new service, which it calls a 'convenient cash solution'.

FGB has partnered with UAE Exchange to launch 'Advance', which offers customers residing in the UAE a financial solution to meet immediate short-term cash needs at any time. As part of the agreement signed by both parties, customers will benefit from this new service using the extensive branch network of UAE Exchange across the UAE.

Girish Advani, Head of Personal Banking at FGB, said, "FGB is always looking for new solutions to provide UAE residents with creative services and products that meet their expectations and financial needs. Based on the feedback we have been receiving from clients, and from what we are hearing from residents, we felt that there was a real need for a service that would provide individuals with access to cash in a quick and immediate manner. We partnered with leading entity, UAE Exchange, and together we have come up with our new Advance service as a result."

Promoth Manghat, CEO of UAE Exchange, added, "It is a delight to partner with an esteemed organisation like FGB, which shares our vision and values for enhancing customer experience. Our partnership will enable the UAE residents to avail short-term cash advances at any of our close to 150 branches across the UAE, of which 17 are on the Dubai metro network." - Emirates News Agency, WAM –


Bank of Sharjah reports H1 2016 net profit of AED176 m

posted on 25/07/2016

Bank of Sharjah yesterday said its net profit for the first half of 2016 has reached AED176 million, while its earnings per share for the period fell down by two per cent to 8.1 fils, compared to 8.3 fils in 2015.

The bank, in a press release announcing its financial results for the six months ending on 30th June, 2016, said that over this period, it "continued to adopt a very conservative credit policy and reduced expensive deposits while maintaining high levels of liquidity and a considerably low loan to deposit ratio."

The bank's total assets reached AED 26,289 million, a two per cent decrease over the corresponding 30 June 2015 balance of AED26,946 million. When compared to the 31st December 2015 balance, Total Assets decreased by five per cent.

Its customers' deposits reached AED18,200 million, a two per cent decrease over the corresponding 30th June 2015 balance of AED18,630 million. When compared to the 31st December 2015 balance, customers' deposits decreased by seven per cent from AED19,492 million.

Net liquidity remains high compared to industry levels at AED 5,629 million as at 30 June 2016, a 10 per cent decrease from the same period of 2015 at AED6,236 million, and 25 per cent less than 31st December 2015 balance of AED 7,463 million, the bank said.

Total equity as at 30th June 2016 stood at AED4,781 million, or seven per cent above the balance for the corresponding period of 2015, and three per cent more than the 31st December 2015 balance of AED 4,622 million.

Commenting on the results, Chairman of the Board of the Bank of Sharjah, Ahmed Al Noman, expressed the board's satisfaction with the "consistency of the bank's interim results" and stressed that the UAE banking industry is likely to witness further consolidation. - Emirates News Agency, WAM –


Sharjah Islamic Bank net profit's H1 2016 at AED257 m

posted on 25/07/2016

Sharjah Islamic Bank (SIB) posted a net profit of AED257 million for the first six month of 2016, compared to AED204.6 million for the same period last year.

In a press release, the bank said its total assets stood at AED 29.8 billion at the end of the second quarter of 2016, compared to AED29.9 billion at the end of 2015.

Liquid assets reached AED6.4 billion or 21.5% of total assets at the end of the 2nd Quarter 2016. Net customer receivable reached AED15.8 million at the end of the 2nd quarter 2016 compared to AED 16.3 billion at the end of 2015, the bank added.

Investment securities surged by 48.9 per cent to reach AED3.5 billion compared to AED2.4 billion at the end of 2015.

The SIB's customer deposits reached AED17.5 billion, up AED526.3 million or 3.1 per cent when compared to AED17.0 billion at the end of 2015.


Vice President attends Mohammed bin Rashid Endurance Festival in Italy

posted on 25/07/2016

TUSCANY, ITALY, 25th July 2016 (WAM) - Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, attended on Sunday, in the presence of H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, the first round of the Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Endurance Festival, being held in Tuscany, Italy.

The round, dubbed the Tuscany Endurance Lifestyle, saw UAE riders dominating the competition. Sheikh Hamad bin Dalmouk Al Maktoum won the 160-kilometer race, riding Souletoile de Sommant, in 7 hours 14 minutes and 35 seconds. The Italian champion, Costanza Laliscia, riding Za'Amah, finished second, just a few strides from the winner.

Competing in the round were 150 riders from 14 countries.

The Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Endurance Festival in Tuscany is being held as part of the preparations the UAE team is participating in prior to the World Endurance Cup, which is scheduled for September in Slovakia.