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GCC states condemn Iran's interference, re-affirm commitment to counter- terrorism efforts

posted on 08/12/2016

MANAMA: The six member states of Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, GCC, on Wednesday rejected Iran's interference in the internal affairs of countries in the region and stressed that they were absolutely committed to fighting extremist ideologies that stoke terrorism and the distortion of Islam's image.

"The GCC Supreme Council has called on Iran to immediately cease such practices that represent a violation of the sovereignty and independence of the GCC countries and to commit to the principles of good neighbourliness and to international laws, covenants and norms in order to preserve the security and stability of the region," said the final communique issued by the leaders of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, that make up the regional inter-governmental political and economic bloc, during their 37th GCC Summit in Bahrain.

The leaders reiterated their rejection of the Iranian occupation of the three UAE islands of Abu Musa and the Lesser and Greater Tunbs, and re-affirmed their support for the UAE's sovereignty over the islands.

The GCC leaders reiterated their firm stance denouncing Iran's occupation of the three UAE islands while supporting the UAE's right to, and sovereignty over its islands, regional waters, airspace, continental shelf and the economic zone of the three islands.

The communique said that any decisions or activities carried out by Iran on the three UAE islands were void and null and did not change any of the historical or legal facts that affirmed the right of the UAE to the three islands.

The GCC Supreme Council stressed that Iran should change its policy in the region by not harbouring terrorist groups on its soil, including the Hezbollah militias, not supporting terrorist militias in the region and not inciting sectarian divisions.

The Supreme Council condemned the Iranian attempts to politicise Haj pilgrimage and to use the occasion to attack Saudi Arabia.

It also condemned Iran's interference in the internal affairs of the region, including Bahrain, through supporting terrorism, training terrorists, smuggling weapons, inciting sectarianism and issuing statements to undermine security, public order and stability, the communique added.

The GCC leaders also emphasised that Iran should abide by its nuclear with the G5+1 in July 2015, urging the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, to apply an effective mechanism to verify the agreement is put in place.

On Yemen, the GCC leaders further condemned the recent attempt by the Iran-backed Yemeni rebel Houthi militias and forces loyal to the now-ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh, to target Makkah City, Islam's holiest site, with a ballistic missile, as an act aimed at provoking the feelings of all Muslims and violating the security of the Muslim World.

All those who are behind this terrorist act are deemed parties to the aggression, accomplices in sowing sectarian strife and supporters of terrorism, the GCC leaders said.

The formation of a so-called national salvation government and political council by the Houthis and supporters of the now-ousted president were a violation of the internationally recognised constitutional legitimacy and represented obstacles to a political solution in Yemen, the communique said.

The GCC leaders' communique reaffirmed full support to Yemen's unity, sovereignty and independence and rejected any attempts to interfere in its domestic affairs.

On Syria, the GCC reiterated its unwavering support to maintaining Syria's unity, stability and territorial integrity, while condemning non-stop airstrikes by the aircraft of the Syrian regime and allies on the Syrian city of Aleppo. The GCC leaders renewed support for all efforts being exerted by UN Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura to find a political solution to the Syrian crisis, and vowed to continue work to ease out the sufferings of the Syrian people The GCC condemned Bashar Assad regime's use of chemical weapons, forcible displacement of certain segments of the Syrian society, as well as the regime's continued bombardment of populated areas in Aleppo and across Syria.

The GCC leaders stressed the significance of continuously propping up and beefing cooperation and integration among the GCC member states, leading up to the implementation of resolutions targeting full equal treatment among Gulf citizens in view of joint Gulf market fields.

The GCC leaders called on Iran to comply fully with principles of good neighbourliness, to respect the sovereignty of other countries, not to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries and to refrain from using or threatening to use force.

"It is imperative to share credit information as per a short- term plan and a comprehensive framework for a Gulf credit facilitation exchange mechanism," the six leaders of GCC leaders said in a final communique issued at the end of their 37th summit in Manama, Bahrain.

The GCC leaders also agreed to build a GCC payment system, and entrust Gulf central banks to own, run and finance the plan by means of establishing an independent company.

They approved an anti- fraud bill as a binding law, according to the concluding statement. They further emphasised that the GCC member states have to commit to implementing a pan-Gulf railway project, sending it to the economic and development committee for setting out a necessary mechanism.

It is also necessary to further promote and develop cooperation and coordination among the GCC member states in the military field, the GCC Summit communique said, while appreciating progress in the domain of mutual defensive cooperation in the face of various challenges and threats.

On terrorism, they reiterated their unshakeable position of rejection and condemnation of all forms and manifestations of terrorism, but emphasised that more efforts should be exerted to dry out terror financing sources and to fight attempts to distort the image of Islam.

In this regard, they sharply denounced recent explosions and bombings in Saudi Arabia as heinous crimes that have nothing to do with the tolerant religion of Islam or values and principles of humanity and ethics.

The GCC leaders re-affirmed their support to all regional and international efforts to fight ISIL (Daesh) and all other terrorist networks and organisations in Syria, Iraq and other regions.

The communique reiterated the GCC's support for Iraq's unity, sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity and rejected interference in the country's domestic affairs.

On Palestine, the GCC leaders reiterated that total, just and everlasting peace could be reached in the Middle East region only when Israel withdraws from all Arab territories it occupied in 1967.

They reaffirmed support for an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital in line with the Arab Peace Initiative and relevant international legitimacy resolutions.

On the recent US Justice Against Sponsors of Terror Act (JASTA), the GCC leaders condemned the new law as a breach of the established principles of international law, mainly the principle of equality among the states.

The GCC leaders lashed out at the US act as a violation of the basics and principles of the relationship among the states and principle of sovereign immunity, calling upon Washington to rethink about this legislation due to its negative reflections on the relationship among the states.

However, they congratulated US president-elect Donald Trump, hoping that historic and strategic relations between the GCC member states and the US would be further promoted and cemented during Trump's term of office.

The GCC leaders also vowed to work with him to ensure security, peace and stability in the region and the entire world.

They congratulated Antonio Guterres on having being elected new secretary-general of the United Nations, reiterating support to UN efforts to maintain world security and stability, according to the communique.

Moreover, the GCC leaders voiced extreme satisfaction with fervent efforts exerted to push forward strategic partnerships of the GCC countries with Jordan and Morocco, reflecting fraternal close relations. The leaders also blessed the recent resumption of free trade negotiations between the GCC and China. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


GCC, UK set to deepen partnership, cooperation

posted on 08/12/2016

MANAMA: The Gulf Cooperation Council member states and the United Kingdom have agreed to launch the GCC-UK Strategic Partnership to foster closer relations in all fields, including political, defence, security, and trade.

This was announced today, following the first GCC-UK Summit in Manama, which was presided over by His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, King of Bahrain and attended by the GCC leaders and Theresa May, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, attended the summit.

According to Bahrain News Agency, the following joint communique was released after the summit: The Right Honourable Theresa May, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and Their Majesty and Highness Heads of State of the Gulf Cooperation Council member states met on 6-7 December 2016 in the Kingdom of Bahrain to reaffirm and deepen the strong partnership and cooperation between the GCC and the UK. The leaders agreed to launch the GCC-UK Strategic Partnership to foster closer relations in all fields, including political, defence, security, and trade, as well as enhancing people-to-people contact, and developing collective approaches to regional issues to advance their shared interest in stability and prosperity.

The GCC and UK have a strong history in using all means at their disposal to secure their core interests in the Gulf region, including to tackle regional threats and threats to their security. The GCC and UK partners share a deep interest in supporting the political independence and territorial integrity of GCC member states. The UK remains committed to working with GCC states to deter external aggression and interference in their internal affairs contrary to international law and the UN Charter, just as it did during the Gulf War and on other occasions. The GCC and UK expressed unequivocal commitment to secure, through the new GCC-UK Strategic Partnership, their shared security interests in the Gulf region, including to deter and respond to external aggression. They committed to strengthening engagement on security assistance, cooperation and training.

Regional Stability The GCC and UK partners share a vision for a peaceful and prosperous region, and for addressing the most pressing regional conflicts (Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Libya, as well as the Middle East Peace Process), defeating violent extremists including Daesh, and countering Iran's destabilising activities. On regional conflicts, the leaders decided on a set of common principles, including a shared recognition that there is no military solution to the region's armed civil conflicts. These can only be resolved through political and peaceful means, respect for all states' sovereignty and non-interference in their internal affairs contrary to international law, the need for inclusive governance in conflict-ridden societies, as well as protection of all minorities and of human rights.

The leaders committed to continue working towards a sustainable political resolution in Syria that ends the war and establishes an inclusive government that protects all ethnic and religious communities, and preserves state institutions. The leaders reaffirmed that Assad has lost all legitimacy and has no role in Syria's future. The international community needs to be united in calling for the Assad regime and its backers, including Russia and Iran, to support a meaningful end to the violence, sustained humanitarian access and an inclusive political process. The solution to the situation in Syria is an enduring political settlement based on transition away from the Assad regime to a government representative of all Syrians; and with which we work to fight terrorism. They agreed to increase regional pressure on the Assad regime and its backers by heightening financial disruption and economic constraints. They reaffirmed strong support for the Syrian opposition, brought together by the High Negotiations Committee, and their vision for political transition in Syria. At the same time, they agreed to: (1) encourage the moderate Syrian opposition to work hard to promote its vision to the Syrian people and international community; (2) ensure the Syrian opposition remain committed to a negotiated political solution; and (3) emphasise that armed groups must comply with International Humanitarian Law and minimise civilian casualties. They strongly supported increased efforts to degrade and defeat Daesh in Syria, and warned against the influence of other extremist groups, such as Al-Nusrah, Hezbollah and other sectarian organisations and Al-Qaida-linked terrorist groups, that represent a danger to the Syrian people, to the region and to the international community. They expressed deep concern over the continuing deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Syria and condemned the prevention of aid distribution to the civilian population by the Assad regime or any other party.

The GCC member states and the UK further affirmed their commitment to assisting the Iraqi Government and the International Global Coalition in their fight against Daesh, including post-liberation stabilisation efforts. As Daesh grapples with its failure and loss of territory, it will attempt to recalibrate its definition of success. In order to defeat Daesh, The GCC member states and the UK recognise the need to continue to scale-up Coalition efforts to marginalise their brand and encourage alternative narratives, supporting the work of the Counter Daesh Coalition Communications Cell. To be successful, they acknowledge it will require the engagement of all Coalition countries to create opportunities and build resilience in vulnerable communities. The GCC and the UK also agreed to support effort to de-mine areas cleared of Daesh.

They stressed the importance of strengthening ties between Iraq and its neighbours, based on the principles of good neighbourliness, non-interference in internal affairs contrary to international law, and respect for state sovereignty. They encouraged the Iraqi Government to achieve genuine national reconciliation by urgently addressing the legitimate grievances of all elements of Iraqi society through the implementation of reforms, including those previously agreed, and by ensuring that all armed groups operate under the strict control of the Iraqi state. They welcomed the initiative of the Iraqi, UK and Belgian Governments for a UN-led, global campaign to bring Daesh to justice.

With regard to Yemen, both the GCC member states and the UK emphasised the need to resolve the conflict peacefully through political dialogue and negotiations facilitated by the UN based on the GCC initiative, the outcomes of the National Dialogue Conference, UN Security Council Resolution 2216 and other relevant UNSC Resolutions. They pledged continued support for the UN Special Envoy and the UN-led peace process, and endorsed the roadmap presented by the UN Special Envoy to the Yemeni parties, which sets out clearly the path to a comprehensive agreement including sequencing of security and political steps that must be taken. They urged the Yemeni parties to engage with the UN in good faith and to adhere to the UN-proposed Cessation of Hostilities under the same terms and conditions entered into on 10 April 2016.

They rejected the unilateral actions by the parties in Sana'a around the formulation of a political counsel and a government, which undermine the UN facilitated peace efforts. Given the dire humanitarian and economic situation, the GCC member states and UK stressed the utmost importance of the parties to the conflict ensuring the security and safety of humanitarian workers, to take all feasible steps to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure, and to allow for unhindered commercial and humanitarian access, and to commit significant funding to the UN Humanitarian Response Plan for Yemen for 2017. The GCC member states and the UK look forward to working together on Yemen's reconstruction – including rehabilitating the economy, sea ports, and public services – once the peace process is concluded. They supported humanitarian assistance being delivered to all parts of Yemen by the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center, other GCC states and UK aid organisations (including Department for International Development) and committed to scale-up those efforts.

They reaffirmed their commitment, in partnership with other members of the international community, to seek to prevent the resupply of weapons to Houthi forces and their allies in contravention of UN Security Council Resolution 2216 including anti-shipping and ballistic missiles which have the potential to inflict massive civilian casualties. Finally, the UK and GCC member states also underscored the imperative of collective efforts to counter Al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula.

The leaders decided to move in concert to convince all Libyan parties to accept an inclusive power-sharing agreement under the framework of the UN-brokered Libyan Political Agreement according to UNSC resolutions 2259, 2278 and the Skheirat Accord, and to continue to focus on countering the terrorist presence in the country.

The GCC member states and the UK strongly affirmed the necessity of resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the basis of a just, lasting, comprehensive peace agreement that results in an independent and contiguous Palestinian state living side-by-side in peace and security with Israel, based on the Arab Peace Initiative and UN resolutions. They urged the parties to demonstrate through policies and actions genuine advancement of a two-state solution.

On Lebanon, the leaders welcomed the election of a new president, called on all parties to strengthen Lebanese state institutions, and emphasised the need to fight all terrorist groups operating in Lebanese territory, which threaten Lebanon's security and stability. On Egypt, the GCC and the UK committed to support cooperation between the IMF and Egypt.

The GCC member states and the UK determined to accelerate efforts against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), the means of their delivery, as well as advanced conventional weapons, by enhancing national controls on proliferation-sensitive items and technologies.

On humanitarian cooperation, the leaders recognised the substantial and continued efforts and means of cooperation in this area, and pledged to continue working closely to relieve the situation in Yemen and Syria.

The leaders pledged to deepen further GCC-UK relations on these and other issues in order to build an even stronger, enduring and comprehensive strategic partnership aimed at enhancing regional stability and prosperity.

Counter-Terrorism and Counter-Extremism, Including Daesh and al-Qa'ida Recognising that countering terrorism needs a continually adaptive approach, the GCC member states and the UK pledged to build on their shared commitment to address the acute threats posed by Al-Qa'ida, Daesh and their affiliates. The GCC and the UK will hold a Working Group on Counter-Terrorism and Border Security to follow up on previous efforts to cooperate on border security, countering the financing of terrorism, cyber-security, and critical infrastructure protection.

The GCC member states and the UK will work together through the National Security Dialogue and the Working Group on Counter-Terrorism and Border Security to coordinate their efforts to enhance capacity to track, investigate, and prosecute those engaged in terrorist activities, in line with national and international law, as well as to contain and deter transit, financing and recruitment by violent extremists. They pledge to ensure regional efforts in counter-terrorism work complements individual national strategies (such as CONTEST, the UK's Counter Terrorism strategy).

Leaders also decided to strengthen counter-terrorist work on financing, through the GCC member states and UK increasing efforts to cut off terrorist financing, including through enhanced intelligence exchange and enforcement efforts to freeze assets of individuals and entities designated under relevant UN Security Council Resolutions, especially in the region. The GCC member states and the UK also determined to bolster their joint efforts to identify and share information on suspected foreign terrorist fighters (FTF). In response to the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2178 (2014), the GCC member states and UK and will work together to implement traveller screening systems and enhanced biometrics collection capability, and share best practices to make it more difficult for terrorists to avoid detection at any of their airports.

The GCC member states and the UK committed to supporting the implementation of the UN Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism, in line with UN General Assembly resolution 70/291 of 1 July 2016. As encouraged in that Resolution, the GCC member state and the UK will collaborate in supporting UN member states, regional and sub-regional organisations to develop national and regional plans of action to prevent violent extremism.

They will help develop effective responses to violent extremism and ideology, and provide resilience in vulnerable communities by reinforcing efforts by the United Nations and the Global Counter-Terrorism Forum and its operational arms – the Hedayah Center (the Abu-Dhabi-based International Center for Countering Violent Extremism), the Global Communities Engagement and Resilience Fund – and other relevant institutions, such as the Mohammed Bin Naif Counseling and Care Center, by exchanging best practices and by providing technical and financial support to the expansion of these institutions and related initiatives. They committed to reinforcing the efforts initiated by the UAE and UK in launching a Task Force on national action plans to prevent and counter violent extremism.

Iran and Regional Stability The GCC member states and the UK and oppose and will work together to counter Iran's destabilising activities in the region. They stressed the need for Iran to engage the region according to the principles of good neighbourliness, strict non-interference in domestic affairs, and respect for territorial integrity, consistent with international law and the United Nations Charter, and for Iran to take concrete, practical steps to build trust and resolve its differences with its neighbours by peaceful means.

Countering External and Internal Threats Building on their historical and strong bilateral ties and their newly founded Strategic Partnership, the GCC and UK leaders decided to enhance joint efforts to improve defence cooperation, as well as on maritime security and cyber-security. The leaders decided to seek collaborative training and exercise opportunities that would develop GCC defence capacity, capability and interoperability, including for humanitarian and peace support operations, and combined crisis response planning. The leaders also reaffirmed their commitment to work cooperatively on security and political issues of regional importance, and work closely in training, technical assistance and exchange of information. We have a shared interest in maximising the economic and social benefits from the growth in use of a free, open, peaceful and secure cyberspace, and in ensuring that our national infrastructure and computer networks are resilient against cyberattack.

The GCC member states and the UK will build on existing bilateral relations and expand towards increased military cooperation to tackle current threats and fortify defences in the region, through joint exercises and including maritime and border security. This includes a UK presence throughout the Gulf, including coordination through the Regional British Defence Staff to be based in Dubai.

The GCC member states and the UK will also establish a National Security Dialogue, to build GCC member states' capacity to coordinate security issues more effectively, and develop a framework for a regional response to crises. This Dialogue will broaden and integrate security cooperation to include, for example, cyber, serious organised crime, and counter-extremism.

The GCC member states and the UK will increase efforts towards cyber security initiatives, sharing expertise and best practices on cyber security policy, strategy, and incident response, working closely through the UK's newly appointed cyber security advisors, their GCC counterparts and the UK cyber security industry representative for the GCC to build capacity in Gulf institutions. They will also work together to combat the online exploitation of children, including through the We PROTECT Global Alliance.

The GCC member states and the UK committed to enhance engagement on tackling the shared threat of drug trafficking, including through the UK's National Crime Agency (NCA), the GCC Criminal Information Centre and GCCPOL.

The UK expressed its readiness to support GCC efforts to diversify their economies, provide more effective governance, and adapt to the new economic challenges, by emphasising innovation, non-oil industries, technical education and training, and services.

Humanitarian and Development Assistance The GCC and the UK agreed to work together to coordinate their humanitarian and development assistance activities, especially in the region. The GCC member states and the UK supported a follow-up conference to previous donor conferences on Syria ( including the London conference co-hosted by the UK, Kuwait, Norway and Germany, and other previous conferences hosted by Kuwait). They agreed to deliver fully on the 2016 Syria Conference pledges by the end of this year. They pledged increased support to tackle the regional refugee crisis, including the refugee education crisis in Lebanon. Additionally, they announced a new humanitarian and development cooperation Partnership Agreement with the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre.

Refugees, Migration and Human Trafficking Building on their strong track record of supporting refugees and fighting human trafficking, the GCC member states and the UK pledged to work together to enhance their efforts to support refugees and fight human trafficking through supporting victims and pursuing perpetrators. GCC member states agreed to support the UK's global ambition to end modern slavery (through the commitment to the Sustainable Development Goal 8.7) and ensure compliance with international conventions on forced labour. They will discuss initiatives to facilitate cooperation with flight carriers to combat human trafficking and to identify both traffickers and victims.

Trade and Investment The GCC and UK will build on their long-standing co-operation to unlock the full potential of their trade and investment relationship. This will occur both bilaterally and with the region as a whole, including to maintain the UK position as the largest foreign investor in the region. Bilateral trade between the UK and GCC was worth over ?30 billion last year and at this summit there were announcements covering a number of key sectors, including Healthcare, Innovation and the Knowledge Economy, Education, Finance, Defence and Security.

We will make it a priority, when the UK leaves the European Union, to build the closest possible commercial and economic relationship, and even more closely with business to promote actively GCC-UK economic engagement beyond current levels. We will work to understand and remove barriers to trade and investment, and to create the conditions under which trade and investment can flourish, empowering and enhancing the lives of our citizens.

Leaders agreed that we need to use government and business dialogues in a focussed and coherent manner in order, firstly, to build deeper knowledge and understanding of the key trade and investment issues, before moving towards discussions about the resolution of barriers.

To this end, a newly-established Joint Working Group will discuss the detail of our trading relationship, and help drive progress.

Leaders also decided to hold a GCC-UK PPP Conference in London in the first quarter of 2017, focusing on GCC national transformation and economic diversification plans.

People To People The GCC and UK agreed to build upon their already strong foundation of people to people contact through further enhancement. They agreed to close collaboration and partnership in education, healthcare, culture, sport and the arts, including through the British Council, and working with the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) on marine environmental issues. They agreed on the importance of efforts to support inter-faith and inter-civilisation dialogue, including through King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Center for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue in Vienna.

Strong and Long-Lasting Partnership GCC member states and the UK agreed to meet annually in a similar high-level format, in order to advance and build upon the UK-GCC Strategic Partnership announced today. They endorsed the GCC-UK Joint Action Plan as agreed by their Foreign Ministers and called for its full implementation. Leaders have also instructed their Ministers to review and extend the timeframe and scope of the current GCC-UK Joint Action Plan (JAP) (2015-2018) in light of the commitments made at this summit.

They agreed to hold regular joint ministerial meetings in all areas of GCC-UK Strategic Partnership, and instructed their experts and senior officials to meet regularly to map out the details and monitor implementation. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


UK announces participation in EXPO 2020 Dubai

posted on 08/12/2016

MANAMA: British Prime Minister, Theresa May has confirmed that the UK will participate in Dubai's Expo 2020. The Prime Minister informed His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, during a meeting in the margins of the annual meeting of leaders from the GCC currently being held in the Bahraini capital, Manama. The UK becomes the seventh country to announce its participation in association with Expo 2020 Dubai.

Speaking today, the British Prime Minister said, "I can confirm that the UK will take part in Dubai's "Expo 2020" continuing the tradition started in Britain with The Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations in Hyde Park in 1851.

"Dubai 2020 will offer an enormous commercial opportunity. There will be over 180 nations taking part with more than 25 million visitors expected – from the world's top business leaders to its biggest investors. It is an opportunity which I am determined we should seize together."

British Ambassador to the UAE, Philip Parham said, "We are very excited at the prospect of UK participation in EXPO 2020. The UK conceived and convened the first of all World Expos, the Great Exhibition of 1851. We have participated in many Expos since. At the last Expo, in Milan, our national pavilion won 22 international awards, including - like our national pavilion in Shanghai in 2010 - the Gold Award for Architecture and Landscape. I am confident that the Expo in Dubai - which will be the first in this region - will leave an enduring legacy; and that the UK's participation will be an important part of that. The UK was an early supporter of Dubai's bid to host the Expo. British designers are already playing key roles in it. British innovation, flair and skill will help drive EXPO 2020's ambition to connect minds and create the future."

Opening on 20 October 2020, Expo aims to bring together 25 million visitors and 200 countries, companies and NGOs to celebrate human ingenuity. It will be one of the largest global events in the history of the MEASA region. The event theme is ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future', with subthemes of ‘Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability'. It is forecast to contribute EUR 17.7 billion in gross value added to the UAE economy over the period of development and operations, and to sustain up to 277,000 jobs.

The concept of a World Expo started in the UK with The Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations in 1851. It was an event that started a legacy in the UK that continues to this day. Imperial College London, Natural History Museum, Royal Albert Hall, Royal College of Art and other world renowned educational and cultural institutions can trace their origins to this first World Expo.

Dubai has a vision to create its own enduring legacy from Expo 2020. The UK will play a role in assisting the UAE to realise this. British architects have designed two of the three themed pavilions, and British firms are involved in the building of key projects. Construction began on the site, which is located within the Dubai South district adjacent to Al Maktoum International Airport, in September 2016.

UK pavilions at recent World Expos have demonstrated the best of British creativity and flair. The award winning "Hive" pavilion in Milan was the UK's top paid for attraction in 2015 with 3.3 million visitors. It has now been re-erected in Kew Gardens, linked to hives at Kew and using the same technology (accelerometers) as in Milan, measuring the vibration and communication patterns of bees, which the public is able to listen to live. This is the first time a UK pavilion at a world Expo has been rebuilt in the UK enabling millions more visitors to experience it. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


New NIMR military vehicles enter service

posted on 08/12/2016

NIMR Automotive today announced that two of its most advanced military vehicle models, designed and manufactured in the UAE, have formally entered into service with the UAE Armed Forces.

The N35, a mine-protected multi-purpose fighting vehicle in both 4x4 and 6x6 configurations, and the AJBAN-class Special Operations Vehicle (SOV) were on display at the UAE's National Day parade.

Marking this milestone, Dr. Fahad Saif Harhara, NIMR CEO, said: "We are honoured to support the UAE Armed Forces with our latest world-class military vehicles, which will protect the lives of our soldiers on the battlefield."

NIMR's N35 is a multi-purpose vehicle that provides the Armed Forces with a combination of firepower, survivability and mobility to meet modern, asymmetric operational threats. The cabin, known as the ‘crew citadel', is capable of providing high levels of protection against mine, IED and ballistic threats.

The AJBAN SOV is a light, long-range reconnaissance vehicle that can be transported by helicopter for easy insertion into any environment for self-sustained missions lasting up to two weeks. The vehicle is designed to be highly mobile in all terrains, featuring a high payload capacity to transport all necessary crew equipment and features a roof-mounted gun for self-defence.

Dr. Fahad highlighted that "Local talent has been fundamental in bringing these vehicles from concept to series production. An integral element of NIMR's mission is to educate and empower the next generation of UAE nationals so that they can contribute to the country's growing industrial sector."

NIMR, a subsidiary of Emirates Defence Industries Company, designs and manufactures these vehicles at its state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Abu Dhabi. It also provides full lifecycle management including Integrated Logistic Support, maintenance, repair, technical support and spares to manage the entire fleet and variants deployed. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


RAK Airport set to register 52% rise in passenger traffic

posted on 08/12/2016

Ras Al Khaimah International Airport will mark 2016 as the most successful year in its history with record passenger numbers, aircraft movements and cargo handled, said Sheikh Salem bin Sultan bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Chairman of Department of Civil Aviation, Ras al-Khaimah.

The airport is set to welcome a record 471,432 passengers this year, an increase of 52 percent, against 309,591 passengers in 2015. Aircraft movements, including all categories, in the first ten months of 2016 were at 11,364.

The airport has set a record in cargo handling in the ten-month period of 2016 by almost doubling to 98 per cent at 3,100 tonnes from 1,600 tonnes for the January-October 2015 period. It is now projected to reach 3,700 tonnes of cargo in 2016, against 2,000 tonnes in 2015, an increase of 88 percent.

"These remarkable increases in passengers, cargo and aircraft movements are due to the vision and support to the aviation industry by His Highness Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi, UAE Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Ras al-Khaimah, increasing operational efficiency and dynamic planning and swift decision making," Sheikh Salem said.

"The overall growth is also owing to Qatar Airways starting its operations from February 2016 at 4 flights per week, Air India Express starting in March 2016 at 4 flights per week and increased movements from Air Arabia to various destinations," he added. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


UAE Ambassador presents his credentials to President of Philippines

posted on 08/12/2016

Hamad Saeed Al Zaabi, the UAE's Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Republic of the Philippines, presented on Tuesday his credentials to Rodrigo Duterte, President of the Philippines.

Al Zaabi conveyed the greetings of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, to President Duterte, and their wishes for further progress and prosperity to the people of the Philippines.

President Duterte also greeted the UAE leaders and expressed his best wishes for the people of the UAE.

He affirmed his keenness to strengthen and develop co-operation between the two countries. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


UAE Central Bank has an ambitious regulatory development programme underway, says senior official

posted on 08/12/2016

The Central Bank of United Arab Emirates, UAE, is working on an ambitious regulatory development programme in line with developments at the international level, where, at the federal level, the apex bank is near to completing a few key legislative enablers, said Saeed Abdulla Al Hamiz, Assistant Governor For Banking Supervision Affairs, Banking Supervision Department at the Central Bank of the UAE, on Wednesday.

These include a new central bank and banking law that reflects a substantial amendment to our existing Central Bank Union Law No. 10 of 1980, that among other things will further enhance Central Bank's independence and governance; and better align of our macro-prudential institutional framework our banking sector regulation and supervision with best practices; as well as strengthen safety nets, Al Hamiz said at the opening of the two-day 12th High-Level Meeting for Global Banking Standards and Regulatory and Supervisory Priorities, co-organised by Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, Financial Stability Institute, and the Arab Monetary Fund.

The programme also includes a new Public debt law that will form the foundation to develop our domestic debt capital markets. It can provide a new source of funding for the federal and local governments, create a yield curve, and provide banks with the additional options to fulfill compliance with the new liquidity rules.

A third ingredient is a newly drafted, but not yet approved Federal investment law, which could further improve prospects for enhancing the foreign direct investment (FDI).

The fourth ingredient of the regulatory development programme is a draft of "Netting Law" that will lead to strengthening the stability of financial markets in the country and increase the possibility of credit availability and reduce costs for banks involved in the UAE.

The new law is being prepared by the Central Bank of the UAE and the Ministry of Finance in coordination with the other concerned government entities, the official said.

"At the Central Bank of the UAE we are also closer to the finalization of implementation plans to phase in the Basel III framework, which will migrate our banking sector towards the Basel III standards for both capital and liquidity," he said.

On reflection, 2016 has been a very productive year for the Central Bank of the UAE. This year has made our path to meet our supervisory challenges on the short- and mid-term horizons much clearer.

In addition, during 2016, the Central Bank also drafted and socialised several new circulars, to all our banks among other things, designed to improve corporate governance, and risk management.

The regulatory framework for non-bank financial institutions (NBFIs) is also currently under review, with a view to enhancing their organization, development, regulation, and supervisory oversight, Al Hamiz noted.

The UAE Central Bank also recognises that the development of FinTech (financial technology) will play an important role in shaping the future of the financial services industry in the UAE. In this regard, we are in the process of finalizing two new regulations in this area, specifically dealing with digital payments and crowd funding.

The apex bank anticipates the adoption the forthcoming regulations over the ensuing months.

A newly enacted bankruptcy law within the UAE has also been a key step toward improving the legal framework for resolving corporate insolvency, including small and medium-size enterprises, SMEs.

"But as all regulators know tomorrow will be a new day with new challenges and in this regard this high level meeting is both welcome and timely. We need to remain engaged in active discussion not just in looking back to the financial crisis, at issues that have been resolved or may remain in process of being addressed, but we also need to look forward at issues that are or could be emerging for our respective financial sectors," Al Hamiz said.

The agenda and sessions of the High-Level Meeting for Global Banking Standards and Regulatory and Supervisory Priorities provides participants with an opportunity to discuss and consider key issues.

In particular, Al Hamiz said the Central Bank looks forward to sharing views on banking conduct and culture, as well as debating why risk models might still be useful, especially, post the financial crisis and our overriding efforts to limit risks in banking.

"Moreover, within the GCC region, we are all aware that we continue to face supervisory challenges for financial stability. Through this high level meeting and its sessions, we can support one another, in an open forum, in our continued efforts in this regard," Al Hamiz said.

Some risks, he noted, arise from our domestic conditions, but global risks can also be very important, especially for an open economy like the UAE that strives for further trade and financial integration within the global economy. "Therefore, we need to closely monitor global developments and be ready to intervene to mitigate their adverse domestic spillovers and hedge against potential risks."

The Financial Stability Unit at the UAE Central Bank plays a crucial role in this respect, he said. "It monitors and reports on the potential build-up of system wide risks and vulnerabilities in the financial sector, as well as makes recommendations to mitigate these risks."

The unit is in the final stage of formalising the macro-prudential framework, he noted and said it will define macro-prudential tools most suitable for the UAE financial system and the context in which these tools would be activated. The development of macro-prudential policies will enhance the stability of the financial system, which will further support the UAE macroeconomic priorities.

Turning to the UAE economy, the Central Bank's estimate is that non-oil activities will continue to grow by about 2.7–2.8 per cent in 2016 and 2017. While total GDP growth, at constant prices, is expected to slow to 2.2 per cent in 2016, we project it will regain momentum to 2.4 per cent in 2017, which reflects the aims of the recent fiscal consolidation to strike a balance between growth priorities and ensuring sustainability.

According to the Central Bank official, through October 2016 the resilience of the UAE's banking sector provided the needed financing support thanks to growing deposits and sufficient liquidity in the banking system. Domestic credit grew by 4.9 per cent through end of October 2016, displaying an increase of 5.9 per cent compared to the same period of the previous year, reflecting the adequate liquidity situation at banks and the resiliency of non-oil activities.

The Central Bank of the UAE remains keen to increase its capacity to manage liquidity to weather the impacts of external shocks, while adhering to the direction of US interest rate policy. Under these conditions, our focus is on the liquidity needs of banks with a forward-looking agenda.

As regulators we need to stay aware of the emerging risks within our financial systems and to set our supervisory priorities.

In the sessions, participants will discuss technological innovation in banking - the new players and channels plus enhanced technology innovations in financial market infrastructure and the need for cyber-resilience, the UAE Central Bank official noted.

"We all know that to meet our day to day supervisory responsibilities we need to remain focused, to closely monitor our banks liquidity conditions, asset quality, and risk profiles and we also need to stand ready to use our tool box to support the health of the banking system," he said.

As such the priorities the Central Bank of the UAE's banking supervision and financial stability continue to shift towards the further enhancement of risk-based supervision processes, and the refinement of our examination process to ensure greater regulatory consistency and transparency, and improve the quality and timeliness of banks' reporting to the Central Bank.

As such our Dashboard report which was launched in mid-2013 continues to evolve and its inputs are fine-tuned with quarterly updates. In addition we are now routinely sharing and openly discussing our Dashboard assessments with our Bank's most senior management and board members. The Dashboard assessments and general compliance levels are also a formalized and integral part of our approval process for requests coming from our banks While most of our medium-term initiatives are clear, we as regulators need to keep abreast of evolving best practices including the growing importance of establishing strong independent compliance functions within banks, with direct links to the Board of Directors. Strong bank compliance is required for a prudent risk-based supervision processes.

"Through our collaboration efforts, including this high level meeting, we can share our views and open eyes to these emerging or potential risks for financial systems."

The discussions of this high level meeting will further support our capacity to supervise the financial system respective systems' compliance with best practice, as well as, efforts towards promoting robust financial stability. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Foreign, institutional investments in ADX jump to AED7.9 billion by November

posted on 08/12/2016

Foreign and institutional investments at the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX) totalled AED7.9 billion by the end of November 2016.

Net flow of foreign investments in the last six months, from June to November, reached almost AED850 million. Data from the exchange shows that institutional investments in the last eleven months reached AED4.6 billion, whereas investments by foreign nationals totalled AED3.3 billion.

According to ADX statistics, non-Arab investors had the majority of foreign investments in the market with AED3.1 billion worth of portfolios during eleven months.

"The ADX constantly invests in the creation of an enabling market environment through the improvement of trading technology, market and reference data, as well as the implementation of market-maker schemes," ADX Chief Executive Rashed Al Blooshi said.

"The upgrade of the ADX on the MSCI index has helped in globally marketing the exchange by introducing it to a new group of investors, most of who are institutional investors," Al Blooshi said.

Al Blooshi expects further flow of foreign and institutional liquidity in the near future given that listed companies enjoy a competitive price-earnings ratio (P/E Ratio) and high returns compared to other exchanges.

"Our role in attracting foreign investment comes as part of the 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 the Abu Dhabi Vision 2030," Al Blooshi added. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


FGB and NBAD shareholders approve merger to create UAE’s largest bank

posted on 08/12/2016

Shareholders in First Gulf Bank PJSC (FGB) and National Bank of Abu Dhabi PJSC , NBAD, have approved a proposed merger of the two banks, which will create the largest financial institution in the United Arab Emirates, UAE, with assets of approximately AED655 billion (US$178 billion).

At separate general assembly meetings held on Wednesday, shareholders in FGB and NBAD voted in favour of the merger, which was recommended by the board of directors of both banks on 3rd July, the two banks said in an emailed joint press release.

The recommended transaction will involve a share swap, in which FGB shareholders receive 1.254 NBAD shares for each FGB share they hold.

Following the issue of new NBAD shares, FGB shareholders will own approximately 52 percent of the combined bank, with NBAD shareholders owning approximately 48 percent. The Government of Abu Dhabi and Government related entities will own approximately 37 percent of the merged entity.

On the effective date of the merger, FGB shares will be delisted from the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX) and the company dissolved.

The merger has been approved by the Central Bank of the UAE, and requires further approval from international regulators and the Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA) before it becomes effective, which is expected to occur towards the end of the first quarter of 2017. Following the shareholder approval, a 30-day creditor objection period will be triggered on 12th December, 2016.

"The overwhelming vote of support from FGB and NBAD shareholders to approve this historic merger is a clear testament to the compelling rationale and value proposition for creating a bank with the financial strength, scale and expertise to deliver benefits for our customers, our shareholders and for the wider UAE economy," Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of FGB, commented.

Nasser Ahmed Al Suwaidi, Chairman of NBAD, described the endorsement for the combined bank from both sets of shareholders as resounding and a significant milestone. "The new larger bank will be in an excellent position to invest in our people, in technology, in products and services that our increasingly sophisticated client base demands, while capitalising on growth opportunities in the UAE and beyond".

Shareholders from both banks voted in favour of all agenda items at each general assembly meeting, including the authorisation of the combined bank's board of directors once the merger becomes effective.

Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed Al Nahyan is the Chairman designate, while Nasser Ahmed Al Suwaidi is the Vice Chairman designate. Abdulhamid M. Saeed, who is currently Board Member and Managing Director of FGB, is the Chief Executive Officer designate for the combined bank.

Abdulhamid M. Saeed, Chief Executive Officer Designate, added, "Since the announcement of the planned merger in July, both banks have made strong progress towards integration. The vote of confidence from shareholders to create the largest bank in the UAE is based on an understanding that bringing together the best talents from FGB and NBAD and will create a market-leading product offering both in Personal Banking as well as in Corporate and Investment Banking locally and overseas." – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Salama bint Hamdan Foundation supports Rhodes Scholarship for the UAE

posted on 08/12/2016

The Rhodes Scholarship for the UAE (RSUAE), the first in the GCC, has been permanently endowed with a grant from the Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation (SHF).

Under the RSUAE, two Rhodes Scholarships per year are awarded to eligible applicants, enabling them to pursue postgraduate studies at Oxford University in the UK for up to three years, with tuition, living expenses and return travel all provided.

The official launch, which took place in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday, was attended by Hussain bin Ibrahim Al Hammadi, Minister of Education, Shamma bint Sohail Faris AlMazrui, Minister of State for Youth Affairs, and Charles Conn, CEO of the Rhodes Trust.

H.H. Sheikha Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan, Founder of the Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation commented: "The Rhodes Scholarship was brought to the UAE by Tamkeen, a Government of Abu Dhabi company, which facilitated the partnership between the Foundation and Rhodes House.

Now, as benefactor of the RSUAE, we are committed to raising awareness of the programme and actively encouraging students from across the UAE to apply.

'Through the Scholarship, we hope the Foundation can provide access to a life-changing international social and educational experience to promising young people in and from the UAE, and to further support the development of socially responsible and ethical young leaders," she added.

Speaking at the event, Shamma Al Mazrui, the first Emirati student to have granted Rhodes Scholarship, commented: "We are grateful to the Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation for boldly pioneering the endowment to launch the UAE's first Rhodes Scholarship program. This investment will inspire the next generation of young leaders who live for something bigger and better than themselves, and who will go on to be top of their fields here at home in the UAE and around the world."

"Service is at the heart of our values in the UAE. This brilliant partnership with the Foundation and the Rhodes Scholarships program intersects with the founding vision and pillars of our country. Our founder, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, believed that "the greatest investment is in building educated generations", that the "real prosperity of the state is its youth."

Established in 1902, the Rhodes Scholarship is the world's most prestigious scholarship programme, committed to promoting academic excellence and nurturing socially responsible leaders in a range of fields. The RSUAE, which before the permanent endowment was known as the Falcon Scholarship, is open to students aged 19-25 who have completed an undergraduate degree at a college or university within the UAE. Emirati students who have completed their degree overseas are also eligible to apply.

The launch of the permanent endowment follows last week's news that scholarships for the next academic year have been awarded to NYU Abu Dhabi student Dubai Abulhoul, and Khalifa University senior Mohammad Alsharid, who will take up their places at Oxford in September 2017. At Oxford, the oldest university in the English-speaking world, the RSUAE scholars will join more than 20,000 students from over 140 countries currently studying at the University. Nearly 8,000 Rhodes Scholars have gone on to serve at the forefront of government, business, the arts, education, and research among other sectors.

Charles Conn, CEO of the Rhodes Trust, said: "The Rhodes Trust is pleased to partner with the Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation to provide Rhodes Scholarships from the United Arab Emirates. Our aspiration is to identify and support innovative, energetic and ethical young leaders globally. The addition of Rhodes Scholars from new countries such as the UAE, which has an important international role to play in the 21st century, marks a substantial step in that direction.' ' We see the value of additional cultural diversity in our cohorts of Scholars every day: they learn from each other in profound ways, leaving behind the narrow interests of individual nationalities. The new Rhodes Scholars will contribute significantly through sharing their skills, experiences and energy with their peers at Oxford and we look forward to welcoming them to Rhodes House," he stated.

In addition to Shamma Al Mazrui, five other Emirati and UAE-based students have pursued postgraduate studies at Oxford University as Rhodes Scholars. The Applications for the 2017 RSUAE are now closed, but applications for 2018 will begin again in June 2017. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week set to drive business opportunities as investment in renewables reaches record high

posted on 08/12/2016

The 2017 edition of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW) is on track to be the most important in the event's history for driving commercially focused action, said industry leaders at a press event on Wednesday.

Hosted by Masdar, the forthcoming ADSW theme is ‘Practical Steps Towards a Sustainable Future'. The week's anchor event, the World Future Energy Summit (WFES), will be celebrating its 10-year anniversary with a strong focus on technology, innovation and finance. The rapidly falling cost of renewable energy has transformed the business case for the ‘green economy', unlocking an increasing number of investment opportunities.

Last year, global investment in renewables reached an all-time high of nearly US$300 billion. Competitive bids for solar energy projects in the UAE have twice broken records for the lowest price for solar power generation at less than 3 US cents per kilowatt-hour.

Renewable energy, including solar energy and wind, is now widely seen as having reached the critical mass needed to complement conventional energy sources in the global energy mix. Recent bids represent an enormous fall in price from around 8 to 9 cents per kilowatt-hour at the end of 2014, which is encouraging established energy companies to diversify and increase investment in renewable projects.

"I am honoured to say that ADSW has consistently delivered on motivating global action for a more sustainable future," said Mohamed Al Ramahi, CEO of Masdar, host of the event. "This is reinforced by the strong momentum in the renewable energy sector, which has achieved commercial viability, and is now recognised as a mature, mainstream industry. This year's ADSW will continue to build on the event's unique ability to enable dialogue between policy makers, business and academia, bringing collaboration and shared actions across the interconnected dependencies of energy, water and waste."

First held in 2008, WFES is firmly established as the leading event for green energy investors, buyers and vendors across the Middle East and North Africa, as well as South Asia. The four-day event will host leading decision makers from major renewables markets including Saudi Arabia, India, Jordan, Morocco, Egypt and the UAE – countries with more than 200 gigawatts worth of sustainable energy projects in the pipeline.

Bookings show the event is likely to host around 880 companies from 40 countries. More than 50 per cent of exhibitors at the event are small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) from leading clean tech nations including Germany, France, Japan, China, the USA and the UK, further illustrating the commercial dynamism and maturity of the sector.

Energy is the centrepiece of the UAE's expanding green economy. Renewable energy projects already announced or developed in the UAE will amount to 7 per cent of installed capacity by 2020. This in turn is pushing investment in new, energy efficient desalination methods to secure the nation's water supply. In addition, waste management targets aim to divert 75 per cent of waste from landfill by 2021.

ADSW 2017 will see the return of important co-located events that promote a complete cycle of sustainability, including the 5th International Water Summit, supported by Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority (ADWEA), and the 4th EcoWASTE exhibition and conference, held in partnership with Tadweer, The Center of Waste Management in Abu Dhabi (CWM).

"Our strategy is focused on renewables, and that needs to be the case with both of our core businesses: water and electricity," said Eng. Mohammed bin Jarsh, General Manager of Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Company. "Our water supply relies on desalination, most of which is achieved through co-generation, using the waste heat from thermal power stations to evaporate seawater. Alongside our commitment to solar energy, our future investments in water desalination will therefore need to use new technologies, such as the latest advances in reverse osmosis, to meet growing demand and ensure a truly sustainable water supply."

The International Water Summit (IWS) is a global platform for promoting water sustainability in arid regions by bringing together world leaders, field experts, academics and business innovators to accelerate the development of new sustainable strategies and technologies.

EcoWASTE is an international platform for promoting sustainable waste management practices and recycling, and is the region's largest gathering for waste management and recycling professionals. Held under the slogan ‘From Waste to Resource', EcoWASTE aims to support the region's urgent waste disposal challenges in the quest for sustainable development and environmental protection.

"EcoWASTE is an ideal platform for knowledge and best practices exchange, along with launching new technologies and projects for waste management," said Eisa Saif Al Qubaisi, General Manager of Tadweer. "We strongly believe that the organisation of this exhibition enables the future strategic planning framework locally and regionally; EcoWASTE highlights the challenges and opportunities within the waste management industry, and helps us find the ideal options to transform waste into economic drivers."

ADSW 2017 exhibitions and conferences are expecting 38,000 attendees from 175 countries. That represents a threefold increase since its inaugural edition in 2008, and a strong indicator of the green economy's growth and the event's success in supporting businesses as the commercial environment matures.

"When we partnered with Masdar on the World Future Energy Summit in 2009, we understood that our role was to help create an active global market in Abu Dhabi for policy, science and business to forge partnerships and innovation in sustainable technology through our international network in over 50 countries, and we have consistently built on that purpose," said Ara Fernezian, Group Managing Director - Middle East, at Reed Exhibitions, the event organiser for WFES, IWS and EcoWASTE.

With the development of the industry and the launch of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week by Masdar, IWS was launched in 2013 in strategic partnership with ADWEA, and EcoWASTE was launched in 2014, in strategic partnership with Tadweer, to connect energy, water and waste management for a sustainable future.

"The events in 2017 will engage global industry partners and professionals, through a bespoke business matchmaking programme that brings buyers and sellers together to drive the industry's development," added Fernezian. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Etihad Museum opens doors to public in January 2017

posted on 08/12/2016

Etihad Museum will open its doors to the general public from 7th January 2017, the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority (Dubai Culture) has announced.

This follows the recent official inauguration of the museum on 2nd December, on the eve of UAE's 45th National Day in the presence of Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and Members of the Federal Supreme Council.

The museum will welcome visitors all week long from 10am to 8pm, and will present educational exhibits and programmes that show the chronological events of the agreement signing and Union declaration in 1971.

Saeed Al Nabouda, Acting Director-General of Dubai Culture and Arts Authority said, "This landmark heritage initiative is an important manifestation of the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum to create an important national UAE cultural and tourist landmark. It will offer the public a valuable opportunity to discover year-round the events before, during and after the Union agreement's signing in 1971. In doing so, the museum will enhance visitor understanding of the rights, privileges and responsibilities bestowed upon the nation's citizens through the UAE constitution."

As part of Dubai Culture's wider role in establishing a regulatory framework for the Emirate's heritage sector, Etihad Museum will contribute to the realisation of the Dubai Plan 2021 objectives, to consolidate the Emirate's position as a home for creative individuals who are proud of their cultural identity.

Visitors will be able to enjoy reading books at the Dubai Public Library branch within the museum, which will hold three thousand different titles on the UAE's national and social history. Pictures, movies and documents from 1968 to 1974 will be on display to provide numerous points of interest throughout the nation building process of the nation, all of which is captured in the museum.

The Etihad Museum's new permanent pavilion is inspired by the shape of a manuscript, with seven columns which emulate the pens used to sign the 1971 Union agreement, while the museum's identity is inspired from the colours of the UAE flag, the Union's identity and the seven emirates. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


du pledges AED1 million to Emirates Foundation for youth development initiatives

posted on 08/12/2016

du, the Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company, has pledged AED1 million over the next two years in support of the philanthropic initiatives of Emirates Foundation, the national foundation of the UAE established to facilitate public-private partnerships for empowering youth, as its Gold Partner.

The collaboration between the two entities will commence in January 2017, with an aim to invest in youth development initiatives in the UAE.

"In line with du's overall sustainability and business objectives to support the UAE community and to empower its youth, we are proud to sponsor an organisation that believes in the importance of the next generation," said Osman Sultan, Chief Executive Officer, du. "Our support of Emirates Foundation through this partnership will help further their work and thus strengthen community development overall. By investing in the future of our country's youth, we are helping to cultivate a sustainable knowledge economy that will yield the leaders and innovators of tomorrow."

"At Emirates Foundation, we acknowledge that philanthropy cannot operate in a vacuum. Engaging Business partners such as du is essential to addressing youth development systemically and sustainably," Clare Woodcraft-Scott, Chief Executive Officer of Emirates Foundation, said.

"Our broad spectrum of programmes – from leadership development, to volunteering, and promoting innovation and social enterprises in the UAE and GCC at large - are all invaluable ingredients for engaging the private sector to give back to the community and play an active role in youth development. We are looking forward to working with du and engaging their teams in our programmes and see a lot of benefits for both organizations, particularly in terms of introducing our youth to the telecommunications sector and providing them with essential relevant skills to explore careers on this front," she added. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Dubai Travelers' Festival attracts 36 adventurers

posted on 08/12/2016

The Dubai Travelers' Festival, the largest gathering of adventurers and explores in the world, who meet annually to celebrate their experiences and stories from their journey's across oceans and continents, will return to the city from 14th to 17th December.

'In its 5th year, the Dubai Travelers Festival will be held at the Mush if Park and will be the largest in terms of participants as it will attract 36 adventurers, mostly from the UAE and Arab countries,' said Awad Mohammad Mojrin, Chairman of the Organising Committee.

Held under the Patronage of HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Crown Prince of Dubai, the festival is also set to see a number of international travelers, many of who have made significant achievements during their travels across the world by car, boat, foot, horse, camel, bicycle and plane.

It is a stage where these seasoned adventurers can share their experiences with visitors and among one another through workshops, lectures, interviews and documentary screenings. Their stories of the lofty summits they've scaled, the oceans they've crossed, and the dangers of the jungles they've faced with wild-animals, and the lonely roads they've travelled will inspire you to discover more of the world around you, or to take a second look at the different ways that people live on this wonderful planet.

The event also will show photography exhibitions, workshops and seminars, contests and much more.

Dubai Travelers' Festival came to life in 2012 and has been held annually since in Dubai. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Over 70 entries confirmed for the 2016 Dubai International Rally

posted on 08/12/2016

The 2016 Dubai International Rally, running for the first time under its new format as a Cross Country Baja Rally, will feature a bumper entry list of over 70 cars, buggies, motorcycles and Quads.

The 2016 Dubai International Rally is organised by the Automobile & Touring Club of the UAE (ATCUAE), and is being staged as a candidate event for the 2017 FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies. The event has already secured a place in the 2017 FIM Baja World Cup.

The event kicks off with a ceremonial start taking place at the Bab Al Shams Arena on Thursday 8th December 2016 at 19:30, with the competitive stages of over 220kms taking place in the desert south of Al Qudra all day on Friday 9th December 2016.

"We are delighted that so many competitors have come out to support our new initiative with the event, and it is a personal pleasure for me to see the Dubai International Rally return to the level that it deserves as the UAE's oldest motorsport event", said President Mohammed Ben Sulayem, President of ATCUAE, who won the event a record 15 times when it was a round of the FIA Middle East Rally Championship.

"Such high numbers even for the candidate event fully justifies the decision we made to evolve the event into a Cross Country Baja Rally, which is the dominant discipline now in the Gulf".

The biggest name on the International Entry List for cars is Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi, regular World Rally Championship competitor and Chairman of Abu Dhabi Racing, as he continues his steps into off-road rallying. It will truly be a family affair for Sheikh Khalid as his brother, Sheikh Abdulla Al Qassimi, and nephew, Sheikh Mohammed Al Qassimi, will both take part in the national portion of the event.

Sheikh Khalid will be using the event as final training prior to making his debut in the infamous Dakar Rally, which kicks off in a little over one months' time. Also on the entry list for both the Dubai International Rally and the Dakar Rally, and highlighting just what a popular destination the UAE now is for motorsport competitors, is two time FIA African Rally Champion Conrad Rautenbach from Zimbabwe, as well as Italian motorcyclist Manuel Luchese, who will compete in the ‘Malle Moto' class at Dakar, where riders compete with no support crew and minimal spare parts.

In total, there are 24 cars and buggies taking part in the international part of the event, with a further 10 cars and buggies running in the national section. A further 44 motorcycles and quads, including the leading riders from the region like Mohammed Al Balooshi, Mohammed Jaffar and Khalid Al Falasi, will also take part in the event for the first time. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Jawaher Al Qasimi marks January 15th as official launch date for fifth edition of Sharjah Children Biennial

posted on 08/12/2016

Children from across the globe are being given the perfect opportunity to imagine, create and innovate with the launch of the fifth edition of the Sharjah Children Biennial (SCB). Set to commence on January 15th, 2017, the date of the fifth edition of SCB has been officially announced by H.H. Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, wife of H.H. the Ruler of Sharjah and Chairperson of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs (SCFA).

Organised by Sharjah Children Centres under the theme ‘A World as Big as Your Imagination,' SCB will be held over one month and will see the participation of a host of talented children from across the globe. The event's organisers say that the biennial offers children the ideal environment where they can discover their creative talents, explore new artistic mediums and interact with their peers from around the world.

"Sharjah is investing in the future by developing children's capabilities and leveraging their talents. Our aim is to create a generation full of life and love – one that is able to build a better and brighter future for itself and its community. SCB grants children the freedom to imagine, create and innovate within a fertile environment where they can explore their full potential. It allows children to imagine the future in which they would like to live and helps to protect them from negative influences," said Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi.

She stressed that children all over the world can benefit significantly from undertaking artistic activities, as these boost creativity and inventiveness. She emphasised that SCB encourages investment in the future through nurturing children's imagination, enabling them to draw their dreams and ambitions as well as exchange their thoughts and ideas with youngsters from other global communities.

The fifth edition of SCB aims to push children's imagination to the fore, encouraging them to overcome obstacles and borders through art and through expressing their ideas without restriction. As with its previous editions, the event will work on the principle that young dreams can transform into grand inventions. The forthcoming SCB aspires to motivate children to showcase their creative talents through its three competition categories; architecture design, environment, and fantasy and reality.

SCB represents the first-of-its-kind and most prominent artistic event for children in the UAE and the GCC. The first edition of SCB was held in 2008 and was a platform for children to unlock their potential across a variety of artistic genres. In the editions since its inception, the biennial has witnessed large local and international participation due to its growing prominence and the high standards it applies in the selection of artwork. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


Young UAE artists contribute to ‘2nd December Street’ project

posted on 08/12/2016

Brand Dubai, the creative arm of the Government of Dubai Media Office, has assigned a group of young UAE artists to work on the ‘2nd December Street' project in Dubai, the first phase of the Dubai Street Museum initiative. The project is being jointly implemented by Brand Dubai and Dubai Municipality.

Both local and international artists are participating in the project that is set to be completed over a period of five years. It aims to display the works of the artists on buildings along 2nd December Street, one of the busiest streets in Dubai. The project also offers a unique opportunity for Emirati artists to engage with major international mural artists.

Shaima Al Suwaidi, Project Manager of the Dubai Street Museum project, said that Brand Dubai ensures all its key projects feature UAE artists as part of its commitment to support their development. She also said that the UAE artists are making a unique contribution to the project. "Local artists have created distinctive murals for the ‘2nd December Street' project and displayed a high level of skills. The project has facilitated their engagement with famous international mural artists from diverse genres, which will help them enhance their ability to execute such large projects," Al Suwaidi said.

Maitha Al Mazroui, Senior Green Building Engineer at Dubai Municipality, said that the Municipality is keen to provide opportunities like these for young UAE artists to showcase their talent. She said that the Municipality is committed to supporting young talent as part of a strategic talent development plan. She also said that the Municipality has come up with a comprehensive plan to execute the project, designed to match Dubai's objectives and support the implementation of new creative ideas.

UAE artists participating in the project praised the organisers for the opportunity to take part in creative projects like the 2nd December Street project. They also expressed their keenness to participate in future phases of the project that will allow them to showcase their skills, and their happiness at being able to contribute to the creation of murals based on themes related to Dubai's history at a time when the nation was celebrating its 45th National Day.

Ahwaq Abdullah, a young UAE artist said that the project offered an opportunity for local artists to contribute to such mega projects. As part of the project, she created her version of a famous photograph of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and the late Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum taken by UAE photographer, Noor Ali Rashid.

The young artist said that the mural is the biggest she has ever drawn, and that it was challenging to work on the mural in open spaces where artists cannot control all the conditions, including the weather and light. She said that she was able to overcome the challenges because of her passion for the theme. "I wasn't able to move easily and had to walk long distances to review the mural. Light was also an obstacle at times apart from the lack of a quiet environment. At the end, I managed to overcome all the challenges and meet the deadline," she said. The mural took 10 days to complete, she added.

Mayssoun Al Salah hailed the project which aims to showcase Dubai in a uniquely creative way by linking the present with its past and future. She said that her mural, which took 12 days to complete, was based on old postage stamps.

Hamdan Bati Al Shamsi said that he selected Al Ayal art as a topic for his artwork. He used new techniques to create his version of the style of art that is typically used for images displayed in official celebrations and weddings. He added that his mural was completed in seven days.

The Dubai Street Museum project seeks to highlight the UAE's unique history, heritage, achievements and aspirations through public artworks. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -