Monday, May 30, 2016

Starting them young on road safety

Over the past two weeks, thousands of youngsters have been getting instructions in the correct way to drive by taking mini pedal cars around a mock-up of a town centre, complete with road signs, pedestrian crossing, roundabout and traffic lights.
My First Licence — I Know My Road Rules helped 3,000 children from nine schools in Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi to learn basic road rules and signs, before giving them the chance to put what they learnt into practice on the streets.
Hesham Ahmed Khan, 6, a Year 1 pupil at Gems Cambridge International School, said it was fun learning about the road signs and the basic road rules.
“We learnt about red, yellow and red traffic signals, the roundabout, U-turn, stop and other signs," he said. “We need to put our seat belts on, and my dad should not be using the phone while driving or we’ll crash."
Ali Salem Al Mazrouie, 5, said he learnt that children should not sit in the front seat as the airbag can cause injuries in a crash.
Shouq Al Jasmi, 6, agreed, saying: “I need to sit on the back of the car with my seat belt on. Talking on the phone while driving is bad."
At a zebra crossing, children were taught to look left and right twice and make sure that the road is clear before they can cross, said six-year-old Janina Fathima Sirujuddeen. “Inside the bus, we should put our seat-belts on and not talk too loudly because we’ll distract the driver," she said.
Each child who completed the practice driving session received a mock-up licence, carrying their name, photograph and school, an interactive story book on road rules and a “We Know Our Road Rules" magnet.
Organisers and school officials were impressed by the children’s knowledge of road safety rules.
“It leads them from safe passengers to safe drivers, isn’t it?" said Kelvin Hornsby, the school’s new principal.
“That’s what you’re looking for because everybody in the car has a responsibility to play for their safety."
Albie Huyser, the school’s vice principal, said the message could be passed on to the parents.
“We make a big issue about how to help and support your parents, how to look for any dangers on the road," she said. “This initiative is absolutely worth it. They can tell their parents ‘fasten your seat-belt. Don’t speak on the phone while driving’."
Instilling good road-safety habits from a young age is important, said Roshanara Sait, director of Ciel Marketing & Events, which organised the campaign along with BMW Group Middle East.
“If the child can influence a parent’s driving style, it would have more effect than paying a fine," she said. “If you can save one life, it would really make a huge difference."
Leanne Blanckenberg, corporate communications manager for BMW Group, said: “These children will one day be motorists on our roads. We therefore need to instil good road-safety habits and ensure they are aware of their responsibilities as pedestrians, passengers and future drivers from an early age to ensure safer roads for the future."
The campaign ended on Thursday (May 26) at Gems Winchester School. It was supported by the Abu Dhabi Police, Roads and Transport Authority and Knowledge and Human Development Authority.

Gender equality is practiced here

  Dubai: In a bid to enhance gender equality and women’s empowerment in the country, the UAE Gender Balance Council held a meeting with the European - UAE Human Rights Working Group on Saturday.
The meeting was led by the vice-president of the council, Mona Al Merri, who said that for a society to be productive, it has to use the talents and capabilities of women who represent around half of the UAE population.
Speaking about the UAE’s experience in women’s empowerment and gender equality, Al Merri said without the efforts and pioneering initiatives undertaken by Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan in promoting the development of women in the UAE, “women would not have the opportunities they have today”.
Also present at the meeting were Rosamaria Gili, Deputy Head for GCC, Yemen and Iraq in the European External Action Service, who led the European - UAE Human Rights Working Group; Dr Omar Abdul Rahman Al Nuaimi, Assistant Undersecretary for Policy and Strategy at the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation; Naji Al Hai Mubarak, acting Undersecretary at the Ministry of Social Affairs; and Shamsa Saleh, CEO of the Dubai Women Establishment.
Al Merri noted that the UAE is a young country that has seen huge positive changes since its formation in 1971. She recalled that in the year of its formation, when the late Shaikh Zayed sought to appoint graduates in government positions, he could find only a total of 45 graduates, of which only four were women. Compared to this, today, women account for 70 per cent of university enrolment. This is a tremendous change that has happened in a short period of time, she said, adding that the high enrolment is an indication of what UAE women can do in the future.
Al Merri pointed out that UAE women are at the forefront of various spheres of life, and are not just playing their roles in the background. She said that the visibly high level of women’s participation in society give expatriates, who have chosen the UAE as their home, a perspective that is very different to the regional stereotypes portrayed in the media.
The empowerment of women is “quite striking” in the UAE, a member of the European delegation said. The delegation voiced the opinion that the UAE offers a positive home-grown model for women’s development and empowerment for the region. It is better to create a model for the region that is from the region, the European delegate noted.

We can all use a 'Happiness Meter'

DUBAI - Happiness of Emiratis and expatriates is one of the goals of government, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, said on Saturday.
He said this should be a goal of the private sector and the whole of society, reported state news agency Wam.
Sheikh Mohammed was speaking at a meeting to approve the results of the Happiness Meter, a programme he launched a year ago to monitor customer satisfaction with 28 government departments.
“Achieving welfare and happiness for nationals and expatriates is what drives our national agendas for all sectors," he said.
The survey was conducted with kiosks at 328 locations offering customers three choices to assess their level of satisfaction — a smiling face, a straight face and a sad face.
The survey found that 89 per cent of the two million customers polled were satisfied with the service they received.
Sheikh Mohammed honoured Dubai Customs, which was voted the best government department in terms of customer happiness.
Other departments honoured included the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, the Knowledge and Human Development Authority, Dubai Courts and Dubai Police.
He noted that the Roads and Transport Authority was the department that had the most customer responses.
One result from the survey that is being further analysed is why the respondents were the most content at 10am on Tuesdays.

Friday, May 27, 2016

50 good reasons to think science

More than 8.1 million people worldwide are now employed by the renewable energy industry – a five percent increase from last year – according to a report released today by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) at its 11th Council meeting.
The report, Renewable Energy and Jobs – Annual Review 2016, also provides a global estimate of the number of jobs supported by large hydropower, with a conservative estimate of an additional 1.3 million direct jobs worldwide.
"The continued job growth in the renewable energy sector is significant because it stands in contrast to trends across the energy sector," said IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin. "This increase is being driven by declining renewable energy technology costs and enabling policy frameworks. We expect this trend to continue as the business case for renewables strengthens and as countries move to achieve their climate targets agreed in Paris."
The total number of renewable energy jobs worldwide rose in 2015 while jobs in the broader energy sector fell, finds the report. In the United States for example, renewable energy jobs increased 6 per cent while employment in oil and gas decreased 18 per cent. Likewise in China, renewable energy employed 3.5 million people, while oil and gas employed 2.6 million.
As in previous years, enabling policy frameworks remained a key driver of employment. National and state auctions in India and Brazil, tax credits in the United States and favourable policies in Asia have all contributed to employment increases.
Countries with the most renewable energy jobs in 2015 included China, Brazil, the United States, India, Japan and Germany. The solar photovoltaic (PV) sector remains the largest renewable energy employer worldwide with 2.8 million jobs (up from 2.5 at last count) with jobs in manufacturing, installation and operations & maintenance. Liquid biofuels was the second largest global employer with 1.7 million jobs, followed by wind power, which grew 5 per cent to reach 1.1 million global jobs.
"As the ongoing energy transition accelerates, growth in renewable energy employment will remain strong," said Mr. Amin. "IRENA’s research estimates that doubling the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix by 2030 – enough to meet global climate and development targets – would result in more than 24 million jobs worldwide."
-- Select report findings: - Solar PV is the largest renewable energy employer with 2.8 million jobs worldwide, an 11 per cent increase from last count. Employment grew in Japan and the United States, stabilised in China, and decreased in the European Union.
- Strong wind installation rates in China, the United States and Germany drove a 5 per cent increase in global employment to reach 1.1 million jobs. Wind employment in the United States alone rose by 21 per cent.
- Jobs in liquid biofuels, solar heating and cooling, and large and small hydropower decreased due to various factors including increased mechanisation, slowing housing markets, the removal of subsidies and the drop in new installations.
With more than a third of the global renewable energy capacity additions in 2015, China led employment with 3.5 million jobs.
In the European Union, the United Kingdom, Germany and Denmark were the global leaders in offshore wind employment. Overall, job figures in the EU declined for the fourth year due to weak economic growth. Jobs fell 3 per cent to 1.17 million in 2014, the last year for which data is available. Germany remains the highest European Union renewables employer– employing nearly as many as France, the United Kingdom, and Italy combined.
In the United States, renewable energy employment increased 6 per cent driven by growth in wind and solar. Solar employment grew 22 per cent – 12 times faster than job creation in the United States economy ­– surpassing jobs in oil and gas. Employment in wind industry also grew 21 per cent.
Japan experienced impressive gains in solar PV in recent years, resulting in a 28 per cent increase in employment in 2014.
In India, solar and wind markets have seen substantial activity, as the ambitious renewable energy targets are translated into concrete policy frameworks.
Africa has also seen many interesting developments leading to job creation, including solar and wind development in Egypt, Morocco, Kenya and South Africa.
IRENA’s early research indicates that the renewable energy sector employed larger shares of women than the broader energy sector.

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Children's rights amply protected

The Human Rights Department at the General Secretariat of the Office of H.H Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior hosted an interactive dialogue session on the child rights law "Wadeema", which was attended by 33 societal and governmental entities.
In his welcome speech, Major General Khalifa Hareb Al Khaiaili, Acting Assistant Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Interior for Naturalisation, Residency and Ports Affairs, reiterated the Ministry of Interior’s unwavering commitment to establish the UAE as a cultural beacon, one that is a role model in the region for reinforcing child protection and safety, through effective precautionary measures to promote safety and security in the society.
He said: "Partnerships amongst the different sectors are essential to achieve the objectives set out in the "Interactive Dialogue", notably to introduce the law as a comprehensive international and national child protection requirement; and determine the respective responsibilities assumed by the concerned authorities and personnel. The objectives also include shedding the light on the mechanisms to provide protection and prevention for children; the criminal penalties incurred by violators, and their connections to the other regulations."
The session was attended by Major General Salem Mubarak Al Shamesi, Director General of Finance and Support Services at the Ministry of Interior; Brigadier Ahmed Mohammed Nekhairah, Head of Human Rights Department at the Ministry of Interior; Judge Dr. Hatem Aly, UNODC's representative and head of the sub-regional office for the GCC; and Mohammed Salim Al Ka’bi, Chairman of the Emirates Human Rights Association, EHRA.
Also present were Amina Za’al Al Muhairi, Deputy Director of Human Rights Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation; and a large crowd of guests including representatives of ministries, federal and local governmental entities, and civil society organisations concerned with human rights in the UAE.

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True image of Islam distorted by terrorism

Gliding past the sunset above Lehigh Valley International Airport, the Solar Impulse 2 is well on its way to becoming the first plane ever to fly around the world on solar power alone.
Without a single drop of fossil fuel, the sun-powered aircraft touched down at the airport shortly before 9 p.m. Wednesday with electric bicycles attached helping to slow it down, to cheers from about 100 solar power fans and Swiss onlookers.

With clear skies and only a light breeze, the record-breaking plane coasted along the tarmac accompanied by a traveling ground crew of 75 people here, and another 75 people remotely directing its every movement from Monaco on the French Riviera.

The plane will take off for John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City next week before crossing the Atlantic Ocean to land in Europe or Northern Africa.
Pilot Bertrand Piccard brought the $20 million-a-year operation in for a landing at LVIA to complete a 17-hour flight from Wright Brothers Airport in Dayton, Ohio, completing the 13th leg of a trip that started in March 2015 in Abu Dhabi.
"I love exploration. I love to push the limits of the possible," Piccard said from the cockpit as he flew over central Pennsylvania on Wednesday. "No fuel. Zero emissions. No pollution in a plane that can fly forever. No other plane in the world can fly forever. This one can. This is what drives me."
Solar Impulse 2 has been a 17-year labor of love for Swiss aviators Piccard and his second pilot, Andre Borschberg, and a cast of what is now 150 people working around the clock to prove that continuous flight without fossil fuel is possible.
The plane, which weighs about 5,100 pounds, has wings equipped with more than 17,000 solar cells that store power to turn the plane's propellers and charge its batteries. It enables the plane to store energy to fly at night and stay in the air for days at a time, according to its website,
On Wednesday, the plane circled Allentown for nearly four hours before touching down. By 8:
15 p.m., the plane was low enough to the ground to see its flashing red landing lights and individual solar panels.
Flying at a typical speed of about 30 mph, the single-seat plane took about 17 hours to make its way from Dayton to LVIA, but it's had legs much longer, including one from Asia to Hawaii that took five days. For Piccard that was five days alone in the cockpit — under the watchful eye of everyone at Mission Control in Monaco. To do it, Piccard and Borschberg have perfected the art of the 20-minute nap, which they take several times a day during multi-day stretches.
"This is the only plane in the world certified to have the pilot sleeping in the cockpit," Piccard said, adding that the plane can fly forever, its only limits being those of its human pilots.
Along the way, Piccard and his crew have developed a bit of a cult following, in part because of the interactive experience they provide live online. The plane has five cameras that broadcast in the cockpit and control center constantly, and Piccard and Borschberg conduct daily interviews as they fly.
At the tarmac, Bethlehem residents Udo and Margit Hardt followed the plane's slow, roving circles with their cameras. Christine Pfister, honorary consul of Switzerland in Philadelphia, invited the Hardts, along with all other Lehigh Valley residents with a Swiss connection, to attend the landing.
Udo Hardt, 74, said he's interested in transportation that uses new forms of energy and assessed the plane's flight as it drifted downward.
"I'm interested in things like electric cars, and right now batteries seem to be the biggest issue," Hardt said. "At this moment, I think the plane has better batteries."
Earlier in the day, when the plane was just west of Pittsburgh, Piccard took advantage of good weather to fly in circles above the materials science technology company Covestro, just to "say hi" from above to employees of one of the project's corporate sponsors.
Just before his in-flight interview with The Morning Call, he could be heard on the phone with Monaco's Prince Albert II.
He and his crew have certainly developed a fan in Dave Hartman of Lititz, Lancaster County, a retired Air Force pilot who has been following the journey since it started. Hartman made the 70-mile trip to LVIA on Wednesday just for the chance to catch a glimpse of the plane landing.
"Oh my gosh, this is a chance to look into the future," Hartman said. "I didn't want to miss this opportunity. The whole project is just fantastic."
Hartman wasn't alone. LVIA officials urged people to watch the landing on, but that didn't stop some from hunting for the best parking lots or roadside near the airport to catch sight of the plane.
Piccard said he hopes to complete his loop around the world this summer in Abu Dhabi, but it will not be his last journey. This is just the beginning, he said. After all, Star Trek's Capt. Jean-Luc Picard is believed to named after either Piccard's grandfather Jean or Jean's twin Auguste.
"In addition to the message of clean technology, we speak a lot about adventure and exploration," Piccard said. "Embrace the unknown. People are living this adventure with us. They understand they can be explorers in life, also. They can also push the limits."

Have you heard of this celebration?

Five endangered turtles were released into the Arabian Gulf on World Turtle Day on Monday after being nursed back to health by marine biologists at Sharjah Aquarium.
The four adult hawksbill turtles and a green turtle were returned to the sea at Al Hamriya Beach in the emirate.
Despite international conventions prohibiting the hunting and trading of sea turtles, the global population of hawksbill turtles has plunged 80 per cent in three generations.
“Sometimes they get hit by a boat. Sometimes they try swallowing plastic thinking it’s a jellyfish. The turtles are brought to us for different reasons and we try to nurse them back to health before releasing them," said Rashed Al Shamsi, Sharjah Aquarium’s curator.
For the past six years the aquarium has been rehabilitating turtles and other marine animals with the aim of reintroducing them into the wild.
“One of the main things we do is to take care of all the environmental species. One of these tasks is to make sure that they are represented in the aquarium and that we give back to the environment," said Mr Al Shamsi.
However, preventing turtle populations from contracting would require international collaboration in conservation efforts, he said.
This week the Emirates Wildlife Society and World Wildlife Fund (EWS-WWF) launched a four-year programme for scientists to track turtles.
“Partnerships play a key role in our efforts to drive the course of conservation," said Marina Antonopoulou, a marine programme leader at EWS-WWF.
“We are actively looking for sponsors willing to support us in our efforts to conserve endangered marine species, such as marine turtles, and critical habitats in the UAE."
Sea turtles are being threatened by coastal development, climate change, harvesting of turtle eggs at nesting beaches, pollution and being accidentally caught in fisheries.
Manal Ataya, director general of Sharjah Museums Department, said it was the role of museums and aquariums to educate the public about the need to act as custodians of the environment.
“Sharjah Museums Department is reaching out to the community to spread awareness of the need to ensure a sustainable future for our precious marine resources," she said.

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