Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Metro Manila, take a cue from this

ABU DHABI - The Department of Transport has unveiled a plan to develop the transport system in and around the rapidly growing Al Gharbia.

The department’s Surface Transport Master Plan will expand road networks and public transport, and extend Etihad Rail projects.

New roads and intersections will serve cities including Madinat Zayed, Ruwais, Ghayathi, Sila and Baynunah, while public transport improvements are also due, with more buses and taxis.

The area is primed for investment, covering 60,000 square kilometres and home to a mix of industries and residential communities.

Al Gharbia has a growing population and covers 83 per cent of Abu Dhabi, while contributing 40 per cent to its gross domestic product.

It is in a prime location for improved transport links, said Badr Al Qamzi, director of integrated transport planning.

“The Surface Transport Master Plan in the Western Region to develop suitable transport that would be integrated in the extensive strategy for all transport systems is in line with Abu Dhabi 2030 Vision,” Mr Al Qamzi said.

Al Gharbia is a vital link for freight from Abu Dhabi and Dubai to the rest of the GCC.

Long-term and medium-term projects are due for completion between 2017 and 2030.

Planners hope the improvements to road networks, bridges, tunnels and signs will help achieve sustainable and environmentally friendly transport system that is safe for users.

The project is the latest stage of transport developments in the emirate.

In October, the Jalboot passenger ferry launched from stations at the Corniche, Al Bandar and the Louvre Abu Dhabi on Saadiyat Island.

Instagram page to fight terror Verses via satellite

The latest creation at the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) is almost ready to come out of the oven.

Not just any oven – one where Nayif-1, a nanosatellite designed and made by an Emirati team, is in its final stage, where the protective layer over the spacecraft’s electronic boards are heat-sealed for strength.

Nayif-1 is the first Emirati cubesat, or nanosatellite, meaning it weighs only 1.32 kilograms. It measures 10 x 10 x 11.35 centimetres.

Due to be launched early next year, it will also carry the first Arabic poem to be sent to space.

“I picked three lines from a poem composed by one of the UAE’s most famous poets, Ousha bint Khalifa Al Suwaidi, better known as Fatat Al Arab, that I felt captured the sentiments and the journey of Nayif,” says Ibrahim Al Qasim, project supervisor and manager of strategic research at MBRSC.

Nayif – meaning high, lofty and mighty – will carry these words: “I will ascend to the peaks of greatness, and will not descend. Next to the tall and noble one, who is beautiful in looks. Nayif, whose fate is to be Nayif, and all the Arabs desire and accept him.”

To be carried on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from the United States, Nayif-1 has provided hands-on experience for more than two years to a team of seven engineering students at the American University of Sharjah.

They majored in fields including electrical, mechanical and computer engineering.

“The students will be able to operate Nayif-1 in its orbit from the ground station, which will be built at the American University of Sharjah,” says Mr Al Qasim.

“Nayif-1 will rebroadcast positive text messages to the world and will collect data for academic and scientific research.”

The space centre is where excitement, creativity, research, academia and innovation meet. With a staff of 120, it has laboratories and a ground station from which the satellites are run.

Mr Al Qasim says the centre received a huge boost with the announcement by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, of the UAE’s mission to Mars.

“When Sheikh Mohammed entrusted MBRSC with the Emirates Mars Mission to launch Al Amal or the Hope probe to the Red Planet in 2021, it created a lot of new excitement and energy at our centre, pushing us to think beyond and challenge ourselves,” says Mr Al Qasim. “It was a great motivation.”

Coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the founding of the UAE, the Mars mission will make the UAE the first Arab country to reach the Red Planet.

The aim behind the probe is to uncover the reasons for the decay of Mars’s atmosphere and to study changes in the Martian climate as it moves through its daily and seasonal cycles.

“We are still in the designing stage regarding the Mars mission,” Mr Al Qasim says. “We learn something new every day here and are asking hard questions and creating programs and technologies that will change how we live and build.”

MBRSC was founded this year by Sheikh Mohammed’s decree that established the centre and integrated it with the Emirates Institution for Advanced Science and Technology (Eiast).

Eiast successfully launched DubaiSat-1 and DubaiSat-2 in 2009 and 2013, and its team is now working on a bigger satellite – KhalifaSat – due for launch in 2018.

“When in space, it will become the most advanced satellite the UAE has launched so far,” Mr Al Qasim says. “The satellite will capture detailed imagery capable of competing with the highest industry standards as it orbits the Earth.

“The images KhalifaSat beams back to Earth will be among the most detailed commercially available.”

On a wide touchscreen, he pulls out two images of the same location, one shot by DubaiSat-1 and the other by DubaiSat-2. The sharpness and clarity from DubaiSat-2 stands out.

“The images from KhalifaSat will be even better,” he says, switching to an image with a red area highlighted.

“We have the infra-red option on DubaiSat-2 where it can show you where there is living vegetation in an area, and so you can get an idea of what is happening there, and how to change the landscape and how to plan for future developments and construction.

“With KhalifaSat, we will be able to better monitor environmental changes, such as global warming and the impact of human activity on natural environment. It will also help with urban planning.”

DubaiSat-1 was integral to United Nations relief operations after the 2011 tsunami in Japan. KhalifaSat will also be set to aid and monitor relief efforts across the world when needed.

The satellite will play a significant role in providing precise locations of ships in distress, while its images will be used in the production of detailed maps.

To understand the scale of what they do, visitors can see models of the satellites DubaiSat-1 and DubaiSat-2 at the reception of the centre.

Each new creation is bigger than the one before, with DubaiSat-1 weighing 200kg, DubaiSat-2 300kg, and KhalifaSat 350kg.

The Hope Mars probe will weigh more than 700kg without fuel, reaching 1,500kg with fuel or the weight of an average car.

“It is a massive project. We will be building a whole section for it as we will need cranes to help us move it,” says Mr Al Qasim, pointing to a wall that will be pulled down for a new section dedicated to the Mars mission.

The satellites are built in “clean” labs that are sterilised against dust and organic material as much as possible. Researchers wear blue lab coats and suits, cover their hair and wear special shoes. After special air vents have blasted them clean, they cannot even drink water inside the lab.

“As an example, outside the labs there are about 35 million dust particles per cubic foot,” Mr Al Qasim says. “Inside, it is reduced to 100,000.

“It is important to keep the labs as clean as possible so there is no contamination of any kind to the satellites.”

Outsiders can speak to the lab workers through a vent and anything handed in has to go through a door that has air pumping outward.

One of the other success stories to come from the centre is its outreach programme, with workshops and events for pupils and teachers, while new science courses at universities have also been inspired by its work.

“In just over six months, we managed to reach 6,000 students,” says Mr Al Qasim. “Our aim is to inspire a whole new generation of scientists, researchers and thinkers and already we have many showing interest and wanting to work with us.

“We are able to dream again about space and beyond. We are looking at the stars and the planets again like our ancestors did.

“But we are one step ahead, we are actually going where no Arabs have gone before.”

Monday, December 21, 2015

This time, it's firefighters who will take up the challenge

The UAE will host the UAE World Firefighter Challenge next year, on the sidelines of the International Exhibition for Security and National Resilience (ISNR), Abu Dhabi 2016.

Held in collaboration with Reed Exhibitions at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (Adnec), the championship will be organized by the Ministry of Interior, represented by the Civil Defense General Command, in collaboration with the UAE-based 911 Challenge, and will take place on March 15-17, 2016. The UAE national team will take part in the event, along with a large number of teams from around the world.

The World’s Firefighter Challenge is a series of unique motivational competitions that test firefighters’ basic fitness skills, stamina and innovation, as well as their capacity to exchange know-how with their colleagues, and raise awareness of the dangers of fire. It consists of six key tasks that test firefighters’ basic strength and stamina as follows: Stair climbing, where the competitor climbs a 6-storey tower while carrying a 20 kg high-rise pack of hose; Hose hoisting; the competitor hoists a 20 kg roll of hose from the top of the tower; 

Forcible entry; the competitor simulates a forcible entry by moving a hydraulic beam with a shot mallet; Running, where the competitor moves as fast as possible shouldering fire hydrants nozzle end for a distance of 43 meters; Hose advancing; the competitor shoulders and drags the nozzle end, advances 23 meters and hits the designated target with the stream of water; and Victim rescue; during which the competitor simulates a victim rescue by dragging an 80 kg Rescue Randy mannequin over a distance of 30 meters. 

Dwayne Drover, winner of the 2009 edition of the championship, said, “The UAE World’s Firefighter Challenge counts among the strongest and best contests in the world.”

Mohammed Hassan Al Ahmedi, CEO of "911 Challenge" said: “Organizing such competitions aims at developing firefighters’ skills and encouraging fair competition amongst them, in terms of speed, skills and fitness.”

Dubai narcs dismantle drug trafficking syndicate

Dubai: Dubai Police arrested two men as part of a multi-agency operation that led to the seizure of 1.5 tons of cocaine worth around Dh1.5 billion and eleven arrests in the UK, Spain and Dubai.
Major General Khamis Mattar Al Mazeina, Dubai Police Chief, said one of the two men arrested in Dubai on December 1, was the mastermind behind the operation.
The drugs, he said were smuggled from Colombia to Spain, where it was going to be processed in a lab.
He said that Lt. General Shaikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior closely followed the operation, due to its importance.
According to the National Crime Agency (NCA), which provided the intelligence for the operation, a container was seized in Valencia, Spain, in which the drugs were disguised as sacks of charcoal on wooden pallets.
Forensics revealed that the pallets were made of compressed cocaine powder made to look like wood, and some of the sacks contained cocaine disguised as charcoal.
Al Maziena said all the arrests were coordinated across all countries.
Four of the arrests were made in the UK, Five in Spain and two in Dubai. The men arrested in the UK and Dubai, were all UK nationals.
The NCA said they arrested a 44-year-old at Liverpool Airport, along with a 54-year-old and a 50 year-old in a car park, while Merseyside Police arrested a 46-year-old at an address in Liverpool.
Dubai Police’s Anti-Narcotic Department arrested L. R. A, 39, and his assistant, 38, at a luxury apartment in Dubai.
Another five men, two Colombians, two Peruvians and a Spaniard were arrested on December 3 by the Spanish National Police, the NCA said in a statement.
Maj Gen Al Mazeina said L.R.A. was under their scrutiny since 2013, as they suspected him of drug-related crimes in his country, but there was no solid evidence to link him to any of the crimes.
The suspect would frequent Dubai a lot and spend long periods of time here, but he did not carry out any of his operations in Dubai.
“This is a great achievement for the Ministry of Interior. Lt General Shaikh Saif received a letter of thanks from the NCA for its role in the operation,” he said.
When L. R. A and his partner were arrested, Dubai Police seized mobile phones and documents that linked them to the 1.5 tons shipments, as well as to money laundering operations.

The two men are currently in Dubai Police custody awaiting extradition.

Big boost for Emirati filmmaking

ABU DHABI - Lt. Colonel Faisal Mohammed Al Shimmari, Deputy Chairman of the Committee for the Ministry of Interior's Cinematic Awards (MOICA), announced that Emirati filmmaker Abdullah Hassan Ahmed has the Ministry ’s Award, along with a staggering prize of USD 100,000, for ‘Best Societal Screenplay’.
The announcement of the deserving winner took place during the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF), where director Abdullah Ahmed won the MoI ‘Best Societal Screenplay’ Award for his film titled "Sunrise". The prize falls in line with the MoI’s endeavors to support Emirati and Arab talents and to develop the film industry in the Arab world. This is achieved by empowering innovative individuals and supporting them to produce noble material that address the issues of all segments of the society in a constructive, purposeful and unconventional manner that do not resort to a negative approach or criticism. This would serve the strategies of the ministry in regards to spreading stability, security and safety in the society.
Moreover, Saeed Salmeen’s "Going to Heaven" film won the Emirati Muhr Award for the Best Feature Film. Salmeen had won the MoI Cinema Awards for ‘Best Societal Screenplay’ with this film in 2014. This is testament that the valuable support extended by the MoI to creative individuals has achieved the desired goals in promoting and supporting the Arab film industry. Both awards embody the concerted efforts and purposeful partnership with the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) that aim to promote the societal mission of cinema in reaching a broad range of community members, and to avail of local and Arab talents to serve society and address societal issues.
Lt. Colonel Al Shimmari said: "We are delightfully happy to see that the film ‘Going to Heaven’ has won the Emirati Muhr Award for the Best Feature Film, and that the Emirati filmmaker Abdullah Hassan Ahmed’s film titled ‘Sunrise’ won the Best Societal Screenplay Award. Both awards are a clear call for more opportunities to encourage further creativity and innovative individuals to address societal issues, based on an unconventional approach, and to renew the MoI’s partnership with the Dubai International Film Festival as a key enabler for such endeavors."
He added: "Our partnership with the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) for the second consecutive year increases the opportunities to empower innovative Emirati and Arab individuals, and to allow them to transform their ideas, innovations and screenplays into film projects of significant impact to the community and address societal issues."
In conclusion, Lt. Colonel Al Shimmari expressed his hopes for writers to take part in shedding light on societal issues in a constructive manner that provides solutions to address such issues and involves community members so as to become an integral part of the solution. This may be achieved through innovative and unconventional methods.
For his part, Emirati filmmaker Abdullah Hassan Ahmed, Director of the ‘Sunrise’ film that won the MoI’s ‘Best Societal Screenplay Award’ at the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) said: "Emirati filmmakers are fortunate to have such a highly coveted and envied award, ," noting that the MoI provides unrelenting support to all innovative Emirati individuals.
Abdullah Hassan Ahmed expressed his happiness with winning this award and praised the MoI’s efforts and commitment to provide community members with security, peace of mind and opportunities to fulfill their dreams. He also noted that the Ministry is a role model to be emulated, not only as a security entity, but most importantly as a social entity that supports Emirati talents.
He expressed his heartfelt thanks and appreciation for the MoI’s officials, the organizers of the festival, and all entities that support innovative and creative national talents and encourage them to participate in such international events.
Emirati director Saeed Salmeen Al Murry, winner of the Muhr Emirati Best Feature Film Award for 2015, said he owes his success to the Ministry of Interior’s support, led by the generous sponsor, Lt. General HH Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior. "HH has many a times assured his unrelenting support for innovative and talented individuals in various fields, because they are the reflection of society; and has endeavored to enhance communication with community members, all of which had a significant impact on allowing me to win this award," he noted. He also explained that the ministry’s support for his work has already allowed him to win the ‘Best Societal Screenplay’ Award in last year’s edition of DIFF.
Adding further, Salmeen said: "I wanted the entire people of the United Arab Emirates to share this moment with me. To this end, I have made sure to dedicate this award to Lt. General HH Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, and to all the UAE people. This for me is a simple way of showing gratitude to the generous support given to us by our beloved country."
Moreover, Salmeen noted that winning the ‘Best Societal Screenplay’ Award in last year’s edition of DIFF has been an incentive for him to make this film, which competed with and outshined five other Emirati feature films in the Muhr Emirati category, which recognizes Emirati talent.
"The touching film follows the life of young teenager Sultan, an 11-year old boy, who is longing for the tenderness of his late yet ever-present mother, while suffering under the reign of his cruel stepmother, and the cold and silent treatment of his distant father, drowning in his own obsessions, needs and queries," he continued.
"The important turn of events in the film begins when the child discovers by chance an old box with a picture of his late grandmother that he’d never seen before, with her address in the emirate of Fujairah written on the back side. He also finds in the box a tape with his Grandma’s warm voice describing intimate family moments and self-reflections. He decides to sets off on a extraordinary journey to Fujairah with his friend to seek out his absent grandmother despite the obstacles, barriers, and weird coincidences they encounter on their tiring trip," he said.
Emirati director Saeed Salmeen noted that the film aims to provide different images about childhood and the journey of self-discovery, as well as the clash of personal destinies and dreams with fates and coincidences in a society where young people are overwhelmed by modern aspects of life and have forgotten the warmth of grandparents’ tales.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Anti-terror campaign ratchets up

RIYADH -- A joint statement by the Arab coalition forces has announced the formation of an Islamic military alliance comprising 34 countries to fight against terrorism. The alliance will be led by Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with the participation of the UAE.
The Saudi Press Agency, SPA, reported that a joint operations centre will be established in the city of Riyadh to coordinate and support military operations to fight terrorism and to develop the necessary programmes and mechanisms for supporting these efforts. "The appropriate arrangements shall be developed for coordination with friendly peace-loving nations and international bodies for the sake of supporting international efforts to combat terrorism and to save international peace and security," it said.
The countries participating in the alliance alongside the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Pakistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Benin, Turkey, Chad, Togo, Tunisia, Djibouti, Senegal, Sudan, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Gabon, Guinea, Palestine, Comoros, Qatar, Cote d'Ivoire, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Maldives, Mali, Malaysia, Egypt, Morocco, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Yemen.
More than ten other Islamic countries have expressed their support for the alliance and will take the necessary measures in this regard, including Indonesia, according to SPA.
The statement said that the alliance affirmed the principles and objectives of the charter of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, IOC, which calls for member states to cooperate to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and rejects all justifications and excuses for terrorism.

The alliance is committed to the provisions contained in the United Nations' Charter, the Charter of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and other international conventions aimed at the eradication of terrorism, The alliance affirmed the right of states to self-defense in accordance with the purposes and principles of international law and the Charter of the United Nations and on the basis of the provisions of the OIC Convention on Combating Terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and the elimination of its objectives and its causes.

Ceasefire in Yemen: Prelude to peace

RIYADH -- The leadership of the Arab coalition forces in Yemen has announced that a ceasefire will begin at 09:00 GMT (12:00 p.m. local time) following a request by President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi, while retaining the right to respond to any breach.
Saudi Press Agency, SPA, reported that a statement issued by the General Command of the Coalition Forces said that Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi sent a message to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia, informing the leadership of the coalition that the Yemeni government has decided to declare a 7-day ceasefire. "The ceasefire will last for a period of seven days from the 15th to the 21st of December in conjunction with the launch of consultations, and will be renewed automatically in the event of the commitment of the other party," the statement said.
It warned, however, that it reserves the right to respond in case of any violation by the rebels, said SPA.
The leadership of the Alliance stressed it will continue to support the people and government of Yemen in order to reach a political solution to end the crisis and help the government in addressing tasks and duties for maintaining security and stability and fighting terrorism.

Image by:  www.aljazeera.com

Monday, December 14, 2015

Guess how many people painted this

Dubai: More than 20,000 students, teachers, parents and activists came together to create the world’s longest painting on Saturday, as part of a campaign to raise awareness about autism.
The painting that measures 10.85km beats the three-month old record of 10km long painting held by a Chinese group. The previous record was also created by schoolchildren.
A Guinness World Records official, who was present to witness the world record at Dubai Autodrome, confirmed the successful attempt to create the world’s longest painting.
“It’s official, Dubai now has the world record for the longest painting measuring 10.85km. We physically measured the painting twice and are happy to award another interesting record to Dubai, which is the city with most records in the region,” said Samer Khallfouf, Project Manager of Guinness World Records, Middle East and North Africa.
The eight-month long campaign titled ‘I’m Different Just Like You’ was spearheaded by Al Tayer Group in partnership with Dubai Autism Centre, involving children from schools managed by Taaleem and Gems Education groups.
Children from the age of two to 18 years were involved in the campaign that saw them take part in a series of assemblies, where they learnt about autism and the importance of being more accepting of the differences of their peers. Each participating child painted a self-portrait holding the hand of another child symbolizing the importance of connecting with others.
“We wanted to do something different and special to create awareness, so we came up with an idea of running a campaign that would engage children. We have been running campaigns to improve quality of education and interact with schoolchildren in order have a positive impact on them. We have been doing this through various programmes over the last few years. This year our team decided to create greater awareness about the challenges faced by autistic children,” said Khalid Al Tayer, CEO Retail, Al Tayer Group.
Autism affects one in every 88 children in the world.
“A lot of our members are passionate about helping and touching the lives of children in a positive way and this campaign stemmed from the fact all of us wanted to do more and create awareness about autistic people that they may be different, but they are like us,” he said.
He added: “We thought the best way to do this is through a sustained campaign in a fun way, by engaging children in a painting programme.”
Initially, the idea was to do a 7km long painting, which was a world record then, but around three months ago a new world record was set in China, which was around 10km and that forced the campaigners to set a new target.

Commenting on the event, Ros Marshall, CEO Taaleem said: “We are proud to be part of this successful campaign that involved students from our 10 schools and created awareness among all of us about the challenges autistic children face and how to behave with them. The Al Tayer team has done a great job in engaging with our students in a fun way, while delivering an important message. We are privileged to be part of this new world record.”

A "wonder" pill?

DUBAI -- The Higher Committee for Registration of Medicines of the Ministry of Health (MoH), has approved 60 new medicines, including seven new biological medicines and the rest 53 produced by local and international pharmaceutical factories. The approvals came during a meeting held at the ministry in Dubai.
Headed by Dr. Amin Hussein Al Amiri, Assistant Under-Secretary for Public Health Policy and Licensing, and Vice Chairman of the MoH's Higher Committee for Registration of Medicines, the panel recommended to study the applications filed by 10 new pharmaceutical factories from around the world for registration.
Al Amiri added that the medicines were meant for treatment of various diseases such as cancer, diabetes, cholesterol, and erectile dysfunction, stressing that the MoH follows the highest international standards of evaluating medicines, including a review of clinical studies, bio-equivalence and probative studies.
He noted that the committee includes a number of experts from the MoH, local health authorities and national universities.
Al Amiri explained that many of new innovative medicines have been registered in the UAE in conjunction with the source countries.

Image by:  www.uaeinteract.com

Thinking of dealing in precious metals and stones in Mideast?

ABU DHABI – President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan has issued a federal law specifying regulations on trading in, and hallmarking and certification of precious metals and stones, and gold, silver and platinum jewelry.
Dr. Rashid Ahmed bin Fahad, Minister of Environment and Water and Chairman of the Emirates Authority for Standardization and Metrology (ESMA), stressed the importance of the new law for increasing the effectiveness of regulations in one of the country's most important economic sectors, as well as protecting dealers of precious metals and stones.
In a press release, Minister Bin Fahad said Federal Law No. 11 of 2015 will enter into force six months after publishing the text of the law in the official gazette.
According to the 31-article law, people involved in forging hallmarks of precious metal and/or certificates of precious stone jewelry, or in selling, offering, possessing or trading in jewelry with forged hallmarks or certificates, will be imprisoned for at least two years and/or fined between AED500.000 and AED1000,000.
Those involved in dealing in precious metal or precious stone jewelry without proper hallmarking or certification from authorized institutions will be imprisoned for one year and/or fined between AED250.000 and AED500,000.
A fine of between AED100,000 and AED500,000 will be imposed on any authorized institution found issuing certificates for precious stones and metals showing incorrect information.
Any violation of any of the provisions of the new law will be punishable by a fine of between AED50,000 and AED100,000.
The Chairman of the Emirates Authority for Standardization and Metrology (ESMA) noted that the UAE's annual consumption of gold and precious stone and pearl jewelry is estimated at AED60 billion, while the sector accounts for 37 per cent of the country's non-oil trade.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Can Technology help solve climate change?

PARIS - The United Arab Emirates shared insights in accelerating technology and innovation as a solution to climate change at the Lima-Paris Action Agenda Innovation Day event, led by the International Energy Agency at the 21st meeting of the conference of parties (COP21) of the United Nations Framework on Climate Change Convention.
During the panel session titled, Enhancing Innovation Capacity Building and Financing in Developing Countries, Dr. Thani Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, UAE Permanent Representative to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and Director of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, discussed government roles in helping to remove barriers to financing and to building capacity.
"Innovation is crucial for all countries in addressing the impacts of climate change," said Dr. Al Zeyoudi. "Through innovative solutions, the UAE is diversifying its economy, attracting foreign investment, and forging public-private partnerships to deploy renewable energy projects in developing nations, all of which also contribute in reducing carbon emissions."
In a separate panel discussion titled, Financing Innovation to Take Action to the Next Level, Masdar CEO Dr. Ahmad Belhoul spoke on the UAE’s actions to deploy clean energy technologies domestically and abroad.
"Deployment of clean energy innovation is fundamental to economic growth and prosperity," said Dr. Belhoul. "Many of Masdar’s projects feature innovative, systematic solutions to pressing challenges of climate change and have strong potential to become game changers in the industry, while still being commercially viable."
The panel sessions were part of a series of discussions to showcase successes and plans to scale up clean energy research and development to deliver energy sector transformation.

Drones for peace

DUBAI --- The UAE has become a global platform for the use of future technology for peaceful purposes and employing them in the service of humanity, Mohammed bin Abdullah Al Gargawi, Minister for Cabinet Affairs and Chairman of the Organizing Committee of the UAE Drones for Good Award.
"The Award affirms the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to establish the concept of innovation in various sectors by exploring future technological developments and employing them in the service of humanity," Minister Al Gargawi said.
Al Gargawi stated this as the UAE Drones for Good Award announced that it has received 1017 participations from 165 countries for the second edition of the Award. Majority of the nominations were received in the Humanitarian Aid category with 17.2% entries, followed by Environment with 13.2% entries as the nomination period came to a close on November 1.
"The UAE Drones for Good Award and other innovative initiatives have reinforced the UAE’s position as an international destination for advanced technological innovations. The Award has become a global platform to showcase the latest innovations in this field," Al Gargawi added.
Al Gargawi pointed out that the award has gained considerable momentum in its second edition, creating an opportunity for international level competition among developers of this technology such as innovators, manufacturers, entrepreneurs as well as scientific research centres, universities and international academic institutions.
"The Award has given a new dimension to the concept of drone’s technology, and contributed to shaping an active economic sector that will have a major role in the global economy," H.E. Al Gargawi said.
The vision of the Award is based on international reports that show that the value of drones market in the world will reach $16.1 billion by 2021, with a growth of 5.5% per annum, especially in the environment and logistics sectors. Drones have also been shown to have huge potential in urban planning 3D imaging technology in addition to areas such as disaster response and projects in various economic sectors such as oil & gas, electricity and construction.
Al Gargawi urged UAE university students to participate in the Award as a model for the future generation, and said the government is offering an incubator environment for innovators to harness technology to make lives easier for people in the UAE and the world.
:: Global platform for employing innovation to serve humanity: Saif Al Aleeli, Chief Executive Officer of Dubai Museum of the Future Foundation and Coordinator General of the UAE Drones for Good Award, said the significant increase in the global participation in the second edition of the Award confirms the leadership of the UAE in employing advanced technologies in various sectors.
Emphasizing the role of the Award as a global platform to make use of innovation to serve humanity, Al Aleeli said, "The numbers of submissions this year have increased by 27% compared to the first edition, and the numbers of participating countries have increased by 189%."
Al Aleeli said that the UAE Drones for Good Award attracted 1017 entries from 165 countries as follows: Civil Defence 10.80%, Construction 5.60%, Economy 3.20%, Education 2%, Environment 13.20%, Health 11.20%, Humanitarian Aid 17.20%, Logistics 6.80%, Social Services 1.60%, Tourism 1.60%, Transport 7.60% and Others 18.80%.
The United States, the UAE, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, Spain, India, Australia, Canada and South Korea are the top countries with the maximum number of entries for the second edition of the award. Remarkable participation has also been witnessed from outstanding international universities such as Harvard, MIT, Oxford, London Business School, RMIT, Seoul National University, University of Toronto, Georgia Institute of Technology, Merton College as well as King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia, UAE University and Khalifa University in the UAE.
The Organizing Committee will soon announce the names of 10 applicants from each category who will be eligible to participate in the semi-finals of the International and National competitions. At this stage, the selected participants will get the opportunity to demonstrate their ideas in front of the panel of judges, which includes high-profile experts and specialists in drones technologies The main categories of the award include, but are not limited to environment, education, logistics, transport, construction and infrastructure, healthcare, civil defense, tourism, social services, economic development, humanitarian aid and disaster relief.
UAE citizens and residents may choose to participate in either the National Competition or the International Competition, while contestants who are not UAE citizens or residents are eligible to participate only in the International Competition.
The International Competition offers US$1 million in prize money while the National Competition offers AED1 million. The winners will be honored at a special ceremony in February 2016 before the 4th Government Summit.
The panel of judges will evaluate applicants through several stages, focusing on safe, effective, economical, sufficient and positive impact on human life.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

This TV channel now reaches 22 countries

ABU DHABI--Arabic TV channel Quest Arabiya began broadcasting on Monday exciting factual entertainment shows to 45 million homes in 22 countries across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).
The channel, a partnership between Image Nation Abu Dhabi and Discovery Communications, fills a gap in the Arabic TV market by providing factual entertainment content of a quality and breadth that has never been seen before in the region.
Mohamed Al-Mubarak, Chairman of Image Nation Abu Dhabi, said, "There is a great need for more Arabic content across TV and digital, and by launching a factual entertainment channel we are filling a gap in the market.
"Quest Arabiya showcases fascinating stories from all over our region highlighting positive achievements that have never been seen before on TV. Image Nation has a proven track record in creating first-class filmed media content and our knowledge and expertise in regional production along with Discovery’s international expertise will ensure the highest standards of programming."
At the launch event, Khalid Khouri, Deputy General Manager of Quest Arabiya, and Shereen El Meligi, Programming Director, outlined the channel’s core content. Quest Arabiya focuses on six key genres: Extreme Outdoor, Turbo, Engineering, Nature & Wildlife, Science & Space and People & Places.
Other content areas include themed weekends, such as Big Cats and Shark Weekend. The first Saturday of each month will feature ‘Saturday Night Specials’, during which documentaries of regional interest will be screened.
Carl von Doussa, General Manager of Quest Arabiya, said: "By accessing and regionalyzing Discovery’s extensive catalogue of internationally-acclaimed shows, as well as commissioning incredible regional programs that give a real insight into in the region and its people, we are creating a unique mix of content."
Some of Discovery’s hit international shows including Deadliest Catch, Gold Rush and Bear Grylls’ Man Vs Wild have been fully adapted for the MENA audience, through dubbing and using full Arabic graphics.
In future, shows will be commissioned based on feedback through Quest Arabiya’s social media channels meaning communities get to shape what they ultimately see on the screen.
Quest Arabiya is commissioning new shows which will be developed, shot and produced in MENA and fronted by regional presenters.
Quest Arabiya’s digital offering is key. The website includes a catch-up service that means all programs will be available online for seven days after airing on TV.

Image by: www.arabnews.com

Protect future generations from climate change

PARIS -- The United Arab Emirates has delivered its national statement on climate change at the 21st session of the Conference of Parties, COP21, at the United Nations Framework on Climate Change Convention, UNFCCC, in Paris, France, encouraging nations to protect future generations from the impacts of climate change and stressing the economic and social benefits of climate action.
"This year we have seen an unprecedented display of climate action by countries all around the world, with more than 185 nations submitting climate action plans ahead of COP21," said Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, UAE Minister of State and Special Envoy for Energy and Climate Change. "This proves that all countries are taking action to address climate change and the Paris agreement must build on these actions."
During his remarks, Dr. Al Jaber outlined the UAE’s vision for a meaningful climate agreement, saying, "The world needs a flexible system, one which allows all countries to develop climate actions in line with their national priorities and circumstances.
"It should provide the appropriate support to developing countries, including the fulfillment of funding commitments made by developed countries to help nations with limited means to cope with impacts of climate change."
Dr. Al Jaber also highlighted the UAE’s position as a global leader in climate action and reiterated the country’s efforts to diversify its economy through new technologies and partnerships.
"For the UAE, economic and energy diversification is a must to ensure economic and social prosperity in the 21st century," he said, adding, "The UAE’s climate action plan demonstrates that innovative action can drive economic opportunity as well as secure a safer climate."
Examples include Masdar’s 100 MW Shams 1 concentrated solar power plant and the 5000 MW Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park as well as the Middle East’s first commercial-scale carbon capture, use and storage project. The UAE is also making significant investments in renewable energy abroad, such as the 630 MW London Array wind farm, the world’s largest off-shore wind farm, as well as supporting over 30 renewable energy projects in 28 developing countries totaling 840 million US Dollars to date.
Supporting these efforts are two clean energy partnerships the UAE joined during COP 21, including Mission Innovation, a commitment by over 20 countries to double its investments in clean energy research and development within five years, and the International Solar Alliance, a coalition to advance new solar technologies. These announcements reinforce the UAE’s transition to a knowledge-based economy and support the UAE’s goal to raise its national share of clean energy to 24 percent by 2021, from less than one percent today.
The initiatives also underline the UAE’s role as a key global partner in addressing the impacts of climate change, both within and outside of the UNFCCC negotiation process, including hosting of the Abu Dhabi Ascent in support of the UN Climate Summit, a key milestone in the lead up to COP 21.
"The UAE is fully committed to the UNFCCC negotiation process and to an outcome of an agreement that is robust, flexible and inclusive of all parties," said Dr. Al Jaber. "We have played a crucial role in working with the French government, the UNFCCC and other world governments to ensure continued progress in tackling climate change and moving the world forward in the right direction."
Dr. Al Jaber also noted the importance of women's empowerment and the role they play in the UAE’s leadership to address the impacts of climate change and promote sustainable development, both through their achievements in future energy and through their central role in building society.
In his concluding remarks, the UAE Minister of State stressed the importance of political consensus, noting that COP21 will set the stage for turning political agreements into practical solutions. Dr. Al Jaber extended an invitation to the audience to attend Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week in January 2016, an annual event gathering public and private sector leaders, as a platform to enhance climate action following COP21.

These are in Eastern Samar

Manila: Emirates Red Crescent (ERC) inaugurated eight schools in Philippines as part of its efforts to reconstruct the education sector in Eastern Samar province after Typhoon Haiyan hit the country two years ago. 

The inauguration of the renovated schools comes as part of the second phase of the ERC's construction and renovation projects. The schools' student capacity stands at 2,090, and the project was completed at a cost of Dh7 million. 

The ERC had also carried out projects in the health and education sector to bolster the capability of Filipinos to overcome difficult circumstances as a result of the typhoon. 

Fahd Bin Sultan, deputy secretary-general for donation collecting and promotions and director for the reconstruction project in Philippines, said that the UAE, with support from its wise leadership, continues to move ahead with its humanitarian commitments to assist the people of Philippines affected by Typhoon Haiyan. 

He added that the inauguration of the eight schools marks the end of the education sector renovation phase, and a total of 18 schools have been renovated at a cost of Dh27 million. The total student capacity for these schools is 9,828. 

The move is in line with the directives of President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who ordered the allocation of Dh10 million in aid for the people of Philippines. The move was also supported by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and Shaikh Hamdan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler's Representative in the Western Region and President of ERC.