Saturday, August 29, 2015

Books from this country a big hit at Beijing international book fair

The UAE pavilion at the 22nd edition of the Beijing International Book Fair, has been attracting many Chinese visitors.

While at the pavilion, they visit the Arabic calligraphy and Heritage Village to write their names in Arabic language and try the traditional Emirati clothes, experience henna drawing and taking photographs.

Afra Al Saberi, Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Community Development, and the accompanying delegation, toured various pavilions, where they were briefed about publications on different disciplines and the latest editions published by Chinese publishing houses.

She met many Chinese, European and Arab cultural officials and discussed with them ways to strengthen cultural co-operation.

Al Saberi noted that the meetings followed directives from Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development, to depict the genuine image of the UAE and its cultural diversity, and strengthen communications with international publishers.  –End-

Image by:

If Syrians are suffering from a humanitarian crisis, what can the UN do about it?

The United Nations humanitarian chief has urged the Security Council to do everything in its power to push for a political solution to end the conflict in Syria, as he described the immense suffering and destruction he witnessed for himself during a recent visit.

"It is difficult to find words that would justly describe the depth of suffering that the Syrians face on a daily basis. Having just returned from the country, I have seen a glimpse of this grim reality myself," said Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O’Brien.

"I left the country deeply saddened and outraged," he continued. "The needless and immense suffering of ordinary Syrians and the abhorrent destruction this conflict has wrought on the country. I am angry, because we as the international community are not allowed and are not able to do more to protect Syrians who more than ever need our unfaltering support."

During his three-day visit earlier this month, Mr. O’Brien discussed with senior Government representatives the need to strengthen protection of civilians and the overall humanitarian response.

"I urged the Government to grant full and unhindered access to all people in need, wherever they may be located. It is my sincere hope that the necessary steps will be taken towards improving access, including approving requests for inter-agency and agency convoys."

Since the conflict began over four years ago, more than a quarter of a million people have been killed in Syria and over a million people injured, Mr. O’Brien noted in his briefing to the 15-member body. Some 7.6 million people have been displaced inside the country. Over one million people have had to leave their homes this year alone.
Over four million people have fled across borders in a desperate search for survival and a future, placing host countries and communities under pressure which is now stretched to breaking point.

"We may all be living on borrowed time. In the name of both security as well as humanity, we do need to find a better, more sustainable way forward for the wider international community to share the burden in hosting Syrian refugees."

He reported that, over the past month, violence has continued to escalate across the country. Indiscriminate and targeted attacks by all parties to the conflict have resulted in loss of life, destruction of infrastructure; and access to basic services such as water, has been denied to hundreds of thousands of Syrians.
"The parties’ callous disregard for human life and basic survival seemingly knows no bounds."

Despite the increasingly challenging environment, millions of people continue to receive lifesaving assistance using all available modalities, including across borders, Mr. O’Brien stated.

During the first half of 2015, UN agencies and non-governmental organisations provided food assistance for 5.9 million people on average per month; medicine and supplies for 9 million people; water and sanitation support for over five million people; and basic relief items for more than four million people.

"While these numbers are significant, I regret to say that many more could be reached should unimpeded access be allowed," Mr. O’Brien said, voicing particular concern about the severely limited access to the 4.6 million people living in hard-to-reach and besieged areas.

During the first half of 2015, the UN only reached 12 per cent of people in hard-to-reach areas with food each month and 3.4 per cent with health supplies, indicating major access challenges which limit the humanitarian community’s ability to reach the most vulnerable and affected people in Syria.

Similarly, parties to the conflict continue to heavily restrict access to besieged areas, Mr. O’Brien reported. The UN managed to reach less than 1 per cent with food and non-food items each month and 2 per cent with health supplies each month during the first half of this year. In July, no food or other type of humanitarian assistance by the UN reached any besieged areas through official routes where some 422,000 people are located.

The UN humanitarian chief said he came away from his visit to Syria "determined not to give up, not to be exasperated by the relentless repetitiveness of the challenges we as humanitarians face, and the need to explore every avenue to do everything possible to provide life-saving aid and protection to the people in need."

He urged members of the Council to do everything in their power to end this crisis. "With all the will in the world, humanitarian action cannot be a substitute for political action. The Council must exert leadership to push for a political solution." –End-

Here, students are given all the protection they need

The Ministry of Interior, represented by Traffic Coordination Directorate General, is launching a traffic awareness campaign under the slogan “Our Students are a Responsibility” prior to the start of the new academic year.

This campaign comes as a part of the traffic sector’s initiative in line with the MoI’s strategy aimed at controlling roads, promoting traffic safety and reducing run-over accidents. It also aims to raise the awareness of students in all educational stages; especially children, about traffic accidents, the need to adhere to traffic laws, and to preserve the safety of students from potential road dangers.

Brigadier Ghaith Hassan Al Zaabi, Director General, Traffic Coordination Directorate General, Ministry of Interior congratulated the UAE school boards and parents alike on the occasion of the new academic year, and wished the best of luck and success to students in their academic attainment journey. He also called upon motorists, parents and other road users to cooperate with the traffic police, as well as to adhere to traffic laws and instructions established on roads. These measures aim to ensure the safety of students at the beginning of the new academic year, and to reduce accidents, traffic congestion and the resulting negative effects.

He said: “Students of all ages are a major component of human development that needs to be preserved. Despite all the preventive measures taken to protect them from various dangers, there is a need to increase awareness and guidance for parents and caregivers to protect children against potential dangers of the road.”

Adding further, he noted that the Traffic Coordination Directorate General at the Ministry of Interior, is carrying out this campaign in cooperation and coordination with the Traffic and Patrols Departments across the UAE, along with the Kahlifa Student Empowerment Program;the Ministry of Education; Dubai’s RTA; and other entities concerned with traffic safety in both public and private sectors, with the aim of providing a safe environment, and accident-free roads.” Brigadier Al Zaabi also stressed the need for further awareness and guidance to promote traffic safety among students, bus drivers and student transport vehicles.

Brigadier Al Zaabi explained that the campaign will include activities and lectures within the Kahlifa Student Empowerment Program, with the aim of raising awareness of entities in charge of student transport. It will also promote awareness of families to urge them to inculcate traffic culture in their children. In conclusion, he pointed that the campaign will include numerous awareness tips and messages via the different media outlets, such as radio, newspapers, magazines, and TV channels. The campaign’s theme will also be posted on websites, Facebook, Twitter, Intsagram, and online discussion forums such as blogs. –End-

Friday, August 28, 2015

How should kids be safely transported safely to schools?

Transport authorities have promised safety to thousands of school children when they board school buses on the very first day of the 2015-2016 academic year that starts from September.

The Smart System - launched by the Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec) and Emirates Transport - has three electronic systems fitted in school buses for student safety.

In the first system, the number of students boarding a bus will be counted electronically (e-Counting) and it will accurately determine the number of students in the bus.

The second system includes the bus-checking (e-Inspection) system for which the driver has to walk to the end of the bus to press a button, therefore crossing each and every single seat to check if any student is left behind. The third is a motion detecting system - a sensor that detects any movement inside the bus at the time when the bus engine is shut down at the end of the journey, providing an alert message to the driver in case any child is still on the bus.

The system will provide safe bus transportation steps for 1,300 kindergarten and Cycle 1 school students.

Adec Director-General Dr Amal Al-Qubaisi said the safety of students during their journey to and from school is a joint-responsibility of all parties concerned to achieve a maximum degree of security and safety for school students.

She added that apart from the bus driver and bus supervisors' role to take care of the children, the main aim behind launching the Smart System was to include "extra" security through a fully equipped bus that guarantees continuous monitoring of children inside the bus and while boarding the bus.

"Today, while we launch this new world-class system ...we cannot help but recall those children who met with accidents during their daily trips to and from schools, during which some of them were injured while two girls passed away. We pray for these children and for their families who we hope are blessed with patience and fortitude," said Dr Al Qubaisi.

On October 7, 2014, three-year-old Nizha Aalaa died after allegedly falling asleep and being locked for nearly six hours inside her school bus.

She added: "Increasing bus efficiency and the provision of safe and comfortable seats for all students will help reduce traffic congestion and fuel consumption, in addition to encouraging the use of public transport for school children, thus preserving the eco-system."

Also, as per the discussions between Adec and Emirates Transport, the latter is required to provide 100 new buses for Abu Dhabi public schools among which 26 buses should be equipped to transport students with kinetic disabilities. According to the contract, an additional 72 buses will be required for the new academic year due to the growing number of schoolchildren.

Al-Qubaisi stressed on Adec's commitment to exert efforts to ensure highest level of security and safety for students and that it aims to prevent the occurrence of any accidents. She called on all individuals and institutions to act with zeal and determination to maintain the UAE's security and stability.

On his part, Mohammed Abdullah Al Jarman, General Manager of Emirates Transport Foundation, stressed that the foundation is keen to provide the best it can in order to maintain the safety of students and school buses.

He affirmed that the Smart System inside the buses shall provide practical solutions to avoid leaving students inside a school bus, to spot their movements and use of school buses, check their disembarking and recognizing each student inside the bus. The new technology will help keep students safe, he added.

Trial run of 'smart' buses
Al Jarman pointed out that the bus drivers have been trained (before the start of the new academic year) by plying the buses on their routes without students. The new drivers and supervisors were oriented with all geographical areas where they will work, in addition to coordination meetings held with schools about the distribution process in accordance to residential areas.

Growth of school transportation
Al Jarman announced that with the start of the current school year, and through our partnership with Adec, 2,090 buses with the capacity of 137,000 seats will be provided. These will provide transportation to 98,000 students daily from and to 254 public schools, via 63,900 assembly point across 3,056 regular routes across Abu Dhabi. The number of bus drivers is 2,027 while bus supervisors stand at 2,439 out of whom 78 per cent are Emiratis.

Training is provided to bus drivers and supervisors through Emirates Transport Centre for training. Moreover, 4,100 observation and monitoring visits were conducted by transportation coordinators and 770 communication visits with school administrations across the emirate.

Raising awareness
Adec and Emirates Transport have developed a plan to raise awareness among different school transport operations to enhance safety and security elements. The plan targets several categories: school administrators, students, parents, and all society segments, so that there are 0% school transportation accidents.

Both parties stated that they will implement a public media campaign throughout the academic school year, with focus on four major objectives: (1) promotion of community partnership with media channels (2) raising social awareness on the importance of school transport services (3) standardisation of media messages and (4) highlighting security levels in school buses. –End-

Another one for Guinness: 2M passengers converged at this airport in a single month

July was a record breaking month for passenger figures at Abu Dhabi International Airport. Not only did the total number of passengers traveling through the airport hit the two million mark for the first time ever, but the figure for the departing passengers alone also reach a record, with over a million travellers leaving from Abu Dhabi International Airport. 

A total of 2,100,929 passengers used the airport in July, compared with 1,703,995 in the same month of 2014, an increase of 23.3%, taking the average daily number of passengers to over 60,000. Within these numbers, 1,113,108 passengers departed from Abu Dhabi International Airport in July, also the first time this has happened in a single month.

Aircraft movements reached 15,059, representing a 14.2% increase over the 13,188 movements reported in July 2014. Cargo activity was also on the rise in July 2015, recording 68,888 metric tons handled; a 2.1% increase when compared to July 2014. Etihad cargo which represents 91.5% of the airport total cargo grew by 3.0%.

Commenting on the latest passenger figures, Eng. Ahmad Al Haddabi, Chief Operations Officer at Abu Dhabi Airports, said, "We are proud to have passed not one but two significant milestones in a single month, with the total number of passengers reaching 2 million for the first time in Abu Dhabi International Airport's history and recorded departures of more than 1 million."

"The rate at which passenger numbers are increasing year on year continues to follow an upward trend. The figures in July 2015 were boosted by Ramadan and the Eid Al Fitr holiday, as well as the summer holiday season. Throughout the year, and in particular at these busy times, we aim to ensure that standards of service, safety and security, remain consistently high, helping us achieve our vision to become the world's leading airports group. The Midfield Terminal Building, which is being built to meet this increasing growth, continues to progress, and as each day passes the project resembles more closely what it will look like once completed," he added.

In July 2015, the top five routes from Abu Dhabi International Airport were London Heathrow, Bangkok, Doha, Manila, and Bombay, accounting for 16% of all traffic. –End-

What does Women's Day mean to you?

H.H. Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women's Union (GWU), Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation (FDF) and President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, has expressed her pleasure at dedicating the 1st Emirati Women's Day, observed on 28th August, to honour mothers of the martyrs and the women working in the armed forces. 

In a speech made to mark the day, Sheikh Fatima praised the support given to the UAE women by President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and Their Highnesses the Supreme Council Members and Rulers of the Emirates..

Sheikha Fatima has underscored the cohesion between the leadership and citizens, citing the orders of the UAE President to make 30th November each year Martyr's Day to remember the gallant sons of the UAE who have sacrificed their lives to elevate the nation's flag among other nations.

She called on Emirati women to sustain their gains and harness available resources to advance their cause, urging them to take part in the next Federal National Council elections.

Sheikha Fatima also endorsed the logo for Emirati Women s Day which symbolises the unique identity of Emirati women and depicts the country s flag with an illustration of a woman on one section.

Earlier this year, August 28th was declared Emirati Women s Day. The date marks the anniversary of the creation of the GWU in 1975, and is considered a chance to celebrate Emirati women s achievements since the group was founded.

The GWU has continued its mission, thanks to the unlimited support of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and Their Highnesses the Supreme Council Members and Rulers of the Emirates.

Sheikha Fatima expressed her satisfaction with the response and enthusiasm of young Emirati women joining up for national service. She received female officers who gave a presentation on national service for women. "We have proudly been seeing young Emirati women thronging the recruitment centres to join up and express their loyalty to, and love for, their country, and their readiness to make sacrifices for the sake of their country and for protecting its sovereignty, achievements and gains."

She added that Emirati women have proven beyond doubt their efficiency in any role assigned to them in service of the nation, including the Armed Forces, national service, police and security.

Sheikha Fatima recalled that the enlisting of Emirati women in the Armed Forces dates back to the era of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, a legacy sustained by the incumbent President, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, to build a formidable armed forces. She noted that, "We observed, on 8th December last year, the silver jubilee of the Khawla bint Al Azwar Military School."

She said that Emirati women have been enlisting in the Armed Forces in droves, despite the fact that they were not obliged by any law to do so. "It reflects the legendary epic of loyalty to the homeland and the leadership as well as willingness to take on national responsibility and partnership in the defence of national sovereignty, dignity and national gains."

"We greet Emirati women for their deep allegiance and genuine belonging, selflessness, generosity and constant readiness to defend the nation and national gains."

Sheikha Fatima noted the strong presence of Emirati women in all the units of the Armed Forces, including Air Force and Air Defence, and their ability to make it to the rank of brigadier.

She thanked all officials of National and Reserve Service Authority for their efforts and reiterated her support for them.

The march of women's advancement commenced with the establishment of the UAE on 2nd December, 1971. This was part of the ambitious programme of development launched by the founder of the UAE, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, for the building of the homeland and the raising up of its citizens, based upon his recognition that women represent half of society.

The establishment of the General Women's Union on 27th August, 1975, with the unlimited support of Sheikh Zayed and under the chairmanship of the pioneering leader of women's empowerment, H.H. Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, represented a starting point in the march of women's progress and empowerment.

The General Women's Union has completed a continuous series of ambitious strategies, programmes and plans to strengthen the capacities of women and activate their role in community service, as well as promoting their position locally, regionally and internationally.

The National Strategy for the Advancement of Women, launched by H.H. Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women's Union, Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation and President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, in 2002, is one of the major achievements of the march of the Union, most notably of all in the progress of women empowerment.

The strategy, which was prepared by the General Women's Union, national teams of all governmental and non-governmental institutions in the country, experts of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, UN Women, and the United Nations Development Programme, UNDP, is based on the Constitution of the United Arab Emirates and all of the items and articles included therein pertaining to ensuring the rights of women in various fields.

The strategy provides a roadmap for the empowerment of women in eight main areas: education, health, the economy, law-making, the environment, the social domain, information, political participation and decision-making. The UAE was the first country in the region to launch such a strategy, keeping pace with strategies of international action for the advancement of women. It follows on from the National Plan of Action for Women in the UAE, approved by the General Women's Union in 1999.

The UAE has also implemented its commitment to legislative protection for the rights of the family, women and children, through joining the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women, as well as the International Convention concerning Employment of Women during the Night, as well as by signing other agreements aimed at achieving full gender equality in rights and duties.

With regard to political and economic empowerment in the UAE, women have achieved further gains, quality and outstanding achievements, ahead of women in many other parts of the world, as part of the efforts aimed at promoting the country's renaissance and political empowerment programmes, as well as the strategy of the 5th Ten-Year plan to empower citizens, launched by President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, which attached particular importance to the empowerment of women in all areas.

Today, women in the UAE are key partners in leading the drive towards sustainable development and occupy the highest positions in the executive, legislative and judicial sovereignty authorities, as well as having a strong presence in the Arab, regional and international women's arenas. This enhances and supports participation by Emirati women in political life, where they hold numerous high positions, including several ministerial portfolios, membership of the Federal National Council and participation in the diplomatic corps, the judiciary, the public prosecution authorities and the boards of directors of the Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

At present, women hold around 30% of the senior jobs related to the decision-making process, 10% of the jobs in the diplomatic corps, 7 seats on the Federal National Council, representing 17.5% of the total number of seats, one holding the post of Senior Deputy FNC Speaker. UAE women at present also hold four ministerial positions as well as the position of the Secretary General of the Cabinet.

UAE women are also involved in the Military and Police service, rising to the rank of Brigadier. One UAE woman currently serves as Chairperson of the Arab Women Organisation.

Women's participation in economic activities, including the membership of the workforce, has risen since the founding of the Women Business Council. There are now over 22,000 women members of the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, running nearly 25,000 economic and commercial projects with investments of up to Dh45 billion.

On 9th December 2014, the UAE Cabinet agreed that there should be women members on the boards of trustees of all governmental authorities, institutions and companies.

Women in the United Arab Emirates have occupied the highest positions with the support of the wise leadership of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and Their Highnesses the Supreme Council Members and Rulers of the Emirates.

In addition, Emirati women can be found working efficiently and with a high degree of competence amongst the citizens working in the field of space research at the Emirates Space Agency and in the new development strategy based on a knowledge economy and innovation, including renewable energy, nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, the manufacture and launch of satellites, aviation technology industry, and technology for the military weapons industry.

The UAE's efforts in the field of women's empowerment is not restricted to achieving steady successes and achievements for Emirati women in all areas, but has also reached out to support of women in the region and the world in general, this being demonstrated in its welcoming, last September, of the hosting of the UN Women Coordination Office in Abu Dhabi, with the support of Sheikha Fatima, to strengthen the work of the UN and to expand its presence and activities in the region and the world.

The UAE has also announced its provision of aid to the UN Commission on the Status of Women, by donating US$5 million to the UN's core budget between 2014 2016, to contribute to support of gender equality, women's empowerment, and peace and security programmes.

Women in the country now rank first globally in educational attainment, according to the annual report of the World Economic Forum in 2012, by obtaining 10,000 points, and came in 81st position in political empowerment of women with 1,206 points on the WEF index, ranking 122nd globally in the economic participation index with 4,751 points.

The UAE also was first among Arab countries in the Gender Gap Index for 2012 issued by the World Economic Forum in 2013, which covered 113 countries.

According to the index, the UAE has maintained its lead in the Arab region in the field of the economic and political participation of women. The World Report ranks the gender gap in the countries surveyed in four key areas, namely access to health care, education, political participation and economic equality.

The election of the UAE to membership of the UN Executive Board for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women for a three-year period, 2013-2015, demonstrates the trust that the UAE has gained. It is also an indication of the results of the global report by the Global Agenda Council World Economic Forum in 2014, in which the UAE took first position globally in the women's respect index, an international acknowledgment of the comprehensive achievements of Emirati women, particularly in achieving full gender equality, and the country's notable progress in the political, economic, social, scientific and other women empowerment indexes.

The UAE continues its efforts to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women in all areas to integrate their full participation in the country's sustainable development plans and programmes.

The Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, announced during the global Government Summit held in Dubai in February, 2015, the formation of the UAE Gender Balance Council, designed to activate the role of women as an essential partner in building the country's future, in line with the UAE's plans to strengthen their position in society and in employment, and their role as educators of the future generations, the mainstay of the family, and their role in the construction of the main building blocks of society.

Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak also launched, in March 2015, the Strategy for Empowerment of Emirati Women in the UAE, 2015-2021, which provides a framework and reference for all federal and government institutions and civil society organisations in developing plans and work programmes to empower women in all areas of sustainable development, in an effort to provide them with a good quality of life.

Her Highness expressed confidence in the strategy's contribution to women's future progress which the country seeks for its people through partnerships with government and federal institutions, civil society organisations and regional and international organisations and bodies, and for the strategy to serve as a framework in the development of plans and programmes in the UAE. This would raise the UAE to a position on a par with developed countries in the field of women's empowerment and leadership.

President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan has expressed his delight that women enjoy their rights. "We have made women's empowerment an urgent national priority, and thanks to proper planning, our nation has achieved a good track record in the field of women's rights where she enjoys full rights, and exercises activities without any discrimination," he said, adding that, "All doors are open for women to achieve further progress and development."

In the view of the Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, "The UAE went beyond the stage of women's empowerment. We are now empowering the community through women."

Sheikha Fatima also said that the concept of women's empowerment in the UAE is no longer just a term or a theoretical concept, but has turned into a practical reality, embodied in the active participation of women in different spheres of public life, thanks to the wise leadership of His Highness President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and his vision and belief in the absolute necessity in investing in human capital as the most effective way of building the nation.

The United Arab Emirates has occupied a pioneer role in the empowerment of women in the region. They occupy leading posts in the public and private sectors in the UAE. Two thirds of students in government universities are women.

Emirati women also play a greater and more effective role in the development process in the UAE in all fields through the empowerment programme launched by President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

The UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs, MoFA, said in a statement on World Women s Day, that the Ministry had taken the steps to appoint three woman ambassadors abroad in Sweden, Spain and Montenegro, as well as the UAE Permanent Representative to UN and the UAE s Consul General in Milan.

It added that the number of woman diplomats at the MoFA is now 148, while 30 woman diplomats work at UAE missions abroad. "This reflects the shrewd vision of the UAE leadership to back women, being essential components of Emirati community, whose efforts are on an equal footing with men in the comprehensive development being experienced by the UAE. Women are also in leading and decision making posts.

The UAE President is keen on empowering women in all fields and at all levels so that they become effective partners in the nation-building. "The state, since its inception on 2nd December, 1971, focused on women's development by empowering them to play their natural role as effective partners in the sustainable development process", Sheikh Khalifa stated.

He said on 9th December, 2009, that, "We look at women as a main component of the UAE community. They are partners of men in all work places. What has been attained by Emirati women was not accidental development, but a culmination of long efforts outlined by the late leader and UAE founding father, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who had encouraged and empowered women to exercise her rights on an equal footing with men."

Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, said, "We have exceeded the phase of the women's empowerment, as we enable the community through women, and our economy to strengthen women to play a greater role in the development of our government services as they occupy the leading posts." Sheikh Mohammed said in his book, "Flashes of Thought" that, "We launch development projects run by women. We develop our infrastructure, health and education services even our military forces, depending on women in all these fields." The existence of women in all these fields is logical, as about 70 percent of the graduates from universities today are women.

Sheikh Mohammed said, "Women constitute over 65 percent of the total staff in the Cabinet. 30 percent of them occupy the leading posts. Even my daily work depends mostly on women, as 85 percent of the team in my office are Emirati women."

For his part, His Highness General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, said that the UAE is well ahead in the empowerment of women to play their social role, a legacy chalked out by the late Sheikh Zayed by Sultan Al Nahyan. He noted that Sheikh Zayed had persevered to provide all the facilities and remove the impediments to encourage Emirati women to play their role in the development of the community - a move that has reflected on the UAE s humanitarian and social role at the global level.

Sheikh Mohamed underlined the fact that the themes of equality, solidarity and cohesion do not distinguish between man and woman.

H.H. Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, the Mother of the Nation, Chairwoman of the General Women s Union (GWU), Supreme Chairperson of the Family Development Foundation (FDF) and President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, has become a symbol of giving, determination and is seen as one of the most important woman leaders in the world, due to her outstanding and leading role in the field of empowering women and defending their cause not only in the UAE, but also regionally and internationally.

The effort that has been exerted by Sheikha Fatima in the field of supporting Emirati women since the establishment of the General Women s Union in August 1975, has become obvious in the light of the prestigious stature of the UAE women.

Emirati women become ministers, FNC members, judges and diplomats, in addition to their effective and prominent role in contributing to the overall development in the country through full participation alongside men in various work places.

Sheikha Fatima has also added other humanitarian dimensions to the general women s work through her important initiatives, which aim at protecting women and providing all kinds of comprehensive care, in addition to safeguarding women s dignity in various regions in the world.

In his speech while addressing the UN General Assembly in 2013, H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Foreign Minister, pointed out the successes that have been achieved by UAE women in building the society.

Sheikh Abdullah said that the UAE has achieved a host of outstanding successes in the field of women's empowerment. He recognised their vital role in societies, noting that protection of women from discrimination in various areas, "is a necessity and should be given care by the international community." He added that the UAE is proud of its serious steps in this regard, citing that the country has acquired an outstanding rank among the countries in the region in this field.

Sheikh Abdullah also said in a previous speech that the UAE s constitution guarantees equal rights for men and women, where women enjoy the same legal status, as they have the right to get education and work on equal footing as men.

He added that the constitution prohibits any discrimination in salaries between women and men, pointing out that the UAE has joined a number of international agreements on human rights, including the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. He also emphasised support for the international efforts in women s empowerment issues.

Sheikh Abdullah highlighted the fact that the UAE cooperates with international mechanisms for human rights, adding that the UAE is ranked 38th according to the Woman s Empowerment Index. –End-

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Here's one for Guinness: Largest collection of clothes for donation to the poor

The Emirates Red Crescent, in collaboration with the OMO and Comfort, Unilever's leading fabric cleaning and fabric conditioning brands, has set the Guinness World Records title again for the largest collection of clothes for donation to the poor. 

Last year the record was set at 146,411 items and this time over 153,240 clothes were collected, washed with OMO and Comfort and donated to the less fortunate with the help of Emirates Red Crescent. The record was made official by Guinness world records adjudicator Samer Khallouf.

The donations were collected through in-mall stands where people could drop off their clothes as well as through a direct line where consumers could call to have a representative pick up the apparel from their homes. 

Mohammad Abdullah Alhaj Al Zarouni, General Manager of the Dubai branch of the UAE Red Crescent, said the response received from the people of the UAE this year was so inspiring. "This campaign truly embodies the spirit of giving in Ramadan and is another proof of the great values rooted in the people living in this country." 

Those donations will help several people in need and will continue with the help of partners to support the nations that require attention and focus on reaching to as many people as possible, he added. "We look forward to another successful partnership with Unilever next year and to promote the different aspects of humanitarian work that we do." 

Ageel Angawi, Vice President Marketing, Foods, Refreshments, Homecare, Unilever North Africa and Middle East, said this is the sixth year to run the campaign 'Share a touch of love' in the UAE and every year there is a remarkable increase in the number of people giving back.

"It has become a household charitable act that consumers await and love to take part in. We would like to thank the people of the UAE who have supported the campaign passionately and helped us break the title two years in a row." –End-

Keep ivory smugglers where they belong: In jail

Dubai: More than 620kg of ivory worth Dh5 million was seized at Dubai International Airport last month, the General Administration of Airport Security at Dubai Police said on Tuesday.

The ivory, seized from five different smugglers who were all coming form African countries, was destined for countries in America and Asia. They were arrested while transiting through Dubai Airport.

Ivory trade is internationally banned according to the CITES convention, which the UAE joined in 1990. The illegal trade has led to the endangerment of various species, including Asian and African elephants, from which ivory is harvested from. Earlier this year, Airport Security handed over more than 300kg of raw ivory to the Ministry of Environment and Water.

Captain Khalid Mohammad Noor, acting director of the Airport Police Department, said: “We do what we can to prevent the illicit trade of ivory and the rest of the substances listed in local and international laws.”

Noor said officers have been aptly trained to handle such crimes. “Our officers attend specialised workshops to help them deal with such situations. The workshops are organised by the Ministry of Environment and Water.”

According to him, there are strict penalties in place for those who attempt to smuggle ivory. “The ivory trade causes death of tens of thousands of elephants every year. The International Fund for Animal Welfare estimates that almost 50,000 elephants are killed annually to meet the growing demand for ivory.”

Awareness campaigns against ivory sumggling are held annually by the airport security in cooperation with the ministry and International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). “We hold campaigns at airport terminals every year,” he said, “they are dedicated to raise awareness about the dangers and effects of the ivory trade and the subsequent risk of extinction of the targeted animals.”

Brigadier Abdullah Hussain Khan, director of the General Administration of Airport Security, said active role of Dubai Police in fighting the trade is contributing to preservation of wildlife. “Dubai Police is doing its part to help protect the plants and animals that are threatened with extinction,” he said, “it is in our principles to thwart smuggling attempts.”

Dubai Customs recently told Gulf News that intelligence reports by UAE authorities, Interpol and IFAW are infiltrating illegal ivory trade networks and stemming the flow of elephant tusks through major transit hubs such as Dubai.

Officials said more than 1,500 ivory seizures by Dubai Customs between 2011 and 2014. There was only one ivory seizure made in Dubai in the first six months of this year.

At an annual 10 per cent poaching rate, what’s left of wild elephants in Africa could be decimated in as little as 10 years. –End-

The food just keeps on coming

Emirates Red Crescent (ERC) is planning to distribute thousands of more food parcels in the Governorate of Aden and other areas in Yemen.

The food stuff was provided by the Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation.

Fahd Abdul Rahman bin Sultan, Deputy Secretary General of the ERC told the Emirates News Agency (WAM) in a statement that work is underway to prepare thousands of food parcels to be distributed in a number of Yemeni governorates.

He added that this humanitarian aid is part of the urgent relief programme ordered by President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and followed up by H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler's Representative in the Western Region and Chairman of the ERC.

He noted that each food parcel will be issued to a family comprising 5 to 7 members, and added that the parcel includes rice, flour, sugar, oil, salt, tuna, vegetables, beans, tea and others. –End-

Image by:

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

What's Eye on Earth? Read all about it here

Abu Dhabi - Some of the world's most respected leaders in sustainable development are confirmed to speak at the second Eye on Earth Summit, taking place from 6 to 8 October in Abu Dhabi. Held under the patronage of The President HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Summit will explore the critical need for better access to and sharing of environmental, social and economic data to support informed decision-making for sustainable development.

With the post-2015 development agenda firmly positioning sustainability at the fore of global priorities this year and beyond, Eye on Earth Summit 2015 will cast a spotlight on the role governments, technology, the scientific community and citizen participation play in enhancing access to quality data about the state of the world's resource s. Close to 30 sessions will be delivered by more than 100 speakers across the three-day Summit. Speakers will explore the supply and demand dynamics, enabling conditions, and crucial role of data and information in creating a healthier planet. 

2015 will mark a turning point for sustainable development, poverty eradication and the protection of the planet with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and a new global climate change agreement likely to be enacted by the end of the year.

"The events of 2015 make the work of Eye on Earth more important than ever as we come together - governments, the private sector, academia and civil society - to improve information availability and quality to safeguard the future of the planet and humanity. At Summit 2015 we hope to agree the roadmap that will get us there," said HE Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, Secretary General Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi, a founding Eye on Earth Alliance Partner.

The Eye on Earth Summit will open with a focus on policy maker demand for environmental-related data and the associated challenges in using it to make evidence-based decisions. Led by Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and Undersecretary General of the UN, issues such as inconsistent data sharing mechanisms across countries and regions, institutional attitudes to open-source data policies and responding to commercial imperatives from the private sector, are some of the topics that will be discussed. The need for data to address the Syrian refugee crisis will be another critical agenda item.

Felix Dodds, Senior Fellow at the Global Research Institute of the University of North Carolina and an Associate Fellow at the Tellus Institute; Jonathan Kent Deal, CEO of Treasure Karoo Action Group (TKAG) and winner of the Goldman Environmental Prize, considered the green equivalent of the Nobel prize; and Dr. Fernando R. Echavarria from the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Oceans, Environment and Science (OES), will be among the esteemed guest speakers discussing these issues.

Barbara Ryan, Secretariat Director of the Group on Earth Observations will open day two of the Summit, looking at the problems impeding the availability of and access to environmental-related data. She will be joined by Muki Haklay, Professor of Geographic Information Science at University College London (UCL) and director of its Extreme Citizen Science group; Louis Liebenberg, Executive Director of CyberTracker Conservation NPC and an Associate of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University; and Ed Parsons, the Geospatial Technologist of Google responsible for evangelising Google's mission to organise the world's information using geography.

Looking in detail at the logarithmic data explosion, both in terms of volume and sources, day two of the Summit will explore the undiscovered potential of new resources, such as crowd sourcing, citizen science and cutting-edge technologies to engage many more actors in the world's transition to a sustainable future.

The Summit will conclude on day three with a focus on the necessary conditions to support effective synergies between data users and data providers. Policy arenas, funding commitments and capacity building are some of the topics that will be discussed. Inger Anderson, Director General of IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) will deliver day three's opening address. She will be joined by as well as Enrico Giovannini, the distinguished Italian economist and statistician.

"The Eye on Earth network is just getting started, but it could substantially alter the course of sustainable development for generations to come. Its potential impact has been likened to the equivalent of the Human Genome Revolution. That's how important and valuable environmental-related data could become. The cooperation between stakeholders in government, academic, civil society and the private sector remains the most important element in Eye on Earth's success. Everyone can, and should, lend their support to this endeavour," said UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.

On a macro level, a successful Eye on Earth Summit and growing international movement could mean the slowing down of natural resource depletion and an increased adoption of greener economies. It could ensure responsible urban policies and education for the improved management of urban growth, as well as the advancement of knowledge and innovation to guide all countries towards a promising and sustainable future. On a micro level, it is hoped the Summit will provide the tools and opportunities necessary for stakeholders to foster partnerships to support informed decision-making and continue collaborating long after the Summit. Increased funding will also allow community-run Special Initiative programmes to assist in the achievement of SDGs and other global environmental goals.

"We have a shared responsibility, globally, to address the topic of sustainability in the face of continuing population growth. By understanding how we access, use and support environmental-related data, we will strengthen our capabilities to develop environmental policies and regulations, ensure appropriate enforcement and enhance sustainable development," said Mr. Steiner.

Live social media feeds will allow the wider global community to tune in to the Summit and initiate dialogue with attendees. The full Summit agenda and list of speakers can be found at –End-

British held hostage in Yemen rescued by Emirati forces

Bob Semple, the British hostage, who was released by the UAE forces in Yemen, said he was very grateful for the assistance of the UAE.

Speaking today, Bob Semple said:"I am delighted and relieved to be back home safely and to be reunited with my family after such a long time.

"My wife Sallie and I want to thank all the people who supported us through this ordeal: especially the Foreign Office, Hostage UK, the Police, our family, friends and well wishers, and the UAE forces who secured my release. We are incredibly grateful to you all.

"We would also like to thank the media for showing restraint during my 18 months in captivity, and I ask that this continues, allowing me to enjoy some valuable and much missed time with my family. It is great to be home." –End-

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Here's one public library that's truly a beehive of summer activity

The Dubai Public Library, DPL, has announced there was record-high interest from the community for its annual summer programme this year.

Held under the theme, "Be Creative, Be Innovative", the programme featured a wide array of educational and entertainment experiences for children aged 6 to 12 years through workshops, interactive activities, training sessions, and competitions to enrich the learning experiences of children during summer. In all, DPL hosted over 160 workshops with 400 participants over the course of the summer.

DPL, owned and managed by the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, said that it is committed to facilitating the collection of and public access to Dubai’s literary heritage for all audiences by fostering an understanding and appreciation of literary culture, and encouraging access to these resources through efficient services and state-of-the-art technology.

Library officials thanked the ongoing support from children, parents, partners, and the various government entities for their encouraging efforts in making this year’s programme the most successful to date. –End-

Image by:

No mountain high enough

Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi, Chairperson of Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), said that she is “truly humbled and grateful for this amazing opportunity to climb my second big mountain this year. Mount Elbrus, ranked 10th highest in the world, standing at 5,642m (18,510 ft) in the Caucasus Mountains of Russia, is the highest peak in Europe and one of the seven summits of the world.

“As Sir Edmund Hillary once said: ‘It’s not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves’. For me, the journey was about discovering my vulnerable side and allowing myself to feel helpless and surrender to that which is greater than me.

Al Qasimi continued, “I’m honoUred to have shared this experience with my husband, Sultan, who was a true champ on the mountain, and my awesome group of friends. I know you battled your own demons on the mountain and came out victorious on the other side.

To my mentor and inspiration, Suzanne Al Houby, the first Arab woman to climb Everest, you are a beacon of hope to many people. By believing in me you gave me permission to dream big.
Thank you for that priceless gift! And finally, to the beautiful people of the Balkan region in Russia. You have no idea that you sit at the foothills of the universe. Truly one of the world’s best kept secrets.” –End-

Don't look now, but the pilot is a woman

Etihad Airways will mark the inaugural Emirati Women’s Day by hosting a series of events under the theme, ‘Celebrating Emirati Women in Aviation’. The airline will focus on raising awareness of the important role that Emirati women play in aviation and will demonstrate the immense and diverse opportunities this vital economic sector can present for women.

Emirati Women’s Day, announced by H.H. Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women's Union, GWU, Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation, FDF, and President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, to highlight the achievements of women in the UAE and their critical role in society, will be marked on 28th August every year.
Etihad Airways will join the UAE in celebrating Emirati Women’s Day through a series of events and activities, starting today with a high-profile panel discussion, highlighting the diverse and unconventional role Emirati women have played in the aviation industry and their contribution to future growth and development.

Mona Walid, Etihad Airways Vice President, Talent Acquisition, said, "Since the launch of Etihad Airways in 2003, we have focused our efforts on attracting and developing young Emirati men and women in equal measure to be future aviation leaders at national and global levels.

"Emiratis represent 25 percent of our UAE based workforce, excluding cabin crew. We currently employ 1,269 Emirati women in various roles, representing 49 percent of a total of 2,560 UAE nationals in our workforce. These include 46 female pilots and five engineers and technicians. Our Vice President of Medical Services, Dr. Nadia Bastaki, is also the first Emirati woman to be registered as a specialist in aviation medicine."

The panel discussion, which took place at Etihad Airways’ headquarters in Abu Dhabi, saw five successful women with aerospace and aviation experience sharing insights into their careers and shedding light on the opportunities and challenges faced by women when stepping out of their traditional roles.

Proceedings were initiated with a keynote video speech by the UAE’s first female pilot, Captain Aysha Al Hamili, who is the Permanent Representative of the UAE on the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organisation, based in Montreal.

Captain Al Hamili said, "I continue to be inspired by those who make a change and have an impact on our society. Our leaders are our source of inspiration, they teach us that there is nothing impossible if we work hard to achieve it.

"I applaud Etihad Airways, as the national airline, for its pro-active support and for providing the opportunities for the professional development of Emirati women in the industry."

With an audience of 130 female professionals and students, the aim of the panel discussion was to raise awareness of the roles of women in the aerospace and aviation industry and to encourage female Emirati students to pursue careers in all areas of the sector, including commercial, technical, engineering and aero-medical.

Etihad Airways employs 500 Emirati women in its commercial departments including sales and marketing. The airline’s award-winning Contact Centre in Al Ain is exclusively managed and operated by 160 women who play a critical role in maximising revenue and showcasing its commitment to excellent customer service.

The number of Emirati women enrolling in Etihad Airways’ unique Aviation Bachelor of Science Degree programme at Abu Dhabi University, which was introduced to support the growth of Etihad Airways’ Cadet Pilot Programme, is steadily on the rise. Approximately 30 percent of the first-year students and 20 percent in all four years of the course, are women. In aviation courses elsewhere in the world, women only comprise between eight and 12 percent.

The empowerment of women remains at the heart of Etihad Airways’ Emiratisation strategy and it is deeply committed to supporting UAE women to succeed as the nation’s future leaders, on an equal footing with men. –End-

Image by: