Friday, January 29, 2016

MERS coronavirus claims another victim

ABU DHABI -- The Health Authority – Abu Dhabi (HAAD), the regulatory body of the healthcare sector in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, announced today that a 73-year-old has passed away after contracting MERS Coronavirus (MERS-CoV).

The patient was reported earlier this month as the first confirmed case of MERS Coronavirus. The second reported case was a contact of this patient with no symptoms who cleared the virus and has left the hospital.
The authority, in coordination with the Ministry of Health (MoH) and other medical authorities nationwide, has taken all necessary measures as per international standards and recommendations from the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Drones for peace

DUBAI -- The Organizing Committee of the UAE Drones for Good Award, launched by Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and the UAE AI & Robotics Award for Good, launched by H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, has announced that the Voting Platform for the awards received more than 250,000 votes until today from all around the world.

The Voting Platform, which was launched on the websites of both the awards dronesforgood[dot]ae and roboticsforgood[dot]ae, recorded huge interaction from the audience as they voted to choose the best qualified teams for the semi-final stage in the National and International competitions of the awards which will take place from February 4th to 6th, 2016, in Dubai Internet City.
This platform provides an opportunity for the public to choose the best among more than 40 teams from the UAE and around the world in many sectors. They can identify the best innovative projects participating in the awards and have access to video clips, detailed explanation about the main ideas, the mechanisms of the applications and their uses in the future, and how they can be employed to serve all segments of society.
Saif Al Aleeli, Chief Executive Officer of Dubai Museum of the Future Foundation and Coordinator General of the UAE Drones for Good Award and UAE AI and Robotics Award for Good, stressed the importance of public participation in the voting to display their interest in projects and innovations designed to promote the development process in the UAE and enhance the level of services provided to them in several sectors to increase their happiness and welfare in various fields.
The Organizing Committee urged the public to visit the online platform and engage in the voting process to identify the best projects that match their aspirations and needs in the future, and contribute to the development of services provided to them in vital sectors that directly affect their lives, such as education, health, and social services.
The closing date of the voting will be on Wednesday, February 3rd. The teams with top votes will be honored irrespective of whether they are selected by the Judging Committees of the awards or not.
The Drones for Good Award aims to harness the technology of unmanned aircraft to improve the lives of people, whether in the UAE or anywhere in the world. It aims to design a legislative structure to provide services through advanced technology such as unmanned aircraft in the areas of serving humanity.
The International and National competitions of the UAE Drones for Good Award are divided into several categories: Environment, Education, Logistics, Transport, Construction and Infrastructure, Health, Civil Defense, Tourism, Social Services, Economic Development, and Humanitarian Aid.

Dubai posts record-breaking tourist arrivals

DUBAI - Dubai attracted over 14.2 million overnight visitors in 2015, recording a strong 7.5% increase over 2014 - double the United Nations World Travel Organisation's (UNWTO) projected 3-4% global travel growth for the same period, annual figures released by Dubai's Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism) showed.

The emirate's tourism sector once again proved the tenacity and strength of its economic contribution, as it made steady progress towards the target of 20 million visitors per year by 2020, despite a year afflicted by macro-economic uncertainties, and amidst a particularly turbulent geo-political climate during the second half of 2015 internationally.
Helal Saeed Almarri, Director General, Dubai Tourism, said: "Under the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, last year was a very strong year for Dubai's travel sector, achieving double the global industry growth levels and our international visitation hitting 14.2 million, which firmly positions us as the fourth most visited city in the world. 2015 was volatile for travel globally, as we have all witnessed a range of disruptive factors, ranging from slackening economic growth in Asian and European markets to currency fluctuations across the world.
''Yet if Dubai is to hit its 20 million visitors per year target in the next five years, we must deliver a threshold 7-8% annual growth consistently, which has put even greater emphasis on strong sector-wide collaboration.
"Our performance over the past 12 months is undeniably reflective of the resilience of our diversified market strategy, our unified industry-level responsiveness, and ultimately the sustained strength of Dubai's proposition."
Through the pursuit of a multi-geography visitation mix strategy, Dubai furthered the performance achieved in the first half of the year to deliver strong growth across key feeder regions, mitigating the downward trends in specific countries.
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) remained the regional foothold, supporting continued demand from near-markets to Dubai, consequently delivering the highest share of visitor volumes for 2015, with a total of 3.3 million, up 12.8% over 2014.
In terms of country-specific volumes from the GCC, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia remained the lead market, contributing 1.54 million visitors, followed by Oman accounting for over 1 million travelers. Kuwait and Qatar were also among the top 20 markets, with the former the only one to register a decline in growth versus 2014 yet retaining its top 10 position, and the latter recovering strongly from mid-year with a high 32% year-on-year increase for the full year of 2015.
Despite a sluggish economy and a strong US Dollar constraining Dubai's competitiveness, Western Europe remained the second highest regional contributor to visitor volumes, bringing in nearly 3 million tourists, reflecting a solid 6.1% growth in numbers.
The UK remained within Dubai's top 3 source countries with 11% growth, accounting for nearly 1.2 million visitors. Germany also stayed in the top 10 list with 7% growth generating over 460,000 visitors, followed by two others in the top 20 traffic generators - France showing a slight decline primarily in the last quarter of 2015, and Italy remaining flat versus 2014.
Northern European markets across the Nordics and the Benelux, while independently small in volume, have been frontier growth generators for tourism traffic in 2015, on the back of growing direct flight capacity from the region.
South Asia was the next largest region by volume, bringing in 2.3 million visitors, reflecting a 21.7% increase versus 2014. India dominated the region, becoming Dubai's number one source market for the first time by bringing in over 1.6 million tourists, and the country was the second fastest growing market with a 26% year-on-year growth, followed by Pakistan that ranked just outside the top five, ending 2015 at 11% growth and 513,000 visitors. Efforts to serve highly segment-specific messaging in cities with the highest connectivity and latent capacity, as well as building stronger trade ties in market with digital travel intermediaries, have yielded results and will continue to enable Dubai to capture a share of the growing Indian upper middle-class family and business segments.
Over 1.6 million visitors came from the wider Middle East and North Africa region, representing a 1.3% growth - a strong outcome in the face of heightened regional disturbances. Iran delivered a reliable 6% increase to enter the top 10 rankings as a key source market, with much of the remaining volumes attributable to Egypt and Jordan, each independently registering robust 15% growth versus 2014 for the full year.
Asian markets (excluding the Indian sub-continent) were the next largest regional contributors with a total of 1.2 million travelers to Dubai - a 17.9% increase for 2015 compared to the previous year. With 450,000 Chinese tourists to Dubai last year, inbound traffic from China dominated the uptake from this region, topping the leader board of year-on-year growth trends with a 29% increase in numbers. The Philippines delivered 325,000 tourists, with a particularly strong third quarter performance raising it to number 11 in the source market rankings.

Friday, January 22, 2016

This anthropologist is a UN Messenger of Peace

ABU DHABI -- The Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi, EAD, today welcomed world-renowned conservationist, anthropologist and UN messenger of peace, Dr. Jane Goodall, at the International Water Summit, IWS, in Abu Dhabi.

As Dr. Goodall’s partner in the award-winning environmental initiative, ‘Roots & Shoots’, EAD organized a tour of their stand for her and discussed the vital programmes and water conservation projects that EAD is showcasing this year.
Dr. Goodall has returned to Abu Dhabi for the Roots & Shoots Annual Awards ceremony this year. Held yesterday, the awards ceremony recognized projects, schools and students who have taken part in the programme. Today, Dr. Goodall led a troupe of students from participating schools to the EAD stand at IWS. She also learned about EAD’s latest water conservation projects through its interactive, multi-sensory exhibit, designed to help people better connect with, and understand, the impact of water scarcity.
In 2014, EAD partnered with the Jane Goodall Institute, founded by Dr. Jane Goodall herself, to bring the global environmental and humanitarian initiative, ‘Roots & Shoots’, to Abu Dhabi with the aim to help equip a generation of inspired youth with the knowledge and skills to create meaningful change and live sustainably.
Through the Roots & Shoots programme, young people assess their local community and identify specific challenges in their neighborhood. They prioritize issues, develop solutions and take positive action in activities and projects to benefit animals, the environment, and society as a whole.
Reflecting on her visit to IWS, Jane Goodall said, "I am thrilled to be here to attend the annual Roots & Shoots awards and the International Water Summit in Abu Dhabi. The UAE has taken vital steps to create and implement innovative programmes that help protect our precious environment and greater ecosystem. I commend the Environment Agency in particular, for tackling the pressing issue of water scarcity through localized sustainable long-term solutions, and look forward to future opportunities that our continued partnership may bring."
Throughout the exhibition, EAD has showcased six key projects that highlight its contribution to the overall conservation of groundwater in Abu Dhabi. These projects include: the Abu Dhabi Groundwater Well Inventory Project, the Crop Calculator, the Water Budget, the Groundwater Mapping Project, the Sustainable Irrigation of Date Palms Using Saline Groundwater, and the Sustainable Irrigation of Arid Forests using Groundwater and Recycled Water.

Sustainable construction means using green building products

ABU DHABI -- The Future Build, Masdar’s online green building products’ portal and the Abu Dhabi Quality and Conformity Council’s, QCC, Environmental Performance Trustmark Certification Schemes, have announced a strategic partnership to create the largest database of products certified to UAE sustainable building requirements.

The agreement, signed during Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, will make information about hundreds of the QCC Environmental Performance Trustmark products available on The Future Build on-line platform alongside existing subscribers, providing consultants, specifies and contractors with an easy, user-friendly search capability to source even more quality building products.
"Upgrading The Future Build portal to offer Trustmark search capabilities was seen as the next logical step in the online directory’s progression. The authenticity that the QCC Trustmark brings is welcomed by the market and we are proud to have The Future Build become the platform to further promote those suppliers that recognize the importance of verifiable sustainable product attributes," said Dr. Nawal Al-Hosany, Director of Sustainability at Masdar.
The first portal of its kind to originate in the MENA region, The Future Build assists architects, engineers and contractors in identifying and sourcing green building products and materials that have been assessed to ensure they deliver the environmental benefits claimed in line with local and international green building rating systems.
"The mandate of the QCC is to ensure that the products and materials used in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi meet the highest standards of quality, safety and environmental performance. This partnership with Masdar will significantly strengthen our reach to target audiences who actively use The Future Build online database to source products and materials," said Mohammed Helal Al Balooshi, Marketing and Communications Acting Director, QCC.
The QCC is an Abu Dhabi government entity established to enable quality infrastructure and raise the quality of Abu Dhabi’s exports and products traded locally. The QCC consists of a council of regulators and industry with a mandate to ensure provision of quality infrastructure in line with global standards.
The partnership between The Future Build and QCC has been welcomed by the construction sector.
"The integration of QCC’s Trust marked products into The Future Build database creates a powerful searchable tool for the industry. The reassurance that the Trustmark certification brings when we are dealing with suppliers cannot be undervalued. We believe it will stimulate the local supply chain to move towards more sustainable offerings and allow The Future Build to continue to promote these products effectively," said Holley Chant, Executive Director Corporate Sustainability, KEO International Consultants.
The Future Build portal, receives 250,000 visitors annually, responds to the vital need for greater access to quality and green building products for new and existing buildings in the region.

What's a Carbon Atlas? Read here

ABU DHABI – The Ministry of Energy has launched the UAE Carbon Atlas to monitor sources of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) produced by sectors including energy, industry, agriculture, land use change and waste across the emirates.

Launched during the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week 2016, the initiative will generate reports on green gas emissions and statistical reports on index of average carbon dioxide (CO2) per capita. It will also highlight the UAE's initiatives and practices to reduce carbon dioxide emissions so as to maintain the UAE's leading position in tackling the climate change.
Suhail bin Mohammed Faraj Faris Al Mazrouei, Minister of Energy, said the project will be carried out in partnership with all relevant stakeholders as part of national efforts to deliver the UAE Vision 2021 and sustainable development.
''Phase I will focus on accurate collection of data from different sectors to measure green gas emissions and is expected to complete in the second quarter of the current year,'' he added.
According to the second UAE Greenhouse Gas inventory released by Ministry of Energy, the power generation and water desalination sector has emerged as the largest emitter, accounting for 35% of the UAE's total greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) in 2014.
''Industry accounted for 16% of the country's total greenhouse gas emissions, being the second largest emitter, followed by transport at 15%,'' said Undersecretary of the Ministry of Energy, Mattar Hamed Al Neyadi.
He noted that the results of the 2014 Inventory of UAE Greenhouse Gas Emissions will be used in drawing up a strategy to reduce emissions and the UAE's carbon footprint.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

A magnet for foreign real estate buyers

DUBAI --- The value of real estate investment transactions made by overseas buyers in Dubai in 2015 exceeded AED135 billion, up 24 per cent from AED109 billion of transactions reported in 2014, the Dubai Land Department said in its annual report.

Investments by nationals of the Cooperation Council for Arab States of the Gulf (GCC) members in 2015 stood at AED44 billion (2014: AED32 billion), with Emiratis accounting for AED26.1 billion.
Investments by Saudis jumped by 73 per cent according to the Department's figures - up to AED9 billion (2014: AED5.2 billion), with the number of investors leaping by 86 per cent to 3,259 ( 2,745 in 2014).
The total number of overseas non-Emirati investors who come from 150 countries and pumped grew to around 56,000- a 33 per cent climb on the 41,475 reported last year. They account for than half of the total investments in the sector in 2015 (AED74 billion), the report shows.
Indians topped the list of non-Arab foreign investors in terms of numbers (8,756) with more than AED20 billion of real estate purchases in 2015, followed by Britons (4,889) who spent AED10 billion. Pakistanis came third, buying AED8 billion (2014: AED7.6 billion) worth of properties.
Non-Gulf Arabs also increased their investment by a third to AED16 billion (2014: AED21 billion), with Jordanians topping the list in 2015 (1,516 investors buying AED3.5 billion worth of properties), followed by Egyptians (1,390 investors, AED2.6).
Director-General of the Dubai Land Department, Sultan Butti bin Mejren said Dubai enjoys an extremely high degree of acceptance from international investors because of its attributes and its return on investment.
Bin Mejren noted that investments pumped by Gulf nationals provide Dubai's property market with a strong protection from seasonal fluctuations.

Don't want trouble? Don't fake it

Abu Dhabi: The Federal National Council (FNC) this month is expected to review a draft law proposing more than three years in prison and a fine of up to Dh2 million for IP address forgery with criminal intent.

The bill, which introduces changes in Federal Law No 5 of 2012 on combating cyber-crimes, seeks to crack down on people using a fraudulent computer network protocol address with criminal intent.
Under the current law, IP address forgery is a minor offence punishable with a jail term of between 24 hours and three years, and a fine of up to Dh500,000.
IP address forgery, also known as IP address spoofing, or a host file hijack, is a hijacking technique in which a cracker masquerades as a trusted host to conceal his identity, spoof a website, hijack browsers, or gain access to a network.
The hijacker obtains the IP address of a legitimate host and alters packet headers so that the legitimate host appears to be the source.
“The proposed amendment shows that the UAE authorities are keen to crack down on so-called IP spoofing by imposing harsher penalties for offenders,” said Dino Wilkinson, legal expert in Abu Dhabi.
Wilkinson added that the relevant article states that it is an offence to use a fraudulent computer network protocol address by using a false address or third party address for the purpose of committing a crime or preventing its discovery.
It is therefore important to note that there must be a crime committed or concealed, in addition to the IP address spoofing activity, for a person to be liable under this provision of the law.
This could be a hacking or denial of service attack, for example, which are criminalized under other provisions of the cyber-crimes law.
Privacy of information
The Cyber Crimes Law protects privacy of information from any misuse whatsoever by electronic or IT means in a host of areas.
How it is done
Forging an IP address involves changing the header of an internet protocol address (that allows servers to know where information is coming from) to match someone else’s IP.
If your IP address is spoofed, this may cause you to be associated with illegal activities like hacking websites, and may also provide a hacker with access to systems that read your computer as ‘trusted’.
How you can report it
To report a spoofed Facebook page, go to the spoofed profile, click the button next to ‘Message’ and select ‘Report/Block’. Then click, ‘This profile/timeline is pretending to be someone or is fake’, followed by ‘Pretending to be me’ and finally, ‘Continue’. 
If you are spoofed on Twitter, file a report here.
Do not share your password: To avoid having your own Facebook or Twitter account hacked into never share your password with anyone and make sure to sign out of each service before you close the tab or window.
Anonymous your address: Your IP address is most at risk when you are using public internet hotspots at places such as airports or coffee shops. When using these, it is a good idea to use an IP anonymous such as Hotspot Shield, which temporarily assigns you a random IP address so that your computer’s own IP address is not compromised.
Cyber-crimes law protects against online predators
Federal Law No 5 of 2012 on combating cyber-crimes covers a host of crimes such as forging or producing duplicates of credit cards or civil cards, or using information technology to extort or threaten people online. Key crimes covered are:
This involves creating or operating a website to send, transmit, publish or promote pornographic material, gambling activities and other indecent acts.
Attempting to, or helping others solicit prostitution, or urging, or enticing others to engage in an act of prostitution.
Invading privacy
Using an electronic network or information technology to violate privacy by eavesdropping; intercepting, recording or disclosing conversations, communications, audio and video material; taking photographs; creating electronic photos of others, disclosing, copying or saving them; publishing news, electronic photographs or photographs or scenes, comments, data and information even if they are authentic.
Promoting terrorism
Creating or running a website to promote any terrorist groups and any unlicensed society, organization or body, to facilitate contacts with their leaders or to solicit new members, promote the thoughts thereof, to finance their activities, to provide funds and actual help for its activities, or, for that matter, to promote the making of incendiary devices, explosives or any devices used in terrorist acts.
Soliciting donations
Creating or running an electronic site to raise online or through any information technology means, calling for the raising of donations without authorization from the competent authorities. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Mexican President in Abu Dhabi

ABU DHABI – Mexican President, Enrique Pena Nieto, on Sunday visited the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi (SZGM).

The Mexican President was accompanied by Hussain bin Ibrahim Al Hammadi, Minister of Education, and head of the honorary mission accompanying the president.
Yousif Al Obaidli, the Director-General of SZGMC, took President Nieto on a tour of the mosque which included all the halls and external hallways. The guest was also briefed on the history of the great religious structure, how it was established and the diversity of the architectural styles used during its construction, in addition to the Islamic decorations drawn and embossed on its walls.
The guests were also introduced to the components of the external hall, including its pillars that support the ceilings, and the various domes on both sides of the mosque's main hall, which is covered by white marble decorated by colored floral designs and mosaic.
He also visited the mausoleum of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, God rest his soul, and paid tribute to his wise policy and his humanitarian initiatives across the world.
At the end of the visit, the high-profile guest was offered the book titled "Spaces of Light" as a gift. The book includes the winning photographs in the photography competition "Spaces of Light" organized every year by the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Centre in celebration of the aesthetics and visual greatness of the mosque.

Smart clinic detects gastric troubles

DUBAI -- Gastroenterologists highlighted today during the latest DHA smart clinic, the importance of early detection of gastric diseases to prevent the onset of complications.

Gastroenterology is a branch of medicine focused on the digestive system and its disorders. Gastric diseases are as common as heart diseases and often stress, genetic predisposition, food allergies and poor eating habits are the factors that trigger such diseases.
Stress can either lead to or aggravate GI diseases such as acid reflux and irritable bowel syndrome, IBS, which affects the gut by inducing excessive secretions, causing diarrhea and persistent pain in the stomach.
Rashid Hospital provides adult gastroenterology services. In 2014, Rashid Hospital expanded its gastroenterology services and has a dedicated unit due to the high number of gastroenterology cases it receives every year. The expansion has helped provide comprehensive in-patient gastroenterology services to patients. Dubai Hospital runs a pediatric gastroenterology clinic.
On a yearly basis, Rashid Hospital conducts more than 7,000 gastroenterology procedures, including in-patient and outpatient procedures. In-patient services include all cases of gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding, liver disease etc., while the outpatient services include endoscopy, colonoscopy, and double-balloon enteroscopy, etc..
Dr. Moza Al Falasi, Gastroenterologist at Rashid Hospital, said, "Of the diseases we see, the most common disease is IBS, in which stress plays an important factor, it either triggers the disease or it can cause it. The other common disease is fatty liver, which is primarily due to obesity, which leads to an accumulation of fat in the liver. It may not damage the liver, but when inflammation develops, a patient can end up with serious consequences, such as liver cirrhosis and liver failure. Most of the patients we see are in the later stages when they already have a complication such as liver cirrhosis. The issue is that fatty liver is a silent disease and therefore our advice to people who are obese or borderline obese, and those with diabetes, is to ensure they regularly get a liver function test done."
She said that other common GI problems are GI bleeding, inflammatory bowel syndrome and colorectal carcinoma (CRC), the most common cancer of the gastrointestinal tract.

Towards a green economy

ABU DHABI - Dr. Rashid Ahmed Bin Fahad, Minister of Environment and Water, has launched the second edition of the UAE State of Green Economy Report, during the Ministry’s participation in Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW) which is taking place from January 18 to 21, 2016 at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC). The participation comes in line with the UAE’s efforts towards adoption of the Green Economy approach as one of the key pillars of sustainable development, following the UAE Green Growth Strategy. The approach is part of the UAE Vision 2021 which is inspired by the National Work Programme of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, to become amongst the best countries in the world by 2021.
Bin Fahad explained that the launch of the 2nd UAE State of Green Economy Report reflects the ongoing efforts of all local and national entities to apply the Green Economy approach which was officially adopted by the launch of the UAE Green Growth Strategy. Drawing upon the Report and other indicators, Bin Fahad underlined the UAE’s prestigious position worldwide, whether in terms of its transformation into a green economy by adopting a set innovative initiatives throughout the past few years, or in terms of its pivotal role and contributions to the efforts aimed at promoting the Green Economy approach on the regional and international levels.
Bin Fahad further pointed out that the UAE State of Green Economy Report aims to showcase the country’s major achievements and approach in transforming into a green economy, diversifying economy and energy sources and integrating environmental aspects within all development plans, while also shedding light on the most important strategies, initiatives, existing projects and success stories across various industries including energy, water, oil and gas, industry, transportation, construction, tourism, wastes, land planning, agriculture and finance, in addition to following up on the progress achieved by the UAE in its transformation into a green economy.
The UAE State of Green Economy Report features the major UAE achievements in the various fields of sustainable development in 2015, through 6 main chapters covering all pillars of Green Economy Transformation. ‘Chapter I’ aims at establishing a framework to implement the UAE Green Growth Strategy and showcase the achievements of the Emirates Green Development Council; ‘Chapter II’ highlights 10 national innovations in the fields of green development including the 3 important innovation (1) Mohammed Bin Rashid Space project to raise the efficiency of urban planning processes, (2) Policy of restructuring of the electricity tariff, (3) Solar Energy Residence; ‘Chapter III’ underlines the project portfolio of the UAE Green Agenda featuring 96 initiatives; ‘Chapter IV’ highlights the most important national contributions to green development across all emirates; ‘Chapter V’ outlines an essential enabler of promoting green growth that is the state of green investments in the banking and financial sector in the UAE; and lastly ‘Chapter VI’ showcases results of the green transformation indicators.

Monday, January 18, 2016

What after Paris Agreement?

ABU DHABI – Government officials from more than 150 countries and representatives from 140 international organizations will gather in Abu Dhabi tomorrow for the opening of the sixth Assembly of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). As the first intergovernmental meeting after the UN Climate Conference (COP21) in Paris, the Assembly will bring together energy leaders to set the global renewable energy agenda and make concrete steps to accelerate the ongoing global energy transition.

"The Paris Agreement set a long-term vision for the deep reduction of global emissions and the need to carbonize the energy sector," said IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin. "The IRENA Assembly must now take the next steps and establish a blueprint for action to meet our climate goals and set the world on a path to a sustainable energy future."
"Sustainable development depends on the richness of renewable energy resources," said Mohamed Hamed Shaker El-Markaby, Minister of Electricity and Renewable Energy for Egypt and President of the IRENA sixth Assembly. "I am confident in IRENA's ability to perform its mission in mobilizing the entire world's efforts to build more sustainable economies, which rely mainly on renewable sources."
Taking place 16-17 January at the St. Regis Hotel in Abu Dhabi, the sixth Assembly will focus on the critical role of renewable energy in combating climate change and meeting global sustainable development goals. IRENA analysis shows that scaling up deployment to achieve a 36 per cent share of renewable energy in the global energy mix by 2030 can provide roughly half of the emissions reductions needed to limit temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius, while energy efficiency can provide the rest. But to meet this goal, the deployment of renewable energy must rapidly accelerate.
The Assembly will discuss IRENA’s strategic and programmatic direction to help countries accelerate deployment of renewable energy, and in doing so, meet climate goals, boost the economy, and increase energy access and security.
Several announcements will be made during the Assembly including the release of new analysis on Renewable Energy Benefits: Measuring the Economics, which provides compelling evidence that the deployment of renewable is beneficial to the global economy. In addition, four new renewable energy projects in developing countries will be selected to receive USD46 million in loans under the IRENA/Abu Dhabi Fund for Development Project Facility.
"The energy transition makes social, economic and environmental sense and we have the needed renewable technology to provide cost-effective, reliable energy today," said Mr. Amin. "We also now have a strong political signal and global commitment thanks to the Paris Agreement. Now, we must join hands to implement the policies and programmes that can drive investment, build capacity and strengthen international cooperation to further support the energy transition. That is what the Assembly will help achieve."
The Assembly marks the opening of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW), a global gathering of more than 30,000 energy leaders, experts and enthusiasts. During the week, IRENA will also release the Renewable Energy Market Analysis: The GCC Region, which provides detailed analysis of the energy landscape in the GCC region, and the benefits possible through the increased adoption of renewable.

Winter Aid comes fast

AJMAN -- Human Appeal International (HAI) is launching an AED 2.6 million winter aid campaign for more than 8,000 families in eight countries, including the UAE, to help vulnerable and low-income people survive extreme cold weather.

The Ajman-based relief agency said in a statement that the winter aid campaign would cover Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kyrgyzstan, Kosovo, Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan, UAE and Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Jordan.
Abdullah Al Awadi, Assistant Secretary-General for Financial and Administrative Affairs, HAI, said the campaign aims to deliver the goals of the Compassion Initiative, launched last year by President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, to raise funds for refugees and people in the Levant to help them survive the powerful snowstorm Huda.
''Our field teams have conducted surveys to determine the most vulnerable areas and the kind of assistance urgently needed. While distributing winter supplies, priority will be given to women, widows, orphans, persons with disabilities and elders,'' he added.
The material to be distributed included gas and diesel-run fire heaters, heat logs, winter clothing and blankets and charcoal as well as other necessary items.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

No way to get lost here

Giving your address and finding locations using guide signs in Dubai just got easier, with communities in the emirate now divided under 14 districts.

The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) on Tuesday released the first map of Dubai's District Addressing System that includes 14 districts and the list of communities under each of them.
People will now have to familiarize themselves with names of at least four new districts. The Hadaeq Mohammed bin Rashid (Mohammed bin Rashid Gardens) district covers the Mohammed bin Rashid City which is slated to be the hub of family tourism, and surrounding communities including Al Quoz, Al Barsha, Nad Al Sheba and Al Thanyah.
The other three new names of districts are Madinat Al Maktoum District - which covers the localities surrounding Al Maktoum International Airport - Madinat Al Qudra and Al Wajeha Al Bahriah districts that cover areas towards the Southeast and Southwest of it.
The remaining districts are Deira, Bur Dubai, Nakhlat Deira (Palm Deira), Mushrif, Al Awir, Ras Al Khor, Zabeel, Jumeirah, Dubai Land and Jebel Ali.
Hussain Al Banna, director of Traffic at RTA, told Khaleej Times the district addressing system follows international practices in guide signs.
"This will help people know their location faster," he said.
"There are many communities under each district ... But we cannot put all communities' names (on) signboards. So we will now have the street name and district name on the road sign boards. For example, you will see Jumeirah written just below the name of Umm Suqeim," he explained.
The ambitious project of revamping the addressing system in the emirate in cooperation with the Dubai Municipality also involves replacing the old system of street numbers with unique names to streets. Almost all main roads have been covered under the project and all new projects comply with it.
"We have changed six to seven communities with road names ... We will finish the first phase of installing new road signboards by July 2016."
The entire stretch of the Shaikh Zayed road, right from the Abu Dhabi border to Al Gharoud Bridge, and the Financial Centre Road are being covered in this phase.
He said the RTA's Smart Drive app is compatible with the new addressing system and the new street names will eventually be integrated with Makani, the 10-digit digital addressing system of Dubai Municipality.

Falling oil prices

The UAE’s energy minister on Tuesday rejected a call for an emergency Opec meeting over the latest slump in oil prices, saying that the strategy of letting market forces deal with the world oil glut was working.
Nigeria’s oil minister, Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, who is current president of Opec, had said earlier on Tuesday that “a couple of countries” in the group had requested an emergency meeting for February or March, ahead of the regularly scheduled ministers meeting in June, to deal with the oil price crisis.
Asked about those comments, Suhail Al Mazrouei said he didn’t see any point to such a meeting.
“What are we going to agree? I’m not convinced Opec alone can solely, unilaterally change this strategy just because we have seen a low in the market.”
He said previous efforts at cooperation had failed and it was decided to follow a market strategy, which was working the way it was supposed to.
“We were assuming some level of cooperation when we tried [at previous] meetings but everyone said ‘it is not my problem’, and that left it to the market and I think that was the wise thing to do,” said Mr. Al Mazrouei.
Both ministers were speaking at the Gulf Intelligence UAE Energy Forum in Abu Dhabi yesterday and addressing the oil market conditions, which have taken a turn for the worse since the start of the year.
Recent losses added to the sharp decline that began 18 months ago – world benchmark North Sea Brent crude futures were up 25 cents at US$31.63 per barrel in late afternoon trading Arabian Gulf time on Tuesday, but that was down 15 per cent since the start of the year and near the lowest since 2003. The cumulative loss since summer 2014 is more than 70 per cent.
Mr. Al Mazrouei echoed statements from Saudi Arabia’s oil minister, Ali Al Naimi, who has consistently said that the only effective policy to deal with the glut that arose when production from shale plays doubled US output from 2010 to 2015, is to let prices force cuts from the highest-cost producers.
The rise in US oil output has been stemmed and the US government’s forecaster expects output to decline to 8.8 million bpd this year from a peak last spring of 9.6 million bpd.
“My assessment of that strategy is that it is working,” said Mr. Al Mazrouei. “We have seen a major reduction in the yearly production of non-Opec – it is a fundamental change,” he added, noting the billions of dollars of higher-cost projects that have been cancelled globally.
The UAE minister said he couldn’t tell how long it would take to bring the market back into balance, but he said he expects that in the first half of this year there will be continued pressure on the market.
“It might take one to two years depending on whether we are going to see cooperation or not – the glut is still there,” Mr. Al Mazrouei said. “There is hope during this year, 2016, we could see a correction [to the upside] but it is not going to be first or second quarter – the first six months is going to be tough.”
The UAE, in fact, is on track to raise its own capacity this year to about 3 million bpd, he said, up from about 2.8 million bpd last year.
Mr. Kachikwu said he expected Nigeria’s output capacity to rise this year to 2.5 million bpd form 2.1 million bpd last year. He said he anticipated that extra output would be absorbed by the country’s expanding refinery capacity and growing internal demand.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

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DUBAI -- The Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum International Photography Award, HIPA, has announced that the Dubai Photo Exhibition in 2016, its inaugural year, will present a global perspective on photography from 16th to 19th of March, under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Crown Prince of Dubai.

The Dubai Photo Exhibition is set to provide a distinctive platform for photography to stand on its own as an art form. For the inaugural edition in 2016, it will present a showcase of museum quality international artworks, which will be held in the Dubai Design District, d3, and supported by the World Photography Organization, WPO. The exhibition will be supported by a series of public lectures and workshops and a thought-provoking symposium led by the international curators.
Ali Bin Thalith, Secretary-General of HIPA, said, "Since launching in 2011, driven by the vision of H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Crown Prince of Dubai, HIPA has aimed to shine a light on artistic photography in the UAE. In March 2016, Dubai Photo Exhibition will bring this goal to life, transforming Dubai into an exceptional "visual museum" which will display artworks by some of the world’s most celebrated photographers, both contemporary and classic. In addition, the public programme running alongside the showcase will help Dubai Photo Exhibition make its mark on the international arts calendar and support Dubai’s vision of becoming a global centre of photography discourse."
Scott Gray, Founder and CEO of the World Photography Organisation, commented, "We are delighted to be able to work on a project that brings together some of the most remarkable work over the last century. An exhibition with this global reach and of this magnitude is unique and an important statement for photography, not just in the exhibition itself, but also by bringing some of the most respected curators from around the world together under one roof."
Mohammad Saeed Al Shehhi, COO of Dubai Design District, said, "We are extremely proud to be hosting the inaugural Dubai Photo Exhibition at d3, which cements Dubai’s position as an international leader for world photography whilst drawing attention to the growing pool of talent within the UAE. At d3, we’re committed to building a community dedicated to supporting creative talents from both the region and across the world and, as such, honoured that Dubai Photo Exhibition will be taking place here."
Dubai Photo Exhibition will bring together artworks from 23 countries, selected by 18 curators, and will celebrate the harmony and diversity of global photography on an unprecedented scale. Guided by the curatorial vision of Head Curator Zelda Cheatle and other world-renowned curators, including Natasha Egan (USA and Canada) and Devika Singh (India), visitors will experience the evolution of photography through a selection of artworks from the 20th and 21st century.
The full list of photographers whose work will be featured in Dubai Photo Exhibition will be announced soon.
The exhibition will be presented in a purpose-built ‘temporary museum’ in Dubai Design District (d3), Dubai’s centre for art and design industries. The design of the exhibition space will be revealed in February.
Dubai Photo Exhibition will be created by HIPA to promote Dubai as a cultural hub, to cultivate artistic appreciation for photography, to foster dialogue locally and internationally, and to nurture photographic excellence through education. Prior to the opening of Dubai Photo Exhibition, HIPA will host its 5th Season Awards Ceremony, "Happiness", on March 14th.

Look--they ride bikes too

ABU DHABI: High-ranking officials have taken to their bikes in support of The National’s #cycletoworkuae campaign.

Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoon, Chairman of the Department of Transport, Dr. Mugheer Al Khaili, Chairman of Health Authority Abu Dhabi and Director General of Abu Dhabi Education Council, and Ali Al Dhaheri, Managing Director of Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, all took to two wheels to demonstrate their passion for cycling.
The second annual #cycletoworkuae day takes place on Tuesday, when commuters are encouraged to use pedal power rather than horsepower.
Sheikh Sultan said the event carried the important message that people should make exercise part of their daily routine.
“It’s a great initiative to promote a healthy and active lifestyle,” said Sheikh Sultan.
“There’s a heavy reliance on using cars, as the residents are capable of purchasing cars and the infrastructure makes driving the most attractive option of transportation. However, we want to improve public transport and biking.”
The UAE’s hot summers make cycling more difficult, he said.
“Yes, we do have three or four months where the weather does not help,” he said. “However, there’s nothing stopping us from using other forms of transportation – weather permitting.”
Cycling, and exercise, is a passion for Dr. Al Khaili and one he hopes others can introduce to their lives. “As a young nation, our lives have changed significantly – we went from a life full of physical activity to one of sedentary existence after our modernization,” he said of the transition from more traditionally physical work to office jobs.
“There was no doubt a change in the pace of life, and in that exercise was lost.”
Cycling, he said, was a great way to weave physical activity back into our lives.
“We hope that people encourage themselves now to get more involved in exercise.”
Statistics showed that only 20 per cent of the adult population in the UAE engaged in the daily recommended 30 minutes of exercise and only 40 per cent of young people did the 60 minutes of physical activity that is considered healthy.
The genetic predisposition to type 2 diabetes in Arab people was made worse by sedentary lifestyles, Dr Al Khaili said.
While all types of sport are recommended, Dr. Al Khaili believed cycling had advantages over other kinds of exercise.
“Biking is immensely enjoyable because it doesn’t focus on just the exercise aspect but also places a heavy emphasis on social connections,” he said.
Cycling also benefited mental health as well as the physical as it helped people wind down and relax said Dr. Khaili.
“Today, with the stress of work and the challenges of modern life, we are constantly trying to make the best use of our time and we are turning to the fastest mode of transportation at the cost of neglecting ourselves.”
He added that the more people that took up cycling, the more it would become acceptable.
“Maybe we are a community that is at first surprised of new ideas, but I think at the same time we are very welcome to adapt beneficial changes,” he said.
“An idea that was weird or new a few years ago has now become adopted, and I think cycling can become that.
“To that person who is thinking of cycling but is unsure, yes the first time you might feel hesitant, maybe embarrassed at first, but once you try, I think it not only becomes addictive but a passion.”