Friday, July 31, 2009

DubaiSat-1 soars into space

The Gulf Today, 31 July 2009

Literally reaching for the sky, the UAE added one more feather to its cap when the first earth observation satellite of the country successfully blasted off into space from Baikonur Cosmodrome space centre in Kazakhstan at 4.30 pm local time on Wednesday.
DubaiSat-1 has achieved optimal position in orbit around the earth and has successfully connected with the ground observation station in Dubai being ready for operation, announced the Emirates Institution for Advanced Science and Technology (EIAST).
According to the EIAST, the satellite was launched into space from the Kazakhstan's Baikonur launch pad under the supervision of UAE engineers and scientists, who are responsible for more than a third of the project's implementation. The satellite orbits 14 cycles daily around the earth, 680km above the planet.
DubaiSat-1 was shot out into the orbit by Russian launcher Dnepr, along with five other satellites, including Britain's Deimos 1 and UK-DMC 2, Spain's Nanosat 1B, AprizeSat 4 and AprizeSat 3.
"The UAE engineers and scientists at the Dubai earth observation station were able to stabilise DubaiSat-1 in its 680km orbit at 3:30am local time after the satellite completed two successful orbits of the earth," EIAST has confirmed.
Ahmed Al Mansoori, Director General of EIAST, said, "The team has also remotely deployed the satellite's solar panels, which will power DubaiSat-1 for the next five years. The earth observation team is now working on DubaiSat-1's calibration and data transfer processes before the satellite becomes fully operational."
"DubaiSat-1 is the first remote sensing satellite developed by a UAE entity, in association with the Satrec initiative based in South Korea. The satellite, an authentic addition to the UAE's strategic accomplishments, now carries the UAE's flag into space. The successful launch of the DubaiSat-1 can be attributed to the hard work and dedication of the nation's engineers and scientists," he added.
"The Wednesday launch marks the first time the UAE flag, emblazoned on a panel of the satellite, is in outer space. The achievement will pave the way for additional space projects highlighting the UAE's significant leadership in space technology research," said chief of the EIAST.
According to him, the DubaiSat-1 is a stepping stone in the UAE's attempt to create a sound infrastructure that enables the collection of space and earth observation data to power the comprehensive development of the nation. Observers and analysts described the launch of DubaiSat-1 as a significant achievement for the UAE.
"The satellite is an embodiment of the UAE's efforts in enhancing knowledge and technological development, and embracing the latest achievements to position the nation as the regional hub of the knowledge economy," they said.
According to them, the moon landing was a huge leap for humanity, while DubaiSat-1 is a huge leap for the UAE's science and technology initiatives, and for the nation's aspirations.
Mansouri pointed out that the launch of DubaiSat-1 consists of two segments, including space and ground. The space segment comprises the development, design and manufacture of satellite equipment and components of the measurement and imaging.
"Meanwhile, the ground segment includes the mission control station, image receiving and processing station, antenna and RF sub-system. Images from the satellite can be used for a variety of applications from urban development, scientific research, telecommunications and transportation to civil engineering, constructions, mapping and GIS," he explained.
EIAST will play an instrumental role in creating a knowledge-based economy, and promoting the culture of advanced scientific research and technology innovation in Dubai and the UAE. The institute will also develop an internationally competitive base for human skills development.

Save water now or pay heavy price later

The Gulf Today, 31 July 2009
Both public and the authorities should undertake water conservation practices on a war footing ­ in domestic and production activity ­ to achieve sufficient consumption of the resource and to overcome the water scarcity challenges the UAE is facing, an environmentalist has advised. Addressing a community lecture by Emirates Environmental Group (EEG), sustainable development and water resources expert Sarfraz H Dairkee warned: "The status of our water resources are alarmingly in jeopardy. We adopt dangerously managed methods to meet our ever-increasing water demands and the challenges to meet these are therefore ever-increasing for a growing population and an expanding economy."
Safraz Dairkee, a founding board member of the Emirates Green Building Council and its Technical Committee head, delivered a lecture on 'Water footprint: Increasing demand and diminishing resources.'
"Where do we get our water resources? Are we producing and consuming water in a sustainable way?" he asked friends of the environment who participated in the community awareness programme.
According to Dairkee, consumption of water should be done with growing efficiency to serve more people now and in the future. Given the current realities, a new call is therefore being made to conserve water resources by adopting local solutions.
Meanwhile, Dairkee affirmed that the UAE could still achieve sustainability in water production and consumption. To do so, the UAE should manage its water supply and demand more efficiently as its water footprint is among the world's highest.
Water recycling
"Several innovative ways could be adopted to address the water challenges as an individual and as a society. Simple conservation measures for families and homes and hi-technology co-generation plants for recycling are some of the solutions. Water recycling should also be practiced at homes, buildings and factories," he outlined.
"Government authorities, individuals and business communities must realise the situation that the world's most precious resources are dwindling," Dairkee advised.
He also discussed the present paradigm of increasing demand for water in the country and the challenge of dwindling resources.
"The UAE has the highest per capita water consumption rate in the world. People of the UAE consume more water than people of all other countries of the world, and it's 10 times higher than they were consuming before the country's economic boom," he revealed.
"The daily water consumption of a single person in the UAE was about 40 litres before the economic and lifestyle revolutions witnessed in the country. But, the per capita consumption has jumped up to 460 litres after the developments, making it the highest in the region and three times higher than a European's average water consumption rate, which is 160 litres per day," Dairkee detailed.
"Population and fast economic growth have pushed up demands for water significantly over the last few years. The challenge now is to meet these demands adequately given the fact that the country sits in an arid zone and water resources are diminishing," he noted.
"Less than one per cent of the global water resources are actually fresh and renewable. The UAE is in an arid region, which is challenged to meet its growing water demand each and every single day," he added.
Water neutrality'
Dairkee explained the concept of 'water neutrality, is an idea that is being explored by business, NGOs and policy makers as a way forward.
He said: "However, the concept of water neutrality is not a simple one as it still needs to be firmed up. The criteria for water neutrality in fact remain a subject of debate. Our concept relates water neutrality loosely to the ecological footprint concept, while another concept introduces the idea of 'water offsets'."
He also defined the concept of 'water footprint', as is related to the 'carbon footprint' in the production and delivery of water.
"The magnitude of production of water in the country to meet local demands could not pass without having a corresponding impact on the environment as the process depends on fossil-based energy and huge amounts of brine are dumped in the sea," he mentioned.
Clean water, a right
According to Habiba Al Marashi, chairperson of the EEG, it's our right to get clean and adequate water every time we open the tap in our homes but we do not see the process of producing it. "We do not hear the humming of huge desalination plants. Certainly we do not feel the pinch of the extra cost of getting water ready and available when we get our bills," she said.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

UAE releases 20 Arabian Oryx in Jordan's natural reserve

The Gulf Today, 30 July 2009

The UAE hosts the largest group of Arabian Oryx in the world today. The country’s wild life wealth can boast of with over 4,000 numbers of the Oryx species, according to a statistics revealed by Abu Dhabi Environment Agency (EAD).
“In an initiative to reintroduce the Arabian Oryx into their natural habitat, the UAE has released 20 Arabian Oryx, including 8 males and 12 females, to Jordan’s Wadi Rum nature reserve on Wednesday on Wednesday,” said Mohammed Ahmed Al Bawardi, Secretary-General of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council and Managing Director of EAD.
He said: “Reintroducing the Arabian Oryx into its natural habitats in Jordan is part of the UAE's efforts to conserve the species, which is not only endangered but also an important part of the Arabian Peninsula's heritage.”
“A similar programme is being developed to reintroduce the extinct species into its natural habits in Iraq, as part of this initiative. Countries in the region have adopted a Regional Strategy to Conserve Arabian Oryx, with plans to enhance coordination in safeguarding the Oryx species,” he added.
Al Bawardi noted that the strategy aims at facilitating the conservation of the Arabian Oryx in the range states with a long term objective to establish a viable population that will roam the Arabian Peninsula.
“The release of Oryx came after 8 decades of extinction of the animal in Jordan. The animals were transferred earlier this year to Jordan after administering medical check-ups and the necessary vaccinations by Al Ain Wildlife Park and Resort,” he pointed out.
According to Al Bawardi, the 20 animals are the first herd to be released into Wadi Rum, were placed in enclosures to give them opportunities to adapt to the desert habitat. They will be monitored by satellite to track their movements and behaviors to further ensure the animals' safety.
Wadi Rum Natural Reserve
Al Bawardi explained: “Wadi Rum is a protected area covering 720 square kilometers of dramatic desert wilderness in the south of Jordan, with huge mountains of sandstone and granite emerge, sheer-sided, from wide sandy valleys to reach heights of 1700 meters and more.”
“Narrow canyons and fissures cut deep into the mountains and many conceal ancient rock drawings etched by the peoples of the desert over millennia. The Bedouin tribes still live among the mountains of Rum and their large goat-hair tents are a special feature of the landscape,” he added.
The Arabian Oryx
“In general, there are five species of Oryx, including scimitar-horned Oryx, Arabian Oryx, and Gemsbock, Addax and Bisa Oryx. The Arabian Oryx is the only Oryx that exists in the Middle East region, while the other four species exist in African region,” Al Bawardi said.
He went in to details: “The Arabian Oryx was officially declared as extinct in the wild in 1972 in its last location in Jiddat Al Harasis in Oman. Its long thin horns curve backwards slightly, and may reach up to 90 centi metres, while its hooves are adapted naturally towards living in sandy areas. The feeds on grasses and young shoots of shrubs, and they are able to derive their nutritional water needs from the morning dew on desert plants”.
“The herds are led by a dominant female, while bachelor males usually lead a solitary life on the fringe of the main herd. Arabian Oryx animal is expected to live 13 to 19 years,” he added.
UAE’s Commitment
According to him, the Arabian Oryx has received a large share of the UAE wildlife protection and sustainable development strategy, as part of the UAE’s long term commitment to conserve its precious biodiversity.
“In the early 1960s, the late Sheikh Zayed Al Nahyan directed to capture two breeding pairs of the Arabian Oryx for the nucleus of a captive-breeding programme in Al Ain. Hunting and habitat destruction were the main reasons behind the Oryx's disappearance after it had once roamed the Arabian Peninsula,” he remarked.
The Abu Dhabi Environment Agency (EAD), chairing the Coordinating Committee for Conservation of Arabian Oryx, had signed a sponsorship agreement in April 2007 with Al Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority Aqaba Special Economic Zone, towards launching the project.
EAD sponsors the three-year project, with an estimated cost of $1.100 million. The project also entails rehabilitating the habitat and helping local residents to improve their living standards, apart from reintroducing the Oryx into the Wadi Rum wildlife protected area.
During the first phase of this project, a management committee was set up to oversee implementation of the programme.
The initiative has been taken by His Highness Sheikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.
The committee is composed of representatives from EAD, Al Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority and the Jordanian's Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Drowned man's body flown back to India

The Gulf Today, 16 July 2009

The body of an Indian expatriate found dead last week in Jumeirah beach has been repatriated to his native place on Wednesday night.
Dubai Police had found the body of 31-year man Renup Kuttappan in Jumeirah beach last Thursday.
Renup hailed from the Kollam district of the Indian state of Kerala and his body was earlier identified by his relatives and colleagues.
The body has been transported to Thiruvananthapuram International Airport on Air India IX-540 on Wednesday, said his employer.
Renup, a sales person with Chungath jewellery located in Karama, was living with his wife in a flat in Deira.
The manager of the jewellery outlet Shony Pappachan told The Gulf Today that Renup went missing since Thursday. "He left the shop after it closed on Wednesday night and we didn't see him after that."
"As Renup was absent from work on Thursday, we tried to get in touch with him, but we couldn't. So we went to the police station to lodge a report," he said.
"We came to know from the police that his body was found dead on the beach. All our staff members are in a state of shock," he added.
"We saw the postmortem report and it stated accidental death while drowning in the sea," said Pappachan.
He noted that Renup had returned after his annual vacation recently and joined the outlet on the sixth of this month. He had been employed with the jewellery outlet for 18 months.
"Renup's wife had already gone back to India following his death. We came to know about it from the police. However, there is no evidence or confirmation whether the man had committed suicide," said Pappachan.
Meanwhile, the incident happens within a couple of days of the warning that came from Dubai Police that beachgoers should take extra caution while venturing into sea water during summer. Drowning incidents have been increasingly reported at this time of the year.
The police had warned beach-goers against ignoring weather changes while swimming in the beaches during the summer's poor weather conditions.

Endangered animals deserve a new lease of life

The Gulf Today, 18 July 2009
Pix by Prashanth Mukunthan

A collection of endangered wild fauna of the UAE is on display at Al Qasba in Sharjah. The show titled "Envirozone," aimed at raising awareness among the young generation on the wildlife of the region, has been hosted by Sharjah National History and Botanical Museum, as part of summer festival "big house of fun."
The Sharjah Natural History and Botanical Museum (SNBM) participates in the environment awareness zone, where different types of local plants and seeds have been displayed to educate visitors about their benefits and uses.
Also, visitors to the zone are able to take part in daily activities such as drying plants and creative shell workshops as well as viewing rare photos of hawks and animals that face extinction.
The SNBM is also holding a special lecture on protecting the natural environment and how to preserve animals and hawks native to the UAE.
According to Zeina Alniaimi, activities and exhibitions officer at SNBM, the most endangered animals of the region are sand or rheem gazelle, striped hyena, Ethiopian hedgehog, hare cape, oryx, flamingo, caracal and Dhab.
She said: "Sand or rheem gazelle (Scientific name: Gazella subgutturosa marica) is a very rare animal, absent from the mountains. This species of antelope favours open sand areas and gravel plains. Herds of up to 100 animals once reamed great distances in search of food. It is principally a browser taking a range of bush, shrub and herb parts. It will also eat grass occasionally. Females give birth in spring and autumn, frequently to twins."
"Meanwhile, Striped Hyena (Scientific Name: Hyaena hyaena sultana is seen in dry and desert areas, except the central sand areas. It also occurs on the coast where it scavenges along the beaches. The Striped Hayena is the largest carnivore in Southern Arabia, although some male Arabian leopards may approach a similar weight. A female hyena will give birth to one to four cubs in den or burrow excavated by another species," she added.
Alniaimi pointed out: "Ethiopian hedgehogs (Scientific name: Hemiechinus aethiopicus) are found in the true desert and semi-desert areas of the Peninsula. In common with other hedgehogs, this species eats insects, spiders, young birds, reptiles (including snakes), frogs and toads. Young and helpless hedgehogs are born after a gestation period of 40 days. This is the most common hedgehog in the Arabian Peninsula. It can live up to 10 years."
"Hare capes (Scientific name: Lepus capenisi L.) are the versatile mammals that can be found in desert habitats throughout all of the Arabian Peninsula. Herbivores feed on grasses, seeds, roots and leaves. This hare is a mainly nocturnal animal and well adapted to living in areas with little vegetation," she said.
According to Zeina, Flamingo (Scientific name: Phoenicopterus rubber) are filter feeders, as they feed on small organism with their filtering beak. In the UAE, they are found along the coast and in some small inland water bodies.
She explained: "Caracal (Scientific name: Caracal caracal schmitzi) are the second largest wild cat in the UAE, although not as rare in the mountains of the Northern Emirates as is generally believed. It prefers semi­desert areas, including hill ranges, the lower slopes of mountains and broken rocky plains. Their prey consists of mammals, ranging from mice to gazelles, birds and occasionally reptiles."
"Dhab or the spiny-tailed Agamas are a kind of lizards living in burrows that they excavate in gravel plains and scrubby deserts. Burrow entrances can be identified as semicircular opening with scattered droppings in the vicinity. Adults are mainly herbivorous but eat insects, while juveniles consume a much greater proportion of insect prey," she noted.

Swine flu-free certificates not required, says MoH

The Gulf Today, 29 July 2009

The UAE Ministry of Health (MoH) has denied reports that appeared in a UAE English daily (Not The Gulf Today) that resident expatriates who had gone for vacation abroad should produce a swine flu-free medical certificate upon returning to the country.
The State news agency WAM has released the ministry's denial which stated that the National Supervisory Committee for Combating Swine Flu (H1N1 virus) had not issued any decision demanding a medical clearance certificate, from the resident expatriates who went outside the country, to prove that they are not infected with H1N1 virus before entering the country.
The news report published on Tuesday in the newspaper had said that the decree will be implemented from August. Attributed to a source from the National Committee for Combating Swine Flu, the newspaper said that instructions had been given to the entire airports, seaports and other entry points in land borders in the country, to quarantine suspected H1N1 infected patients upon their arrival.
Meanwhile, Dr Ali bin Shuker, Director of the Ministry and Chairman of the Technical Health Committee for Combating Swine Flu has emphasised that the news about the issue is “completely untrue.”
He said: “The National Supervisory Committee for Combating Swine Flu is chaired by the Health Minister Dr Hanif Hassan, and in fighting the H1N1 virus in the UAE, the body is committed to implement the standards outlined by the World Health Organisation (WHO)”.
“The swine flu combating committee has not issued any resolution demanding resident expatriates to prove that they are not infected with H1N1 virus by producing a medical clearance certificate upon their return to the UAE after vacation abroad,” he added.
The newspaper had quoted the source as saying that anyone with symptoms of swine flu trying to enter the country without the specific medical certificate would be prohibited from getting access to the country. Any company or establishment can take actions against a worker who conceals an infection intentionally. The company would have the right to cancel his sponsorship.
Dr Ali bin Shuker also denied findings of the newspaper that the committee to combat swine flu had also taken decisions to provide all shopping malls in the country with thermal scanners to detect people with high fever, before quarantining them.
“The committee had not at all taken such a resolution to install thermal scanners at shopping centres in the country. The idea was not even included on the agenda of the two committees,” affirmed the top health official.
Meanwhile, he noted, the competent authorities are currently determined to launch a public awareness campaign to be worked out in cooperation with other government authorities such as the ministries of education and higher education and the General Authority for Islamic Affairs and Endowment.
“The national supervisory committee for combating swine flu has been handling H1N1 infected cases with transparency and clarity aimed at providing maximum safety for the health of the public,” stressed Dr Shuker.
According to him, the committee keeps the public opinion updated with the latest developments on H1NI issues through its weekly update issued every Monday.
“The committee also provides information through interviews of its officials on TV and Radio channels or other media outlets,” he added.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Register for eco card, industries told

The Gulf Today, 9 July 2009

THE UAE Ministry of Environment and Water (MOEW) has urged all industrial establishments in the country to register their activities with the authority in order to obtain Environmental Performance Card (EPC) which will be granted by the ministry this year.
The MOEW strongly recommends all types of industrial operators to register for EPC, as the sustainable environmental strategy of the UAE requires industrial sectors to comply with the requirements stipulated in the federal environmental law for the protection and the development of the environment and its regulations, said a senior MOEW official.
Yahya Ramadan Al Balushi, senior environmental researcher and EPC project manager at the MOEW, told The Gulf Today in an exclusive interview that the Environmental Performance Card is a part of overall environmental management system (EMS) and it has been developed to address various environmental issues happening in the industrial sector.
“The EPC guidelines have been issued to encourage establishments of various industrial operations to obtain the EPC certificate, which will help them reach the desired environmental compliance goals on local, regional and international levels,” he added.
According to him, the EPC is provided upon a set of requirements formulated by the ministry. The industrial establishments should obtain environmental permit from the competent authority, including the submission of a comprehensive study on the environmental impact assessment (EIA) in accordance with article 4 of the federal law.
Evaluation process
“The EPC evaluation is based on the geographical location of the facility, as well as the existing services and infrastructures. The establishments should provide a summary of the industrial processes and technologies used, including technical detailed plans and layouts of process stages,” Balushi said.
He noted that the information should include a flow sheet diagram, showing inlets of raw materials and outlets of main products and sub-products as well as wastes generation, liquid discharges and air emissions.
“The environmental performance card will help identify and assess significant environmental risks associated with industrial operations and minimise and prevent their impacts on working and public environment,” he added.
Balushi pointed out: “With the EPC, industries can manage their operations effectively and educate themselves towards the protection of the environment. By implementing the best available and cost-effective control mechanisms and procedures supported by sophisticated technologies, the EPC can prevent pollution efficiently.”
“The EPC criteria suggest industrial operators to publish their environmental policies internally and make employees aware of the policies, besides communicating with the environmental authority concerned. They also will have to measure their green performance through regular environmental audits and assessments of compliance with the eco policies, which are relevant to the environmental legislations and requirements,” he explained.
“To obtain the green performance certificate, the operators should also train their employee in health, safety and environment (HSE) issues and allocate an environmental officer, who is able to coordinate with concerned environmental authorities. The HSE and self-inspection comprehensive manuals should be established to prevent environmental risk impacts in the occupational environment,” noted the EPC project manager.
“Air quality monitoring programme should be carried out in working environment, as well as monitoring system for air pollutants emitted from stationary sources.
Green strategies
Also among the criteria, development of environmental health risk impact strategy with periodic monitoring of different types of pollutants in working environment and implementing biological monitoring system for the employees,” he added.
According to Balushi, integrated waste management programme for waste minimisation, recycling and treatment and ultimate disposal should also be developed.
The sustainability of machineries and equipments should be safeguarded to improve efficiency of industrial processes.
“Fire prevention, adaptation of environmental contingency plan and application of clean production concepts are also must for environmental certificate, in addition to providing with adequate exposure assessment and hazard identification for chemical substances in workplace,” he highlighted.
“The industrial operator shall also meet the requirements demonstrated in the questionnaire designed for preparing Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) report for industrial facility, in accordance with article 5 and 97 of the Federal law,” he said.
The registration form and EPC guidelines are available on the web portal of the ministry

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Water, power disconnected from erring villas


The Gulf Today, 27 Oct 2008

DUBAI Municipality (DM) started disconnecting electricity and water in the violating villas, as the one month deadline for multiple families staying in villas has come to an end last Friday.
Omar Mohammed AbdulRahman, Head of Building Inspection Section in DM Buildings Department, said: “No more deadlines would be given to the residents of these villas as we have given ample time for them to vacate. Those who violate the Municipality deadline will face strict action that amounts to fines, which may go up to Dhs50,000, The fines may not be restricted to villa owners. The tenants who refuse to comply with our regulations will also face fines,”
“After conducting inspections we had given notices to the families staying in villas telling them only one family can stay in a villa. As per the notices, Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa) will now be cutting water and electricity connection as the notice period has come to an end,” he added.
Dismissing the news about allowing close relatives to stay in one villa, AbdulRahman said that no cousins or other people will come under the definition of the family. “A family means father, mother and children. We have certain regulations and those who violate them will face action,” he said.
“Our inspectors have already conducted inspections in different areas and found that there are violations. Now inspections are all over, it is action. All partitions made without Municipality permission should be removed. No extra rooms or bathrooms. No structure constructed without permission would be allowed to continue. All of them should be demolished now,” Abdul Rahman said.
“We had started the campaign against bachelors staying in family residential areas in 2005. As part of that campaign we had issued warnings that many families staying in one residential unit after making alterations inside the building illegally would not be allowed. It is against the rules and regulations regarding building safety as well as the social and urban planning norms,” he said.
“Service amenities like water, electricity and sewage are provided according to the affection plan of the buildings. When the residential unit is used by more families against the plan it becomes difficult to manage resulting in the accumulation of waste, affecting public safety and environment,” said Abdul Rahman.
“DM had notified the building owners and real estate companies not to rent out these premises to bachelors and to allow only one family to stay in a single residential unit. We had also informed them that all services would be disconnected and the future transactions with them would be stopped,” he said.
Regarding flats, he said there is a Municipality regulation on the number of people who can stay in a residential unit. “If anybody complains about huge number of families staying in a small area in a single flat creating social problem for neighbours, the DM will conduct inspections and take necessary actions,” said Abdul Rahman.
So far, we have not started any campaign against flats being shared by families. There are rules and regulations regarding environment and public safety in flats. Partitions are not allowed without the Municipality permission.

Keen on green, Dubai sets ball rolling

The Gulf Today, 27 Oct 2008
THE curtain for the two-day-long Green Dubai World Forum 2008 fell on Saturday, ensuring Dubai’s commitment to establish itself as a leader in global issues with direct impact on the future of humanity.
The global summit has evoked a serious debate on global environmental issues with particular emphasis on the impact of climate change and global warming issues in the Middle East.
Creating dialogues on the significance of turning Dubai’s construction scene into green, the forum discussed the inevitability of focus on sustainability and renewable energy.
On the first day of the forum, Nobel Prize laureate and former South African president FW Klerk said, “The greatest obstacle in implementing a renewable energy system is not technology or money but lack of public awareness. Forward looking thinkers should inspire citizens and their political and scientific leaders about the incredible potential of renewable energy resources.”
Acting Director General Dubai Municipality’ Engineer Hussain Nasser Lootah delivered the opening speech at the forum. He said, “To attain the a sustainable environment in future, a balance between increase in energy supply and decrease in CO2 emissions should be practiced through synergetic, substantial and sustained efforts from policy makers, scientists and the private sector.”
Dubai World Chairman Sultan Bin Sulayem announced the installment of the Middle East’s largest photo-voltaic manufacturing facility will be installed in Dubai’s Technopark.
“A 130-mega watt manufacturing plant will be set up as part of the first phase of the project, which will be operational by the end of 2010,” he said.
“The potential of solar source is unbelievable, as the energy from sunlight striking the earth for 40 minutes is equivalent to the global energy consumption for a whole year,” added Dilip Rahulan, chairman of Solar Technologies.
Hussain Nasser Lootah told, “Dubai has a key role in securing a sustainable future. The world cannot choose between development and environment, as we need the both. We should focus on educating the society, changing people’s habits, construction of environ-friendly buildings, developing new technologies, making the economies more energy efficient and investing in sustainable and renewable energy sources.”
“The world is facing serious energy dilemma. Increased use of fossil energy is the main reason why global greenhouse gas emissions have increased so much over the last decades. On the other hand, increased energy use is also one of the main reasons why global welfare has increased so much. The increase of global energy use has helped to bring hundreds of millions of people out of poverty,” he added.
Lootah said that under the leadership of Vice-President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Government of Dubai has put the environmental issues at the forefront of its polices as His Highness has approved Dubai’s Environment Plan as part of Dubai’s Strategic Plan for 2015.
“As part of Dubai’s Environmental Plan, Dubai Municipality and Dubai Electricity and Water Authority are putting together new Green Building regulations aimed at conserving resources and improving the quality of life for the emirate’s residents,” he added.
On the second day, Assistant Director of Planning and Engineering in the Dubai Municipality said, “As a major green initiative, a first-of-it-kind energy plant project in the region is on the anvil in Dubai. Two plasma technology enabled energy plants, intended for producing power from waste will be operational in Jebel Ali and Al Aweer areas by the next year. The waste will be gasified by using electric-plasma torches and the gas will be transferred to produce electricity.”
“A manual with guidelines with green building regulations for energy and conservation water will be issued by the Municipality to ensure sustainability of environment in Dubai. In conjunction with the standards, all buildings in the emirate will be certified gold, platinum and silver ratings by 2009. We are planning to turn all building s in Dubai eco-friendly and energy efficient within the next five to ten years,” he pointed out.
Director of the Climate System Research Centre and professor at the University of Massachusetts Raymond SBradley stated, “To avoid damage due to climate change and rising sea levels, serious re-inforcement measures should be applied around Dubai’s coastline. Sustainable agriculture had been left out of the sustainability discussions going on in the UAE. So, effective infrastructures are needed to get rid of disasters and catastrophe.”
Christopher O’ Donnell, CEO of Nakheel, delivered the keynote address in the second session on Saturday.
Environmental entrepreneur Paul Hawken and Jerry Yudelson, leading green building expert in the United States and founder and principal at Yudelson Associates, a consultancy based in Tucson-Arizona were also participated in the forum.
The Green Dubai World forum will continue as an annual event, a spokesperson informed.

National level action sought to tackle water woes

28 Oct 2008, The Gulf Today

THE scarcity of hygienic water is going to be the most severe global issue in future, especially in the Middle East, if national level programmes are not initiated to find solutions for water depletion and to preserve resources, a United Nations environment official warned.
“The responsibility to conserve water resources and maintain its quality should be taken national level. The UAE can also address its water scarcity and depletion issues and ensure the availability of quality and clean water, through national level initiatives,” said Dr Richard Robarts, director of the Global Environment Monitoring System-GEMS, an initiative of the UN Environment Programme.
Being the co-ordinator of water database development in more than 100 countries, Dr Richard Robarts spoke to The Gulf Today on the sidelines of ‘Water for Africa’ campaign, launched by Oasis potable water company in conjunction with UNEP GEMS programme.
He highlighted the global crisis in due to the scarcity of pure potable water, and pointed out the crisis could be harshly affected countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Jordan, Palestine and so on. The UAE is the third largest consumer of Water in the world, preceded by US and Canada.
He said, “70 per cent of the world’s water resources of the earth have been consumed for agricultural purposes. We have to learn to live. The life on the planet has an intrinsic reliance on water, as it’s the earth’s most vital natural resource.”
Water has a fundamental bearing on health and survival of human, animal and plant life across the globe. But levels of water scarcity and the depletion of water sources around the world are growing at an alarming rate.”
“The UN cites that almost half of the world’s population faces scarcity of water and nearly one billion people today lack safe sources of drinking water. The lack of safe water and sanitation is the world’s single largest cause of illness. In 2002, about 42 per cent of households had no toilets, and one in six people had no access to safe water,” he added.
According to Dr Robarts millions of babies, children and adults go daily without pure drinking water in Africa, especially in Sub-Saharan countries. They account for more than a third of those without improved drinking water supplies. Around 4,500 children have been reported dying each day from unsafe water and lack of basic sanitation facilities.
“To alleviate the water crisis and to prevent a humanitarian disaster across the African continent, UNEP GEMS programme co-ordinate foreign aid, investment and initiatives of governments, NGOs and corporate sector,” he urged.
Dr Robarts said, “The UN’s GEMS Water Programme is to gather support to ensure that sustainable sources of clean water are available to all citizens of the world, now and for the future. The effort to monitor and facilitates the discovery of available water sources that are hygienic and suitable for human consumption, emphasises the need to preserve natural supplies. The programme also aims at making global water quality information available to all after measure it.
Oasis Water of National Food Product Company conducts the water for Africa campaign as part of providing pure and potable water to poor people in the continent. The programme began on Oct. 15 and will run for a period of eight weeks seeking support of the UAE residents.
“We aim to be a part giving access to clean and life-saving potable water to the people in the most deprived African regions and which is expected to impact and touch the lives of many Africans. An equivalent amount for the sale of drinking water during this two months period will be contributed to people who are in need of pure potable water in Africa,” Emily Billotti of NFPC.

Let’s live a green life

The Gulf Today, 30 Oct 2008
LIVING your life without compromising the lives of others in the present or the future generations can be called ‘green living’, said Kim Hudson, an environmental education consultant based in United Kingdom.
“Inspiring children to lead green life is trying to make them aware of what is happening in rest of the world and their impact on it,” Hudson was speaking to The Gulf Today on the sidelines of Emirates Environmental Group’s eighth ‘Tomorrow’s Environmentalists’ workshop for students.
She added: “The fundamental principle of sustainable schools is motivating everyone within a school either through the curriculum or campaigns and everyday living working together to be more sustainable.”
Dedicated to the issue of sustainable lifestyles and the impact of ecological footprint, the three-day environmental workshop, organised for three levels of the student community from the age group of 10 to 18 years, has brought together about 450 students from 90 schools across the UAE, said a spokesperson of EEG.
“Students presentations in the form of art, poetry, posters and slogans showcased their creativity and learning in a unique blend. Certificates were distributed to the students who participated in the workshops, along with a multi-media presentation to each participating school in order to facilitate environmental assignments and programmes within their academic institutions,” added Sabeeha, an EEG official.
Habiba Al Marashi, chairperson of EEG said, “The students workshop brought together students from different schools to learn about important educational topics, challenging the young minds to recommend solutions for it.”
“The programme aimed at building capacity for environmental pro-action, promote interaction and strengthen the efforts for sustainable development in the UAE. The education for sustainable development will help students to adopt behaviours and practices to live a full life without being deprived of the basics,” she added.

Organic Farming in the UAE Set to Double in 2008, Potential for Natural food Products on the Rise

The Gulf Today, 2 Nov 2008
In the backdrop of the increasing support and encouragement from the UAE government agencies in promoting organic agriculture, agriculture experts today said that area under organic cultivation in the emirates is set to double this year.
They said that the focus on organic farms have come at a time when the market for organic and natural food products have started picking up in the UAE as well as the region.
According to global data, Middle East is considered to be the fastest growing market for natural and organic foods. As per the current estimate, the global market for these alternatives to conventional food is to the tune of US$220 billion, while the Asian market, including the Middle East is estimated to be at over US$500 million.
“The pace of growth in the uptake of organic and natural food products is catching up at a rapid pace in the region in line with the global growth of 20-25 per cent a year, said Eng. Nadim Al Fuqaha, Managing Director, Global Links, organisers of the sixth edition of the Middle East Natural and Organic Products Expo (MENOPE 2008).
‘With production and sales of natural & organic products in Saudi Arabia, UAE and Oman increasing, there are 3,000 outlets displaying these natural and alternative products across the region including pharmacists’ and health related networks. The Government of UAE is also encouraging the practice of organic farming for environment conservation, along with the instigation of alternative medicine and treatments,’ Eng. Nadim added.
The show is supported by the UAE Ministry of Environment and Water as well as the Ministry of Health.
He said organic farming is catching up in the region with the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Oman leading the Gulf countries which are keen to generate food resources internally.
Eng. Al Fuqah said there are over 100 companies taking part in the show and there is significant participation from agriculture entities under the government of Saudi Arabia.
MENOPE 2008 will run at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre (DICEC) from November 16-18 2008.
‘The expo has been able to generate considerable interest with the regional market for organic and natural products expanding at a rapid pace. In the last few years, the governments in the region, particularly the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Oman, have taken various proactive steps to support the market, including encouraging organic farming,” he said.
‘The rising interest and market expansion for organic and natural products in the Middle East is highlighted in the participation of over 25 companies from the region, including the UAE,’ Eng. Nadim said.
MENOPE 2008 this year is a bigger show with the merger of Arab Naturals Expo & Conferences, offering a large regional platform for the organic industry and to fuel the growth of global organic movement in collaboration with all the international community.
Internationally, the exhibition is supported by the International Federation of Organic and Agricultural Movements (IFOAM), Korea Health Supplement Association (KHSA) etc.
The expo will showcase a variety of products spanning Herbals and Spices, Foods & Beverages, Cereal Products, Supplements, Health Care products, Natural Living, Natural Cosmetics, Healing Products, Natural remedies, Traditional Medicines, Spas, Relaxation facilities, Pet products, Fabrics etc.

‘Eco-friendly properties save energy’

The Gulf Today, 31 Oct 2008
Compared to traditional buildings, the environment friendly green buildings can save a great amount of energy and water, said a Dubai Municipality official.
As the concept of green buildings incorporates reusable or recyclable products and materials, it can help reduce the consumption of energy and water by twenty percent, pointed out Eng. Hisham Ahmed Salah Bukhari, an environment activist and official at DM’s drainage and irrigation department.
“The regulations for green building projects have strictly drawn instructions to use locally made products and materials, as much as possible. The use of local products can ensure their source, so we can control the environmental impacts of the products. The green building also reduces building related illnesses,” Bukhari added.
He continued, “The LEED (Leadership in Environmental Excellence Design) certification is based on a set of rules for the green building. The regulations are designed by the Green Building Council (GBC), and each participating country develops its own LEED standards, which are reviewed and approved by the World Green Council (WGBC). Obviously the regulations are applicable in some countries, and will not be valid in other countries.”
Bukhari noted that the focus for a sustainable environment should be based on conservation of water, electricity, fuel and waste, as the four issues are inter-linked.
The conservation of water will lessen the fuel consumption in the desalination plant, which in turn lessens pollution from the burning fuel. The process again lessens the waste products from the desalination plant that are thrown back into the sea.

Green School Concept Unveiled

The Gulf Today, 30 Oct 2008
The green school concept for the UAE has been unveiled at the ‘Tomorrow’s Environmentalists’ workshop for students conducted by Emirates Environmental Group at Rashid School for Boys in Dubai.
The concept was presented by Dr Sadrudhin Damji, director of academic development with Taaleem innovative educational group. The green school concept of ‘learning it by living it’ was focused on providing an educational forum in three main areas, which includes green school principles, the curriculum and daily green practices.
Dr Damji revealed, “The LEED certification criterion is now to be extended to education field, and Taaleem will build the first school to achieve the LEED certification in Dubai and in Behrain. The benefits of achieving LEED are verified performance, lower operating cost, enhanced productivity and greater awareness through curriculum and practice.”
“The initiative will have plans in re-treating sewage water from schools and using insulated pool covers to reduce energy loss and water evaporation. A set of green school principles have been designed as part of the drive, which include integrate school community with its natural environment, adopt sustainable practices, contribute to natural eco-system, use renewable energy and reduce waste,” he added.
Dr Dimji pointed out that the green school goal to be achieved is the ecological literacy, which makes the children to keep environmental ethics and the significance of contributing to society.
The concept aims at developing energy smart schools with network of people who can share experiences using solar energy in schools, with creative contributions of students.

Education of children of evicted families in soup

The Gulf Today, 4 Nov 2008
A UAE-based welfare organisation has urged the government of India to support expatriate families who are affected by the “One Villa One Family” regulations now in force in the UAE.
The Pravasi Bandhu Welfare Trust, a Sharjah-based social welfare association, has written the letter to Indian minister of overseas affairs Vayalar Ravi on the issue.
The letter urges the Indian authorities to lend a helping hand to school-going children, some of whom are forced to go back to India during mid-term of the current academic year, after being evicted from sharing villas.
KV Shamsudheen, chairman of Pravasi Bandhu told The Gulf Today that the efforts of the welfare organisation are to find solutions to hurdles faced by low and middle-income Indian expatriate families living in the UAE.
“As a large number of such families are being forced to return home after getting eviction notice from multi-family sharing villas in the suburbs of the emirate, problems emerge for the school-going children of the families,” he said.
“Many parents are afraid of their children missing a full academic year, which will affect their future. As the number of children could be huge, we request the Indian authorities to issue special orders to facilitate school admissions back home,” he added.
“Due to the shifting of Indian families from the UAE to India, the home-returning children will create heavy admission traffic in schools there. So, Pravasi Bandhu Welfare Trust appealed to the Indian government to give priority for school admission to all children coming from the UAE,” Shamsudheen pointed out.
“The situation of high rent and unaffordable living cost compel most of the Indians expatriates to live in shared accommodations, even though they want to live comfortably. Those who got expulsion notice are struggling to get independent accommodation which is not at all an easy task,” he added.
The letter to the Indian authorities said, “The families who have to vacate their homes on account of the One Family in Villa regulations are in search of affordable homes in other emirates such as Sharjah, Ajman and Umm Al Quwain, and many are having difficulties finding one.”
“Some of the evicted tenants are at the mercy of friends or relatives in temporary accommodation and others cannot get settled anywhere. There are many cases where families cannot send their children to school because they keep moving from place to place.”
The families living in shared accommodation pay Dhs3,000 to Dhs4,000 per month, where as the places they are staying in now require many times this rent. They are left with little choice but to borrow money, and indebtedness is spreading among expatriates in the UAE, leading to social problems,” the correspondence continued.
The letter was also copied to the Indian Ambassador in Abu Dhabi, Indian Consulate in Dubai, and chairperson of ruling front United Progressive Alliance Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi MP and LK Advani.

Dubai Mall comes into being

The Gulf Today, 5 Nov 2008
Adding yet another chapter in the book of Dubai’s world records, a synthesis of world’s first-of-its-kind shopping and leisure extravaganza has been unveiled on Tuesday.
A shopping destination has been created, which is among the elite malls of the world. Dubai Mall has been opened for public on Nov.4, showcasing about 600 retailers, making it a shopping and leisure destination with the world’s largest number of retailers in the history of malls.
The mall boasts with an array of charms and leisure offerings like the Dubai Aquarium and Discovery Centre, which has already been in the global spotlight having clinched the Guinness World Record for the “World’s Largest Acrylic Panel”.
The Dubai Mall is positioned as the premier lifestyle destination that revolutionises shopping experiences globally. About 30 per cent of total area of the Mall has been dedicated to new brands to Dubai and flagship stores in one of the world’s largest lifestyle, entertainment and shopping destinations, said Jim Badour, CEO Emaar Malls Group.
He added, “A sprawling Gold Souk, the Olympic-sized Dubai Ice Rink and the multimedia-rich Fashion Catwalk atrium are also the distinctive lifestyle attractions of Dubai Mall, which stages the Middle East debut of global retail brands such as Waitrose and Hamleys.”
The mall is centrally located in the Downtown Burj Dubai development, and visitors and shoppers can reach the location via multiple access roads from Sheikh Zayed Road.
“The Dubai Mall will address the world-class shopping needs of a population of over 2 billion people in the catchment markets of the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Europe,” said Mohamed Ali Alabbar, Chairman Emaar Properties.
He added, “Creating robust business opportunities for retail enterprises from around the world, Dubai Mall embodies as an affirmation of the strong economic fundamentals of the Dubai economy. The Dubai Strategic Plan envisages an annual GDP growth of 11 per cent and correspondingly a rise in per capita income.”
“The Plan also aims to reach an annual target of attracting 15 million tourists by 2015. This in turn translates to greater purchasing power and a demand for world-class retailing. The Dubai Mall is a response to that demand and will be the choice retail and leisure destination regionally and a magnet for tourists across the globe,” Jabber pointed out.
When fully operational, the Dubai Mall will have over 1,200 stores of which nearly 165 retailers, equaling 1.1 million sq ft, or 30 per cent of the total gross leasable area of the mall. These aspects are new to the region and the standalone or flagship stores are opened for the very first time in Dubai, revealed the spokesperson.
The retail mix includes two anchor department stores, Galeries Lafayette and Bloomingdale’s, both opening their first store in the Middle East. Also operational are 220 gold and jewellery outlets, 160 food and beverage outlets including Dubai’s largest food court with 40 outlets; a supermarket and an organic food mart.
Yousif Al Ali, Dubai Mall GM told, “We are readily positioned to cater for the key retail, tourist and festive periods marked by the UAE National Day, Eid Al Adha, New Year and the Dubai Shopping Festival.”
He added, “Dubai Aquarium and Discovery Centre features with over 33,000 aquatic animals including sharks and rays, while the discovery centre is an educational window to marine life’s myriad attractions. The Gold Souk with 220 retailers is designed to reflect traditional Arab architectural ethos, and is a celebration of Dubai’s regional hub status in gold and jewellery trade.”

Experts to discuss effects of air pollution

THE Gulf Today, 5 Nov 2008
THE sources and health effects of air pollution will be discussed at length by global experts at a conference to be organised by the Environmental Centre for Arab Towns (ECAT) during next week.
The conference titled, “EnviroCities 2008 International Conference–Sources and Health Effects of Air Pollution: Knowledge to Practice.” will be held under the patronage of Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, Minister of Finance and Chairman of Dubai Municipality, on Nov.11-13, at Al Bustan Rotana Hotel, Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
This was announced by Engineer Hussain Nasser Lootah, acting director general of Dubai Municipality, Dr Radhiya Al Hashimi, director of Environmental Centre for Arab Towns and Yoshinori Yasumoto, director of Sales for Middle East, Sharp.
Lootah said that the impact of human activity on the environment takes numerous forms, many of which are well publicised. In recent years, environmental degradation has become one of the increasing concerns. Two factors account for this evolution: consumption of resources and the production of waste, whether it is solid, liquid or gaseous.
“Dubai Government not only cares about the health effects of the environmental issues we face today, but it has taken a step further to help the people and the policy-makers alike to know more about the causes and effects of air pollution and the possible steps we all can take together as responsible citizens and governments,” he said.
Dr Radhiya Al Hashimi said the Environmental Centre for Arab Towns has joined hands with the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) to bring together a panel of the best environmental and health experts from all over the world to share with us their life-time experience on the health effects of air pollutants.
The panel of international experts will include speakers like Dr Bryan J Hubell, senior advisor for Science and Policy Analysis at the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Dr Douglas Dockery, chairman, Department of Environmental Health at HSPH, Michael Walsh, chairman, Board of Directors of the International Council on Clean Transportation, Dr Robert Devlin, senior scientist at the National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory at the US EPA and Dr Nino Kunzli, ICREA Research professor Barcelona, Spain.
To add the benefit of regional knowledge to the international experience, Arabian speakers like Dr Walid S. Bouhamra, professor Chemical Engineering Department, Kuwait University, Dr Farid Chaaban, dean College of Engineering, Dhofar University Oman, Dr Najat Saliba, associate professor, Department of Chemistry, The American University of Beirut, Redha Salman, director of Public Health and Safety Department at Dubai Municipality, will also share their studies with the conference delegates.

‘Erring tanker drivers to face music’

The Gulf Today, 6 Nov 2008
OVER 75 tanker drivers have been captured by inspectors, since the issue of the illegal dumping of raw sewages in public areas or sea water has been emerged in the emirate, informed Dubai Municipality (DM) officials.
The law violating drivers will face deportation, if they were found repeatedly emptying raw sewage in open areas or released into Dubai’s shoreline, said Hussain Nasser Lootah, acting director general at DM.
“Sewage water management companies would be asked strictly to take stringent actions against their truck drivers who break the rules dumping sewage in anywhere in Dubai, outside the Aweer sewage treatment plant,” he added.
Lootah pointed out that the authorities will demand the company to expel its driver from the country, if he is caught repeating the violation of the law for a second time.
He continued: “More than 75 tanker drivers have been caught so far by DM special investigators since the offence of concerned regulations has been increased recently. Strict actions will impose against the offending companies, as the captured trucks are now in custody at DM’s backyard.”
Stern action against these law-breakers include hefty fines that can go up to Dhs100,000 and permanent cancellation of the vehicle license as stipulated in Local Order No.11 of 2003.
Many drivers empty waste water tankers in open areas, desert or through the storm water networks in Al Qouz, Al Barsha and Nad Al Sheba that are designed to carry pure rain water to the sea. Drivers illegally dump sewage to avoid long and serpentine queues waiting 12 to 16 hours for their turn at the Aweer Sewage Treatment Plant.
The DM inspectors keep a close watch on those law-breakers who mainly empty the tankers between 12 and 5am daily so as to avoid detection. The particular department had observed that on an average of 4 to 5 tankers are carrying out this illegal activity daily which represent just one per cent of the total sewage tankers in the city.
The action of offending truck drivers ultimately results in the pollution of sea water and affects the health of swimmers and beach-goers. The sewage dumped into Dubai’s shoreline had damaged waters in the surrounding area of Dubai Offshore Sailing Club, posing serious health hazards to those who contact the contaminated water.
Dubai Offshore Sailing Club is situated adjacent to Jumeirah open beach, where with thick and blackened water was floating all around. The effluent dumped into storm drain nearby the area has polluted waters and as well as sand surrounding the sailing club.

Buildings in Dubai to have green roofs

The Gulf Today, 6 Nov 2008

ALL BUILDINGS of Dubai will have natural plants in an effort to reduce carbon emission in the emirate, informed Dubai Municipality (DM) officials.
The project will protect the environment, reducing the heat level and cleansing the air from other pollutants.
The authorities plan to green the heads of buildings with plants, initiating “Green Roof” project, which is aimed at enhancing indoor environments and air of the city. The drive will also help to boost the health of the society and increase life expectancy of the buildings through protecting the eco system.
Hussain Nasser Lootah, acting director general of DM, said: the Municipality has launched the initiative in line with the law on the application of green building specifications in Dubai. It will be officially issued in mid-December under the directives of the UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
He added: “The drive will be applied on the roofs of the Municipality buildings to gauge its positive impacts on them. Our target is to transform the roofs of all buildings and houses in Dubai to cultivated space, where the water dropped out of air-conditioners should be used for irrigation of plants.”
He pointed out, “The project comes as an implementation and follow up of the Green Buildings project, catering to the huge urban expansion witnessed by the city of Dubai, which enhancing the heat level of the region. Green roofs are considered to be one of the environment friendly solutions taken up by DM to face the project expansions.”
The DM has conducted studies to confirm the success of the project in other countries. Suitable plants have also been chosen in addition to beautiful designs for the project, coordinating with the public parks and horticulture department.
Lootah continued: “The DM will issue a special booklet with guidelines to Dubai residents in order to implement the project. A consultative study, as part of the Green Buildings la, has defined the per capita electricity and water consumption in the city. Residents will also be educated on the importance of economic consumption of electricity and water. In addition, building consultants will be directed to take into consideration the environment aspects while designing their buildings.”
He added: “DM has applied certain green building criteria related to the rationalised use of power, enhancing the indoor atmosphere of the building, defining the level of lighting.”
The Green Buildings project will be implemented in three phases, which starts this year, and continued with a mid-term plan-2009-2012 and long-term phases.

Clean-up drive gets set to roll

The Gulf Today, 7 Nov 2008
IN ORDER to feature natural and built environments of the country, Emirates Environment Group’s Clean-up UAE drive will take place on Dec. 18 mobilising about 20,000 participants at different locations in seven Emirates, said EEG officials.
Habiba Al Marashi, chairperson of EEG said at a press conference to launch the initiative, “The seventh Clean-up the UAE campaign will represent both the natural and the built environment of the country. The Clean-up campaign is traditionally done on Dec.12 which falls on a Friday this year.”
“We aim at creating awareness among the community about local environmental issues with special emphasis on waste management, waste reduction and recycling. A blueprint for concerted environmental action will be made.”
She added: “It’s a national environmental campaign participated by families, schools, companies and government agencies. The participants are tasked to clean a certain area as a symbolic gesture of concern for the environment. EEG has selected particular areas which represent both the natural and built environments of the country, along with an environmental rally.”
“The methodology and preparations of the campaign will ensure high levels of health, safety and environmental protection. Steps are taken to ensure that the environmental footprint of the campaign itself is minimised to the extent possible, for instance, through use of fabric gloves and biodegradable plastic bags, managing the wastes generated during the activity,” she said.
The need for renewed environmental vigilance is felt now more than ever as the environment reels from many threats, like desertification, high solid waste production, waste and energy wastage, green house gas emissions further contributing to global warming.
“Beyond removing external wastes, we will also tackle the wastes generated by the campaign itself. Washable and reusable fabric gloves and biodegradable plastic bags are provided to the participants,” she said.
Marashi explained, “The clean-up drive will be staged at various locations like Wadis, deserts, mountain ranges, parks, industrial areas, protected areas, valleys and beaches. Efforts have been undertaken by participating agencies to pick the location while ensuring greater participation from the community. It will also feature activities that will make the entire event enjoyable and memorable for children.”
First aid and medical assistance are also arranged, with the support of local Police and Civil Defence units in every Emirate. We send out detailed instructions to participants before the event on safety measures and precautions. Parking areas for vehicles are chosen to ensure that the clean up site is safe from traffic movements, especially for the big number of students and other children that take part in the drive.
Environment and Protected Areas Authority of Sharjah, Friends of the Environment Society Abu Dhabi, Ras Al Khaimah Free Zone Authority, Municipality and Planning Department Ajman, Fujairah Municipality and Umm Al Quwain Municipality associate with EEG for the Clean-up the UAE campaign, which had been incepted in 2002.

‘Underwater wonderland’ draws crowds

The Gulf Today, 7 Nov 2008

Having clinched the Guinness record for the world’s largest acrylic viewing panel, Dubai Aquarium and Discovery Centre has been pulling thousands to Dubai Mall opened recently.

The aquarium brings the splendours of the marine world to the people of Dubai. Of course, it’s a terrific showcase of an enormous diversity of ocean-species – above 33,000 aquatic animals in due course, representing more than 85 species including sharks and stingrays.

Truly, it’s an underwater wonderland, with a 270-degree walkthrough tunnel that allows for some incredible close-encounter experiences to delight mall visitors. Dangerous Pirahna, giant catfish, playful Otters and water rats are just some of the animals you will meet.

The living ocean display showcases graceful sea jellies, tangled Moray Eels, and enchanting sea dragons. On the artificial rocky shore at the discover centre, you can visit a Humboldt Penguin colony and view a group of resting harbour seals, large crabs, ocean cucumbers and five-eyed star fishes. The ocean’s most venomous fish can be the most fascinating at the discovery centre.

“The largest aquarium in the world, created with a gigantic viewing panel, has surpassed the current Guinness record holder Churaumi Aquarium in Japan’s Okinawa. We are informed that it will be featured in the upcoming edition of the Guinness Book of World Records in 2010,” said Yousif Al Ali, General Manager at the Dubai Mall.

He added, “Setting history, the acrylic viewing panel of the Dubai Aquarium spans about 32.88 metre wide and 8.3 metre high. At 750 mm thick and weighing 245,614 kilogrammes, it’s strongly built to withstand the enormous pressure of 10 million litres of water used in the aquarium. But it’s transparent enough to give visitors clear views of the marine animals with different sizes and nature. Meanwhile, the Japan’s aquarium is measured about 22.5 metres wide, 8.2 metres high and 600 mm thick.”

“The viewing panel was commissioned under the supervision of Oceanis Australia Group, the world’s largest aquarium owner and operator.

The acrylic viewing panel has been specially designed offering larger-than life views of the sharks, rays and above 33,000 living animals on display. Above the aquarium is the interactive and educational Discovery Centre, taking the visitor through various aquatic environments,” he pointed out.

“We have adopted international standards of ethics and animal welfare policies in the development and operation of the aquarium and discovery centre. So, we will be operating it in line with international best practices of animal care and aquarium operation,” said Yousif Al Ali.

Adjudicator of Guinness World Records John Pilley had said, “Once again reiterating the can-do attitude of Dubai, the mall joined the illustrious list of world records with the largest acrylic panel, in addition to Dubai’s many other exciting achievements. This is a terrific Guinness World Record and exemplifies the dedication and passion that make some of our best records.”

District cooling system can reduce CO2 emissions

The Gulf Today, 9 Nov 2008
DISTRICT cooling system can reduce the annual carbon dioxide emissions by about one ton, for every ton of district cooling refrigeration demand served, claimed a district cooling service provider based in Dubai.
“The district cooling potential, which has been calculated with a total of 2.9 million tons of refrigeration demand by 2015, can reduce the emission of CO2 by about 2.8 million tons annually in the Middle East,” said Ahmad Bin Shafar, CEO of Empower (Emirates Central Cooling Corporation).
He added, “A recent industrial study has revealed that the total installed district cooling capacity in the Gulf region is expected to reach 9.6 million refrigeration tons (RT) by 2010 against 745,000 RT in 2005. The UAE alone is expected to account for more than four million tons RT by the year 2012.”
“The district cooling systems work on thermal energy from chilled water in a centralised cooling plant and are energy efficient, up to 50 per cent, which is significantly higher than the traditional forms of air conditioning technologies,” he said.
Ahmad was speaking on the sidelines of the launch of Empower health, safety and environment awards for best practices at project sites. The awards initiative is aimed at recognising potential practices in health, safety and particularly in environmental sustainability throughout the region.
He added, “Contractors and consultants working on project sites will be honoured through the award scheme for best practices in establishing, developing and implementing occupational health, safety and environment programmes.”
“Environmental issues are global in nature and environmental responsibility is integral to our operations. So, we are planning to improve the aspects of our HSE performance through getting our business partners and employees to participate in such an award,” he pointed out.
According to Ahmad, activities to reduce the impact of carbon emissions on the planet through more sustainable products and solutions are the significant things to be focused.
Emirates Central Cooling Corporation (Empower) is one of the leading district cooling service providers in the region and a joint venture between TECOM Investments and Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA).
“Empower had received four prestigious awards at the International district energy association’s (IDEA) 99th annual conference recently held in Florida, US,” he said.

Improper handling, main reason of food poisoing

The Gulf Today, 26 June 2009
About 97 per cent of the food poisoning cases occur as a result of improper food handling, according to a Dubai-based specialist doctor.
Dr Anil Awatramani, general practitioner at Unicare Medical Centre in Dubai said, "Among the food poisoning cases, 79 per cent happen from the food items prepared in commercial or institutional establishments, while 21 per cent of the cases are the result of the improperly cooked home food."
The major reason of contamination of food is carelessness in leaving prepared food at temperatures that allow bacterial growth.
"Bacteria are responsible for approximately 75 per cent of the outbreaks of food poisoning.Inadequate cooking, reheating, cross-contamination, and infection in food handlers are also the common reasons for a food to get poisoned," he added.
According to him, the cross-contamination of food may occur when raw contaminated food comes in contact with other foods, especially cooked foods, through direct contact or indirect contact on food preparation surfaces.
"Diseases due to food poisoning can be an infective or toxic nature thought to be caused by the consumption of contaminated food or water. Non-infectious and organic toxins may develop in mushrooms, fish, beans and heavy metals like arsenic, mercury and lead."
Dr Awatramani pointed out, "Most of the food poisoning cases are mild, but develop into fatal conditions if proper and specific treatments are not provided to the affected patient. In severe situations, the patients require hospitalisation for aggressive hydration, electrolyte supplementation and empiric treatment with antibiotics."
"The symptoms of food poisoning include abdominal pain, vomiting, Diarrhoea and headache, but they can vary in degree and combination. More serious cases can result in life-threatening neurological, hepatic and renal syndromes leading to permanent disability and death," he detailed.
The doctor advised to take measures to avoid bacterial contamination while preparing and keeping food items. The prevention of food poisoning should be taken at individual and community level, by maintaining good personal hygiene. Habits like washing hands frequently, especially after using the toilet, handling raw foods or cleaning soiled utensils surfaces or appliances.
"Clean and sanitised equipment and surfaces should be used for food preparation, as well as avoiding cross-contamination by preparing and storing raw and cooked foods separately. If any physical wounds and cuts have happened to those who prepare food, they should cover the wounds with waterproof dressings," said Dr Awatramani.
He noted that food items should be kept either hot above 600 Celsius temperature, or below 50 Celsius cold. If the food is kept properly, it should be reheated to 750 Celsius as quickly as possible. It's very important to check refrigerators or cool rooms and cold displays that whether they operate below 50 Celsius, and freezers below 180 Celsius. Overloading refrigerators, cool rooms, cold displays or freezers can also lead to contamination.
"Other food safety measures include avoiding preparation far in advance of service, dividing large portions of food into smaller portions to facilitate faster cooking, refrigerate foods within 30 minutes of preparation. We can kill the bacteria through proper cooking only," said Dr Awatramani.
"At industrial level, the prevention of food poisoning can be implemented only through improvement in food handling and preparation to prevent contamination during processing, transport and preparation. The authorities should focus on improved surveillance and regulation of the food industry, as well as better health education for the public to tackle outbreaks of food poisoning," he added.

Witness to history in the making

PANORAMA Magazine, 22 May 2009

If you want to have a glimpse of the UAE history in the past half a century, come to the house of photographs. It's the residence of Royal Photographer Noor Ali Rashid in Sharjah. Here you can grab tens of thousands of photographs... mixed, old and new, small and big-sized, kept in hundreds of boxes and cartons, spread across the hall, dining room, bedrooms, living rooms, corridors and the kitchen.
The penthouse of the UAE's royal lens-man is literally a museum of historical records. You take a tour through the photographs with the veteran photojournalist. He will guide you through the history of the country. The photographs are his proud possessions, for which he has devoted his entire life.
Noor Ali Rashid can narrate hundreds of great anecdotes, valuable to the new generation, who wants to do research on the great country's past. Its tradition, lifestyle, customs, the royal life, everything is aesthetically depicted. Expressing his dedication to the country and its leaders, Noor Ali's cameras had captured everything... the birth, growth and prosperity of the UAE. He is a rich source of information. He provides the complete visual history of the country. His photographs are a significant link between the past and present of the UAE, and between the people of the country and its leaders. He worked with integrity and honesty while recording the amazingly fast development of the country under its visionary leaders.
Maybe, only Noor Ali Rashid can boast of presenting such a vast visual record of the country, its leaders and their efforts towards building the nation before and after the formation of the federation.
He is the most celebrated media personality of the UAE, who enjoyed intimate rapport with the Father of the Nation Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan as well as with other Rulers and royal family members of all Emirates.
Noor Ali may be the UAE's only media professional who got opportunities to rub shoulders with hundreds of world leaders on their visits to the country and also when accompanying with the rulers during their foreign trips.
Amongst the photographs, spread on each nook and corner of the penthouse at the Mubarak Centre in Sharjah, one can notice personal photographs of Noor Ali with most of the Sheikhs and officials from the beginning of the formation of the country. He grabbed innumerable honours, awards, accolades and certificates from the rulers, government departments, community groups and many foreign countries for his unparalleled photographic contributions to the country.
Recognitions as Photographer of the Millennium and Photographer of the Year and Personality of the Year, invitation by Texas Governor Ricky Perry, honours from former Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, former Sudan President Jaffar Numeri and King Hassan II of Morocco, Pakistan leader Benazir Bhuto and India's Indira Gandhi are among the hundreds of honours received by this royal photographer.
"I lost many of my precious gifts, monuments, jewelleries and other valuables presented by the UAE rulers, and leaders of the countries where I visited," Noor regretfully recollects about a robbery happened at his home 20 years ago, while he was on a foreign trip.
"The most regretful thing is that many of my timeless pictures and films, that I had taken during the past 50 years, including the most important moments of the formation of the United Arab Emirates, had been damaged as thieves threw them into rain water. Many of them were signed by Sheikh Zayed," he added.
UAE's royal lens-man is celebrating his 80th birth birthday this year, and also marking 50 years of documenting the history of the UAE.
"It's my 80th birthday this year, but I am 80 years younger. I am still working with the blessings of God," said the royal photographer. Although age has exhausted him a bit, his love and enthusiasm for his chosen profession are still intact.
He advises the budding photographers of the UAE to be more competitive, as they seem to be more talented, and have been exposed to modern technological advancements and greater opportunities. Youngsters can stand out only when they take efforts to create innovative visions for their generation. A quality photograph is made by good composition illustrated with an action.
"In the earlier stage of my career, photography was highly expensive. Now it's so simple and easy with automatic cameras. Even a four-year old child can take pictures using his mobile camera. Moreover, sophisticated cameras can be seen in every room of a house, even in kitchen," Noor Ali said.
In order to honour the veteran photojournalist and recognise the budding photographers of the country, Zayed University has instituted a student photography award in his name. Apart from photography, Noor Ali has other credentials in his illustrious media career. He was the editor of a bilingual magazine titled Arabian Gulf Trade, as well as the foreign correspondent of Pakistan daily The Dawn.
"I was also the first correspondent and distributor of the Gulf's first English newspaper The Gulf Daily Times, published from Bahrain in 1950s. I am also the first individual who secured advertising and publishing license from Dubai Municipality. It was The Dubai Advertising and News Agency," Noor Ali remembers with a sense of accomplishment.

Charges against hospital refuted


The Gulf Today, 3 July 2009

The Dubai Health Authority (DHA) confirmed on Monday that neither negligence nor malpractice happened in the treatment of a patient at a private hospital in Dubai.
The family of the patient Maitha Obaid Al Baloushi had lodged a complaint with the DHA that her neurological condition aggravated after she was medically treated in the hospital.
The patient was later sent to Hannover in Germany for advance treatment.
"Following the complaint, the DHA formed an investigation committee consisting of neurologists and neurosurgeons as well as members from the Legal Affairs Department," said a spokesperson at DHA.
"In the physical absence of the patient, the special investigation committee requested a medical report from the doctors in Germany as a substitute to the examination," said the spokesperson.
The DHA said that the committee reviewed the entire medical records and the history of the patient, and interrogated the specialist doctor who provided treatment to the patient, as well as the hospital's director. They also interviewed the brother of Al-Baloushi, and evaluated the medical report submitted by the International Neuroscience Institute in Hannover, Germany.
The spokesperson said, "The investigation committee finally confirmed that there was no negligence or maltreatment in the patient's treatment, which was not below the international standards."
"The unfortunate impediments associated with this particular case was caused due to a rare complication that can occur in this type of procedure."

Director’s cut: No impediments to creativity in Iran

The Gulf Today, 17 Dec 2008

IRANIAN filmmakers enjoy a great deal of freedom of expression as majority of them rely on subjects which are closer to the lives of Iranian people, according to a prominent movie director from Iran.
“We are not facing restrictions or censorship from the authorities, as propagated by the media.
The movies focus on reality, our creations are very much received and appreciated by the audience in Iran itself,” said Majid Majidi, Iran’s only Oscar-nominated director.
He was speaking to the media on Tuesday as part of screening his latest venture Song of the Sparrow at Dubai International Film Festival (Diff 2008).
He pointed out: “Bringing out humanitarian problems are my interests, when I make films. I choose the socially relevant stories for my movies as in-depth analysis of humanity. I hope adopting this human approach will be exciting to the lovers of Iranian movies from other parts of the world too.”
Song of the Sparrow is a deeply humanistic story set among Iran’s underprivileged explores how capitalism and technology corrupts man. “Sparrow is a simple and lovely bird. Even if the bird looks small and weak, it’s strong within. It attracts attention, so I used the symbolism to convey a strong message of life. Sparrow survives by living and flying in different climates and situations,” said Majidi.
The movie has been nominated for about 11 awards, and has won at least five accolades at present.
When asked about the challenges and difficulties of filmmaking in Iran, he said: “Filmmaking is an art, as well as an industry. In that aspect, the crisis in producing a film is not only faced by the directors in Iran, but filmmakers in all over the face such challenges. In Iran, we do face a lack of sufficient financial source.”
“Otherwise, we enjoy a great freedom for expressing our ideas through our films. We don’t face any so-called restrictions or censorship from the authorities, as most of the Iranian directors focus on reality which is very close to the lives of people. And our creations are very much received and appreciated by the audience in Iran itself,” he added.
“I have three projects coming up. Presently I am working on a movie, which is related to India. The project, in association with Zee TV, is based on Kasmir. It’s not completed yet, as there are some security issues over there.”
Raza Naji, who played the protagonist in Song of the Sparrow was also present at the press conference. He said that he was totally dissolved in the character itself. “My character has been picked up from the real life and role has two phases in the film. In the first part of the film, the character is a generous personality, while in the second part he loses the good quality and changes his generous nature due to financial problems. But, at the end he comes to know about his mistakes and wish to retain his real qualities,” Naji added.
“Even though I didn’t relate to it completely, I adapted myself to the role. It’s very important to feel what the individual in the film is going through,” he said.