ABU DHABI, 20th August, 2017 (WAM) — The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi, EAD, has just released its annual report for 2016 in English and Arabic. The report includes an introduction from His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler’s Representative in Al Dhafra Region and Chairman of EAD, and highlights the agency’s efforts to protect and enhance air quality, groundwater, marine water quality, soil and the biodiversity of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.

One of the key achievements in 2016 was the issuance of a law on the crucial issue of groundwater use in Abu Dhabi. The law will assist EAD in managing demand and supply to preserve this resource for the future, as it is essential to the security, cultural heritage and environment of the UAE.

In addition, EAD’s well inventory project has made tremendous progress. Once complete, EAD will have a very comprehensive view of the status of groundwater reserves and abstraction rates from which the organisation can make informed policy decisions including a metering protocol.

In 2016, EAD participated in the UAE delegation that signed the Paris Climate Agreement at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. This is a key agreement that represents a major, unified step in the UAE’s efforts to curb global warming.

With regards to the declining state of fisheries stocks, EAD, in partnership with the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, MoCCaE, began a detailed census of current demersal fish stocks in the Arabian Gulf, with the aim of protecting them and encouraging the fastest possible return of the stocks to sustainable levels.

EAD also continued its pioneering programme to re-introduce the extinct-in-the-wild Scimitar-horned Oryx in the Sahelian grasslands of Chad, in collaboration with the Government of Chad. Twenty-five oryx were released into the wild in 2016 and, for the first time in 30 years, a calf was born. The animals released were part of a herd that consisted of individuals from the collection of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and a number of European and American institutions. They had been bred in EAD’s Delaija Wildlife Conservation Centre.

In his foreword to the report, Mohammed Al Bowardi, EAD’s Managing Director, said, “This year, EAD helped achieve several objectives listed in the Abu Dhabi Plan, which is an articulation of the leadership’s vision of sustainable development. For example, we identified 17 new marine and terrestrial protected areas, now awaiting official declaration. This means we have met our 2016 target of establishing 15.43 percent of land and 13.45 percent of the sea as a protected area.”

With regards to air quality and climate change mitigation, Al Bowardi added, “EAD, in collaboration with MoCCaE, published the second Greenhouse Gas Inventory. This comprehensive study not only identifies the principle sources of emissions, but also helps us to determine the relative impact of different policies on overall emissions. In our regulatory capacity, we will be working with key emitting industries to implement appropriate measures to curb emissions in the future.”

EAD successfully completed an inventory of mercury sources for Abu Dhabi in response to the United Nations Environment Programme, UNEP, ‘Minamata Convention’, making it the first in the region to do so. This has given it a baseline for the quantity of mercury in the environment and has helped raise both awareness and capacity in this field. The year also saw the development of new technical guidelines on soil quality based on international best practices. These are the first guidelines of their kind to be released in the region. While aimed at being particularly relevant to Abu Dhabi’s industrial and development activities, they can also be applied to residential and agricultural land.

In 2016, EAD also made several valuable upgrades to its Enviro-portal, which delivers high quality, timely and relevant data to decision-makers. The portal was launched for public use at enviroportal.ead.ae .

In addition, EAD continued to implement award-winning, globally recognised environmental education programmes, and in 2016, these were officially adopted by the MoCCaE and the Ministry of Education to be rolled out at the federal level.

The number of inspections EAD conducted of permit-holding industrial and commercial facilities increased during the year, and partly as a result of the increased visits, compliance has risen this year to 85 percent.

Highlighting some of EAD’s achievements, Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, EAD’s Secretary General, said, “In line with the Abu Dhabi Plan, we released our 2016-2020 Strategic Plan as a roadmap for the future. It covers the emirate’s current environmental status, as well as our own priorities, objectives and initiatives, with a focus on groundwater, air quality, climate change, waste, marine water quality, land quality, habitat loss and fisheries. The plan also sets out clear indicators of how we intend to monitor and measure performance.”

“In year one of our strategy, we have already attained several significant achievements including the launch of the Sustainable Fisheries Strategy with MoCCaE, which aims to ensure that the UAE’s fishery is utilised sustainably. We also aligned our marine water quality guidelines with international best practices,” Al Mubarak added.

On an organisational level, she said, “At the end of 2016, EAD passed stewardship of the emirate’s forests on to the Department of Municipal Affairs and Transport, and with this, our knowledge on optimising the efficiency of these natural resources and the ecosystem services that they provide. We have made significant strides in improving the irrigation efficiency of Abu Dhabi’s forests, decommissioning very low ecological and cultural value forests that are not viable. We also actively managed the composition and health of the 50,000 animals that live in Abu Dhabi’s forests.”

Al Mubarak also noted that EAD continued its drive to hire and retain qualified and experienced Emiratis and, by the end of 2016, they accounted for 70 percent of the workforce. Likewise, women were also empowered to fulfil their role in building EAD’s future with women currently occupying 41 percent of leadership positions, by the end of 2016. Operationally, EAD achieved ISO 22301 accreditation for preparedness to operate in the event of emergency and operating costs were also reduced by 13.3 percent year on year, she added.

“We will build upon 2016 successes, and work with partners and stakeholders with immense enthusiasm to making even greater strides to conserve our magnificent biodiversity and protect our environmental quality and actively contributing to realising the Abu Dhabi Plan,” Al Mubarak concluded.

The full report is available at the EAD web-site.

Emirati woman walks next day after surgery

Dubai: The University Hospital of Sharjah (UHS) successfully removed a tumour from the spine of a 40-year old Emirati woman who has fully recovered. Had the tumour not been operated Fatima (name changed for confidentiality) would have been confined to the wheelchair, said the hospital spokesman. The patient was walking the very next day of the surgery and was discharged two days later after full recovery.

The patient came to UHS with difficulty in walking and was complaining of back pain and numbness in her legs for which she had been prescribed pain killers by other doctors before. Dr Nitin Yogesh, consultant neurosurgeon and spine surgeon at UHS said: “I sensed the abnormality and ordered an MRI that revealed a large spinal tumour, involving nerves which allow the movement of her legs and control urine.”

Dr Yogesh added: “The tumour was located deep in her spinal cord and intermixed with the nerves and measured three-by-two centimetres. However, the tumour was located in the main, vital areas of the spine. Although the tumour was very small, it had the risk of catastrophic consequences.

Fatima said when she came to know about the spinal tumour, she was terrified that it would be difficult for her to walk in future.

The patient was advised surgery and in a six hour minimally invasive procedure, the tumour was removed and the patient mobilised the next day.

Dr Yogesh added: “Spinal surgeries traditionally were quite terrifying for patients as there were no minimally invasive options and no certainty of success earlier. We could successfully remove the tumour but the risk of paralysis was very high. Now, we have nerve-monitoring systems which can tell us the precise locations of the nerves and if they have been cut or damaged. Our advanced techniques and endoscopes substantially reduce the size of incisions and more importantly, make this surgery very safe.”

Emirati woman walks next day after surgery

Dubai: The University Hospital of Sharjah (UHS) successfully removed a tumour from the spine of a 40-year old Emirati woman who has fully recovered. Had the tumour not been operated Fatima (name changed for confidentiality) would have been confined to the wheelchair, said the hospital spokesman. The patient was walking the very next day of the surgery and was discharged two days later after full recovery.

The patient came to UHS with difficulty in walking and was complaining of back pain and numbness in her legs for which she had been prescribed pain killers by other doctors before. Dr Nitin Yogesh, consultant neurosurgeon and spine surgeon at UHS said: “I sensed the abnormality and ordered an MRI that revealed a large spinal tumour, involving nerves which allow the movement of her legs and control urine.”

Dr Yogesh added: “The tumour was located deep in her spinal cord and intermixed with the nerves and measured three-by-two centimetres. However, the tumour was located in the main, vital areas of the spine. Although the tumour was very small, it had the risk of catastrophic consequences.

Fatima said when she came to know about the spinal tumour, she was terrified that it would be difficult for her to walk in future.

The patient was advised surgery and in a six hour minimally invasive procedure, the tumour was removed and the patient mobilised the next day.

Dr Yogesh added: “Spinal surgeries traditionally were quite terrifying for patients as there were no minimally invasive options and no certainty of success earlier. We could successfully remove the tumour but the risk of paralysis was very high. Now, we have nerve-monitoring systems which can tell us the precise locations of the nerves and if they have been cut or damaged. Our advanced techniques and endoscopes substantially reduce the size of incisions and more importantly, make this surgery very safe.”

Turkey worries that involvement of Iran-backed Shiite militias could lead to ethnic cleansing of Turkmen

Arbil: Iraqi security forces launched on Sunday an offensive to take back the city of Tal Afar, their next objective in the US-backed campaign to defeat Daesh militants, Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi said.

“You either surrender, or die,” Abadi said in a televised speech announcing the offensive, addressing the militants.

Tal Afar, 80km west of Mosul, was cut off from the rest of the Daesh-held territory in June.

The city is surrounded by Iraqi government troops and Shiite volunteers in the south, and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters in the north.

About 2,000 battle-hardened militants remain in the city, according to US and Iraqi military commanders.

They are expected to put up a tough fight, even though intelligence from inside the city indicates they have been exhausted by months of combat, aerial bombardments, and by the lack of fresh supplies.

Hours before Al Abadi’s announcement, the Iraqi air force dropped leaflets over the city telling the population to take their precautions. “Prepare yourself, the battle is imminent and the victory is coming, God willing,” they read.

Daesh’s self-proclaimed “caliphate” effectively collapsed last month, when US-backed Iraqi forces completed the takeover of the militants’ capital in Iraq, Mosul, after a nine-month campaign.

But parts of Iraq and Syria remain under its control, including Tal Afar, a city with a pre-war population of about 200,000.

Tal Afar experienced cycles of sectarian violence between Sunnis and Shiites after the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, and has produced some of Daesh’s most senior commanders.

Waves of civilians have fled the city and surrounding villages under cover of darkness over the past weeks, although several thousand are estimated to remain, threatened with death by the militants who have held a tight grip there since 2014.

Residents who left Tal Afar last week told Reuters the militants looked exhausted.

“(Fighters) have been using tunnels to move from place to place to avoid air strikes,” said 60-year-old Haj Mahmoud, a retired teacher. “Their faces looked desperate and broken.” The main forces taking part in the offensive are the Iraqi army, Federal Police and the elite US-trained Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS), Iraqi commanders told Reuters.

Shiite Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), some of which are trained and armed by Iran, said they will also take part in the battle. Their involvement is likely to worry Turkey, which claims an affinity with the area’s predominantly ethnic Turkmen population.

The US-led coalition said over the past days it had carried out dozens of air strikes on Tal Afar, targeting weapons depots and command centres, in preparation for the ground assault.

“Intelligence gathered shows clearly that the remaining fighters are mainly foreign and Arab nationals with their families and that means they will fight until the last breath,” Colonel Kareem Al Lami, from the Iraqi army’s 9th Division, told Reuters earlier this week.

But Lami said Tal Afar’s open terrain and wide streets will allow tanks and armoured vehicles easy passage. Only one part of Tal Afar, Sarai, is comparable to Mosul’s Old City, where Iraqi troops were forced to advance on foot through narrow streets moving house-to-house in a battle that resulted in the near total destruction of the historic district.

The United Nation’s International Organisation for Migration (IOM), estimates that about 10,000 to 40,000 people are left in Tal Afar and surrounding villages. Aid groups say they are not expecting a huge civilian exodus as most the city’s former residents have already left.

Turkey worries that involvement of Iran-backed Shiite militias could lead to ethnic cleansing of Turkmen

Arbil: Iraqi security forces launched on Sunday an offensive to take back the city of Tal Afar, their next objective in the US-backed campaign to defeat Daesh militants, Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi said.

“You either surrender, or die,” Abadi said in a televised speech announcing the offensive, addressing the militants.

Tal Afar, 80km west of Mosul, was cut off from the rest of the Daesh-held territory in June.

The city is surrounded by Iraqi government troops and Shiite volunteers in the south, and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters in the north.

About 2,000 battle-hardened militants remain in the city, according to US and Iraqi military commanders.

They are expected to put up a tough fight, even though intelligence from inside the city indicates they have been exhausted by months of combat, aerial bombardments, and by the lack of fresh supplies.

Hours before Al Abadi’s announcement, the Iraqi air force dropped leaflets over the city telling the population to take their precautions. “Prepare yourself, the battle is imminent and the victory is coming, God willing,” they read.

Daesh’s self-proclaimed “caliphate” effectively collapsed last month, when US-backed Iraqi forces completed the takeover of the militants’ capital in Iraq, Mosul, after a nine-month campaign.

But parts of Iraq and Syria remain under its control, including Tal Afar, a city with a pre-war population of about 200,000.

Tal Afar experienced cycles of sectarian violence between Sunnis and Shiites after the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, and has produced some of Daesh’s most senior commanders.

Waves of civilians have fled the city and surrounding villages under cover of darkness over the past weeks, although several thousand are estimated to remain, threatened with death by the militants who have held a tight grip there since 2014.

Residents who left Tal Afar last week told Reuters the militants looked exhausted.

“(Fighters) have been using tunnels to move from place to place to avoid air strikes,” said 60-year-old Haj Mahmoud, a retired teacher. “Their faces looked desperate and broken.” The main forces taking part in the offensive are the Iraqi army, Federal Police and the elite US-trained Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS), Iraqi commanders told Reuters.

Shiite Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), some of which are trained and armed by Iran, said they will also take part in the battle. Their involvement is likely to worry Turkey, which claims an affinity with the area’s predominantly ethnic Turkmen population.

The US-led coalition said over the past days it had carried out dozens of air strikes on Tal Afar, targeting weapons depots and command centres, in preparation for the ground assault.

“Intelligence gathered shows clearly that the remaining fighters are mainly foreign and Arab nationals with their families and that means they will fight until the last breath,” Colonel Kareem Al Lami, from the Iraqi army’s 9th Division, told Reuters earlier this week.

But Lami said Tal Afar’s open terrain and wide streets will allow tanks and armoured vehicles easy passage. Only one part of Tal Afar, Sarai, is comparable to Mosul’s Old City, where Iraqi troops were forced to advance on foot through narrow streets moving house-to-house in a battle that resulted in the near total destruction of the historic district.

The United Nation’s International Organisation for Migration (IOM), estimates that about 10,000 to 40,000 people are left in Tal Afar and surrounding villages. Aid groups say they are not expecting a huge civilian exodus as most the city’s former residents have already left.

Image Credit: Gulf News

The early morning commute to the office is often met with traffic jams.

Dubai: Long delays and queues greeted motorists in different parts of Dubai during early morning rush hours on Sunday, as vehicular accidents caused some tailbacks on major thoroughfares.

Civil works on busy streets have also added to the traffic woes of the residents as they returned to work after the weekend.

According to TrafficDXB, which provides regular traffic updates in and around Dubai, multiple road accidents resulted in congestion and tailback on the Abu Dhabi-bound lane of Shaikh Zayed Road, near Dubai Canal.

Another accident was also reported on  Al Khail Road, just before the Meydan exit towards Business Bay Bridge and Dubai Mall. 

Traffic was also slow moving in some parts of Business Bay and Downtown Dubai, particularly near Dubai Mall, where some road works are ongoing.

traffic

Motorists near Mercato Mall, City Walk, Dubai International Finance Centre (DIFC), Dubai World Trade Centre and Zabeel Park, including those passing through some parts of Karama and Satwa were likewise met with delays.

Multiple accidents on #SZR before & after Dubai Canal towards #AbuDhabi causing congestion and tailback. pic.twitter.com/tyd8LN1GA7— TrafficDXB (@trafficdxb) August 20, 2017

Image Credit: Gulf News

The early morning commute to the office is often met with traffic jams.

Dubai: Long delays and queues greeted motorists in different parts of Dubai during early morning rush hours on Sunday, as vehicular accidents caused some tailbacks on major thoroughfares.

Civil works on busy streets have also added to the traffic woes of the residents as they returned to work after the weekend.

According to TrafficDXB, which provides regular traffic updates in and around Dubai, multiple road accidents resulted in congestion and tailback on the Abu Dhabi-bound lane of Shaikh Zayed Road, near Dubai Canal.

Another accident was also reported on  Al Khail Road, just before the Meydan exit towards Business Bay Bridge and Dubai Mall. 

Traffic was also slow moving in some parts of Business Bay and Downtown Dubai, particularly near Dubai Mall, where some road works are ongoing.

traffic

Motorists near Mercato Mall, City Walk, Dubai International Finance Centre (DIFC), Dubai World Trade Centre and Zabeel Park, including those passing through some parts of Karama and Satwa were likewise met with delays.

Multiple accidents on #SZR before & after Dubai Canal towards #AbuDhabi causing congestion and tailback. pic.twitter.com/tyd8LN1GA7— TrafficDXB (@trafficdxb) August 20, 2017

‘Feels-like’ temperatures to hit 52 degrees Celsius in the afternoon, but fog formations beginning to show

Dubai: Temperatures may have started to wane at times, but there’s no respite from the blazing summer heat yet for UAE residents.

Dust and haze will continue to hit some parts of the country today until Tuesday, although fog and mist formations are already starting to show, according to the official weather bulletin.

The weather will also be a tad hotter this afternoon, with “feels-like” temperatures expected to hit 52 degrees Celsius and humidity levels rising in the evening, other forecasts claim.

weather

While there’s no big transition to more pleasant conditions yet, forecasters at the National Meteorology and Seismology (NCMS), however, are beginning to see some fog and mist formations over some areas.

Before 6am on Sunday, mist formations were reported over the outskirts, particularly in Liwa and Swiehan in Abu Dhabi, while the lowest temperature recorded over the country was 23.4 degrees Celsius at 6.45am in Al Heben Mountain.

There will be plenty of clouds over some eastern parts of the country, with light to moderate winds expected to cause blowing dust or haze over some exposed areas, according to NCMS.

“[Today’s weather will be] hot in general, very hot at times over some internal areas, partly cloudy and hazy at times,” the weather bureau said.

pic.twitter.com/rF9wRJYnNv— UAE WEATHER (@NCMS_media) August 20, 2017

pic.twitter.com/SY3Fvgaqwa— UAE WEATHER (@NCMS_media) August 20, 2017

‘Feels-like’ temperatures to hit 52 degrees Celsius in the afternoon, but fog formations beginning to show

Dubai: Temperatures may have started to wane at times, but there’s no respite from the blazing summer heat yet for UAE residents.

Dust and haze will continue to hit some parts of the country today until Tuesday, although fog and mist formations are already starting to show, according to the official weather bulletin.

The weather will also be a tad hotter this afternoon, with “feels-like” temperatures expected to hit 52 degrees Celsius and humidity levels rising in the evening, other forecasts claim.

weather

While there’s no big transition to more pleasant conditions yet, forecasters at the National Meteorology and Seismology (NCMS), however, are beginning to see some fog and mist formations over some areas.

Before 6am on Sunday, mist formations were reported over the outskirts, particularly in Liwa and Swiehan in Abu Dhabi, while the lowest temperature recorded over the country was 23.4 degrees Celsius at 6.45am in Al Heben Mountain.

There will be plenty of clouds over some eastern parts of the country, with light to moderate winds expected to cause blowing dust or haze over some exposed areas, according to NCMS.

“[Today’s weather will be] hot in general, very hot at times over some internal areas, partly cloudy and hazy at times,” the weather bureau said.

pic.twitter.com/rF9wRJYnNv— UAE WEATHER (@NCMS_media) August 20, 2017

pic.twitter.com/SY3Fvgaqwa— UAE WEATHER (@NCMS_media) August 20, 2017

Manama: Saudi security authorities have turned back 120,060 people who arrived in the vicinity of Makkah without proper permits to perform Haj.

The authorities also refused to allow 61,524 vehicles to enter the Makkah perimetres without the required permits.

Haj officials have repeatedly warned that there would be zero-tolerance towards allowing anyone to enter Makkah for the annual Haj rituals without an authentic permission from the authorities tasked with overseeing the operations.

Extra human resources and equipment have been deployed at the various entry points to ensure full compliance with the regulations, the authorities said.

All drivers have been urged to ensure that the would-be pilgrims they were transporting had the proper permission to enter Makkah in order to avoid the consequences off breaking the regulations.

Saudi Arabia has been following a very strict policy with regards to the number of people living in the kingdom who can perform Haj in a bid to provide better chances for those who have never performed the annual rituals and to control numbers in order to avoid excess crowds.

In early August, authorities warned that any Saudi Arabian expatriates who attempted to perform Haj without permit would be deported and denied entry into the kingdom for 10 years.

A Haj quota was introduced in 1987 following an agreement by all member countries of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) that the number of pilgrims allowed by each country would be 0.1 per cent of its population.

Every country has a Haj quota of 1,000 pilgrims per million Muslim citizens. Under Saudi Arabia’s laws, no foreign Haj applicant can enter the country if he or she is not registered with a Haj operator.

The rule is in place to ensure there are no clandestine operations or the smuggling of people into the country on the pretext of performing Haj.

Riyadh has also often reported that several pilgrims overstayed their pilgrimage visas and sought to settle in Saudi Arabia without proper documents.

According to the latest figures released by the General Directorate of Passports, 992,879 Muslims have arrived by Friday in Saudi Arabia to perform Haj. Most of them, 946,182, arrived by air, while 43,114 arrived by land and 3,583 by sea.

The figures represent an increase by 182,543 pilgrims, (22.5 per cent) compared with the same period last year. Haj, the fifth and last pillar of Islam, is required physically fit adult Muslims with the necessary financial means.

The six-day Haj season, expected to draw more than two million pilgrims, is expected to start on August 30.