Archive for category Gulf Land of Atmariar

Louvre Abu Dhabi to open on November 11

2017-09-06

ABU DHABI – The Louvre Abu Dhabi will finally open its doors to the public in November, bringing to the Gulf Mesopotamian artifacts and post-impressionist masterpieces in the first Louvre-branded museum outside of Paris.

Housing 600 works of art, including 300 loaned by 13 French museums for the inaugural year, the Louvre Abu Dhabi is described as the “first universal museum” in the Arab world.

“At a time when culture is under attack… this is our joint response,” French Culture Minister Francoise Nyssen said at a news conference Wednesday in Abu Dhabi to announce the November 11 opening date.

The museum has been a decade in the making and is opening five years behind schedule.

Among the works on loan to Abu Dhabi are Leonardo da Vinci’s La Belle Ferronniere from the Louvre — which houses the world’s largest collection of art — and Vincent van Gogh’s self-portrait from the Musee d’Orsay.

Designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Jean Nouvel of France, the “museum city” is reminiscent of an Arab medina, enveloped by a part arabesque, part futuristic silvery dome that lets in the light in patterns mimicking leaves of the palm trees of the Gulf.

While the Louvre Abu Dhabi will not lack its Rodins and Gaugins, for some, the real heart of the museum is in its narration of ancient civilizations through artifacts acquired by the United Arab Emirates.

– ‘Complex, ambitious’ –

The planned opening comes a decade after France and the UAE agreed a 30-year partnership worth $1.1 billion under which many top French museums will loan art to Abu Dhabi.

French President Emmanuel Macron is expected to attend the inauguration of the museum, which had originally been scheduled to open in 2012.

The “complex, ambitious project”, in the words of museum director Manuel Rabate, has faced delays in funding and construction.

The decision to grant Abu Dhabi the rights to the Louvre name sparked heated debate in France with critics accusing the Louvre of “selling its soul” and questioning the emirate’s record on labor rights.

“Yes, it’s exceptional. Yes, this is the first time a project like this launches in the Middle East. But that’s what’s unique to this project,” Rabate told AFP in response to the critiques.

He sought to allay concerns about the transportation of the art and the conditions in which it will be stored, in a country where temperatures soar well above 40 degrees Celsius (over 100 degrees Fahrenheit) in the summer.

“Their protection is vital to us and we have made sure we have the systems in place to protect them against the environmental conditions,” Mohamed Khalifa al-Mubarak, chairman of the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority, said.

“The museum’s galleries are operated by sophisticated climate controls for humidity, temperature and light and during installation, the works are in environmentally protected crates and cases to make sure they are not affected by outside conditions.”

Guarded by Emirati forces, in coordination with French experts, including civil defense and terrorism security forces, the art is protected by “state of the art security systems and procedures, in line with international standards,” said Mubarak.

– ‘Message of tolerance’ –

The Louvre Abu Dhabi is part of “a major cultural strategy” to promote the city as a patron of the arts in a region increasingly focused on soft power.

About five percent of the overall museum will be dedicated to contemporary and modern art. The rest focuses on telling the story of world histories and religions.

In the gallery of world religions, a sixth century Koran, a gothic Bible and a Yemeni Torah face each other, open to verses that give similar accounts.

“To send that message of tolerance is really important for our time,” said Mubarak.

A branch of the Guggenheim, still under development, and the Zayed Museum, the national museum named after the country’s founder, are located on the same island.

The Louvre Abu Dhabi’s opening comes as the UAE, which in April announced the establishment of a Soft Power Council, is locked in a diplomatic battle with neighboring Qatar, accused by its Gulf neighbors of supporting Islamist extremism.

The UAE will also host the global trade fair Expo 2020.

“We’re definitely not this closed-off society that’s putting a massive wall up,” said Mubarak.

“We (the UAE and France) have a goal that is exactly identical: we both want to tell the world how our history is connected. Through culture, the world can become a better place,” he added.

Source: Middle East Online.

Link: http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=84696.

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Qatar shipping company moves hub from UAE to Oman

August 9, 2017

Dubai’s status as a financial hub for the region is increasingly coming under threat as one of Qatar’s major shipping and logistics firm relocates its regional trans-shipment hub from Dubai to Oman’s Sohar port.

With the Saudi led blockade of Qatar now entering its third month, Milaha Maritime and Logistics, which “delivers a comprehensive range of services to some of the region’s biggest players in the oil, gas and petrochemical sectors”, announced the move that may raise concerns in Dubai over its potential to remain the unrivaled economic hub of the region.

One of the measures taken by the blockading countries was to deny Qatar access to their ports. Typically, cargo for Qatar stopped at the UAE’s massive port in Jebel Ali, Dubai, or in Abu Dhabi, then got put on smaller boats heading to Doha. Following the blockade, international free trade zones like Jebel Ali were off-limits to Qatari companies. Hundreds of containers destined for Qatar were seized by the authorities in clear breach of the provisions and laws of the International Trade Organisation that safeguard the free flow of goods.

Oman was quick to announce its readiness to become the import/export hub of the region. The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member was one of the countries that stood to benefit from the Saudi-led blockade after deciding to remain neutral and allowing Qatar-bound ships to use its ports. The country also launched one of its boldest projects; Bayan is the largest electronic system in the Sultanate that allows international traders to obtain government permits and licences quickly and efficiently.

An increasing number of companies have now turned to Oman, and that is likely to have a severe knock-on effect on Dubai. Analysts have warned that the economic embargo on Qatar could hurt Dubai’s status as a financial hub.

Industry analysts believe that both Kuwait and Oman will reap the benefit of trade transactions that used to take place in countries like the UAE. Qatar Petroleum chief Saad Al-Kaabi told Al Jazeera that, as the world’s largest exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG) producing up to 77 million tonnes each year, it had to move quickly to mitigate the impact of the blockade and secure alternative routes. While stressing that the blockade has made Qatar much stronger, Doha was in any case unlikely to return to using ports within the blockading countries that previously serviced its global exports.

On Monday, Qatar’s transport ministry said three new direct shipping lines are being opened with Malaysia, Pakistan and Taiwan. These countries, along with Oman and Kuwait, are expected to benefit financially from doing trade with the countries affected by the boycott.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20170809-qatar-shipping-company-moves-hub-from-uae-to-oman/.

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Flames engulf 86-story residential skyscraper in Dubai

August 04, 2017

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Firefighters brought under control a blaze that broke out early Friday in one of the world’s tallest residential towers in Dubai, engulfing part of the skyscraper and sending chunks of debris plummeting below, the city authorities announced.

More than 40 floors of the 86-story Torch Tower were burning on one side of the building, an Associated Press journalist near the scene of the blaze said. Building residents could be seen on the street outside crying with several saying the fire broke out just after 1 a.m.

Dubai’s Civil Defense announced at about 3:30 a.m. that firefighters had brought the blaze under control and that no injuries had been reported. “Cooling operations are underway,” Dubai’s official media office said on Twitter.

It was the second time in 2 ½ years that the more than 1,100-foot-tall (335 meters) tower has been ravaged by fire. The tower, located in the popular waterfront Marina district, caught fire in February 2015, but there were no major casualties reported in that blaze.

Early Friday, authorities shared a photo of the charred and blackened tower but it was no longer visibly in flames. Officials said they were now working on providing shelter for those affected. Dubai police cordoned off several blocks around the building, keeping people away from the fire’s falling debris.

Several skyscrapers in the United Arab Emirates have caught fire in recent years, including a towering inferno that engulfed a 63-story luxury hotel in Dubai on New Year’s Eve in 2016. In that blaze, as in others in Dubai in recent years, residents escaped without major injury.

Earlier this year, Dubai passed new fire safety rules requiring buildings with quick-burning side paneling to replace it with more fire-resistant siding. Authorities have previously acknowledged that at least 30,000 buildings across the UAE have cladding or paneling that safety experts have said accelerates the rapid spread of fires.

A devastating tower fire in London in June killed at least 80 people and prompted Britain to order more thorough testing on the cladding systems of its towers.

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US approves sale of $2 billion in missiles to UAE: Pentagon

Washington (AFP)

May 11, 2017

The US State Department has approved the possible sale of 160 missiles to the United Arab Emirates for an estimated $2.0 billion, the Pentagon said on Thursday.

The UAE government has requested the possible sale of 60 Patriot missiles with canisters and 100 Patriot guidance enhanced missiles, among other military equipment, according to a Department of Defense statement.

“This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by improving the security of an important ally which has been, and continues to be, a force for political stability and economic progress in the Middle East,” it said.

Source: Space War.

Link: http://www.spacewar.com/reports/US_approves_sale_of_2_billion_in_missiles_to_UAE_Pentagon_999.html.

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Taliban say they didn’t plant bomb wounding UAE diplomats

January 11, 2017

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The Taliban say they did not plant the bomb in southern Afghanistan that wounded the United Arab Emirates’ ambassador and other diplomats the day before. They issued a short statement on Wednesday, blaming an “internal local rivalry” for the attack at the Kandahar governor’s guesthouse that killed five people and wounded 12.

The Taliban claimed attacks earlier on Tuesday in Kabul that killed at least 38 people and wounded dozens. The Taliban have denied some attacks in the past — attacks that diplomats and security forces later attributed to the group.

Tuesday’s Kandahar assault wounded Gov. Homayun Azizia, as well as UAE Ambassador Juma Mohammed Abdullah al-Kaabi and what Emirati officials described as “a number of Emirati diplomats.” Emirati officials did not respond to a request for comment.

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Dubai tests hover-taxi for July release

2017-02-13

DUBAI – Dubai has tested a Chinese prototype of a self-driving hover-taxi, its transport authority said on Monday, with the aim of introducing the aerial vehicle in the emirate by July.

The test of the one-man electric vehicle comes as the city state in the United Arab Emirates seeks to ensure a quarter of its means of transport are self-driving by 2030.

The EHang 184 can travel on a programmed course at 100 kilometers an hour (60 mph) at an altitude of 300 meters (1,000 feet), the authority said in a statement.

A passenger simply needs to select a destination for the autonomous taxi to take off, fly the route and touch down in the chosen spot monitored by a ground control center, it said.

The vehicle, made by Chinese drone manufacturer EHang, can recharge in two hours and make trips of up to 30 minutes.

“The autonomous aerial vehicle exhibited at the World Government Summit is not just a model,” authority head Mattar al-Tayer said on Monday.

“We have already experimented (with) the vehicle in a flight in (the) Dubai sky,” he said in English.

The authority was “making every effort to start the operation of the autonomous aerial vehicle in July 2017” to help reduce traffic congestion, Tayer said.

The quadcopter is powered by eight propellers, the authority said.

It has highly accurate sensors and can resist extreme temperatures, it said. The emirate is known for its scorching summers.

In November, Dubai agreed a deal with US startup Hyperloop One to study the construction of a near-supersonic transport link to the Emirati capital Abu Dhabi.

Home to Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest tower, Dubai is a leading tourist destination in the Gulf, attracting a record 14.9 million visitors in 2016.

Source: Middle East Online.

Link: http://middle-east-online.com/english/?id=81424.

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UAE mourns 5 diplomats killed in mysterious Afghan bombing

January 11, 2017

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (AP) — The killing of five diplomats from the United Arab Emirates in a bombing in southern Afghanistan marks the deadliest attack ever for the young nation’s diplomatic corps, though it’s too soon to tell who was behind it or if the Gulf envoys were even the targets.

The federation of seven sheikhdoms, founded in 1971 on the Arabian Peninsula, said it would fly the nation’s flag at half-staff for three days in honor of the dead from the attack Tuesday in Kandahar.

The Taliban denied planting the bomb, even as the insurgents claimed other blasts Tuesday that killed at least 45 people. No other group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack in Kandahar, a province in Afghanistan’s Taliban heartland.

The bomb targeted a guesthouse of Kandahar Gov. Homayun Azizi, who was wounded in the assault along with UAE Ambassador Juma Mohammed Abdullah al-Kaabi. The attack killed 11 people and wounded 18, said Gen. Abdul Razeq, Kandahar’s police chief, who was praying nearby at the time of the blast.

Razeq said investigators believe someone hid the bomb inside a sofa at the guesthouse. He said an ongoing construction project there may have allowed militants to plant the bomb. “Right now we cannot say anything about who is behind this attack,” he told The Associated Press, while adding that several suspects had been arrested.

On Wednesday, broken glass from the powerful blast still littered the blood-stained ground outside of the guesthouse, with thick black soot still visible on the building. Some furniture sat outside, apparently moved as part of the construction.

Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who is also the UAE prime minister and vice president, offered condolences for the families of the dead and condemned the attack. “There is no human, moral or religious justification for the bombing and killing of people trying to help” others, he wrote on Twitter.

On the Afghan side, authorities said the dead included two lawmakers, a deputy governor from Kandahar and an Afghan diplomat stationed at its embassy in Washington. The attack inside the heavily guarded compound represents a major breach of security, even in Afghanistan, a country long torn by war. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Wednesday condemned the attack and ordered an investigation.

The Taliban is usually quick to take credit for attacks, particularly those targeting the government or security forces. They claimed attacks earlier on Tuesday in Kabul at a compound of government and legislative offices that killed at least 38 people and wounded dozens. Another Taliban-claimed suicide bombing on Tuesday killed seven people in Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province.

But on Wednesday, the Taliban issued a short statement blaming an “internal local rivalry” for the Kandahar attack. The Taliban have denied some attacks in the past that diplomats and security forces later attributed to the group. Other insurgent groups, including an Islamic State affiliate, also operate Afghanistan.

A Taliban attack targeting Emirati officials would be surprising. The UAE was one of only three countries, along with Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, to recognize the Taliban government during its five-year rule of Afghanistan.

Emirati combat troops deployed to Afghanistan after the 2001 U.S.-led invasion that toppled the Taliban, who had harbored al-Qaida before and after the Sept. 11 attacks. The UAE had troops there for years as part of the NATO-led mission, training members of the Afghan armed forces and often winning the support of locals by praying with them in community mosques and respecting their traditions as fellow Muslims.

Multiple daily commercial flights link the countries, with Dubai serving as an important commercial hub for Afghan businessmen. Over the years, Taliban and Afghan officials also have met in Dubai to try to start peace talks.

Although the UAE is only 45 years old, Emirati diplomats have come under attack in the past, some felled by assassins’ bullets. Saif Ghubash, the UAE’s first minister of state for foreign affairs, died after being shot in an October 1977 attack at Abu Dhabi International Airport, an attack that apparently targeted Syrian Foreign Minister Abdul-Halim Khaddam. Khaddam later blamed the attack on Iraq.

In 1984, the UAE’s ambassador to France was assassinated outside his Paris home by a gunman. A diplomatic club was named in honor of the slain envoy, Khalifa al-Mubarak, in the Emirati capital, Abu Dhabi, in 2015.

Another Emirati diplomat was wounded in a shooting in Rome in 1984. Reports at the time linked those two attacks to the Arab Revolutionary Brigades, a Palestinian militant group. Abu Dhabi’s powerful crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, said Tuesday’s attack wouldn’t stop the UAE’s humanitarian efforts abroad.

He wrote on Twitter: “We will not be discouraged by despicable terrorist acts carried out by the forces of evil and darkness.”

Gambrell reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Associated Press writers Rahim Faiez and Amir Shah in Kabul, Afghanistan, and Adam Schreck in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, contributed to this report.

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