Archive for category Gulf Land of Wealth

Dubai pushes ahead on world’s biggest airport plan

September 08, 2014

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Dubai’s ruler has endorsed a $32 billion expansion plan for the city’s second airport that aims to make it the world’s biggest, the emirate’s airport operator said Monday in the latest sign that the Middle East’s brash commercial hub is determined to move on from its 2009 financial crisis.

The approval sets in motion a vast building project that will boost capacity exponentially at the airport known as Al Maktoum International at Dubai World Central. Backers envision it will eventually handle more than 200 million passengers per year.

The first phase of the expansion alone aims to build enough runway and terminal space to handle 120 million passengers a year and 100 mammoth Airbus A380 double-decker jets at any given time. The world’s busiest airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, handled 94.4 million people last year.

Paul Griffiths, chief executive of state-backed airport operator Dubai Airports, said he aims to have the first phase of the expansion complete in six to eight years. That part of the project includes adding two new runways and two large concourses housing dozens of aircraft gates each.

“It’s a very aggressive time scale … but I think that we have a track record here of doing remarkable things in a remarkably challenging time frame,” Griffiths said in his office at the city’s main airport, Dubai International.

As later phases are completed, the new airport will eventually boast five parallel runways spaced far enough apart so they can all be used at the same time, and have enough gates for hundreds of wide-body planes.

Dubai World Central opened for cargo flights in 2010 with a single runway in the desert south of central Dubai. It received its first passengers in October at a single terminal that is mainly used by smaller airlines and low-cost carriers.

The currently larger Dubai International ranked as the world’s seventh busiest airport last year, handling 66.4 million passengers. It too is being expanded, with a new concourse expected to open next year.

Griffiths says Dubai needs to expand to keep pace with the rapid growth of airline traffic into the emirate. Much of the increase comes from hometown airline Emirates, the region’s largest carrier and the world’s biggest user of both the A380 and Boeing 777 long-haul jets.

Emirates is expected to move its hub to the new airport shortly after the first expansion phase is complete, freeing up space in the older airport for the well over 100 other airlines that already operate from it.

Griffiths is confident Dubai will be able to generate the funding needed to complete the project given the importance of aviation to Dubai’s economy. Officials say the industry contributes $22 billion annually to the local economy and supports some 250,000 jobs.

“The aviation sector has demonstrated that there is a very compelling economic case to suggest creation of further capacity is a very sensible thing to do,” Griffiths said. “I’m sure that the government will come up with the appropriate funding to make the project a reality.”

Dubai is still recovering from the effects of its financial crisis, which sent property prices plunging and forced it to accept a multibillion-dollar bailout from neighboring Abu Dhabi. The local economy has bounced back strongly since, though Dubai and its state-linked companies still carry tens of billions of dollars in debt. The International Monetary Fund has warned of the possibility of another property bubble forming, and analysts question how Dubai can make good on the debt it still owes.

“There are still plenty of reasons to think that the emirate’s debt problems are far from over,” Jason Tuvey, an analyst at London-based Capital Economics, wrote in a research note last week. That has not stopped officials from announcing plans for headline-grabbing projects reminiscent of the pre-crisis boom.

On Sunday, a property development company controlled by Dubai ruler Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum laid out plans for a $2.7 billion theme park and resort complex near the new airport and the site of the World Expo that Dubai is due to host in 2020.

The expansion of the new airport is unlikely to be ready by the time the Expo kicks off, Griffiths said.

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Egypt and UAE plot to topple Hamas

Wednesday, 04 September 2013

A retired Egyptian general has revealed details of an Egypt-UAE plot to impose a stranglehold on the Gaza Strip and overthrow the Hamas-led government. The plot, claims General Sami Hassan, is for the Egyptian army to act, with funding from the UAE government.

“The plan is led by General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi,” tweeted Hassan. “He aims to achieve political and military gains in the coming days.”

General Hassan said that the military will impose even more restrictions on the Palestinians in Gaza, cutting all essential supplies which currently pass through the tunnels. Fuel supplies in particular are being targeted. The Gaza Strip relies on Egypt for 80 per cent of its fuel.

According to Hassan, the process has already started with a media demonisation campaign against the Palestinians and Hamas. As soon as the army creates calm in the Sinai Peninsula, he asserted, it will stir up popular demonstrations.

Al-Sisi has already met with Shaikh Hazza bin Zayed, an adviser to the UAE National Security Authority, and ex-Fatah “strongman” Mohammed Dahlan, said General Hassan. “A sum of $750 million has been allocated for the plot,” he claims, “which will involve returning Gaza to Egyptian control or handing it over to the Palestinian Authority [in Ramallah].”

The decisive meeting, he noted, lasted one and a half hours in Al-Sisi’s office. The following objectives were agreed upon:

Sinai will be “cleansed” of militant groups and nomadic tribes on the border with Gaza will be disarmed.

A drone base will be established by Egypt in Sinai under international supervision. Air strikes will be launched against the “global jihadist movement”.

All tunnels between Gaza and Egypt will be closed, and Egypt will cut off all essential supplies going to Gaza.

Electricity supplies from Egypt to Gaza will be cut off altogether.

An agreement between the Palestinian Authority, Egypt and Israel will be reactivated with the return of international observers to the Rafah Border Crossing.

Hamas will be toppled and the Gaza Strip will be returned to President Mahmoud Abbas’s control.

Power in Gaza will handed over to the PA or people in the UAE’s pay and control, such as Dahlan.

Source: Middle East Monitor.
Link: http://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/7221-egypt-and-uae-plot-to-topple-hamas.

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Dubai chosen to host 2020 world expo

November 27, 2013

PARIS (AP) — Fireworks erupted in Dubai after the tiny Gulf emirate won the right to host the 2020 World Expo, becoming the first Middle Eastern city to organize the event in its more than 150-year history.

Dubai bested competing bids from Izmir, Turkey; Sao Paulo, Brazil; and Yekaterinburg, Russia, after three rounds of voting by delegates of the 168-nation Bureau International des Expositions in Paris.

In line with its reputation for over-the-top glitz, Dubai lit the world’s tallest tower with glimmering lights. The skies around the Burj Khalifa, which towers at 2,717 feet, erupted with fireworks. The logo of its bid for the 2020 expo was plastered on police cars, convenience store bags, storefronts, taxis, receipts, government buildings and even on a flag on Mount Kilimanjaro.

A spending spree was already underway even before officials announced the host city. Dubai estimates a successful Expo 2020 bid will generate $23 billion between 2015 and 2021, or 24 percent of the city’s gross domestic product. They say total financing for the 6-month-long event will cost $8.4 billion.

In a statement after the vote, Dubai ruler and U.A.E. vice president Sheikh Mohammed bin Rahid promised to “astonish the world” in 2020. “Dubai Expo2020 will breathe new life into the ancient role of the Middle East as a melting pot for cultures and creativity,” he said.

Delegates voted behind closed doors over three rounds to choose the winner, with Sao Paolo and Izmir eliminated in the second round. Sao Paulo had proposed a renewable energy tower to convert solar energy into the electricity needed for the event and a new economic, tourism and education hub with hotels, schools, and shopping malls.

Izmir, an Aegean coastal city formerly known as Smyrna, had pushed global health and environmental issues for its bid and had chosen award-winning architect Zaha Hadid to design the park for the exposition.

Russia treated its bid to hold the expo as a state priority not unlike its bids to host the Winter Games and the World Cup. Organizers of the pitch for the Ural Mountains city of Yekaterinburg were planning to build 103 pavilions for the expo and accommodation for exhibition participants, later to be converted into a residential area.

The announcement comes just days before the Dec. 2 U.A.E. national day, which celebrates the young nation’s 42 years of unity and independence from the British Protectorate. The official Twitter account for Dubai’s world expo bid wrote after the announcement that the win “will help unlock the vast potential of this region” and that it is the first World Expo to be held in the Middle East.

“The UAE is proud to have been selected to host #Expo2020 in #Dubai under the theme ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’,” said Dubai authorities on their official expo bid account. While the World’s Fair no longer holds the popularity of other global events like the Olympics or World Cup, it remains a chance for millions from around the world to discuss and see the business of the future.

Last year Yeosu, South Korea, hosted the 2012 world expo. The next one is scheduled to take place in Milan in 2015.

Associated Press reporter Aya Batrawy in Dubai contributed to this report.

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Dubai to construct ‘frame’

By Justin Salhani
Nov. 25, 2013

Nov. 23 (UPI) –Dubai’s municipality announced last week that it would erect an icon to be called the ‘frame’.

Hussain Nasser Lootah, Director General of Dubai Municipality, said: “We have opened tenders and will be giving the assignment to the apt contractor according to our plan.”

“We expect it will be a bridge between the past and future of Dubai and may become a name attached to Dubai like Burj Khalifa and Burj Al Arab,” he said.

The frame will be a large frame-like structure, similar to St. Louis’ arc but square, that frames old Dubai through one end and new Dubai through the other. The ground floor will be home to a gallery of Dubai’s history.

Source: United Press International (UPI).
Link: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/Blog/2013/11/25/Dubai-to-construct-frame/5991385380151/.

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Heavy rain reaches Dubai forcing airshow to close early

2013-11-21

DUBAI – Heavy rains and flooding forced the annual airshow in Dubai to close early on its last day Thursday while schools in the desert Gulf state were ordered shut.

“The Dubai Airshow is closed for now, we advise people to refrain from traveling to the site,” organizers said in an emailed statement.

Participants and visitors to the airshow that kicked off on Sunday posted on social networks pictures and videos of flooded exhibition halls.

No announcements of new deals had been expected Thursday as most manufacturers had on Wednesday given final figures of contracts sealed during the event.

As the turbulent weather swept across Gulf states, the United Arab Emirates ministry of education ordered public and private schools shut to ensure “students’ safety,” according to a statement carried by the official WAM news agency.

Local media reported several accidents that brought traffic to a near-halt in several areas of Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

Local media had reported Sunday that one man was killed when floods swept through a valley in the northern Ras al-Khaimah emirate.

Flash floods sparked by torrential rain have hit other Gulf neighbors, some of which normally experience such low precipitation that religious leaders often organize special prayers for rain.

In Saudi Arabia, seven people were killed in three days of rain, the kingdom’s civil defense authority said on Wednesday, adding that five others were missing.

Meanwhile in Kuwait, civil defense authorities announced two people were killed as the amount of rainfall reached 100 millimeters (3.9 inches) in two days — Monday and Tuesday — equal to the average annual rainfall in the emirate.

Heavy rains have also been reported in Oman, Qatar and Bahrain.

Source: Middle East Online.
Link: http://middle-east-online.com/english/?id=62778.

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Egypt row: UAE recalls Tunisia envoy

AFP
Sunday 29 September 2013

DUBAI: The UAE has recalled its ambassador from Tunisia to protest calls by the Tunisian president for the liberation of Egypt’s deposed head of state, reports said Saturday.

Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki had called on the UAE-backed new rulers in Cairo to free Muhammad Mursi, in a speech this week at the UN General Assembly.

The UAE, where dozens of Brotherhood supporters have been jailed for plotting to overthrow the regime, had welcomed Mursi’s overthrow and, following his ouster, pledged financial aid to Egypt’s new rulers.

Source: Arab News.
Link: http://www.arabnews.com/news/466167.

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UAE uses former Palestinian official to create Turkish ‘Tamarod’ movement

Saturday, 07 September 2013

An informed source in Palestine has claimed that former Fatah leader Mohamed Dahlan, who is currently a senior government adviser in the UAE, has visited Turkey and met opposition groups. The close aide to Dahlan said that the visit was planned by UAE Crown Prince Shaikh Mohamed bin Zayed and that the ex-Fatah official entered Turkey using a false passport.

It is claimed that Dahlan met young Turkish and Kurdish activists who oppose the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan with the aim of establishing a Tamarod-style opposition movement in Turkey. The ultimate intention, it is believed, is to complete the overthrow of Islamist movements in the region by toppling Hamas in Gaza and Erdogan’s government in Turkey. The UAE backed the military coup which overthrew the Islamist government of Dr Mohamed Morsi in Egypt.

Turkey has opposed the coup since the beginning in a stance which has angered Gulf States, especially Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The government in Ankara is being targeted to be overthrown.

The UAE canceled investment projects worth $12 billion in Turkey as a result of Erdogan’s opposition to the coup in Egypt. According to media source Asrar Arabia, it is not unusual for UAE government actions to lead to business losses for companies in the emirates.

Dahlan is a former prominent official in the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the secularist Fatah movement. As a result of his internal conflict with PA President Mahmoud Abbas, as well as his failure to undermine the Hamas government in Gaza, he was dismissed from the authority and Fatah and now lives in the UAE.

Source: Middle East Monitor.
Link: http://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/europe/7266-uae-uses-former-palestinian-official-to-create-turkish-tamarod-movement.

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