The Shaikh Zayed Heritage Festival opened its doors to thousands of visitors on Thursday in Abu Dhabi’s Al Wathba area with a spectacular performance by Skydivers in UAE flag-inspired parachutes.
The monthlong festival will run till January 1, 2017. From live performances, horse shows, date and classic car exhibitions, funfair for children to cooking classes and traditional UAE crafts as well as crafts from around the world, there is something for everyone.
The festival’s enormous grounds, which can easily take an hour to walk around, is split into three neighbourhoods, GCC, Arabic and International.
The organisers have placed emphasis on the world’s heritage, and it is evident in the 18 cultural districts that are available at the event.Each district represents a different country including the UAE, Kuwait, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, Oman, India, Russia, Serbia, and China.
The areas are carefully designed to reflect each country’s architectural heritage as well as present its crafts, products and authentic cuisine. A purpose-built stage in each district offers traditional shows for visitors in an intimate atmosphere.Chinese drummers were particularly popular with the crowd on the opening day.
Sharjah: Call it photo-bombing by the unknown or what you will but a ghostly figure caught on camera by an amateur photographer on a recent desert outing is giving people the chills.
Indian Namit Vyas, 33, had gone on an off-roading trip with his family and friends last Friday, during which he clicked about 50 photos with his DSLR camera.
It was just another fun-filled outing in the desert but when he got home and checked the photos, he saw something in one particular frame he wasn’t prepared for.
Taken around twilight near interchange number 9 on Sharjah’s Al Dhaid Road, the photo was of his wife Anita, also 33, and their three-year old daughter Illisha but in the foreground there was ‘someone’ else too.
The image, which has since been shared many times on Facebook and has got people talking about it, shows a blurry figure of what appears to be a woman with outstretched arms and feet bent inwards.
Vyas, who clicked the particular photo in ‘auto mode’, said he has no idea of how the figure appeared in the frame.
“I usually edit all my photos before posting but not this time. The photo you see is completely raw, untouched,” said the man from Shimla who works as a sales manager in Dubai “I still don’t know what was that because I know I had clicked only my wife and daughter in the frame. There was no one else.”
Vyas’s friend Deepanjan Banerjee who was standing by when the picture was taken, said: “The shadow in the picture is clearly visible but what’s baffling is that there was no one else in the frame except the two. The figure too doesn’t resemble any of the women in our group.”
Dubai-based Anjali Sharma who claims to have spent several nights at ‘haunted’ places across the UAE to record paranormal activities, said: “Such images are often produced when certain energies we can’t see are caught on camera. This might have been the case here too.”
XPRESS photographers said the image couldn’t have been photoshopped.
The distraught owner of a missing African grey parrot that can speak English just like him is willing to pay a Dh5,000 reward to anyone who can find his precious bird.
Ali Morshedi, a Downtown resident from the UK, told XPRESS that Joojookak, the 17-year-old parrot, flew out of his villa terrace at around noon on November 22. “The maid had taken him out in the sun and left the cage door open. That’s usually not a problem because he moves around freely within the house. But that particular day, the sight of a ladder used by some technicians must have scared him off and he flew out.”
Morshedi said he had looked high and low for the parrot but with no success. “I can’t find him anywhere. I’ve been looking around in this area and have also been to pet markets in Satwa and Sharjah. I have given out flyers but there is no sign of him.”
He said Joojookak has a red tail and grey body. He is microchipped and has no ring.
“This is an emotional situation for me as I have hand-reared him for 17 years. I know he did not fly away to be free because his freedom is with me. My fear is that he must be frightened and starving. Worse, if he has been caught by someone, mistreated and sold, he has a bleak future.”
Morshedi said his life has turned upside down ever since Joojookak went missing. The monetary reward of Dh5,000 apart, he said it was a matter close to his heart. “He thinks he is a human being. He talks in my voice. Whoever returns him will forever be in our hearts.” The African Grey Parrot, a native of the African rain forests, is prized not only for its majestic looks but also its intelligence and ability to co-exist with human beings like family members. They are known for their longevity and can live up to 80-100 years.
4. UAE economy: Diversified, vibrant, resilient
Driven by a passion for innovation and diversification, the UAE economy, which has recorded a phenomenal pace of growth that is quite unparalleled in recent history of nations, is right on track to bounce back to 3.5 per cent growth in 2016 despite headwinds posed by multiple factors.
The bold and farsighted diversification policies and reforms initiated over the past 45 years had helped the nation not only in forging ahead, regardless of the volatile oil fortunes, but also to evolve as a trail-blazing economic role-model for the whole region.
Thanks to a pragmatic and visionary leadership, the nation has evolved as knowledge economy driven by innovation even as it drastically reduced its reliance on oil from 90 per cent in 1970 to 30 per cent at present.
As the International Monetary Fund has noted, the UAE continues to benefit from diversification and innovation policies that have helped limit negative spillovers from lower oil prices, sluggish global growth, and volatility in emerging market economies.
In its latest UAE forecast, Capital Economics said that the UAE’s economy is poised to start recovery in 2017-18 on the country’s strong balance sheet, but is likely to record its slowest growth since 2010 this year,
The forecast said recovery is expected in the 2017-18 fiscal year. “The UAE has been more proactive in terms of economic diversification than other GCC states and is, therefore, expected to cope relatively well with a prolonged period of low oil prices and to be one of the Gulf’s best-performing economies in the coming years.”
Despite low oil prices, the UAE’s economy held up well last year with GDP growth picking up to 3.8 per cent from 3.1 per cent in 2014 – helped by strong growth in the oil sector, it said. The non-oil economy, on the other hand, recorded its weakest growth in five years. “This was largely due to fiscal tightening – fuel prices were deregulated last year and electricity and fuel prices were hiked, while Abu Dhabi cut spending by 20 per cent,” it said.
The country’s $450 billion economy has shown remarkable resilience even in the face of global slowdown, geo-political turmoil and oil price plunge as it expanded its dependence on multiple resources, including real estate, tourism, aviation, banking and finance, manufacturing and retail to propel growth, economists pointed out.
Over the past four decades, the country has recorded significant holistic growth across all sectors. Average GDP growth over 2000 to 2006 in the UAE was about 8.4 per cent – the highest in the GCC, which averaged 6.5 per cent. The GDP for 2014 was $419 billion. Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri, Minister of Economy, said in a drive to transform the Fourth Industrial Revolution into a global movement spearheaded by the Arab world’s second largest economy, the UAE Government has launched a six-pillar plan, which was set in collaboration with the World Economic Forum, WEF.
In a major boost to the ongoing economic development drive, His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, launched the world’s first government accelerators just recently. The accelerators have multiple tasks and responsibilities to boost the pace for achieving the goals of the National Agenda and projects.
Directives have been issued for all government bodies under the umbrella of the accelerators programme to develop initiatives, laws, policies and services that support national indexes and programmes. The government bodies will also be tasked with implementing joint projects in record time in order to shift government services into advanced standards by 2021.
The industrial sector, which contributes 14 per cent to the GDP, is also forecast to expand and contribute 20 per cent in 2021. Economists forecast that significant growth would come from non-traditional industries as the knowledge-based economy will witness spectacular growth in the coming years.
To drive this all-round growth, the government has issued new rules and regulations to further improve the business environment.
From the vision of unity of our Founding Father to the UAE taking its place on the global stage as a model of tolerance and civilised coexistence, the UAE leadership called on all peoples, societies and believers of all faiths to recognise our similarities and coexist peacefully, opposing conflicts intended to create instability and division
The government is confidently progressing to deliver indicators of the National Agenda leading to the UAE Vision 2021 which seeks to develop and improve conditions in areas of justice, security, economy, environment, living standards, housing, education, health and infrastructure, declared UAE President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
“The government has adopted and approved national policies and strategies for innovation, creativity, excellence, reading, research and development, the future, housing, women and youth empowerment and happiness. In this respect, the Emirates Council for Youth and the Emirates Council for Scientists were set up,’’ said His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed in his address to the nation on the occasion of the 45th National Day.
The government, Shaikh Khalifa stated, had also taken significant strides in developing the legislative and regulatory framework to attract investment and introducing policies to promote the concept of green economy and comply with principles of sustainability, protection of the environment and conservation of natural resources. It has also approved plans to upgrade and improve educational and health services, modernise the infrastructure and qualify youths to easily enter the job market.
These efforts, the President said, had begun to pay off.
“On the micro economy, despite the sump in global economy and decline in world oil prices, our national economy has maintained vibrant performance and the Gross Domestic Product has exceeded the set target thanks to vibrancy, resilience and diversification of the economic infrastructure and high contributions of non-oil sectors,’’ His Highness the President added.
His Highness noted that the UAE was ranked first regionally and 16th globally, maintaining its lead among the top 20 competitive economies in the world, according to the Global Competitiveness Report 2016 issued by the World Economic Forum (Davos) in Switzerland. The UAE has also retained its lead in the region in more than 100 development indicators.
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