GulfNews UAE

GulfNews UAE

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan to visit Austria on Thursday

Government|: Abu Dhabi: His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, will make an official visit to the friendly Republic of Austria on Thursday. During his visit, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed will hold official talks with the Austrian Chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, covering ties of friendship between the UAE and Austria, as well as regional and international issues of mutual interest. These include peaceful coexistence, economic cooperation, parliamentary cooperation, tourism and the Expo 2020 Dubai, which is expected to strengthen bilateral ties between the two countries. UAE, Austria reinforcing 50-year relationship The UAE and Austria have reinforced their 50-year relationship, noting the five factors that have contributed to strengthening their partnership. The consensus between the two countries on the principles of peaceful coexistence and tolerance is a key foundation of strengthening their bilateral ties. Both countries support international security, stability and development, and believe in the importance of combatting terrorism and terrorist ideas promoted by extremist groups and armed militias around the world. The tourism sector is promising, in terms of the cooperation between the UAE and Austria, considering its size and the opportunities it offers to both countries. Despite the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic, the sector is expected to see the gradual return of flights between the two countries, most notably with the start of Expo 2020 Dubai. The UAE is the key economic partner of Austria in the region, while Austrian companies are increasing their presence in the UAE to benefit from the opportunities provided by Emirati markets to investors, most notably in the heavy machinery and service sectors. The two countries are also advancing their strategic economic partnership and several coordination meetings were held to promote mutual trade and investment. Their main areas of economic cooperation include the digital economy, innovation, information and communication technology, renewable energy, water, logistical services and aviation. The UAE and Austria have a solid parliamentary relationship, and a friendship committee between their parliaments was established to exchange expertise and knowledge and coordinate their views and stances at international parliamentary events. Austria aims to benefit from Expo 2020 Dubai and reinforce the presence of Austrian companies in the UAE and the region's markets by showcasing Austria's technologies and sustainability, smart cities and renewable energy efforts. The bilateral ties between the UAE and Austria date back to the era of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and then Chancellor Bruno Kreisky, who first met in 1973. Their bilateral ties were established on 10th March, 1974. Kreisky visited the UAE eight times from 1973 to 1986, while Sheikh Zayed visited Austria four times during the same period.

GulfNews UAE

Dubai student creates 600 paper cranes for international school display

UAE|: Most sixth graders have enough trouble preparing for their exams, taking part in extracurricular activities, making and keeping friends – in other words, growing up. For French expat based in the UAE Teodore Verchere however the past two years have not only been a lesson in dealing with life but also in art. The now 12-year-old Dwight School Dubai student with a penchant for origami – the ancient art of paper folding – was tasked with a special project, to create a 600 piece display that would go down the stairwell of the international school chain’s New York branch. Verchere began to learn origami in first grade when he was seven years old. “I find it [the practice] very calming and relaxing,” he says. He explains the project: “I was interviewing with Chancellor Spahn from Dwight NY and he asked about my hobbies. I said I enjoyed doing origami, and I had just finished making an origami module with 50 dragons in it. Chancellor Spahn asked me if I would be able to make an origami module that would go down the entire stairwell of Dwight NY. It is 27 meters tall. And it would have to be fire-proof. I said I would definitely be able to do it.” And so began the tough task of collecting paper that would fold but not crease too easily, that could be coated in fire-retardant material to ensure safety. And that would be enough to create all the little bits that would go into the large area. “I started by getting origami paper from different parts of the world, every piece of paper was sprayed with fire retardant before I started folding. Once I had made enough birds, I fire-proofed the string they would hang in, and I threaded the birds on sections of one metre at a time. “Each bird represents one of the schools of the Dwight group. Sunbirds for Dubai, Ravens for London, Dragons for Shanghai, Cranes for Seoul, Eagles for New York and Doves to symbolize the peace between all 5 schools.” Eighteen months on, Verchere has managed 600 birds that delicately drape the stairway of the school. As summer vacations carry on, he’s wondering when his next big project will take flight.

GulfNews UAE

Sharjah publishing officials tour world’s largest library in America

UAE|: Sharjah: A delegation of Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) recently visited the Library of Congress (LOC), the world’s largest library located in Washington DC, USA, in line with SBA’s efforts to promote Arabic and Emirati literature around the world. The delegates, headed by SBA Chairman Ahmad Al Ameri, gained a deeper insight into LOC’s expertise in sourcing, management and archiving of knowledge. As the oldest cultural institution and research hub in the US, the LOC has successfully collected and archived more than 170 million print materials in over 450 languages. Emirati-US exchange The SBA delegation was received by Carla Hayden, 14th Librarian of Congress, along with other senior LOC officials and departmental heads, who took the visiting delegates on a guided tour of the library. During a series of discussions between the two parties, which aimed at boosting collaboration and exchange between Sharjah and the USA in various areas, the American officials learnt about the key events hosted by SBA to promote Sharjah’s cultural vision, and were introduced to the UAE’s myriad creative offerings. World’s largest collection As the SBA delegation went through LOC’s rare collection of manuscripts and bibliographies, the officials learned about the LOC’s customer interface, which allows users to search and access the library’s unparalleled resource of more than 171 million items including over 40 million cataloged books and other print materials in 470 languages. It is the largest rare book collection in North America; and the world’s largest collection of legal materials, films, maps, and sheet music. Rare books Al Ameri took a keen interest in the African and Middle Eastern Division collection, which comprises 300,000 books in Arabic and other languages. The delegates also visited the Rare Book and Special Collections Division that hosts the world’s first translated copy of the Holy Quran, which dates back to 1765, and was part of former US President Thomas Jefferson’s collection. It is the very first copy that was translated directly from Arabic into English as all previous copies of the Quran were translated from French. Open dialogue Al Ameri said: “SBA seeks to actively promote Emirati culture and literature around the world. We are also keen to explore the expertise of globally leading cultural institutions such as the LOC – a towering historical institution preserving invaluable human history in addition to the oeuvres of genius authors, writers, thinkers and researchers through millions of books and catalogues.” He added: “Cultural movements grow and prosper via open dialogue and sharing of ideas. This is the vision of His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, which takes us around the world on our cross-cultural endeavours.” Sharjah as cultural capital Hayden lauded SBA’s efforts to enhance the emirate’s cultural presence globally, pointing out that Sharjah is recognised globally as a cultural capital in the Middle East. She emphasised that the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF), one of the top three book fairs in the world, adds significant cultural value and impacts human culture in general. The SBA delegates also met with many American publishers and book distribution agents to discuss the participation of American publishers in SBA’s events such as the forthcoming edition of the SIBF, the eighth edition of the SIBF/ALA Library Conference, as well as the Professional Programme.

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Dh3 million compensation awarded to Indian expat from Kerala, bedridden after accident in Dubai

UAE|: Dubai: A compensation of Dh3.1 million has been awarded to an Indian expatriate, who is currently bedridden in his home state of Kerala, following a road accident in Dubai last year. An Abu Dhabi Court upheld the compensation amount awarded to Sijish P.S. by the Insurance Disputes Resolution Committee of Dubai Courts. A request has been filed for executing the order, according to Sijish’s lawyers. Speaking to Gulf News over the phone, the 42-year-old bachelor said he was all set to go home on vacation to arrange his long overdue wedding when he met with the accident. On May 18, 2020, Sijish, then a driver with a cargo company, was on his way back to Dubai after delivering a package in Al Ain when the accident took place. A luxury car reportedly veered off and hit the van driven by Sijish. Read More Bank of Sharjah reports Dh120 million pre-provision Q2 net profit Four-year-old girl severely injured in the eye in Abu Dhabi after unintentional exposure to hand sanitiser Sijish said he was grateful to the court for awarding the compensation, which amounts to more than Rs62 million, and also to the lawyers who supported his cause. How the accident took place “I was on the slow track and driving below 80km/hour. I just remember the big bang. I don’t know anything that happened after that. When I regained consciousness I was in hospital,” he recalled. By then, a month had passed after Sijish was admitted to Rashid Hospital in Dubai. He was treated for critical injuries and underwent a spinal cord surgery as well. On August 6, Sijish was flown home and was under treatment at Indo American Hospital in Vaikom in Kerala. He was hospitalised there till October 30. A medical report from the hospital stated that the patient had suffered a spinal cord fracture, ischemic PCA stroke and traumatic brain injury. Sijish needs the help of two people to be shifted on a wheelchair. His current status Bedridden with extreme weakness and loss of bowel and bladder movement, Sijish can now only move the upper part of his body. “I have no sensation below the chest. I can move my hands, but can’t hold anything because my fingers don’t bend. I need the help of at least two people to recline on the bed and to sit on the wheel chair,” he said. He continues to be on medication and physiotherapy. Since his aged parents are unable to take care of him, Sijish said one of his two younger sisters now lives with them. His sister Soumya said her husband helps Sijish whenever he needs to use the washroom. Being the breadwinner of the family, Sijish said he had postponed his plans to get married due to the financial liabilities that he had to shoulder. His sister said they were unable to pay for the physiotherapist’s fees, who has been visiting Sijish daily for the last two months. How the legal battle was won The driver of the vehicle responsible for the accident was found guilty of rash and negligent driving and was fined. Sijish contacted Femin Panikkassery, a legal professional at Abdalla Al Naqbi Advocates and Legal Consultants in Dubai, for filing a compensation case. “It was taken up in court and the judgement was passed in my favour. My company was fully supportive during my treatment and the legal procedures,” Sijish said. Ali Mohamed Ali, a legal consultant at the firm, said: “We, Abdalla Al Naqbi advocates, argued that a huge disability had been inflicted upon Sijish. We succeeded in convincing the court that he was still under treatment because of the disability.” Panikkassery said a medical expert was earlier appointed to examine the status of Sijish and the findings on his disability were a key factor in securing the compensation. Sijish plans to use the money for his treatment — which will be lifelong process — in order to support his family. “We just want to see him back on his feet again,” said his sister. Sijish needs the help of two people to be shifted on a wheelchair.

GulfNews UAE

Four-year-old girl severely injured in the eye in Abu Dhabi after unintentional exposure to hand sanitiser

UAE|: Abu Dhabi: A four-year-old girl in Abu Dhabi sustained a severe eye injury after unintentional exposure of her eyes to a hand sanitiser from a self-dispensing unit. The accident occurred when the child activated a foot-operated hand sanitiser station while visiting a public venue with her family. The girl required immediate treatment, including a follow-up procedure to enable healing in the affected eye. Parental supervision must Following the incident, experts who treated her at the Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi have urged parents to closely supervise hand sanitiser use among children. Their calls follow similar advice on parental supervision during sanitiser use from ophthalmology experts in France, Spain and India, where similar eye injuries have been reported. Sudden exposure The girl’s mother, who wished to remain anonymous, added that many people are unaware about the risks of the chemicals used in hand sanitisers, especially for children. “For purposes of hygiene, we’ve taught our daughter to use soap and water for washing her hands and to only use sanitisers if soap and water are not available. But because she saw everyone around her use it, she ran up ahead from us to use it too. When she pressed the pedal of the dispenser, the hand sanitiser didn’t fall downwards but instead a large quantity went straight into her eye and she began screaming in pain,” said the girl’s mother. Her parents immediately rinsed the girl’s eyes with water and took her home, while continuing to wash the affected eyes. Clear injury “We were somehow able to open her eye and could see the corneal injury clearly. That is when we decided to rush her to hospital,” the mother said. In a statement, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi said the child was brought to the Emergency Department complaining of extreme pain and she was unable to open her eye. Doctors immediately washed the solution off, administered antibiotics to prevent infection and gave the young patient pain-healing eye drops. Doctors diagnosed her with a near total corneal abrasion caused by the alcohol and alkaline chemical additives in the hand gel. Follow-up procedure When the pain continued to escalate despite close follow-up over the following days, the child was taken to the operating room where doctors evaluated her eye under anaesthesia and placed a self-retaining amniotic membrane, or biological bandage used to heal large non-healing corneal abrasions and scrapes. The membrane was removed a week after it was placed. While the abrasion had healed, the cornea was still dry and hazy. So the doctors prescribed a course of medicated and lubricant eye drops. Her care team at the hospital will now continue to follow-up on her for the next few months. The pervasiveness of hand sanitisers has racked up the number of injuries caused by these substances. Image Credit: Supplied Children’s eye injuries Dr Brian Armstrong, staff physician at the hospital’s Eye Institute, and part of the little girl’s care team, said this was the first case of this nature treated at the hospital that required amniotic membrane placement. However, paediatric eye injuries from alcohol-based hand sanitisers have been on the rise all around the world since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Health authorities have recommended the use of alcohol-based hand sanitisers containing at least 60 per cent alcohol, which disrupt the COVID-19 virus’ surrounding lipid membrane in a manner similar to soap and help inactivate it. However, the pervasiveness of hand sanitisers has also racked up the number of injuries caused by these substances. Earlier this year, the French Poison Control Centres reported seven times more cases of ocular exposure among children to hand sanitisers between April and August in 2020, compared to the same period in 2019. High alcohol concentration “Hand sanitiser dispensers installed in public spaces are often at waist-level for adults, but this means that they are at eye-level for many children. So, the chances of a child getting splashed in the eye are quite high. Most hand sanitisers have a high concentration of alcohol, which starts to break down the surface of the cornea immediately,” Dr Armstrong said. Read more Peanuts, shellfish or dairy can kill you: know the allergies, triggers, treatments and preventive measures Video: Two-year-old Yemeni girl treated in Abu Dhabi hospital for rare congenital anomaly Gulf Medical University offers scholarships and discounts for Emirati students COVID-19: UAE infections falling, says disaster management authority Supervise children during use Doctors have advised parents to use soap and water for hand hygiene whenever possible and opt for hand sanitisers only when an alternative is not available. “When this is not possible, parents should use neutral and natural hand sanitising solutions under strict supervision and teach children to use only a small quantity that dries completely before children touch their eyes. If they happen to rub their eyes with sanitiser, immediately wash them out with water and visit a hospital if there is blurred vision or pain,” Dr Armstrong advised.

GulfNews UAE

Ras Al Khaimah Ruler directs emirate to provide funds for nurseries impacted by COVID-19

Education|: Ras Al Khaimah: Ras Al Khaimah Government has set aside funding to support private nurseries in the emirate that had to temporarily close due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The initiative was launched following a directive from His Highness Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, and in line with his vision to maintain a high quality and resilient education system in the emirate. The funds have been distributed to all nurseries that submitted applications and qualified for support. Many of these nurseries are now back operating after also implementing all guidelines from the Ministry of Health and Prevention on precautionary measures. Relief package This is one of many initiatives rolled out by the Ras Al Khaimah Government to support businesses and other entities affected by COVID-19. Last year, a comprehensive stimulus package backed thousands of companies in the emirate by offering fee exemptions, payment deferrals and fine waivers. The package was followed up by several other initiatives to ensure business continuity across all sectors. Read More Government nurseries in Sharjah that pass COVID-19 safety checks to reopen Nurseries in the UAE look forward to reopening Jumeirah International Nurseries celebrates 40th anniversary with first graduates and alumni Dr Mohammad Abdul Latif Khalifa, Secretary-General, Executive Council of the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah, said: “This funding for nurseries across Ras Al Khaimah is another sign of the leadership’s commitment to ensuring a full economic and social recovery from the effects of the pandemic.” He added: “Research shows that supporting early childhood education not only enhances the opportunities for future generations but also enables greater participation of women in the workforce. This initiative is therefore crucial to Ras Al Khaimah’s long-term development. The financial support provided by the Ras Al Khaimah Government will help ensure that the emirate’s private nurseries continue to thrive as we move towards a post-pandemic new normal.” ‘It’s a big help for us’ Helen V. John, manager of Kinderwood Nursery in the Khuzam area of Ras Al Khaimah, spoke of her joy at receiving the funding after being closed for 11 months last year. She said: “The financial support has been crucial for us in reopening the nursery. All fields are suffering and so I was relieved when I learned that we would receive this funding from Ras Al Khaimah Government. It’s a big help to the industry and will support the children at a crucial time of their development, which has suffered due to the pandemic. We are using the funds to buy extra resources for the children, for some renovations, and for staff training, to improve their skills.” Reopening soon Amin Humood, manager of Little Dream Nursery, which has been impacted by COVID-19, said: “It has been so difficult for us over the past year and I was pleasantly surprised when Ras Al Khaimah Government helped us in this way. The support really means a lot to us and we now plan to reopen one of our branches within the next two months. If this support hadn’t come, we wouldn’t have been able to reopen.”

GulfNews UAE

Dubai Police arrest gang involved in Dh13 million burglary of jewellery and watches

Crime|: Dubai: Dubai Police have arrested a group of burglars who stole jewelleries and expensive watches worth Dh13 million. According to Dubai Police, the gang from a European country was arrested within ten hours of receiving the report and the valuables were recovered. Major-General Khalil Ebrahim Al Mansouri, Assistant Commander-in-Chief for Criminal Investigation Affairs, Dubai Police, said the gang broke into a car showroom and stole jewellery and expensive watches worth Dh13 million. He pointed out that the three suspects, who were professional burglars, used a tool to break open the car showroom due to inadequate security measures at the showroom. “They used a tool to break into the shop, stole the valuables and then escaped in stolen motorbikes,” Maj Gen Al Mansouri said. Brigadier Jamal Al Jallaf, Director of Criminal Investigation Department (CID) at Dubai Police, said Dubai Police received an emergency call at 9am, informing them about the robbery. Read more Duo jailed for three years for posing as policemen in Dubai, kidnapping Woman sentenced to 10 years in jail and fined Dh50,000 for drug smuggling in Dubai Abu Dhabi: Attorney General bans media coverage of murder case Dubai driver to be deported after being caught sleeping under influence of drugs A team of officers launched an intensive search operation to identify the suspects and arrested them in less than ten hours. “We had a challenge as the gang had left no evidence behind. In spite of that, we made a plan and identified them. They were arrested and the jewellery recovered,” added Brig. Al Jallaf.

GulfNews UAE

Look: Global Village creates new VIP experiences for the next season

Dubai: Global Village, the UAE and wider region's leading multicultural family destination for culture, shopping, and entertainment, continues its preparations ahead of Season 26, with new culture and entertainment experiences in the pipeline. Final touches are being made to the plans to improve the Global Village VIP guest experience based on feedback collected throughout the season. As part of this initiative, the park has confirmed today a project to revamp the VIP entrance at the Cultural Gate, meant to give the very best first impression to all those who love visiting in style. The new VIP entrance at Global Village Dubai Image Credit: Supplied This announcement is made ahead of the launch of the VIP packs, which give loyal guests an upgraded Global Village experience and many privileges. Apart from the usual VIP entry tickets, VIP parking access and VIP Wonder Pass cards, guests this season can expect exciting new benefits that will make their visit memorable. The VIP entrance at Global Village's Cultural Gate is one of several areas set to undergo a revamp during the build-up to Season 26. Over the coming weeks, fans new and old can expect further announcements as the park continues its ongoing infrastructure transformation. Season 26 gets underway on October 26, 2021, when the team will be ready to welcome the world again with exciting new wonders. Key info Location: Mohammed Bin Zayed RoadCost: Dh15 per personWhen: Launches October, 26 2021

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Abu Dhabi court sentences nine people to ten years in jail and fines each Dh10 million for money laundering, cryptocurrency trading

Crime|: Abu Dhabi: Abu Dhabi Criminal Court has convicted nine individuals, and indicted six companies, for money laundering and cryptocurrency trading after they stole Dh18 million in funds from unwitting victims. The defendants have each been sentenced to ten years in jail, followed by deportation for all but the second defendant. Each defendant must also pay a Dh10 million fine. The verdicts were announced in the presence of four defendants, with the rest in absentia. The companies were also each fined Dh50 million and all funds and assets obtained through the laundering operations have been seized. Shell company According to a statement issued by the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department (ADJD), the defendants had encouraged their victims to invest in a shell company that they claimed was specialised in trading digital currencies and global stocks. A defendant living outside the UAE had initially contacted the victims, claiming that his work for foreign investment companies enabled him to invest in cryptocurrencies at highly profitable rates. The victims were asked to transfer their money to a UAE-based shell company, from where a major portion of the funds were transferred by the defendants to bank accounts held outside the UAE. Read more Woman sentenced to 10 years in jail and fined Dh50,000 for drug smuggling in Dubai Gang jailed for stealing iPhones from Dubai shop UAE joins hands with Interpol’s Operation Liberterra Abu Dhabi: Attorney General bans media coverage of murder case UAE measures The criminal activity was reported by one of the victims, who became suspicious of the high profit rate promised, and the tax that allegedly needed to be paid before collecting the profits. The discovery of this criminal activity, and the arrest and conviction of the accused, is a result of the effective measures taken in the UAE to combat money laundering.

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UAE allows all doctors residing in the country to apply for golden visa

UAE|: DUBAI: In executing the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, to grant golden visas to those with scientific competencies and distinguished expertise, the UAE Government invited doctors to apply for the golden visa in recognition of their efforts and sacrifices, and being the frontline heroes. This golden visa will grant doctors and their families a 10-year residency, enhancing their job and living stability, and driving the development and innovation of various sectors, especially healthcare. This initiative promotes a motivational work environment and high-quality living standards by attracting and retaining the top talents in the medical field, and providing opportunities for medical staff to work and reside in the UAE. This will strengthen the national healthcare sector and makes it a global model in terms of efficiency and quality of medical services. All doctors licensed by the UAE health regulatory bodies can apply for the golden visa between July 2021 to September 2022 through the website (smartservices.ica.gov.ae). Dubai-licensed doctors may apply through (smart.gdrfad.gov.ae). The concerned government departments will receive and review the applications to issue the golden visa for those who qualify. Moreover, seven offices, affiliated with the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA), will be established across the Emirates for doctors who wish to apply for the golden visa in person. The UAE Government recently announced the start of the golden visa application process for coders through the National Programme for Coders, launched by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum to grant golden visas to 100,000 coders, available for both residents and non-residents of the UAE. The UAE has applied the conditionally-renewable long-term residence visa for 5 or 10 years for certain categories, including investors, entrepreneurs and specialised talents. The system allows UAE residents and foreigners with their families who wish to work, live and study in the country, to have a long-term residence visa without the need of an Emirati sponsor. Last November, the Cabinet headed by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed announced the approval of major procedural changes for residents to obtain the golden visa, as well as the inclusion of new categories eligible for the 10-year golden visa, including all doctorate degree holders, doctors, engineers in the fields of computer engineering, electronics, coding, electricity and biotechnology, as well as outstanding students with a GPA of 3.8 or higher in accredited universities across the country. According to Cabinet Resolution No. 56 of 2018 on Regulating the Residence Permits for Investors, Entrepreneurs and Specialised Talents, the Resolution organised the granting of residence permits for investors, entrepreneurs, specialised talents, researchers in the various fields of science and knowledge, and brilliant students. The qualified talent categories for the 10-year golden visa include specialised talents and researchers in the fields of science and knowledge, such as doctors, professionals, scientists, inventors, and innovators.

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After documenting travels to over 130 countries on Earth, Santhosh George Kulangara from Kerala heads to space

India|UAE|: Dubai: It has been a long wait, of over 14 years, for traveller, media personality and entrepreneur Santhosh George Kulangara. But he feels that that the interactions and experiences during the waiting period was as good as the promise of being one of the first to be on a flight to the edge of space. Kulangara is one of the 600 people who signed up for the space tourism project by Virgin Galactic. On July 11, the founder of Virgin Group and Virgin Galactic, 71-year-old Richard Branson successfully completed the company’s first ever space flight with a 5-member crew on board. After this success, the first commercial flights carrying the early ticket holders, including Kulangara, are expected to start in early 2022. And [I thought] if a common can fly to space, I should be the first person from India to go to space because I have taken travel as a profession. Santhosh George Kulangara Kulangara is best known for his detailed video travelogues from his trips to over 130 countries. Initially screened as episodes as part of the show Sanchaaram (translates to journey in Malayalam) on Asianet, Kulangara now has his own channel called Safari TV. It was on one of his trips, that Kulangara signed up to be a space tourist in 2006.In the 90s, when travel vlogs were not a thing, Kulangara started travelling solo to shoot and edit travelogues for television viewers. A train trip and a US$250,000 ticket to space Talking about how he first came to know about space tourism with Virgin, Kulangara said “I was on a train from London to Glasgow, on a private train of Virgin Group itself…” “On the train some passenger left behind a newspaper, which I picked up and started reading. I found a curious news that Richard Branson, the owner of that very train, was planning a new venture that could take the common man to space. He had named it space tourism.” “It was exciting news for me. This would mean anyone can travel [to space], he need not be a scientist or a technician or a fighter pilot… And [I thought] if a common can fly to space, I should be the first person from India to go to space because I have taken travel as a profession. I thought I should be travelling for all Indians, to show, and share with them the experience.” Santhosh Kulangara with Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Group Image Credit: Supplied When he returned from the UK, Kulangara emailed the Virgin office in London informing them of his interest and explaining his background. In two days, he got a call from senior Virgin executives in London, and they had two-three long conversations. “They explained what it is [space flight], what are the risk elements, and [we talked] about how passionate I am… That was their first question, and I said it is not myself alone travelling… over one billion people would be travelling with me, Virgin will become a household name in India by the time I travel. So [I said], I will show them the experience of space travel, and they will enjoy space travel from their living room.” In 2007, Kulangara was officially on the list and had included in his contract that he would take his own video equipment on the flight to document the one-of-a-kind trip. The ticket cost was US$250,000, over Dh918,248. The first 600 tickets sold by Virgin Galactic went for between $200,000 and $250,000 each, but the company has warned that the cost for future sales will go up. In 2007, Kulangara was officially on the list of ticket holders for Virgin's commercial space flight Image Credit: Supplied Training and experience Even though being a space tourist doesn’t have physical or training requirements as rigorous as astronauts, there is still some training involved. Kulangara did two trainings so far and this isn’t included in the ticket price. He said, “I had my first training of zero gravity training at the Kennedy Space Centre, Florida…Me and 12 other trainees flew in aircraft designed to give the zero gravity experience.” Santhosh Kulangara during his zero gravity training; the trainings are not included in the ticket price of US$250,000 Image Credit: Supplied “It is a parabolic flight, it will take off and drop repeatedly, and every drop it creates a zero-gravity inside the aircraft. We had 40-50 drops and by the end of it we were all exhausted but it was a great experience, because we never knew what it would feel like. It was as if we were flying like a piece of cotton…” “It was a wonderful experience but after it everyone also had a wonderful vomiting session…,” he laughed. The second training was at the NASA centre in Philadelphia for G-tolerance or gravity tolerance which was tougher, Kulangara explained. “It’s not just the space travel that’s exciting. Every moment of training, every get-together [was special]. Every time we would meet up, we would interact with great people like Richard Branson, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and other Hollywood celebrities – in all our get-togethers, we would meet these celebrities. And we were a small group – we were just maybe a maximum of 200 people, we knew each other. So we would get enough time to interact.” Kulangara said he cherished the community interactions he had during his trainings and meet-ups while waiting for the space flight to become a reality. Image Credit: Supplied “Interacting with these kind of people is also an opportunity. That is also a profit or a benefit of this ticket, not just the space travel, but to have an interaction and association with these people and learn from them. These are the highlights of this space travel,” Kulangara added. As of now the date of his flight to space has not been announced yet, but Kulangara expects it will not be far now. The journey of ‘Sanchaaram’ It wasn’t easy for Kulangara to sell the idea of his video travelogues, especially during a time where there were no travel influencers and social media vloggers yet. After a degree in media, he wanted to be in the television industry and he started his career there. Kulangara said, “But soon I realised that the conventional TV serials, documentaries, telefilms and all couldn’t excite me. That is not what I wanted. Then I thought what else I could do… I am always looking for something new…” “Then I thought of my childhood days when we would have frequents tours across South India. My parents were teachers and they would travel with their students to different destinations in South India. So that passion was in me and I thought of starting a television show based on travel. A lot of travel shows were there but they all picturised places with words and letters.” “The present medium [at the time] was television. So with a camera I could share the views, the experience, the food, the culture with the viewers and they could enjoy the experiences from their living room,” he added. “At that time it was a difficult task, we would have to carry huge cameras, we would need to take a lot of technicians with us. But I found a solution for that by acquiring all the technology which a television crew required so that I could do all the work of different technicians alone, [by] myself.” Planning this out, Kulangara said he found a way to travel solo, and bring back videos from the places he visited for viewers. A still from Kulangara's first trip for Sanchaaram, to Nepal in 1997 Image Credit: Supplied Family support and money to start When he pitched the idea, Kulangara’s parents were clear about one thing. He said, “My parents had already stated that if you’re going on your own ways you have to find the fund for that yourself and we wouldn’t give you money.” “So I made my own money from other activities, small businesses, and of course programs produced for Doordarshan, borrowed some money from my friends, that’s how I started the program.” “They were definitely anxious about my future in this industry and as a television program maker…”, he added. However, his family never disapproved of Kulangara’s interest in travel because the family had a love for travelling. Kulangara, on one of his training trips to the US for the space flight Image Credit: Supplied Lack of opportunities His first trip for Sanchaaram was in 1997, to Nepal. But it would take another four years for Kulangara to get a TV show slot on Asianet because most channels at the time refused to believe that weekly travel videos were doable, especially by a single person. “When I said I would travel around the world and bring you a video every week they couldn’t believe it, they didn’t trust me – they thought even international channels weren’t doing those [solo traveller] kind of videos, so how could a man like me do it?“ Kulangara said. Kulangara said he didn’t even get many opportunities to pitch the idea because of this attitude from many channels and he added, “I was not so confident to talk to them after this.” In 2001, Asianet agreed to take his videos when they launched Asianet Global. Kulangara added, “Even then, they never thought would continue with it. But I continued with it, for 12 years on Asianet with Sanchaaram. By that time it was a hit, everyone accepted the program. Asianet also didn’t want me to leave, but I had already decided to start my own channel.” In 2013, Kulangara started his own channel called Safari– a channel dedicated to exploration and travel and to this day, free from any advertisements. Family business Kulangara and his family is best known for the Labour India group of establishments. Started by his father, George Kulangara, in 1983 the group started out as a publisher of educational journals and magazines ranging from the primary level to the higher secondary level courses. The group also has a school in Kottayam, Kerala called the Labour India Gurukulam International Residential School and Junior College. Now, Santhosh George Kulangara is the Managing Director of the Labour India group and under his leadership, Labour India Publications Ltd. was transformed into Labour India Educational Research Centre which produces 30 educational journals. The company website says these journals have over 1.6 million readers. Unique heritage resort, production studio On an island that he owns on the Vembanadu lake near Cochin, Kulangara has successfully built a unique ‘heritage village’. He chose historically significant buildings between 100 and 250 years old from across Kerala, then uprooted the structures and rebuilt them on the island. It was briefly managed as a resort but Kulangara said in a recent interview that he would no longer be continuing that and was instead focusing on making it a place people could come visit for free or hold events for payment to cover the upkeep of the village. Kulangara chose historically significant buildings and homes that were over 100 to 250 years old from across Kerala. He then uprooted the structures and rebuilt them on the island. Image Credit: Screengrab/YouTube @somakeralapalace The other project that is in the final stages is his 50,000 sq. feet production studio named the Safari Imagination Studio. Kulangara said, “The entire visual media [industry] is my playground. So I am thinking bigger now. Now augmented reality and virtual reality are emerging. So television will grow that way and will merge with film, multimedia etc. For that we need better studios to create beautiful visual effects, and technology has to lead that.” He added, “Construction is over and I am handling the final stages of the studio… It is ready for operations now. Just after the COVID-19 lockdown, we think we can inaugurate the studio.”

GulfNews UAE

Destination Dubai for the prestigious Asia-Pacific Amateur Golf Championship

By David Moir Special to Gulf News It’s destination Dubai for the prestigious Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship (ACC) after the Emirates Golf Federation (EGF) won hosting rights to the delayed 12th edition of the elite amateur event. The news was confirmed earlier today when the Masters Tournament, R&A and Asia-Pacific Golf Confederation announced the tournament would be held from November 3-6 at Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club. Dubai-based golfer Toby Bishop sets sights on prestigious Home Internationals in UK Tokyo Olympics 2020: Dubai’s Adri Arnaus gears up for golfing gold quest UAE to the world: Dubai-born golfer Josh Hill opens up on bright future Dubai’s Adri Arnaus: Tokyo Olympics 2020 more than just a golf challenge The 2020 AAC, which was due to be played at Royal Melbourne in Australia last year, was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The event will now be held in the UAE for the first time and will join the numerous professional and amateur events Dubai hosts annually, including the European Tour’s OMEGA Dubai Desert Classic and DP World Tour Championship. Created in 2009, the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship was established to further develop amateur golf in the Asia-Pacific region. The champion receives an invitation to compete in the Masters and The Open, while the runner(s)-up gain a place in final qualifying for The Open. Taimur Hassan Amin, Chairman of the APGC, Fred Ridley, Chairman of the Masters Tournament, and Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A, said in a joint statement: “This year’s historic win at the Masters by Hideki Matsuyama, a two-time Asia-Pacific Amateur champion, underscored the importance of this event as a platform for the game’s development and rising talent in the region. We are grateful for the support of the Emirates Golf Federation and Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club, and we are committed to working closely with all involved to stage this year’s championship with responsible protocols in place so we can provide this life-changing opportunity safely to these deserving players. “Dubai Creek’s Championship Course will enhance the tradition of world-class venues that have hosted this championship, and we look forward to showcasing the Asia-Pacific’s top-ranked amateurs this fall.” Opened in 1993, Dubai Creek’s Championship Course features an 18-hole, par-71 layout originally designed by Karl Litten before its redesign in 2004 led by Thomas Bjorn. The course has previously hosted the 1999 and 2000 Dubai Desert Classic and the Mena Tour’s Dubai Creek Open, where 2018 AAC runner-up Rayhan Thomas shot a course-record 61 in 2017. Most recently, Dubai Creek hosted The Dubai Championship on the World Amateur Tour last December. “After being part of the AAC for many years as a member of the APGC, we are excited to welcome this prestigious championship to the UAE for the first time,” said Sheikh Fahim bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairman of EGF. “This opportunity means a great deal to the Asia-Pacific’s many talented amateurs. We are honoured to support the APGC, the Masters Tournament and The R&A in their efforts to conduct a safe event and advance our shared mission of spurring golf’s growth and development.” Chris May, Chief Executive Officer of Dubai Golf, added: “The AAC annually brings together the leading amateurs from across the region, and the world, and we are proud to be selected by the Founding Partners as the host of this year’s event. Our Championship Course will present both a challenging and inspiring test for the players, and we look forward to highlighting their talent and contributing to the AAC’s impact on the game.”

GulfNews UAE

Heavy vehicles can now use Dubai-Al Ain Road, E66, between 10pm and 6am

UAE|: Abu Dhabi: From today onwards, heavy vehicles will be allowed on Al Ain-Dubai Road — E66 or Tahnoun bin Mohammed Al Nahyan Road — during off-peak hours between 10pm and 6am. This will allow vehicles to easily get from Dubai until Hazza bin Sultan Street in Al Ain, and back, announced Abu Dhabi’s public transport regulator, the Department of Municipalities and Transport’s Integrated Transport Centre (ITC). However, the maximum weight of the vehicle and its load cannot exceed 45 tonnes. The decision to allow heavy vehicles on the new highway connecting Dubai and Al Ain’s industrial areas has been taken in collaboration with Al Ain Municipality and Abu Dhabi Police. It aims to reduce trip time and operational cost, thereby promoting commercial activities and investments. Regulations banning heavy vehicles on other surrounding roads will continue to be effective until construction work is fully completed, including the ban on truck on Al Shiwayb Street towards Northern Emirates. ITC has urged heavy vehicle drivers on E66 to avoid parking in non-designated spaces and to steer clear of the surrounding residential areas, where trucks are still not allowed. Read more Gulf Air confirms aircraft tail hit at Dubai International Airport Dubai's DP World sees 17% gain in Q2-2021 container volumes driven by Jebel Ali and India terminals Ropeway: RTA explores to develop aerial transport network in Dubai Video: RTA uses artificial intelligence to improve bus services in Dubai Penalties will be imposed on drivers of heavy vehicles who use E66 outside of the designated off-peak hours or exceed the weight limit. ITC has also called upon all transport companies to ensure that their heavy vehicles conform to all safety standards and adhere to all traffic rules and regulations.

GulfNews UAE

Man cleared of charges of delivering drugs to inmate inside Dubai police station

Government|: Dubai: Charges against a Dubai man, who was caught while reportedly delivering drugs to an inmate inside a detention centre in Dubai, have been dismissed. According to Dubai Public Prosecution, the man had walked into a police station in Dubai to deliver underwear and other items of personal hygiene to an inmate who was convicted in a narcotics case. Illegal substances were found inside the underwear that the man had come to deliver, but the suspect denied knowing what was inside the package. He claimed that the brother of the inmate had given him the bag and asked him to deliver it to the inmate inside the detention centre. Prosecutor Ahmed Tamim from Drugs Prosecution said the inmate was in custody for consuming drugs. Officers at the police station found the illegal substance while searching his bag. ‘No ground to file a case’ “The suspect denied knowing about the drugs and claimed that he was just a messenger. It was his first time delivering clothes to the suspect. Prosecution found there was no ground to file a case against the suspect and dropped the charges,” said prosecutor Tamim. Officers told the prosecutors that the suspect was fully cooperative with them while searching the clothes, but he was shocked when they found the drugs. “He was confused and surprised when the drugs were found. He didn’t know that the drugs were stitched to the clothes,” added Tamim. Read more Woman sentenced to 10 years in jail and fined Dh50,000 for drug smuggling in Dubai Gang jailed for stealing iPhones from Dubai shop UAE joins hands with Interpol’s Operation Liberterra Dh184 million embezzlement case in Dubai law firm takes a new turn ‘Be careful’ Prosecution urged community members to be cautious while delivering items or clothes to inmates — especially to those in custody in drug cases. “Drugs can be smuggled inside items or clothing delivered to the inmates. The person who delivers the items may be ignorant of lies inside. Be careful about falling into such a trap,” Tamim cautioned.

GulfNews UAE

Dubai's DP World sees 17% gain in Q2-2021 container volumes driven by Jebel Ali and India terminals

Markets|Transport|: Dubai: Dubai Government owned DP World handled 19.7 million TEU (twenty-foot equivalent units) at its container terminals in Dubai and elsewhere in the second quarter of 2021, with container volumes increasing by 17.6 per cent year-on-year on a reported basis. The numbers reflect improving trade movements, and bodes well for the Dubai entity in the second-half of the year. There were gains made in India, Europe, Australia and Americas, while the Jebel Ali terminal handled 3.4 million TEU during the quarter, up 4.2 per cent year-on-year. In the first six months, DP World handled 38.6 million TEU, with gross container volumes increasing 13.9 per cent year-on-year on a reported basis. Group Chairman and CEO Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem said: "We are delighted to report another strong volume performance with Q2-2021 growth accelerating to 17.1 per cent year-on-year, and up 7.3 per cent compared to Q2-2019, which highlights the strength of the underlying market. Growth continued to be broad based with all our regions delivering a robust performance, with India being exceptionally strong. Encouragingly, the recent volume improvement at our flagship port of Jebal Ali (UAE) continued into Q2-2021 with throughput growth accelerating to 4.2 per cent year-on-year. "We continue to make good progress on our strategy to deliver supply chain solutions to beneficial cargo owners and are focused on growing profitability while managing growth capex. The strong start to 2021 leaves us well placed to deliver an improved full-year performance and we remain focused on delivering our 2022 targets." The near-term outlook remains positive, but we do expect growth rates to moderate in the second-half of 2021. We remain mindful that COVID-19 pandemic and geopolitical uncertainty could once-again disrupt the global economic recovery Sultan Bin Sulayem of DP World