Buhari Pays Condolence Visit To New UAE President, Seeks Stronger Ties

President Muhammadu Buhari offers condolences to the new UAE President and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, at Mushrif Palace on Friday, May 20, 2022. Photo: Hamad Al Kaabi / Ministry of Presidential Affairs

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has paid a condolence visit to the new President of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, on the passing of his predecessor, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

During the visit, President Buhari expressed his condolences and that of Nigeria to Sheikh Mohamed and congratulated him on his election as President.

He assured the new UAE leader of his determination to do more to ensure the growth of the strategic partnership between Nigeria and the Asian country.

President Buhari also hopes that under Sheikh Mohamed the two countries will continue to actively champion a vision of sustainable security, strengthen counterterrorism cooperation, facilitate trade and investment, and promote prosperity and development.

President Buhari shakes hands with UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan during the visit. Photo: Hamad Al Kaabi / Ministry of Presidential Affairs.

 

 

Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, said in a statement on Saturday that in the seven years of the Buhari administration, the two countries “have actively conducted bilateral dialogues”.

These dialogues, according to him, have led to several agreements and Memoranda of Understanding that have paved the way for further cooperation, mutual understanding and progress in many aspects of their bilateral relations.

President Buhari had left Nigeria for the UAE on Thursday, six days after the death of Sheikh Khalifa.

President Muhammadu Buhari offers condolences to HH Sheikh Omar bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Charitable and Humanitarian Foundation (L) during the visit. Photo: Rashed Al Mansoori / Ministry of Presidential Affairs

 

Sheikh Khalifa, who was rarely seen in public died on Friday, May 13 aged 73 after battling illness for several years.

The Ministry of Presidential Affairs announced 40 days of mourning, with flags at half-mast from the day of his death and work was suspended in the public and private sector for the first three days.

Sheikh Khalifa took over as the UAE’s second president in November 2004, succeeding his father as the 16th ruler of Abu Dhabi, the richest of the federation’s seven emirates.

He has rarely been seen in public since 2014, when he had surgery following a stroke, although he has continued to issue rulings. The cause of death was not immediately released.

The UAE, a former British protectorate that was founded in 1971, has gone from a desert outpost to a booming state in its short history, fuelled by its oil wealth and Dubai’s rise as a trading and financial centre.

The Arab world’s second-biggest economy behind Saudi Arabia has also begun to wield growing political influence, filling a space ceded by traditional powers such as Egypt, Iraq and Syria.

The country of 10 million also joined military campaigns in Libya and Yemen and broke ranks with much of the Arab world to establish ties with Israel in 2020.

The bearded Sheikh Khalifa had cut a frail figure on his occasional public appearances, while his Sheikh Mohamed hosted world leaders and led diplomatic forays abroad.

The late Sheikh Khalifa, who had no formal higher education, led the UAE as Dubai emerged as a tourism and trade hub and Abu Dhabi pumped oil as a key OPEC player.

He came to the rescue of Dubai when it was hit by the global financial crisis in 2009, extending a multi-billion-dollar lifeline to the debt-laden emirate.

Buhari Arrives In Abu Dhabi, To Meet New President

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has arrived in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates to meet with the country’s new President, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

In the Arab nation, Buhari will convey his condolences on the passing of the ex-President and ruler of Abu Dhabi, His Highness, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Presidential spokesman, Mallam Garba Shehu said that President Buhari is also expected to extend congratulations to the new President, renewing bonds of the longstanding friendship between Nigeria and the UAE.

Buhari had earlier reaffirmed Nigeria’s cordial relationship with the country, admitting that the cooperation between both governments has helped Nigeria in tracking down illegal assets and tracing terrorist funds.

“Under the new leadership, President Buhari looks forward to a bigger and stronger partnership for peace, stability, and prosperity of both countries,” Shehu stated.

Accompanying the President on the foreign trip are the Minister of State Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Zubairu Dada; the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy; Isa Ali Pantami; the Minister of Federal Capital Territory; Mohammed Bello, and the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika.

Others included the National Security Adviser, Major-General Mohammed Monguno (retd), and the Director-General, National Intelligence Agency, Ambassador Ahmed Rufai Abubakar.

Buhari is expected back in the country on Saturday.

Chelsea Set Sights On First Club World Cup Title

Chelsea’s Brazilian defender Thiago Silva (3L) celebrates with his teammates and supporters after scoring the second goal during the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur at Stamford Bridge in London on January 23, 2022. AFP

 

Chelsea coach Thomas Tuchel will attempt to lead Chelsea to more silverware and a first Club World Cup title as the seven-team competition kicks off Thursday in Abu Dhabi.

The European champions fly out to the UAE following Saturday’s FA Cup tie against third-tier Plymouth, and are aiming to become the third English club to win the trophy after Manchester United and Liverpool.

“I have to say once you are in it you are pretty excited,” Tuchel told the Chelsea website.

“Once you are not in it, it is a competition that has not the highest focus and highest value. It seems like this in Europe, or only for me.

“But once you are in it and you start planning it and you see it coming on the horizon is it quite exciting.”

READ ALSO: Ziyech Gem Fires Chelsea To Win Over Spurs

Tuchel guided Chelsea to a 1-0 victory over Manchester City in last season’s Champions League final. The Blues then edged Villarreal on penalties to claim the UEFA Super Cup in August.

Chelsea return to the Club World Cup for a second time having finished as runners-up to Corinthians in 2012 in Japan — the last time a team from outside Europe won the trophy.

They will play Asian Champions League winners Al Hilal of Saudi Arabia, local side Al Jazira or Tahiti’s AS Pirae in the semi-finals here on February 9.

“It is a big opportunity to win an extraordinary trophy which is far from daily business and that is why we will do anything to take the chance to make it happen,” said Tuchel.

Can Palmeiras End European Run? 

Palmeiras, one of a record nine Brazilian clubs to have graced the tournament, should pose the main threat to Chelsea after defending their Copa Libertadores crown in November.

CONCACAF Champions League winners Monterrey are taking part for the fifth time. They face African giants Al Ahly in the second round, with Palmeiras awaiting the victors in the last four.

Al Ahly will make their seventh appearance after capturing a record-extending 10th CAF Champions League title, but the Cairo-based club are without a number of key players who are still involved with Egypt at the Africa Cup of Nations.

The latest edition of the tournament — which features the champions of the six continental confederations along with the top team in the host nation — was due to be played at the end of 2021 in Japan before it pulled out as host because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Club World Cup is usually played in December but this is the second successive year in which it has been delayed — the 2020 edition in Qatar was played in February last year.

Oceania champions Auckland City withdrew for the second year running due to pandemic complications, leaving Pirae to step in and become the first Tahitian team to compete.

However, the amateurs from French Polynesia were forced to delay their departure last week after seven players and two members of staff tested positive for Covid-19.

Pirae must overcome the 17,000km-plus trip and 14-hour time difference going into the tournament opener against Al Jazira, who came fourth in 2017 and led Real Madrid in the semi-final before losing 2-1.

“First we want to beat Al Jazira and then we want to go all the way and win the trophy. Why not? It’s football, anything can happen,” Pirae captain Alvin Tehau told FIFA.com.

Bayern Munich won the most recent edition of the Club World Cup, which has been held in the UAE on four previous occasions, most recently in 2018 when Real Madrid were the winners.

A lucrative, revamped 24-team Club World Cup, including eight sides from Europe, was due to be played in China last year before the pandemic put that project on hold.

Recent Club World Cup winners

2020: Bayern Munich (GER)

2019: Liverpool (ENG)

2018: Real Madrid (ESP)

2017: Real Madrid (ESP)

2016: Real Madrid (ESP)

2015: Barcelona (ESP)

2014: Real Madrid (ESP)

2013: Bayern Munich (GER)

2012: Corinthians (BRA)

2011: Barcelona (ESP)

AFP

11 Dead As Coalition Strikes Yemen After Abu Dhabi Attack

Yemenis inspect the damage following overnight air strikes by the Saudi-led coalition targeting the Huthi rebel-held capital Sanaa, on January 18, 2022. (Photo by MOHAMMED HUWAIS / AFP)

 

Eleven people were killed in coalition air strikes on Yemen’s rebel-held capital Sanaa, a witness and medical sources told AFP Tuesday, after the insurgents launched a rare and deadly attack on the United Arab Emirates.

“Eleven people were killed. The search is still going on for survivors in the rubble,” said Akram al-Ahdal, a relative of some of the victims. A medical source confirmed the death toll.

The air strikes hit two houses, leaving them in ruins, Ahdal said. The UAE is part of the Saudi-led pro-government coalition fighting rebel forces.

READ ALSO: China Orders Overseas Mail Disinfection Over Omicron Fears

The late Monday strikes came hours after Yemen’s Iran-backed Huthi rebels claimed a drone and missile attack on the UAE capital Abu Dhabi which killed three people and wounded six.

The Huthis have carried out repeated cross-border attacks against Saudi Arabia, but this is the first deadly assault acknowledged by the UAE inside its borders and claimed by the Yemeni insurgents.

AFP

Israel’s PM Meets UAE Crown Prince At Palace In Abu Dhabi

A handout picture released by the Israeli Government Press Office (GPO) shows Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan (R) receiving Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett following his arrival in the Emirati capital, on December 12, 2021.  GPO / AFP

 

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett met Abu Dhabi’s crown prince on Monday after becoming the first leader of the Jewish state to visit the United Arab Emirates, a year after the establishment of ties.

Bennett met Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan at his private palace, Israeli officials said, following the premier’s arrival in the Emirati capital late on Sunday.

His visit comes just over a year after the wealthy Gulf state broke with decades of Arab consensus and forged diplomatic ties under a series of US-brokered deals known as the Abraham Accords.

Israel is also making a diplomatic push against renewed international talks with Iran, its arch-foe, over the Islamic republic’s nuclear programme.

Bennett, who was expected to focus on trade links, according to his spokesperson, said his visit reflected a “new reality” for the region.

“In my opinion, this is… the new reality this region is witnessing, and we are working together to ensure a better future for our children,” he told the UAE’s official WAM news agency.

The volume of mutual trade had grown within a few months, “with limitless future opportunities to develop it,” he added.

“Israel, like the UAE, is a regional hub for trade. Our cooperation provides unprecedented economic opportunities not only for us, but for more countries.”

Bennett was also scheduled to meet the UAE’s technology and transport ministers during his visit, Israeli officials said.

While he is the first Israeli prime minister to visit the UAE, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid made a landmark trip in June, opening an embassy in Abu Dhabi and a consulate in Dubai.

The UAE opened an embassy in Tel Aviv in July.

AFP

Work Permit: Nigerians Frustrated By Negative Perception In UAE

This picture shows fireworks on the Burj Khalifah tower in Dubai during the new year’s eve celebrations on December 31, 2020. (Photo by – / AFP)

 

Nigerian professionals and business owners in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are worried over the country’s negative perception by the Asian nation. 

With crime perpetrated by Nigerians on the rise, the UAE government has taken some drastic measures including suspension of the issuance of work permits to citizens from Africa’s most populous country.

But the development has triggered concerns from Nigerians doing business and working in the UAE who say they are being labelled wrongly and punished for crimes committed by a few persons from their country.

“Heartbroken,” is how an educator and one of the many law-abiding residents affected by the suspension Olabisi Akinbinu feels about the issue.

She said the move, taken as a precautionary measure against the increase in crimes linked to Nigerians, is pushing people like her to square one.

“I’m incredibly confused. I feel heartbroken, I feel frustrated,” the teacher told Channels Television. “It’s an overwhelming feeling.”

The Abu Dhabi-based filmmaker admits she is distressed over the situation which she describes as tiring.

“Living in a country like this and you’re continuing to thrive, you’re pushing forward, regardless of all the limitations of being Nigerian,” she lamented.

“You keep trying. You keep doing your best and then these things happen and it just takes you back to square one.”

READ ALSO: Kuwait Follows UAE In Suspending India Flights Over COVID-19

‘A Bad Image, Nothing More’

A file photo of an aircraft conveying the stranded Nigerians from Dubai. Credit: NIDCOM

 

Illegal stay, gang violence, robbery, and prostitution are some crimes Nigerians have been jailed for in the UAE. A few weeks ago, viral videos showed the aftermath of a cultist-related altercation.

In Abu Dhabi, security operatives are said to be on a man-hunt as unconfirmed reports say a Nigerian allegedly committed a murder.

But in the wake of the development, the Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation, UAE, said only a few Nigerians have been committing crimes in the country.

“It is basically on a class of people and this class of people, they (police) have their record and these are the people they are targeting, not everybody,” the administrator of the organisation, Fernando Chikwado, explained.

“So our only little concern is because they are giving us a bad image, nothing more.”

While officials of the Nigerian Embassy in Abu Dhabi say they are aware of the situation and have written the UAE government, a group of Nigerian professionals has launched an online campaign to speak against crime and promote a positive image for Nigeria in the UAE

Nigeria remains Dubai’s largest source market in Africa and is expected to participate in EXPO2020.

EXPO2020 Dubai is to kick off 1st of October. It is unclear what COVID protocols will be put in place for the 25 million visitors expected.

 

 

 

McGregor Knocked Out By Poirier At UFC 257

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – JANUARY 18: Conor McGregor prepares for his welterweight bout against Donald Cerrone during UFC246 at T-Mobile Arena on January 18, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Steve Marcus/Getty Images/AFP

 

American underdog Dustin Poirier shook up the world of mixed martial arts Sunday, beating up the legs of Irish superstar Conor McGregor before knocking him out at UFC 257 in Abu Dhabi.

“I’m happy but I’m not surprised. I put in the work,” Poirier after the referee stepped in after 2min 32sec of the second round to save McGregor from further damage after he was dropped by a fierce combination of punches.

The 32-year-old Poirier was ranked second in the flyweight division going into the fight, but still rated a heavy underdog by bookmakers to beat his fourth-ranked opponent, arguably the most famous fighter the sport has seen.

The controversial McGregor, known as “Notorious”, was returning to the octagon for the first time in a year and hoping for a repeat of the pair’s first contest in 2014 which he won by TKO after just 109 seconds.

But Poirier, who now has a UFC record of 27-6, used low calf kicks in an effort to put McGregor (22-5) off his usual ferocious stand-up game -– and it worked.

“First off I want to say Conor took this result professionally. We’re 1-1 and maybe we’re going to have to do it again,” said Poirier, hinting at the prospect of a trilogy fight.

READ ALSO: Hurt And Heartbroken McGregor Ponders Future After Knockout Shock

“I’m happy with the place I am in. I’m happy with the face I see in the mirror.

“The goal was to be technical and to pick my shots, not brawl at all. I had him hurt and I went a little crazy.”

McGregor likes to call himself “Mystic Mac” and had spent the week leading into the fight predicting he would end it inside 60 seconds.

But it was a different Poirier to the one who had looked overmatched when the pair previously met at UFC 178 at the lighter featherweight.

– ‘I’m gutted’ –

Poirier worked the legs and took McGregor down into a grapple for much of the first round — avoiding a boxing face-off against a man who once shared the ring with Floyd Mayweather and had touted a future fight against Manny Pacquiao.

Poirier then found his range in the second, weakening McGregor’s base with more calf kicks before exploding for the shock finish.

He staggered McGregor with a big overhand left and then dropped him to the canvas with a straight right flush on the Irishman’s nose before referee Herb Dean waved it off.

“The low calf kick was very good but Dustin is some fighter,” said McGregor.

“I’ll dust it off and come back because that’s what I’ll do. I’ll take my licks.

“I’m gutted, it’s a tough one to swallow. I just want to go back to the hotel and chill with my kids and regroup.”

The second-ranked Poirier is now in prime position to either inherit or fight for the UFC’s lightweight belt, most recently held by the now-retired unbeaten Russian Khabib Nurmagomedov.

“I felt like this was the title fight. If Khabib’s not coming back then I’m the champion,” said Poirier.

The fight was held inside the new Etihad Arena on the “Fight Island” bio-secure sporting hub of Yas Island that the Abu Dhabi government established last July.

The three UFC events staged over the past week have been the first to allow fans to sit cageside, with around 2,000 in attendance for the main event.

Abu Dhabi Abolishes Permit System For Buying Alcohol

The presidential palace in the UAE capital Abu Dhabi during a reception for Pope Francis./ AFP

 

Authorities in the UAE capital Abu Dhabi have abolished the requirement for permits to purchase and consume alcohol, according to an official circular, after neighbouring Dubai also moved to relax rules.

The changes come as both the emirates, among seven in the United Arab Emirates federation, seek to rebuild their tourism industries after the coronavirus shutdown, and also prepare for visitors from Israel after a landmark deal to normalise relations.

“We are announcing the cancellation of permits for alcohol, and residents and tourists will have the right to buy it in authorised stores,” said the circular from the Department of Culture and Tourism dated September 15 and seen by AFP on Tuesday.

The directive said buyers must be at least 21 years of age, that the alcohol must not be re-sold, and that it should be consumed in a private home or an authorised place such as a club.

But it did not specify whether Muslims are forbidden to buy alcohol or not. Formerly Muslims were not permitted to acquire an alcohol licence.

The circular ends a legal grey area in the emirate. Although liquor stores in Abu Dhabi do not usually ask for permits to sell alcohol, sales were technically still subject to those rules.

In Dubai, stores are required to ask residents or tourists to show a permit before selling alcohol, but bars and restaurants do not require patrons to produce the document.

This year, Dubai also relaxed the permit system, making it easier for residents to acquire one by removing the requirement to obtain a “certificate of no objection” from their employer.

Residents need only to fill out a basic form, present their identity card, and pay 270 dirhams ($74) to obtain the permit. Tourists can get a temporary licence by showing their passport and visas at the store.

However, Muslims still cannot apply for an alcohol permit in Dubai.

The sale of alcohol is permitted in six of the seven emirates in the UAE, but is prohibited in conservative Sharjah which remains “dry” with no pubs or bars. Public intoxication and drink-driving are strictly banned across the country.

 

-AFP

Saudi Allows Overflights By UAE Services To All Countries

An air-plane of Israel’s El Al is pictured at the tarmac of Abu Dhabi airport in the first-ever commercial flight from Israel to the UAE, on August 31, 2020. – A US-Israeli delegation including White House advisor Jared Kushner took off on a historic first direct commercial flight from Tel Aviv to Abu Dhabi to mark the normalisation of ties between the Jewish state and the UAE. Karim SAHIB / AFP.

 

Saudi Arabia has agreed to allow UAE flights to “all countries” to overfly the kingdom, state media reported Wednesday, days after allowing an Israeli aircraft to pass over en route to Abu Dhabi.

Saudi Arabia has accepted an Emirati request to allow “crossing the kingdom’s airspace for flights heading to the UAE and departing from it to all countries”, the official Saudi Press Agency said, citing a source from the civil aviation authority.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meanwhile announced that Monday’s historic first commercial flight of an Israeli aircraft direct to the United Arab Emirates across Saudi Arabia would not be the last.

“Israeli planes and those from all countries will be able to fly directly from Israel to Abu Dhabi and Dubai, and back,” Netanyahu said, without giving any timeline.

The announcements come after a US-Israeli delegation visited Abu Dhabi on Monday, on the first direct commercial flight from Tel Aviv to mark the normalisation of ties between the Jewish state and the UAE.

Saudi Arabia has said it will not follow the United Arab Emirates in establishing diplomatic ties with Israel until the Jewish state has signed an internationally recognised peace accord with the Palestinians.

But the kingdom has cultivated clandestine relations with Israel in recent years, in a shift spearheaded by de facto leader Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

In a sign of its cooperation with Israel, Saudi Arabia allowed Monday’s historic flight to cross its airspace, halving what would otherwise have been a long detour around the Arabian peninsula.

However, Saudi Arabia, the Arab world’s biggest economy and home to Islam’s holiest sites, faces more sensitive political calculations than the UAE.

Not only would a formal recognition of Israel be seen by Palestinians and their supporters as a betrayal of their cause, it would also hurt the kingdom’s image as the leader of the Islamic world.

In 2002, Saudi Arabia sponsored the Arab Peace Initiative which called for Israel’s complete withdrawal from the Palestinian territories occupied in the Six-Day War of 1967 and an equitable solution for Palestinian refugees, in exchange for peace and the full normalisation of relations.

But a shared animosity towards Iran, along with Saudi attempts to attract foreign investment to fund Prince Mohammed’s ambitious Vision 2030 economic diversification plan, appear to be pushing the kingdom closer to Israel than ever.

AFP

UAE Commences First Arab Nuclear Plant

 A file photo taken on November 12, 2019 as a handout picture obtained from the media office of the Barakah Nuclear Power Plant on February 13, shows a general view of the power plant in the Gharbiya region of Abu Dhabi on the Gulf coastline about 50 kilometres west of Ruwais. Barakah Nuclear Power Plant / AFP
A file photo taken on November 12, 2019 as a handout picture obtained from the media office of the Barakah Nuclear Power Plant on February 13, shows a general view of the power plant in the Gharbiya region of Abu Dhabi on the Gulf coastline about 50 kilometres west of Ruwais. Barakah Nuclear Power Plant / AFP

 

The oil-rich United Arab Emirates on Saturday announced the startup of its Barakah nuclear power plant, scoring another first for the Arab world.

The announcement, coinciding with the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, comes hot on the heels of the UAE’s launch of the Arab world’s first probe to Mars.

“UAE first nuclear reactor at the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant has achieved first criticality and successfully started up,” tweeted Hamad Alkaabi, the country’s representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

“This is a historic milestone for the nation with a vision set to deliver a new form of clean energy for the nation,” he tweeted in English, along with a photograph of technicians raising their arms in celebration.

The UAE premier and ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, tweeted that work at Barakah had “succeeded in loading nuclear fuel packages, carrying out comprehensive tests and successfully completing the operation”.

“Congratulations on realising this historic achievement in the energy sector & marking this milestone in the roadmap for sustainable development,” Sheikh Mohammed said.

The UAE started loading fuel rods into the reactor at Barakah in February, after regulators gave the green light for the first of the plant’s four reactors, opening the way for commercial operations.

The plant on the Gulf coast west of Abu Dhabi had been due to go online in late 2017 but faced a number of delays that officials attributed to safety and regulatory requirements.

The Nawah Energy Company said at the time that Unit 1 would begin commercial operations after a “series of tests” leading to the start-up process.

During the process, the unit would be synchronised with the power grid and the first electricity produced.

A file photo taken on November 12, 2019 as a handout picture obtained from the media office of the Barakah Nuclear Power Plant on February 13, shows a view of the power plant in the Gharbiya region of Abu Dhabi on the Gulf coastline about 50 kilometres west of Ruwais.  Barakah Nuclear Power Plant / AFP
Another view of the Gharbiya power plant. Barakah Nuclear Power Plant / AFP

 

The UAE has substantial oil and gas reserves, but with a power-hungry population of 10 million it has made huge investments in developing clean alternatives, including solar energy.

Barakah, which means “blessing” in Arabic, is a regional first — Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter, has said it plans to build up to 16 nuclear reactors, but the project has yet to materialise.

Barakah was built by a consortium led by the Korea Electric Power Corporation at a cost of some $24.4 billion.

When fully operational, its four reactors have the capacity to generate 5,600 megawatts of electricity, around 25 percent of the nation’s needs. The remaining three reactors are almost ready for operation.

As well as generating competitively priced electricity, the UAE also hopes the nuclear plant will elevate its status as a key regional player, building on its success as a hub for tourism, banking and services.

The fourth largest crude producer in the OPEC cartel, the country was built on oil and sits on a huge, recently discovered gas field.

Nevertheless, it is spending billions to develop enough renewable energy to cover half of its needs by 2050.

“This is part of the UAE’s drive to diversify its energy economy, reduce dependence on fossil fuels and project its image as a regional leader in science and technology,” a Gulf analyst told AFP.

No enrichment

On July 20, the first Arab space mission to Mars, an unmanned probe dubbed “Hope”, blasted off from Japan on a mission to reveal more about the atmosphere of the Red Planet.

The Barakah plant, on the coast facing Iran across the Gulf, stands just 50 kilometres (30 miles) from the Saudi border and closer to Qatar’s capital Doha than to Abu Dhabi.

A handout image provided by United Arab Emirates News Agency (WAM) on August 1, 2020 shows a general view of the Barakah Nuclear Power Plant in the Gharbiya region of Abu Dhabi on the Gulf coastline about 50 kilometres west of Ruwais. STRINGER / WAM / AFP
A general view of the Barakah Nuclear Power Plant in the Gharbiya region of Abu Dhabi on the Gulf coastline about 50 kilometres west of Ruwais. STRINGER / WAM / AFP

 

Amid a tense confrontation between Iran and the United States over Tehran’s nuclear programme, the UAE has said it will not be developing a uranium enrichment programme or nuclear reprocessing technologies.

Qatar, the target of a boycott by Saudi Arabia, the UAE and others since June 2017, last year said the Barakah plant poses a “flagrant threat to regional peace and environment”.

The UAE has repeatedly said its nuclear ambitions are for “peaceful purposes” and moved to dispel any concerns over safety.

It says it has welcomed more than 40 international reviews and inspection missions.

Team Nigeria depart for Special Olympics World Summer Games

 

Nigeria’s contingent to the Special Olympics World Summer Games has departed Lagos for the multi-sport event which is scheduled to start on March 14 in Abu Dhabi and end on March 21.

The team which is made up of 60 athletes and 18 coaches will compete in 8 Olympic-type sports; Athletics, Badminton, Basketball, Football, Table-tennis, Volleyball, Swimming and Cycling. They will also be accompanied by caregivers and medical personnel.

Abu Dhabi 2019 will be Nigeria’s 5th appearance at the world summer games after featuring at the Ireland, China, Greece and USA events.

More than 7,000 athletes from 170 countries will compete in 24 summer sports, along with 2,500 coaches and 20,000 volunteers.

This will be the first Special Olympics World Games to be hosted the Middle East/North Africa region.

The 2019 World Games will kick off with a star-studded Opening Ceremony in the iconic Zayed Sports City Stadium in the heart of Abu Dhabi which the largest sports venue in the Persian Gulf.

In addition to sports, the 2019 World Games will also feature non-sports activities and programs, including Unified Sports experiences, free Healthy Athletes screenings, Global Youth Leadership Summit, and the Law Enforcement Torch Run.

Serena Williams To Return To Tennis In Abu Dhabi Exhibition

Former world number one Serena Williams will make her much-anticipated competitive return with an exhibition match on the final day of the Mubadala exhibition event on December 30, tournament organisers announced Sunday.

The 36-year-old, who has won an Open-era record 23 Grand Slam singles titles, will take on reigning French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko.

Williams won the Australian Open 11 months ago but has not played since because of pregnancy and the birth of her first child, Alexis Olympia, in September. She has since fallen to 22 in the WTA rankings.

The American, who has never played the 20-year-old Ostapenko, will face the Latvian in the tournament’s first ever women’s match.

“I am delighted to be returning to the court in Abu Dhabi for the first time since the birth of my daughter,” she said in a statement on the tournament’s website.

“The Mubadala World Tennis Championship has long marked the beginning of the men’s global tennis season and I am excited and honoured to be making my comeback as part of the first women to participate in the event.”

Williams can equal Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 Grand Slam titles at Melbourne Park next month.

The six-strong men’s field in Abu Dhabi features former world number one Novak Djokovic, who will also be making his comeback.

The Serb has not played competitively since his quarter-final loss at Wimbledon in July because of an elbow injury.

The exhibition tournament, which starts December 28, had earlier lost a couple of star attractions, including multiple Grand Slam champions Rafael Nadal and Stan Wawrinka.

AFP