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

Nadal Pulls Out Of Season Opener In Abu Dhabi

World number one Rafael Nadal has withdrawn from his planned season opener at an exhibition event in Abu Dhabi due to lingering fitness concerns just three weeks ahead of the Australian Open.

Nadal, 31, was forced to pull out of the 2017 season-ending ATP Masters last month due to a knee injury after an exhausting season in which he won the French and US Opens.

“It was a tough 2017 and I need to take my calendar in a different way in order to be ready,” Nadal told the Mubadala World Tennis Championships website.

“For this reason, I have sadly announced to the organisers and now to you fans that I won’t play this time in Abu Dhabi.”

Spanish sports daily AS reported that Nadal had to halt his planned training schedule in his native Mallorca this week to seek medical attention in Barcelona due to the niggling knee injury.

Nadal still plans on going for a 17th Grand Slam of his career in Melbourne next month.

The Spaniard will be replaced by compatriot Roberto Bautista Agut for the six-man event over three days from December 28-30.

AFP

Abu Dhabi Authorities ‘Acquired’ $450m Da Vinci – Museum

Christie’s employees take bids for Leonardo da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi” at Christie’s New York November 15, 2017. TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP

The Louvre Abu Dhabi said Friday that local Emirati authorities had “acquired” a $450-million painting by Renaissance master Leonardo Da Vinci, as reports swirled about the original source of funding.

“Louvre Abu Dhabi is looking forward to displaying the Salvator Mundi by Leonardo Da Vinci. The work was acquired by the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi,” the museum said in tweets in both English and Arabic.

The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman — currently on an anti-corruption drive at home — put up the funds for the staggering purchase.

The young crown prince, often referred to by his initials MBS, used an intermediary to buy the much-sought-after painting of Christ, the paper reported, citing US intelligence and other unnamed sources.

The latest tweets by the museum, which had already announced the Da Vinci was “coming” to Abu Dhabi, did not explicitly contradict that report.

The landmark acquisition comes shortly after the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia announced the formation of a new military and economic committee, separate from the Gulf Cooperation Council.

In recent years, Qatar has been the biggest player in the Gulf art world, but in June, Saudi Arabia and some of its allies broke off diplomatic and trade relations with Doha, which they accuse of supporting extremist movements.

“Salvator Mundi” — dated to around 1500 — is the last known Da Vinci in the hands of a private collector. It was long believed to be a copy but was finally authenticated about a dozen years ago.

AFP

Real Madrid Eye Third Club World Cup Title

GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP

Defending champions Real Madrid will play the winner of a play-off between the Asian champions and Auckland City/Al Jazira in the semi-final of the FIFA Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi, it was announced Monday.

Emirati champions Al Jazira and OFC Champions League winners Auckland City face each other in the opening game, the winners then play in the second round with Mexico’s Pachuca and the CAF and AFC champions.

Real Madrid, seeking a record-equalling third title, and the Copa Libertadores champions will join the competition from the semi-final stage of the seven-club competition that runs from December 6-16.

AFP

Don’t Place Profits Above Security Needs, Buhari Warns Telecom Companies

muhammadu buhariPresident Muhammadu Buhari has urged telecommunication companies operating in Nigeria not to place their desire for huge profits above the security needs of the country.

In a statement by the President’s spokesperson, the President said that telecommunication companies operating in Nigeria must adhere to the rules and guidelines of the Nigerian Communications Commission in this regard.

He made the statement, remarking that the registration of all mobile phone users without exception would help the security agencies to pre-empt terrorist attacks.

“Deadly Blows”

President Buhari was speaking at an interactive forum with members of the Nigerian Community in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.

He stressed that the war against terrorism could only be won with collective effort and a commitment by all stakeholders to work in unison to halt the scourge.

President Buhari further assured the gathering that his administration would deal decisively with the seeming resurgence of oil theft, pipeline vandalism and insecurity in the Niger Delta.

Declaring that the Nigerian Armed Forces had already dealt “deadly blows” on Boko Haram, the President said that the activities of oil thieves and vandals would soon be brought to an end.

“The oil thieves and abductors are a less problematic target. We will re-organise and deal with them”, he said.

President Buhari assured Nigerians at the interactive session that his administration’s war against corruption would continue to be vigorously pursued.

The President pledged that more persons, who have abused the public trust, would be exposed and brought to justice soon.

He emphasised his administration’s commitment to re-establishing former standards of accountability and probity in the management of public funds which were jettisoned under past administrations.

The President appealed for more patience and understanding from Nigerians, as his administration takes steps to safeguard the economy from the shock of falling oil prices.

“In the face of our new economic reality of dwindling oil prices, there are a number of things we can really do without, to preserve our economy.

“We must develop the capacity to feed ourselves and we should be spending our resources on real development projects, not luxuries,” he stressed.

Nigeria Signs Agreement With UAE On Recovery Of Stolen Funds

muhammadu buhari and kemi adeosun in UAENigeria and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have signed six agreements to enhance bilateral relations between them.

The signing of the agreements on trade, finance and judicial matters was witnessed by President Muhammadu Buhari and the Crown Prince of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.

Muhammadu-Buhari-and-Sheikh-Mohammed-Bin-Zayed-Al-Nahyan
Obaid Attayar, President Muhammadu Buhari, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Mrs Kemi Adeosun at the signing of the agreement

Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun and the UAE Minister of State for Financial Affairs, Obaid Attayar, signed the Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreement, while the Minister of Trade and Investment, Mr Okechukwu Enelamah signed the Agreement on Trade Promotion and Protection with the UAE Minister of State for Financial Affairs.

The Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami and his counterpart in the United Arab Emirates, Sultan Bin Saeed Albadi signed the Judicial Agreements on Extradition, Transfer of Sentenced Persons, and Mutual Legal Assistance on Criminal and Commercial Matters, which includes the recovery and repatriation of stolen wealth.

At a reception after the signing of the agreements, President Buhari reiterated his commitment to fighting corruption and restoring Nigeria’s dignity in the comity of nations.

The President also urged all Islamic countries to support the fight against terrorism in Nigeria and described the atrocities of Boko Haram as un-Islamic and against the teachings of the Holy Prophet.

In his remarks, Crown Prince Zayed Al Nahyan said that the relationship between Nigeria and the UAE would be strengthened by President Buhari’s visit and the signing of the agreements.