UAE Implements Ministerial Adjustments in Preparation for Next Stage

UAE

Dubai – The UAE has reshuffled ministries by introducing four new ministerial posts, merging some functions and sectors into a single ministry and implementing structural adjustments.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, announced on Thursday the new government after consultation with Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.

New ministerial posts were established to cope with latest scientific and technological developments, in addition to some structural changes, which fall within the framework of government’s plan to meet the requirements of the next stage.

Three new ministries were created, including the Minister of Artificial Intelligence, the Minister of State for Advanced Sciences and the Minister of State for Food Security.

Other ministries have seen structural changes, including the Ministry of State for Happiness, to which the Quality of Life file has been added, the Ministry of State for Higher Education, which now comprises the Advanced Skills, and the Ministry of Energy, which now includes the Industry sector.

Sheikh Mohammed appointed Oman bin Sultan Al Olama, 27, as the first Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence. The appointment comes just two days after the announcement of the UAE Strategy for Artificial Intelligence, a major initiative in the UAE Centennial 2071 objectives.

As for the new post of Minister of State for Food Security, it has been given to Maryam Al Muhairi.

“Food security is a future national issue, its foundation will be research and scientific projects … we have great confidence in our youth,” Sheikh Mohammed said.

As for advanced sciences, Sara Al Amiri, 30, was appointed to lead her new ministry into research, development and manufacture of “scientific competencies”, according to Sheikh Mohammed.

The Ministry of State for Higher Education has been expanded to include Advanced Skills “to ensure lifelong learning among the country’s young people.”

UAE Rights Group Condemns Asset Freeze of Sheikh Abdullah Al Thani

Dubai– Emirates Association for Human Rights (EHRA) condemned the freeze of assets of Sheikh Abdullah bin Ali Al Thani saying it is a flagrant violation of human rights that has become a systematic approach of intimidation adopted by Qatari authorities.

EHRA Chairman Mohammed Salem al-Kaabi said that Qatar’s freezing of Sheikh Abdullah’s assets and funds is a blatant infringement of personal and human rights and an illegal, condemned action that corroborates Doha’s insistence to continue its violations of all Arab and international human rights charters and conventions.

The association also condemned Qatari regime’s freezing of the assets of Sheikh Sultan Bin Suhaim and the raid on his palace last week by the Qatari state security forces that wreaked havoc on its holdings and documents.

These actions reveal the fact that Qatar has become a police state that blatantly defies all legal restrictions, WAM News Agency quoted Kaabi as saying.

Sheikh Abdullah Bin Ali Al Thani, the grandson of Qatar’s founder, tweeted: “The Qatari regime honors me by freezing all of my bank accounts, and I thank them for this honor and I have the honor to present it to the homeland.”

He hoped that Qatar would expel opportunists and friends of interests and return to the Gulf union.

In details, the palace of Sheikh Sultan Bin Suhaim in Doha was raided for six hours by a unit of 15 armed men of the Qatari State Security Forces last Thursday.

The raid resulted in the confiscation of around 137 bags and a number of cabinets containing documents and belongings of Sheikh Sultan, as well as large archives of his father, former Foreign Minister Suhaim Bin Hamad Al Thani.

The archive includes information that accurately records the history of Qatar and its internal events from the sixties until his death in 1985.

Also during the raid, security agents invaded the private room of Sheikh Sultan’s mother, confiscating all her personal and family pictures, her jewelry, valuables and money.

In addition, palace workers were subjected to assault, beatings and arrest.

Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain Welcome Trump’s ‘Firm’ Iran Strategy

Iran

Riyadh – Saudi Arabia welcomed on Friday US President Donald Trump’s new strategy against Iran and its hostile policy, hailing his vision in this regard and commitment to work with US allies in the region to counter common challenges.

The Kingdom said in a statement: “Riyadh had previously supported the nuclear agreement between Iran and the 5 + 1 powers, in the belief that it is necessary to limit the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in our region and the world.”

It had hoped that the agreement would prevent Iran from obtaining such arms in any way, continued the statement released by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

“Instead, Iran exploited the economic benefits of lifting the sanctions and used them to continue to destabilize the region, especially through its ballistic missile development program and support of terrorism in the region, including the Houthi militias in Yemen and ‘Hezbollah’.”

“Iran has not only done so in flagrant violation of the resolution, but also it transferred such potentials and experience to its militias, including the Houthis, who used the missiles to target the Kingdom. This therefore exposed the falsity of Iranian claims that the development of these capabilities is only for defensive reasons,” the statement added.

In continuation of its aggressive approach, Iran had, through its Revolutionary Guards and Houthi militia, repeatedly targeted international navigation passageways in the Red Sea and the Arabian Gulf. The statement also accused it of carrying out cyber attacks against Saudi Arabia and regional countries.

The Kingdom therefore voiced its ongoing commitment to work with partners in the United States and international community to achieve the objectives declared by Trump.

It underlined the need to address threats posed by Tehran’s policies to international peace and security from a wider perspective beyond its nuclear program to include all of its aggressive activities, in order to cut off all avenues for it to acquire weapons of mass destruction.

Similarly, the United Arab Emirates also voiced its complete support for Trump’s new strategy to deal with Iran’s destabilizing policies.

The Foreign Ministry said in a statement: “For too long, the Iranian regime has spread destruction and chaos throughout the region and beyond. The nuclear deal offered Iran an opportunity to engage responsibly with the international community. Instead, it only emboldened Iran to intensify its provocative and destabilizing behavior.”

“The new US strategy takes necessary steps to confront Iran’s malign behavior in all its forms – including its growing ballistic missile program, support for terrorist organizations like ‘Hezbollah’ and the Houthis, cyber attacks, interference in its neighbors’ domestic affairs and threats to the freedom of navigation,” continued the statement released by the Emirates News Agency (WAM).

The US Treasury Department’s designation of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps is a strong measure that will help limit Tehran’s dangerous activities as the world’s leading state-sponsor of terrorism, stressed the statement.

“The UAE welcomes and endorses the new US strategy. We reaffirm our commitment to working with the US and our allies to counter the full range of Iran’s destabilizing activities and its support for extremists,” emphasized the Foreign Ministry.

Bahrain also welcomed the new US strategy, stressing that Iran is the leading world sponsor of terrorism.

Manama welcomed the steps announced by Trump on how to deal with the Iranian nuclear agreement, including imposing sanctions on the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.

It stressed that this stance is a confirmation and a reminder to the global community of the importance of combating terrorism and all those who support it to make the region and the world more peaceful and stable.

“The Kingdom lauds Trump’s policy and keenness to prevent chaos and to counter Iran’s attempts to promote terrorism,” said the Foreign Ministry in a statement.

It affirmed that Bahrain “is one of the countries most affected by the expansionist policy of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, which aims to undermine the security of our societies by promoting and supporting extremist ideas and destructive acts of terrorism.”

Bahrain expressed its support for all efforts aimed at preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and all efforts aimed at combating its funding and arming of extremist militias in the region. It stressed the need for Iran to respect the sovereignty of its neighboring countries and commit to international laws.

UAE Ends Mission of its Ambassador to North Korea

Abu Dhabi- The United Arab Emirates has terminated the diplomatic presence of the UAE non-resident ambassador to the Republic of North Korea, and Pyongyang’s ambassador to the country, in addition to taking other measures that consolidate the international community’s work in that regard.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, MoFAIC, has stated that the measures include stopping the issuance of entry visas for North Korean citizens and ceasing new business licenses for North Korean companies wishing to operate in the UAE.

The MoFAIC affirmed that the UAE has developed an executive framework in collaboration with state departments in the country to implement UN Security Council resolutions on North Korea and its nuclear program, primarily Resolutions 2371 and 2375.

It said it looked forward to international efforts aimed to stop the proliferation of Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile program that pose a threat to international peace and stability.

The statement added that the ministry’s measures come in line with the UAE’s responsibility as a full-fledged member of the international community.

Saudi King Salman Receives UAE Ambassador at End of his Tenure

Saudi

Riyadh – Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz received on Tuesday outgoing United Arab Emirates Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Saeed Al-Dhaheri.

The UAE Ambassador bade farewell to King Salman on the occasion of the end of his term as ambassador of his country to the Kingdom.

The audience at the Yamamah Palace in Riyadh was attended by Minister of Interior Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Naif bin Abdulaziz, Ministers of State Dr. Musaad bin Mohammed Al-Aiban and Dr. Ibrahim bin Abdulaziz Al-Assaf and Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed al-Jubeir.

Also at the Yamamah Palace on Tuesday, new Minister of Civil Service Dr. Sulaiman bin Abdullah Al-Hamdan and Minister of Transport Dr. Nabil bin Mohammed Al-Amoudi were sworn in before King Salman in a ceremony attended by several officials.

Why Has Qatar Chosen Defiance?

Qatar Airways plane is seen in Doha

Qatar has adopted one concept within its response to the Arab Quartet that has decided to boycott it: do all that it can to thwart their plan and force them to reconcile with it.

It has become closer to Iran and has restored relations with Hezbollah. It’s funding Houthi militias in Yemen and hostile Islamic extremist groups that oppose the boycotting countries. It has also been supporting the US Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) and wants to criminalize Saudi Arabia by accusing it of funding the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Qatar has also been pushing international organizations to hold Saudi Arabia accountable at the UN Security Council and the US Congress for its military activity in Yemen, knowing that it was part of the coalition there.

Doha is also paying huge amounts of money to anyone who speaks out against the Arab quartet.

Some may ask: Why do we denounce Qatar for doing so while it is defending itself after the quartet actually started the crisis by boycotting it?

It is true that we denounce what Doha is doing, but we are not surprised at all as this is how it secretly operated earlier. Doha, however, is now openly targeting these countries, and it has doubled its acts against them.

Hostility and confrontation practiced by Doha is not the only option since it can also accept the reality and live with it.

Qatar had three options from which to choose since the eruption of the crisis with the Arab quartet – Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

The first option is to accept conditions and rearrange relations based on guaranteed interests. The problem will then end, and we would all live through a stable phase based on mutual respect and not interfering in each other’s affairs.

The second option, which Qatar could have chosen, is to boycott the countries, just like what the quartet states did, and just manage its affairs without them.

The third and most difficult option, and which Qatar has chosen, is to declare enmity and launch a war by confronting the four countries via international organizations and governments, form alliances, seal military deals against them, fund the four countries’ rivals and incite against them through every available platform.

The behavior of Doha’s authority is not surprising. This is what it has been doing for the past 20 years.

Qatar thinks it can impose its views on other countries regardless of their orientation and capabilities and risks of facing them.

Qatar has also paid huge sums of money to see this through. However, isn’t its concern justified? Can Qatar’s leadership really go to bed every night and rest assured that no one will overthrow it and take over power?

What Qatar is actually doing is provocation and antagonism. Its hostile activities against these four countries may force them to overthrow this leadership or support those with ambitions, and they are many.

The other truth is that no one wants to impose change by force unlike what the Qatar regime is claiming.

This is due to several reasons, as for example changing regimes and arranging coups lead to a bad reputation for the country doing so.

Besides, if the quartet really wanted to stage a coup or an invasion, it would not have boycotted Qatar and let its security forces on alert 24/7.

Those angry at Qatar could have simply not sparked a battle and instead seized Doha in the dark within two hours.

The royal family, which used to conspire during tea sessions to topple regimes in the region and intimidate governments, including the quartet’s, is terrified like we’ve never seen it before.

This fear of a “justified” revenge pushed it to scream out and appeal for help from every state, especially that now it’s been distanced and belittled.

It has been spending large amounts of money, like nothing we have ever seen before. The result, however, will be as I have written before; it will submit and sign, maybe behind closed doors.

I think Qatar could have tried to live in isolation without Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain.

It could have been best friends with 200 other countries instead of being reckless and attacking the quartet everywhere.

This behavior will eventually lead to its bankruptcy and make others lose respect for it. It may even provoke its rivals to do far more than what they are currently doing.

Abu Dhabi Crown Prince, Iraqi FM Discuss Latest Developments

al-Jaafari

Abu Dhabi – Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed held talks on Monday with Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari on the latest Iraqi and Arab developments and efforts to overcome current regional crises.

They also tackled the Arab stance on regional challenges, starting with terrorism and extremism and the need for coordination and cooperation. They stressed the need for Arab solidarity to preserve regional stability and security.

Jaafari was in Abu Dhabi to attend the ninth meeting of the Iraqi-Emirati committee.

He discussed with the Crown Prince bolstering fraternal ties between the people of Iraq and the United Arab Emirates and ways to develop them to achieve common interests.

The Iraqi Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the visit was aimed at activating a number of agreements, some of which cover security coordination, as well as investments in Iraq.

Jaafari is set to meet with a number of Emirati officials to urge them for effective participation in the upcoming donor conference scheduled for Kuwait.

In September, Iraq and the UAE agreed to form a work team that would facilitate investment and tackle challenges between the UAE Ministry of Economy and the Iraqi Ministry of Industry and Minerals, especially during the reconstruction phase of the war-torn country.

Selective Tax Applied on Over 1,600 Items in UAE

Khaled Al Bustani., director-general of the Federal Tax Authority. UAE

Dubai- The number of commodities covered by the UAE’s selective taxation has been announced as 1,610 items, 60 percent of which are classified as soft drink products, 26 percent as tobacco and its derivatives, and some 14 percent as energy drinks, all deemed as the most damaging to the public’s health, the UAE announced Sunday.

The Federal Tax Authority has prepared a list of taxable commodities to assist in the collection process by the authorized parties, the manufacturing companies or importing companies.

The number of items on the list is subject to increase in the future if new brands of tobacco products, soft drinks or energy drinks are introduced to the market, and the selective tax rate varies between 50 and 100 percent.

The number of commodities classified as soft drinks, according to the list prepared by the Federal Tax Authority, is 974 while those classified as tobacco products and its derivatives reached 417, and the number of energy drinks was set at 219 items.

The Federal Tax Authority announced earlier this week that selective tax collections will only be accepted in e-Dirhams, a decision that will boost the government’s efforts to adopt an electronic system, keeping the UAE up to date with the latest technologies and providing a high-level of security and efficiency in electronic payments.

The UAE is the second Gulf country after Saudi Arabia to apply selective taxes, which is an indirect tax imposed on commodities that are harmful to public health or the environment.

The purpose of the tax is to limit the consumption of those commodities while contributing to an increase in government revenues.

According to preliminary estimates, the authority expects government revenues to increase to seven billion dirhams annually after the collection of the selective tax.

UAE: $250 Million Fund to Invest in Emerging Tech

Dubai- Emirati businessman Mohammad Alabbar urged Arab investors to invest in what he called “e-economy” in the Arab region due to its low percentage in the GDP especially amid pursuits by Arab governments, namely Saudi Arabia, UAE and Egypt, to adopt modern policies.

Alabbar’s statement was made on the sidelines of Middle East Venture Partners (MEVP) launching of a venture capital fund with a target size of $250 million. The fund will invest in innovative early-stage and growth-stage tech companies in the MENA region and Turkey. 

The launch of the new fund follows the announcement in May 2017 that Alabbar and MEVP have entered a strategic partnership to create one of the leading venture capital investment platforms in the region.

Alabbar said: “A new generation of tech-savvy young digital entrepreneurs is driving the growth of this region’s digital ecosystem. Their innovative ideas can bring transformational changes to the local economies. MEVP’s new fund will support emerging local tech companies with dedicated capital, specialized expertise, and operational support enabling them to reach their next level of growth.”

According to reports, venture capital investments in MENA was less than 0.03 percent of the GDP in 2016, significantly lower than 0.20 percent in India and 0.40 percent in the US. This lack in venture capital funding is in stark contrast to the tech savvy of consumers and businesses in MENA and Turkey and their growing demand for advanced and competitive technology products and services.

The target fund size of $250 million makes it one of the few independent regional venture capital funds capable of committing large investments to meet the growth requirements of tech companies in MENA and Turkey. The fund will offer long-term investors looking for tech exposure in the MENA and Turkey a diversified investment drive led by MEVP’s strong management team that has a proven track record.

Walid Hanna, MEVP Founder and CEO, said: “We have a current investment portfolio in over 40 ventures, which has created more than 1,100 quality tech jobs for the region’s youth.”

UAE Unveils $136 Mil Mars-Simulation Science City Project

Abu Dhabi – UAE launched on Tuesday a $136 million space simulation city over 1.9 million square feet, which will provide a viable and realistic model to simulate living on the surface of Mars.

The project was unveiled at the annual meetings of the UAE government in Abu Dhabi chaired by Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

The Mars Science City project falls within UAE’s objectives to lead the global scientific race to take people to Mars and is part of the Mars 2117 Strategy, launched during the fifth World Government Summit.

A team of Emirati scientists, engineers, and designers, led by a team from the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre and Dubai Municipality, will carry out the project, in cooperation with international architects of Bjarke Ingels.

The city will consist of several domes, with innovative construction techniques providing support for the structures. It encompasses laboratories for food, energy, and water, as well as agricultural testing and studies about food security in the future.

The science city will also boast a museum that displays humanity’s greatest space achievements, including educational areas meant to engage young citizens with space, and inspire in them a passion for exploration and discovery.

It also seeks to attract the best scientific minds from around the world in a collaborative contribution in the UAE to human development and the improvement of life.

At the meetings, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid said, “UAE seeks to establish international efforts to develop technologies that benefit humankind, and that establish the foundation of a better future for more generations to come. We also want to consolidate the passion for leadership in science in the UAE, contributing to improving life on earth and to developing innovative solutions to many of our global challenges.”

Bin Rashid stated that the new project is another step in UAE’s leading contributions to the global science movement, adding that the government seeks to set an example and motivation for others to participate and contribute, to humanity’s march into space.

While, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed said, “We have great confidence in our national work teams, and Emirates Mars Mission prove that our youth are trustworthy and capable of achieving national ambitions.”

UAE government annual meetings are being held on September 26 and 27, with attendance by over 450 dignitaries, heads of executives boards through the UAE, ministers, heads of federal government bodies, heads of local government agencies, local directors and executives.

The meetings seek to follow up on the objectives and results achieved in the UAE Vision 2021 strategy, which aims to make see the UAE become among the best countries in the world in various fields by 2021.

The meetings are considered a platform for the largest gathering of its kind for both local and federal levels.

They are an opportunity to discuss the challenges and opportunities in national development and to focus government action in various sectors by creating plans, programmes, and policies, as well as harmonizing these initiatives, on the path toward UAE Centennial 2071.