WAM: list of purchasing apps increased to 51: TRA


ABU DHABI, 31st March, 2020 (WAM) — The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, TRA, announced on Tuesday that the list of applications of online stores in the country has reached 51.

Today’s updated list is the second published by the TRA in a week and reflects the increasing appeal for the online services.

The online stores on the list include large shopping centres and cooperatives, as well as grocery stores, meat and vegetable shops, and other services, the TRA said.

The list comes in an unprecedented time following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic during which the UAE government has urged its people to stay at home and only leave for running essential tasks.

A total of 66 percent of participants, in a survey carried out by the Department of Economic Development in Dubai last year, expressed confidence in online shopping while 70 percent trusted online payments.

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India launches portal to help stranded foreigners

india flag

By Krishnan Nayar New Delhi, 31st March, 2020 (WAM) – The Indian Ministry of Tourism today launched a portal called “Stranded in India” to help thousands of foreigners – including tourists from the Gulf – who arrived in India before the COVID-19 pandemic and are now stuck in various parts of the country following cancellation of domestic and international flights, trains and inter-state buses.

“The aim of the portal is to extend support to foreign tourists who are stranded in India and to disseminate information regarding the services that can be availed of by foreigners who are stuck far away from their homeland,” the government’s Press Information Bureau said in an announcement. “The portal aims to act as a support network for foreign tourists stuck in various parts of India.”

“Stranded in India” says in its introduction to those seeking the Tourism Ministry’s help that “the world is facing an unprecedented situation today. The Ministry of Tourism is with you in these difficult times. We are truly committed to the safety of one and all. If you are a foreign traveller stranded anywhere in India due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we can help you get in touch with the concerned authorities.”

The Press Information Bureau asserted that “it is a constant endeavour of the authorities in India to ensure the well-being of tourists, especially the ones that arrive here from foreign countries. Accordingly, the Ministry of Tourism is constantly staying vigilant and encouraging various initiatives to help the ones in need.”

The portal’s services may also help Indian citizens who live abroad and want to return to countries where they work or do business as expatriates.

The portal has the following information that will hopefully be of use to thousands of stranded foreigners at this time: comprehensive information about COVID-19 helpline numbers or call centres which foreigners can reach out to for help; information around state-based or regional tourism support infrastructure; help and support section to extend help to the ones in need of further information and connect foreign tourists to the concerned authorities.

The portal also has detailed of information on the round-the-clock helpline for worldwide coordination on COVID-19 of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs along with their contact information.

The Emirates News Agency, WAM, had exclusively reported on March 19 the setting up of this helpline with designated officers in charge of the Gulf region.

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WAM: Law on strategic commodities stock complements country’s efforts to face unconventional circumstances: Sultan Al Mansouri

Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri, Minister of Economy

ABU DHABI, 31st March, 2020 (WAM) — Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri, Minister of Economy, said that the issuance of the Federal Law No. 3 of 2020 regarding the regulation of the strategic stock of food commodities is a strategic step that aims to reinforce the country’s food security system on a legislative level.

The law, approved by President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, aims at organising the food supplies in the event of crises, emergencies and disasters, as well as achieving food sustainability.

Sultan Al Mansouri added that the issuance of the law complements the country’s efforts to counter the unconventional circumstances faced by the entire world.

“In recent decades, the UAE’s markets have been active and prosperous and the country has become a regional and international commercial centre, due to its efficiency in providing the best local and international products to its citizens and residents. The issuance of this law today will promote cooperation and integration among relevant authorities concerned with food security, amidst the exceptional circumstances we are witnessing,” he said.

Al Mansouri noted that, as part of the law, a” Strategic Food Commodities Stock Committee” will be formed and will be assigned vital tasks, including creating a list of basic commodities, classifying registered merchants and foreign suppliers, suggesting a set of benefits and incentives, drafting policies related to the safety inventory, increasing strategic reserves of targeted commodities and creating databases of available products and food commodities.

The ministry will also cooperate with its partners in offering insurance policies and monitoring the commitment of suppliers and merchants to the law, as well as opening new channels of cooperation with partner countries that supply commodities.

The ministry is drafting the registry of merchants and suppliers, which will be released soon, he said conclusion.

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UAE registers 53 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death: MoHAP

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ABU DHABI, 31st March, 2020 (WAM) – The UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention, MoHAP, announced on Tuesday, 53 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total number of cases in the country to 664.

According to the Ministry, the identified cases were determined upon examining individuals who were in contact with previously confirmed cases, and did not adhere to social distancing rules. Others, were individuals who came from abroad, MoHAP added.

The newly identified cases belong to the follow nationalities: one individual each from Algeria, Lebanon, Pakistan, Iran, Kuwait, Switzerland, Turkey, the Philippines, Italy, France, and the United States, two individuals each from Egypt and Nepal, three individuals from the UK, four from the UAE, and 31 from India.

The MoHAP added that all the individuals are in a stable condition.

The Ministry also announced the death of another individual as a result of complications arising from COVID-19. The deceased was identified as a 67-year-old Asian national, who had chronic illnesses related to the heart, blood pressure, and diabetes. This latest death brings the total number of the deceased to six, the Ministry added.

The Ministry expressed its sincere condolences to the family of the deceased and conveyed its best wishes for the recovery of all individuals diagnosed with the coronavirus.

MoHAP advised members of the general public to adhere to the preventative health and personal hygiene measures to prevent the spread of the pandemic.

It noted basic protective measures such as the frequent washing of hands, covering the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing with a tissue or into ones elbow, and to seek early medical care if symptoms of fever, cough and difficulty in breathing arise.

The Ministry also advised individuals with respiratory illness symptoms to avoid mixing in crowded places. It also called on members of the public to seek information from official sources, and avoid spreading misinformation.

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CDA denies rumours about ‘exceptional measures on communication’

DUBAI, 31st March, 2020 (WAM) — The Community Development Authority, CDA, today refuted false rumours circulating on social media about “exceptional measures and controls” on phone calls and social media platforms like WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook.

The Authority urged the community to not pay heed to rumours and fake news and rely only on information verified to have been issued by official sources. The CDA said the image of the logo of a government entity does not make a piece of information valid or official.

Reiterating that the information attributed to it was completely false, the Community Development Authority pointed out that the telecommunications sector is not part of its responsibilities and is managed by other departments.

The Authority stressed that spreading false and misleading information, rumours and fake news is a crime under UAE Law. Such malicious acts threaten the safety and stability of the community, it concluded.


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Sharjah Media City supports economic growth and development

SHARJAH, 31st March, 2020 (WAM) — Aligned with vision of H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, Sharjah Media City, Shams recently rolled out several measures to support the economy and help Small and medium-sized enterprises, SMEs, overcome their challenges during this time.

As entrepreneurs face a financial crunch due to global efforts to stop the current situation, Shams is offering its licensing options at lower rates and making all its services accessible to entrepreneurs online and from the comfort of their homes.

Dr Khalid Al Midfa, Chairman of Shams, pointed out that concessions provided to businesses during this period include a 20 percent discount on license fees for one visa package, up to 35 percent off on multi-year packages, a 20 percent reduction on Shams fee for its concierge services, E-channel deposit wavier and a one year license fee-waiver on a three-year zero visa package.

Aspiring entrepreneurs can set up their own business online without having to visit Shams’ office. The entire process, right from registration to document submission and payment, is completely digitized, Al Midfa added.

He said that by providing these services, Shams seeks to help businesses continue their regular operations during these difficult times, whilst supporting the Sharjah Government’s efforts to help industries overcome these situations.

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Abu Dhabi Power Corporation, Tadweer sign MoU for two waste-to-energy plants

ABU DHABI, 31st March, 2020 (WAM) — Abu Dhabi Power Corporation, ADPower, announced – alongside its subsidiary, Emirates Water and Electricity Company, EWEC – the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, with the Abu Dhabi Waste Management Centre, Tadweer, to facilitate the development of two waste-to-energy, WtE, plants in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain.

Upon completion, the plants would have the potential to transform up to 1.5 million tonnes of municipal waste into energy every year and collectively reduce CO2 emissions by approximately 2.5 million tonnes annually – equivalent to the removal of more than 500,000 cars from the road. The Abu Dhabi plant is also expected to be among the largest WtE facilities in the Middle East.

The MoU was signed during a virtual ceremony by Jasim Husain Thabet, CEO and Managing Director of ADPower; Othman Al Ali, CEO of EWEC, and Dr. Salem Al Kaabi, General Manager of Tadweer.

The first plant – to be located in the Industrial City of Abu Dhabi in the Mussafah region – would have an expected processing capacity of up to 900,000 tonnes of waste per year and generate up to 90MW of electricity (equivalent to powering an average of 22,500 UAE households), making it one of the largest WtE facilities in the region.

The second plant – to be located in Al Ain – would have an expected processing capacity of up to 600,000 tonnes of waste per year and generate up to 60MW of electricity (equivalent to powering an average of 15,000 UAE households).

Thabet said, “This MoU represents a significant milestone for Abu Dhabi, as we deliver on the objectives, set out in the UAE Vision 2021, which aims to divert 75 percent of waste away from landfills. The proposed WtE plants will reduce the impact of waste on the environment and human health, helping to deliver on the water and electricity sector’s sustainability agenda.”

Ali said, “We are delighted to partner with Tadweer to significantly enhance Abu Dhabi’s waste-to-energy infrastructure, in line with both our sustainability-focused mission at EWEC, as well as the nation’s wider commitments. The project will also serve as a benchmark throughout the region for the development of sustainable WtE facilities and waste management systems.”

Dr. Al Kaabi said, “This agreement is aligned with Tadweer’s continued efforts to divert waste from landfills and encourage environmentally friendly and commercially viable solutions to address the challenges posed by the treatment of large volumes of waste.”

The proposed WtE plants would be developed through the Independent Power Producers model applied in respect of Abu Dhabi power projects since 1998. In line with such a model, a long-term Power Purchase Agreement would be entered into, with EWEC as the off-taker of the electricity and Tadweer as the provider of feedstock waste under a long-term waste supply agreement. Private sector participants would be invited to submit proposals to design, build, finance, operate and maintain the facilities, which will use advanced moving grate technology to convert municipal solid waste into electricity via a high-efficiency steam turbine generator set. Ash from the process will be processed and recycled into reusable material.

The two new WtE projects will grow ADPower’s portfolio of investments in power generation assets, which form part of the assets subject to the recently announced offer to Abu Dhabi National Energy Company, whereby ADPower would transfer the majority of its water and electricity generation, transmission and distribution assets to TAQA. If accepted and approved by TAQA and regulatory authorities, the proposed transaction would create a combined entity that is expected to be one of the largest utilities companies in the GCC, a top-10 integrated utilities player in the EMEA region by regulated assets, and the third-largest company listed on the UAE stock markets by market capitalisation.


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WAM: Gates Foundation, Wellcome, Mastercard fund COVID-19 clinical trials

SEATTLE, 31st March, 2020 (WAM) — Researchers at three institutions in the US and UK have received grants to advance studies of repurposed drugs and novel antibodies in a bid to combat COVID-19.

Partners in the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator – Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Wellcome, and Mastercard – announced on Tuesday grants of US$20 million to three institutions to fund clinical trials to identify “highly potent immunotherapies” for the COVID-19 pandemic. The grant recipients are the University of Washington, University of Oxford and La Jolla Institute for Immunology.

Currently, there are no broad-spectrum antivirals or immunotherapies available to prevent or treat COVID-19.

Two of the newly announced trials will fund an investigation of two well-established drugs, hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, that have known antiviral properties.

These drugs have been used to treat malaria and a variety of rheumatological conditions for more than 50 years.

While these two drugs have shown promise in early studies to treat COVID-19 patients, a need for large, randomised controlled trials are still needed to determine effectiveness.

Gates Foundation CEO Mark Suzman noted that the grants will advance the understanding of how existing drugs and antibodies can contribute to addressing the pandemic.

The initial investments via the accelerator will bring “rigor” to the study of potential solutions, allowing for a way forward through “sound science and shared data,” he added.

Multiple trial testing methods were noted in a statement by the Gates Foundation. First of which will be a multi-cite clinical trial conducted by the University of Washington in Western Washington and the New York City Area. The trial will enrol up to 2,000 asymptomatic men and women who are close contacts of persons with confirmed or pending COVID-19 diagnoses.

Held in cooperation with the New York University’s School of Medicine, the drug trial will investigate whether hydroxychloroquine can effectively prevent COVID-19 in people already exposed to the infection.

The Mahidol Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit, MORU, will also lead a placebo-controlled prophylaxis study of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine in preventing COVID-19 in at-risk health care workers, frontline staff, and other high-risk groups.

At least 40,000 participants in Asia and Europe will be randomised to receive either chloroquine (East Asian countries), hydroxychloroquine (United Kingdom and Europe), or a matched film-coated placebo as daily prophylaxis for three months.

The Gates Foundation noted that both drug trials will begin participant enrolment in April, with results of the trials available in late 2020.

In addition to funding drug trials, the accelerator will provide $1.73 million to the La Jolla Institute for Immunology to establish a Coronavirus Immunotherapy Consortium, known as CoVIC. The effort will bring together scientists from around the world and enable them to share and evaluate candidate antibodies side by side in a blinded, multidisciplinary analysis to identify ideal therapeutic combinations.

[Image Credit: Financial Times]

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WAM: G42 and BGI announce groundbreaking high throughput detection lab to fight COVID-19

G42 and BGI announce groundbreaking high throughput detection lab to fight COVID-19


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WAM: Expo Centre Sharjah holds virtual meeting to follow up on work progress

SHARJAH, 31st March, 2020 (WAM) — The Expo Centre Sharjah recently held a virtual meeting to ensure the smooth functioning of the various departments and services, as part of the precautionary measures taken by the centre to maintain the health and safety of employees and customers and cope with the government’s preventive measures amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

Headed by Saif Mohammed Al Midfa, CEO, Expo Centre Sharjah, the meeting was attended by department heads and managers, where they discussed the general controls of the work of the departments and the implementation of a package of stimulus measures to ensure business continuity and sustainability. They also debated the question of providing support to the economic sectors in the emirate and reviewed plans for the exhibition agenda in light of the current developments.

Al Midfa highlighted the importance of following up on the tasks assigned to the employees while working remotely and the necessity to strengthen electronic systems to ensure business continuity and efficiency.

He directed the employees to abide by the instructions and to provide the best services for customers, in addition to the keenness to spread health awareness and stop anything that might harm public health and implement safety measures to contain the spread of COVID-19.

“A significant development in the technical field has been achieved by the centre over the past years. This allows us to provide outstanding online services for customers through an integrated system of smart programmes and apps. We are committed to adopting Sharjah’s approach in terms of supporting the economic diversification and developing the exhibitions industry and enhancing its competitiveness, so as to maintain Sharjah’s position as one of the region’s most important cities in the exhibitions and conferences industry,” he added.

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WAM: Global Council for Tolerance and Peace lauds dedication and sacrifices of health authorities

Global Council for Tolerance and Peace lauds dedication and sacrifices of health authorities

ABU DHABI, 31st March, 2020 (WAM) — The Global Council for Tolerance and Peace lauded doctors, nurses, pathologists, paramedics, and medical researchers as selfless fighters who had to cut themselves off from their own families and loved ones to avoid infecting them with the coronavirus, to save the lives of others, and to race against all odds in the quest to develop a cure and a vaccine.

”A medical staff member who swears to God to remember that he/she treats a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person’s family and economic stability; cares adequately for the sick; prevents disease whenever he/she can; protects the environment which sustains us in the knowledge that our continuing health and that of our societies is dependent on a healthy planet; and remembers that he/she remains a member of the society, with special obligations to all his/her fellow human beings, those of sound mind and body, as well as the infirm is our true frontline hero of the coronavirus war,” said Ahmed Bin Mohamed AlJarwan, President, Global Council for Tolerance and Peace, in a statement on Tuesday.

”They have laid down their lives for our salvation, they are staring at desperate faces suffering from the virus, healing them and bringing them back to safety, sometimes fighting losing battles, and putting their lives at risk,” he added.

”It is time for humanity and appreciation. All around the world, people are finding creative ways to thank our current frontline saviours battling the coronavirus. While being in self-isolation, they stand at open windows or on balconies singing, encouraging and applauding, even though they know their intended audience is too busy to listen. They are checking in on their neighbours, calling older relatives, and offering to help the elderly, and the disabled, sending gratitude, cheering, and offering letters and messages of support to the community through social media,” he added.

“Respect to those fighters putting themselves at risk on the frontlines of the pandemic that is forcing citizens all around the globe to stay home. But gratitude alone is not enough. When this crisis is over, there must be a reassessment of who all we value the most and how we treat them. We need to find ways of investing in the health care system, in advancing medical research and technology, and in acknowledging that they are the warriors of our new battles. That will be the best recognition we can give to those angels, heroes and true saviours of the 21st century,” Al Jarwan said in conclusion.

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WAM: ADNOC Distribution hosts virtual annual General Assembly, announces dividend increase to AED2.57 billion in 2021

ABU DHABI, 31st March, 2020 (WAM) — ADNOC Distribution announced that its dividend policy will see the 2021 dividend increase to AED2.57 billion, an increase of 7.5 percent compared to 2019.

The announcement was made on Tuesday during the company’s General Assembly meeting which was held remotely via video conference as part of the ADNOC Distribution’s measures to ensure the safety and well-being of its shareholders, in line with the UAE Government’s social distancing policies to help combat the spread of COVID-19.

Speaking at the General Assembly meeting, Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, Chairman of ADNOC Distribution, assured shareholders that the company was focused on ensuring the well-being of customers and employees and had put in place a number of precautionary steps to protect their health.

In his opening remarks, Dr. Al Jaber commended the swift and decisive actions taken by the UAE’s wise leadership, and the dedicated efforts of the National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority, Ministry of Health, and Prevention, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Defence, health authorities across the UAE and other government agencies.

He also recognised the commitment and dedication of the UAE’s healthcare professionals who are working tirelessly to keep residents safe and healthy in light of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

“In these unprecedented times, it is vital that we continue working toward the delivery of our promises to customers, shareholders and employees. To maintain the highest standards of health and hygiene, ADNOC Distribution is committed to applying the highest industry standards and ensuring our station staff are equipped with personal protective equipment such as gloves, face masks and hand sanitizer, with additional supplies available for customers. Our convenience stores and fuel stations are cleaned and sanitised daily,” he added.

“We are encouraging customers to utilise our contactless methods of payment, particularly through the ADNOC Distribution App, which allows minimal-to-no interaction with attendants and appropriate social distancing,” Dr. Al Jaber noted.

He added that customers are able to identify the station they are at, select their fuel pump, choose their preferred fuel and the amount they would like, all without leaving their car. The ADNOC Dist app communicates directly to the station pump, and the attendant can fill up the customer’s vehicle and payment is deducted from the customer’s account within the App all without the need to interact.

Dr. Al Jaber said that ADNOC Distribution’s focus on customer experience was an integral part of the company’s success in 2019. “We engaged with 14,000 customers throughout the year, through surveys and focus groups to capture their needs and use their feedback to form the backbone of a number of our campaigns; the launch of ADNOC Rewards loyalty programme was one key initiative.”

“We launched our new ‘ADNOC On the go’ neighborhood station and the first next-generation ADNOC Oasis convenience store, offering baked goods, made-to-order sandwiches and premium coffee in addition to new seamless digital experiences that allow customers to ‘tap and go’ at self-checkout points and integrated systems for payments and drive-through ordering,” he continued.

Dr. Al Jaber added, “As we continue our local and international expansion efforts in line with our growth strategy, we also recognize our responsibility in supporting the local economy and will continue to identify prospects as we expand to develop jobs for UAE nationals, select local suppliers, support social initiatives and encourage local procurement to increase local value-added input.”

In 2019, ADNOC Distribution successfully increased its In-Country Value, ICV, (procurement awarded to local suppliers) and the company will continue to identify opportunities to further increase spending on local suppliers and enhance its ICV contribution to the UAE economy.

During the formal agenda items at the Annual General Assembly, ADNOC Distribution shareholders approved a second and final dividend payment of AED1.194 billion (9.55 fils per share) for the year ended 31st December 2019.

This dividend payment comes on top of an interim AED1.194 billion (9.55 fils per share) dividend payment for the year, which was paid in October 2019, resulting in a full-year dividend of AED2.39 billion (19.10 fils per share), consistent with ADNOC Distribution’s dividend policy approved by its shareholders in 2019, and being an increase of 62 percent compared to 2018.

The company’s dividend policy will see the 2020 dividend increase to AED2.57 billion, an increase of 7.5 percent compared to 2019.

The company’s shareholders also approved amendments to the dividend policy for 2021 onwards, setting a AED2.57 billion dividend for 2021 (compared to minimum 75 percent of distributable profits as per current policy) and a dividend equal to at least 75 percent of distributable profits from 2022 onwards, in recognition of the company’s strong financial position at the end of 2019 and its growth prospects and cash-flow generation ability going forward.

Despite current market conditions, ADNOC Distribution’s board of directors remain confident and steadfast in the delivery of its strategic commitments and smart growth. The company benefits from a stable and protected margin in its retail fuel business, which accounts for 70 percent of total volumes sold.

In this context, ADNOC Distribution’s 2019 financial results demonstrated strong operational performance in both fuel and non-fuel business. Net profit grew by 4.2 percent to AED2.22 billion, or AED0.177 per share, and underlying earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization, EBITDA, increased by 7.2 percent to AED 2.72 billion.

Dr. Sultan Al Jaber added, “As we navigate this ever-evolving landscape, we remain confident that we will responsibly manage the impact of Coronavirus on our long-term strategic commitments. ADNOC Distribution has demonstrated strong profitability in 2019 and remains focused on delivering attractive returns to its shareholders, backed by a long-term sustainable growth plan, customer focus and supported by a solid balance sheet.

None of our success would have been possible without the support of our nation’s leadership, our shareholders, our employees and, of course, our customers. As we expand the ADNOC Distribution business, we will continue to look at current market conditions to ensure disciplined, smart growth, keeping the safety and well-being of our employees, contractors, suppliers and customers at the heart of all our decisions.”

He continued, “Delivering on our international expansion remains integral to our ambitious smart growth strategy. We continue to assess potential opportunities to achieve disciplined growth and operational success, while targeting the highest return on investment.”

“The changes to the dividend policy approved today demonstrates our commitment to our shareholders and our confidence in the company’s future prospects and ability to deliver sustainable growth. ADNOC Distribution shares offers a unique value proposition to shareholders and investors with a combination of low exposure to oil price volatility, predictable and healthy cash flows, strong growth potential and an attractive dividend policy (7.6 percent at a share price of AED2.70 as on 31st March, 2020) that offers high income visibility.”

For his part, Ahmed Al Shamsi, Acting CEO of ADNOC Distribution, said, “At this time, it is more important than ever that customers have necessities close to home, and we are bringing in a variety of initiatives to provide for the local community and emergency services. We recently opened seven stations in the UAE, reiterating the company’s strong commitment to delivering convenient fuel and retail offerings to customers across the country, combined with the highest safety and hygiene standards.”

He concluded, “With hard work and dedication, the current times could also present attractive opportunities, giving us an outlook on how to get closer to the communities we serve and offer them what they need given the strength of our balance sheet.”

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WAM: Dubai Startup Hub, TEC select 30 entrepreneurs for Emirati Development Programme

DUBAI, 31st March, 2020 (WAM) — Dubai Startup Hub, an entrepreneurship initiative of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Dubai Technology Entrepreneur Campus, a wholly-owned tech co-working space by the Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority, today announced the selection of 30 Emirati entrepreneurs to participate in their first joint Emirati Development Programme Training & Mentorship Academy The academy will provide a two-module programme comprised of specialised training programmes and mentorship support. Commencing in June, the academy training sessions will cover topics ranging from how to develop an effective business model and practical tools and strategies for generating sales to in-depth pitch training.

A pitching competition will be organised for the 30 entrepreneurs during their time at the academy, where five winners will be chosen to receive the additional benefit of 1 on 1 comprehensive mentorship support to further grow their ventures.

“The Emirati Development Programme received a high number of submissions and succeeded in attracting ambitious Emirati entrepreneurs and owners of start-up projects of all ages. Sixty percent of the applicants had not received or previously participated in training programmes and workshops on entrepreneurship – the participation of these new entrepreneurs highlights that Dubai Startup Hub is a first-choice primary destination for those wanting to create innovative business ventures in our market,” said Natalia Sycheva, Manager of Entrepreneurship at Dubai Chamber.

“From the applications received, we have selected 30 Emirati entrepreneurs to participate in the Emirati Development Programme in the Training & Mentorship Academy, with half (15) having business ideas that are yet to be converted into actual projects. The rest have started their commercial projects, with a number of these in the fields of advanced technologies, such as robotics, 3D printing and drone manufacturing, with others encompassing consumer goods, education and sustainability solutions,” Sycheva added.

Hans Henrik Christensen, Vice President of Dubai Technology Entrepreneur Campus, Dtec, said, “We are proud to collaborate with the Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry to provide training and guidance to Emirati entrepreneurs that will enable them to plan and implement innovative and high-quality solutions, especially within the technology industry. We are also pleased to award the winners with the required support, facilities and strategic council as part of Dtec Ventures, to scale up their projects in the future. This includes a flexi-desk set-up at Dtec for one year for the first winner and six months free access to Dtec’s co-working space for the four other winners.”

The Emirati Development Programme aims to encourage entrepreneurial nationals to take up private-sector job opportunities by identifying and developing their skills through specialised training and providing them with the necessary knowledge and experience in entrepreneurship.

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WAM: Department of Municipalities and Transport doubles Ramadan Meer quantities for beneficiaries

ABU DHABI, 31st March, 2020 (WAM) — The Department of Municipalities and Transport has decided to double the quantities of subsidised food distributed to the beneficiaries of Ramadan Meer, as part of its commitment to societal responsibility.

The department announced, “The food items for the beneficiaries of Ramadan Meer will be available at the participating societies and the food commodity distribution centres for the municipalities from the first of April until the end of next May, coinciding with the holy month.”

Beneficiaries will also be able to benefit from the service of “Sales Outlets Support” launched by the Transport Integrated Centre, which will provide goods delivery services via taxis, in coordination with all outlets across the emirate of Abu Dhabi.

Families that benefit from the Ramadhan Meer will be able to choose the subsidised foodstuff and commodities, from more than 200 items.

The department has doubled the amount of subsidised rice, and all the food for families for two months, where a family of 10 individuals will be able to get six bags of 40 kilogrammes, kg, of rice instead of the previous three bags, and the family of 20 individuals will be able to get 10 bags of rice instead of the previous five bags and so on.

The value of the subsidised 40kg rice bag is AED126, including tax at AED3.14 per kg, while the price of basmati rice in the market is up to AED10 per kg.

Beneficiaries will be able to order food commodities through the digital platform, SmartHub, launched by the department and will include the municipalities of Abu Dhabi and Al Ain, and the Municipality of Al Dhafra Region.

The platform is characterised by ease of use, and the enablement of obtaining food commodity services digitally without the need to show identification papers, identity cards or special documents, due to the linking of data with the Smart Systems and Services Authority, that makes information on every family registered in the list of families benefiting from subsidised commodities available on the platform.

Digital electronic services for the subsidised commodities, including purchasing and receiving, can be obtained by opening an account on the smart platform, choosing the service of purchasing the subsidised commodities, selecting the required commodities to be purchased, paying the value of the goods, and finally deciding between either going to the specified centre or opting for home delivery.

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WAM: UAE participates in second virtual meeting for G20 ministers of finance and central bank governors

UAE participates in second virtual meeting for G20 ministers of finance and central bank governors

ABU DHABI, 31st March, 2020 (WAM) — Obaid Humaid Al Tayer, Minister of State for Financial Affairs, participated today in the second virtual meeting with G20 ministers of finance and central bank governors, to discuss the next steps to develop and activate the G20 and global financial institutions’ action plan to contain the negative effects of coronavirus, COVID-19, and coordinate the necessary measures to fulfil the G20 leader’s commitment of directing all available resources to face the global challenges posed by this virus.

Obaid Al Tayer stressed the need to continue uniting international efforts to address this pandemic, and lessen its economic and social impact on the region and the world. He also reiterated the importance of these meetings, especially in the face of the unprecedented challenges, which call for extraordinary measures to be taken to mitigate the effects of the pandemic, ensure financial stability, continued growth and sustainable economic development.

He said: “We are keen on continuing coordination and cooperation by providing support to local and international efforts to face the pandemic’s challenges along with its health, social and economic impacts, while stressing on the importance of the actions and commitments that the G20 leaders adopted during their last meeting.”

The meeting discussed the next steps that the G20 ministers of finance and central bank governors will take to develop and activate the action plan that includes the exceptional financial and monetary measures taken by all members of the G20, defines policy recommendations to protect the international community and reduce the spread of the virus to prevent a global economic crisis, and takes medium and long-term precautionary steps and measures to stimulate market recovery and ensure the continuity and sustainability of economic growth in a balanced and comprehensive manner.

The virtual G20 meeting was initiated by Saudi Arabia – the host of the next G20 summit. Many leaders of countries and representatives of a number of international organisations attended the meeting to discuss ways to combat COVID-19, which resulted in taking firm economic, health and social measures.

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WAM: Traffic violations cancelled for medical personnel in Ajman

Ajman Crown Prince

AJMAN, 31st March, 2020 (WAM) — Under the directives of H.H. Sheikh Ammar bin Humaid Al Nuaimi, Crown Prince of Ajman and Chairman of Ajman Executive Council, the General Command of Ajman Police has decided to cancel all traffic violations recorded on medical cadres “doctors and nursing staff” committed in the Emirate of Ajman.

The gesture comes as an appreciation of Sheikh Ammar for the efforts of the country’s “front-line defenders” in the health sector, who are doing their utmost to provide a safe and healthy environment to protect the UAE society.

Sheikh Ammar emphasised that “sacrifices make heroes” calling for solidarity and cooperation between community members to provide support to healthcare workers amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and stand by them and apply precautionary and protective directions to support them.

For his part, Brigadier Sheikh Sultan bin Abdullah Al Nuaimi, Commander-in-Chief of Ajman Police, expressed his appreciation for the Ajman CP’s initiative saying that the move honours and encourages medical staff to bear this great responsibility.

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WAM: Russia records 500 coronavirus cases over past day

Russia records 500 coronavirus cases over past day

MOSCOW, 31st March, 2020 (WAM) — The number of people infected with the novel coronavirus in Russia has increased by 500 in the past 24 hours, reaching 2,337, the Russian News Agency, TASS, reported on Tuesday.

According to the federal coronavirus task force, 121 people have recovered and 17 have died.


[Image Credit: Russian News Agency, TASS]

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WAM: UAE evacuates Emirati citizens from several countries amid COVID-19 outbreak

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation

ABU DHABI, 31st March, 2020 (WAM) — In line with directives issued by the country’s top leadership under its close follow-up, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, MoFAIC, has taken all necessary measures to evacuate Emirati citizens and their companions abroad, in coordination with UAE embassies and representative missions abroad.

MoFAIC and UAE missions have reached out to Emiratis abroad to check on them and facilitate all procedures to bring them and their companions back to the homeland safely, following the decision to suspend all incoming and outgoing flights in a number of countries around the world amid the COVID-19 outbreak around the world.

Khaled Abdullah Belhoul, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, stated that 39 evacuations of Emiratis and those accompanying them have been completed by air and by land, equivalent to the evacuation of a total of 1,743 people, and 25 evacuations are under way and shall be completed within the next few days.

He stressed the keenness and follow-up of MoFAIC’s leadership on the full progress of work to ensure Emirati citizens return home safely and to facilitate the procedures necessary for their evacuation to the UAE.

He highlighted the continuous cooperation with the National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority, NCEMA, and with all the concerned authorities in the UAE and abroad to monitor the developments of the situation and to evacuate Emirati and ensure their safe return.

Dr. Khaled Al-Mazrouei, Assistant Undersecretary for Consular Affairs, praised the joint efforts of the MoFAIC Call Centre, Operations Department, and the Citizen Affairs Department for their work around the clock to respond to citizens’ inquiries and to coordinate with UAE embassies and representative missions abroad, which have mobilized all their resources to secure the evacuation of citizens and their companions.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation urged Emirati citizens currently abroad who wish to return to the UAE to register through the following link to be included in the evacuation plan to the UAE over the current period.

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WAM: Ajman Ruler issues decree adopting government package to support local community, business sector


AJMAN, 31st March, 2020 (WAM) — H.H. Sheikh Humaid bin Rashid Al Nuaimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Ajman, issued Emiri Decree No. 7 for 2020, to adopt the government’s package to support Ajman’s local community and business sector.

The decree aims to reduce the economic and financial burdens on the local community and business sector and overcome the social and economic repercussions of the global crisis caused by the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.

The decree stipulates that government fees for the following services shall be postponed for a specified period: – The issuance of work permits for establishments 24-hours a day, seven days a week, for one year. The list of activities included will be issued by the Chairman of the Department of Economic Development.

– The issuance or renewal of tourism and hotel establishments licences until 31st December, 2020.

– The issuance of licences for tourism and hotel establishments until 31st December, 2020.

– The issuance of licences and the postponement and cancellation of events until 31st December, 2020.

– Charges for parking in allocated areas until 30th April, 2020.

– Concession holders that signed contracts with the Transport Authority will have a 50 percent discount applied to fees under a taxi concession agreement until 30th June, 2020.

The following government services fees shall be reduced by the following percentages for a specified period: – Public cleaning services by 30 percent until 31st December, 2020.

– Rental contract authentication for both residential and commercial premises by 20 percent until 30th June, 2020.

– Discounts and commercial offer licences by 50 percent until 30th June, 2020.

The decree delegated the President of the Ajman Executive Council to issue a decision to extend the aforementioned exemptions and reduction periods upon their discretion.

Any text or provision contradicting the decree will be annulled. The decree will be in force on 5th April, 2020, and will be published in the official gazette.


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WAM: National Takaful Company earns AED13.1 million in net profit in 2019

National Takaful Company earns AED13.1 million in net profit in 2019

ABU DHABI, 31st March, 2020 (WAM) — The National Takaful Company, Watania, has announced positive financial results for 2019, as the company’s net profit increased to AED13.1 million, compared to AED9.4 million in 2018.

While announcing the financial results of the company, Dr. Ali Saeed bin Harmal Al Dhaheri, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the National Takaful Company, declared that the company has launched and implemented many new initiatives in 2019 to boost its overall performance.

Most of these initiatives are focused on enhancing the levels of customer service. For the first time, an external agency was appointed to obtain customer feedback and its findings were utilised to improve the customer service. A new digital platform was launched that allows one of the fastest quotations and policy issuance systems for the motor business in the UAE market. The company was among the first in UAE to subscribe to blockchain technology to manage the recovery process for motor claims from other insurance companies, bringing down the time and material involved in processing such transactions.

Dr. Dhaheri said that Watania has a simple “back to basic” approach to differentiate itself from the market. In fact, a policyholder can expect Watania to attend to his/her requirements professionally and provide a competitive solution. When it is time to claim, the policyholder can expect Watania to be attentive and understanding and settle as quickly as possible without any hassle. Moreover, Watania assures its shareholders of generating a return on their equity that can be compared with the leaders in the market. Finally, Watania provides its employees with a productive work environment where they can grow and fulfil their professional aspirations.

Dr. Dhaheri said in conclusion, “Our view of the market has shifted dramatically due to the worldwide impact of the coronavirus. The usual challenges of liquidity and managing receivables do not seem as critical as the overall recovery of the global economy. The UAE has been at the forefront of taking aggressive steps to control the spread of the virus. However, shutting down of businesses will take a toll on the economy. However, we are confident that once the growth of the virus is brought under control and businesses start to get back to normal, we will be in a good position to seize the advantage.”


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