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As coronavirus cases surge, Turkey announces vaccination plan for Chinese vaccine

Turkey’s health minister has announced a plan to start using an experimental Chinese COVID-19 vaccine later this month amid a surge in infections and deaths.

Read more: US issues new Iran-related sanctions on one individual, one group

Fahrettin Koca had previously announced an agreement with China’s Sinovac Biotech for 50 million doses of CoronaVac, which is currently in late stage trials. Koca said in a statement late Wednesday that the first shipment of the vaccine will arrive in Turkey after Dec. 11.

The minister said early use authorization would be granted after Turkish labs confirm the shots are safe and after assessment of initial results from the latest trials.

“If developments continue positively as we expect, Turkey would be among the first countries in the world to begin vaccinations in the early phase,” Koca said.

In November, The Lancet published a study about the efficacy of Sinovac’s vaccine candidate based on initial clinical trials. The study said the efficacy was determined to be moderate, and that the vaccine produced lower levels of antibodies than those that have been found in recovered COVID-19 patients.

“The protective efficacy of CoronaVac remains to be determined,” the study said.

Candidates from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna have said that they have more than 90 percent efficacy rates. The U.K.’s AstraZeneca have an efficacy rate of 70-90 percent, again based on limited clinical trials.

Vaccination efforts would be rolled out in four stages, the minister said. The first group includes health care workers, citizens above age 65, and people living in homes for the elderly, disabled or other protective care homes.

Next would be essential workers and people above 50 with at least one chronic disease. Third, people younger than 50 with at least one chronic illness, young adults and other workers would be vaccinated. The fourth and final phase would be for the rest of the population.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Monday the vaccine would be administered free of charge. Other COVID-19 vaccines would be sold at pharmacies, according to the health minister.

“We will take delivery of at least 10 million doses of the vaccine in December and likely 20 million. Another 20 million doses in January and 10 million in February,” Koca said earlier this week. Turkey’s population is more than 83 million.

The CoronaVac, which is a so-called inactivated vaccine, will be delivered in two doses per person.
Turkey has reported record fatalities for 10 consecutive days, with 193 new deaths Wednesday, bringing the total death toll in the country to 14,129.

The daily number of infections has also hit a record high of 31,923, as Turkey resumed reporting all positive cases last week after four months of only releasing the numbers of symptomatic patients. The new daily infection numbers put Turkey among the worst-hit in the world.

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Sharjah Innovation Park celebrates 49th UAE National Day with opening of its new state-of-the-art headquarters

SHARJAH, 3rd December, 2020 (WAM) — On the occasion of the UAE’s 49th National Day, the Sharjah Research Technology and Innovation Park Park, SRTI Park, announced the opening of its state-of-the-art headquarters that was recently inaugurated by H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah.

Designed according to the best practices and highest international standards in modern technology parks, SRTI Park provides an environment conducive to creativity and innovation with its world-class infrastructure and services. The innovation ecosystem within the Park promotes Research and Development (R&D) and supports enterprise activities with triple helix collaboration among the industry, government, and academia.

Hussain Al Mahmoudi, CEO of SRTI Park, shed light on SRTI’s most prominent accomplishments, its future plans, the regional and international companies at SRTI Park, and their research projects that provide solutions and innovations in various fields.

The SRTI Park houses many facilities including the Sharjah Open Innovation Lab, SoiLAB;. the biggest 3D printing exhibition in the Middle East; Immensa, a leading additive manufacturing specialist company; Skypods and autonomous driving, a 2.5-km-long suspended track; Netherlands-based 2GetThere, which has begun the pilot phase of its autonomous vehicle operation; Merlin Agrotunnel, an aquaponics farm; Civil Twin Renewable Middle East, a renewable energy consultancy company; Nabta Women’s Health; VirtuE R&D, a world-class Spanish company specialising in the development of AI application for psychology; and Exoskeleton, a developer of novel smart assistive exoskeletons for the rehabilitation of stroke patients.

WAM/Tariq alfaham

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China accuses US of ‘political suppression’ over new visa restrictions

China on Thursday accused critics in the US government of “an escalation of political suppression” against Beijing following new visa restrictions on members of China’s ruling Communist Party and their immediate family members.

Read more: US House passes bill that could deny Chinese businesses access to US stock markets

Foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said China would “make representations” to the US over its decision to limit such people to one-month, single-entry visas.

Hua called Washington’s approach “totally inconsistent with the US’s own interests,” and said it would damage America’s global image.

“I think it is obvious to all that this is an escalation of political suppression by some extreme anti-China forces in the US out of strong ideological prejudice and deep-rooted Cold War mentality against China,” Hua said at a daily briefing.

The State Department said in a statement Thursday that the new restrictions are intended to protect the US from the Chinese Communist Party’s “malign influence.”

“For decades we allowed the CCP free and unfettered access to US institutions and businesses while these same privileges were never extended freely to US citizens in China,” it said.

It wasn’t clear how the restrictions would be enforced since many of the party’s 92 million members do not play active public roles in its institutions.

The restrictions are the latest punitive measure taken against China’s leadership and economy amid sharpening disputes over human rights, the coronavirus pandemic, trade, technology, Taiwan and a host of other issues.

On Wednesday, the US said it would block imports from a major Chinese producer of cotton goods because of its reliance on workers detained as part of a crackdown on ethnic minorities in China’s northwest.

Washington has already slapped travel bans and financial sanctions on officials connected to the crackdown on Uighurs and other Chinese Muslim groups in Xinjiang, as well as on Chinese and Hong Kong officials it accuses of restricting social and political rights in the semi-autonomous Chinese city through the implementation of a harsh new national security law.

Diplomatic ties hit a low point over the summer when the US ordered the closure of the Chinese consulate in Houston and China responded by demanding the US vacate its consulate in the southwestern city of Chengdu.

Read more: Former French President Giscard d’Estaing has died: Reports

Washington had been loosening restrictions on travel by Chinese to the US, seeking to take advantage of the lavish spending habits of China’s newly wealthy.

Beginning in 2014, Chinese travelers — whether party members or not — became eligible for multiple-entry visas valid for 10 years, with stays of 180 days allowed for each entry, while students were permitted visas good for five years.

China reciprocated with similar treatment for US citizens.

Chinese who make up the single largest group of foreign students at American universities have already complained of tougher conditions for obtaining or extending visas.

Chinese academics have also faced greater scrutiny, while dozens of journalists with state media have been forced to return home and visa restrictions placed on those remaining, prompting retaliation from Beijing.

Analysts have long speculated that President Donald Trump will impose harsher measures on China before leaving office on Jan. 20, placing President-elect Joe Biden in a bind in managing the increasingly fractious relationship.

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Capitalising on faith in human convergence between peoples will help end misunderstandings, conflicts: Abdullah bin Bayyah

ABU DHABI, 3rd December, 2020 (WAM) — Shaikh Abdullah bin Bayyah, President of the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies and Chairman of the UAE Fatwa Council, stated that capitalising on the faith in human convergence between peoples, as well as appreciating them and reinforcing them, will help end misunderstandings and conflicts.

Followers of the Abrahamic faiths share the traditional narrative of values and virtues and the origins of ethics, which established the foundations of peace and coexistence among communities, he added.

He made this statement during his speech at the “Abrahamic Faiths Initiative Forum” organised virtually by the US State Department, in cooperation with the Abrahamic Faiths Initiative, which was established by the Vatican at the start of 2020. The forum is being chaired by Samuel D. Brownback, Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom at the US Department of State, with the attendance of prominent religious and intellectual figures from around the world.

Shaikh bin Bayyah stressed that common factors connecting people can protect human dignity, through promoting elements that Islam calls the five necessities, which are religion, life, the mind, property and family that are common factors in all faiths, especially the Abrahamic faiths.

“In Islam, we respect all faiths and do not deny the contributions of other religions and civilisations in creating humanity’s ethical values. Religious ethics are still able to guide the world to salvation from its problems, such as the COVID-19 crisis,” Shaikh bin Bayyah further said while urging people to promote the values of cooperation and solidarity.

The “New Alliance of Virtue”, which was launched by the Abrahamic Family last year in Abu Dhabi last year, will create a reference for this new beginning, he further added, noting that these are not only theoretical principles but can be implemented within a practical approach.

Signed by a group of the world’s most respected Islamic scholars, faith leaders joined by experts from governments, and representatives of civil society organisations, the New Alliance of Virtue
aims to elevate religious freedom, cooperation, and tolerance from mere possibilities to necessary ethical commitments and legal obligations.

The Alliance affirms that religions of the Abrahamic family have common and distinct theological and ethical traditions. They share values of the Abrahamic faiths, as well as the rights with which all human beings are naturally endowed.

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Global Teacher Prize 2020: Indian teacher wins $1 million

Disale made the extraordinary announcement that he will share half the prize money with his fellow Top ten finalists.

Indian teacher, Ranjitsinh Disale, has been named the winner of the $1 million Global Teacher Prize 2020, in partnership with UNESCO.

The teacher hailing from a village in Maharashtra transformed the life chances of young girls at the Zilla Parishad Primary School, Paritewadi, Solapur, Maharashtra, India.

Disale made the extraordinary announcement that he will share half the prize money with his fellow Top ten finalists, resulting in the other nine finalists receiving just over US$55,000 each.

This is the first time in the Global Teacher Prize’s six-year history that the overall winner has shared the prize money with other finalists. Now in its sixth year, the award established by the Varkey Foundation was launched in Dubai in 2014 under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai. The Global Teacher Prize, nurtured in Dubai, becomes a gift to the world as London is the first of the new host cities.

Sunny Varkey, Founder of the Global Teacher Prize, said: “We’d like to thank Sheikh Mohammed for creating such a powerful platform to celebrate the world’s teachers. Nurtured in Dubai over the last six years, the global teacher prize ceremony has become a great gift to the world as London becomes the first of the new host cities, spreading its message into every corner of the globe.

He added, “Congratulations to Ranjitsinh Disale for winning the Global Teacher Prize 2020. By sharing the prize money you teach the world the importance of giving.”

“I now encourage you to use this platform to give all teachers a voice. There is not a moment to lose as it will fall on young people to find solutions to problems that their parents and grandparents have lacked the will to solve, including climate change, conflict and global pandemics. We must equip young people with an education that will help them build a better tomorrow and that always starts by listening to teachers.”

Disale was selected from over 12,000 nominations and applications from over 140 countries around the world.

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US issues new Iran-related sanctions on one individual, one group

The United States has issued new Iran-related sanctions on one individual and one group, according to the US treasury department website.

The new US sanctions targets the Shahid Meisami Group, linking it to the Iranian Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research, as well as an individual, according to the US Treasury Department’s website.

Developing.

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ENOC and Emarat add E-PLUS 91 to fuel offering

DUBAI, 3rd December, 2020 (WAM) — ENOC and Emarat on Thursday announced the addition of E-PLUS 91 to their diverse range of fuel offerings that include quality grades such as Special ULG 95 and Super ULG 98 in the motor gasoline category.

E-PLUS 91, used for low compression engines, will be available across 44 existing ENOC service stations and 20 Emarat stations. It will cater to the specific fuel requirements of customers who primarily operate commercial fleets; such as taxi companies, bus fleets, and car rentals.

ENOC will offer all fuel grades; which include Diesel, Special 95, Super 98 and E-Plus 91 across 22 of its current service stations, and plans to offer customers its full range of fuel offering in all future service stations in the UAE.

Similarly, E-Plus 91 supplements the Emarat fuel offerings of Diesel, Special 95 and Super 98. The 91 octane fuel is currently available at 20 Emarat service stations. The full roll out will be in three phases and the entire Emarat network is expected to be offering E-Plus 91 by the end of the first quarter of 2021.

To meet the demand of commercial fleets, ENOC and Emarat will jointly identify select stations across their retail networks to replace diesel fuel and 98 with E-Plus 91.

While Super 98 has a higher octane that makes it suitable for high-performance petrol-driven vehicles with high compression engines, Special 95 offers excellent performance for all petrol-driven vehicles with medium compression engines.

Saif Humaid Al Falasi, Group CEO of ENOC, said, “We recognise the importance of providing a diverse fuel offering to meet our customers demand for fuel; for both individuals and commercial fleet operators. The addition of E-PLUS 91 is in line with ENOC’s focus to enhance customer experience and accessibility to a wider range of products.

In turn, Ali Khalifa Al Shamsi, Director General of Emarat, said, “Expanding our range of fuel offerings to include E-Plus 91 is a step in the right direction. We pride ourselves on delivering products and services according to customer demands and this initiative supports, in particular, our commercial customers as they review business strategies creating leaner, more agile and cost-effective enterprises for the future.”

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Big Ticket Abu Dhabi: Indian expat wins Dh12 million

He will not be sharing the amount with anyone.

Dubai-based Indian expat has won Dh12 million in the Big Ticket draw series 222, held in Abu Dhabi on Thursday.

George Jacobs, a 51-year-old, medical equipment salesperson said the winnings have come as a huge blessing as he was suffering from some financial difficulties. He lives in Dubai with his wife, daughter and son.

He had purchased ticket number 069402 on November 30 and has been buying the Big Ticket online for the past two years.

Congratulations to George Jacob, from India, with winning ticket no. 069402. He won AED 12 Million in The Dream 12 Million series 222. Visit www.bigticket.ae and follow us on social media.

Posted by Big Ticket Abu Dhabi onThursday, 3 December 2020

He will not be sharing the amount with anyone.

Jacobs had been driving with his family and stopped on the side of the road to receive the news, when organiser Richard called the winner. The news has changed his life forever.

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US Secretary of State Pompeo blasts Turkey at NATO meeting

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo used his final NATO meeting this week to sharply criticize Turkey, saying its purchase of a Russian weapons system was “a gift” to Moscow, according to five diplomats and officials.

At the confidential foreign ministers’ video conference on Tuesday, Pompeo said Turkey was undermining NATO’s security and creating instability in the eastern Mediterranean in a dispute with Greece and non-NATO member Cyprus over gas resources, said the diplomats and officials, who asked not to be named as the discussions were confidential.

Read more: Turkey to blame for over half of imported coronavirus cases in Lebanon last week

While the US and other NATO allies have long been odds over Turkey’s military intervention in Syria and Libya, Pompeo’s remarks underscored the depth of tensions at the Western alliance that many experts say dangerously weakens it.

Pompeo, who leaves office in January as US President Donald Trump’s term ends, also told Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu that Turkey was wrong to send paid Syrian fighters to Libya, as the US Defense Department concluded in a report in July, and also to the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh.

That prompted further chiding of Turkey by allies in the meeting, including France, Greece and even tiny Luxembourg, as well as defiant counter-accusations from Cavusoglu, said the diplomats.

The meeting tone was described as “measured” but “more confrontational” than is usually the case at NATO.

The unity of NATO “was not possible if an ally copied Russian actions,” a diplomat cited French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian as saying in his intervention, referring to Moscow’s fuelling of proxy wars by sending in mercenaries.

A US official, speaking on background, said there had been a “frank, closed door discussion” but declined to give details.

“The US has urged Turkey on multiple occasions to resolve the S-400 (Russian weapons system) issue, cease using Syrian fighters in foreign conflicts, and cease provocative actions in the Eastern Mediterranean,” the official said.

Turkey’s Cavusoglu said on Thursday he could not comment on a confidential meeting.

“I just outlined the differences between the two countries and outstanding issues, he told a public event. “We had to purchase (a weapons system) from Russia because we could not from our allies,” he added.

Turkish sources with knowledge of the meeting said that Pompeo made “unjust accusations” and that were was no united front against Turkey.

Turkey was also open to talks with Greece in the eastern Mediterranean with no preconditions, they said.

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Israel welcomes over 300 Ethiopian immigrants

Hundreds of Ethiopian immigrants arrived on Thursday to a festive ceremony at Israel’s international airport, as the government took a step toward carrying out its pledge to reunite hundreds of families split between the two countries.

Read more: UAE launches tourist visas for Israelis until mutual visa waiver established

Some 300 people landed on the Ethiopian Airlines flight, with many waving flags or stopping to kiss the ground as they streamed off the aircraft onto a red carpet. Many were dressed in traditional Ethiopian robes, and many women held babies in their arms. Festive Hebrew songs were blasted over loudspeakers.

Although the families are of Jewish descent and many are practicing Jews, Israel does not consider them Jewish under religious law. Instead, they were permitted to enter the country under a family-unification program that requires special government approval.

A large delegation of Israeli officials welcomed the group, and Pnina Tamano-Shata, the country’s first Ethiopian-born Cabinet minister, traveled to Ethiopia to join them on the flight.

“My wife Sara and myself were standing there with tears in our eyes,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at a welcoming ceremony. “This is the essence of our Jewish story, the essence of the Zionist story.”

Community activists have accused the government of dragging its feet in implementing a 2015 decision to bring all remaining Ethiopians of Jewish lineage to Israel within five years.

Netanyahu’s Likud party repeated that pledge before national elections early this year.

Activists for Ethiopian Aliyah, a group promoting family unification, estimates that some 7,000 Ethiopian Jews remain behind in Ethiopia, some of whom have been waiting for years to join their families.

Read more: Ethiopia sends army into opposition Tigray region

“Once again, the government led by Prime Minister Netanyahu has decided to place quotas on the immigration of Jews from Ethiopia,” said Muket Fenta, an activist who has been fighting for over a decade to bring his aunt to Israel.

“The government is celebrating a few hundred immigrants from Ethiopia, while thousands were supposed to be here and are still left behind while their fate is in question,” he said.

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