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Doha: A report broadcasted on Abu Dhabi TV on Thursday featured video footage of Qatari intelligence officer Second Lieutenant Hamad Ali Mohammad Ali Al Hammadi confessing about attempts of sabotage made by Qatar against the UAE government. Al Hammadi said that his mission, given to him by the Qatari Intelligence’s Digital Department, was to buy Emirati SIM cards to create bogus social media accounts, such as Bo3skor and Gannas Al Shimal, which would defame the UAE. “The Digital Department is the one that set up those accounts, as well as other accounts,” said Al Hammadi. “It used those accounts to attack the UAE and its leaders, including the late Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and Shaikh Hazza Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Chairman of Abu Dhabi Executive Council,” he added. In 2015, the UAE State Security Court at the Federal Supreme Court sentenced Al Hammadi to 10 years in prison, while four other Qataris were sentenced in absentia to life in prison. All five were also fined Dh1 million on charges of creating and running websites that insult the UAE’s leadership. Shaikh Khalifa later pardoned Al Hammadi in May of the same year.

The report emerges after Saudi Arabia, Bahrian, the UAE and Egypt cut diplomatic ties with Qatar on June 5 over its support to terrorist groups.


Dubai: It’s a case of on again, off again. Only a few hours after mobile phone users rejoiced over the unblocking of voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) functions in the UAE on Thursday, the government seemed to have again restricted the use of WhatsApp’s voice and video-calling services. As of 1:40pm, residents in the UAE experienced intermittent VoIP access, with some users saying they were no longer able to place video and voice calls using the instant messaging app. This, after the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) announced that its policy on VoIP still stands. A telecom operator in the UAE also later confirmed that the voice and video-calling feature on WhatsApp remains blocked. “I was able to access it this morning without any issues. Now, sometimes I can connect, sometimes I don’t. The connection seems unstable,” said one user who tested WhatsApp’s video-calling service at 5:30pm. WhatsApp video and voice calls went live in the UAE — quietly and no fanfare or official announcement — to the pleasant surprise of mobile phone users in the country early Thursday morning. Many confirmed that they can now use the features on the popular instant messaging app when connected to mobile roaming or WiFi network. Users reported they could place calls using du or Etisalat networks within the UAE and abroad. It is confirmed that WhatApp voice and video calls are now working, though the clarity depends on data speed. “The voice and the video are both clear from my end,” said one expatriate in Dubai who stumbled upon the new feature on Thursday. The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) later said in a statement “there is no change in the UAE’s policy on voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services”. The statement added: TRA reconfirms that any applications or services of this nature must be subject to the regulatory framework in force in the country.” A source quoted that the activation of video and voice calls was due to a global update last night on WhatsApp. The source said that Etisalat and du will resume the ban later in the day, in compliance with the instructions issued by the TRA.


Dubai: From Barcelona to Budapest, and from Miami to Marrakech – the one thing these cities have in common is its fascinating architecture that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Conde Nast Traveller magazine has recently revealed the top 20 cities in the world in its latest publication, titled, “The World’s 20 Best Cities for Architecture Lovers”. The international publication explained that whether it’s through urban planning or adapting to cultural movements, “the visual design of a city can transport you through time, while planting you firmly in a very specific place.” International Institute for Tolerance set up in Dubai; Mohammad Bin Rashid lauded for tolerance law Abu Dhabi: Shaikha Lubna Bint Khalid Al Qasimi, Minister of State for Tolerance, has paid tribute to His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, on the issuance of Law No. 9 of 2017 on the establishment of the International Institute for Tolerance (IIT) and on his Decree No. 23 of 2017, appointing its Board of Trustees. Shaikha Lubna said in a statement on Wednesday that the IIT will act as a think-tank to provide solutions to the challenges of extremism and sectarianism and to promote the culture of tolerance. The International Institute for Tolerance aims to instill a spirit of tolerance in society, building a cohesive society and promoting the UAE as a role model for tolerance, anti-extremism, and anti all forms of discrimination among people, including but not limited to, discrimination based on religion, gender, race, colour or language.



Abu Dhabi: The Light Air Sports committee on Thursday met to discuss the government’s strategy for registering air-system products including drones through a new electronic system prior to their import or export. The meeting, presided by chairman Ahmad Nasser Al Raisi, inspector-general at the Ministry of Interior and head of the Light Sports Aircraft Systems Committee, discussed the legal procedures, penalties, and fines that violators of the Civil Aviation Law in the UAE may face. New regulations come after a series of temporary airport closures in recent years due to illegal drones wandering into sensitive air space. Al Raisi pointed out that the new law focuses on the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) products used in various fields in the country. He said that these products must be registered with the official authorities who will then assign a code number to the drones and monitor them in the market and in the air. The system will also be used to develop a federal database of the products that will be traded in the UAE market, he said, adding that the committee’s technical team and a number of companies that provide protection systems from UAVs are studying the system that has been put in place.

The committee will visit the departments and institutions concerned with the supervision and inspection of all shops that sell the products in the UAE to familiarise them with the laws and regulations and to ensure their implementation.


Ajman: An Indian boy in Ajman has set an example by celebrating his birthday differently. Sahal Bin Shams served iftar to 1,000 workers at a labour accommodation in Sharjah’s Al Sajja area on his 11th birthday last Friday. This is not the first time that Sahal, a sixth grader in Habitat School in Ajman, shared the joy of birthday celebrations with the less-privileged people. On his 10th birthday last year, he served iftar to almost 800 workers. Sahal gives the credit of instilling this noble thought in him to his father, who wished not to be named. “Traditionally, we don’t celebrate birthdays. But, when he started going to school, he started taking chocolates and cake for friends. When his birthday fell in Ramadan last year, Sahal’s father asked him if he wished to celebrate the birthday with the poor uncles in the labour accommodation.

“I had taken him to a labour accommodation once with some volunteers of a welfare association from my native place in Kerala. They usually take part in a mass iftar supply at Al Sajja labour clusters.” Sahal was more than happy to accept his father’s suggestion and spent his 10th birthday with the “uncles in need”. This year, his father said, they took it to a new level because it is the Year of Giving. “When the Year of Giving initiative was announced, I told him to read about it and understand the value of the initiative. So, he was more excited about giving iftar kits to more workers this time,” said Sahal’s father. The father, who hails from Kerala, said, “I want him to grow up seeing the realities around and stay grounded and be humble and kind. I hope deeds like this will help him in that and he will also be a model to others.” He said Sahal took part in packing the iftar kits and also preparing the fruits and serving the kits to the workers along with other volunteers. “I am happy he did all that when he was fasting. This time, he had not even had suhour that day as he didn’t get up in the morning. But, he still actively took part in iftar (distribution).” Sahal said he was very happy that he could feed the workers who are less privileged.


Dubai: With Eid just around the bend, the rush at Dubai International Airport has seen bumper-to-bumper traffic heading towards Terminals 1 and 3. Social media users have reported heavy traffic en route to the major international gateways in the UAE — in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah. In Dubai alone, over 1.9 million passengers are expected to pass through Dubai International during the heightened traffic of Eid holiday, according to Dubai Airports. Extra staff had been assigned to cope with the rush alongside an exciting array of activities, promotions and entertainment in the build-up to the Eid holiday rush.

With Eid coinciding with schools across the UAE closing for the summer, the emirate is anticipating heavy traffic during the week. Googlemaps taken at 8.55am shows heavy traffic building (in red) outside Terminal 3 at Dubai International. Airport officials said the busiest day for departures will be Friday, June 23rd with over 76,000 departing passengers while June 30 will be the busiest day for total traffic, i.e. departing, arriving and connecting — with over 262,000 customers. As is the case during each peak traffic season, Dubai Airports, in collaboration with airlines and other partners at DXB, is taking a number of steps to ensure passenger volumes don’t affect service. Dubai Airports said they will augment staff levels and employ passenger flow monitoring technology that allows the airport, airlines and control authorities to detect and deploy staff to areas of high passenger concentration. The airport’s new smart gate technology, which allows the use of Emirates ID cards upon arrival and departure, will scale down immigration transaction times to 10-15 seconds and alleviate congestion at immigration points. Majed Al Joker, Senior Vice President for Corporate Assurance & Governance, Dubai International Airport, has commended the efforts made by teams working at Dubai airports along with the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority’s (DCAA) strategic partners, to ensure the best levels of services and comfort for all passengers.

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