Welcome Mr. Bachchan, we are happy to have you in Dubai

Sir, please stay a little longer and enjoy the beautiful weather of Dubai. Mr.Amitabh Bachchan you are very much welcome in Dubai. Hope to see you today at 4pm at the Kalyan Jewellers showroom in Meena Bazaar.

Finally the wish comes true: Dubai to Host Expo 2020

Emirate beats three other key cities to prove its credibility and big potential.
Dubai fulfilled the dream of 370 million Arabs and won a bid to host the world’s 2020 Expo fair to become the first city in the Middle East to organise the prestigious six-month event, which officials expect to attract at least 25 million visitors.

Most of the 168 member-states in the Paris-based Bureau International des Exhibitions (BIE) voted in favour of Dubai to testify to its credibility and big potential that will allow the Gulf’s business hub to cope with such an enormous event and ensure that it would be one of the most successful Expos in its 150-year history.

Only three years ago, when Dubai had a debt problem, sceptics expected that the emirate would need a long time before it could stand on its feet. But they all have been proved to be mistaken. In just a couple of years, Dubai’s economy was back on track, its finances rebounded and investors began to pour in again.

Analysts said Dubai’s winning bid to host Expo against Ekaterinburg in Russia, Izmir in Turkey and Sao Paolo in Brazil amounted to a global vote of confidence and testimony for the emirate’s capability, strength and prestige.

Analysts credited Dubai’s ability to recover in such a short period of time to the sound economic policies and the determination of its leadership. “The vote in favour of Dubai to be the host of the 2020 Expo amounted to a global vote for its credibility, openness, achievements and potential. Certainly, Dubai will work very hard to ensure the 2020 Expo would be one of the most successful events in the world fair’s history,” Mohammed Al Asumi, a Dubai-based economist said.

While Dubai, the second largest economy in the UAE, will pay billions of dollars for hosting the Expo, the investment will be more than offset in terms of hundreds of thousands of new jobs, GDP growth, more than $90 billion in value added for the emirate and above all, the promotion of Dubai as a credible and trustworthy international city.

As Minister of State Reem Al Hashmi put it: “The cost of the Expo is expected to be around 6.4 billion euros (Dh35 billion) to be shared by the public and the private sector. But the event will generate a value added for Dubai of nearly 17.7 billion euros (Dh92 billion) and revenue could be far above Dh100 billion.”

“A study by the Oxford Business Group has showed that the expected revenue from hosting Expo could reach 28.8 billion euros (Dh139 billion),” she said. “Although the Expo is a non-commercial event as it is based on learning, education, innovation and cooperation among peoples, this event will bring immense trade, economic and investment benefits to Dubai in particular and the UAE in general.”

Hashmi said the Expo would also create nearly 277,000 jobs in the UAE between 2013 and 2021 and that each job would generate 50 jobs in other parts of Middle East and North Africa (Mena).

Transport officials said nearly Dh5 billion of the expected investment for Expo would be channeled into the transport sector to cope with the human influx. The plan covers all means of transport including buses and trains besides mega projects to expand roads in various areas and set up direct links to Expo site, which will be built between Jebel Ali Free Zone and Dubai World Trade Centre, said Matar Al Tayer, Chairman of the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority.

“TRA has earmarked Dh5 billion for road and transport development if Dubai wins the bid to host Expo,” he said in press comments this month. The project covers many areas in the emirate, including Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Road, the University City Street, roads leading to Expo area, and intersections on several streets besides setting up car parks and stops for buses and taxis, he added.

“We believe that Dubai already has the infrastructure to cope with such a major event. All we need is some expansion and development of the existing facilities so they can handle 25 million people in six months,” he said.

In a recent report, the Washington-based Institute for International Finance (IIF) said Dubai’s success to host Expo would boost its GDP growth by one-two per cent annually. “We expect a bright future for Dubai’s economy because of this event which could attract more than 25 million visitors. Expo will certainly generate a new boom period in Dubai similar to that during 2003-2008, with growth of 6-7 per cent,” said the report.

In a report on the event, the Saudi news network Al Arabiya quoted a Western analyst as saying Dubai already has the infrastructure to host such a big event. “I think selecting Dubai is a right and safe decision because it has proved its capability to accomplish all goals it had set. Its infrastructure is already developed and Expo comes only to hasten projects under way,” said Allan Robertson, CEO of Jones Lang LaSalle, a global real estate services firm.

GDP growth

In its quarterly report issued recently, the government said Dubai’s economy continued its post-crisis recovery and expanded by around 4.7 per cent in the second quarter of 2013, driven by strong performance in trade and most non-hydrocarbon sectors.

The emirate’s real GDP grew by 4.1 per cent in the first quarter before picking up in the second quarter, indicating a steady recovery following a slowdown in the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis that hit most world economies, the government said in its latest report “Dubai’s economic horizons.”

“Growth was a result of expansion in many sectors, mainly trade, financial enterprises, transport and communications, real estate, construction and manufacturing,” it said.

The report showed the emirate is making steady progress in programmes to ease reliance on volatile oil exports, with the hydrocarbon sector expected to contribute only around 12 per cent of the 2013 budget. It showed non-oil sectors dominated the emirate’s GDP, estimating the share at 28 per cent for trade, 16 per cent for manufacturing, 14 per cent for financial enterprises, 13 per cent for real estate and 8 per cent for construction.

What is Expo

The World Expo is a large-scale, global, non-commercial event that has been held every five years in most of the past decades. The hosting of the World Expo must be applied for by a country and approved by the International World Expo Committee. Expo aims to promote the exchange of ideas and development of the world economy, culture, science and technology, to allow exhibitors to publicise and display their achievements and improve international relationships. Accordingly, the World Expo with its 150-year history is regarded as the Olympic Games of the economy, science and technology.

Expo in Dubai

Theme slogan “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future”
Dh35 bn spending
277,000 jobs
25 million visitors (70% from outside UAE)
A third of world’s people can reach Dubai in four hours by air and 66% in 8 hours
1st major Expo fair was held in London in 1851
Expo was last held in Shanghai, China, in 2010
Next Expo to be held in Milan, Italy, in 2015


Long weekend with consecutive day offs

Firms working 6-day week to get paid holiday on Saturday; Those working 5 days will get paid holiday on Sunday

Saqr bin Ghobash, Minister of Labour, issued a circular on private sector holidays on the occasion of 42nd UAE National Day anniversary.

Private sector companies that have just Friday as weekly off will get a paid holiday on November 30 [Saturday].

All private sector companies that have a two-day weekend, will get a paid holiday on December 1 [Sunday].

An official source in the Ministry of Labour said it is the first time the private sector is getting a paid holiday combined with the weekend.

On the occasion of the National Day, the Minister of Labour has congratulated The President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan; His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai as well as the Supreme Council members and Rulers of the other emirates.

The minister also congratulated the people of the UAE and prayed for further progress and prosperity of the nation.


Kerala to have fifth airport soon

Brushing aside the objections raised by the parliamentary standing committee and concerns expressed by environmentalists, local residents, opposition and a section of ruling parties, the government of India has given final approval for a fifth international airport in the tiny state of Kerala.

The environmental clearance for the first private international greenfield airport in the country at Aranmula in Pathanamthitta district was given by the federal ministry of environment and forests on Monday.

The approval is subject to condition that the airport promoter will secure exemptions from the provisions of the Kerala Land Reforms Act with regard to excess land and the Kerala Conservation of Paddy Land and Wetland Act related to conversion of paddy fields from the state government. The state environment department has already recommended the crucial exemptions.

Chennai-based KGS Group, in which Reliance Dhirubhai Ambani Group is a partner, is building the airport in 700 acres of land at an estimated cost of Rs20 billion to cater to non-resident Keralites, tourists and pilgrims visiting the Sabarimala hill shrine and Christian pilgrim centres in central Kerala.

KGS Group chief executive officer T P Nandakumar said the work on the airport will begin next week and the first flight will land at the airport in 2015. He told reporters here on Tuesday that the company has got clearances required to go ahead with the project.

When asked about the concerns expressed by various sections about the adverse impact of the project on the environment, Nandakumar said the issues being raised by them were baseless. He clarified that the project will not interfere with the ecosystem of the area.

However, the Communist Party of India – Marxist (CPM), which heads the opposition Left Democratic Front, and the legislators belonging to Green group in the ruling Congress-led United Democratic Front have termed the environmental nod to the project disastrous.

Alleging that the clearance was given without proper study, the CPM said they would continue their agitations against the project, which incidentally was given the go-ahead by the previous LDF government headed by V S Achuthanandan.

T N Prathapan, a Congress legislator representing the Green group, has urged the federal ministry of environment to disclose the details of the environmental impact study carried out for the project.

Senior Congress leader V M Sudheeran alleged that the project was cleared based on a dubious EIA study conducted by a private agency. He termed the decision unfortunate.

The Aranmula Heritage Village Action Committee, which has been spearheading an agitation against the project, said they will move the Supreme Court against the environmental clearance accorded to the project. They called a shut-down strike at Aranmula in protest against the federal government decision.

Khaleej Times

Era of Little Master is done with a Victory

Today, Sachin Tendulkar spent his last day out on the Ground for Team India. At the age of 40, Tendulkar is retiring from the game as the world’s leading scorer in both Test and one-day cricket and the only batsman to score 100 international centuries.

Sachin’s words after the match went emotional, here are the words came out from the great legend thanking all the support he received during his 24 years with Team India:”Friends please settle down, I’ll get more emotional! It’s hard to believe my wonderful journey is coming to an end. I’ve a list of names to thank. The first is my father, who passed away in 1999. Without his guidance I wouldn’t be standing in front of you. he said ‘chase your dreams, don’t give up, the path will be difficult.’ I miss him today. My mom, I don’t know how she managed a naughty child like me. She just prayed and prayed from the day I started playing the game. For four years I stayed with my uncle and aunt when in school, they treated me like their own son. My eldest brother Nitin doesn’t like to talk ,much but he said, whatever you do, I know you will give 100%. My first cricket bat was presented to me by my sister Savita. She still continues to fast while I bat. Ajit my brother – We have lived this dream together, he sacrificed his career for me, he took me to Achrekar sir first. Even last night he called me to discuss my dismissal. Even when I’m not playing we will still be discussing technique. If that hadn’t happened, I would have been a lesser cricketer.”The most beautiful thing happened to me when I met Anjali in 1990. I know that being a doctor there was a big career in front of her. But she decides that I should continue playing and she took care of the children. Thanks for bearing with me for all the nonsense I’ve said (Anjali wipes tears). Then the two precious diamonds of my life Sara and Arjun. I’ve missed out on several birthdays, holidays. I know for 14-16 years I’ve not spent enough time with you. But I promise you I will spend the next 16.”My inlaws – I’ve discussed several things with them. The most important thing they did was allow me to marry Anjali. In the last 24 years my friends have made terrific contributions. They have been with me while I was stressed. They have been with me even at 3am when I was injured. Thanks for being there for me.”My career started when I was 11. I was extremely delighted to see Achrekar sir in the stands. I used to ride on his scooter and play two matches a day. Sir took me along to make sure I played. On a lighter note, Sir never said ‘well played’ because he didn’t want me to be complacent. You can push your luck now, Sir, since I’m not playing cricker anymore.”I started my career here in Mumbai. I remember landing from NZ at 4am and playing a Ranji game the next day. The BCCI was fantastic from my debut. Thanks to the selectors. You were right with me making sure my treatment was taken care of.”Thanks to all the senior cricketers who have played with me. We see on the screen Rahul, VVS, Sourav, Anil who is not here. All the coaches. I know when MS presented the 200th Test cap, I had a message to the team – I said we are all so proud to be representing the nation. I hope to continue to serve the nation with dignity. I have full faith that you will serve the country in the right spirit.I will be failing in my duty if I didn’t thank the doctors who have kept me fit. Given the injuries I have suffered. They have treated me in odd hours.My dear friend the late Mark Mascarenhas. I miss him. My current management team WSG, for continuing what Mark has done. Someone who has worked closely with me for 14 years is my friend Vinay Nayudu.”The media has backed me a lot, since my school days. Even today. Thank you. Thanks to the photographers for capturing those moments.”I know my speech has become long. I want to thank people who have flown in from different parts of the world. I want to thank my fans from the bottom of my heart. “Sachin, Sachin” will reverberate in my years till I stop breathing.”

UAE heading for 3-day weekend

Residents spend the Eid at Safa Park in Dubai
The UAE Cabinet has announced the Al Hijri New Year holiday for the private and public sectors will be on Sunday November 3. Work will resume on Monday November 4.

The decision was taken at a Cabinet meeting chaired by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, at the Presidential Palace in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.

The Hijri New Year, also known as Islamic New Year is the day that marks the beginning of a new Islamic calendar year, and is the day on which the year count is incremented.

The first day of the year is observed on the first day of Muharram, the first month in the Islamic calendar.

Dr Humaid Al Qatami, Minister of Education and Chairman of the Federal Government Human Resources, has issued Resolution No 36 for the year 2013, that declares Sunday, November 3 as an official holiday for employees in the government sector.

Meanwhile, Saqr Ghobash, UAE Minister of Labour, has issued a circular, declaring Saturday November 2 to be a paid official holiday for all workers in the private sector on the occasion of the Islamic New Year.

The Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA) of the U.A.E. has declared Sunday November 3 as a holiday for the country’s financial markets, in observance of the Hijri New Year.

Trading will resume on Monday November 4, the SCA said in statement.


Dubai launch for saving, insurance, retirement scheme

A new voluntary pension and life insurance fund for Indian expatriate workers abroad will be formally inaugurated in the UAE by the Indian Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs, Vayalar Ravi.

India’s Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs introduced the Mahatma Gandhi Pravasi Suraksha Yojana for the Overseas Indian workers with Emigration Check Required (ECR) on their passports.

While many pension and welfare schemes have been launched and abandoned in the past, the new scheme will be launched for the GCC on October 28, 2013, at the Indian Consulate in Dubai.

Male or female Indians in the age group of 18 to 50, who are migrating to work in the GCC or have already migrated, can join the scheme through locally appointed agents.

The Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) and Bank of Baroda have been appointed as the main service providers for overseas Indian subscribers to the scheme.

About 65 per cent of the 2 million Indian workers in the UAE will be eligible to join the scheme, but the response so far has been poor.

A major campaign is planned in association with Indian community associations, the Indian Workers Resources Centre, Bank of Baroda and other partners in the scheme, to encourage all workers to subscribe to the scheme.

Indian Ambassador to the UAE M K Lokesh and other diplomats and dignitaries will take part in the inaugural programme.

Even though the scheme was operational from May 1, 2012 (International Worker’s Day), the response has been lukewarm and a majority of the Indian blue collar workers are yet to show interest in the pension and welfare fund named after Mahatma Gandhi, India’s ‘Father of the Nation’.

The scheme is launched with an ambitious plan to encourage and enable overseas Indian workers to save for their return and resettlement, old age and to obtain a life insurance cover against natural or accidental death or disability during the period of coverage.

The Government of India will make a contribution for a period of five years or till the subscriber returns to India.

The ministry will appoint agents to address their grievances.

According to the scheme details made available by the ministry, the Indian Government will contribute Rs1,000 per annum* in line with Swavalamban platform for all subscribers who save between Rs1,000 and Rs12,000 per year under the NPS-Lite programme.

The scheme also offers a special government contribution of Rs900 towards Return and Resettlement (R&R) of the overseas Indian workers who save Rs4,000 or more per annum.

An estimated 25 million Indians work across 110 countries, according to ministry estimates.

Over five million semi-skilled and unskilled Indian nationals with Emigration Check Required (ECR) on their passports are currently working on temporary employment or contract visas, predominantly in construction, household and healthcare service sectors in the Gulf.

Periodic earnings of these workers are rarely converted into savings. The change in earnings creates a temporary improvement in individual economic conditions of workers but ultimately, the workers face poverty when they back in India, says a report by the ministry.

Each subscriber will get a ‘PRAN Card’, an identity card with photograph, name and signature.

Each subscriber can contribute as little as Rs100 per month and there is no fixed monthly contribution.

The Service Provider collects the money, and issues a receipt to the subscriber. He then deposits the collections every Friday (by uploading on the system) in a designated NPS-Lite Bank Account.

The Unit Trust of India Asset Management Company has been appointed to operate the Return and Resettlement scheme.
The savings under the scheme will be invested under the Monthly Income Scheme of UTI.

Life insurance coverage is provided through the Janashree Bhima Yojana, a group insurance scheme that will give Indian Rs30,000 in case of natural death of the subscriber, Rs70,000 in case of accidental death or permanent total disability and Rs35,000 for partial disability in an accident.

* At time of publishing, Dh1 equals Rs16.70


Eid holidays

The UAE Cabinet chaired by His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has approved the Eid Al Adha holidays for the public and private sector.

Public sector will have a one-week holiday from Sunday, October 13, till Saturday, October 19.

While the private sector, Eid holidays will start on Monday, October 14, till Wednesday, October 16.

UAE Assam Society celebrates Rongali Bihu

Rongali Bihu, the most popular festival in India’s north-eastern state of Assam marks the occasion of the Assamese New Year which falls on April 15 and the beginning of spring. The colourful event was held at the Metropolitan Palace Hotel in Deira.

Full Report in Khaleej Times

Skype is legal again, hooray !!

Rumours are afloat that Skype is now legal in Dubai. This means that you can buy ‘Skype minutes’ and make phone calls across the world at the same superior quality that Skype users across the world are accustomed to.

Skype was bought by Microsoft, and replaced Microsoft’s Live Messenger and perhaps this has something to do with the permission to access Skype.

We look ahead with hope for Viber, Tango, Facetime and other such VOIP services that have been banned in UAE.