Tag Archives: Abu Dhabi

5 indisputable reasons to stay at Anantara Sir Bani Yas Island

1 – The Stunning View

One of the first thing we have noticed upon entering our villa was the extraordinary view. The blue sea and the sky that you can enjoy from the comfort of your bed, the freshness of the available pool or any of the chairs, sofas or chaise lounge available. If you prefer something different, there are villas facing the mangroves area or the forest.

Villa with Sea View at Anantara Sir Bani Yas Island

The view from the beach villa at Anantara Sir Bani Yas Island

View at Anantara Sir Bani Yas Island

Amazing sunsets from Anantara Al Yamm Resort

2 – Astonishing wildlife

 It was surprisingly good to understand that the island is not a zoo but actually a wildlife sanctuary aiming to reintroduce into the wild some species considered endangered until few years ago. During the safari superbly conducted by our South African guide, we have learnt a lot about Oryx, Sand Gazelles, a Giraffe, Cheetahs and many other animals that are protected in the reserve and we managed to admire. Many birds, a rabbit and several sand gazelles were regularly “visiting” our villa.

Cheeta at Anantara Wildlife Park Sir Bani Yas Island

Giraffe at Anantara Sir Bani Yas Island

Desert Gazelle at Ananantara Sir Bani Yas IslandOryx at Anantara Sir Bani Yas Island

3 – Absolute Quietness

Whether we were sunbathing in the beach, dining at the restaurant or within the comfort of our room, we hardly heard something different from the smooth sound of the sea waves and the happy chirping of the birds. No cars, construction works or the usual noise where are daily exposed to in the city.

Total Quietness at Anantare Sir Bani Yas Island

4 – Superb service

Since the very first moment when we entered the Anantara Resort gate at Jebel Dhana Jetty, we have received a superlative service. The Sir Bani Yas Island crew was always smiling, very prepared, friendly and polite. We have never met someone from within the staff that haven’t approached us with a warm smile, a polite salutation and a request if they could have been of any help or assistance.

5 – Great Accommodation

Our villa was simply amazing. Dining room, living room, a very big bedroom, nicely arranged bathroom with cool amenities, outdoor seating and a private swimming pool (not too big though). Independent from any other villa, guaranteeing absolute privacy and quietness.  There is available also an area to arrange a fire for an amazing evening.

Beach Villa at Anantara Sir Bani Yas Island

Advertisements

UAE to be Solar Thermodynamic Energy’s World Leader by using sand to generate electricity

Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) uses mirrors to reflect heat from the sun to one point, most typically the tow of a tower filler with a fluid (usually molten salt) capable of storing heat for prolonged periods then used to produce electricity.

Thermodynamic Solar Plant with Central Tower

Traditional Thermodynamic Solar Plant that concentrates sun light in the tow of the tower – photo from http://www.fotovoltaicosulweb.it

An alternative to the central tower is represented by curved mirrors concentrating the sun light in a suitable pipe that runs all the way from/to the storage accumulating heat while running in the plant.

Thermodynamic Solar Plant

An alternative to the central concentration tower – photo from http://www.strettoweb.com

In both cases, the molted salts are heated up to 600 degree Celsius and transferred in a hot storage.

The fluid so heated is used to produce high temperature/high pressure steam that is used to generate electricity by evolving in a steam turbine.

The main benefit of this technology is that energy is easily stored and can be used at night when the source of heat (the sun) is absent. However, the popular photovoltaic modules are currently more cost effective and therefore preferred over the concentrated solar power plants.

But now the situation can drastically change.

Masdar Institute of Science and Technology’s scientists, indeed, have published a breakthrough research into more efficient solar power plants by using sand as vector fluid to transport and store energy.

Named “Sandstock”, the research published at the Solar Power and Chemical Energy Systems Conference in South Africa in December 2015, showed sand can withstand temperatures of up to 1,000°C and the higher you can push the temperature, the more efficient the plant will be in generating electricity.

The approach chosen by the researchers at Masdar Institute completely eliminates the most expensive components of the traditional CSP, the molten fluid and the pump system, by substituting it with sand and gravity. The design concept, which is inspired by a traditional sand hourglass, features a ‘cold tank,’ where sand is initially stored – before flowing into a ‘hot tank,’ located directly underneath. The cold tank will take the form of a hollow cylinder, designed to allow the concentrated solar flux to penetrate an empty central cylinder part.

Sandstock diagram

Schematic concept of the Sandstock  design – photo from social.csptoday

 

“Sand is really always a drawback in this country but in this project we wanted to use it as an advantage because it can withstand very high temperature, and of course it is very cheap here,” said Dr Nicolas Calvet, assistant professor of mechanical and materials engineering, and guide for the research project, as also reported by The National.

“Photovoltaic is more popular because of more than 40 years of research, and the Chinese entering the market and driving prices down,” Dr Calvet said.

“If you want to make CSP more competitive you must significantly reduce the cost.”

The main costs for CSP are the reflective material, and whatever is used for heat transfer and storage. Dr Calvet and his students are using sand for the last two steps at almost no cost.

“When you build a CSP plant you need to import usually several thousand tonnes of molten salts from Chile,” he said.

“With this concept you can just build your plant in the desert and you don’t have to bring any other material, you have it on site.”

Dr Behjat Al Yousuf, interim provost at the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, said: “The research success of the Sandstock project illustrates the strength of our research and its local relevance.

Contractors face slowdown in Abu Dhabi unless new projects come to market

I particularly liked the article by  about the current status of the construction sector in Abu Dhabi published yesterday on the local newspaper The National, an extract of which is here under reported.

by Michael Fahy, The National, 20 February 2016

The feeling construction companies operating in Abu Dhabi have is that not enough projects are coming to market to replace those being completed.

BMI Research said Abu Dhabi’s GDP growth is set to slow to 2.8 per cent this year, down from 4.3 per cent last year. It said that construction would outperform the overall economy, with an average annual growth rate of 5.9 per cent predicted between 2016 and 2020 across the UAE.

Richard Marshall, a senior infrastructure analyst at BMI Research, said that there are US$103 billion worth of UAE projects under construction, with $45bn of that in Abu Dhabi alone – more than any other emirate.

The pipeline of projects due to come to market is just $62bn. Given that more than 70 per cent of the $103bn of live projects is due for completion in 2017, a potential slowdown in the sector awaits unless more tenders come to market.

Moreover, the biggest project in the pre-tender phase is phase two of the Dh40bn Etihad Rail project, which was suspended last month until a review for “the most appropriate options for the timing and delivery” of the project is undertaken.

“Other GCC markets have been slow to deliver on their sections of the planned [railway] network, which has lessened the pressure on the UAE to meet the 2018 deadline.” said Mr Marshall.

On Wednesday, the ratings agency Moody’s said that Abu Dhabi was facing an economic slowdown as a result of government cuts in response to lower oil revenues.

Moody’s senior vice president, Steven Hess, said that a prolonged period of low oil prices could gradually erode the emirate’s fiscal buffers if it did not maintain prudent budgeting, but that it has enough reserves to be able to finance fiscal deficits for five to 10 years if it liquidated some of its assets. “Overall, the [emirate’s] considerable foreign assets should mitigate the negative consequences of oil price volatility on Abu Dhabi’s fiscal and external accounts,” said Mr Hess.

Read the full and original article on The National.

VAT and Corporate Tax in the UAE – Coming Soon!

As already discussed few weeks ago, when we were wondering if the UAE was seriously considering to introduce VAT and Corporate Tax by the end of the year, the Gulf Cooperation Council Countries are currently finalizing their position to introduce the new taxation system.

The disagreement between the Countries is all about the percentage to be implemented (rumors say 3 to 5% for VAT) and which products or services shall be exempted and not whether to introduce it or not. Therefore we just wait for the official announcement, foreseen to be released not before October as reported by the Emirates News Agency (WAM).

The news agency reported also that “an announcement will be made once a final agreement on imposing a VAT law is reached. Concerned sectors and entities will have around 18 months after the enactment of the law to implement and fulfill the requirements of their tax obligations. This timeframe was set due to the UAE’s previous approval of the draft VAT law framework, to be applied on a GCC level. The MoF, in coordination with the UAE’s local entities, has prepared draft laws on creating a federal tax authority, a draft law for tax procedures and a draft law for VAT, which include the components agreed upon in the GCC draft law. These draft laws are still being studied to ensure their alignment to the country’s specifications and procedures

Therefore the question is not anymore “Is the UAE going to implement VAT and Corporate Tax?” but “How much will be the VAT the UAE will introduce in few months’ time?”

Dubai fuel prices +25% from August 1, Ministry announced

petrol-pump-300x200As already reported few days ago, the United Arab Emirates decided to gradually lift the subsidies that were significantly reducing the cost for the final costumers. The move was dictated by the need to diversify the Country economy by releasing an important amount from the budget and to promote a more eco-friendly approach with the hope to reduce the number of cars in circulation and encourage people to use less the car and more the public transportation. The switch from high consuming cars to hybrid or lower consuming ones shall take quite a long time to be effective.

The average increase in the gasoline price is 25% whereas the Diesel price is going to be 29% cheaper in Dubai and 6% cheaper in Abu Dhabi as reported in the table published by Emirates24/7 few minutes ago.

UAE’s fuel price deregulation: New petrol & diesel retail prices

Product

Current (Dh/l)

New* (Dh/l)

Change (%)

Unleaded Gasoline 98 (Super)

1.83

2.25

22.9

Unleaded Gasoline 95 (Special)

1.72

2.14

24.4

Gasoline E Plus 91

1.61

2.07

28.6

Diesel^

2.90//2.35

2.05

 

Source: Ministry of Energy; *New retail prices as announced on July 28, 2015. To come into effect from August 1, 2015; ^Diesel prices in Dubai and N. Emirates, and Abu Dhabi, respectively

Commuters from Abu Dhabi to Dubai and vice versa and from/to Sharja are going to be the most penalized by the reform. Many of them already declared to have started considering carpooling in order to reduce the impact of the rise of the cost of gasoline as reported by GulfNews.

The intention of the Ministery is to remove completely the subsidies that for gasoline are around 1.20 AED per litre and bring the prices to the average world level, which currently is at 4.4 AED per litre.

Restaurant Review: Al Forno, Yas Mall – Abu Dhabi

I often travel to Abu Dhabi for work. Last time I had to join our Project team in Yas Island and took the opportunity to visit the brand new Yas Mall recently inaugurated in Yas Island.

The Mall is huge and nice, with a lot of shops and brands available. I was there just for lunch and therefore I walked straight until I found the right restaurant where to have a light but tasty meal. I passed by the common Paul, Le Pain Quotidian, Giraffe and other well known chains. I found also many unknown (at least to me) restaurants of different origin: Indians, Asian and Italians. Among those, I opted for Al Forno, an Italian restaurant that looked authentic, the name of which means ‘by the oven’.

With red brick walls, tables with a red and white table cloths and Italian traditional music, it looked like an Italian ‘Trattoria’, a place in where the food is usually home-made with high quality ingredients and usually cheaper that other restaurants.

Al Forno Restaurant Yas Mall

Al Forno restaurant looks really like an Italian ‘trattoria’.

The service was excellent. I was welcomed in a very polite way and the staff members were very attentive and ready to assist. I had a nice ‘focaccia’ as complimentary starter and then I opted for a cheese bread and hammour fillet with lemon and pesto sauce. I was curious to see if the place was a real Italian restaurant or one of those looking-like-Italian restaurant that serves meals that in Italy do not even exist.

Focaccia is a traditional dish from Genoa.

Cheese bread at Alforno - Yas Mall - Abu Dhabi

Cheese bread at Alforno – Yas Mall – Abu Dhabi

The focaccia they brought as complimentary appetizer, exceeded my expectations. It was  really similar to the original one and I have enjoyed it very much. It comes with olive oil and balsamic, a thing that in Italy  you will not find since it is oily enough to be perfect to be eaten alone.

The cheese bread was actually a small pizza with cheese. The dough was incredibly good and perfectly cooked. Again I was really positively surprised by the good quality and taste of the food.

However, focaccia and pizza might be very simple to make. You just need some good quality flour (and let me say that here in the Emirates the average flour quality is not that great), water (the dough quality is indeed affected by the water quality) and know some tricks in mixing the ingredients.

A different story is the main course that needs some specific preparation and ability. I was anxious to try the hammour with lemon and pesto sauce and roasted potatoes I have ordered, because it could have been the celebration of a great restaurant or another big disappointment.

The plate was very well presented and the food was of a good quality. The hammour was not the top quality selection and honestly I was expecting something more tender and juicy, but the taste and consistency were alright given the price paid for the meal.

Hammour fillet at Alforno - Yas Mall - Abu Dhabi

Hammour fillet at Alforno – Yas Mall – Abu Dhabi

 Indeed, at the moment of paying the bill, I had no bad surprises. I paid 100 AED for a cheese bread, hammour, water and a single espresso. A very convenient deal if we consider the overall quality of the food and the service provided.

If you are in the Yas Mall and want to try an Italian meal, Al Forno seems to be the right place for you. The restaurant is family friendly.

Cloud Seeding - How it works

What’s new in Dubai – UAE Hottest News

It has been an “exciting” week in Dubai and the United Arab Emirates, not only for the festivities linked to the end of the Holy Month of Ramadan (the so called Eid Al-Fitr) but also for a series of shocking news that were reported on the most popular newspapers and websites and that I am going to summarize.

We have already discussed about the possibility that the United Arab Emirates might introduce VAT and Corporate Tax in the last Quarter of this year. Needless to say that the residents are following closely the evolution of this issue, since is going to directly affect their future financial status.

Breaking News: UAE to scrap Fuel Subsidies

Fuel Prices to increase

Local newspapers dedicate full coverage to the historical decision – Photo from http://www.gulfnews.com

In addition to that, the Government has recently announced a major and revolutionary change in the fuel subsidies that will be reduced starting the 1st August 2015 in order to have the fuel price to be in line with the worldwide average price. Currently petrol is sold at 1.72 AED per litre (USD 0.47), significantly below the calculated average price of 4.44 AED per litre and current government innervation is calculated to be 1.2 AED per litre for a total of 3.5 Billion USD spent every year.

The Government has established a dedicated committee to monitor the global prices and announce every 28th of the month the price that will be applied at pumps the following month. Analysts have predicted a bearable increase in the petrol price but a slight decrease of the diesel cost.

The decision was “based on in-depth studies that fully demonstrate its long term economic, social and environmental impact. The resolution is in line with the strategic vision of the UAE government in diversifying sources of income, strengthening the economy and increasing its competitiveness in addition to building a strong economy that is not dependent on government subsidies” as stated by Suhail bin Mohammed Faraj Al Mazroui, Minister of Energy and reported by Khaleej Times.

In the long term, this decision will discourage people from buying high-consuming cars and to be more prone to use the excellent public transportation system (Taxi, Metro, Tram, Bus and Monorail in Dubai) with a consequent significant benefit for the environment thanks to the reduced amount of carbon dioxide and pollution released in the atmosphere.

Breaking News: Rain in the Fujairah and Ras Al Khaiman, probably artificially created!

It can sound normal to experience some summer showers to the majority of us. However, here in the desert were drought can last several months, having rain in summer is a out of the ordinary event, especially in the mountainous area that divides the Arabian Gulf from the Indian Ocean.

Some meteorologists say it is normal that the humidity accumulated in the atmosphere as consequence of the very high temperature, can coalesce to form rain drops. In any case, it is unusual and it gained the first page in many news papers and numerous videos and photos were shared on several social media in amazement like the video video from Masafi area @lovestory351 shared on Instagram online.

The good thing is that the downpour had partially filled dams and reservoirs, guaranteeing a discrete water availability for the next months before the coming of the expected winter rains. Usually it rains once in November/December and once or twice in February and this is enough to guarantee the survival of the desert wildlife and to accumulate enough water to reduce the dependency on desalinated water, especially inland.Utilities-me.com has published a calculation that sees that a total of 48 million gallons of water were collected and stored in artificial lakes and dams with the consequent advantages.

However, The National published an article that can explain the unusual downpour: a massive cloud seeding strategy is being implemented in the UAEIn its article, The National report: “As soon as they see some convective cloud formations, they launch us on a flight to investigate,” to try “to seed the cloud”, said Mark Newman, NCMS deputy chief pilot. 

The amount of water that the Emirate of Abu Dhabi could store after having successfully seeded clouds for 4 times in the past years, was comparable to the average desalinated output of 9 year operation of a medium size desalination plant, and it is much cheaper.

Cloud Seeding - How it works

In the UAE, the cloud seeding procedure is common and it is giving brilliant results. Here how it works – Image from Google Image.

Breaking News: UAE promulgated anti-discriminatory Law

We already know that the United Arab Emirates, under the wise leadership of its rulers, is one of the most tolerant Country in the world. In the Emirates hundreds different nationalities find work and a source of income to sustain themselves and their family. Different cultures and religions are living in peace and harmony in this piece of land. In order to maintain this high standards of living and avoiding the spread of any seed of intolerance and hate as terrorist groups like Daesh (so called IS) are trying to do, a most welcomed Law has been recently promulgated.

The new Law was issued against “any form of discrimination on the basis of religion, caste, creed, doctrine, race, colour or ethnic origin following a decree by the President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan” as reported by Emirates24/7.

The National reported the words of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, who said the law “guarantees the freedom of individuals from religious intolerance … and underpins the UAE’s policy of inclusiveness”.