Tag Archives: united arab emirates

Record rain in the UAE achieved thanks to clouds seeding

If you are wondering why it rained so much this winter in the UAE, the answer might be more surprising of what you can possibly think. According to updates from the National Center of Meteorology & Seismology (NCMS)’s meteorologist and cloud seeding expert Sufian Farrah, as reported by The National, cloud seeding operations might have played a decisive role in this extraordinarily wet winter.

Annual rainfall in the UAE rarely exceeds 120 millimeters whereas the last 9 March 2016 alone we have witnessed a rainfall of 287 millimeters as reported by ArabianBusiness.

dubai_climate_chart

Average weather statistics for Dubai. – Photo credit climateandweather.com

The aim of the 77 cloud seeding missions performed during the first three months of the year was to increase the chance of rain (even though the cloud seeding operation doesn’t necessarily makes it rain) and the quantity of rain falling on the UAE.

This is very important to replenish the water reserves both above ground (dams and channels) and underground,, sustaining the agriculture sector and reducing the overall need of producing sweet water from the sea for daily use.

Basically the clouds are “injected” with salt crystals by mall planes which fly above the clouds. Not all the clouds are targeted since the NCMS cloud seeding programme focuses on mature clouds that have the right configuration to generate rain.

“We covered most of the available clouds in the country, so the rainfall increased. Even if we didn’t carry out any operations it would rain, but the objective of cloud seeding is rain enhancement, and most of the clouds that are subject to seeding will generate rain,” he is quoted saying.

National Center of Meteorology & Seismology regularly publishes interesting videos and photos like the following.

 

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Emaar’s new Tower at Dubai Creek Harbour unveiled

Finally it has been made official. Emaar Properties, one of the most appreciated developers in Dubai with several successful projects already completed like The Greens, Dubai Mall, Burj Khalifa and the whole Downtown neighborhood, is going to beat his own records.  After having developed the current tallest building in the world, it has recently unveiled what could be the world’s new tallest tower.

Even though the official height still has to be disclosed, Emaar management has confirmed that it will be a “notch taller than Burj Khalifa” that with its 828 meters mesmerizes thousands and thousands of visitors every day.

The tower is expected to cost 1 billion USD and will face competition from the 1,000 meter high Kingdom Tower in Jeddah (KSA), currently under construction, for the “tallest building in the world” title.

The tower was designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, who has designed masterpieces of architecture like the Museum of Tomorrow in Rio de Janeiro or Athen’s Olympic Sports Complex, and was inspired by the Islamic minaret structure as well as a lily bud.

Emaar New Creek Tower

“Inspired by a Nation. designed for the World” is Emaar motto for the challenging Project – Photos from Emaar website.

The tower is going to be built as part of a wider Project knows as Dubai Creek Harbour, a mixed use development located in proximity to Ras al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary and its flamingos and many species of waterbirds.

The aim of the 6 sq km development was very well explained by Mohamed Alabbar, chairman of Emaar Properties:

“With The Tower, we are delivering a compelling destination that will add long-term economic value to Dubai and the UAE. It will also position Dubai Creek Harbour as one of the most desired residential, leisure and touristic attractions, providing visitors and residents with a modern, luxurious and sustainable environment in which to live, work, learn and entertain.”

The Tower and the Project are presented in the recently released videos prepared by Emaar.

 

The sky is the limit.

 

Construction news: more than 390 billion USD projects ongoing in Dubai

The total value of projects under construction in Dubai equates to $53.6 billion, with a further $337.2 billion in the planning stage.  These are significant amounts of investment for most mature economies, but for an emerging market such as Dubai, they are extraordinary figures which provide evidence of Dubai’s ambition to diversify its economy away from oil-centered revenues. In this way we can summarize the new report “The Dubai Construction Pulse” published by Deloitte and MEED Projects, which analyses the construction market across a range of sectors.

Analyzing the data provided in the report, it is evident that the majority of the construction projects currently ongoing in the Emirate are related to residential and hospitality sectors with a 60% of the total value involved while 65% of the planned projects fall within the mixed use developments, most probably because of the EXPO 2020’s requirements.

Dubai Construction Projects Status

“Despite regional security concerns and wider macro-economic turbulence, Dubai continues at pace with significant project awards in Q1 2016, including the Palm Gateway Towers, Phase II of the Atlantis Resort and Dubai Creek Harbour to name but three”, said Ben Hughes, director at Deloitte Corporate Finance Limited, regulated by the Dubai International Financial Center.

Previously stalled projects have been resurrected, but new project awards have reduced since 2014-2015 as a result of regional economic uncertainty

The conclusions of the report are particularly interesting and are here below summirized.

“The current concerns relating to low oil prices and diminished market sentiment has clearly had a short term impact. Whilst the ongoing geo-political factors equally have profound effects, the fact that many Governments across the region, not least the Government of Dubai, are continuing to spend on infrastructure and other strategic developments suggests that they foresee the oil price issue and political turmoil as a temporary one.

[…] The mere action of building a project and expecting the demand to be there no longer applies, as the fundamental cost basis for these projects remains volatile and competitive. Focusing on factors such as affordability, differentiation and quality are going to be increasingly important factors, and it is hoped that such considerations will ultimately underpin the rationale for conceiving projects.

Simply constructing the tallest or most unique project no longer provides the impact it once did, so diversifying the offer by promoting a world class standard appears to be the mantra moving forwards.

[…] What is interesting is the connectedness of Dubai as an increasingly “smart city”, and […]  Dubai may even mature to the extent that it could surpass some of the more established cities across the world, such as London, Paris or New York, in terms of its level of sophistication and dedication to sustainability, smart city principles and ultimately success in delivering projects that are demand driven and profitable.”

Other than on “The Dubai Construction Pulse” website by Deloitte, the matter has been analyzed and reported by well done articles published on SaudiGazzette and Gulf Construction Online.

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UAE to implement 5 per cent VAT from January 2018

As already anticipated many times in this blog, the UAE will implement value added tax (VAT) at the rate of five per cent from January 1, 2018, said Obaid Humaid Al Tayer, UAE Minister of State for Financial Affairs.

Al Tayer made the announcement on Wednesday while speaking to reporters after a joint press conference with Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the IMF in Dubai.

GCC countries have recently agreed they will introduce VAT at a rate of five per cent in 2018. The framework agreement on the implementation of VAT across the GCC is expected in June this year.

“Once the framework agreement on implementation of VAT is reached, GCC countries have time from January 1, 2018 to January 1, 2019 to implement VAT,” said Al Tayer.

The minister said each country has the flexibility to introduce VAT within this time frame. “A lot of ground work needs to be done before implementing VAT. The private sector will need time to prepare for complying with tax rules that is the reason we are giving enough time for all,” said Al Tayer.

The UAE will impose 5 per cent VAT while exempting 100 food items, bicycles, healthcare and education. In the first year, the country is expected to generate Dh12 billion from tax revenue.

GCC countries have decided to implement taxation as part of governments efforts to diversify revenues in the context of sharp decline in oil prices.

The news has been reported by several newspaper including GulfNews.

Food Options at Anantara Sir Bani Yas Island Al Yamm Villa Resort

We stayed at the luxurious and immerse in the nature Anantara Sir Bani Yas Island Al Yamm Villa Resort that I would select as one of the best stay in the United Arab Emirates for at least 5 indisputable reasons I wrote about in a recent post.

There is one restaurant in the Yamm Villa Resort area but it is possible to reach the other resorts present in the island and hence the other restaurants by boogie.

The al Yamm Villa Resort is served by Olio Restaurant, an Italian dining place where breakfast is served daily. Breakfast is the common buffet with the usual share of eggs, cheeses, arabic mezze and croissants. I wasn’t particularly impressed by the food options but it was suitable for a satisfactory meal.

The a la carte menu offers many options, from the classic pasta and bruschetta appetizers to wagyu burgers and more complex main courses. Quality of food is generally good, the service perfect even though it is a bit pricey.

Wagyu Burger at Olio Restaurant

The wagyu burger meal is massive. The patty wasn’t as good as I expected and was difficult to digest.

Paccheri with duck ragout at Olio

The paccheri pasta with duck ragout was exceptionally good.

Seafood Pesto Pasta at Olio

This trofie pasta with pesto and seafood were interesting. This recipe from Liguria was well prepared by the chef.

Gelato Dessert at Olio

Tiramisu at Olio

Tiramisu was alright

  In order to escape the daily routine, we organized a transport to Amwaj restaurant. It is a 10 minutes drive from Al Yamm resort and we had no problem at all in organize it. the restaurant is nicely furnished and is located few steps away from the beach.

The menu is minimal with few seafood options inclusive of lobster, seafood, freshly caught fish and little more. We opted for some grilled fish fillet and two side dishes. The dinner was al right but a bit too expensive given the quantity and quality of food.

Fish Fillet at Amwaj Sir Bani Yas Island

Fish was good even though presentation was somehow lacking something.

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

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.