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‘We’re prepared for future emergencies’ says UAE as Covid cases pass 1m

Sheikh Sultan pointed to the creation of the Frontline Heroes Office as one of the many legacies of our leadership’s work to help ensure the UAE is always protected by a world-class healthcare system…reports Asian Lite News

Public commitment has enabled the UAE leadership to deliver on its pandemic management strategy by following testing protocols, practicing social distancing and mask wearing, quarantining when required and committing to getting both vaccines and boosters, according to Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Frontline Heroes Office.

Sheikh Sultan underscored that the UAE is recognised as one of the most resilient countries in the world for pandemic response and management, consistently ranking high for government efficiency, quarantine system, healthcare management, vaccination rates and other key aspects of pandemic response.

“Surpassing the one million mark for positive COVID-19 cases reaffirms the UAE’s future emergency preparedness network and continued social and economic prosperity. Our people responded by acting together as one. As a result, the UAE consistently ranked as having one of the lowest infection and mortality rates of any country in the world. And that’s what it’s all about, protecting the health and wellbeing of our people,” he said.

Sheikh Sultan stated, “This week, the UAE is expected to exceed the 180 million PCR test mark and we are rapidly approaching 25 million COVID vaccines administered. These milestones speak directly to the high level of trust in government that exists across the country. Our leadership set out a clear path for protecting our people during the pandemic and moved quickly and efficiently to put in place massive infrastructure and deploy essential and well-trained Frontline Professionals.”

“All of these elements of the UAE response are also why as a nation we were able to achieve such incredible economic resilience throughout the pandemic, with recent reports showing the UAE economy is set to post its strongest annual expansion since 2011 after growing by 8.2 percent in the first three months of 2022,” he added.

Sheikh Sultan pointed to the creation of the Frontline Heroes Office as one of the many legacies of our leadership’s work to help ensure the UAE is always protected by a world-class healthcare system as well as a robust, resilient and always-ready network of Frontline Professionals well-trained and prepared to protect against any future emergency situation.

“While the 1 million COVID-19 case mark itself is nothing to either fear or celebrate, there is so much behind it that speaks volumes about the UAE and our bright future together. How we apply the critical experiences and learnings from this shared journey we’ve all been on in reaching these milestones will greatly affect our ability as a nation to ensure we are well-prepared for any future challenges. And we all trust in our visionary leadership to chart the course of our nation to ensure that our future generations are well-prepared to sustain and build on the great legacy of the UAE for years to come,” Sheikh Sultan concluded.

ALSO READ: UAE, UK join forces to back major project in Senegal

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New gen UAE passports to be issued from Sept 1

These passports are issued as part of the new generation of Emirati passports and national ID card project which was launched in June 2021…reports Asian Lite News

A new generation of the Emirati passports will be issued from 1st of September 2022, the Federal Authority for Identity, Citizenship, Customs and Ports Security (ICP), has announced.

It represents a new technological leap in line with the directions of the wise leadership to consolidate the movement towards the smart government to maximise the civilised status of the UAE within the various government services provided and for fulfillment of the modernist security and technological requirements in proving the personal identity, ICP added.

These passports are issued as part of the new generation of Emirati passports and national ID card project which was launched in June 2021.

UAE condemns statements insulting Prophet

Ali Muhammad Al Shamsi, Chairman of the Federal Authority for Identity, Citizenship, Customs and Ports Security, said that the new generation of the UAE Passport is part of achieving the UAE government’s vision to reinforce the UAE identity using the latest technologies, and to provide distinctive services for the identification of personal identity in accordance with the best international standards.

“This project aims to enhance the flexibility of doing business related to individuals in various institutions of the UAE, in order to improve the quality of life and provide a travel experience that strengthens the leading position of the UAE,” he added.

He confirmed that the Authority will continue to improve and develop its services in line with the future directions of governments worldwide.

The new version of the Emirati Passport enjoys unprecedented technical characteristics and very complex security specifications to restrict the attempts of forgery or falsification. It is also featured with printing the identification page of its holder using the polycarbonate instead of paper, which increases the efficiency of specialised printing supported by photos and security marks characterised by its thickness, to prevent damages. The passport will be easily processed at the ports, and is characterised with high quality due to the usage of laser technologies and three-dimensional tangible elements.

Raising the security criteria of the Emirati Passport and supporting it with the leading technical specifications in the field of travel, promotes the requirements of security and safety when moving or passing through the international travel points, and supports diplomatic efforts of the UAE, which succeeded in highlighting the firmness of the Emirati Passport over the past years until it became the most powerful passport in the world.

The passports of the previous generation are considered valid and their holders can use them for travel until the expiry date of the passport approaches, while an application for renewal can be submitted to obtain the new generation upon entering within the renewal of crediting period which is designated with 6 months before the expiry date recorded in the document, demonstrating that the new passport is deemed an extension of the previous one without any change in the prescribed fees or the channels allocated for providing services of issue or renewing the passports through the website www.icp.gov.ae or the UAEICP smart application.

The holders of passports shall verify the validity of their documents for a period of no less than 6 months before they travel, with the possibility of issuing passports while being abroad through the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation represented by embassies and consulates of the State.

ALSO READ: ‘Culture key driver of UAE’s socio-economic growth’

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OPEC sees lower oil demand growth in 2022

Explaining the downward revision, OPEC cited “weaker second-quarter growth in the major economies and an observed soft trend in some key economies”…reports Asian Lite News

The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has further revised down its forecasts for this year’s global economic growth and oil demand, following a previous downward revision in May.

The oil alliance said on Thursday in its monthly report that the world economy is expected to grow by 3.1 per cent in 2022, compared to its forecast of 3.5 per cent in the previous three months.

Explaining the downward revision, OPEC cited “weaker second-quarter growth in the major economies and an observed soft trend in some key economies”.

In its May report, OPEC had already lowered its forecast for global economic growth this year from 3.9 to 3.5 per cent. This projection was maintained until July, Xinhua news agency reported.



Risks facing the world economy include ongoing geopolitical tensions and supply chain issues, the continued Covid-19 pandemic, rising inflation, high sovereign debt levels in many regions, and expected monetary tightening by central banks in the US, Britain, Japan and the Euro zone.

The oil-producer group has also forecast that global oil demand will average around 100 million barrels per day (bpd), down from the previous months’ estimate of 100.3 million bpd.

The revised oil demand forecast is due to “expectations of a resurgence of Covid-19 restrictions and ongoing geopolitical uncertainties” in the second half of this year.

According to OPEC’s August report, some of its members have continued to struggle with meeting their monthly output quotas. Nigeria and Angola fell significantly behind their production targets in July, the report showed.

ALSO READ: ‘Culture key driver of UAE’s socio-economic growth’

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UAE banks can weather global shocks

The CBUAE also conducted risk-based supervision and solvency and liquidity stress tests to assess potential vulnerabilities…reports Asian Lite News

The Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates (CBUAE) has issued its Financial Stability Report for 2021, which outlines the measures taken by the CBUAE to support the national economy during the COVID-19 pandemic and safeguard the stability of the financial system.

Among these key steps were the CBUAE’s gradual exit strategy from the Targeted Economic Support Scheme (TESS) as the UAE economic recovery commenced, with the first phase completed by the end of 2021, and the second phase concluded by the end of June 2022. The CBUAE will maintain the final third phase of TESS measures during the second half of 2022.

The CBUAE also conducted risk-based supervision and solvency and liquidity stress tests to assess potential vulnerabilities. Overall, these tests indicated that the UAE banking system had adequate capital and liquidity buffers to withstand severe shocks.

CBUAE

The report outlines the risks for the banking system, which stem from the potential deterioration of assets quality and insufficient change in banks’ business models in light of the global digital transformation, climate change and the rising governance requirements.

The response by the UAE government to the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to the rebound in overall UAE economic activity. The CBUAE measures supported the resilience and recovery of the nation’s banking system and the broader financial system to pre-pandemic levels.

Furthermore, the report covers the CBUAE’s payment systems that proved to be robust during 2021. With the acceleration of digitalisation of financial services, the central bank further improved its systems, enhanced digital transformation, and ensured cyber resilience.

Khaled Mohamed Balama, Governor of the Central Bank of the UAE, said, “The Financial Stability Report records the CBUAE’s approach to identifying and mitigating potential systemic risks and safeguarding the stability and resilience of the UAE financial sector. The report projects a positive outlook for the country’s economy and financial system in 2022.

“The global macro-financial outlook, however, could be affected by supply chain disruptions, rising inflationary pressures, and further escalating geopolitical tensions. We will continue to monitor evolving global vulnerabilities closely and stand ready to take additional measures if needed.

“The CBUAE’s vision is to become among the top central banks globally in enhancing monetary and financial stability and supporting UAE’s competitiveness. We share this determination with the UAE leadership and licensed financial institutions, and together we are implementing an ambitious transformation strategy to achieve this.”

ALSO READ: ‘Culture key driver of UAE’s socio-economic growth’

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‘UK-UAE ties important for the world’

Both leaders have exchanged views on the international repercussions resulting from the Ukraine crisis, especially with regard to energy and food security, reports Asian Lite Newsdesk

UK-UAE cooperation on global priorities including Ukraine, regional stability and climate change is hugely important for the world, the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson told UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan during a phone conversation.

The leaders tackled a number of regional and global issues of mutual interest. They agreed that great strides have been made in the UK-UAE relationship in recent years, 10 Downing Street said in a statement.

They have exchanged views on the international repercussions resulting from the Ukraine crisis, especially with regard to energy and food security, stressing the significance of working to develop the foundations of peace and stability at the regional and global levels.

During the call, Johnson praised the President Mohamed bin Zayed success in bringing prosperity to both the UAE and the Gulf more generally. President MBZ paid tribute to the role the Prime Minister Johnson has played in driving trade and investment between both countries, the statement added.

The Prime Minister said UK-UAE cooperation on global priorities including Ukraine, regional stability and climate change is hugely important for the world. He expressed his confidence that this cooperation will continue in the years ahead.

UAE, UK ink deal for cultural cooperation

Meanwhile on Wednesday, Etihad Credit Insurance (ECI), the UAE Federal export credit company, and UK Export Finance (UKEF) announced that they have jointly supported a major project in the Republic of Senegal to strengthen its national emergency response infrastructure.

This national emergency response project, called the Redco Project Senegal, will see the supply and building up of emergency services from fire fighting vehicles, airport firefighting and rescue vehicles, ambulances and medical vehicles, rescue boats, water trailers, cranes with cargo trucks and other safety equipment in Senegal.

The project, worth AED540 million, is funded by Standard Chartered Bank along with partial direct lending by the UKEF and is backed by the ECI and UKEF under a reinsurance arrangement with the ECI’s participation worth AED334 million.

Etihad Credit Insurance, in partnership with the UKEF, has provided guarantees for the loan obtained by the Senegal Ministry of Economy, Planning and Cooperation.

The emergency services equipment will be provided by NAFFCO, a UAE-based manufacturer and exporter of firefighting products and fire protection engineering.

This trade finance support is in line with Etihad Credit Insurance’s goals to boost the exports of Made in the UAE products and services as part of the “Operation 300bn” strategy, which aims to develop the UAE’s industrial sector and enhance its role in stimulating the national economy.

Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade and Deputy Chairman of ECI’s Board of Directors, said, “The long-standing bilateral relationship between the UAE and the United Kingdom (UK) is built on the shared vision of both countries to promote sustainable development and economic prosperity across the globe. The UAE has been keen on engaging in such remarkable projects that can transform the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.

This new agreement between our export credit agencies is part of the UAE’s relentless commitment to advance key segments such as emergency services, healthcare, environment, and technology. This collaboration is based on an effective public-private partnership framework that will also bring about substantial investment opportunities for the UAE companies around sustainability, which is becoming the norm for the next generation developmental strategies.”

Meanwhile, Mike Freer, UK Minister for Exports, said, “The UK can provide a leading role when it comes to exporting fire safety equipment. This deal demonstrates how British ingenuity coupled with the UAE’s proactiveness can better protect communities abroad and shows how joint government initiatives can help businesses export their best-in-class equipment and services.”

The Federal Export Credit Company’s trade finance support is a response to the UAE’s Africa initiative and Senegal’s call for aid to enhance and strengthen its firefighting and emergency response capabilities.

Recently, the UAE sent an aircraft with emergency medical supplies to Senegal to mitigate the damage after the neonatal department at the Mame Abdou Aziz Sy Dabakh Hospital in the city of Tifwani, north of the capital Dakar, caught on fire, killing 11 new-borns.

“Our collaboration with the British export credit agency, UKEF, to support the emergency service sector in Senegal signifies the UAE’s strategic vision and leadership mission for sustainable development in the world.,” said Sir Massimo Falcioni, CEO of Etihad Credit Insurance.

Louis Taylor, CEO of UK Export Finance, said, “Senegal is a unique market for UK exporters to tap into. I have seen how the UK and Senegal can work together to unlock projects in the country with our financing and open new trade routes for UK companies. We are grateful to the UAE federal export credit company for their support for this project that will pave the way for similar collaborations benefitting the exporters of both countries.”

ALSO READ: ‘Culture key driver of UAE’s socio-economic growth’

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SHE STEMS to prepare Omani women for nation’s manufacturing 

Emphasizing hands-on skills development and on-the-job training, SHE STEMS aims to prepare more Omani women for the nation’s manufacturing and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) sectors…reports Asian Lite News

Believing in the importance of joint work between the public and private sectors, as well as emphasizing the principle of integration between the service units of the state’s administrative apparatus, and in order to achieve the objectives of Oman’s Vision 2040, the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation (MoHERI) on Tuesday 9 August 2022 signed the SHE STEMS social development program agreement with Oman Cables Industry (OCI) and the Ministry of Labour (MoL).

The program was signed on behalf of MoHERI by Her Excellency Dr. Rahma Ibrahim Al-Mahrooqi – Minister of Higher Education, Research and Innovation; for the MoL by the Ministry’s Undersecretary for Human Resources Development Salim bin Musallam al Busaidi; and for OCI by the company’s CEO Cinzia Farisè.

Emphasizing hands-on skills development and on-the-job training, SHE STEMS aims to prepare more Omani women for the nation’s manufacturing and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) sectors.

Registration in the program starts in September 2020 with a first cohort of 20 Omani women who will attend an extensive 6-month practical “Operating Maintenance” course certified by MoHERI. The training will be supervised by a number of highly proficient, qualified instructors. Upon completion, each participant will receive a SHE STEMS certificate recognized by MoHERI.

The eligibility criteria for participants are: Omani nationals aged between 18 to 28 years who are registered as job seekers with the Ministry of Labour, and who have a General Education Diploma as a minimum academic qualification. (It should be noted that this training will not be applicable if the candidate has attended other training supported by the Oman government). For enrollment, interested parties apply through omancables.com/careers before August 25th, 2022.

Speaking about the SHE STEMS program, Her Excellency Dr. Rahma Ibrahim Al-Mahrooqi stressed the importance of engaging all vital sectors in the effort to achieve the goals of the nation’s comprehensive development plans, and to implement Oman’s ambitious Vision 2040 with regard to building promising national employees in all fields. Her Excellency Al-Mahrooqi explained that she valued OCI’s initiative in collaboration with the MoHERI and MoL, which would serve to develop the skills of Omani women, and open new horizons for them in the labour market.

Her Excellency Al-Mahrooqi also indicated the Ministry’s keenness to cooperate with many sectors to ensure the quality of programs directed at female graduates and job seekers is maintained. This would ensure that participants receive high quality practical skills and work ethics, which would qualify and empower them to compete in local and international labour markets.

Underlining its support for SHE STEMS, the Ministry of Labour affirmed its full readiness to cooperate in this qualitative program and to provide the necessary support and incentives to contribute to the upgrading of human resources in the Sultanate of Oman.

According to Cinzia Farisè, CEO of Oman Cables Industry, the SHE STEMS program is considered an important milestone in OCI’s social ambition to support the local community. “We are very pleased and honored to launch this program in collaboration with the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation, and the Ministry of Labour. SHE STEMS forms part of a global initiative that has been molded, initiated, and launched within the Sultanate of Oman. This is an exciting program that aligns closely with OCI’s stated values of Innovation, Empowerment, and Excellence. We are confident that it will attract and empower more Omani unemployed women to achieve excellence in their individual career fields within Oman,” Cinzia Farisè explained.

The CEO added: “As part of the Prysmian Group, OCI is launching SHE STEMS as a joint amalgamation with Prysmian’s sustainability development strategy and goals, and within the framework of the Prysmian Social Ambition 2030 objectives of Diversity; Equality and Inclusion; Digital Inclusion; Community Empowerment; and Employee Engagement & Upskilling.”

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NAMA to expand footprints in empowering women entrepreneurs worldwide

Since its commencement in South Africa, projects initiated under FPI have enhanced the capacities of more than 16,000 women-owned enterprises to participate in various value chains…reports Asian Lite News

During a recent field visit to South Africa, NAMA Women Advancement (NAMA) reviewed  both the achievements and challenges of its “Stimulating Equal Opportunities for Women Entrepreneurs” flagship programme, launched in the country in partnership with UN Women in 2018 to remove structural barriers to gender equality and foster women’s economic empowerment.

Participating in a series of roundtable discussions, briefing meetings, and field visits with HE Mahash Saeed Al Hameli, UAE Ambassador to South Africa, Fatima Yousuf Al Suwaidi, First Secretary at the UAE Embassy in South Africa, stakeholders, national partners, and beneficiaries of the programme during the five-day visit,  NAMA also identified areas for improvement and new opportunities to expand its footprints in empowering women entrepreneurs worldwide.

With a focus on South Africa and the UAE, the Flagship Programme Initiative (FPI)  is designed to build and maximise the capacity of women-owned businesses to benefit from public and private sector procurement contracts, especially in non-traditional sectors. By leveraging the commitment of the government and corporate sectors, the programme aims to foster the creation of an SME support ecosystem and facilitate access to new procurement markets and finance, while also addressing the demand and supply constraints of buyers and entrepreneurs.

Leading the NAMA delegation, Her Excellency Reem BinKaram, Director of NAMA, outlined the transformational potential of creating an enabling ecosystem for women entrepreneurs by leveraging gender-responsive procurement as a force for strengthening the capacities of women business owners to access finance and enterprise development.

A broad range of stakeholders including representatives of UN Women, officials from the South African government, private sector entities – namely signatories of Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs), representatives of women associations, local NGOs, and training institutions were part of the visit that highlighted the progress of NAMA’s flagship programme activities in South Africa to identify best practices and lessons learned.

Creating an equitable future

Implemented in partnership with UN Women, governments, the private sector, investors, civil society, women entrepreneurs, and women’s enterprise associations, the ongoing Flagship Programme Initiative offers capacity building to women-owned enterprises. Under the FPI, UN Women has also spearheaded high-level advocacy and dialogue to place gender-responsive procurement as a strategic lever for driving women’s enterprise development.

Commenting on the visit, Her Excellency Reem BinKaram, Director of NAMA, said: “We are committed to promoting gender equality and empowering female entrepreneurs and business owners, by creating market opportunities for women-led businesses worldwide. Providing them with equal opportunities enables women entrepreneurs to grow and thrive as leaders, innovators, and high-impact changemakers.”

She added: “Guided by the vision and strong leadership of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, wife of the Ruler of Sharjah, and Chairperson of NAMA, our strategic collaboration with UN Women in launching the Flagship Programme Initiative is aiming to transform the business landscape and close gender gaps in South Africa by promoting women’s economic empowerment. Together with the unwavering support of our partner, UN Women, NAMA is fulfilling its vision of uplifting women and creating a more equitable future for women worldwide.”

Aleta Miller, South Africa Multi-Country Representative for UN Women said “UN Women’s long standing partnership with NAMA Advancement for Women, & the South African Government & people, has led to positive,  tangible outcomes for women across South Africa.

What’s made the programme implemented with support of  NAMA Advancement for Women so successful, is working at all levels to overcome systemic structural barriers .This included two key strategies: facilitating women’s access to procurement opportunities from both the public and private sector by creating an  enabling environment; and providing  consistent capacity support to women-owned  enterprises

South Africa demonstrates the power of bringing women into the economy, & NAMA Advancement for Women has played a key role in supporting a host of successful initiatives.”

Reaching over 16,000 women in South Africa

Since its commencement in South Africa, projects initiated under FPI have enhanced the capacities of more than 16,000 women-owned enterprises to participate in various value chains.

A total of 6,452 women entrepreneurs have benefited from skills and capacity development programmes, enhancing their participation in procurement processes and increasing their access to business opportunities, income, and growth. Five sustainable and scalable capacity-building ecosystem approaches and models for women-owned businesses have also been developed here to date.

Leveraging the technology of Buyfromwomen, an innovative e-commerce platform, the flagship project has connected Women Owned Enterprises (WOEs) in Energy, Transport, Agriculture and General Entrepreneurship to improve access to markets.

With x7 modules, the Learning Management System (LMS) assisted women in assessing online self-paced training during Covid-19. Of the 3,693 women who were profiled, 1,264 enrolled on the LMS.

UN Women’s advocacy efforts further delivered results when the President of South Africa earmarked 40 per cent of public procurement projects for women-owned enterprises. Key government sector departments such as the Department of Energy and Mineral Resources and the Department of Women, Youth & Persons with Disabilities have commenced procurement spending on women-owned businesses in the sanitary dignity value chain. 

In line with the programme goals  in 2019, the Amathole District Municipality reviewed its supply chain policies and set specific targets for women-owned enterprises, effectively increasing its procurement spend on women-owned businesses from 4% to 38%. Together with the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ), UN Women worked with the municipality to mobilise 300 WOBs within the targeted district to learn about their participation in supply chains and create a database of women-owned enterprises in the Amathole District.

ALSO READ-NAMA, UN Women economically empower 340,000 women globally

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Lebanese cancer patients struggle to find medicines amid crisis

For those who are unable to pay for their medicines, they have to stop their treatment, which could have a detrimental effect on their health…writes Dana Halawi

Abbas Nasreddine, a Lebanese citizen in his 60s, has been battling lymphatic cancer for more than two years. But four months ago, he was forced to stop treatment temporarily due to a lack of cancer medicines in Lebanon.

Nasreddine, who was prescribed Imbruvica for life, was finally able to purchase his medicines from the local market recently. Still, he is not sure if he could buy it in future as Lebanon’s lingering financial crisis has made it increasingly difficult to obtain such medicines.

“I am very worried, because I do not know if my treatment could continue or not,” he said.

Since Lebanon was hit by a financial crisis in 2019, the value of the Lebanese currency against the U.S. dollar has decreased by more than 90 percent. Lebanon’s central bank has steadily reduced subsidies for a variety of commodities that were pegged to a fixed exchange rate, Xinhua reported.

Lebanon still subsidizes patients suffering from a number of chronic diseases, such as cancer. However, due to a lack of medicines, wealthier patients have to buy medicines either on the black market or from other countries through family or friends at higher prices.

For those who are unable to pay for their medicines, they have to stop their treatment, which could have a detrimental effect on their health.

Mohamed Jaber, a pharmacist and secretary-general of the Order of Pharmacists of Lebanon, blamed the drawn-out procedure of Banque Du Liban (BDL), Lebanon’s central bank, for the medicine shortage.

Due to the financial crisis, the BDL asks medicine importers to obtain prior authorization. Such authorization is necessary for BDL to open letters of credit, which is required to import subsidized medicines, said Jaber.

The procedure usually takes a long time and delays the delivery of new shipments, sometimes making it difficult for patients to receive what they need, he said.

The shortage of cancer medicines has forced a big number of patients to stop their treatment, which has led to the deterioration of their health, said Nizar Bitar, a hematology and oncology medicine professor at the Sahel hospital in Beirut.

“Cancer patients have to take their medicines regularly, on time and in accordance with specific guidance. Because of a lack of medicines, we were sometimes obliged to provide outdated or less effective treatments to patients rather than new ones that would have improved their quality of life,” Bitar said.

Bitar said that some treatments involve the prescription of several medicines, but when one of them is unavailable, the doctor is compelled to change the treatment without being able to evaluate its consequences properly.

Some cancer patients in Lebanon have expressed their worry and concerns over the country’s failure to ensure necessary treatments for patients with cancers and other chronic diseases.

Fawzia Fayad, a woman who failed to survive cancer under the medicine shortage, was among one of a few outspoken Lebanese to voice concern about the country’s medicine shortage. She passed away on March 3 at 24, after failing to get proper medication.

In the past few months, Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati has on many occasions called on international bodies and donor countries to support Lebanon’s cancer-fighting patients amid the current economic crisis.

At a parliamentary health committee meeting on Monday, he promised to allocate more funds for cancer medication.

However, Jaber believed that the Lebanese government wouldn’t be able to resolve this problem anytime soon because of the severe financial crisis.

The best solution now is to allow importers to bring in non-subsidized cancer medicines to ensure they are available on the local market, even if at higher prices, he added.

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UN renews call for two-state solution

Sporadic clashes already broke out between the Israeli military and Palestinians in the West Bank, days after the truce and may ignite an escalating conflict at any time, reports Asian Lite Newsdesk

UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland has described a cease-fire in Gaza and Israel as fragile, and called for talks toward a two-state solution to end the cycles of violence.

The past days witnessed a deeply worrying escalation in the Gaza Strip between Israeli military forces and Palestinian armed groups, primarily the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Wennesland told a Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East.

On Sunday night, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office announced in separate statements that a cease-fire had been agreed, he said, noting that cease-fire remains in place so far.

Citing the crucial role played by Egypt in securing the cease-fire alongside the United Nations, as well as support by related parties, Wennesland said the de-escalation of the situation helped prevent the outbreak of a full-scale war and allowed for the delivery of much-needed humanitarian relief to the people of Gaza starting earlier Monday.

But he pointed out that the most recent escalation had its roots in deeper tensions.

“I want to make the Council aware of the following: the cease-fire is fragile. Any resumption of hostilities will only have devastating consequences for Palestinians and Israelis and make any political progress elusive,” he said in his briefing to the Security Council.

Wennesland reiterated calls to the Israeli and Palestinian leadership, along with the international community, to strengthen diplomatic efforts to return to meaningful negotiations toward a viable two-state solution.

“Ultimately, the underlying drivers of this and previous escalations remain. These cycles of violence will only cease when we achieve a political resolution of the conflict that brings an end to the occupation and the realization of a two-state solution on the basis of the 1967 lines, in line with UN resolutions, international law and previous agreements,” he said.

Rocket fired from Gaza at southern Israel Israeli army

How long will it last?

A ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip appears to be holding since Sunday evening, ending a rare preemptive strike by Israel at the besieged enclave.

Israel’s three-day attacks, which came when the Gaza-based Jihad vowed to retaliate for the arrest of a senior Jihad member in the West Bank, are regarded by analysts as a muscle-flexing by Israel’s ruling Yesh Atid party to win a broader base in the run-up to the parliamentary elections.

It’s feared that a new round of clashes might break the truce any time, given the deep-seated grudge between Israel and Palestinian factions, especially the Gaza-ruling Hamas, and the lack of effective truce monitoring.

Palestine urges US to remove PLO from terror lists

Election interests

Key Jihad military facilities were bombed, and 44 people including two high-ranking commanders, were killed in Gaza during the three-day airstrikes by Israel.

Caretaker Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid claimed that the Israeli operation has achieved all goals and that Jihad’s “entire military high command was killed.”

It was unusual for Israel to make a preemptive strike on the Palestinian territory. Ibrahim Abrash, a political science professor from Gaza, told Xinhua that Lapid and Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz were motivated by their election interests to launch the attacks with an aim to gain reputation and support.

Israel will hold parliamentary elections in November, the 5th in less than four years. Now polls show the centrist Yesh Atid party led by Lapid could win fewer seats than the right-wing Likud bloc led by former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Through the latest confrontation, the Israeli government also intended to divert attention from its crackdown on Palestinians in the West Bank, including the endless arrests and land confiscation, and expansion of Jewish settlements, said Abrash, also a former official in the Palestinian Authority.

An easier target

In this round of conflict with Gaza, the Israeli military set their target very clearly: only the Jihad, not the Gaza-ruling Hamas, which is much more influential in the enclave with stronger military prowess.

Israel did not want to play “overtime” in the conflict, considering that prolonged conflict could drive Hamas to join.

“There might be unnecessary failures and losses, no matter in terms of economic or military, and “therefore it sought to end the operations as soon as possible,” Palestinian political commentator Ismat Mansour said.

On the other hand, the Jihad was believed to also want to reach a truce to stop the massive hemorrhage of members, as several commanders were killed and no signal of the release of its senior leader Bassam al-Saadi, whose arrest triggered off the recent conflict.

On Hamas’ inaction on the Israel-Jihad conflict, Palestinian political analyst Nur Oda believed that it was probably because that Hamas has yet fully recovered from the bloody 21-day military conflict with Israel in May 2021.

Experts also hold that this time Israel may further divide the Palestinian armed groups in the coastal enclave and weaken their internal cohesion.

ALSO READ: UAE calls for active engagement with African partners

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‘Culture key driver of UAE’s socio-economic growth’

The four speakers shared their experiences promoting culture as the main driver of economic growth and social progress…reports Asian Lite News

Mubarak Al Nakhi, Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Culture and Youth, participated in the fourth edition of the Global Forum on Arts, Culture, Creativity and Technology (G-FACCT) held in the city of Medellín, Colombia.

The event brought together some of the most prominent players in the creative economy from around the world.

Al Nakhi spoke at length about the UAE’s cultural and creative industries and how the nation was prioritising them as key drivers of its socio-economic growth, at a panel discussion on 22nd July, 2022, as part of the three-day conference. In the panel, he was joined by José Igancio Argote, Deputy Minister of Heritage and Regional Development from the Ministry of Culture of Colombia, and Carolina Pereira, Executive Secretary of Creative Economy of the Ministry of Arts, Cultures and Heritage of Chile. Victoria Contreras, General Director of Conecta Cultura Mexico moderated the panel.

The four speakers shared their experiences promoting culture as the main driver of economic growth and social progress. The discussion revolved around the strategies undertaken by the four governments to incentivise cultural and creative productions within their territories and their achievements and challenges.

Al Nakhi elaborated on the critical points of the UAE’s National Strategy for Cultural and Creative Industries (Creative UAE) and explained how the UAE presents a unique model in terms of culture with its strong Arab and Emirati identity and welcoming diversity. He also spoke about the incentives the country was offering to talents and creatives such as free zones and creative clusters while also providing opportunities to nurture their skills and present their creations on national and international platforms.

“Talent is at the heart of any cultural project, and it is very important to foster talent for a thriving cultural sector for sustainable growth,” he said.

“The UAE has been driving the cultural agenda forward with strategies, incentives and plans for the cultural and creative sector for years, and with the launch of a national strategy, we are able to streamline various efforts at the local and federal levels,” he added.

Commenting on the importance of international platforms to share knowledge and exchange ideas, he said, “In today’s hyperconnected world with a highly globalised economy, international commitment and cooperation are imperative to the successful implementation of any project, and culture projects are no exception.”

Al Nakhi further added that culture holds the key to many problems faced by humanity today and is a way to achieve sustainable development.

“Culture not only gives us a sense of belonging, fostering connections between people, but it also has answers to most of the issues our planet is facing today. Cultural Diplomacy is yet another area that is very relevant in today’s conflict-ridden world. When the world struggles with conflict and sustainability issues, culture has the answer to many problems.”

He explained how the UAE acknowledges the role that cultural diplomacy plays in forging international partnerships, giving the example of EXPO 2020 Dubai as the biggest celebration of culture and how it promoted friendly cultural ties with 192 participating countries of the world.

When asked whether interest in culture was here to stay or was a passing phase, Al Nakhi said, “Culture is not a new source of development, but the world is rediscovering its potential more than ever. Human-centric skills are at the heart of the fourth industrial revolution. Formalising the economy of culture is still work in progress and requires gathering data, building capacities, policy support, international cooperation, and financial and technological support. Culture supports sustainable growth, and interest in culture is here to stay.”

The 2021 edition of the G-FACCT took place virtually in Colombia with 418 national and international experts on screen and a digital reach of over 286,000 viewers worldwide. This year the conference was held with in-person participation from various countries worldwide, including the UAE, Colombia, Chile, Mexico, Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Argentina, Costa Rica and Jamaica.

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