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Emiratis, expats, entrepreneurs herald the UAE on its 50th National Day

As the United Arab Emirates’ official 50th National Day is marked across the nation on Thursday, expatriates have shared their memories of living and working in the country to mark its historic Golden Jubilee.

With celebrations taking place across the country to herald half a century since the founding of the Emirates, the day holds significance for UAE nationals and expatriates alike.

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Many told Al Arabiya English what the day means to them.

Indian expatriate Arnab Ghosh moved to the UAE in 1991 and described the Emirates as a very different place.

A transformative change

“Back in the days, life was certainly not as fast-paced as it is today,” the 45-year-old said. “The environment was quite laid back. Al Ghurair center was the only major mall in Dubai, with the only other thing that came close to a shopping center being the (now almost forgotten) Al Mulla Plaza, at the edge of Dubai.

“Everything beyond that – of which there was precious little – was considered Sharjah. Then in 1992, the Bur Juman center came along. At less than half the size it is today, that was still a big deal."

“Dubai was pretty much Al Qusais, Deira, Bur Dubai, Karama, Satwa and Jumeirah and anything beyond that was referred to as ‘on the way to Abu Dhabi'."

“When I started working, I remember most of Al Quoz was sand roads. That was one of the first territories assigned to me, as a young account executive selling ad space in the UAE’s first ever telephone directory: the Hawk Business Pages.”

Ananda Shakespeare, of Shakespeare Communications, moved to the country 17 years ago in my twenties and said: “I feel like I’ve grown up with the UAE."

“It really is the land of opportunity. I’ve DJed for rockstars and royalty, written a book, launched community events to promote veganism and finally created a thriving company. This country is always offering more to its citizens."

“What an exciting time to live here with Expo on our doorstep. This is a country that reaches for the stars, literally, with the Hope mission to Mars. We can only wonder what next for this country and the people that call the UAE home.”

‘We are proud to call the UAE home’

Resident Erika Blazeviciute Doyle, founder of Drink Dry, has raised her family in Dubai.

“I am a mother of three little girls and every weekend we try to visit different places in Dubai so they get to know the city that they live in.

“My most memorable moment during the last 3 years in the UAE was when I took my children to Dubai Frame.

“While we were inside the frame on the top level, my four-year-old daughter said she felt like she was standing on top of the world and that she loves living in Dubai.

“As a mother, you cannot ask for more than your child’s happiness. The UAE is the greatest place on earth, and we are proud to call it our home.”

An icon of modernity

Lara Barbary is an expatriate in the UAE, working as a partner at Ahmad Bin Hezeem & Associates LLP.

She said not only is the UAE an icon of modernity, but it also “one of the safest, most tolerant and most vibrant countries to live in.

“It is the business center of the region and the new land of make-believe. What’s not to love about life here? Be it to start the business of your dreams, to raise a family or to enjoy a spectacular lifestyle, the UAE has got it all.”

Soham Shah, CEO and co-founder of Selfrive.ae, said the UAE had helped pave the way for entrepreneurs like himself to forge a successful career in the country.

“The UAE is home to us, and this December 2nd we celebrate to the past 50 glorious years of the nation."

“We are glad to have been a part of this journey and we are filled with pride and gratitude that the nation has supported us to pursue our ambition under the visionary leadership.”

Sayed Hashish, a general manager at Microsoft UAE, praised the country’s leadership for making the UAE home to both Emiratis and the more than 200 different nationalities that live and work in the country.

“The true enabler of a nation’s prosperity is found in its visionary and resilient leadership and unwavering dedication by its hardworking citizens to better their lives and others around them."

“It is with absolute pleasure to wish great success to the people of the UAE on their 50th National Day. May this Golden Jubilee grant the greatest rewards to the people of the UAE on their journey of becoming one of the most highly advanced nations on the global stage.”

50 transformative years

Beauty entrepreneur, Anisha Oberoi, founder of Secret Skin, also shared her congratulations to the UAE on its historic day.

“Congratulations to the UAE on 50 transformative years,” she said. “I’m so grateful for the safety and comfort that the country offers foreigners, and for the boundless opportunities that exist for people across cultures and geographies who move here to find home.

“My own life has transformed in the last three years, so thank you UAE for helping me start my journey as an entrepreneur, and for opening up doors that I never imagined possible.”

Slurrp Farm co-founders, Meghana Narayan and Shauravi Malik, also shared their message to the UAE, saying: “The UAE’s efforts and consistent contribution across all sectors, whether it is business, technology, education has been unmatched.

“The UAE has achieved significant milestones over the years and is certainly poised for more phenomenal growth. Moreover, the increasing economic opportunities in the region have given rise to a number of families from across the world making it their home.”

A place of diversity and tolerance

Emirati Mohammad Baker, deputy chairman and CEO of GMG, is proud to be born and bred in the UAE.

“With a clear direction set out by the founding fathers of the nation, fifty years on the UAE is a country that is celebrated worldwide for its diversity, tolerance, and opportunity."

“These attributes and others have made the UAE a global hub for the exchange of ideas and knowledge in an increasingly connected world."

“Despite these many achievements, the UAE is a nation with its vision set on the future. Ambitious sustainable development goals are complemented by a commitment to nurturing happiness and positive lifestyles throughout the society.”

Fellow Emirati Mohammed Abdul Rahman al-Mutawa, the CEO of the Ducab Group, said the Golden Jubilee is both a time to celebrate the nation’s extraordinary achievements while also envisioning an even more prosperous and sustainable future.

“Over the last 50 years, the spirit of unity across the Emirates has led to groundbreaking advancements across every segment of the economy and society.

“During this time, Ducab Group itself has been a testament to the deep cooperation that exists between the Emirates—particularly Abu Dhabi and Dubai—to progress local industry, and to strengthen the participation of Emirati talent in the industrial sector.

“Looking ahead, we see enormous potential to contribute to the national development ambitions of the UAE, inspired by the ‘Principles of the 50’, the UAE Centennial Plan 2071, and other strategic initiatives introduced by the country’s wise leadership.”

Five decades of remarkable progress

Geoffrey Alphonso, CEO of Alef Education, said the UAE’s Golden Jubilee highlights five decades of remarkable progress.

“This occasion is a testament to the country’s longstanding record of success and achievements.

“The UAE has made great strides in advancing the education sector, recognizing the significant role that it plays in creating a knowledge-driven economy.

“Witnessing spectacular achievements in the past five decades, the UAE government has set out several initiatives and plans, such as UAE Centennial Plan 2071, that aim to provide a world-class education system and equip future generations with the necessary technical and practical skills that will enable them to make positive contributions to Emirati society and the global community.”

Abdulla al-Abdooli, CEO of Marjan, said the nation’s journey in the past 50 years has been defined by several milestones.

“These include the announcement of regional first initiatives such as the long-term visas and the Golden Visas that recognize exceptional talent.

“A real commitment to results, evidenced by the nation’s advances in sustainable development, women and youth empowerment, and economic diversification, which were outlined in the UAE Vision 2021 – and the goals achieved – highlight that the nation and its leadership ‘walks the talk’.

“Another strong testament to the nation’s strength is the committed action, led by the leaders from the forefront, during the pandemic.

“Furthermore, the UAE’s ‘10 Principles of the 50’ highlight the values of tolerance, inclusiveness, fairness and opportunity that appeal to the world.

“The nation’s forward-looking policies and decisive action have had a profound positive influence in welcoming international investors.

“Moving forward, policies such as the Net Zero by 2050 Strategic Initiative and the Operation 300bn strategy will drive the sustainable progress of the nation in the lead up to its Centennial.”

Al Arabiya’s N.P. Krishna Kumar contributed to this report.

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Roche develops monkeypox PCR tests

Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche said Wednesday it had come up with PCR tests that can detect monkeypox, as the virus spreads outside endemic countries.

Roche and its subsidiary TIB Molbiol have developed three test kits which are for use by researchers in most countries worldwide, the Basel-based firm said.

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The first kit detects viruses in the wider orthopoxvirus group. The second detects monkeypox viruses only, while the third detects both simultaneously.

“Roche has very quickly developed a new suite of tests that detect the monkeypox virus and aid in following its epidemiologic spread,” said diagnostics chief Thomas Schinecker.

“Diagnostic tools are crucial for responding to and ultimately controlling emerging public health challenges as they advance response measures such as tracing efforts and treatment strategies.”

Roche said the research test kits could assess the spread of the virus and help monitor the potential impact of treatments, vaccines and public health measures.

The World Health Organization said that as of May 22, more than 250 confirmed and suspected cases had been officially reported to the UN health agency from 16 countries outside endemic nations in west and central Africa.

The WHO says a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test is the “preferred laboratory test given its accuracy and sensitivity”. For this, optimal samples are from skin lesions and dry crusts.

It says PCR blood tests are usually inconclusive and should not be routinely collected from patients.

The WHO says antigen and antibody detection methods do not distinguish between orthopoxviruses.

WHO emergencies director Michael Ryan said Wednesday that countries had been sharing information that was allowing the agency to better understand the spread of monkeypox.

He said its origins at the animal-human interface had not been properly controlled, “and we’re paying a price now in monkeypox for an unmanaged, endemic disease which we do not fully understand.”

“We have not put in place preventive measures and we’re now dealing with a multi-country event directly related to our inability, or unwillingness, to manage those risks earlier,” he said.

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Moscow says Mariupol port reopened after demining

Russia said Wednesday that the port of the southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol has reopened after Moscow’s troops took control of the city on the Azov Sea.
Defense ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov told a press briefing that the port has “started functioning normally” after demining.
The strategic port city in southeast Ukraine fell to Moscow recently after a devastating siege.
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Mariupol’s new Moscow-appointed city chief, Konstantin Ivashchenko, said on Russian television that a ship carrying around 3,000 tons of metal products will soon depart from the port to the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don.
Ivashchenko said that “demining is taking place in the city, particularly in the commercial sea port and its waters.”
The port has taken on 4,000 workers, Ivashchenko said.
“Practically all the rubble has been removed, the rubbish has been removed, and what’s most important, the port is preparing to ship the first cargo in liberated Mariupol. The shipment will leave in the next few days,” Ivashchenko said.
He added that the port could also be used to receive construction materials to rebuild the city.
The Russian army said Tuesday that it had demined an area measuring 1.5 million square meters in the port, with sappers working in the docks and on ships moored there.
The United Nations has urged Russian authorities to release grain stuck in Ukrainian ports to avert global food shortages.
Russian deputy foreign minister Andrei Rudenko said earlier Wednesday Moscow was acting in “cooperation with the UN” and is prepared to escort vessels to safety if Ukrainian forces clear mines from around their ports.
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Blasts in Kabul mosque, north Afghanistan, kill at least 14

A series of explosions shook Afghanistan on Wednesday, the Taliban said, including a blast inside a mosque in the capital of Kabul that killed at least five worshippers and three bombings of minivans in the country’s north that killed nine passengers.
The Kabul Emergency Hospital said it received 22 victims of the mosque bombing, including five dead. There were no further details on the blast that struck the Hazrat Zakaria Mosque in the city’s central Police District 4, according to Khalid Zadran, a Taliban police spokesman in Kabul.
“The blast took place while people were inside the mosque for the evening prayers,” Zadran said, adding that they were waiting for an update.
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The minivans were targeted in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif after explosive devices were placed inside the vehicles, according to Mohammad Asif Waziri, a Taliban-appointed spokesman in Balkh province. He said the explosions killed nine and wounded 15.
All the victims in Mazar-e-Sharif were from the country’s minority Shia Muslims, according to a police official who spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to give details to the media.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the explosions, but they had the hallmarks of the regional affiliate of ISIS, known as Islamic State in Khorasan Province, or IS-K.
The ISIS affiliate, which has been operating in Afghanistan since 2014, is seen as the greatest security challenge facing the country’s new Taliban rulers. Following their takeover when they seized power in Kabul and elsewhere in the country last August, the Taliban have launched a sweeping crackdown against the ISIS headquarters in eastern Afghanistan.
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