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UAE, UNESCO sign agreement to establish ICSICH



SHARJAH, 9th December, 2021 (WAM) — The United Arab Emirates and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) have signed an agreement to establish the International Centre for Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Arab Countries in the Emirate of Sharjah.

The Centre, aimed at strengthening the efforts of the Emirate of Sharjah and the UAE in protecting and promoting intangible cultural heritage, will be based at the Sharjah Institute for Heritage (SIH).

The ceremony took place at the House of Wisdom in Sharjah, where the agreement was signed by Noura bint Mohammed Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Youth and Chair to the National Commission for Education, Culture and Science, and Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of the UNESCO, in the presence of Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, President of the International Publishers Association (IPA) and Founder and CEO of the UAE-based Kalimat Group (KG), Dr. Abdulaziz Al Musallam, Chairman of the Sharjah Institute for Heritage and Abdullah Al Owais, Chairman of Sharjah Department of Culture, and Salma Al Darmaki, Secretary-General of UAE National Commission for Education, Culture, and Science, Sheikh Salem Al Qassimi, UAE Permanent Delegate to UNESCO.

Al Kaabi emphasised the leading role played by the UAE in preserving and protecting intangible cultural heritage, saying that the country’s work in this field benefits all humanity. She added that global cooperation and partnerships are required to preserve this legacy for future generations, and to establish institutions capable of reaching this goal.

She pointed out that the establishment of the International Centre for Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Arab Countries in the Emirate of Sharjah confirms UNESCO’s confidence in the UAE and its ability to deliver the necessary capabilities, as well as the Emirate of Sharjah’s distinguished position in the field of culture and heritage.

For his part, Dr. Al Musallam welcomed the announcement of the establishment of the Centre, which will undoubtedly boost the Emirate of Sharjah’s position, and that of the UAE, in the creative and cultural economy, establishing it as a pioneer in the preservation and promotion of the intangible cultural heritage at the regional and global levels, praising the directives and efforts of H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, in supporting and preserving the intangible cultural heritage, and the parties involved in its promotion and preservation.

Al Musallam said, "Intangible cultural heritage is one of the key components of human civilisation and serves as an indication of the renaissance and progress of peoples and societies. Its preservation can help achieve reconciliation between cultures and nationalities, establishing among them the values of understanding, cooperation, and peace. The International Centre for Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Arab Countries will serve as a beacon for achieving these goals, towards which all nations stive."

He stated that enhancing the capacity of those working in the field of intangible cultural heritage contributes to encouraging intercultural dialogue and fostering mutual respect among all. He added that protecting the identity and cultural diversity of a population is vital, and that all elements related to heritage, from customs, traditions, rituals, and practices to skills, arts, and crafts, should be protected and preserved.

Under the agreement, the Centre will focus on strengthening the 2003 Convention for the Protection of Intangible Cultural Heritage, implementing it in Arab countries, extending institutional capacities to protect intangible cultural heritage in Arab countries, promoting the purposes and objectives of the Convention, raising the level of community, group and individual participation in the protection of intangible cultural heritage, raising awareness of intangible cultural heritage, and strengthening regional and international cooperation to protect intangible cultural heritage.

Under the auspices of UNESCO, the Centre will work to implement short- and long-term capacity-building programs and activities in the field of intangible cultural heritage, based on the program developed by UNESCO for the effective implementation of the 2003 Convention, and to adapt capacity-building materials and data developed by UNESCO to fit the regional context and ensure its translation into Arabic.

The Centre will also build communication networks between concerned communities, groups, and individuals to support the transmission and dissemination of intangible cultural heritage, organise events and public meetings at the regional and international levels, and exchange information and knowledge related to the protection of intangible cultural heritage.

It is worth noting that the Emirate of Sharjah also hosts the Arab Regional Centre for World Heritage (ICCROM-Sharjah), which was established in 2011 by the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM), an affiliate of UNESCO, in partnership with the Government of Sharjah. This Centre seeks to enhance the capabilities of workers across the official heritage institutions of the Member States to enable them to sustainably manage cultural heritage sites, historical monuments, and museum collections.

WAM/Batool Kashwani

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26,189 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine administered during past 24 hours: MoHAP



ABU DHABI, 24th January, 2022 (WAM) — The Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) has announced that 26,189 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine were given in the past 24 hours.

The total number of doses provided up to today stands at 23,339,861 with a rate of vaccine distribution of 235.99 doses per 100 people.

The vaccination drive is in line with the Ministry's plan to provide the vaccine to all members of society and acquire immunity, which will help reduce the number of cases and control the spread of the virus.

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UAE to head ALECSO’s Permanent Committee for Arab Culture



ABU DHABI, 24th January, 2022 (WAM) — The Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organisation (ALECSO) member countries have unanimously chosen the UAE to head the Permanent Committee for Arab Culture.

Salma Al Darmaki, Secretary-General of the UAE National Commission for Education, Culture and Science, has been appointed to chair the Permanent Committee.

The decision comes after the 22nd edition of the Conference of Arab Culture Ministers, held in December 2021 at Expo 2020 Dubai. Al Darmaki is the second woman appointed to this position in ALECSO's history.

The Permanent Committee for Arab Culture is responsible for coordinating the work of various ALECSO member states in cultural fields. The Standing Committee is also mandated to prepare for the Conference of Arab Ministers of Culture.

On this occasion, Noura bint Mohammed Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Youth, Chair of the UAE National Commission for Education, Culture and Science, said, "The UAE's selection to chair the Permanent Committee for Arab Culture reflects its pioneering position in the field of cultural and creative industries and is an affirmation of its ability to establish strong communication links between Arab countries."

"The UAE enjoys excellent cultural relations regionally and globally. The impact of its cultural project which aims to enhance people’s awareness and enhance their contribution to culture, comes in line with unique initiatives that reaffirms the UAE’s position as a global cultural hub, and an incubator for creativity and talent. The UAE’s strategic plan seeks to invest in culture as a crucial tool in developing communities and people alike," the minister added.

For her side, Al Darmaki said, "Thanks to the UAE's leadership and their long-term vision that today, Emirati talent is being acknowledged not just locally and regionally but also globally. The UAE has been investing earnestly in its youth, which has been instrumental in the success of young Emirati talent and the achievements of Emirati women. Our leadership's strategy, vision, and continuous guidance and support have helped us reach new heights of success in the Arab region and around the world."

"I will be working closely with ALECSO’s Permanent Committee for Arab Culture to launch new initiatives and projects to strengthen the role of Arab culture in our present and future endeavours," she added.

Al Darmaki has been an Assistant Under-Secretary for Knowledge and Cultural Policy at the Ministry of Culture and Youth since 2018. She has served as a Research Fellow at the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development from 2017 to 2018. She was a researcher at the Permanent Mission of the UAE to the United Nations in Switzerland from 2016 to 2017; an expert on Social Policy in the General Secretariat of the Executive Council in Abu Dhabi from 2011 and 2016, and a parliamentary researcher in the General Secretariat of the Federal National Council from 2009-2010. She also worked for the Abu Dhabi Government Restructuring Committee in 2008.

Al Darmaki holds a post-graduate degree in International Law from the University of London, a Master's in Human Rights from the London School of Economics and Political Science in the United Kingdom, and a bachelor's degree in International Studies from Zayed University in the UAE.

As Secretary-General of the UAE National Commission for Education, Culture and Science, Al Darmaki managed the campaign for securing a seat for the UAE on the UNESCO Executive Board from 2019 to 2023. She played a crucial role in the first decision submitted by the UAE to the Executive Council of UNESCO on "A Framework for Arts and Culture Education" and the passing of a resolution on the "Building on the International Year of Creative Economy for Sustainable Development through Consolidated Action". Some of her other achievements include the declaration of World Futures Day by UNESCO as an annual international day after being proposed by the UAE. The UAE secured a seat in the intergovernmental committee of the 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions.

Al Darmaki has been working with the national authorities to further the cause of cultural, educational and scientific endeavours, such as extending the registration of the falconry file for the fourth time in the UNESCO's Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage to become the largest file in the history of the organisation. She also manages the UAE partnership with UNESCO in the pioneering "Revive the Spirit of Mosul" initiative. In addition to supporting the nomination of Abu Dhabi as a Creative City for Music, she has helped make Abu Dhabi the third Emirate to join the UNESCO Creative Cities Network along with Dubai and Sharjah.

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Local and multinational private sector companies affirm commitment to UAE Gender Balance Council vision to advance economic and social prosperity



DUBAI, 24th January, 2022 (WAM) — Officials from 18 major local and international companies across various sectors in the UAE have expressed their pride in signing the voluntary pledge to accelerate gender balance and raise the percentage of women in leadership positions to 30 percent by 2025. The companies have expressed their commitment to accelerating the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 5 (Gender Equality).

Signatories also expressed their pride in being part of an initiative that contributes to the UAE’s global competitiveness, reduces gender gaps, and achieves the UAE leadership’s future vision. The signatories stressed their commitment to working with the UAE Gender Balance Council to achieve this goal and have announced a number of policy and programmatic efforts that will support in implementing the pledge and in creating more gender balanced workplaces.

The Pledge to Accelerate Gender Balance in the UAE Private Sector was signed by local and multinational companies on 18th January, at a ceremony organised by the UAE Gender Balance Council, in collaboration with the Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Centre.

Shamsa Saleh, Secretary-General of the UAE Gender Balance Council, affirmed that the UAE believes in the important role of partnerships, saying, "The pledge signed by 18 local and international companies is the result of two years of collaboration between the public and private sectors. The goal of these companies to raise the percentage of women in leadership positions goes beyond the local scale as many of these organisations are multinational companies, and so we are certain that these important actions will spread positive impact beyond the UAE."

"This initiative is part of the UAE Gender Balance Council’s framework and efforts, led by H.H. Sheikha Manal bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, to promote gender balance across sectors and build strategic partnerships both locally and abroad. Many initiatives have been implemented to accelerate the achievement of SDG5, which is reflected in the UAE’s leading position regionally and advanced ranking in global indicators in gender balance," she added.

"The pledge includes four main pillars: equal pay and fair compensation; gender equitable recruitment and promotion; gender mainstreaming in policies and programmes; and transparency through data sharing," she concluded.

Meanwhile, Ibrahim Al-Zu’bi, Chief Sustainability Officer at Majid Al Futtaim, said, "We work in line with the UAE government’s vision to accelerate the nation’s development journey, boost the country’s economy and build towards a workspace that values and develops balanced gender roles. Therefore, we have committed to a series of initiatives focused on the professional advancement of local talent, one of which is our devotion to recruit 3,000 Emiratis seeking to build their careers in the private sector in the next 5 years. We have also committed to a gender diversity target for women to constitute 30 percent of board members and senior management roles in the next 5 years."

Huda Buhumaid, Chief Marketing Officer of Dubai Holding, said, "As Gender Equality continues to be an integral part of the UAE’s social fabric and a key national priority for our leadership, we at Dubai Holding are inspired by and driven to emulate our young nation’s progress on gender balance. In line with the SDG5 efforts and national priorities, we have adopted a gender-lens approach to nurturing talent across the group through an inclusive culture and policies that support a gender-balanced workplace, as well as critical policy changes across our groupwide businesses that cover 10 sectors with over 20,000 employees."

For his side, Luay Al Shurafa, President and Managing Director, GM Africa & Middle East, expressed the company’s honour to sign the SDG 5 Pledge, and has congratulated the UAE government for spearheading the conversation and encouraging businesses to drive forward gender-parity reforms, saying, "We aim to become the most inclusive company in the world by leading with transparency and accountability, as well as a strong internal culture and gender equitable workplace practices. For more than ten years, GM AMEO has and continues to develop and promote future female leadership and talent. Today, 31 percent of our leadership positions are occupied by women, across our offices, as we continue to maintain equal opportunities across genders led by our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion oversight committee."

Olivia Bellingham, Senior Vice President, Strategy, Eastern Europe, Middle East & Africa at Mastercard, said, "An equal world is a more inclusive world, and Mastercard remains committed to wholeheartedly support the journey to gender balance with all our resources, technology, and the power of our network. Every time we embrace a chance to include and celebrate diversity, is an opportunity in which we keep momentum to effect change and create a better world.

"Gender equality is one of the key pillars for Mastercard across the Middle East and wider region, as we strive to ensure gender equality within our organisation, as well as unlock the female economy and empower women entrepreneurs. Public-private partnerships such as this one play a key part in this journey, enabling us to further accelerate this mission," she added.

Patrick Higgins, People and Organisation Director at Mars Middle East and Africa, said, "This pledge is a testament to the progress the UAE has made to promote gender balance across the nation. We at Mars are very proud to partner with the Gender Balance Council on this initiative to drive a shared agenda to advance female representation in senior and middle management. Our strategic focus to unlock opportunities for women and advance gender equality is driven by our belief in the exceptional value that more diverse teams bring in our business. Our emphasis on gender diversity can be found in our policies, our flexible work culture, and our associate concept which is one thing that is unique about Mars. Our aim is to reach a 40/60 ratio by 2025 across all levels of our organization and especially at our leadership levels, which will be a catalyst for further diversifying our entire organisation. We believe that having a diverse organisation drives innovation, entrepreneurship, better decision making and ensures we are more connected to our consumers. We believe this is essential for success in the UAE and beyond."

Meanwhile, Ahmed Khashan, President of Gulf Countries at Schneider Electric, said, "At Schneider Electric, gender balance is a top priority for us, both locally and globally. As a company, we take pride in the way we nurture an inclusive culture where both women and men are empowered, appreciated, and, most importantly, valued in the organisation. Gender balance is key to how we run our business and it is why we have such a diverse and inclusive team that is dedicated to bringing our energy-efficient and sustainable technologies to the world."

Sanjiv Kakkar, Executive Vice-President of Unilever MENA, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus & Turkey, said, "At Unilever, ensuring the diversity of our workforce is a top priority resulting in an increase from 21.8 percent (2014) to 43.4 percent (2021) of women in management roles in the UAE. Our commitment to ensuring the diversity of our workforce has seen it integrated into our business strategies, talent acquisition, talent development, and retention practices and processes."

Rachid Fergati, Managing Director, Middle East, Indian Subcontinent and Central Asia at UPS, said, "We strive to ensure that our internal culture is one that embraces diversity, equity and inclusion. We are an advocate for gender parity and women’s equality at the workplace, and are proud to leverage our resources and expertise to drive women economic empowerment. As part of UPS’s commitment to advancing a sustainable and inclusive trade agenda, we are supporting the entry of women entrepreneurs into the international trade arena through the UPS’s Women Exporters Program. We are honored to sign the pledge to accelerate gender balance in the UAE's private sector. We look forward to furthering the vision of UAE’s Gender Balance Council to drive economic and social prosperity in the country, and create a lasting impact for the community."

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