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UAE signs MoU to expand Digital School initiative in sub-Saharan Africa

NEW YORK, 22nd September, 2023 (WAM) — Sheikh Shakhboot bin Nahyan Al Nahyan, Minister of State, and Omar Sultan Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications and Chairman of the Digital School's Board of Directors, witnessed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) at the UAE Permanent Mission during the United Nations General Assembly.

The MoU, that was signed by Dr. Waleed Al Ali, Secretary-General of the Digital School, which comes under the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives umbrella, and Ute Klamert, World Food Programme's Assistant Executive Director for Partnerships & Advocacy, to expand the scope of The Digital School's current activities, to enhance partnerships and to reach rural communities and students across sub-Saharan Africa.

The signing was also witnessed by Ester-Anna Nghipondoka, Minister of Education, Arts and Culture of Namibia, and Estherine Lisinge-Fotabong, Director of Programme Implementation and Coordination at the NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency.

Sheikh Shakhboot said, "Launched by Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives, the Digital School stands as a vital initiative which comes as a result of the UAE leadership's vision to support education based on its firm belief that investment in this field is necessary for the development of societies. This is evidenced by its well-established track record of enhancing education on a global scale.

"The UAE has always focused on this vital sector and considers it amongst its developmental priorities, and in partnership with the esteemed organisations the World Food Programme and the Southern African Development Community (SADC), we are eager to see the expansion of the Digital School across sub-Saharan Africa and the continent."

He added, "The expansion of the Digital School represents our collective efforts towards the continent's growth and development. The UAE and African nations' historical relations serve as a testament to the enduring partnership that Binds us, and this continues to guide us towards an even brighter future."

For his part, Al Olama said, "The future of education relies significantly on the utilisation of digital solutions, which are a pivotal factor in empowering students worldwide to access quality education," adding that The Digital School is a pioneering example of developing digital education and transitioning to the application phase, making it accessible to students in various regions of the world, particularly for less privileged communities, providing them with the opportunity to learn.

He added, "The launch of the new partnership reflects the Digital School's humanitarian message and translates its endeavour to expand the circle of interest and reach more students across the African continent. The aim is to provide students with opportunities to learn and empower their role in shaping their community's future. Together with UAE Africa Connect, we aspire to illuminate the path to a brighter future for students in remote areas of sub-Saharan Africa ."

The World Food Programme's Regional Director for Southern Africa, Dr. Menghestab Haile, said, "WFP Southern Africa considers this collaboration as an opportunity to assist and support national governments to strengthen the school food program by adding the component of digital education at the primary level in underprivileged communities in Africa and thereby 'feeding the body and the mind'. The inclusion of the private sector, Governments and SADC will ensure the sustainability of this programme.

"This MoU between WFP and The Digital School is to support member countries to improve education and nutrition outcomes in the vulnerable communities by comBining school meals with digital education in a region with very high youth unemployment," he added.

The MoU aims to deliver educational opportunities to vulnerable students in several African countries, and by expanding the Digital School's activity, it seeks to reach remote areas. It aims to provide high-quality digital and hybrid education that is empowered by digital technologies and aligned with national standards, offering strategic advice to help form a national strategy for digital education and facilitating access to a global network of partners, teachers, and digital educators, while supporting educational content development.

Further, it provides professional development programmes for digital educators in collaboration with Arizona State University.

To date, the Digital School has successfully trained 1,500 educators and onboarded 60,000 students in a total of eight countries, including two within Africa. This highlights the UAE's unwavering commitment to education and highlights its prominent role as a global hub for knowledge transfer.

Furthermore, the Southern African Development Community, the World Food Programme and The Digital School announced a collaboration to convene the SADC Digital Education High Level Meeting from 27 – 29 November 2023 in Cape Town in order to develop a digital education roadmap for southern Africa. A number of digital education projects were also announced, with the aim to expand the network of partners, including those from the private sector and telecom companies, heralding a new era of collaboration and innovation in digital education.

As part of the expansion of the Digital School, UAE Africa Connect will now become an endorser of the Digital School and will provide support to the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiative to further enhance the school's efforts across the African continent. These partnerships reflect the platform's commitment to bridging educational gaps in sub-Saharan African countries to achieve a future in which digital tools support the pursuit of knowledge and academic excellence.

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Hamriyah and Deira ports record AED 12.133b in customs declaration value for first nine months of 2023

Dubai Customs plays a crucial role as the frontline defense for community security, consistently advancing its customs centers to safeguard and facilitate maritime trade. H.E. Ahmed Mahboob Musabih, Director General of Dubai Customs, CEO of
Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation, recently visited Creek Customs Center, Deira Port, and Hamriyah Port Customs Center to evaluate progress and oversee ongoing efforts for continuous customs service development. During this visit, several executive directors, department heads, and customs center managers were present.

Ahmed Mahboob Musabih, accompanied by Rashid Al Dhabah Al Suwaidi, Acting Director of Seae Customs Centers Management, conducted inspections at Khor Customs Center, Deira Port, and Hamriyah Port Customs Center. Managers Abdulaziz Ibrahim Al Salman and Majid Salem Al Tawilah provided insights into workflow progress and accomplishments. Over the first nine months of this year, 62,454 customs declarations were processed, totaling AED 12.133 billion, with 19 seizures recorded during the same period. A visit to Hamriyah Port Customs Center showcased an advanced container X-ray inspection device, supporting increased inspection operations.

Subsequently, visits to Khor Customs Center and Deira Port highlighted achievements, including a notable seizure called the “Wheelhouse,” which successfully prevented an attempt to smuggle 243 kilograms of narcotics into the country. Commending customs employees, Ahmed Mahboob Musabih emphasized the pivotal role of maritime customs centers in ensuring community security and facilitating trade. The department collaborates for efficient goods clearance and acknowledges employee efforts
during the COVID-19 pandemic, contributing to the department’s support for global efforts to revive maritime navigation and international trade.

Musabih clarified that the department’s advanced capabilities in monitoring and inspection enable it to keep pace with the UAE’s rapid foreign trade growth. Supporting Dubai’s economic agenda D33, the department aims to double foreign trade and enhance economic partnerships with key global markets. Efforts to boost customs inspector efficiency continue through training courses, ensuring their ability to thwart smuggling attempts. Continuous development of X-ray scanning
devices and the K9 customs dog unit further enhances contraband control achievements. Rasheed Al-Dabah explained that the forthcoming period will witness the advancement of new initiatives and mechanisms in the realm of inspection and examination. These initiatives are grounded in a forward-looking perspective to introduce cutting-edge technologies utilized in examining maritime transport vessels, wooden ships, and ships engaged in fish trade.

He remarked, “Our endeavors are harmonized to enhance performance in sea customs centers, concurrently focusing on bolstering monitoring, tracking, and technical support activities to yield optimal outcomes through continuous and productive collaboration among all specialized teams within the department. The Customs centers in Deira, Al Khor, and
Hamriyah Port Customs Center shoulder their vital responsibilities in safeguarding society and facilitating maritime trade through Dubai Creek and Hamriyah Port, supporting the ongoing growth of the national economy.”

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Dubai Customs Hosts Sharjah Housing Delegation to Strengthen Government Communication Ties

Dubai Customs, represented by the Corporate Communication Department, warmly welcomed a delegation from the Sharjah Housing Department. The purpose of the visit was to familiarize the delegation with the duties and responsibilities of the
Corporate Communication Department and its affiliated divisions. The delegation also aimed to explore the awards received by the department, notably the recognition as the Best Government Communication Team in the Sharjah Government Communication Award for 2023.

Khalil Saqer bin Gharib, Director of Corporate Communication Department, along with department managers, extended a cordial reception to the Sharjah Housing delegation, which included Dr. Ahmed Rashid Al Nuaimi, Director of Government Communication, Nada Sivan, Head of the Public Relations and Events Department, and Hamad Saleh Al Hamadi, Head of
the New Media Department. Bin Gharib highlighted the department’s commitment to strengthening communication with government entities to exchange practical experiences and knowledge. The delegation was briefed on Dubai Customs exceptional performance in customs operations and other facets.

The meeting delved into discussions on potential avenues for collaboration, with the Sharjah Housing delegation. Emphasis was placed on the crucial role played by Dubai Customs’ Corporate Communication Department, customs administrations, and centers in ensuring security and safeguarding society. The delegation was presented with an overview of the department’s working mechanisms, awareness campaigns, events, and activities conducted internally and externally, aligning with Dubai Customs esteemed reputation.

Furthermore, the Sharjah Housing delegation acquired an understanding of the best media practices adopted by the Corporate Communication Department, showcasing its outstanding performance in enhancing knowledge and media dissemination to all partners. This has resulted in the department establishing and fortifying relationships with local and international media
entities. The presentation also encompassed the factors contributing to the department’s receipt of the award for the Best Government Communication Team in the Sharjah Government Communication Award.

Dr. Ahmed Rashid Al Nuaimi, Director of Government Communication at Sharjah Housing, expressed appreciation for the efforts of Dubai Customs Corporate Communication Department, acknowledging its excellence and significant contribution to enhancing the department’s standing. Dr. Al Nuaimi affirmed Sharjah Housing’s commitment to fostering ongoing visits and meetings with Dubai Customs, aiming to achieve the highest level of coordination and benefit from the Corporate Communication Departmen’s experience in securing numerous local and international awards.

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Zayed Sustainability Prize opens submissions for 2025 cycle

The Zayed Sustainability Prize, the UAE’s pioneering global sustainability and humanitarian award, has officially announced that the 2025 cycle is now open for submissions.  Submissions will be accepted until 23 June 2024 through the Prize’s online portal. Small to medium enterprises (SMEs), nonprofit organisations (NPOs) and high schools with sustainable solutions are invited to submit an entry for consideration in one of the six categories of Heath, Food, Energy, Water, Climate Action and Global High Schools. Commenting on the launch of the 2025 submissions cycle, H.E. Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, UAE Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, Director General of the Zayed Sustainability Prize, and COP28 President, said: “Since 2008, the
Zayed Sustainability Prize has honoured the legacy of Sheikh Zayed by fostering inclusive sustainable and humanitarian development around the world. In this decisive decade for climate change, these values are more important than ever. I am optimistic that the Prize will contribute to global climate action in line with the UAE Consensus, which will pave the
way toward an effective response to the Global Stocktake decision.” In response to the pressing climate crisis, and to further support the UAE’s efforts to accelerate practical solutions needed to drive climate action and uplift vulnerable communities around the world, the Prize has increased its funds from US $3.6 million to US $5.9 million. The Prize will reward US $1 million to each winner in the organisational categories of Health, Food, Energy, Water and Climate Action. Within the Global High Schools category, which is split into six world regions, each school can claim up to US $150,000 to start or further expand their project. The six world regions of the Global High Schools category are The Americas, Europe and Central Asia, Middle East and North Africa, Sub- Saharan Africa, South Asia, and East Asia and Pacific. The most recent Zayed Sustainability Prize winners were recognised at an Awards Ceremony held during COP28 UAE. To encourage a broader range of organisations and high schools to participate, the Prize will be accepting submissions in multiple languages, including Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, Spanish, and Portuguese. This will ensure that innovative solutions from diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds can be recognised. For the Health, Food, Energy, Water and Climate Action categories, organisations should prove that they are improving access to essential products or services in their targeted communities and are able to implement a long-term vision for better living and working conditions. For the Global High Schools category, projects should be led by students, and must demonstrate innovative approaches to address sustainability challenges. The evaluation of each submission to the Prize consists of a rigorous, three-stage process. First, due diligence is conducted on all submissions to ensure that they meet the Prize’s evaluation criteria of Impact, Innovation, and Inspiration. This identifies the qualified entries and results in the selection of eligible candidates. Following this, evaluations are undertaken by a Selection Committee consisting of category-specific panels of independent international experts. From this shortlist of candidates, the finalists are chosen and then sent to the Prize Jury who unanimously elect the winners across all six categories.   Winners of the Zayed Sustainability Prize will be announced at an Awards Ceremony during the 2025 Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW).

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