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Saudi favourite AlBaik opens third permanent outlet in Dubai – Caterer Middle East

Saudi favourite AlBaik opens third permanent outlet in Dubai  Caterer Middle East
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UAE jobs: RTA announces programme to qualify Emirati graduates – Khaleej Times

Tuesday, Oct 04, 2022 | Rabi Al-Awwal 8, 1444
Published: Tue 30 Aug 2022, 5:13 PM
Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) announces on Tuesday the launch of 3rd Edition of Tamkeen (Empowerment) programme designed to attract fresh Emirati graduates from local and international universities and colleges in various academic specialisations.
The programme will enable graduates who have been unemployed for the past three years to pick up the skills needed to be job-ready and qualified to work for RTA once they have proven their merits and suitable opening arise. Participants can register for the programme through the QR Code of the online registration of Tamkeen programme.
Yousif Al Redha, CEO, Corporate Administration Support Services Sector, RTA, said, “This programme aims to maximise the benefits of graduates’ skills and employ their scientific abilities in various sectors and agencies of RTA to put into practice the skills and knowledge they have acquired at university. Tamkeen, which began in January 2022 and runs until the end of this year, focuses on exceptional and high-demand scientific and administrative specialisations.
“These include Transportation Engineering, Railway Engineering, Robotics Engineering, Infrastructure Engineering, Mechatronics Engineering, as well as Transport Economics and Urban Planning.”
“RTA has set certain conditions for joining the programme. The applicant has to be Emirati, males should have completed the national service, and should hold a university degree. The applicant should not have joined any job for three years since graduation, and the major of the applicant should be matching to RTA’s needs,” explained Al Redha.
The launch of the programme is part of RTA’s efforts to realise its strategic goals and objectives, which focus on social responsibility.
It also runs other youth empowerment programmes such as the Talented Youth Mobility Programme, Ajyal, and Summer Internships for university students.
These programmes aim to offer youth opportunities to benefit from practical training and promote their skills besides offering a chance to attract talented Emiratis.
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Expo City Dubai: Free tickets announced for teachers – Khaleej Times

Tuesday, Oct 04, 2022 | Rabi Al-Awwal 8, 1444
Published: Tue 4 Oct 2022, 12:09 PM
Last updated: Tue 4 Oct 2022, 3:23 PM
To celebrate World Teachers’ Day, Expo City Dubai is giving out free tickets to educators from tomorrow, October 5, until October 8.
Marjan Faraidooni, chief of education and culture at Expo City Dubai, said that teachers inspire today’s youth to become the leaders, innovators, and change-makers of the future.
“We’re looking forward to welcoming teachers and assistants from across the UAE with this small token of our gratitude,” said Faraidooni.
Expo City Dubai has recently revealed details of the Expo School Programme and what it offers. Students will learn more about important global topics along with opportunities to discover, learn and play through a range of exploration journeys, interactive workshops and an exciting science show.
Customisable according to areas of interest and time, they encompass three journeys across global themes: One through Terra, another through Alif, and a third Cultural Journey that combines the Vision Pavilion and Women’s Pavilion.
Each journey offers exciting, interactive workshops for students of all ages, shedding light on topics from animal habitats and water conservation to programming robots and the role of technology in managing waste.
Faraidooni said that the tailor-made school trips address critical global topics such as the environment, technology and creating a more balanced world. “The programmes have been designed to motivate students to think about their future, to imagine what tomorrow might look like, and how they have a role to play in changing the future of everyone for the better.”
School journeys will evolve and expand as Expo City Dubai launches more attractions. To know more about the Expo City School Programme, one can visit www.schools.expocitydubai.com and follow @exposchoolprogramme on social media.
The Expo City Dubai one-day Attractions Pass costs Dh120. It allows visitors to enjoy all its flagship pavilions.
The pass is available online and will initially grant visitors access to the Vision Pavilion, Women’s Pavilion, as well as Terra – The Sustainability Pavilion and Alif – The Mobility Pavilion. It will eventually evolve to include more pavilions and attractions as they open.
Children aged 12 and under and people of determination can visit the attractions for free but are required to obtain their complimentary pass at one of Expo City Dubai’s ticketing booths. At the same time, everyone can enjoy daily access to the Surreal Water Feature and Al Wasl Plaza, which opened on October 1.
For visitors that do not avail the Attractions Pass, individual pavilion tickets cost Dh50 per person.
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The magic of the Expo will continue, says UAE VP
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Try something new: 10 brilliant new things to do in Dubai – What's On Dubai

New dining spots, performances and much more…  
A new month brings a list of new things to do in Dubai and we couldn’t be more delighted to share information with our readers on the latest and greatest.
Here are 10 new things to do in Dubai this month:
Expo City Observation deck
Expo City Dubai re-opened on October 1 where Expo fans will be able to check out popular pavilions like Alif – The Mobility Pavilion, Terra – The Sustainability Pavilion, The Woman Pavilion, Al Wasl Dome, Garden in the Sky and the gravity-defying water feature. For foodies, Al Baik is currently open but more restaurants will be opening soon. More attractions will also opening soon including Expo 2020 Dubai Museum. Stay tuned to whatson.ae and we will let you know when we have more details. 
expocitydubai.com 
 
 
A post shared by Dubai Festival City Mall (@dubaifestivalcitymall)

Vibes By The Bay is a must-visit during the outdoor season in Dubai. Located at Dubai Festival City Mall by the waterfront, this outdoor destination has plenty to see and do. There’s a shopping zone with homegrown brands, a dining spot with food trucks called Hotspot, and a pet zone. The market opens its doors on October 5 and there will be a dazzling firework display at 8.30pm (to be confirmed) paired with an all-new Imagine show, Vibes.
Vibes by the Bay, Dubai Festival City Mall, Dubai, opening on Oct 5 from 7pm, Tel: (800) 332. @dubaifestivalcitymall

Fontana, a breathtaking water show produced by Cirque Du Liban is heading to Dubai this month with a number of shows from September 29. Fontana is the first travelling water circus in the Middle East and is a performance the whole family will love. Expect live entertainment and artistic circus performances all under a tailor-made aqua theatre. There are dancers, aerialists and more incredible circus thrills that will leave you on the edge of your seat. And if that wasn’t enough, the action is paired with a musical dancing fountain. Ticket prices start from Dhs90 for the green seating and it goes all the way up to Dhs300 for gold which is right in front of the mesmerizing action.
@cirqueduliban, @Fontanashow 
Kyma beach
Beach club season is back and if you’re looking for a sizzling new spot to try, Kyma needs to go straight to the top of your list.  The Grecian-inspired paradise features an infinity pool, plush cabanas and a gorgeous earthy palette, so you can expect to enjoy sun-soaked days by the beach and then indulge in long, lazy lunches with your toes in the sand. As for the menu, expect authentic Greek flavours with a wider Mediterranean influence. Read more here.
Kyma, Palm West Beach, Palm Jumeirah, daily, 10am to 8pm pool, 12pm to 2am restaurant. @kymabeachdubai
 
 
A post shared by Dubai Opera by Emaar (@dubaiopera)

Footloose The Musical is toe-tapping to Dubai Opera for a four-day run from October 5 to 8. Footloose The Musical follows the story of a young city boy (Jake Quickenden) who thinks his life is over when he’s forced to move to a rural small town in the Southwest of America. When he discovers that dancing and rock music are banned by the strict Reverend Moore (Darren Day), he takes matters into his own hands… and gets the whole town on its feet. Tickets start at Dhs275.
Footloose the Musical, Dubai Opera, October 5 to 8, from Dhs275. dubaiopera.com/events/footloose-the-musical
groove on the grass
That’s right, Groove on the Grass is coming back to Dubai and is gearing up to celebrate the big one zero. Labelled as 10 years of Groove it is set to take place on Saturday, October 15. Headliners include Satori & The Band From Space, Lost Desert, Unders and more across two stages. Ticket prices start from Dhs195 and can be purchased here.
Groove on the Grass, Emirates Golf Club, Dubai, Saturday, October 15. @grooveonthegrass

Raspoutine Dubai opened its doors on Friday, September 30 bringing decadent French glamour to Gate Village. Inside, you’ll find various shades of crimson and scarlet with pops of opulent gold, antique chandeliers, stained glass windows, old paintings, and more. On the menu, expect classic Parisian dishes with Russian flair served until 11.30pm. Once the clock strikes midnight, the lights are dimmed and Raspoutine transforms from a restaurant to a club, so alongside a party atmosphere when dining, it then becomes a go-to sport for late-night revelry too.
Raspoutine Dubai, Gate Precinct Building 3, DIFC, 8pm to 3am, Tues to Sat. Tel: (0)4 272 5373, raspoutine.com/dubai
Potted Potter
Playing to sold-out houses all over the world, the Olivier Award-nominated parody by Dan and Jeff takes on the ultimate challenge of condensing all seven Harry Potter books (and a real-life game of Quidditch) into seventy hilarious minutes. It’s sure to make you roar with laughter. It takes place at Theatre by QE2. Purchase tickets here. Prices start from Dhs140.
Theatre by QE2, Queen Elizabeth 2, Port Rashid, Dubai, Oct 22 and 23, platinumlist.net
Kricket Keralan-Fried-Chicken
If you’ve visited or are from the United Kingdom, you would have heard about Kricket – an esteemed London-based restaurant. Kricket is a collection of modern Indian restaurants combining British ingredients with the flavours and aromas of India. The five-day pop-up takes place from October 26 to 30 at Anantara The Palm Dubai Resort. There’s crispy samphire pakoras, Keralan fried chicken (pictured above), lamb ribs, butter garlic pepper crab, – a tangy dish that the restaurant in London is famed for and more.  It will cost you Dhs295 per person. If you want to pair your Indian feast with beverages, it’s an additional Dhs175 and includes selected hops and grape. Book your spot on 04 567 8304.
Anantara The Palm Dubai Resort, Palm Jumeirah, East Crescent, Dubai, 6pm onwards from Oct 26 to 30, Dhs295 per person, Tel: (0)4 567 8888. anantara.com
terra solis tomorrowland
This October, Tomorrowland is opening a unique retreat in the Dubai desert called Terra Solis, with luxe glamping, rustic dining and an incredible pool designed for epic day-to-night parties. erra Solis will bring a vibrant pool scene, incredible dining, and a trio of unique glamping experiences to Dubai Heritage Vision, a heritage village and events space in the Dubai desert. Of course, there will be a big focus on music. At the moment, we are still waiting to learn more about the roster of events, but it will be unveiled soon. Read more here.
Tomorrowland presents Terra Solis Desert Destination, Dubai Heritage Vision, opening in October 2022. Tel: (0)4 456 1956 terrasolisdubai.com
Images: Social and supplied

Motivate Media Group © 2022

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UAE: Amazon opens its largest delivery station in Abu Dhabi, creates hundreds of jobs – Khaleej Times

Tuesday, Oct 04, 2022 | Rabi Al-Awwal 8, 1444
Published: Thu 23 Jun 2022, 2:13 PM
Amazon on Thursday announced the opening of its largest delivery station in Abu Dhabi in time for the upcoming Prime Day event this July.
The 4,700 sqm state-of-the-art delivery station is the second largest in the country and provides same-day and one-day deliveries to customers across the city, including those located in outer areas, such as Al Samha, Al Shawamekh, Yas and Saadiyat Islands, Bani Yas, and Al Wathba.
The new delivery station creates opportunities for hundreds of full and part-time employees in a range of jobs with all kinds of experience, education, background, and skills. From delivery station associates to positions in operations, health and safety, supply chain technology, and analytics, all employees are eligible for training programs that will upskill UAE talent in the future-facing ecommerce sector. The station will also create new opportunities for Delivery Service Partners in the country.
The launch of the new facility follows Amazon’s announcement with the Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO) in November last year, detailing the opening of its most technologically advanced Fulfillment Centre in the region that will be opening its doors in the capital in 2023. Both the new Fulfillment Centre and delivery station bolster Amazon’s commitment to advance innovation and technology in the Emirate, in line with Abu Dhabi’s innovation agenda.
Ronaldo Mouchawar, Vice President of Amazon Middle East and North Africa (MENA), said: “Amazon remains steadfast in its commitment to innovating on behalf of our customers. We pride ourselves on working alongside partners such as the Abu Dhabi Investment Office, who share our focus on innovation and providing the right resources and logistics to enable businesses and talent in Abu Dhabi to excel in the digital economy. By empowering the wider ecommerce ecosystem to get products to customers faster and more conveniently, we are ultimately improving the shopping experience for all customers.”
Eng Abdulla Abdul Aziz AlShamsi, Acting Director General of ADIO, said: “The partnership between Amazon and ADIO reflects the ease of doing business in Abu Dhabi and the long-term growth opportunities available in the emirate. Amazon supports our vision for sustained investment in innovation and is bringing the latest logistics technologies to the region. The opening of Amazon’s new delivery station and planned Fulfillment Centre in 2023 will establish Abu Dhabi as a major global hub for ecommerce and logistics.”
Supporting Abu Dhabi’s efforts to encourage innovation, the delivery station operates using Amazon’s global logistics technologies that are built on the company’s 20+ years of operational expertise. Amazon’s new delivery station will support the company in providing a reliable and convenient delivery experience for its customers through same-day and one-day delivery options.
Prashant Saran, Director of Operations for Amazon MENA, said: “Built within Abu Dhabi’s ecosystem of innovation, our new delivery station brings world-class last-mile technology to the logistics and supply chain sector in the capital. The range of jobs at this facility will help to nurture the city’s talent pool and prepare them for the digital future that Abu Dhabi is striding towards. Opening ahead of the upcoming Prime Day event taking place this July on Amazon.ae, the facility and its technology enable us to continue to provide a seamless delivery experience for Prime members across the country.”
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As part of Amazon’s commitment to be net-zero carbon across its business by 2040, the building is designed with energy efficiency as a top priority. Heating, ventilation and air conditioning is controlled by a digital building management system that ensures a comfortable working environment at the same time as reducing unnecessary energy consumption. Today, the Amazon network across the UAE comprises of two Fulfillment Centres, three sort centres, eight delivery stations and a network of Delivery Service Partners.
ismail@khaleejtimes.com
UAE
This comes in line with the aim of the emirate to convert waste into environment-friendly items that contribute to the local economy
UAE
UAE
Over 2,000 people participated in the traditional dandiya dance of wearing colourful dresses and flashing beautiful smiles
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UAE
The new upgrade will see parking tickets issued electronically as the paper version is phased out
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Sheikh Saif bin Zayed shares TikTok clip filmed at a mall
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The announcement comes as the target deadline approaches to achieve Ministry-led Emiratisation goals for the private sector
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Sheikh Sultan has authored 76 books throughout the realms of history, theatre, and literature, and many of them have been translated into 20 other languages
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UAE
President, VP extend their warm wishes on the occasion
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UAE
The fire broke around 2.45 pm on Saturday; no casualties were reported
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UAE jobs: Aviation sector hiring at all-time high as travel demand surges post Covid – Khaleej Times

Tuesday, Oct 04, 2022 | Rabi Al-Awwal 8, 1444
Published: Mon 29 Aug 2022, 4:25 PM
Last updated: Mon 29 Aug 2022, 10:30 PM
Applications to the Emirates Aviation University have almost doubled to the pre-pandemic levels as hiring in the aviation sector has reached an all-time high.
“The shortage of skilled staff in the aviation industry has created huge opportunities for employment,” said Dr Ahmad Al Ali, Vice Chancellor of Emirates Aviation Industry (EAU).
This year, EAU has received almost 3,000 applicants – nearly double the number of applications it had for the 2019- 2020 academic year- for its various undergraduate program. Dr Al Ali said there are many reasons why Dubai is seeing such a huge demand for aviation courses. He said, “Whenever there is a downturn, the aviation industry is one of the first to experience a rebound.”
He added, “Given that the UAE, and particularly in Dubai, is such a hub with four major airlines, it is only natural that more people want to study aviation.”
The recently released Pilot and Technician Outlook by Boeing has predicted that there will be a demand for over 2 million new aviation personnel over the next 20 years to safely support the recovery of commercial air travel and meet rising long-term growth. The Middle East alone will need over 200,000 pilots, technicians and cabin crew during this period.
“The shortage in the aviation industry is huge, to be honest,” said Dr Al Ali. “The industry is struggling for aircraft maintenance, engineers and mechanics. There is also a shortage of staff in airports and airport security. It could be years before the gap between demand and supply can be bridged.”
However, he added that the emirate of Dubai has been fortunate not to face a shortage of staff in the industry because of the city’s ability to rebound quickly. “The impact on UAE is significantly lower than Europe and other regions of the world, partly because we graduate about 400-500 students every year,” he said.
In 2021, the university placed 84% of its graduates in various companies like Dubai Aerospace Enterprise, Airbus and Boeing, apart from Emirates.
Since the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been a shift in focus with lessons learnt during pandemic is now being incorporated into the courses at EAU.
“Mathematical modelling, date sciences and artificial intelligence (AI) is something we are really stressing on in our program,” Dr. Al Ali said. “These are three subjects that go hand in hand and will play a huge role in the future in industries like healthcare and aviation.”
“This is especially because of what happening during the pandemic. Mathematical modelling really played a huge rule during Covid for decision makers. Even now countries are relying heavily on modelling. Data is available but how do you interpret it to get the best out of it? Graduates need to learn these skills.”
In addition to this, the institute is also focusing on research projects. The EAU permits students to work on projects in collaboration with other Emirates entities like Dnata to find solutions for real-world problems. “One of the issues we worked on involved optimizing traffic flow from an airplane into the airport,” he said. “We also now have a PhD program that focuses on mathematical modelling,” he said.
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Chef Reif Othman X Akiba Dori tasting menu this week – Time Out Dubai

Chef Reif Othman X Akiba Dori tasting menu this week  Time Out Dubai
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Carrefour offer chance to have all shopping free in – Time Out Dubai

Carrefour offer chance to have all shopping free in  Time Out Dubai
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Wings clipped for Lebanon’s soaring emigration as passport renewal process slows – Al Arabiya English

Wings clipped for Lebanon’s soaring emigration as passport renewal process slows
As Lebanon’s crises continue to deepen, many members of the population are seeking to leave their home country in search of better prospects abroad. Still, many are being held back by restrictions imposed on their inability to apply for or renew their passports.
The collapse of the Lebanese lira over the last two years has led to an exponential increase in the cost of living, down to necessities like food, fuel, and power. Over ninety percent of the population lives below the poverty line, and nearly one-in-three Lebanese are unemployed.
Not being able to travel means missing out on job opportunities outside the country and the more reliable salaries paid in fresh foreign currency on which many families in Lebanon now depend.
“My passport expires in 2023,” said Siham Sulaiman, a Beirut resident. “I’m hoping to renew as soon as possible – to avoid complications – [but] I don’t have an appointment.”
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“When it comes to delays and issues, nothing is off the table,” she continued.
“They could postpone [your appointment] without giving any reasonable time, or the first possible appointment could be months – if not a year – later.”
Obtaining official documents in Lebanon is often difficult, frustrating, and protracted due to a lack of standardized practices and poor record keeping. Costs have also increased significantly since the onset of the financial crisis.
“I’ve known for a while that official papers and documents were not available, so it was a matter of time before it hits our passports,” said Lea Aouad, another Lebanese citizen. “The fees to renew were becoming crazy, so – even if passports were available – not many people are able to renew because they cannot afford it.”
“I have a US passport [but for] the numerous cousins I have in Lebanon, my sister-in-law, and my friends, their experience has been horrid,” said Elias Nader, a Lebanese-American living in California. “There is no complete information on what to do. They are waiting and waiting and cannot get a response back from anyone.”
Renewing a passport also requires a physical appointment, which people can only obtain through an online booking service. It excludes those without internet access or who cannot travel to their official meeting place at the appointed time. It consists of a rapidly expanding proportion of the Lebanese population.
In April, the problem peaked as the demand for passports exceeded the physical stocks held in reserve by the Lebanese General Directorate of the General Security. It followed a dispute over payments to its French supplier company. Despite suspending its website for several months, the GDGS insists that it never stopped issuing or renewing passports.
“Although obtaining a passport is a constitutional right, the unaccounted rise in the number of passport renewals depleted the limited inventory,” a GDGS spokesperson told Al Arabiya English. “The passport reservation platform was stopped, and the total number of daily applicants was limited to cope with the unexpected rise in demand.”
According to the GDGS, nearly 70 percent of citizens who renewed their passports between 2020 and 2021 have not yet used them. It has prompted the government body to appeal for restraint on the part of citizens in the hope of avoiding further unnecessary delays, allowing those with genuine, urgent requirements to be processed faster.
“[We ask] citizens who do not urgently need a passport not to hurry to book appointments, to enable those who desperately need to get a passport,” the GDGS said in an official statement. “These passports will be secured to those who claim them as their right and a construction of laws that guard this right.”
Despite this, within days of reopening the booking system, appointments for passport renewals were already fully booked until April 2023. It has left some citizens concerned that the GDGS will suspend the renewal if the new physical stocks fail to meet the enormous demand.
“I feel insecure being in a country going through such a situation without the option of leaving,” said Aouad. “I feel trapped, anxious, and disconnected from the world. [It is a] horrible feeling, especially when you [are going] through blackouts and fuel shortages.”
Some citizens believe that the government is using the passport crisis to indirectly restrict the flow of emigrants – particularly students and young professionals – out of the country, to prevent a feared ‘brain drain’ that threatens Lebanon’s economic recovery.
Others take a dimmer view, regarding the move as simply another opportunity for the wealthy political elite to enrich themselves at the expense of ordinary citizens or obstruct Lebanese expatriates from voting in the recent parliamentary elections.
“[They] wanted to prevent expats with a Lebanese passport from traveling back to Lebanon to vote,” said Nader. “Many expats who wanted their passports renewed could not get them [and] their local embassies could not tell them why. Also, they want to prevent the current exodus of doctors, nurses, and professionals due to the economic disaster that has engulfed the country.”
“After the explosion on August 4, and with this crisis, people just want to leave,” echoed Aouad. “[This is] a way for the corrupt politicians not to allow that and, by increasing the fees, it is another way for them to profit and steal money.”
Read more:
Jordan’s Prince Faisal sworn in as deputy to King Abdullah
Qatar provides Lebanon’s army with $60 million: State news agency
Lebanon blows hot air in gas exploration dispute with Israel
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Taliban fire into air to disperse women's rally backing Iran protests – Arab News

https://arab.news/4u8ny
KABUL:  Taliban forces fired shots into the air on Thursday to disperse a women’s rally supporting protests in Iran over the death of a woman in the custody of morality police.
Deadly protests have erupted in neighboring Iran for the past two weeks, following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while detained by the Islamic republic’s morality police.
Chanting the same “Women, life, freedom” mantra used in Iran, about 25 Afghan women protested in front of Kabul’s Iranian embassy before being dispersed by Taliban forces firing in the air, an AFP correspondent reported.
Women protesters carried banners that read: “Iran has risen, now it’s our turn!” and “From Kabul to Iran, say no to dictatorship!“
Taliban forces swiftly snatched the banners and tore them in front of the protesters.
Defiant Afghan women’s rights activists have staged sporadic protests in Kabul and some other cities since the Taliban stormed back to power last August.
The protests, banned by the Taliban, contravene a slew of harsh restrictions imposed by the hard-line extremists on Afghan women.
The Taliban have forcefully dispersed women’s rallies in the past, warned journalists against covering them and detained activists helming organization efforts.
An organizer of Thursday’s protest, speaking anonymously, told AFP it was staged “to show our support and solidarity with the people of Iran and the women victims of the Taliban in Afghanistan.”
Since returning to power, the Taliban have banned secondary school education for girls and barred women from many government jobs.
Women have also been ordered to fully cover themselves in public, preferably with the all-encompassing burqa.
So far the Taliban have dismissed international calls to remove the curbs on women, especially the ban on secondary school education.
On Tuesday, a United Nations report denounced the “severe restrictions” and called for them to be reversed.
The international community has insisted that lifting controls on women’s rights is a key condition for recognizing the Taliban government, which no country has so far done.
LONDON: Duolingo has confirmed it is discussing with the UK government plans that would allow visa applicants around the world to take an online English-language test through the company’s popular language-learning app for less than $50.
Duolingo’s CEO and founder, Luis von Ahn, said during an interview on Sunday that the business is ready to offer “cheap and secure English-language tests” to people who are required to pass one to work or study in the UK.
“Harvard, Stanford, MIT … and I believe there are 75 universities in the UK that accept the test,” he said. “But we’re not yet accepted by the UK government. I think they’re coming around to agreeing that online tests are good.
“We’ve been talking to them. I don’t know how fast the UK government moves. My experience is that all governments move very slowly. So I don’t know how long it will take but I think that will be really good for the world if it happens.”
Duolingo has been offering English-language tests to students seeking admission to universities since 2016. Von Ahn said that initially, some universities were reluctant about the company’s proposal over concerns that the tests would not be fair or secure. But the increased use of online technology during the COVID-19 pandemic helped overcome much of the skepticism and accelerate the adoption of online tests as an alternative to expensive in-person examinations.
“I applied to come to the US to study,” said Von Ahn, who is originally from Guatemala. “In my country, they ran out of these tests so I had to fly to a neighboring country, El Salvador, which in the late 1990s was a war zone. It cost me $1,000 just to fly there and take the test. It was ridiculous.”
Currently, people who apply for visas to work or study in the UK are required to demonstrate their English proficiency by taking a “secure English language test” at an accredited center in one of 134 countries and territories worldwide.
This means that people in 67 countries — including Mali, Niger, Uruguay, Paraguay and Guatemala, as well as many Caribbean and Pacific islands — have to travel abroad to take the test.
Von Ah said that in addition to its mission to “make language education accessible to everybody,” Duolingo wants, through its online English-language test, to address this inequality among countries by making it easier and cheaper for all visa applicants to take the test.
According to market and consumer data company Statista, 239,987 work visas and 432,279 student visas were issued in 2021 to people applying to enter the UK. Of the latter, 27,520 went to students from the MENA region.
Von Ahn founded Duolingo with business partner Severin Hacker in 2012, quickly establishing himself as one of Silicon Valley’s leading entrepreneurs.
The California-based education-technology firm is now valued at $4 billion and offers tuition in more than 40 languages. In the past few years the company has expanded the services it offers beyond traditional language-learning courses. As well as the Duolingo English Test it now offers Duolingo ABC, which helps children learn to read, and is preparing to launch a math app next year.
Author: David Quammen
Breathless is the story of SARS-CoV-2 and its fierce journey through the human population, as seen by the scientists who study its origin, its ever-changing nature, and its capacity to kill us.
Veteran science journalist David Quammen expertly shows how strange new viruses emerge from animals into humans as we disrupt wild ecosystems, and how those viruses adapt to their human hosts, sometimes causing global catastrophe.  He explains why this coronavirus will probably be a “forever virus,” destined to circulate among humans and bedevil us endlessly, in one variant form or another.
As scientists labor to catch it, comprehend it, and control it, with their high-tech tools and methods, the virus finds ways of escape.
In his compelling and terrifying new book, Quammen demonstrates just how much was known — and expected — by infectious disease scientists long before patrons of the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market fell ill in December 2019 with a pneumonia-like virus.
He focuses his informed attention on the unsung heroes who dare to wrestle with viruses, those strange entities he calls “the dark angels of evolution.”
 
GAZA CITY: Palestinians living in the Israeli-blockaded enclave of Gaza have long endured an unstable and costly electricity supply, so Yasser Al-Hajj found a different way: Solar power.
Looking at the rows of photovoltaic panels at his beachfront fish farm and seafood restaurant, The Sailor, he said the investment he made six years ago had more than paid off.
“Electricity is the backbone of the project,” Hajj said, standing under a blazing Mediterranean sun. “We rely on it to provide oxygen for the fish, as well as to draw and pump water from the sea.”
The dozens of solar panels that shade the fish ponds below have brought savings that are now paying to refurbish the business, he said, as laborers loaded sand onto a horse-drawn cart.
Hajj said he used to pay 150,000 shekels ($42,000) per month for electricity, “a huge burden,” before solar power slashed his monthly bill to 50,000 shekels.
For most of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents, living under Hamas rule and a 15-year-old Israeli blockade, power cuts are a daily fact of life that impact everything from homes to hospital wards.
While some Gazans pay for a generator to kick in when the mains are cut — for around half of each day, according to UN data — ever more people are turning to renewables.
From the rooftops of Gaza City, solar panels now stretch out into the horizon.
Green energy advocates say it is a vision for a global future as the world faces the perils of climate change and rising energy costs.
Gaza bakery owner Bishara Shehadeh began the switch to solar this summer, by placing hundreds of gleaming panels on his rooftop.
“We have surplus electricity in the day,” he said. “We sell it to the electricity company in exchange for providing us with current during the night.” 
Solar energy lights up the bright bulbs illuminating the bustling bakery, but the ovens still run on diesel.
“We are working on importing ovens, depending on electrical power, from Israel, to save the cost of diesel,” said Shehadeh.
Both the bakery and the fish farm have relied partially on foreign donors to kick-start their switch to solar, although their owners are also investing their own cash.
But in a poverty-stricken territory where nearly 80 percent of residents rely on humanitarian assistance, according to the UN, not everyone can afford to install renewable energy.
Around a fifth of Gazans have installed solar power in their homes, according to an estimate published in April by the Energy, Sustainability and Society journal.
Financing options are available for Gazans with some capital, like Shehadeh, who got a four-year loan to fund his bakery project.
At a store selling solar power kits, MegaPower, engineer Shehab Hussein said prices start at around $1,000 and can be paid in instalments. Clients included a sewing factory and a drinks producer, which see the mostly Chinese-made technology as “a worthwhile investment,” he said.
Raya Al-Dadah, who heads the University of Birmingham’s Sustainable Energy Technology Laboratory, said her family in Gaza has been using simple solar panels that heat water for more than 15 years.
“The pipe is super rusty, the glass is broken … and I just had a shower and the water is super hot,” she said during a visit to the territory.
But Dadah encountered obstacles when she tried to import a more sophisticated solar system for a community project in Gaza, where imports are tightly restricted by Israel and Egypt.
“Bringing them to the Gaza Strip has proved to be impossible,” she said.
The advanced set-up includes more efficient panels and equipment that tracks the sun’s path.
Such technology is being used by Israeli firms such as SolarGik, whose smart control systems factor in weather conditions and can harness up to 20 percent more energy than standard panels, chief executive Gil Kroyzer told AFP.
Across the frontier in Gaza, in the absence of such high-tech equipment, Dadah relies on the standard panels to power a women’s center and surrounding homes in the strip’s northern Jabalia area.
BRUSSELS: The EU vowed to press Israel on Monday about the treatment of Palestinians, settlement expansions and stalled peace efforts at the first meeting in a decade of a frozen joint council.
“We will discuss frankly and openly about some specific issues which are of our mutual concern,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said at the start of the meeting in Brussels. “I am talking about the situation in the Palestinian territories and the Middle East peace process, which is stalled.”
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid dialed in remotely for the EU-Israel Association Council talks and the country’s traveling delegation was headed by intelligence minister Elazar Stern.
Meetings of the council have been suspended for a decade since Israel ditched them over the EU’s opposition to expanding settlements in the West Bank.
The EU has been looking for a fresh start with Israel since right-wing leader Benjamin Netanyahu was ousted from office in 2021 after 12 years in charge.
“All in all, today is a good occasion to show our determination to have a positive and fruitful relationship with Israel, pushing for peace,” Borrell said. 
Support expressed by Lapid in a speech at the UN for a two-state solution with the Palestinians was “very important,” he added.
“We want the resumption of a political process that can lead to a two-state solution and a comprehensive regional peace,” Borrell said.
But he said a UN report on the situation in the occupied territories was “worrisome,” as the number of Palestinians reported killed this year reached the highest level since 2007.
Another bone of contention between the two sides is Israel’s firm opposition to EU-mediated efforts to revive the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.
“Well, this is one of the issues in which certainly we disagree,” Borrell said. “For the time being in any case, those (nuclear deal) negotiations are stalled.”
DUBAI: Instant messaging service Snapchat, in cooperation with Saudi Arabia’s General Commission for Audiovisual Media, has launched in the Kingdom its Family Center parental-control feature.
The new feature was introduced to the app in August in the US, UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. It was launched last month in the UAE at an event attended by Deputy Prime Minister Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al-Nahyan and other government officials.
Family Center is designed to give parents and guardians more control over children’s Snapchat habits. It allows them to view details of the people with whom a child is communicating without seeing the content of the conversations, to protect the privacy of the young person. Any suspicious accounts can be easily reported to Snapchat.
Family Center is designed to be used both by parents and children. Parents and guardians are required to install Snapchat on their own devices and then link their accounts to those of their children to access the feature. They can also invite other family members, age 25 or over, to use the feature.
According to a study by data analytics and brand consulting company Kantar, 71 percent of parents in the Kingdom use Snapchat.

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