Badr Hubais, service development manager, left, and Steven Winstanley, acting chief operations officer, are just two of the people behind the Ankabut network project, which plans to provide better access and visibility for researchers across the country. Delores Johnson / The National
Badr Hubais, service development manager, left, and Steven Winstanley, acting chief operations officer, are just two of the people behind the Ankabut network project, which plans to provide better accShow more

Spider spins faster web for academics

ABU DHABI // In the 1990s, as the internet started to become uncomfortably congested, a group of US universities and government entities created a separate, faster network solely for the purpose of research.

Thousands of times faster than a typical broadband connection, Internet2 has broadened the information superhighway for the most bandwidth-hungry projects: moving huge amounts of data for research, broadcasting live surgeries and even allowing an orchestra to collaborate on a symphony from their homes.

Now, UAE researchers are developing a National Research and Education Network (NREN) of their own that would run separately from an internet bogged down by billions of devices and commercial traffic.

Ankabut ("spider") will not only connect major universities and research institutions to each other, but to their international counterparts.

An Internet2 connection will also give the world better access to the country's research, which academics and experts complain gets little visibility.

The network, launched by Khalifa University for Science, Technology and Research (Kustar), currently threads together the campuses of Kustar, UAE University, Zayed University, the Institute of Applied Technology, the Higher Colleges of Technology, Fatima College of Health Sciences and the American University of Dubai, all through a network of high-speed fibre-optic links.

Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi, NYU Abu Dhabi, The Petroleum Institute, Al Hosn University and Tawam Hospital have all expressed interest in connecting.

The hope is that the network will eventually link all local universities, government departments, public libraries, health service centres, museums and some private research companies.

The services will not necessarily be exclusive to the sciences, said Steven Winstanley, acting chief operations officer for the non-profit organisation behind the plan.

"This could not only be used to assist geologists working with seismology, but also with famous composers and violinists," he said.

"This can help scientists or medical students get and manipulate models that have detailed, accurate dimensions that have not been available in the past. It could change the way research is done here."

Ankabut's core network will be able to hold 10 gigabits a second (Gbps) of data - about 2,000 times faster than home broadband. Research cycles that would typically take months of number crunching between institutions will be reduced to days using the Ankabut links, officials said.

Kustar is providing a quarter of the funding, with the rest coming from the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Fund, a government venture initiated by the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, the UAE's internet regulator.

Etisalat is providing the backbone for the network, with underwater fibre-optic cable connecting Fujairah to an Internet2 router in New York and via that to other national research networks such as Britain's Janet and Europe's Dante. Ankabut will also provide a link to EUN/Enstinet in Egypt and Qatar's FN among other networks.

"This extra capacity, speed and storage will allow more researchers to be connected, find each other and collaborate on an international level," said Badr Hubais, manager of service development for Ankabut. "It will allow for better exposure to the country's research capabilities."

Academics have said they struggle to gain international recognition for their work unless they publish it in collaboration with institutions overseas, while peer-reviewed journals are not listed on highly visible indices used by scientists worldwide.

Ankabut could help change that, say university officials. "With Etisalat or these other normal providers, there is just not enough capacity to handle all of the research people want to do," said John Rogan, the Petroleum Institute's head librarian.

"The amount of research being done in the UAE is not very great at the moment, so anything that encourages collaboration with scientists overseas or access to particular libraries and databases could be the help the country needs."

Constantin Vaduva, director of infrastructure and core services for UAE University, said staff there have already started using Ankabut for video conferencing overseas and are exploring options for other applications.

Local researchers will be conducting a clinical epidemiology study with international experts through the network later this year, he said.

Abdulla al Zaabi, a researcher for the Etisalat BT Innovation Centre (Ebtic) housed at Kustar, has used Ankabut to continue his research on high-performance computing, which started at the University of Manchester in England.

As a result, two papers are being published in Britain based on research he did from the UAE.

Before the high-speed network was available, he said, he was forced to use e-mail and other more limited means to communicate, and as a result felt paralysed in his work.

"I was not able to run experiments through the machines or do simulations, or work alongside supervisors with knowledge in the UK, so it was rather hard," he said.

"Working from the UAE, there are limitations and the resources for simulations are not there, and that is true across disciplines.

"In this way, I have access to other universities' resources and can get engaged in cutting-edge research at a number of other institutions."

Herc's Adventures

Developer: Big Ape Productions
Publisher: LucasArts
Console: PlayStation 1 & 5, Sega Saturn
Rating: 4/5

Generational responses to the pandemic

Devesh Mamtani from Century Financial believes the cash-hoarding tendency of each generation is influenced by what stage of the employment cycle they are in. He offers the following insights:

Baby boomers (those born before 1964): Owing to market uncertainty and the need to survive amid competition, many in this generation are looking for options to hoard more cash and increase their overall savings/investments towards risk-free assets.

Generation X (born between 1965 and 1980): Gen X is currently in its prime working years. With their personal and family finances taking a hit, Generation X is looking at multiple options, including taking out short-term loan facilities with competitive interest rates instead of dipping into their savings account.

Millennials (born between 1981 and 1996): This market situation is giving them a valuable lesson about investing early. Many millennials who had previously not saved or invested are looking to start doing so now.

Confirmed bouts (more to be added)

Cory Sandhagen v Umar Nurmagomedov
Nick Diaz v Vicente Luque
Michael Chiesa v Tony Ferguson
Deiveson Figueiredo v Marlon Vera
Mackenzie Dern v Loopy Godinez

Tickets for the August 3 Fight Night, held in partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi, went on sale earlier this month, through and

The specs: 2018 Dodge Durango SRT

Price, base / as tested: Dh259,000

Engine: 6.4-litre V8

Power: 475hp @ 6,000rpm

Torque: 640Nm @ 4,300rpm

Transmission: Eight-speed automatic

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Tank warfare

Lt Gen Erik Petersen, deputy chief of programs, US Army, has argued it took a+“three decade holiday” on modernising tanks. 

“There clearly remains a significant armoured heavy ground manoeuvre threat in this world and maintaining a world class armoured force is absolutely vital,” the general said in London last week.

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How to help

Call the hotline on 0502955999 or send "thenational" to the following numbers:

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Harry & Meghan

Director: Liz Garbus

Stars: Duke and Duchess of Sussex

Rating: 3/5


Edinburgh: November 4 (unchanged)

Bahrain: November 15 (from September 15); second daily service from January 1

Kuwait: November 15 (from September 16)

Mumbai: January 1 (from October 27)

Ahmedabad: January 1 (from October 27)

Colombo: January 2 (from January 1)

Muscat: March 1 (from December 1)

Lyon: March 1 (from December 1)

Bologna: March 1 (from December 1)

Source: Emirates

The Baghdad Clock

Shahad Al Rawi, Oneworld


Name: SmartCrowd
Started: 2018
Founder: Siddiq Farid and Musfique Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech / PropTech
Initial investment: $650,000
Current number of staff: 35
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Various institutional investors and notable angel investors (500 MENA, Shurooq, Mada, Seedstar, Tricap)

Explainer: Tanween Design Programme

Non-profit arts studio Tashkeel launched this annual initiative with the intention of supporting budding designers in the UAE. This year, three talents were chosen from hundreds of applicants to be a part of the sixth creative development programme. These are architect Abdulla Al Mulla, interior designer Lana El Samman and graphic designer Yara Habib.

The trio have been guided by experts from the industry over the course of nine months, as they developed their own products that merge their unique styles with traditional elements of Emirati design. This includes laboratory sessions, experimental and collaborative practice, investigation of new business models and evaluation.

It is led by British contemporary design project specialist Helen Voce and mentor Kevin Badni, and offers participants access to experts from across the world, including the likes of UK designer Gareth Neal and multidisciplinary designer and entrepreneur, Sheikh Salem Al Qassimi.

The final pieces are being revealed in a worldwide limited-edition release on the first day of Downtown Designs at Dubai Design Week 2019. Tashkeel will be at stand E31 at the exhibition.

Lisa Ball-Lechgar, deputy director of Tashkeel, said: “The diversity and calibre of the applicants this year … is reflective of the dynamic change that the UAE art and design industry is witnessing, with young creators resolute in making their bold design ideas a reality.”


Name: Xpanceo

Started: 2018

Founders: Roman Axelrod, Valentyn Volkov

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Smart contact lenses, augmented/virtual reality

Funding: $40 million

Investor: Opportunity Venture (Asia)

Recipe: Spirulina Coconut Brothie

1 tbsp Spirulina powder
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½ cup fresh spinach leaves
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Blend all the ingredients together on high in a high-speed blender until smooth and creamy. 


Director: Sudha Kongara Prasad

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Radhika Madan, Paresh Rawal

Rating: 2/5


Name: Elmawkaa
Based: Hub71, Abu Dhabi
Founders: Ebrahem Anwar, Mahmoud Habib and Mohamed Thabet
Sector: PropTech
Total funding: $400,000
Investors: 500 Startups, Flat6Labs and angel investors
Number of employees: 12

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Company: Eco Way
Started: December 2023
Founder: Ivan Kroshnyi
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: Electric vehicles
Investors: Bootstrapped with undisclosed funding. Looking to raise funds from outside


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Tokenisation refers to the issuance of a blockchain token, which represents a virtually tradable real, tangible asset. A tokenised asset is easily transferable, offers good liquidity, returns and is easily traded on the secondary markets. 


Company/date started: 2015

Founder/CEO: Rami Salman, Rishav Jalan, Ayush Chordia

Based: Dubai, UAE

Sector: Technology, Sales, Voice, Artificial Intelligence

Size: (employees/revenue) 10/ 100,000 downloads

Stage: 1 ($800,000)

Investors: Eight first-round investors including, Beco Capital, 500 Startups, Dubai Silicon Oasis, Hala Fadel, Odin Financial Services, Dubai Angel Investors, Womena, Arzan VC


Washmen Profile

Date Started: May 2015

Founders: Rami Shaar and Jad Halaoui

Based: Dubai, UAE

Sector: Laundry

Employees: 170

Funding: about $8m

Funders: Addventure, B&Y Partners, Clara Ventures, Cedar Mundi Partners, Henkel Ventures


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Wales 2 (Moore 10', Wilson 34')