Responsible fishing and consumption are within reach

About a week into the massive oil spill crisis in the Gulf of Mexico, I had an unsettling dream. In it, I was young and barefoot with sandy feet, waiting in the ice cream line at a beachside clam shack, when I felt a frantic scuffle near my feet. I looked down to find a fallen seagull, breast heaving, its wings broken and matted with heavy, dark molasses. Like the UAE, the Gulf of Mexico and the Louisiana wetlands are fishing hubs, coastal playgrounds where marine life has thrived. Seafood is a significant part of our heritage, our culture and our economy. Though we thankfully haven't suffered a similarly ecologically devastating catastrophe, our environmental track record is nothing to brag about. The UAE has the world's largest per capita carbon footprint, which means that, on average, each of us puts more strain on the global ecosystem than those in any other country (the US takes second place).

There has been some discussion of the havoc that's been wreaked on the delicate equilibrium of Emirati marine life by construction, municipal waste and most notably the development of man-made islands, beneath some of which lie suffocated oyster beds and indigenous sea vegetables. Can our natural elements be green enough to counter the carbon emissions we put out? Ninety-eight per cent of our water comes from desalination and the process requires the combustion of hydrocarbons. In the UAE, it costs more to produce a pint of water than it does to produce a pint of oil, though there are huge efforts underway by government authorities to make this a more environmentally friendly process.

As many people realise by now, overfishing is a serious problem. We've fried, grilled and kebabed eight of the country's most popular fish into the red zone of near-extinction. At the helm of the veto list is the ubiquitous and beloved hammour, also known as the orange spotted grouper. Excessive demand, destruction of habitat, poor fishing practices and misguided fishing methods have all contributed to the decline of our fish population.

In response to the issue, the Emirates Wildlife Society (EWS) and World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) launched the awareness campaign Choose Wisely ( earlier this month, intended to educate and empower consumers with the information required to make better choices. Thankfully, the campaign is also directed at suppliers, who have been encouraged to replace menu items featuring endangered species with dishes made with more sustainable fish from the region.

The potential for change is not solely the responsibility of the consumer; restaurant advocacy is imperative. Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch and subsequently the EWS-WWF initiative (with the support of Environment Agency Abu Dhabi) have released pocket-sized consumer guides for consulting when uncertain about the status of a fish species. As crucial as these local issues are, they're also just the tip of the iceberg. There's no end to the implications and controversies around consumption: farmed versus wild seafood, mercury poisoning - and just how is an ordinary person supposed to remember, after a long day at work, the varieties of cod that are endangered and those that aren't? Sadly, few fishmongers, restaurant cooks and servers even know the sources and stories behind what they're selling. It's hard to be a conscientious fish eater without either fearing or resenting the flounder in the frying pan.

In 2003, the Emirates Wildlife Development Agency criminalised ghost fishing, a phenomenon much less romantic than it sounds, which describes the act of lost or abandoned traps continuing to entrap fish. The International Fish Farming Holding Company, which promotes fish farming and the development of fish and shrimp hatcheries locally and abroad, is "developing restocking programmes to enhance wild fisheries". Since visiting a tilapia farm in a border town and a wild salmon cannery in Alaska, I avoid eating farmed fish wherever possible.

Overall, I eat fish and animal products less frequently than I once did. Fortunately, I happen to love small fish on the lower end of the food chain, some of which are in no danger of being depleted, such as anchovies and sardines, mackerel and naiser, also known as Ehrenberg's snapper. And I don't go near Mediterranean bluefin tuna, Chilean sea bass, hammour, shaari or orange roughy. Finally, reading about "bycatch" rates, which refers to the fish that are killed and discarded during the harvest of the desired fish, turned my stomach: Gulf Coast shrimpers throw out four kilos of bycatch for every kilo of shrimp, and 900,000 metric tons a year of fish are killed annually as bycatch, which amounts to 30 per cent of the fish that are caught in the first place.

On the bright side, fish species can recover, become sustainable again and flourish. It happened with Maine lobsters and it can happen with hammour. In the end, it was a dream about the oil spill that inspired me to write about sustainable seafood, but I'll be curious to check out the fourth Dubai Seafood Expo 2010 this October and to scour the forums at Fish Emirates ( while I continue educating myself on something I've cared about for a long time.

But before we can eat and live sustainably, we have to implement sustainable policies. We all need to care more about our oceans and the creatures living in them.

Our family matters legal consultant

Name: Hassan Mohsen Elhais

Position: legal consultant with Al Rowaad Advocates and Legal Consultants.

What is the FNC?

The Federal National Council is one of five federal authorities established by the UAE constitution. It held its first session on December 2, 1972, a year to the day after Federation.
It has 40 members, eight of whom are women. The members represent the UAE population through each of the emirates. Abu Dhabi and Dubai have eight members each, Sharjah and Ras al Khaimah six, and Ajman, Fujairah and Umm Al Quwain have four.
They bring Emirati issues to the council for debate and put those concerns to ministers summoned for questioning. 
The FNC’s main functions include passing, amending or rejecting federal draft laws, discussing international treaties and agreements, and offering recommendations on general subjects raised during sessions.
Federal draft laws must first pass through the FNC for recommendations when members can amend the laws to suit the needs of citizens. The draft laws are then forwarded to the Cabinet for consideration and approval. 
Since 2006, half of the members have been elected by UAE citizens to serve four-year terms and the other half are appointed by the Ruler’s Courts of the seven emirates.
In the 2015 elections, 78 of the 252 candidates were women. Women also represented 48 per cent of all voters and 67 per cent of the voters were under the age of 40.

Specs: 2024 McLaren Artura Spider

Engine: 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 and electric motor
Max power: 700hp at 7,500rpm
Max torque: 720Nm at 2,250rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed dual-clutch auto
0-100km/h: 3.0sec
Top speed: 330kph
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Director:Shakun Batra

Stars:Deepika Padukone, Siddhant Chaturvedi, Ananya Panday, Dhairya Karwa

Rating: 4/5


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)

The specs

Engine: Single front-axle electric motor
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Transmission: Single-speed automatic
Max touring range: 402km (claimed)
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On sale: September

European arms

Known EU weapons transfers to Ukraine since the war began: Germany 1,000 anti-tank weapons and 500 Stinger surface-to-air missiles. Luxembourg 100 NLAW anti-tank weapons, jeeps and 15 military tents as well as air transport capacity. Belgium 2,000 machine guns, 3,800 tons of fuel. Netherlands 200 Stinger missiles. Poland 100 mortars, 8 drones, Javelin anti-tank weapons, Grot assault rifles, munitions. Slovakia 12,000 pieces of artillery ammunition, 10 million litres of fuel, 2.4 million litres of aviation fuel and 2 Bozena de-mining systems. Estonia Javelin anti-tank weapons. Latvia Stinger surface to air missiles. Czech Republic machine guns, assault rifles, other light weapons and ammunition worth $8.57 million.

Our legal consultant

Name: Hassan Mohsen Elhais

Position: legal consultant with Al Rowaad Advocates and Legal Consultants

Name: Brendalle Belaza

From: Crossing Rubber, Philippines

Arrived in the UAE: 2007

Favourite place in Abu Dhabi: NYUAD campus

Favourite photography style: Street photography

Favourite book: Harry Potter

History's medical milestones

1799 - First small pox vaccine administered

1846 - First public demonstration of anaesthesia in surgery

1861 - Louis Pasteur published his germ theory which proved that bacteria caused diseases

1895 - Discovery of x-rays

1923 - Heart valve surgery performed successfully for first time

1928 - Alexander Fleming discovers penicillin

1953 - Structure of DNA discovered

1952 - First organ transplant - a kidney - takes place 

1954 - Clinical trials of birth control pill

1979 - MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging, scanned used to diagnose illness and injury.

1998 - The first adult live-donor liver transplant is carried out

The Kites

Romain Gary

Penguin Modern Classics


Syria v Australia
2018 World Cup qualifying: Asia fourth round play-off first leg
Venue: Hang Jebat Stadium (Malacca, Malayisa)
Kick-off: Thursday, 4.30pm (UAE)
Watch: beIN Sports HD

* Second leg in Australia scheduled for October 10


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Company profile

Company name: Fasset
Started: 2019
Founders: Mohammad Raafi Hossain, Daniel Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech
Initial investment: $2.45 million
Current number of staff: 86
Investment stage: Pre-series B
Investors: Investcorp, Liberty City Ventures, Fatima Gobi Ventures, Primal Capital, Wealthwell Ventures, FHS Capital, VN2 Capital, local family offices

Our legal consultant

Name: Hassan Mohsen Elhais

Position: legal consultant with Al Rowaad Advocates and Legal Consultants.


Sunday, January 20
3pm: Jordan v Vietnam at Al Maktoum Stadium, Dubai
6pm: Thailand v China at Hazza bin Zayed Stadium, Al Ain
9pm: Iran v Oman at Mohamed bin Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi

Monday, January 21
3pm: Japan v Saudi Arabia at Sharjah Stadium
6pm: Australia v Uzbekistan at Khalifa bin Zayed Stadium, Al Ain
9pm: UAE v Kyrgyzstan at Zayed Sports City Stadium, Abu Dhabi

Tuesday, January 22
5pm: South Korea v Bahrain at Rashid Stadium, Dubai
8pm: Qatar v Iraq at Al Nahyan Stadium, Abu Dhabi


Started: 2023
Co-founders: Arto Bendiken and Talal Thabet
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: AI
Number of employees: 41
Funding: About $1.7 million
Investors: Self, family and friends

Oscars in the UAE

The 90th Academy Awards will be aired in the UAE from 3.30am on Monday, March 5 on OSN, with the ceremony starting at 5am

Five calorie-packed Ramadan drinks

Rooh Afza
100ml contains 414 calories
Tang orange drink
100ml serving contains 300 calories
Carob beverage mix
100ml serving contains about 300 calories
Qamar Al Din apricot drink
100ml saving contains 61 calories
Vimto fruit squash
100ml serving contains 30 calories

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