(From left to right) Sonia AlHashimi, President of the UAE Down Syndrome Association, Hani Al-Amayreh, Occupational Therapy Specialist and Saif Aldabal look at some of Saif's finished writing exercises, at the UAE Down Syndrome Association, in Dubai, UAE, on April 15, 2010. (Ana Bianca Marin For The National).
Sonia al Hashimi, the president of the UAE Down Syndrome Association, and her son, Saif, who has Down's, look at some of his writing exercises with Hani al Amayreh, an occupational therapist. Ana BianShow more

Pressure on Emirati mothers to have more children 'raises Down's risk'

DUBAI // The pressure on Emirati mothers to have more children is probably the main reason for the "alarming" rate of Down's syndrome in the country, an official has said. The risk of a child being born with Down's syndrome, a genetic disorder that causes lifelong damage to mental development, increases with the age of the mother.

Globally, about one in 800 to 1,000 new-born babies have Down's syndrome. A study published in 2007 that looked at more than 63,000 new-born babies in Dubai between 1999 and 2003 estimated an incidence of Down's syndrome in one in every 449 live births, with the rate among nationals at one in 319. "This was very alarming," said Dr Eman Gaad, the director of disability services at the Community Development Authority. "Many children [with Down's syndrome] are born to young parents, but the only factor we can put our hands on is the maternal age of mothers."

The study concluded that more than 41 per cent of Emirati mothers were over 35, the age at which the risk of Down's syndrome increases. "At the moment, girls are getting an education. By the time she graduates from university and finds her soulmate, we're talking about the late 20s, not like before," said Dr Gaad, speaking a week after she addressed a Down's syndrome symposium that tackled the rights of children with disabilities.

A woman was under "tremendous pressure to have more babies" in a society that, understandably, wanted to grow, she added. "It's OK to have a child or two, or five, but once you hit 40 you have to be really careful," Dr Gaad said. "If it's God's will and an accident it's OK, but it's a phenomenon that many women keep having children. There is no awareness that it's really time to stop." Dr Gaad suggested that pregnancy often carried alluring connotations of fertility and youth, whereas education about the risks of high maternal age was lacking.

Pressure from the authorities to increase the birth rate was unlikely to work, but social influence was certainly a driving force for high maternal age, said Dr Suaad al Oraimi, assistant professor of sociology at UAE University and an expert on women's education. High maternal age was the result of "simple, traditional, tribal" culture, she said. "Simple cultures consider children a form of honour, and we are a traditional society," Dr al Oraimi said.

Having children was not particularly expensive for nationals, she said. The Government paid for the education and health care of Emirati children, and women often had maids or extended family to help in looking after them, said Dr al Oraimi. Dr Khawla Bu Hmaid, a gynaecologist at Al Baraha Hospital in Dubai, said new research was needed to bring Down's syndrome figures up to date. Higher maternal age was not unique to the UAE, she said.

"Of course, women are now working, the age to get married and to have babies is older, especially because more people want to do higher studies," Dr Bu Hmaid said. She agreed, however, that women in the region were under pressure to have up to six babies. A test can determine if a foetus is likely to have a defect. In amniocentesis, a needle takes a sample of amniotic fluid, which covers a foetus in the womb, between 14 and 20 weeks of pregnancy.

According to the Harvard Medical School, the test is often recommended for women over 35. A study published in Britain in 1999 said 92 per cent of cases in which a foetus is diagnosed with Down's syndrome ends in an abortion. Most Islamic scholars prohibit abortion except in extreme cases where pregnancy threatens the life of the mother. Some scholars have argued that abortion with strong cause is permitted during the first six to eight weeks, before the foetus develops a pulse, or during the first four months before the foetus is infused with a spirit, according to Islamic tradition.

However, in the UAE abortion is prohibited unless doctors certify it is life-threatening for the mother. A disability is not considered a justifiable reason for an abortion, according to the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments. @Email:kshaheen@thenational.ae

Turning waste into fuel

Average amount of biofuel produced at DIC factory every month: Approximately 106,000 litres

Amount of biofuel produced from 1 litre of used cooking oil: 920ml (92%)

Time required for one full cycle of production from used cooking oil to biofuel: One day

Energy requirements for one cycle of production from 1,000 litres of used cooking oil:
▪ Electricity - 1.1904 units
▪ Water- 31 litres
▪ Diesel – 26.275 litres

Basquiat in Abu Dhabi

One of Basquiat’s paintings, the vibrant Cabra (1981–82), now hangs in Louvre Abu Dhabi temporarily, on loan from the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi. 

The latter museum is not open physically, but has assembled a collection and puts together a series of events called Talking Art, such as this discussion, moderated by writer Chaedria LaBouvier. 

It's something of a Basquiat season in Abu Dhabi at the moment. Last week, The Radiant Child, a documentary on Basquiat was shown at Manarat Al Saadiyat, and tonight (April 18) the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi is throwing the re-creation of a party tonight, of the legendary Canal Zone party thrown in 1979, which epitomised the collaborative scene of the time. It was at Canal Zone that Basquiat met prominent members of the art world and moved from unknown graffiti artist into someone in the spotlight.  

“We’ve invited local resident arists, we’ll have spray cans at the ready,” says curator Maisa Al Qassemi of the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi. 

Guggenheim Abu Dhabi's Canal Zone Remix is at Manarat Al Saadiyat, Thursday April 18, from 8pm. Free entry to all. Basquiat's Cabra is on view at Louvre Abu Dhabi until October


Cricket World Cup League Two
Nepal, Oman, United States tri-series
Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu
Wednesday February 5, Oman v Nepal
Thursday, February 6, Oman v United States
Saturday, February 8, United States v Nepal
Sunday, February 9, Oman v Nepal
Tuesday, February 11, Oman v United States
Wednesday, February 12, United States v Nepal

The top three sides advance to the 2022 World Cup Qualifier.
The bottom four sides are relegated to the 2022 World Cup playoff

 1 United States 8 6 2 0 0 12 +0.412
2 Scotland 8 4 3 0 1 9 +0.139
3 Namibia 7 4 3 0 0 8 +0.008
4 Oman 6 4 2 0 0 8 -0.139
5 UAE 7 3 3 0 1 7 -0.004
6 Nepal 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
7 PNG 8 0 8 0 0 0 -0.458

The biog

Hobby: Playing piano and drawing patterns

Best book: Awaken the Giant Within by Tony Robbins

Food of choice: Sushi  

Favourite colour: Orange

UAE athletes heading to Paris 2024

Abdullah Humaid Al Muhairi, Abdullah Al Marri, Omar Al Marzooqi, Salem Al Suwaidi, and Ali Al Karbi (four to be selected).
Men: Narmandakh Bayanmunkh (66kg), Nugzari Tatalashvili (81kg), Aram Grigorian (90kg), Dzhafar Kostoev (100kg), Magomedomar Magomedomarov (+100kg); women's Khorloodoi Bishrelt (52kg).

Safia Al Sayegh (women's road race).

Men: Yousef Rashid Al Matroushi (100m freestyle); women: Maha Abdullah Al Shehi (200m freestyle).

Maryam Mohammed Al Farsi (women's 100 metres).


Round 1: Beat Leolia Jeanjean 6-1, 6-2
Round 2: Beat Naomi Osaka 7-6, 1-6, 7-5
Round 3: Beat Marie Bouzkova 6-4, 6-2
Round 4: Beat Anastasia Potapova 6-0, 6-0
Quarter-final: Beat Marketa Vondrousova 6-0, 6-2
Semi-final: Beat Coco Gauff 6-2, 6-4
Final: Beat Jasmine Paolini 6-2, 6-2

The bio

Date of Birth: April 25, 1993
Place of Birth: Dubai, UAE
Marital Status: Single
School: Al Sufouh in Jumeirah, Dubai
University: Emirates Airline National Cadet Programme and Hamdan University
Job Title: Pilot, First Officer
Number of hours flying in a Boeing 777: 1,200
Number of flights: Approximately 300
Hobbies: Exercising
Nicest destination: Milan, New Zealand, Seattle for shopping
Least nice destination: Kabul, but someone has to do it. It’s not scary but at least you can tick the box that you’ve been
Favourite place to visit: Dubai, there’s no place like home

Best Foreign Language Film nominees

Capernaum (Lebanon)

Cold War (Poland)

Never Look Away (Germany)

Roma (Mexico)

Shoplifters (Japan)

Venue: Sharjah Cricket Stadium

Date: Sunday, November 25

Bridgerton season three - part one

Directors: Various

Starring: Nicola Coughlan, Luke Newton, Jonathan Bailey

Rating: 3/5

Yemen's Bahais and the charges they often face

The Baha'i faith was made known in Yemen in the 19th century, first introduced by an Iranian man named Ali Muhammad Al Shirazi, considered the Herald of the Baha'i faith in 1844.

The Baha'i faith has had a growing number of followers in recent years despite persecution in Yemen and Iran. 

Today, some 2,000 Baha'is reside in Yemen, according to Insaf. 

"The 24 defendants represented by the House of Justice, which has intelligence outfits from the uS and the UK working to carry out an espionage scheme in Yemen under the guise of religion.. aimed to impant and found the Bahai sect on Yemeni soil by bringing foreign Bahais from abroad and homing them in Yemen," the charge sheet said. 

Baha'Ullah, the founder of the Bahai faith, was exiled by the Ottoman Empire in 1868 from Iran to what is now Israel. Now, the Bahai faith's highest governing body, known as the Universal House of Justice, is based in the Israeli city of Haifa, which the Bahais turn towards during prayer. 

The Houthis cite this as collective "evidence" of Bahai "links" to Israel - which the Houthis consider their enemy. 



Manchester City 2 (Mahrez 04', Ake 84')

Leicester City 5 (Vardy 37' pen, 54', 58' pen, Maddison 77', Tielemans 88' pen)

Man of the match: Jamie Vardy (Leicester City)

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