UAE has its own drugs problem, official says



DUBAI // The UAE faces a growing domestic drugs problem, on top of dealing with international traffickers, according to a senior Dubai Customs official. "I would not shut my mouth and say we don't have drug problems here," said Mohammed al Marri, the executive director of cargo operations. "Yes, we do have them." Mr al Marri was speaking after The National was given a tour of Dubai Customs' operations at Jebel Ali, the largest port in the region and the gateway for most of the nine million containers that enter Dubai each year by sea.

The problem, he said, was an unfortunate side-effect of the country's success: "The numbers of people who are living here are not like the number who were living here 10 years ago, so that has had an impact, that's for sure." According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, the UAE's population nearly doubled between 1995 and 2005. "We have more than 140 nationalities living in this country, each one of them coming with their own backgrounds and their own traditions and heritage.

"I would say that is one of the major reasons for seeing an increase in quantities [of illegal drugs] coming." The problem, said Mr al Marri, was compounded by political instability elsewhere in the region. "We know areas in the neighbouring countries are not quite governed by the local governments, and the land has been used for producing major volumes." A report released in February by the UN's International Narcotics Control Board named the Emirates as "major exporting and trans-shipping area" for drugs such as amphetamines and heroin.

Mr al Marri expressed reservations over the report, saying there had been "minimal communication" between Dubai Customs and the UN agency that had compiled it. "The way forward is sitting together and closing the gaps, not by pointing fingers at each other," he said. Since the release of the report, UAE authorities have given increasing publicity to the efforts to counter drug-smuggling. In the past three months there have been several large seizures.

In April, Ahmad Ibrahim Saif, the Chief Justice of the Dubai Criminal Court, said most cases dealt with by the court since September had been drug-related. hnaylor@thenational.ae

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Dubai works towards better air quality by 2021

Dubai is on a mission to record good air quality for 90 per cent of the year – up from 86 per cent annually today – by 2021.

The municipality plans to have seven mobile air-monitoring stations by 2020 to capture more accurate data in hourly and daily trends of pollution.

These will be on the Palm Jumeirah, Al Qusais, Muhaisnah, Rashidiyah, Al Wasl, Al Quoz and Dubai Investment Park.

“It will allow real-time responding for emergency cases,” said Khaldoon Al Daraji, first environment safety officer at the municipality.

“We’re in a good position except for the cases that are out of our hands, such as sandstorms.

“Sandstorms are our main concern because the UAE is just a receiver.

“The hotspots are Iran, Saudi Arabia and southern Iraq, but we’re working hard with the region to reduce the cycle of sandstorm generation.”

Mr Al Daraji said monitoring as it stood covered 47 per cent of Dubai.

There are 12 fixed stations in the emirate, but Dubai also receives information from monitors belonging to other entities.

“There are 25 stations in total,” Mr Al Daraji said.

“We added new technology and equipment used for the first time for the detection of heavy metals.

“A hundred parameters can be detected but we want to expand it to make sure that the data captured can allow a baseline study in some areas to ensure they are well positioned.”

Diriyah project at a glance

- Diriyah’s 1.9km King Salman Boulevard, a Parisian Champs-Elysees-inspired avenue, is scheduled for completion in 2028
- The Royal Diriyah Opera House is expected to be completed in four years
- Diriyah’s first of 42 hotels, the Bab Samhan hotel, will open in the first quarter of 2024
- On completion in 2030, the Diriyah project is forecast to accommodate more than 100,000 people
- The $63.2 billion Diriyah project will contribute $7.2 billion to the kingdom’s GDP
- It will create more than 178,000 jobs and aims to attract more than 50 million visits a year
- About 2,000 people work for the Diriyah Company, with more than 86 per cent being Saudi citizens

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KEY DATES IN AMAZON'S HISTORY

July 5, 1994: Jeff Bezos founds Cadabra Inc, which would later be renamed to Amazon.com, because his lawyer misheard the name as 'cadaver'. In its earliest days, the bookstore operated out of a rented garage in Bellevue, Washington

July 16, 1995: Amazon formally opens as an online bookseller. Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought becomes the first item sold on Amazon

1997: Amazon goes public at $18 a share, which has grown about 1,000 per cent at present. Its highest closing price was $197.85 on June 27, 2024

1998: Amazon acquires IMDb, its first major acquisition. It also starts selling CDs and DVDs

2000: Amazon Marketplace opens, allowing people to sell items on the website

2002: Amazon forms what would become Amazon Web Services, opening the Amazon.com platform to all developers. The cloud unit would follow in 2006

2003: Amazon turns in an annual profit of $75 million, the first time it ended a year in the black

2005: Amazon Prime is introduced, its first-ever subscription service that offered US customers free two-day shipping for $79 a year

2006: Amazon Unbox is unveiled, the company's video service that would later morph into Amazon Instant Video and, ultimately, Amazon Video

2007: Amazon's first hardware product, the Kindle e-reader, is introduced; the Fire TV and Fire Phone would come in 2014. Grocery service Amazon Fresh is also started

2009: Amazon introduces Amazon Basics, its in-house label for a variety of products

2010: The foundations for Amazon Studios were laid. Its first original streaming content debuted in 2013

2011: The Amazon Appstore for Google's Android is launched. It is still unavailable on Apple's iOS

2014: The Amazon Echo is launched, a speaker that acts as a personal digital assistant powered by Alexa

2017: Amazon acquires Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, its biggest acquisition

2018: Amazon's market cap briefly crosses the $1 trillion mark, making it, at the time, only the third company to achieve that milestone

Healthy tips to remember

Here, Dr Mohamed El Abiary, paediatric consultant at Al Zahra Hospital Dubai, shares some advice for parents whose children are fasting during the holy month of Ramadan:

Gradual fasting and golden points - For children under the age of 10, follow a step-by-step approach to fasting and don't push them beyond their limits. Start with a few hours fasting a day and increase it to a half fast and full fast when the child is ready. Every individual's ability varies as per the age and personal readiness. You could introduce a points system that awards the child and offers them encouragement when they make progress with the amount of hours they fast

Why fast? - Explain to your child why they are fasting. By shedding light on the importance of abstaining from food and drink, children may feel more encouraged to give it there all during the observance period. It is also a good opportunity to teach children about controlling urges, doing good for others and instilling healthy food habits

Sleep and suhoor - A child needs adequate sleep every night - at least eight hours. Make sure to set a routine early bedtime so he/she has sufficient time to wake up for suhoor, which is an essential meal at the beginning of the day

Good diet - Nutritious food is crucial to ensuring a healthy Ramadan for children. They must refrain from eating too much junk food as well as canned goods and snacks and drinks high in sugar. Foods that are rich in nutrients, vitamins and proteins, like fruits, fresh meats and vegetables, make for a good balanced diet


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