UAE issues law against hate crimes and discrimination

On July 20th 2015, UAE issued a new law against any hate crimes or discrimination within the country. WAM, the Emirates News Agency released an official public statement as seen below.

ABU DHABI, 20th July, 2015 (WAM) — The United Arab Emirates has issued a new law against any form of discrimination on the basis of religion, caste, creed, doctrine, race, colour or ethnic origin following a Decree by President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

The new law, No. 02 of 2015, criminalises any acts that stoke religious hatred and/or which insult religion through any form of expression, be it speech or the written word, books, pamphlets or via online media. The law also includes provisions for punishing anyone for terming other religious groups or individuals as infidels, or unbelievers.

The law is intended to provide a sound foundation for the environment of tolerance, broad­ mindedness and acceptance in the UAE and aims to safeguard people regardless of their origin, beliefs or race, against acts that promote religious hate and intolerance.

Penalties for violation of the various provisions of the law include jail-terms of six months to over 10 years and fines from AED50,000 to AED2 million.

The Anti-Discriminatory Law prohibits any act that would be considered as insulting God, his prophets or apostles or holy books or houses of worship or graveyards. It also has provisions to fight discrimination against individuals or groups on the basis of religion, caste, doctrine, race, colour or ethnic origin.

The law condemns actions that would comprise hate speech or the promotion of discrimination or violence against others using any form of media, including online, print, radio or visual media.

Strict action will be taken against any form of expressions of hatred or incitement to hate crimes spread in the form of speech and published media.

The law also criminalises any act that amounts to abuse of religion or vandalism of religious rituals, holy sites or symbols, and takes a serious view of violence on the basis of religious doctrines.

The law prohibits any entity or group established specifically to provoke religious hatred and recommends stringent punishments for groups or supporters of any organisations or individuals that are associated with hate crimes. It also bars any kind of events such as conferences and meetings within the UAE organised with the sole purpose of sowing seeds of discrimination, discord or hatred against individuals or groups on the basis of faith, origin or race. Receiving financial support for such activities is also punishable under the new law.

The law encourages anyone involved in any activity that violates the law to voluntarily submit themselves before the authorities and has provisions allowing the courts to waive penalties in such cases.

The new law does not contradict with any other existing laws meant to protect specially privileged groups in the society such as women, children and individuals with disabilities or others.

After sharing the news, numerous associations like the Emirates Human Rights Association and The Islamic European Council praised the UAE for the making this move. UAE has been very stern about keeping all of their citizens and residents safe from all kinds of harm.

Video technology – 360 degree virtual reality

Recently a music video was released by Fort Minor (seen below), a project by Mike Shinoda who is a member from Grammy winning band Linkin Park. He together with Uprising Creative, used a special camera to record 360 degree in virtual reality. The video only works on a Google Chrome browser and a YouTube app.

While watching the video, you will feel immersed in the video, as if you are the person behind the camera. The debate of selective shot on screen can now be answered with this new technology. Imagine watching news and you get to decide which shot you would like to watch.

Other than news, silver screens using this technology will be mind blowing. However, the silver screens are currently focused with 3D technology. This technology with broadcast will be an advantage, choosing the shot you would want to see on your screen. Smart televisions are becoming popular and in the near future these smart televisions are going to become “smarter” with new features.

We are in the information age with multiple screens. Our televisions, laptops, smart phones are just some to name some. Everyone can now choose which screen they would like to use to watch their news or to watch their favourite shows. The 360 degree virtual reality may be an old technology around early 2000s as I have learned through research, it is the first time YouTube has enabled this type of video to be played on their website.

This technology is a great leap in the video community. With this technology, new ideas are going to pop up on how to use it in the media industry. The video below is an example from the entertainment industry. Broadcast and silver screens might come next in the future.

“This 360 Version requires Google Chrome or the YouTube App on Mobile.

Produced by The Uprising Creative (
Directed by Jeff Nicholas

It’s been nearly ten years since artist and producer Mike Shinoda – founder of Linkin Park – released “The Rising Tied,” the debut studio album from his solo project, Fort Minor. Inspired by his unforgettable experiences over the past decade and the artist within, Mike has just released a brand new Fort Minor song and video titled, “Welcome.” Among the world’s first 360-degree virtual reality (VR) music videos, Shinoda and his collaborators at The Uprising Creative in LA joined forces to fully leverage the power of VR. The result is a unique experience set in Venice Beach where everyone is invited.”

UAE Ramadan working hours reduced by 2 hours as per UAE Federal Labour Law 8 Article 65

Please be adviced that the working hours during Ramadan are reduced by two hours. Those who are forced by their employers to work normal working hours or are asked to work normal working hours because they are not fasting are breaking the law.

UAE Federal Labour Law 8 Article 65

UAE Federal Labour Law 8 Article 65

To know more read here

To read the full UAE Federal Labor Law 8 with complete articles

An OFW in Dubai

Essential OFW Guide to UAE

Filipinos travel to other countries to pursue better jobs to provide for their families. Between 2009 and 2013, around a million of Filipinos travelled abroad to become Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) making United Arab Emirates (UAE) as the second most number at 261,119, reported by Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).

Although it may seem as a great thing, most of them get into trouble with the UAE law. Michael Barney Almazar, Director of Gulf Law is a UAE legal consultant. In corporation with the Philippine Embassy to the UAE, he holds monthly free legal aids for Filipinos in the UAE.

Filipinos outside the Philippine Consulate in Dubai

Filipinos outside the Philippine Consulate in Dubai

“There are 5 I’s that most Filipinos get into trouble here (UAE).

  1. Indebtedness – people getting into credit cards problems or financial problems.
  2. Intoxication – people caught taking alcohol without license.
  3. Immoralities – people getting into extra marital affairs.
  4. Illegal recruitment – people who give false hopes to others of giving them a job.
  5. Improper documents – people who do not have UAE visas or Emirates IDs.”, says Almazar.

Almazar shared that the Philippine Ambassador to the UAE, Grace Princesa, started an initiative to make a guide book for the Filipinos in the UAE. It is called “Essential OFW Guide to UAE”. It will be a free guide book to be handed out to all OFWs in the UAE. In the book, it will have guidelines and tips that Filipinos should be aware about, their human rights and what to do when faced with legal issues.

At the Philippine Consulate

At the Philippine Consulate

“Around 4200 people have reached out to Gulf Law to ask for assistance for legalities. The cases ranges from bounce cheques to improper documents.”, adds Almazar. The number of people collected was from their free monthly legal aids sessions alone.

The book was recently released on Friday, June 12th 2015 on the Philippine Independence Day. Here is an article which was published on Emirates 24/7

To learn more about Attorney Almazar and his team you may go to their website

The UAE Drones For Good Award

UAE Drones for Good Award

Earlier this year, I posted in What drones can do stating that I  attended UAE Drones for Good Award. As promised here is my article.

Drones in the UAE

Drone is an unmanned aerial or combat vehicle that has become a known tool in the military. However, there are other ideas in which this device can be of use. UAE Drones for Good Awards announced last year at the UAE Government Summit by His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates. He created a platform for drone developers to present their ideas using the drone technology. They have three categories; National, International and Government.

Wadi Drones during their presentation.

Wadi Drones during their presentation.

The winners were announced on the 7th of February 2015 at Dubai Internet City. For the National category, NYU (New York University) Abu Dhabi students and faculty team, Wadi Drones won Dh1 million. The conservative drone will help the park rangers to inspect Wadi Wurayah National Park which they originally have to do so on foot. During summer season, it is with great difficulty at times to do the job not only because of the heat, but also from danger of cliff falling and wild animals. With Wadi Drones, they will be facing less risks. The Wadi Drones can do the job for them by collecting data like salinity and atmospheric data around the park.

Flyability, a Swiss company, won the international category with USD1 million (Dh3.67 million). Their drone is focused on deploying to difficult areas during fire and disasters which is usually done by search and rescue teams who face life threatening situations.

Etisalat won the Government category. Their drone can go to remote areas, like the desert and mountains, where the telecommunication signals are low. It strengthens the signal wherever it goes. This will help if anyone needed to call the police or coast guards for rescue.

Drones for society

These ideas are great and are one step ahead in utilizing drone as a useful tool for our society. However, will drones really help the UAE? According to Xavier Esparrich, Senior Aviation Consultant from ALG (Advanced Logistics Group) Indra Business Consulting, drones that were originally developed for military purposes can be used for civil applications. They can be used for surveillance and earth observation.

There are commercially made drones available in the public market. These drones are made for hobby purposes. Regulating different types of drones in the UAE might be difficult but according to Xavier Esparrich, there are civil aviation authorities in each nation which adhere to international standards and regulations. In the UAE, it is the General Civil Aviation Authority which issues a national regulation to control the use of drones in the civil airspace.

George Held, Vice President Commerce in Digital Services, Etisalat Group, stated that in the UAE, the best authoritative bodies to regulate drones are the TRA (Telecommunications Regulatory Authority) and the UAE’s Civil Defense. He stressed that these two bodies are the best in regulating drones as they both have the right jurisdiction in the UAE concerning drone technology.

Frederico Renda with educational drones at the UAE Drones for Good Award.

Frederico Renda with educational drones at the UAE Drones for Good Award.

Other than regulating the use of drones, will the drones disturb the peace of the country and what about the safety measures? According to Frederico Renda, Post Doc Fellow at Khalifa University, each drone that is developed for civil purposes are designed in such a way where it does not harm or endanger the public. Other than its applications to do a certain job, it is designed to meet certain safety measures.

For example, the commercial drones are just made for leisure purposes and nothing else but a drone that entered in the UAE Drones for Good Award have a skill programmed in them to do a certain job. Both drones have different safety measures  as both are designed distinctly for different reasons.

Serving forward

It may be easy to say that the use of drone technology for civil use is still in the research and development stage. However, drones have been around for many years in the military. According to Xavier Esparrich, there has been a reduction in human loss, specially for pilots, in the military when the drone technology had been introduced.

Drones have been successful at achieving what they needed to do in the military. To use it as a tool in our society; it has to be approached wisely. When a new technology is discovered, it needs to be applied ethically especially if it can promote progress in our society.

In Singapore, Infinium Robotics have developed drones to serve you your food at a restaurant, BBC reports. Imagine having drones delivering your food to your table from the kitchen. It may sound surreal right now but it has started. Edward Chia, managing director of Timbre Group, which runs several restaurants in Singapore, plans to buy 40 drones to work in six of their locations.

Due to new visa regulations in Singapore, hiring foreign workers for the service industry is difficult. Singaporeans do not want to work in the service industry. This is why Edward Chia welcomes the idea of having drones as servers to solve his problem.

Drone future

George Held (far right) with his Etisalat Drone Squad at the UAE Drones for Good Award.

George Held (far right) with his Etisalat Drone Squad at the UAE Drones for Good Award.

Xavier Esparrich emphasized that the effect of the UAE Drones for Good Awards is very positive. The idea of allowing the developers of drone technology a chance to meet with potential clients who can further raise awareness of the idea of drone technology for civil purposes is outstanding. He said that there are other numerous potential applications, non-military purposes, with the drone technology.

United Arab Emirates have evolved into a growing hub. During the second day of the UAE Government Summit on 11th February 2015 at Madinat Jumeirah, His Highness Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs mentioned during his speech that though Emiratis come from the desert, through their effort, UAE was able to advance its people, infrastructure and society.

With a very optimistic attitude towards their future, UAE can conquer their dreams. The driving force, to be open minded towards new ideas when it comes to innovation, is very admirable. The future of drones in the UAE is possible as the UAE Government is not afraid to try new things that might give an advantage to their country.


Education & Healthcare for 1250 children in India

Early Child Care and Education (ECCE) still remains a critically neglected area in India.

Now you can contribute directly towards addressing health and learning needs in anganwadis (public child care centres) in an efficient and sustainable manner.

Your contribution will support in meeting the needs of children in 50 anganwadis spread across Yelahanka in Bengaluru and in improving the Early Child Care system

To know more & to contribute towards this initiative on addressing health and learning of 1250 children in the age group of 2-6 yrs, click on the link


Have A Word 2014

Have a word 2014

One of the events I had the privilege to cover was Have a word. It was held at Dubai Community Theatre and Art Centre (DUCTAC) on 15th November 2014. The purpose of the event was to showcase local literacy talent. They invited local authors and poets to come up on stage to read their poems or read parts of chapters of their books. They also had stalls on the sides that sold second hand books at a discounted price. I bought one book for Dhs. 10 which was a good bargain. This was a photo essay project that I had to do last year. That is why I only uploaded them now as I wasn’t allowed to upload them earlier. I do hope that there will be another Have a word this year. I would definitely attend it again. Hopefully I get to interview one of the authors or poets and post it here.

Update: My pictures are currently being shared at the official Facebook page of DUCTAC. Special thanks to Rachel and the DUCTAC team. DUCTAC Facebook Link

Preciosa shines at Downtown Design 2014

Downtown Design was held at Downtown, Dubai near the iconic Burj Khalifa from the 28th October 2014 to the 31st October 2014.

There were various designers at the exhibition, from the Gulf region and from other parts of the world as well.

One of them was Preciosa from Czech Republic, who have been in the industry since the 1700s.

They are famous for their exquisite designs using glass and light, originally with chandeliers.

They have designs in at least three renowned landmarks in the UAE.

They are responsible for the futuristic LED light structure that blankets the Yas Hotel at Yas Island, Abu Dhabi.

The extraordinary design fit right in as the Yas Hotel is right next to the Yas Marina Circuit, another acclaimed landmark in the country.

On the man made island, Palm Jumeirah, Preciosa designed the lighting fixtures of the One and Only Hotel, from the lobby all the way to the hotel rooms.

The lighting fixtures all over the hotel are a mixture of Arabian and classical style, a reflection of what Dubai is, a blend of cultures in one city.

Near the tallest tower in the world, Address Hotel Downtown in Dubai is also designed by Preciosa with 32 types of original lighting fixtures from crystal curtains to vases.

The lighting fixtures are the dominant architecture in the hotel, famously known for the loosely suspended style.

In the exhibition, Preciosa brought two of their glass cutters to do a demonstration of their most distinguished product, glass cutting.

When asked if glass cutting is difficult, Radek Spejchal, one of the glass cutters stated that it is not just about skills but more on passion.

He said that glass cutting is like painting, an expressive art where passion is seen through the finished product.

During the exhibition, Preciosa encouraged the public to try glass cutting with the help of their glass cutters and it turned out to be a big hit.

The intricate designs Preciosa produces are exceptional which is why it is not a surprise that they have been in the industry for a very long time now.

Dubai, UAE is an international hub and is rapidly growing with business flourishing to this region.

The high demand of quality in this region will see Preciosa shine even more with future projects in the Gulf region.

The flawless artistic style Preciosa are famous for fits right in Dubai, a jeweled oasis within the desert sands.

*This article was written last year for one of my projects.

Jollibee in Dubai Mall

This month, Jollibee, a popular fast food chain in the Philippines opened it’s branch in Dubai, UAE. It is located in Dubai Mall. Thousands of Filipinos flocked to the counter to taste their home-away-from-home Pinoy food. Many were willing to wait in line, as long as five to eight hours, just to order their favorite Jollibee food like the Chickenjoy, Jolly Hotdog and the Yum Burger.

Here are some snaps at location. I was patient enough to wait, I didn’t wait that long though, it was around 30 minutes only. I went on a weekday which had less people, which I highly recommend. I was told that they take their last order at 12.30am. To order you had to take a token and then wait for your number to come up from the screen. When your number is on then you can line up.

People lining up for Jollibee at Dubai Mall

People lining up for Jollibee at Dubai Mall

My turn to order

My turn to order

I ordered Take out Jollibee. Bought the favorites for my family.

I ordered Take out Jollibee. Bought the favorites for my family.

My order: Jolly Spaghetti with chicken

My order: Jolly Spaghetti with chicken