Gulf region hit by unstable weather conditions

Arab News
November 20,2019

Dubai, Nov 20: After long summer months of dry spells, the Gulf region now faces unstable weather, with rain storms predicted this week.

Schools in the United Arab Emirates were to be shut on Wednesday due to bad weather and poor road conditions, the UAE Ministry of Education earlier announced on Tuesday.

Images of flooded roads and lighting bloats were shared on social media by affected residents in different areas in the UAE.

Police also took to social media to warn motorists of possible hazards and advised them to drive safely.

The UAE’s National Centre of Meteorology said there will be continued convective clouds – which bring rainshowers – formed over the sea and other parts of the country, accompanied by strong winds.

Unstable weather in coastal and northern areas of the UAE will spread to the mainland, weather forecaster Amna Al-Zaabi told Arab News. Temperatures at sea are expected to drop to five degrees Celsius, she added.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia witnessed heavy rain, thunderstorms, lightning and a substantial drop in temperature in the capital, Riyadh on Tuesday.

Organizers postponed the launch of entertainment festival Diriyah Season to Wednesday, from the previous day, due to heavy rainfall.

The Saudi General Authority for Meteorology and Environmental Protection issued an alert on Wednesday for further thunderstorms, accompanied by active dusty wind in the province of Makkah, and also warned residents of low visibility.

Saudi civil defense advised residents in other parts of the Kingdom to avoid flooded areas and valleys.

In Oman, the Directorate General of Meteorology told Arab News that the weather is partly cloudy with rainfalls over the northern provinces of the Sultanate. It is expected for the rain to extend to Hajar Mountains and coastal areas this evening.

“In the event of thunderstorms, the wave may be rough and therefore I advise people not to come near the sea at that time,” Weather Forecaster to the Directorate General of Meteorology told Arab News.

“Recent weather and satellite radar images illustrate the flow of clouds on the Hajar Mountains with varying rainfall and heavy thunderstorms, sometimes on the Western Hajar Mountains and adjacent areas,” the Public Authority for Civil Aviation said in a statement.

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Hosting ‘limited’ hajj required double efforts amid pandemic: Saudi king

Agencies
July 31,2020

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Makkah, Jul 31: Organising this year's scaled-down hajj required "double efforts" by Saudi authorities amid the coronavirus pandemic, King Salman said Friday after being discharged from hospital following gall bladder surgery.

Only up to 10,000 people already residing in the kingdom are participating in this year's pilgrimage, compared with 2019's gathering of some 2.5 million from around the world.

"Holding the ritual in the shadow of this pandemic... required reducing the numbers of pilgrims, but it obliged various official agencies to put in double efforts," 84-year-old King Salman said in a speech read out on state television by acting media minister Majid Al-Qasabi.

"The hajj this year was restricted to a very limited number of people from multiple nationalities, ensuring the ritual was completed despite the difficult circumstances," he said.

The speech came on the occasion of Eid al-Adha, the Muslim festival of sacrifice, a day after the king left hospital following a 10-day stay for surgery to remove his gall bladder.

The hajj, which began on Wednesday, is one of the five pillars of Islam and a must for able-bodied Muslims at least once in their lifetime.

Authorities implemented the "highest health precautions" during the rituals, the king said.

Pilgrims, who were all tested for the virus, are required to wear masks and observe social distancing.

For Friday's "stoning of the devil", the last major ritual of the hajj, Saudi authorities offered the pilgrims pebbles that were sanitised to protect against the pandemic.

In a sign that its strict measures were working, the health ministry reported no coronavirus cases in the holy sites on Wednesday or Thursday.

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NRI who lost son in accident pays towards repatriation of 61 Indians from UAE

News Network
July 28,2020

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Dubai, Jul 28: A heart-broken father who lost his 19-year-old son in a tragic car accident during Christmas last year has sponsored the repatriation costs of 61 Indians stranded in the UAE.

 The special flydubai repatriation flight, chartered by the All Kerala Colleges Alumni Federation (Akcaf) volunteer group, of which he is a member of, departed from Dubai to Kochi on July 25 carrying 199 passengers.

 On this particular flight, I sponsored 55 air tickets," said TN Krishnakumar, a sales and marketing director. He had lost his son Rohit Krishnakumar in a car accident, which also claimed the life of the teen's friend, Sharat Kumar (21).

"All passengers who were registered with the Indian missions were also asked to register on the Akcaf volunteer group website. Each passenger was further vetted, after which we made home visits to ensure that all the applicants were genuinely in need of financial support and repatriation," he said.

Commenting on what inspired him to dedicate himself to community work, Krishankumar said: "When a situation like this comes up, you realise there is no meaning in money. I invested everything I made into my son, and that had crashed in front of my eyes. He was a third-year medical student at the University of Manchester in the UK and had returned home for a vacation when the accident took place. Since then, I have been involved in a lot of social activities. If I do not do this, there is no meaning to my existence."

Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, Krishnakumar said the group has supported thousands of individuals in need of help. "We supported unemployed people with several hundred bags of grocery kits and other necessary items. We also supported Covid-19 patients by transferring them to the medical facility in Warsan, etc.," he said.

"I come from a very middle-class family. I got a scholarship to study in college, and I studied with the help of taxpayers' money. I have always wanted to give back to society. I have grown immensely in life and now is my time to give back.," he added.

Krishnakumar also sponsors the education of over 1,000 academically gifted school children in Kerala's government-aided schools. He is a life trustee at the College of Engineering Trivandrum Alumni Galaxy Charitable Trust and an active participant towards various educational causes.

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In its first, UAE launches 'Hope' mission to Mars from Japan

News Network
July 20,2020

Abu Dhabi, Jul 20: The United Arab Emirates launched its first-ever interplanetary Hope Probe mission to Mars from Japan's Tanegashima Space Centre at 01:58 a.m. (local time) on Monday.

"United Arab Emirates (UAE) launches its first mission to Mars, the 'Hope Mars Mission' from Japan's Tanegashima Space Center," UAE Space Agency said on its Twitter page.

The spacecraft is expected to reach Mars orbit in about 200 days from now and then begin its mission to study the Red Planet's atmosphere, WAM news agency reported.

Once it enters Mars' orbit in the first quarter of 2021, the Hope probe will mark the UAE's 50th anniversary.

The probe will travel 493 million kilometres into space in a journey that will take seven months, and will orbit the Red Planet for one full Martian year of 687 days to provide the first truly global picture of the Martian atmosphere.

The Hope probe will be the first to study the Martian climate throughout daily and seasonal cycles. It will observe the weather phenomena on Mars such as the massive famous dust storms that have been known to engulf the Red Planet, as compared to the short and localised dust storms on Earth.

It will also examine the interaction between the upper and lower layers of the Martian atmosphere and causes of the Red Planet's surface corrosion, as well as study why Mars is losing its upper atmosphere.

Exploring connections between today's Martian weather and the ancient climate of the Red Planet will give deeper insights into the past and future of Earth as well as the potential of life on Mars and other distant planets.

The Hope Mars Mission is considered as the biggest strategic and scientific national initiative announced by UAE's President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum in 2014. The UAE will be the first Arab nation to embark on a space mission to the Red Planet in a journey that contributes to the international science community as a service to human knowledge.

The interplanetary mission is the first by any West Asian, Arab or Muslim majority country.

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