Middle East & Africa

UAE is successfully battling the pandemic with increased testing and Covid-19 vaccine trials
Middle East & Africa

UAE is successfully battling the pandemic with increased testing and Covid-19 vaccine trials

Since the Covid-19 spread in the UAE, in late January, the nation has made a quick response to the coronavirus pandemic. Until now, the UAE has the highest rates for COVID-19 testing on the planet, with more than 4,000,000 tests led by the UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention. The world is also racing to find a cure for coronavirus and around 150 vaccines are under development. The famous medical journal ‘The Lancet’ also praised the UAE for its efforts in battling the coronavirus crisis.

In Mid July, UAE started its first internationally recognized Covid-19 vaccine trials in Abu Dhabi. The head of the Department of Health Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohammed Al Hamed, was the first to volunteer for the test.

The vaccine trial is generally divided into three stages, of which the first trial examines the safety of the vaccine. Phase 2 assesses immunogenicity, and Phase 3 studies the security and viability of the immunization in the larger population.

The trial will last somewhere in the range of three to six months and will be available to volunteers aged between 18 and 60 living in Al Ain and Abu Dhabi. Authorities stated that around 15,000 volunteers would participate, The Arab News reported.

Volunteers can enlist their details at the 4humanity.ae website. They will have to go for a medical test to see if they are fit to participate. Individuals from all backgrounds are urged to join in. The volunteers will be closely observed for up to a year and requested to keep an “antibody journal” to record any side effects. 

On 6 Aug, the first Phase III trials of an inactivated covid-19 vaccine marked an achievement with more than 5000 volunteers who got their first vaccine shot. A feeling of satisfaction and shared commitment has prompted more than 80 countries in the area already joining in, driven by the UAE Leadership’s promise to beat the pandemic through a worldwide collective effort. 

The Acting Under-Secretary of Department of Health, Abu Dhabi Dr. Jamal Al Kaabi stated that UAE reached more than 5000 vaccinations quicker than anticipated.

The tests of the inactivated vaccine are going faster than compared to trials that are undergoing around the world. I am grateful for the national spirit of volunteerism and the enthusiasm of the UAE’s healthcare system, Kaabi added.

He also added that he would like to encourage more UAE citizens to volunteer and chip in for tests conducted in Abu Dhabi and Sharjah.

According to Khaleej Times, a couple called Sujith Varughese and Meenu Mary Thomas, who had volunteered for the trial of the Covid-19 vaccine were very happy to be a part of the 4humanity program.

Meenu stated that amid the pandemic, this was the first time that she could be of any service and help. She encouraged if more people participate, then it will help in faster testing, analysis, and examination process of the vaccine.

On Sunday, UAE reports 225 new cases as a total recuperation rate increases to 90 percent, and the loss of life reached to 357. The UAE has become a top nation in conducting more than 5.5 million covid-19 tests since Jan.

Will Ethiopia Reap Benefits Of The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam?
Middle East & Africa

Will Ethiopia Reap Benefits Of The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam?

The multi-dollar Blue Nile Dam project has hit a roadblock as the three countries involved in its construction voice out their individual concerns.  For starters, Egypt is doubtful about access to this Nile river tributary’s water supply that meets its primary fresh water needs.

On its part, Sudan is fearful of the dependency and safety of a huge dam that is supposed to stretch from the Ethiopian border to Sudan and Egypt. The Blue Nile is a major source of water to all the three countries and any disruption in its flow and supply could endanger the survival of millions of civilians.

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is supposed to stretch across for almost 15 kilometer and would be built at an estimated budget of $ 4 billion. Currently, Egypt has retracted itself from the agreement to a tripartite partnership to build the dam; on the pretext that Addis Ababa did not include operating guidelines and a legal framework to settle disputes.

Addis Ababa is the capital of Ethiopia and feels the desperate need for the dam to be fully functioning.  The Sudanese Irrigation Ministry fears the safety of those living across the Nile. Therefore, they felt an urgent need to reach a comprehensive agreement covering both filling and operation of the dam.

For Ethiopia, it is a matter of pride that this is going to be a largest hydroelectric dam in Africa and is eventually expected to be able to generate more than 6,000 megawatts of electricity, which will provide power for about half of Ethiopia’s population and also allow the country to export electricity to neighboring nations. Ethiopia has argued it needs the dam’s electricity to modernize and grow. On its part, Ethiopian administration denies that it has purposefully filled in the reservoir- blame it on the rising levels of water due to the recent rains that the closed-in reservoir is filling up on its own. But both Sudan and Egypt have their apprehensions, something that looks like will delay the functioning of the dam. Scientists and engineers on their part have also voiced concerns over the dam’s structural integrity because of its location in a mountainous terrain in an active tectonic region.

Deadly explosion in Beirut leaves Lebanon mourning
Middle East & Africa

Deadly explosion in Beirut leaves Lebanon mourning

Beirut, the capital of Lebanon was ripped apart as a deadly explosion tattered the city’s port and neighbouring areas on Tuesday. Hundreds have succumbed to the explosion and over 4000 injured people have been estimated till now, with many feared to be trapped under the rubble. The huge blast that ripped through the port of Beirut has led hospitals struggling to manage thousands of injured people.

Lebanon that is already struggling with economic crisis, had a better realization of the catastrophe’s full impact as the capital city woke on Wednesday. Rescue teams frantically searching through the rubble and debris of nearby areas in search of missing people and hospitals grappling to cope up with the massive influx of injured people.

Lebanon’s Red Cross head, George Kettaneh said, “What we are witnessing is a huge catastrophe. There are victims and casualties everywhere.”

Helicopters could be seen dropping water to put out the random smouldering remains, while the soldiers were present at site clearing out the rubble. Beirut Governor Marwan Abboud said that more than 100 people are missing, which include firefighters. “Beirut has never gone through what it went through yesterday”, he commented.

Lebanon’s president Michel Aoun has recommended a two week state of emergency. This followed the mentioning of related authorities regarding cause of the explosion – a bulk store of ammonium nitrate, a highly reactive chemical was the cause of deadly explosion in Beirut. The shockwaves caused by explosion were so massive and strong that they crossed through the city shattering windows, collapsing houses and practically making the area uninhabitable. Blast, which occurred at 6:08pm local time on Tuesday, was so strong that its impact was felt in Cyprus which lies 120 miles away.

President Michel Aoun has declared a three day mourning period and has announced an emergency fund release of 100 billion lira ($66 million).

Health Minister Hamad Hasan told Reuters, “There are many people missing. People are asking the emergency department about their loved ones and it is difficult to search at night because there is no electricity.”

The cause of explosion, 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, was stored unsafely in a warehouse at port since six years. President Aoun has called for an emergency cabinet meeting on Wednesday regarding the catastrophe. Video released of the explosion shows two blasts, which some witnesses account as sounding “like fireworks”. After this there was initial smoke which was rapidly followed by a massive fireball and white cloud. What followed was a massive shockwave across the city shattering and destroying houses and buildings in all the surrounding areas. Many residents recall that it looked like an “atomic bomb”.

Explosion has destroyed wheat stored in port granaries. This has arisen fear of looming food crisis across the country which is already suffering through twin tragedies of coronavirus and economic crisis.

Can Israel’s ongoing protests threaten Netanyahu’s power?
Middle East & Africa

Can Israel’s ongoing protests threaten Netanyahu’s power?

Israel is in news because of ongoing protests against the current government. Constant images of thousands of protesters on streets and regular scuffles with police showcase a picture of Prime Minister of Israel who might be loosening his grip on his position after a long hold. Protests have been consistently growing in size – this can hurt Benjamin Netanyahu’s ego but can it have bigger impact is yet to be seen.

Netanyahu has consistently denied the importance and significance of these rallies. He has maintained his stand of calling the protests largely a ploy by his political enemies. He has also accused the media of giving too much coverage and importance to the protests than they need and thus rendering them more significance than they actually deserve.

The 70 year old Israel leader is known for his incredible “staying power” by both his supporters and opponents. Netanyahu had refused to step down from power rather confidently after he was accused with charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust. This marks his “permanence” of him being in power since 2009. In contrast, one of his presidential predecessor, Ehud Olmert had left his power after his indictment seemed a possibility.

Furthermore, it looks like that the citizens of Israel want him to stay in power – at least that is what has been evident in last couple of years. Israelis had an opportunity to oust him from power in last two years when country had three continuous elections. Elections were an aftermath of a political crisis in country fast-tracked by Netanyahu’s denials and refusals to step down from power. In two of the elections, Netanyahu’s ruling party Likud won with clear majority in Israel’s Parliament. In the third one, though Likud didn’t win majority, Netanyahu still managed to block his opposition from taking over the power. This has also proved the loyalty of his party towards Netanyahu as he was successful in wavering off a leadership challenge sprouting internally in December.

Pandemic has brought up the disapprovals against Benjamin Netanyahu as is vividly demonstrated by the protests. Approval rating in polls also stand against Netanyahu. Still the popularity and approval of Netanyahu’s Likud party and his allies holds it stand.

Eid at the time of COVID-19
Middle East & Africa

Eid at the time of COVID-19

The pandemic is set to cast a heavy shadow on the holy festival of Eid al-Adha, usually celebrated with great enthusiasm the world over.

Eid al-Adha, or the Festival of Sacrifice, is the holiest festival celebrated by Muslims across the world. But this year it is set to look very different, with the coronavirus pandemic that has affected millions of people, devastated economies and shrunk the personal finances of people world over.

In better days, Muslims would come together with their friends and relatives to sacrifice an animal, usually sheep, goat or camels, denoting Abraham’s sacrifice of his son. The meat is shared among friends, family and neighbours and also donated to those in need. But this time governments have advised their citizens to not visit relatives and only spend time with their immediate family.

The lockdown restrictions have also left many unable to travel to be with their families. Many mosques will be shut or prayer times will be staggered so as to ensure crowd control. In some countries, people can oversee their sacrifices at the slaughterhouse and opt for home delivery of meat, so that they needn’t leave their homes at all.

But for many, this might not be an option. The pandemic has hit personal finances very hard. Cattle herders speak of slow business activity in the lead up to the festival. With imports hit, it has become expensive to feed the animals as well, leading to an increase in cost.

Barely anyone comes to pick out animals for slaughter, and even if they do, it is alone, and not as before, when they’d come with their whole family and make an occasion out of it. Some dealers are accepting payment in installments to encourage more people to buy livestock but some people still find it unaffordable.

This is casting a gloom over festivities, as the sacrifice is the most important ritual, which precedes the feast, and without it, Eid is not the same for people.

Hajj 2020 began on July 28 and it will go on till August 2. Due to COVID-19, social distancing protocols were followed by pilgrims in Mecca Madina.

Iran shows frustration at sea on dummy U.S. aircraft carrier
Middle East & Africa

Iran shows frustration at sea on dummy U.S. aircraft carrier

The Strait of Hormuz saw action like as if in the children’s game come alive, as Iran decided to attack a dummy United States aircraft carrier at sea. It was a hilarious show of power, yet insulting to the American sensibilities who called the Iranian action as a poor show to “intimidate and coerce.”

The Iranian military fired away missiles leaving the American side to up their antennas and warn two US military bases in the region on high alert.  The so called mock drill was named as Prophet Mohammed 14th was strangely broadcasted on state television.

Terming it as show of Iranian preparedness at sea through air and naval attack, the mock-up was made to resemble a carrier the US routinely sails into the Gulf. All done up with dummy fighter jets on either side of its landing strip, missiles were launched from a variety of angles, including some aimed at the carrier.

Showing a sense of frustration getting to the Iranian side, the exercises have been taken as complete act of hostility from the American counterparts, which has said that “The US Navy conducts defensive exercises with our partners promoting maritime security in support of freedom of navigation; whereas, Iran conducts offensive exercises,” said Commander Rebecca Rebarich, spokeswoman for the US Navy’s Bahrain-based Fifth Fleet.

Post the firing of the ballistic missiles, the US bases in Qatar and UAE were put on high alert.  The tension between the US and Iran has been at its peak, and might have gone on the backburner since the onset of the Covid-19 led lockdowns. But Iran has been trying to get back at the US for it having throttled the economy and Tehran having to manage an exasperated civilian population.

The suffocating number of sanctions has left Iran dry of its oil exports, leave alone chances of conducting trade with other countries. Moreover, its lack of preparedness and indulgence in religion driven politics has left its population with less to no faith in the current governance either. In November last year, the US had to intervene to ensure Iran did not cut access to internet for its civilian population, as a straight violation of human rights and right to free press and information.

Turkey no longer a safe haven for Uighurs
Middle East & Africa

Turkey no longer a safe haven for Uighurs

Multiple accounts from Uighur refugees living in Turkey suggest that the government is arresting and even deporting them on the behest of China.

Turkey, the last of the Islamic countries to have openly criticised China for its treatment of Uighurs in Xinjiang, seems to be succumbing to economic threats from the Asian giant. Since last year, reports have been emerging of Uighurs critical of the Chinese regime being harassed, arrested and even deported by the Turkish government.

Until recently, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had been vocal in his criticism against the imprisonment of millions of Uighurs by China. Under the charge of being extremists and separatists, they are sent to “re-education camps” where they are subjected to mental and physical torture.

Erdogan’s government had offered to shelter Uighur refugees and many have taken him up on this. Turkey is currently home to nearly 35,000 Uighurs, including many who have escaped these concentration camps in Xinjiang. Even before this, Uighurs have been settling in Turkey, drawn there by similarities in their customs and language.

But their safety now stands threatened, because an economically struggling Turkey is apprehensive about losing Chinese investments. This capitulation to Chinese interests in clear. Erdogan recently said that people of all ethnicities in Xinjiang are “leading a happy life amid China’s development and prosperity”. Last Octobers, it didn’t put its name down on a statement issued by 23 countries asking China to end violations against Uighur Muslims.

Since January 2019, nearly 200 Uighurs have been arrested by Turkish authorities and held in immigration detentions centres, according to Uighur activists in Turkey. Some of them are released months later with a warning to not talk against the Chinese regime. Others are disappeared. It has now emerged that Turkey is sending Uighur refugees back to China through third countries like Tajikistan. These dissidents face imprisonment and persecution upon their return home. This is an indication of how Turkey is increasingly willing to placate China, in order to not lose out on Chinese money, which it desperately needs to shore up its economy. Pro-China lobby is the country has been attempting to convince officials that claims of oppression of Uighurs are an exaggeration.

US fighter jet and Iranian passenger escapes collision over Syrian Airspace
Middle East & Africa

US fighter jet and Iranian passenger escapes collision over Syrian Airspace

On Thursday, US fighter jet and Iranian passenger narrowly escaped collision while travelling through Syrian airspace. As per the media reports several passengers on the Iranian plane got injured as the pilot changed the altitude causing a sudden drop to avoid hitting US F-15.  The United States military’s Central Command (CENTCOM) which supervises its military actions in the region negated Iran’s claims and said that its fighter plane was at a safe distance.

US Captain Bill Urban, the senior Central Command spokesman, said the F-15 “conducted a standard visual inspection of a Mahan Air passenger airliner at a safe distance of about 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) from the airliner this evening.”

He added, “The visual inspection occurred to ensure the safety of coalition personnel at At Tanf garrison. Once the F-15 pilot identified the aircraft as a Mahan Air passenger plane, the F-15 safely opened distance from the aircraft.”

Iranian state media accused US fighter of ‘harassing’ the Mahan Air plane which was flying from Tehran to Beirut. The plane landed in Lebanon’s Capitol and reached back Tehran on Friday morning.

Iranian state news agency, IRIB posted a video on Thursday showing a single jet hovering near the plane, shot from the window of the plane, followed by a shaky footage along with passengers screaming in the background. As per the reports an elderly person hit the floor of the plane, while another person hit the roof of the Iranian passenger leading to head injury, following the sudden tremors felt on the flight due to sudden drop in altitude.

Iranian foreign ministry condemned the incident as “provocative and dangerous” and demanded complete investigation of the matter. Foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi told IRNA, “If anything happens to the aircraft on its return flight, Iran will hold the United States responsible.” Mousavi added that Tehran would take necessary legal and political actions in response to the US action. Israel and the US have been suspicious of Mahan Air and has accused it oftransferring weapons for Iranian-backed guerrillas fighters in Syria. In 2011, US imposed sanctions on the Iranian airline for providing financial and supply chain support to Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards.

MENA region to benefit from the new J-PAL Center, set to improve lives across region
Middle East & Africa

MENA region to benefit from the new J-PAL Center, set to improve lives across region

A new research center is being set up in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region with collaboration between The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL), American University in Cairo (AUC), Community Jameel and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The brand new J-PAL center would be focused to reduce poverty in the MENA region and to improve quality of lives through policy making based on evidence.

J-PAL MENA is the seventh regional center of J-PAL, based at AUC’s School of Business and launched in association with Community Jameel, a global philanthropy group. J-PAL was launched back in 2003 at MIT. Since then it has established flagship research centers in Europe, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, South Asia, North America and Southeast Asia.

Fady Jameel, President – International, Community Jameel, said regarding the latest plan to extend into MENA region, “The concept of supporting communities has been in the family’s heritage for 75 years and this same concept has been key to J-PAL’s work around the world since it was founded in 2003. The announcement of the new office in Cairo will be instrumental in bringing J-PAL’s evidence-informed approach to our home region, which uses randomized evaluations to identify programs that can have the biggest positive impact on the most vulnerable communities in MENA.”

J-PAL has utilized its scientific approach and rigorous evaluation of social programs and policies to help identify the most effective and practical methodologies to address the poverty issue and reduce it.

Global Executive Director of J-PAL, Iqbal Dhaliwal said, “With the launch of J-PAL MENA, I am thrilled that J-PAL will have a permanent home in the region and deepen our work with committed partners in Egypt and across MENA.”

J-PAL MENA is bringing this approach to the region which will work around three main pursuits:

  • Utilizing the Nobel Award winning experimental method to chalk down the decision-making.
  • Bridging the gap between policy and research methods by working in collaboration with the governments, NGOs, and other organizations.
  • Carrying out training workshops for policy officials and researchers to build a strong foundation for the work ahead.

Sherif Kamel, AUC’s School of Business Dean said, “With J-PAL MENA we aim to build an ecosystem for evidence-based policy, crowding in regional academics and training future development researchers, forging partnerships with policymakers, and bridging the gap between academic research and policymakers in the region.”

Keeping the past track and extensive work of J-PAL and the generously bold spirit of Jameel family, J-PAL MENA is hoped to form a catalyst for elaborate and extensive research, policies, and partnerships to help tackle the problem of poverty in region and help reduce it, thereby improving people’s lives.

Iran executes citizen charged with spying for CIA
Middle East & Africa

Iran executes citizen charged with spying for CIA

Iran executed on Monday an Iranian citizen sentenced to death on charges of spying for the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Mossad, the official Fars news agency reported. Amir Rahimpour “earned a lot of money” to pass on information about Iran’s nuclear programme to the US, judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili said. He added that “two more American spies” had been sentenced to 10 years in prison for espionage and five years for acting against Iran national security. The spokesman did not name them, but said they had been working for a charity organization. So far, there was no immediate comment from the US government or the CIA.

Mahmoud Mousavi-Majd was arrested in October 2018 and sentenced to death in August 2019, Fars revealed. According to the State-run news agency, one of the charges against the man was providing information about the whereabouts of slain military commander Qassem Soleimani and other Iranian commanders. Mousavi-Majd, who left Iran with his family as a child and grew up in Syria, was never a member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), “but he was able to infiltrate many sensitive areas under the guise of a translator,” Fars said. Other local media previously reported that Mousavi-Majd was arrested and handed over to Iran in 2018 by the Lebanese Hezbollah in Syria.He received a monthly payment of $5,000 from the CIA and the Mossad in exchange for information on Iranian forces in Syria, Irian newspaper Tasmin claimed.

Executed CIA and Mossad spy - Iran executes citizen charged with spying for CIA
 Executed CIA and Mossad spy, Mahmoud Mousavi Majd

In early July US officials cast doubt on an announcement by Iran that it had arrested 17 spies who were allegedly collecting information on the country’s nuclear and military sectors for the United States Government, adding that some had been sentenced to death.”It’s part of the nature of the ayatollah to lie to the world,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo affirmed at the time, referring to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. “I would take with a significant grain of salt any Iranian assertion about actions that they’ve taken.” Last month, a former contractor for Iran’s defence ministry, Jalal Hajizavar, was executed after being found guilty of espionage. Hajizavar allegedly confessed that he had been paid to spy for the CIA.

In 2016, Iran executed a nuclear scientist convicted of spying for the US. Shahram Amiri reportedly defected to the US in 2009, but he returned to Iran the following year after claiming that he had been kidnapped and held against his will. The confirmed death sentence of Amir Rahimpourcomes at a time of high tension between Tehran and Washington.The U.S. and Iran nearly entered into an open conflict on 8 January 2020 when the IRGC launched missile attacks against two Iraqi military bases housing U.S. soldiers in retaliation for the killing of Soleimani, a rare direct Iran–U.S. confrontation and the closest to the brink of war between the two nations in decades.

1 2 3 12

The World Reviews

The World Reviews provides latest world news and brief stories. To know more news about world follow us.

                    Sitemap   Contact Us