Science and society take center stage at Davos panel

The WEF 2019 is held at Davos in Switzerland. (File/AFP)
Updated 25 January 2019

Science and society take center stage at Davos panel

  • UAE Minister of State for Advanced Sciences Sarah bint Yousif Al-Amiri was one of the speakers
  • The panelists addressed the relationship of science and society

DUBAI: Panelists at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland took the stage Friday to talk about science and society, including issues such as vaccine skepticism and digital health among others.

Among the speakers was UAE Minister of State for Advanced Sciences Sarah bint Yousif Al-Amiri. She was joined by Martina Hirayama, Switzerland’s State Secretariat for Education and Research and Innovation; Andrew Thompson, co-founder and CEO of Proteus Digital Health Inc.; Shellice Sairras, a medical researcher at Academic Hospital Paramaribo; and Jean-Pierre Bourguignon, president at European Research Council.

The panelists addressed the relationship of science and society, including topics such as how the public consumes scientific information in their daily lives; digitalization of health; and the impact of technology in public health.

One of the issues the panelists discussed was vaccine skepticism, which the they agreed was a common debate in a lot of countries.

“We as scientists have the obligation to communicate science in layman’s language to our communities,” medical researcher Sairras said, highlighting the importance of public understanding in addressing health issues.

UAE Minister Al-Amiri said the research process should be “humanized,” instead of just focusing on presenting the results in numbers.

“We established a team in my office to create science content for the public, translating scientific information to become more understandable,” she said.

The panel also underscored the importance of including the youth in these public discussions about health, with some panelists mentioning the role of social media in the discourse.

“Communication on social media is much more impactful than anywhere else,” Al-Amiri added.


Tanker off UAE sought by US over Iran sanctions ‘hijacked’

Updated 16 July 2020

Tanker off UAE sought by US over Iran sanctions ‘hijacked’

  • The circumstances of the hijack are still unclear and the boat has been tracked to Iranian waters

DUBAI: An oil tanker sought by the US over allegedly circumventing sanctions on Iran was hijacked on July 5 off the coast of the UAE, a seafarers organization said Wednesday.

Satellite photos showed the vessel in Iranian waters on Tuesday and two of its sailors remained in the Iranian capital.

It wasn’t immediately clear what happened aboard the Dominica-flagged MT Gulf Sky, though its reported hijacking comes after months of tensions between Iran and the US

David Hammond, the CEO of the United Kingdom-based group Human Rights at Sea, said he took a witness statement from the captain of the MT Gulf Sky, confirming the ship had been hijacked.

Hammond said that 26 of the Indian sailors on board had made it back to India, while two remained in Tehran, without elaborating.

“We are delighted to hear that the crew are safe and well, which has been our fundamental concern from the outset,” Hammond told The Associated Press.

Hammond said that he had no other details about the vessel., a website tracking the oil trade at sea, said it saw the vessel in satellite photos on Tuesday in Iranian waters off Hormuz Island. 

Hormuz Island, near the port city of Bandar Abbas, is some 190 kilometers (120 miles) north of Khorfakkan, a city on the eastern coast of the United Arab Emirates where the vessel had been for months.

The Emirati government, the US Embassy in Abu Dhabi and the US Navy’s Bahrain-based 5th Fleet did not respond to requests for comment. Iranian state media did not immediately report on the vessel and Iran’s mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In May, the US Justice Department filed criminal charges against two Iranians, accusing them of trying to launder some $12 million to purchase the tanker, at that time named the MT Nautica, through a series of front companies. 

The vessel then took on Iranian oil from Kharg Island to sell abroad, the US government said.

Court documents allege the scheme involved the Quds Force of Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, which is its elite expeditionary unit, as well as Iran’s national oil and tanker companies. The two men charged, one of whom also has an Iraqi passport, remain at large.

“Because a US bank froze the funds related to the sale of the vessel, the seller never received payment,” the Justice Department said. “As a result, the seller instituted a civil action in the UAE to recover the vessel.”

That civil action was believed to be still pending, raising questions of how the tanker sailed away from the Emirates after being seized by authorities there.

Data from the MT Gulf Sky’s Automatic Identification System tracker shows it had been turned off around 4:30 a.m. on July 5, according to ship-tracking website Ships are supposed to keep their AIS trackers on, but Iranian vessels routinely turn theirs off to mask their movements.

Meanwhile, the 28 Indian sailors on board the vessel found themselves stuck on board without pay for months, according to the International Labor Organization. It filed a report saying the vessel and its sailors had been abandoned by its owners since March off Khorfakkan. The ILO did not respond to a request for comment.

As tensions between Iran and the US heated up last year, tankers plying the waters of the Mideast became targets, particularly near the crucial Strait of Hormuz, the Arabian Gulf’s narrow mouth through which 20 percent of all oil passes. Suspected limpet mine attacks the US blamed on Iran targeted several tankers. Iran denied being involved, though it did seize several tankers.