World praises UAE on successful launch of Mars Hope probe

World praises UAE on successful launch of Mars Hope probe
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A picture taken on July 19, 2020, shows a screen broadcasting the launch of the “Hope” Mars probe at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center in Dubai. The probe is one of three racing to the Red Planet, with Chinese and US rockets also taking advantage of the Earth and Mars being unusually close: a mere hop of 55 million kilometers. (AFP)
World praises UAE on successful launch of Mars Hope probe
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An H-2A rocket carrying the Hope Probe known as "Al-Amal" in Arabic, developed by the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) in the UAE to explore Mars, blasts off from Tanegashima Space Centre in southwestern Japan. (AFP/Mitsubishi Heavy Industries)
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Updated 09 February 2021

World praises UAE on successful launch of Mars Hope probe

World praises UAE on successful launch of Mars Hope probe
  • Emirates Mars Mission ‘constitutes a national and Arab achievement’
  • UAE will be the ninth country to explore the Red Planet

DUBAI: The UAE has received global praise for the “historic” launch of its Mars space probe.
The Hope probe blasted off early Monday from the Tanegashima Space Center in Japan, making the Emirates the first Arab and Islamic country to attempt planetary exploration.
President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed led the celebrations, saying the Emirates Mars Mission “constitutes a national and Arab achievement and an advanced Emirati push in the process of building global knowledge in space.”




The probe is one of three racing to the Red Planet, with Chinese and US rockets also taking advantage of the Earth and Mars being unusually close: a mere hop of 55 million kilometers. (AFP)

He said the Hope probe idea was developed within the UAE’s “national and research institutions and was designed and manufactured with the effective participation of a young national elite of bright minds — highly qualified and trained and sincere young Emiratis.”
The mission is a joint project between the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center and the UAE Space Agency, with the help of contributors and experts from leading universities.
The UAE will be the ninth country to explore the Red Planet, joining an exclusive club of nations.

Prior to the launch, the United Nations said the UAE’s mission is a “contribution to the entire world” and the Emirates is becoming “a main player in the space arena.”
“The UAE is always looking forward to the future; it is our wonderful partner,” said Simonetta Di Pippo, Director of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA).
The Arab League secretary-general said the launch is a “unique event and a milestone in UAE and Arab achievements as it embodies a message of hope, ambition and motivation for all the peoples of the region to overcome challenges.”
“This achievement is an Emirati-Arab contribution to shaping and making a promising future for humanity, and a message to future generations that nothing is impossible.” Ahmed Aboul Gheit said.
NASA congratulated the UAE on the successful launch, describing the mission as a “culmination of tremendous hard work and dedication.”
“This mission is aptly named since it’s a symbol of inspiration for the UAE, the region, and the world,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said.

“We are in awe of the speed and commitment the UAE, through both the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center and the UAE Space Agency, has demonstrated in developing its first interplanetary spacecraft.”
The UAE plans to share all its data with the world, not just academics and scientists and the research findings will be updated regularly and made publicly available.
GCC Secretary General Nayef Al-Hajjraf also praised the UAE’s scientific achievements, expressing his pleasure at witnessing such a “unique event.”
He said “the Hope Probe comes to fulfill the hopes of millions of future generations.”
The probe will travel almost 500 million kilometers and is set to reach the orbit of Mars in February 2021, which would coincide with the 50th anniversary of the UAE’s establishment.

The data from the mission will be publicly available.
The mission is also the first of three international missions to Mars this year, including NASA’s Mars Perseverance Rover, China’s Tianwen-1, which will launch next month, and ExoMars, a collaboration between the European Space Agency and the Russian space agency Roscosmos.


Israel vaccinates 50% of its population against COVID-19

Israel vaccinates 50% of its population against COVID-19
Updated 26 February 2021

Israel vaccinates 50% of its population against COVID-19

Israel vaccinates 50% of its population against COVID-19
  • About 35 percent of Israel’s population had received both doses of the Pfizer vaccine

JERUSALEM: Israel has administered at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose to 50 percent of its 9.3 million population, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said on Friday.
Israel counts East Jerusalem Palestinians, who have been included in the vaccine campaign that began on Dec 19, as part of its population. Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip are not part of the Israeli campaign.
Edelstein said 35 percent of Israel’s population had received both doses of the Pfizer vaccine, putting them on course to receive a so-called “Green Pass” with access to leisure sites that the country has been gradually reopening.


Libya’s new PM delays naming Cabinet as deadline looms

Libya’s new PM delays naming Cabinet as deadline looms
Updated 26 February 2021

Libya’s new PM delays naming Cabinet as deadline looms

Libya’s new PM delays naming Cabinet as deadline looms
  • Appointing the Cabinet is part of a UN-backed transitional roadmap
  • Since 2015, Libyan state institutions have been divided between two administrations

CAIRO: Libya’s newly-elected prime minister failed to name members of a much-anticipated Cabinet ahead of an expected deadline Thursday, raising questions over whether his transitional government can unite Libya’s factions.
Prime Minister designate Abdul Hamid Mohammed Dbeibah was set to announce his Cabinet in a news conference from the capital, Tripoli, and send it to Libya’s House of Representatives for approval.
Instead, Dbeibah told reporters he only shared with Libyan lawmakers proposed guidelines for the selection of Cabinet members and an outline of his priorities in the coming period.
Appointing the Cabinet is part of a UN-backed transitional roadmap, which envisages holding general elections in the war-torn North African country by the end of the year.
Since 2015, Libyan state institutions have been divided between two administrations: One in the east and another in the west, each supported by a vast array of militias and foreign governments.
“We are ready to submit the names (of Cabinet ministers) but we should consult among ourselves and examine candidate names meticulously,” Dbeibah told reporters in Tripoli without specifying when he will actually make the submission.
Dbeibah said he envisages a Cabinet of technocrats who would represent Libya’s different geographic areas and social segments.
“These are critical times and we are taking into consideration that the Cabinet must genuinely achieve national unity and seek consensus and reconciliation,” he said.
He added that the country’s sovereign ministerial portfolios should be equally divided between candidates from Libya’s three key geographic areas in the east, the west and the south.
Earlier this month, Dbeibah was elected as prime minister by Libyan delegates at a UN-sponsored conference near Geneva.
The 75-member Libyan Political Dialogue Forum also elected a three-member Presidential Council, which along with Dbeibah should lead the country through general elections on December 24. Mohammad Younes Menfi, a Libyan diplomat from the country’s east, was selected as chairman of the council.


Bahrain introduces fifth vaccine, extends COVID-19 safety measures

Bahrain introduces fifth vaccine, extends COVID-19 safety measures
Updated 26 February 2021

Bahrain introduces fifth vaccine, extends COVID-19 safety measures

Bahrain introduces fifth vaccine, extends COVID-19 safety measures
  • The Janssen Covid-19 Vaccine will be the fifth vaccine authorized in Bahrain in the fight against the spread of COVID-19
  • The announcement comes as the Government Executive Committee extended precautionary measures

DUBAI: Bahrain’s National Health Regulatory Authority (NHRA) has authorized the use of Johnson and Johnson’s vaccine for coronavirus the Bahrain News Agency reported on Friday.

The Janssen Covid-19 Vaccine will be the fifth vaccine authorized in Bahrain in the fight against the spread of COVID-19 and will be given to those most at risk, suchas the elderly, people with chronic diseases and other groups identified by the Health Ministry.

The announcement comes as the Government Executive Committee extended precautionary measures, aimed at slowing the spread of the virus, for an additional three months.

The measures involve the continued enforcement of  social distancing and screening of people at commercial and industrial premises for a further three months.


Oman extends COVID-19 safety measures, closes parks, beaches, leisure areas indefinitely

Oman extends COVID-19 safety measures, closes parks, beaches, leisure areas indefinitely
Updated 26 February 2021

Oman extends COVID-19 safety measures, closes parks, beaches, leisure areas indefinitely

Oman extends COVID-19 safety measures, closes parks, beaches, leisure areas indefinitely
  • Three Omani citizens convicted of violating coronavirus safety protocols

DUBAI: Oman’s Supreme Committee supervising the country’s coronavirus response has extended indefinitely the closure of beaches, public parks and leisure spaces to curb the spread of the highly contagious disease.

It reiterated the ban on indoor gatherings in resthouses, farms and winter camps, state news agency ONA reported, citing the high risk of coronavirus transmission in closed spaces.

In the North A’Sharqiyah governorate, the Supreme Committee has extended the shortened business operating hours with commercial activities required to close from 7 p.m. until 6 a.m..

Petrol stations, health establishments and private pharmacies are exempt from the updated regulation.

The latest regulations were issued as the Sultanate’s coronavirus cases reached 140,588 with 29 new patients hospitalized overnight. The total number of COVID-19 related death cases is at 1,562.

Meanwhile, three Omani citizens have been convicted of violating coronavirus safety protocols and separately fined $2,000 and sentenced to a three-month imprisonment.

“Primary Courts in the governorates of North Al Batinah and Dhofar issued penal verdicts convicting three citizens who breached decisions of the Supreme Committee” particularly non-compliance with the institutional quarantine and for not wearing a mask, ONA said in a separate report.


2 US Navy warships in the Middle East affected by coronavirus

2 US Navy warships in the Middle East affected by coronavirus
Updated 26 February 2021

2 US Navy warships in the Middle East affected by coronavirus

2 US Navy warships in the Middle East affected by coronavirus
  • The 5th Fleet patrols the waterways of the Middle East

DUBAI: Two US Navy warships operating in the Middle East have been affected by the coronavirus, authorities said Friday, with one already at port in Bahrain and another heading there now.
A dozen troops aboard the USS San Diego, an amphibious transport dock, tested positive for COVID-19, said Cmdr. Rebecca Rebarich, a spokeswoman for the Bahrain-based 5th Fleet. The ship is at port in Bahrain.
“All positive cases have been isolated on board, and the ship remains in a restricted COVID bubble,” Rebarich said. “The port visit and medical support have been coordinated with the host nation government and Bahrain Ministry of Health.”
The second ship, the guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea, has “several persons under investigation” for possible coronavirus infections, Rebarich said. The ship is expected to pull into port for further testing at a port she declined to name, citing “operational security.”
The San Diego has a capacity to carry nearly 700 personnel, while the Philippine Sea can carry over 300.
The 5th Fleet patrols the waterways of the Middle East. Its vessels often have tense encounters with Iran in the Arabian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Gulf through which 20 percent of all oil traded worldwide passes.