First UAE sighting of one of the world’s rarest birds in Abu Dhabi 

A rare bird called a Steppe Whimbrel was seen at the Saadiyat Beach Golf Course. (WAM)
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Updated 20 September 2020

First UAE sighting of one of the world’s rarest birds in Abu Dhabi 

  • Known as a Steppe Whimbrel, the bird is estimated to have a global population of only around 100
  • It is believed to have travelled in time for the autumn bird migration

DUBAI: One of the rarest birds in the world has been spotted in Abu Dhabi by two members of the Emirates Bird Records Committee (EBRC), according to state news agency WAM. 
Known as a Steppe Whimbrel, the bird - estimated to have a global population of only around 100 - was seen by Oscar Campbell and Simon Lloyd at the Saadiyat Beach Golf Course, WAM reported on Saturday.
Believed to have travelled in time for the autumn bird migration, the Steppe Whimbrel is an extremely rare sub-species of the widespread Whimbrel, which regularly passes through the Emirates in spring and autumn.
The Steppe Whimbrel seen in Abu Dhabi is believed to have been born this year, making it the first time a juvenile Steppe Whimbrel has been spotted anywhere in the world, according to WAM.
“On August 29, we were studying around 20 whimbrels on the Saadiyat Beach golf course. We were stunned when one flew off showing the distinctive white wings, clearly different from the other birds,” Campbell and Lloyd told WAM. 
“We immediately realized the potential significance of this so we concentrated on observing the bird and obtaining photographs, allowing us to check the key identification features,” they said.
Campbell and Lloyd then shared their photographs with world’s top expert on Steppe Whimbrels, Gary Allport, who confirmed their findings. 
“The discovery of a Steppe Whimbrel in Abu Dhabi is remarkable in itself, and confirms our suspicion that the migration route of the sub-species passes through the Arabian peninsula region,” Allport said. 
“What is even more remarkable is that this is the first time ever, anywhere in the world, that a juvenile Steppe Whimbrel has been seen in the field…It’s an amazing find,” he added. 
The Saadiyat Beach Golf Course management was delighted with the discovery. 
“When you look at the significance of sighting the Steppe Whimbrel in Abu Dhabi, its history and the subspecies actually being declared extinct in 1995, it is pretty amazing,” Clinton Southorn, Cluster Director of Agronomy for managers Troon Golf, told WAM.
“This is one of the reasons the Saadiyat Beach Golf Club has worked hard to achieve its Audubon certification and showcase the positive environmental impact the course can have on the environment,” he added.

TWITTER POLL: World Health Organisation blamed for COVID-19 pandemic mismanagement

Updated 22 October 2020

TWITTER POLL: World Health Organisation blamed for COVID-19 pandemic mismanagement

  • Most blamed the World Health Organisation, but many others said there was no one clear factor to blame
  • The poll received a mixed message from people torn between blaming individuals and the establishment

DUBAI: Nearly half of the respondents to an Arab News Twitter poll said the World Health Organisation (WHO) was to blame for the failure to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

There have been 41.3 million cases of COVID-19, of which 1.13 million people have died – 28.1 million have so far recovered.

The year 2020 has seen a pandemic that brought nations to their knees as governments imposed lockdowns, and rules requiring people to wear masks, not to see loved ones and to work from home where possible

The mental health of the world’s population has been pushed to limits never experienced before in our lifetimes with isolation being one of the biggest factors.

Everyone has their views on how the pandemic has been handled, but few seem to agree on who is responsible.



The Arab News Twitter poll saw 44.9 percent blame the WHO for failing to manage the situation, while 17 percent blamed irresponsible members of the public who refuse to follow the guidelines and rules.

Just 6.5 percent said it was the fault of local authorities – but 31.6 percent said it was a combination of all three.

“I disagree with irresponsible citizens.... In the grand scheme the population has been very very compliant.... only the odd person wears no mask in stores ... you can’t blame the pandemic on a minute proportion of the population... The WHO and UN are to blame,” tweeted @Roofershound.



But others said a lack of consistent leadership was the biggest problem.

“The UK HMG has significant blame in spreading the disease because it was just a cold from Dec to April via their standard NHS policy of bed clearing elderly patients "medically fit" but with a cold to NHS funded respite & palliative beds. Killing an extra 20K via cross infection,” tweeted @AJamesW2.



The pandemic has – like this poll – split opinion globally – some support a lockdown, many say people should wear masks – it’s the law in some parts of the world and then others say their civil liberties have been taken with all these restrictions.

“ Some people’s definition of their rights and democracy is the same as a five year old cry babe “no, I don’t want to wear a mask,” @ArabNewsFriends added.



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