Abu Dhabi crown prince to visit Turkey amid hopes of ‘new era’ in relations

Special Abu Dhabi crown prince to visit Turkey amid hopes of ‘new era’ in relations
Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan (Reuters/File)
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Updated 18 November 2021

Abu Dhabi crown prince to visit Turkey amid hopes of ‘new era’ in relations

Abu Dhabi crown prince to visit Turkey amid hopes of ‘new era’ in relations
  • Despite trade plans, bilateral ties would be ‘tested over geopolitical hotspots like Libya’: Analyst

ANKARA: As part of an ongoing reconciliation process, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan was expected to meet Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey over the coming days, marking the highest-level visit to date after years of tensions between the two countries.

A reciprocal trip was also likely to go ahead, while authorities from both nations will meet on Nov. 23 for a business forum in Dubai.

“Such a rapprochement between the UAE and Turkey, this strong cooperation for the resolution of problems, is a good thing,” Turkish ruling Justice and Development Party spokesperson, Omer Celik, recently said, adding that Ankara had a “far-reaching action plan and a frank approach” for resolving regional conflicts.

Experts noted that the visit of the UAE’s de facto ruler would focus on boosting economic and business ties as a first step to building bridges between the two countries.

The UAE’s wealth funds would be offered with possible investment opportunities during the meeting, with energy and defense sectors featuring heavily, a Turkish official, who wished to remain anonymous, said.

A meeting in August between Erdogan and the UAE’s national security adviser, Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, was followed by several business deals between the two countries.

The UAE has already made investments in Turkey’s best-known e-commerce firm Trendyol and rapid delivery startup Getir that tripled its valuation to more than $7.5 billion after having expanded since January in Paris, Berlin, London, Amsterdam, and the US.

Soner Cagaptay, director of the Turkish research program at the Washington Institute, told Arab News: “The UAE and its allies, especially Saudi Arabia and Egypt, found Turkey’s recent steps to restrict the Muslim Brotherhood’s activities on Turkish soil as very positive signals because they consider the MB as the greatest domestic and external security threat.”

As part of its regional detente with Egypt, Ankara in March pressed a number of Istanbul-based MB-affiliated opposition channels to tone down their negative coverage of Cairo.

Cagaptay said: “In the meantime, as Turkey and the UAE seek to restore ties, it is not a coincidence that the exiled mafia boss Sedat Peker, believed to be living in the Emirates, took a back step in implicating Turkish rulers for various alleged crimes.

“Although Peker’s allegations should be taken with a pinch of salt, this is a sweetener that the UAE may have offered Turkey to show its sincerity for normalization. Peker’s claims could have been quite damaging for the Turkish government if they continued.

“Turkey wants to jumpstart the economy in order to consolidate Erdogan’s voter base, while the UAE will make a lot of money from the lucrative business opportunities. They will therefore build bridges on a win-win basis,” he added.

The two countries aim to double their bilateral trade volume, which currently stands at around $9 billion.

According to Galip Dalay, an associate fellow at Chatham House and researcher at the University of Oxford, a broader regional strategic picture was evolving with the withdrawal of US President Joe Biden from the region, which had caused unpredictability among regional countries trying to build new alliances.

But he pointed out that Ankara and Abu Dhabi were for now unlikely to discuss challenging issues.

“As there are still some political differences between the UAE and Turkey, having supported opposing sides in the Libyan civil war and the conflicts over the eastern Mediterranean, I expect that the two countries will concentrate their efforts on economic ties rather than taking strategic steps immediately to de-escalate on the political front,” Dalay said.

However, he was skeptical as to how far Turkey would allow Abu Dhabi to go in terms of investment.

“There are some strategic sectors in the defense industry where Turkey may not be willing to permit investment or Ankara may bring some rules and restrictions on critical aspects like know-how transfer,” he added.

He noted that bilateral ties would continue to be tested over geopolitical hotspots such as Libya where compromises on both sides would show whether the recent reconciliation moves were part of a permanent de-escalation of a shorter-term rapprochement.


UAE to issue new-generation Emirati passports

UAE to issue new-generation Emirati passports
Updated 11 August 2022

UAE to issue new-generation Emirati passports

UAE to issue new-generation Emirati passports
  • Part of efforts to use technology in reinforcing identification of personal identity and eliminating forgery

DUBAI: The UAE will issue a new generation of Emirati passports from Sept. 1, authorities said on Thursday.

The Federal Authority for Identity, Citizenship, Customs and Port Security (ICP) said the new passports, equipped with the latest technologies, will have advanced security features.

 

 

The new-generation passports are part of efforts to use technology in reinforcing identification of personal identity and eliminating forgery or fraud, according to Ali Muhammad Al-Shamsi, Chairman of ICP, in a report from state news agency WAM.

The complex security specifications feature a polycarbonate introduction page, laser technologies and “three-dimensional tangible elements.”

Authorities said holders of the current passports can still use their travel document until expiry.


Egypt warns of cracks in Ethiopian dam

Egypt warns of cracks in Ethiopian dam
Updated 11 August 2022

Egypt warns of cracks in Ethiopian dam

Egypt warns of cracks in Ethiopian dam
  • Cairo, Khartoum fear it will reduce their share of Nile waters
  • Egypt says it will take all necessary measures to protect national security

CAIRO: In a letter to the UN Security Council, Egypt has warned of cracks in the concrete facade of the sub-dam linked to the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

Cairo said this is particularly alarming due to Ethiopia’s failure to comply with its duty to conduct the required environmental and socioeconomic impact studies.

The letter, sent to the UNSC president, said Egypt’s Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Mohamed Abdel-Aty had received a message about Ethiopia’s intention to unilaterally resume filling the GERD during the current rainy season.

Abdel-Aty said Ethiopia’s decision comes in the absence of an agreement between it and Egypt and Sudan on the rules governing the filling and operation of the dam, constituting a violation of the 2015 Declaration of Principles signed by the three countries.

He stressed that Cairo holds Ethiopia fully responsible for any significant harm that may be caused to Egypt by these repeated violations.

Egypt’s Foreign Ministry said the country reserves its right guaranteed in the UN Charter to take all necessary measures to ensure and protect its national security, including against any harm that Ethiopia’s unilateral measures may cause.

The GERD has raised tensions between Ethiopia on one hand and Egypt and Sudan on the other.

The latter two countries are demanding a legally binding agreement on the filling and operation of the dam, which they fear will reduce their share of the Nile’s waters.

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UK police seek urgent help locating boy last seen in Turkey

UK police seek urgent help locating boy last seen in Turkey
Updated 11 August 2022

UK police seek urgent help locating boy last seen in Turkey

UK police seek urgent help locating boy last seen in Turkey
  • 4-year-old George Jack Temperley-Wells visited Antalya with his mother to see his father

LONDON: Police in the UK have asked for help to locate a 4-year-old boy who is thought to be missing after traveling to Turkey.

George Jack Temperley-Wells is believed to have gone to visit his father Scott Nigel Wells in the city of Antalya on June 29 with his mother Brogan Elizabeth Temperley. Antalya is a popular summer holiday destination for Britons.

Durham Police said anyone in contact with Temperley should notify authorities in Turkey or the UK immediately with information on her whereabouts, adding that they have serious concerns for the welfare of her son.

The police said the boy has red hair, a pale complexion and dark eyes, while his mother is described as being slim with long dark hair and dark eyes.

The force released two images of the trio dining in the area at a restaurant recently, where they were seen smiling together.

People in Turkey with information should visit their nearest police station or call 112/115. Anyone in the UK with information should contact Durham Constabulary on 101, and quote the incident number 325 for June 30.


UN, Italian agency sign deal to rebuild damaged Beirut suburbs

UN, Italian agency sign deal to rebuild damaged Beirut suburbs
Updated 11 August 2022

UN, Italian agency sign deal to rebuild damaged Beirut suburbs

UN, Italian agency sign deal to rebuild damaged Beirut suburbs
  • Italian Embassy: Project will improve housing for vulnerable people affected by port blast

LONDON: The Italian Agency for Development Cooperation and the UN Program for Human Settlements have signed an agreement in Beirut to finance the rehabilitation of the public park of the Mar Mikhael train station in the Lebanese capital.

The program will also restore some of the housing damaged by the Beirut port explosion on Aug. 4, 2020.

The Italian Embassy in Beirut reported the signing, hosting a ceremony at the Italian diplomatic headquarters in Baabda. It was attended by Italian Ambassador to Lebanon Nicoletta Bombardiere.

The project, titled “Ensuring safe public spaces and adequate housing for all within the city of Beirut,” is being funded by the agency and will be implemented by the UN program alongside Lebanese authorities.

The embassy said the project will improve “housing conditions for vulnerable populations affected by the explosion of the port of Beirut, in particular in the vicinity of the old Mar Mikhael railway station.”

It added that the project intends to increase “access to safe and inclusive public spaces within the railway station, also revitalizing the urban fabric of the city.”

Bombardiere said: “This project will allow the citizens of Beirut to rediscover the old Mar Mikhael railway station and its historical relevance.

“At the same time, we continue our commitment to respond to basic needs, such as social housing, restoring the cultural and social fabric of the districts most affected.”


Hostage situation: Armed man storms Lebanese bank, demands release of frozen assets

Hostage situation: Armed man storms Lebanese bank, demands release of frozen assets
Updated 17 min 55 sec ago

Hostage situation: Armed man storms Lebanese bank, demands release of frozen assets

Hostage situation: Armed man storms Lebanese bank, demands release of frozen assets
  • Civilians gather outside bank in support of gunman
  • Bank's lawyer claims efforts under way to reach a negotiated conclusion

BEIRUT, LEBANON: A gunman has entered a Beirut bank in Al Hamra Street demanding his savings are released so he can pay his father’s hospital bills.
The man, named as Bassam Sheikh Hussein, 42, says his money has been withheld as part of measures taken by the Banque du Liban  (Federal Bank of Lebanon) since 2019.

It is understood that the man took eight hostages, six employees and two customers.

On entering the bank, witnesses said the man poured gasoline into the bank hall on Thursday morning and pulled out a gun threatening to burn himself and kill those in the bank unless he was given the $2,000 to pay for his father’s hospital costs.

The security services have cordoned off the area where crowds have gathered - some shouting their support of the gunman and even calling him a “hero”..

Later in the afternoon people became increasingly impatient, and warned the Lebanese minister of interior that any attempt to enter the bank by force to bring the gunman out would be met with a violent response by civilians at the scene.

 

Customers who were inside the bank when the gunman stormed it said, he had had an account with the bank, containing $210,000 and was demanding they release $2,000.

It is understood the gunman told customers to leave the bank and kept the employees inside.

Shortly after the siege began the gunman was seen leading an elderly man from the branch, before letting him go.

Hasan Moghnieh, head of the depositors’ association, told Arab News that the gunman had originally demanded $2,000 to pay for his father’s hospital bill.

But when the bank refused, he demanded the whole $210,000 balance.

“The bank brought $10,000 as a settlement to give it to the gunman, but he refused,” Moghnieh added.

“Now further negotiations are underway.”

He said he did not know the gunman personally, but added: “By negotiating with him, it became clear that he is serious about his threats and he is ready for ‘collective damage.’"

Outside pople gathered in the area in solidarity with the gunman chanting: “Down with the rule of the bank.”

They told media at the scene that the siege was an inevitable outcome of government’s actions that had ultimately led to millions of people’s finances being frozen by the banks.

And they warned that their could be repeats of the siege in the future unless something was done - later warning that any attempts to the end the siege by force by security would be met with civil unrest.

A number of customers who had gathered in the area shouted to the media that they supported the actions of the gunman, stressing that they too wanted their money.

Mughniyeh said the gunman “fired two shots inside the bank,” adding that the man was with his brother who also holds money in the branch.

He said the gunman justified the siege as the only way he could get his money.”

Some of the gunman’s supporters said he might be protected under Lebanese laws permitting citizens to protect themselves, their possessions and money by force.