Category Archives: Events

Abu Dhabi dives deep for another world record


Abu Dhabi dives deep for another world record

ABU DHABI // Scuba divers plunged the depths of the city’s ports yesterday in an attempt to break the record for the world’s largest underwater clean-up.

Organised by Abu Dhabi Ports Company together with Abu Dhabi Marine Operating Company, the clean-up covered Abu Dhabi’s Free Port, the New Free Port, the nearby Fisherman’s Port, Zayed Port and Das Island.

The effort, which took place over the course of 24 hours, started in the early hours of yesterday morning.

The goal, said organisers, was to secure the participation of 250 certified divers by this morning as they claimed this would be a world record.

The clean-up also aimed to raise awareness of the negative impact of underwater debris.

According to information from the National Park Service in the United states, a plastic drinks bottle would need 450 years to decompose in the ocean, while even items as harmless as a paper towel could take up to four weeks.

By midday yesterday, 214 volunteers had already registered.

Among them was Lee Becker, 36, an ice hockey equipment manager from Abu Dhabi.

This was the first underwater clean-up for the Canadian, who first took-up diving 18 months ago.

“There was a lot of big waste where we were,” said Mr Becker, referring to large vehicle tyres and old metal pipes, he had seen underwater.

While he could not haul the bulky items – a job volunteers were instructed to leave for a professional crew – he surfaced with a bag full of plastic debris and disused fishing lines and netting.

Mr Becker thought some of waste must have come from ships visiting the port but believed members of the public were also guilty of littering the ocean, he said.

“You see a fair bit [of waste] and being on boats, you see a bit of carelessness there too, unless it is enforced by the diving centre,” he said.

Giant leap off Burj Khalifa in Dubai: French daredevils break Base jump world record


Giant leap off Burj Khalifa in Dubai: French daredevils break Base jump world record

DUBAI // Two daredevils have broken a Guinness World Record for the highest Base jump from a building after leaping off the world’s tallest building.

Vince Reffet and Fred Fugen, from France, plunged from a platform made especially for this jump at the top of the 828-metre Burj Khalifa.

Both trained for a year to make the jump. “When I came to Dubai for the first time and I saw the tower I said: ‘this is the dream, the highest building in the world’,” said Mr Reffet in a video released by Skydive Dubai, which sponsored the jump.

“We don’t like to scare ourselves, that’s not the goal,” explained his teammate Fred Fugen.

“People think that you Base jump because you’re crazy, you like to get scared. We like to fly, we like to have fun. If you are scared; if you scare yourself, there is no fun.”

To the words of “Ready, Set” both men jumped off the platform. The orange smoke streaming out of their shoes left a trail to mark their descent as they clasped hands, let go and then after their white parachutes opened up both men landed seconds later on a small patch of green under the Burj.

They said the jump was the result of “years of training, competing and friendship that made the dream come true”.

Skydive Dubai also broke a similar world record earlier this year when Ernesto Gainza, from Venezuela, made a jump of 14,000 feet with the smallest parachute at just 35 square feet.

To view video, go to

UAE is world’s charity capital with $5 billion aid

UAE is world’s charity capital with $5 billion aid

(Staff Reporter)TUESDAY

Culture of giving deeply rooted in Emirates’ society and nurtured by leaders, says Mohammed
The UAE increased its aid rate to 1.5 per cent of GDP, the highest in the 34-member Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The Emirates’ contributions rose more than threefold as it offered financial support to Egypt’s army-backed government during political unrest.

His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, posted his response to it on social networking websites. He tweeted: “According to the OECD, the UAE’s aids exceeded $5bn in 2013, making it the number one humanitarian capital worldwide.”

He added: “The culture of giving is deeply rooted in our society, and it has been always nurtured by UAE leaders since the inception of the UAE. We are humbled and pleased that the UAE came in the first place worldwide in terms of the value of its official aids as a percent of gross national income.”

Development aid from rich countries to some of the world’s poorest rose to a record high last year, data showed on Tuesday, but contributions from mainland Europe lagged as the region clawed its way out of recession. The OECD, a policy forum for 34 advanced democracies, said 17 member countries had increased their aid levels.

After two years of cuts to foreign aid budgets, it was 6 per cent more than in 2012 and the highest ever level, an outcome the OECD described as “heartening”.

Britain increased aid by nearly a third, and the UAE’s contributions rose more than threefold as it offered financial support to Egypt’s army-backed government during political unrest. Aid given by rich countries to poor nations rose last year to a record $134.8 billion despite budget constraints.

“Development aid rose by 6.1 per cent in real terms in 2013 to reach the highest level ever recorded, despite continued pressure on budgets in OECD countries since the global economic crisis,” an OECD statement said.

This figure came after two years of falling volumes.

“It is heartening to see governments increasing their development aid budgets again, despite the financial constraints they are currently facing,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria. “However, assistance to some of the neediest countries continues to fall, which is a serious concern.”

One such region was sub-Saharan Africa. Of the 28 members on the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee, 17 increased their overseas aid last year while 11 cut it back.

(With inputs from agencies)

Skydiving into the record books

Skydiving into the record books
(Kelly Clarke)SATURDAY

Ernesto Gainza’s leaps from a small-more
propeller plane straight into the record books after gliding down to Earth on the world’s smallest parachute.
At 6.15pm in Dubai on Saturday, history began rewriting itself as daredevil skydiver Ernesto Gainza leapt from a small propeller plane straight into the record books after gliding down to Earth on the world’s smallest parachute — and not even Mother Nature could stop him.

Gainza’s name will now adorn the pages of the Guinness World Records book, despite fierce winds throughout the day jeopardising his attempt. Speaking to Khaleej Times just moments after landing, an adrenalin-pumped Gainza recalled the moments when the plane began its ascent into the wind-swept Dubai skies.

“To be honest I did not think at 3pm today I would be celebrating this. I did not think it would happen at all. I even told the team, guys I will try, but it probably won’t happen.”

And asked if there were any hairy moments up in the air, he admitted it wasn’t the smoothest jump. “I have to say this hasn’t been one of my best jumps. I was super nervous because of the crowd, the wind conditions weren’t ideal, but I am super happy right now. When I pulled my parachute and it opened correctly, I just said thank God!”

The jump

The jump itself was delayed by more than an hour due to high winds. Tension was rife among the Skydive Dubai crowds as many thought the jump would be postponed with winds reaching more than 20 knots — nearly 15 knots higher than what would be deemed good for a normal jump — according to XCF project manager Marius Melusel.

However, after more than a year of planning the risky jump, Gainza was not deterred by the winds, and was adamant to fulfil the moment he had been dreaming up for years.

Breaking his 1.5 second freefall using a parachute barely big enough to cover a single bed, Venuzuela-born Gainza glided down to the Skydive Dubai dropzone at higher than normal speed, but as his feet safely touched the grass beneath him, the cheers echoed out from the crowd and he punched the air in celebration. “The feeling was incredible, I am just so happy it’s done. Next time I might try something else, maybe a smaller canopy,” he said.

David Ludvik and Wuzi Wagner were tasked with the job of assisting Gainza on the jump, and despite doubts on ground, Ludvik said as the plane climbed to its 13,000-foot platform, all on board were confident it would be a success, albeit a slightly nervous atmosphere.

With Ludvik and Wagner’s canopies dwarfing Gainza’s 35sqft parachute at 66sqft and 69sqft, the duo said despite a few twists and spirals immediately after his exit from the plane, all went okay.

Smashing the current world record set by Luigi Cani in 2008 with a 37sqft canopy, Gainza downsized by 2sqft to 35sqft. In order to make the jump safe, he himself downsized to a mere 53kg. So what’s first on the agenda now the jump has proved successful?

“Chocolate, where’s my chocolate?” Gainza asked.

Dubai breaks Guinness World Record with largest fireworks display

DUBAI // Breaking the world record for the largest fireworks display will showcase the emirate as a destination and help to attract tourists, experts say.

The extravaganza marked “the end of a momentous year for Dubai in which the undeniable highlight was the UAE’s winning bid to host World Expo 2020”, said Dr Ahmad Belhoul, chief executive of Strategy and Tourism Sector Development at Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing.

He said there was no doubt about the benefits the New Year’s Eve shows would bring.

“The pyrotechnic displays at Palm Jumeirah, Burj Khalifa, Burj Al Arab and at Dubai Festival City all have a part to play in ensuring that Dubai is established in the minds of residents and visitors as one of the most exciting and entertaining destinations in the world in which to see in the new year,” Dr Belhoul said.

With the record-breaking display being televised around the world, he said the celebrations would “not only attract thousands of visitors to Dubai and make a significant contribution to our travel and hospitality sectors, but will also … help to attract new travellers to our city for generations to come”.

Stephan Schupbach, general manager of the Jumeirah Zabeel Saray hotel on the Palm, said the fireworks display was “fantastic” for the man-made island and the emirate. The hotel had 1,200 guests and 2,000 visitors at its various outlets to see in the new year.

“Dubai is an expensive destination but as long as we can continue to offer these kinds of events, it all helps,” Mr Schupbach said.

One family had travelled from San Francisco for just three days for the spectacular, he said.

More than 78,000 fireworks had to successfully explode to beat the record set by Kuwait last year. The crescent of the Palm alone had more than 100,000 fireworks set up, plus 300,000 spread across the island and the World Islands for the six-minute show.

Though Guinness World Record officials confirmed it was indeed the largest fireworks display in the world, its team was inspecting the sites on Wednesday to do a final count of how many fireworks exploded.

But not everyone was able to enjoy the show. Elizabeth McAllister, a resident of the Palm, encountered chaos. She bought a ticket to Sandance at Atlantis before the record attempt had been announced and in hindsight she wishes she had not.

“I drove off the Palm to go to the American University of Dubai to get the shuttle bus. I boarded the bus at 8 and by 11, was still sitting on the bus and hadn’t even passed my own house,” she said. “We’d driven 5 kilometres. We knew we weren’t even going to make it in time for the fireworks so we just got off the bus and walked to my house, but the fireworks were half an hour late so everyone had already done with celebrating by the time they went off.

“If I’d realised this was going to be happening the same night as Sandance I’d never have bought a ticket.”

The event’s choreographer, Phil Grucci, said safety was of paramount concern, which led to the show being delayed.

“There were a few traffic snags on the Palm so we erred on the side of safety and there were other shows going on at the time anyway, so we decided if we couldn’t do it at midnight we’d do it at the next available slot, 12.30, to allow for the complications to clear out.

“The first objective was that not only was it entertainment but it was safe for the people of Dubai.”

Though it took 10 months of planning, it will take only 11 days for 200 pyrotechnicians to dismantle the display.

“It was a great honour to produce what we produced last night and it’s well deserved for the people of Dubai,” Mr Grucci said.

Fireworks were also a highlight of the celebrations in Sharjah. At Al Majaz Waterfront, a laser clock counted down to midnight, with a huge display highlighting the evening for tourists and residents.

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World’s largest statistical map in the UAE


The Statistics Centre Abu Dhabi unveils 170m-long statistical map for National Day

ABU DHABI // The Statistics Centre Abu Dhabi has documented the astounding growth of the city over the decades with what it says is the world’s largest statistical map.

Called Abu Dhabi Over Half a Century, the 170m-long display, located close to Marina Mall, details the significant developments in the capital’s history.

Statisticians spent two years collecting data documenting the socioeconomic rise of Abu Dhabi between the 1960s and 2012 for the project, which is open to the public until December 7, with free admission.

“It captures all the major turning points from all the decades,” said Sameth Raafat, a statistician with the centre. “It highlights how we’ve grown in the last 50 years.”

Visitors to the outdoor exhibit were presented with a beautifully packaged collection of books – one for each decade – chronicling the city’s rise to power.

The first book opens with a quote from Sheikh Zayed: “History is a continuum of events, the present only an extension of the past. So he who does not know his past cannot make the best of his present or future, for it is from the past that we learn.”

Kashif Hussain, a 27-year-old Pakistani who has lived in Abu Dhabi for nearly two years, said the exhibit was a good addition to the National Day celebrations.

“It’s important so we know the history of UAE,” Kashif said.

Vasu Deevi, a 30-year-old Indian who was strolling along the timeline map with his wife, Sireesha, also praised the project.

“This is fantastic, you can see how they grew,” Vasu said. “Even the design, it’s very nice.”

The Abu Dhabi Over Half a Century books are also available online at

The world’s most attended New Year’s celebrations – Downtown Dubai

1.7m revellers ring in 2013 at Downtown Dubai

Number of visitors surpassed that of New York and Sydney’s New Year’s Eve revellers

    • By Janice Ponce de Leon, Staff Reporter
    • Published: 14:17 January 2, 2013

  • Image Credit: Zarina Fernandes/Gulf News
  • People secure their vantage points for the fireworks at the Burj Khalifa.

Dubai: The Downtown Dubai New Year’s Eve Gala has achieved a new feat for being the world’s most attended New Year’s celebrations with a visitor turnout of 1.7 million revellers to ring in 2013.

The Burj Khalifa’s dazzling pyrotechnic display attracted 1.7 million visitors on December 31 according to official estimates, which is a big leap from the estimated “hundreds of thousands of revellers” that attended the event last year.

The emirate’s official New Year’s Eve Gala was also telecast live via satellite to more than 1,000 global television channels, and live streamed on and, reaching more than two billion people.

Downtown Dubai’s New Year visitors surpassed that of the reported one million revellers at New York’s Time Square, and the estimated 1.5 million people who reportedly poured in to watch the fireworks display at the Sydney Harbour Bridge. In London, local media reported an estimated 250,000 revellers who descended on the capital to watch the pyrotechnic display that featured 12,500 fireworks.

“The event underlines the positive vision that Dubai upholds by serving as a beacon of hope for people and highlighting the happiness and robust outlook that the city brings,” said Mohammad Alabbar, chairman of Emaar Properties and Dubai Events Council, and organiser of the event.

Before the New Year countdown, revellers were treated to a water, fire and light show on the Burj Lake. This year’s pyrotechnic display that illuminated the Burj Khalifa was synchronised to a live performance of the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, a first ever feat in the emirate.

The huge turnout made traffic on the main roads leading to Burj Khalifa and The Dubai Mall move at a snail’s pace. More than 500,000 commuters used the Dubai Metro which operated round-the-clock to help ease traffic congestion on New Year’s Eve.


Biggest National ID card makes it into world record book

Biggest National ID card makes it into world record book

By Nada AlTaher Staff Reporter
Published: Dec 4, 2012 7:19 PM

Photo 1 of 1
Abu Dhabi: The biggest Identification Card was revealed on Tuesday by the Sultan Bin Zayed Culture and Media Centre holding President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s name and picture.

This initiative came under a National Day Project for the Culture and Media Centre called Khalifa in the World’s Languages.

Abdullah Fadel Al Muhairbi from the the Diwan said: “On this day which extends our celebration of the 41st National Day, we are honoured to reveal this National ID card which has now entered the Guinness Book of World Records as it is also considered the first idea of its kind in the book.”

Regional director of Guinness World Records, Talal Omar, said that the idea came form the Sultan Bin Zayed Culture and Media Centre and is an identical copy of the original National ID card which meets all the standards required to break the world record.

The card is 1.4 metres long and 0.86 metres wide making it almost 20 times the size of the original National ID card. According to the Guinness representative, the UAE is in the lead among its Middle Eastern counterparts as it currently holds 110 world records.

Abu Dhabi: The best liveable city

Abu Dhabi: The best liveable city


Abu Dhabi has been named the best liveable large city in the world, fending off a field of tough international competition.
The country’s capital city took gold in the International Awards for Liveable Communities, in the cities with populations over 400,000 category — beating out 11 other finalists, including Ankara and New Taipei.

The LivCom awards, hosted in Al Ain from November 22 to 26, included finalists from 32 countries and 60 cities, with Abu Dhabi emerging as the winner in the largest city category, after a grueling one hour submission on six main criteria, including natural and built environment; environmental best practices; healthy lifestyle; community participation; arts, culture and heritage; and city planning.

The finalists were filtered out after a preliminary round in July.

An Abu Dhabi Municipality spokeswoman said many people were surprised with just how accomplished the UAE capital was, as it did not have the same profile as many big cities, or even sister city Dubai.

“People were very, very impressed…I don’t think people realise how much is going on in Abu Dhabi, it’s a very low profile city.”

Even many of the city’s residents would be unaware of the great availability of health and community services, or environmental initiatives happening.

“I don’t think people recognise what’s going on…there’s a lot of awareness to be had. In the next couple of years a lot’s going to happen…and already there’s a lot going on. There’s wonderful things on the ground.”

While Ankara was a well-established city, the toughest competition came from some of the up-and-coming Chinese cities, the spokeswoman said.

But it was Abu Dhabi’s ability to show the city’s good habits were long-standing, and it was not just “hopping on the bandwagon” of in-vogue ideas.

“This leader (President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan), even before people were talking about environmental best practices he planted nine million trees…people are shocked with what he did for sustainabilty (and) what he did for engagement.”

The spokeswoman said that once the basics had been established, the discerning judging panel wanted specific details about quality of life.

“We didn’t fudge anything, they asked tough questions…we said the way it is, ‘We’re not perfect on air quality but we’re generally good, here’s some issues we’re dealing with’.”

And the best was yet to come, she said, as Abu Dhabi became an iconic city in its own right.

“Yes there are many things we have to learn about the world, but we’re coming into our own (and now) there’s many cities that are coming to us to see how we’re doing it.”

Launched in 1997, the awards have been endorsed by the United Nations, and were considered “the sole international competition focusing on the best global practices related to the management of the local environment”, Abu Dhabi Municipality said.

Sharjah sets record with largest human image<

Sharjah sets record with largest human image


The record for the largest number of people forming a single image has been swept up by the Sharjah Police Academy, which got together 4,000 people to replicate an image of the country’s Rulers.
The record-breaker, on Monday, featured the faces of the President, His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and Their Highnesses Members of the Supreme Council and Rulers of the Emirates. The previous record was held by Pakistan, where 1,936 people took part.

Also, more than 21000 national and expatriate students and people from Sharjah schools, universities, military academies and government departments gathered to form a huge human flag. However, the attempt did not break the record of the world’s largest human flag formed by more than 24,000 people in Pakistan last October.

Shaikh Sultan bin Mohammed bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Crown Prince and Deputy Ruler of Sharjah, attended the ceremony organised by the Sharjah Police and Sharjah Police Academy in recognition of the upcoming 41st National Day, on December 2.

The ceremony was also attended by Shaikh Abdullah bin Salem Al Qasimi, Deputy Ruler of Sharjah, Shaikh Mohammed bin Saud Al Qasimi, chairman of Central Department of Finance, and a number of shaikhs and department directors.

Commander-in-Chief of Sharjah Police Major-General Humaid Mohammed Al Hadidi said the event was made to express the depth of belonging and pride in this great nation felt by police. “And (to) express the noblest meaning of loyalty and gratitude for the leadership and in calling the whole world to be a witness of the sincerity of emotion, depth of love, respect and appreciation… between (the) nation and its leadership.”

(With inputs from Wam)