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International ‘Xposure’ Photography Exhibition Opens In UAE As Mass Vaccination Allows Events To Re-Start

With nearly half of its population vaccinated and strict testing regimes for tourists, the UAE is one of the first to emerge from the Coronavirus crisis. Restaurants, cafes and public spaces are open and now cultural events have restarted with the opening of the 5th edition of the International ‘Xposure’ photography festival.  The event features 1588 photographs taken by more than 400 photographers in 54 different exhibits. 36 different photography workshops are being held to highlight the latest know-how of photography techniques. The event will also feature 21 different interactive panel discussions involving some of the world’s leading photographers.

Despite high vaccination rates many special measures are being taken by the event organizers to ensure the safety of participants and the thousands of expected visitors. PCR test results must be shown, temperature testing is carried out and enhanced ventilation and disinfecting of the air supply.

Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi, Chairman of Sharjah Media Council, stressed that the health measures were vital and because of the progress now made ‘’life must go on, we cannot stop forever.  The festival aims to give voice to the photographers who have been on the frontline of the pandemic or those still battling to highlight important global humanitarian, environmental and gender issues despite the restrictions on movement and communication.

UAE based Indian photographer Ashok Verma praised government efforts to provide a safe environment so that the event could go ahead.

Brent Stirton, who has been published by National Geographic Magazine, GEO, Le Figaro, Le Monde, Vanity Fair, Newsweek, Time, The New York Times Magazine, The UK Sunday Times Magazine and many others, reflected during the opening ceremony, on the 10 months he spent last year, chronicling the illegal meat trade: “Every year an excess of 40 million kilograms of wild meat is brought into Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). This is where zoonotic diseases come from… This is why we are wearing masks today. We need to create stricter laws against the sale of illegal wild species for human consumption.”

Funding for wildlife and environmental conversation efforts has been badly affected since the outbreak of COVID-19, “These are the side-effects of the pandemic” says Izzy Sasada, representing the work of Aaron Gekoski and Four Corners. The project focuses on human-animal conflict in their exhibit about wildlife tourism and the exotic pet trade. Izzy stressed that travel restrictions have made it very difficult for photojournalist to travel and work and the downside of the slump in tourism has most probably worsened the poor conditions in which many animals were already.

Giles Duley is a documentary photographer and writer who is triple-amputee after he was injured by an IED while working in Afghanistan in 2011. Duley knows well what isolation and overcoming difficulties really means. During this last visit in DRC he saw the effect of the pandemic regarding the lack of international donations. The lack of funding is leading to starvation and in the last orphanage he visited the children were eating only one meal a day. He hopes that the COVID-19 battle will make society more resilient and that 2021 can be a positive turning point of our generation.

Sheikh Sultan, who is ultimately responsible for Xposure reflected that the crisis had prompted us to ‘’focus on the things you have and not on the things you don’t.”

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The Truth Behind The UAE’s Double Moon Phenomenon

To mark the historic moment that the UAE Hope Probe reaches Mars’ orbit, residents were provided with a glimpse of what it would be like on the Red Planet… With the two moons of Mars appearing mysteriously in the night sky of Dubai.

The truth behind the phenomenon of the two moons that have been spotted in the night skies of the UAE have been revealed….

Whilst some residents claimed that the strange circular formations in the sky could be the result of extra-terrestrial activity, they were revealed in fact to be the result of a spectacular projection, created to mark the historic moment the UAE Hope Probe enters Mars’ orbit.

Mars has two moons – Phobos and Deimos – and so using the latest technology that has never before been used in the Middle East, the images of these two moons were projected into the night skies in Dubai… with no explanation.

Two giant 100-meter cranes and an advanced 40-meter screen were also used to make the moons appear realistically in the sky and visible from long distances. The idea was to create a way that allows everyone to see what the Hope Probe is capturing 500 million miles away

 

Residents were at first left baffled by the two mysterious rock-like formations, with footage going viral across social media. The mysterious sighting brought the whole of the UAE together – from generation to generation – as the details behind the two moons were revealed, educating people further about the wonders of the Red Planet.

People gazing up into the night sky were able to see what it would be like on the Red Planet, coinciding with the momentous occasion of the Hope Probe entering the orbit of Mars.

The activation is set to educate future generations about the space mission, with the sense that one day in the future we might be able to live on this planet.

The stunt was created to mark the historic mission of the UAE’s Hope Probe, which entered Mars’ orbit at 19:57 GST (15:57 GMT) on Tuesday 9th February 2021, following a 493,500,000 km seven-month journey. This great feat – completed on time, on budget, and in a 6-year programme as opposed to a usual 10-year development time – will make the Emirates the fifth player to ever reach Mars*.

Hope’s mission is focused on atmospheric dynamics – the first to explore the atmosphere of Mars globally while sampling both diurnal and seasonal timescales. It hopes to use these findings to allow us to better understand our own planet, and others in the universe.

Additional Information: The Emirates Mars Mission (EMM) and its Hope spacecraft, represent the Emirates’ vision for the future. A post-oil future, where the knowledge and capabilities of those in the Emirates are the wealth of the nation, in addition to, being the source of stability and readiness of tomorrow’s challenges and opportunities. The mission’s ownership lies with the Emirates’ cabinet.

Finally, a recurring theme within the mission is that EMM is not about sending a probe to Mars; but represents a greater hope for the region, that in empowering the youth in the fields of science and technology and having overarching goals; nations today, just like our ancestors, can aspire to reach for the stars, contribute on a global scale and creating impactful policies that will influence generations to come.

Feb, 09, 2021

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Ras Al Khaimah New Year’s Eve Fireworks Sets Two Guinness World Records™

Ras Al Khaimah, UAE; January 1, 2020 – Ras Al Khaimah captivated visitors and viewers from around the world as it ushered in 2020 with a New Year’s Eve fireworks performance that welcomed thousands of visitors to the emirate. This year’s fireworks spanned a duration of 13 minutes and set two GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ – one for the ‘Most Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for Launching Fireworks Simultaneously’and the second for the ‘The Longest Fireworks Waterfall’. These take the total number of GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ set for fireworks hosted by Ras Al Khaimah to five in just three years.

The first record of the evening was achieved by a firework display using 173 PyroDronesTM, all simultaneously executing a stunning firework display. The PyroDronesTM carried fireworks that could be initiated remotely from the air. The display ushered in the New Year by creating a visual ‘2020’ in the sky followed by an elegant chandelier draped with a beautiful cascade of pyrotechnic sparks ending with the recreation of the monuments of Ras Al Khaimah. The display leveraged advanced pyrotechnics and integrated wireless technology lighting up the shores of the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah.

The second record was for the ‘Longest Fireworks Waterfall’ creating a cascading effect of brilliant white sparks strung across a distance measuring 3,788.86 metres to form a continuous waterfall, breaking the previous record of 3517.23 metres previously held by Fukuoka, Japan. To qualify for the record attempt, each of the waterfall fireworks was required to measure no less than 28 cm long and 3 cm in diameter, with the display required to last at least 30 seconds

The event was verified by an official adjudicator from GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ for the ‘Most Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for Launching Fireworks Simultaneously’ and the ‘The Longest Fireworks Waterfall’.

Following the fireworks gala, the organisers received the Guinness World Records titles from the adjudicator.

In 2019, Ras Al Khaimah welcomed visitors from around the world to its NYE event that set two GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ – for the ‘Longest chain of fireworks’ and for the ‘Longest straight line of fireworks’. The 2018 celebration set a new world record for the ‘Largest aerial firework shell’.

Crowds thronged the main venue of Al Marjan Island, the lifestyle development by Marjan, the master-developer of Ras Al Khaimah, from early in the evening as well as at viewing decks along the coast at Al Hamra. Marjan worked closely with Ras Al Khaimah’s government entities to set up the public viewing areas across Al Marjan Island. More than 27,000 additional public car parking spaces were provided to welcome the guests.

For the first time, Ras Al Khaimah also hosted the New Year’s Eve Gala Dinner that was headlined by multi-Platinum singer, songwriter, and fashion icon, Najwa Karam, and celebrity singer Waleed Al Shami.

Various government entities contributed to the success of the event in Ras Al Khaimah including Marjan, Ras Al Khaimah Police, Ras Al Khaimah Government Media Office, Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority, Ras Al Khaimah Chamber of Commerce, Public Works, Ras Al Khaimah Municipality, Al Hamra and others.

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World’s Busiest Airport Goes Plastic Free In 2020

Dubai Airport Partners With Costa, Pret And Giraffe To Herald New Era Of Plastic-Free Air Travel 

– Phasing out of single-use plastics at world’s busiest international airport due to begin on January 1, 2020

– Coffee giant Costa backs initiative by launching new fully-sustainable coffee cup

– McDonald’s is replacing a total of 5,608,740 items with recyclable materials at Dubai’s two airports DXB and DWC

– Other major food outlets, such as Pret a Manger, McDonalds and Giraffe join pledge to ban single-use plastics in their concessions at DXB and DWC

Change is coming to the world of air travel.

In just over three weeks’ time, plastic cutlery, drinking straws, take-away food packaging and polythene bags will start to disappear from cafés, restaurants and shops at the world’s busiest international airport.

The reason for this is Dubai Airports’ pledge in June 2019 to ban all single-use plastic from January 1, 2020.

With 90 million passengers passing through Dubai’s two airports – DXB and DWC – every year, consuming tens of thousands of plastic items from straws to water bottles to coffee lids on a daily basis –  the plastic-free initiative presents a huge logistical challenge to the management team and to every business in their supply chain.

But with the UAE alone producing around 7 billion tonnes of plastic waste every year1 – it’s a challenge they fully intend to meet, rolling out the ban with a phased approach with the aim for completion scheduled by the end of the 2020.

Pressure is growing for corporations and individuals to act more responsibly and adopt more sustainable practices to fight against plastic pollution and preserve marine life. The changes happening on such a huge scale as a result of Dubai Airports’ ban could soon become a template for other major transportation hubs and organisations around the world to follow.

Already 95% of Dubai Airports’ commercial partners have signed the pledge to stop using disposable plastic in their outlets.

Notable amongst them is Costa Coffee which has committed to replacing its plastic-lined cups with a 100% renewable, plant-based “smart” cup. The coffee giant sells over 2.6 million cups of coffee in Dubai’s airports a year – that alone has a great impact on change. This will be followed later next year by the introduction of a coffee cup lid made entirely from wood and paper fibre instead of single-use plastic.

Pret a Manger, McDonalds and Giraffe are also on board, alongside around 290 other retail and F&B outlets, and have started the process of eliminating consumer-facing plastic items from their concessions and replacing them with more sustainable alternatives in just 6 months.

New research commissioned by Dubai Airports highlights widespread public support for recycling initiatives.

In Britain, almost half (49%) of air travellers say they carry a reusable water bottle, almost a third (31%) say they will choose to eat in a restaurant to avoid plastic packaging and 1 in 5 (20%) say they don’t buy items at the airport containing  non-recyclable materials.

But it is clear that passengers feel airports could be doing more on the issue with 86% saying that they need to be more vocal about what they are doing to recycle waste.

 

Facts:

– 5,500 tonnes of single use plastic is estimated to be generated at Dubai Airports each year

– Already changes are being made at Dubai Airports, with 29 metric tons of plastic bottles being recycled from the security check points so far this year (an average of 11,000 bottles per day)

– So far, in total around 280 tonnes of single use plastic have been recycled in 2019

– Starting March 2020, Dubai Airports will recycle a minimum of 2,000 tonnes of single use plastic per year – over 40% of the current volume being generated, and equivalent to 3.5 Airbus A380s

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UAE Launches Tech Conglomerate EDGE To Transform Defence Capabilities

– Leveraging advanced technologies, EDGE will evolve national security solutions and industries beyond defence – Phase 1 integrates 25+ entities from Emirates Defence Industries Company, Emirates Advanced Investments Group and Tawazun Holding Story: His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces […] Read more

Nov, 05, 2019

 

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World’s Leading Nature Photographers Speak Out For Climate Action

World’s leading nature photographers speak out for climate action at the International Photography Festival in Sharjah

Sharjah, UAE – XPOSURE’s International Photography Festival has opened its biggest ever edition with 357 world’s top and emerging photographers in Sharjah, UAE.

With events such as workshops taking photographers for a shoot in the desert scenery, a packed programme of talks, workshops and award-wining photography on display, the planet’s future is the big theme.

As the world leaders gather for what is seen as possibly the most consequential week for climate change action in New York next week, some of the world’s most renowned names in photography are lending their imagery and voices to the conversation.

Documenting melting glaciers, disappearing species and habitats, human-animal conflict and human displacement, they hope their work will make the public feel the pull to protect them.

Florian Ledoux is a wildlife photographer who has sailed over 6000 miles from the coast of Greenland to document the Arctic wildlife.

His aerial images document the rapid decline in ice, revealing polar animals and their habitats in ways not seen before.

What drives him is his desire to reconnect people to nature, he senses that this has been lost for many and he believes that connection is one that is critical for real action on climate.

“If we are not connected to nature we won’t change the way we are living”, Ledoux said. “If you are part of something you don’t want to destroy it.”

One of his most iconic images shows a polar bear crossing two chunks of ice.

The beautiful patches of turquoise surrounding it are sections of melting ice and offer a painful evidence of fragility of Arctic glaciers.

“Ice in the Arctic are already fragile in a way that it can be gone in just just one moment like that. It’s melting so quickly. This is the fragility of our world because when we lose this, we will change so many things in the climate.”

In a heatwave reaching Greenland this summer, nearly 60% of the ice sheet had at least 1mm melted on the surface in just one day on the 31st of July, according to National Snow and Ice Data Centre in Colorado and the Polar Portal.

The amount of ice lost on two record consecutive days during the heatwave would be sufficient to cover Florida with almost five inches of water or Denmark with half a meter, according to climate scientist Martin Stendel.

“We need change right now. There is no time to wait or to say that we have time or we can do it later, it has to be now”, said Ledoux.

Frans Lanting, hailed as one of the great nature photographers of our time and a environmental economist by background, has documented ecological hot spots from India to New Zealand in breath-taking imagery for over 40 years.

Taking us visually to the Antarctic, he speaks of connections between melting ice and wildlife. “Emperor penguins are totally dependent on sea ice. That’s what they gather to reproduce themselves. They never touch solid ground and as the ice disappears so will emperor penguins.”

But the biggest message is that all habitats are interconnected. “Ultimately climate change is not just about the lives of emperor penguins and polar bears. It is about us. It’s going to affect everyone on the planet no matter where you live”, Lanting said.

In his signature series “Day to Night”, one of America’s most iconic photographers Stephen Wilkes, digitally blends thousands of images shot over a 36-hour period into one photograph, capturing the life in that habitat.

“It is about creating a visceral experience for you, the viewer. I want you to feel like you are standing there with me.”

His images take months of scouting, preparation and construction to be shot.

They also bring Wilkes into unexpected close encounters, like that with a curious grizzly bear on a shoot in Bella Coola in British Columbia.

“It was terrifying at one moment and then incredibly exciting because I felt this incredible gift,” Wilkes said. “It’s not just about the photograph of a bear. It is a photograph about the way bears lived one this particular day.”

“People think of grizzly bears as not being endangered. But the truth is their habitats are endangered”, Wilkes said.

With over 1 million plant and animal species threatened with extinction, the action from governments is slow. 

Underscoring the complexity of the challenge, some conservationists say there is danger that climate action might produce solutions that are not friendly to protecting biodiversity.

For Wilkes, the ultimate aim is to inspire change.

“We’re reaching a critical path in our history as humanity goes. And so my work now is dedicated to showing people what’s really happening through beauty. I want to inspire change”.

The Festival sponsors a Timothy Allen Photography Scholarship Award (TAPSA), a worldwide search for emerging photographers.

One of the five winners, Greek photographer Anna Pantelia, has turned her attention to the thorny subject of energy transition in her home country.

Despite coal being the single biggest contributor to anthropogenic climate change, Greece has recently made an investment into construction of two new plants.

Pantelia documents both the human cost of coal’s pollution and her region’s dependency on coal for jobs and livelihoods.

“I want to speak with people that have been falling sick out of the coal mining and people that they have lost family members. I want people to get disturbed and I want the decision-makers to be disturbed and think of how we should move forward with the coal mining.”

Kathy Moran, the Deputy Director of Photography at National Geographic, says the role of photography is to provide visual evidence of what is happening to the world.

“I think people need to see what’s happening. Here at Xposure, on the pages of National Geographic, the photography is the proof that the world is changing rapidly.”

Moran, as with many photographers at Xposure, feel excited by the momentum generated by the youth protest movement sweeping the globe.

“There’s a very special moment right now around the Global Climate Strike and these young voices coming up and needing to be heard. I’m hoping that that is what’s going to grab people’s attention and make them start paying attention again to what is happening.” 

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