Russia’s Putin arrives in UAE following visit to Saudi Arabia

Robie de Guzman   •   October 15, 2019   •   615

Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan (R) attend an official welcome ceremony in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, 15 October 2019. Russian President Vladimir Putin is on a state visit to UAE.
EPA-EFE/ALEXANDER ZEMLIANICHENKO

Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on Tuesday (October 15) for talks that are expected to focus on economic ties and security in the Middle East region.

Upon arrival, Putin was greeted by Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan at the airport.

Putin’s trip to the region signals Moscow’s growing Middle East clout.

On Monday (October 14) he visited Saudi Arabia for the first time in over a decade, buoyed by Russian military gains in Syria, strong ties with Riyadh’s regional rivals and energy cooperation. (Reuters)

(Production: Roberto Esparza)

UAE to release bodies of 2 Filipinos killed in Abu Dhabi gas explosion after probe

Marje Pelayo   •   September 4, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Embassy in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Thursday (September 3) confirmed that the remains of the two Filipinos killed in the Abu Dhabi gas explosion will only be released once investigation is finished.

Ambassador Hjayceelyn Quintana said the UAE authorities want the probe to be completed first before they allow the repatriation of the bodies.

“Dahil ito ay isang aksidente, kailangan muna na matapos ang imbestigasyon at iyan ang aming nililinaw sa mga pamilya at humihingi po kami ng pang-unawa,” Quintana said during the Laging Handa virtual briefing Thursday.

(Because this is an accident, the investigation needs to be completed first. This is what we have clarified to the families and we ask for their understanding.)

The embassy official said they have reached out to the families of the victims to explain the process assuring them that the UAE authorities have committed to expediting the investigation.

“Mismong sila ay nakikipagusap sa pamilya at kami ang nagiging tulay. Kapag natapos iyon ay saka naman natin uupuan kung ano ang next steps para sa mga pamilya na naiwan,” she added.

([The UAE authorities] themselves are communicating with the families and we connect them with each other. Once [the investigation] is done, we will discuss what to do next to assist the bereaved families.]

READ: Two Filipinos died in Abu Dhabi restaurant blast — DFA

Apart from the two fatalities, a total of 10 Filipinos were injured in the blast that happened on August 31. Eight of them were sent to hospitals for treatment.

To date, five have already been discharged while three others are still recovering.

Duterte may be injected with Russia’s COVID-19 vaccine by May 2021 – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   August 13, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte may be inoculated with Russia-made vaccine against novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in May 2021, Malacañang said on Thursday.

In a televised press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte could get Sputnik V vaccine shots as early as May 1 provided that the vaccine is already approved by the country’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“The May 1 is when the PSG [Presidential Security Group] may allow him ‘pag natapos na po lahat ng test na kinakailangang gawin dito sa Gamaleya vaccine,” he said.

Duterte earlier said he is willing to participate in the clinical trials for Sputnik V.

Base on the timeline presented by Roque, the vaccine expert panel will review the results of phases 1 and 2 of the Sputnik V’s clinical trials this September.

The Philippines and Russia will conduct simultaneous phase 3 clinical trials which will run until March 2021. The Russian government is expected to shoulder the costs.

The vaccine will then have to go through the registration process with the FDA in April 2021.

Roque, however, stressed that the vaccine could become available in the market earlier since other organizations are also in advanced stages of conducting clinical trials.

“Baka mayroon pang ibang mauna dahil marami namang pong nasa third phase ng clinical trials at matagal na po silang nasa 3rd phase,” he said.

Dr. Jaime Montoya, executive director of the Philippine Council for Health Research, said that if no problems will be encountered on the efficacy of Russia-made vaccine during the trials, the Sputnik V vaccine could be rolled out for commercial use in the Philippines by April 2021.

Montoya is part of the team of Philippine health and vaccine experts who met with the manufacturer and scientists who developed the Sputnik V.

Russia on Tuesday announced it is the first country to grant regulatory approval to a vaccine after less than two months of human testing.

The announcement raised concerns from some international scientists about the safety of the vaccine.

The World Health Organization said Russia’s COVID-19 vaccine should first undergo the necessary evaluation process before it could become available for public use. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

United Arab Emirates launches mission to Mars

UNTV News   •   July 20, 2020

The United Arab Emirates launched its first mission to Mars on Monday (July 20) as it strives to develop its scientific and technological capabilities and reduce its reliance on oil.

The Hope Probe blasted off from Japan’s Tanegashima Space Center at 1:58 a.m. UAE time/6:58 a.m. Japanese time Monday (2158 GMT Sunday) for a seven-month journey to the red planet, where it will orbit and send back data about the atmosphere.

The first Arab mission to Mars was initially due to launch on July 14, but has been delayed twice due to bad weather.

Just over an hour after launch, the probe deployed solar panels to power its systems and established radio communication with the mission on earth.

There are currently eight active missions exploring Mars; some orbit the planet and some have landed on its surface. China and the United States each plan to send another this year.

The Emirates Mars Mission has cost $200 million, according to Minister for Advanced Sciences Sarah Amiri. It aims to provide a complete picture of the Martian atmosphere for the first time, studying daily and seasonal changes.

The UAE first announced plans for the mission in 2014 and launched a National Space Programme in 2017 to develop local expertise. Its population of 9.4 million, most of whom are foreign workers, lacks the scientific and industrial base of the big spacefaring nations.

It has an ambitious plan for a Mars settlement by 2117. Hazza al-Mansouri became the first Emirati in space last September when he flew to the International Space Station.

To develop and build the Hope Probe, Emiratis and Dubai’s Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) worked with U.S. educational institutions.

The MBRSC space centre in Dubai will oversee the spacecraft during its 494 million km (307 million mile) journey at an average speed of 121,000 km per hour. (Reuters)

(Production: Abdelhadi Ramahi, Tarek Fahmy)

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