The year in review: July - August

In the fourth instalment of our Year in Review series, today we turn the spotlight on the news from July and August, which saw the country’s status as a tourist hub scale new heights, Olympic fever setting many firsts for UAE sports stars as well as the UAE being named as the world leader in business confidence


Kelly Clarke

Published: Sat 29 Dec 2012, 9:11 AM

Last updated: Wed 24 Nov 2021, 4:33 PM


It wasn’t just the temperatures that soared in the UAE during July and August. Charitable donations, multi-million dirham projects and Olympic fever, pushed Dubai to the summit of many ‘Top Ten’ lists, making the country one of the world’s ‘hottest spots’ to visit.

On July 1, His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, took a tour of the new Dh12 billion Emirates airline terminal at the Dubai International Airport. Set for take-off in January 2013 – with an estimated influx of 19 million passengers per year – meant 2012’s six-month mark witnessed Dubai add yet another string to its ever-growing tourism bow.

July 2 highlighted the countries generosity, with a telethon raising Dh19 million for the Yemeni people struck by near-catastrophic food shortages. The successful campaign was launched in cooperation with the Khalifa bin Zayed Humanitarian Foundation and the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Humanitarian and Charity Foundation, following an earlier approved Dh500-million aid to Yemen by The President, His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

On July 3, it was announced that the majestic Queen Elizabeth 2 (QE2) cruise-liner would be putting her feet up at none other than Port Rashid in Dubai. Plans unveiled for ‘Seaport Village’ meant that the retired ship would be the main anchorage at a new bustling tourist hotspot in the Emirate, with news that the port would house a floating 300-room luxury hotel inside the ship. The announcement was yet another boost to Dubai’s rapidly growing cruise tourism.

On July 5, the government approved the construction of the hotly–anticipated ‘Dubai Frame’ – a landmark adding more sparkle to the new urban face of the Emirate. Announced for completion by the end of 2013 and set in Zabeel Park, the 150-metre high glass bridge will allow residents and visitors to view Dubai’s eclectic mix of iconic buildings and skyscrapers, including the world’s tallest building — the Burj Khalifa.

Rains brought respite for many on July 9 after a sandstorm ripped through Dubai, filling the atmosphere with murky dust. Coupled with the soaring heats, many residents prayed for a break in weather and when the skies unexpectedly opened up in the evening, scorched residents welcomed the 15-minute downpour. With rain a rarity in the UAE — especially during the Summer months – the wet weather dominated headlines.

Lovers of heritage and tradition celebrated date products in Abu Dhabi at the Liwa Date Festival. The week-long celebration kick-started on July 12 and saw Shaikh Tahnoun bin Saeed bin Tahnoun Al Nahyan inaugurate the event. The festival had Dh4.2 million in cash prizes up for grabs and it was announced on the closing day that Dh6 million would fill the prize pot for 2013, due to increased participant numbers in 2012.

On July 20, the holy month of Ramadan began and Khaleej Times ran a special section in the newspaper dedicated to the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. A food safety campaign was launched to promote healthy fasting during the special month and the Modhesh World indoor theme park remained open during Ramadan and offered themed activities designed to suit the spiritual nature and values of the holy month.

Olympic fever set in on July 27 with the opening ceremony at the London 2012 Games causing a stir among thousands of UAE nationals and expatriates. The sporting event saw a number of firsts for UAE sports with the UAE football team appearing for the first time at an Olympic Games as well as 17-year-old Khadija Mohammed, named as the first female weight-lifter from the UAE who qualified for the event.

With the continuation of the holy month of Ramadan and the approach of Eid Al Fitr, August was a quieter month for news in the UAE.

However it started on a positive note with the release of seven Pakistani sailors by Somali pirates. Held captive for 20 months, the men arrived in Karachi from Dubai on August 2. They were captured back in 2010 after leaving the Port of Jebel Ali in Dubai.

August 7 marked the 19th day of Ramadan 1433, and people across the country honoured one of the founding fathers of the United Arab Emirates, Shaikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who passed away on November 2, 2004. The front page featured an iconic image of the great leader who advocated well-being of all and tolerance as the all-weather principles of the country.

On the same day, The Department of Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities in Dubai announced the Mohammed bin Rashid Centre for Islamic Culture, an immense building to be constructed at Barsha for the service of Muslims and new Muslims. Shaikh Mohammed selected the scheme from thousands proposed under Ramadan initiatives.

The UAE economy received great news on August 9 after a survey revealed that the country led the world in business confidence and stood alone in positive territory. Highlighted by the Global Economic Conditions Survey, the news lifted spirits across all seven Emirates and emphasised the country’s steady growth at being one of the world’s strongest nations.

August proved to be the month for animal activities. Despite the summer heat, 17 greater flamingo chicks were spotted in Abu Dhabi’s Al Wathba Wetland Reserve and on August 14, Al Ain Zoo announced that for Eid, the zoo would exhibit for the first time ever, four of its hippopotamus’.

The middle of the month also saw thousands of residents in Dubai gear up for one of the most important days in its social and cultural calendar, Eid Al Fitr. The special day fell on August 20 and marked the culmination of Ramadan. Many celebrated with big family meals and Shaikhs and dignitaries throughout the UAE offered Eid prayers and received greetings from well wishers across the world.

On August 21, thick plumes of smoke blanketed the first and second levels of The Dubai Mall and thousands of Eid shoppers were evacuated from the mall as a minor fire broke out, but thankfully no one was injured.

Animals stole the headlines again on August 24. After it was spotted wandering aimlessly around Abu Dhabi for 6 days, a stray Gazelle was thrust out of harms way and into the safe hands of its new owners, after residents and animal welfare officials leapt into action to save the animal.

The month also saw the birth of quadruplets in Dubai during Eid celebrations as well as a remarkable growth in commuters using public transport in the Emirate.

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