Imran Khan meets Veena Family

•February 26, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Pak actress vows to support cancer hospital

By Jamil Khan @ The Gulf Today-Sharjah, Feb 26, 2015

DUBAI: Veena Malik, a prominent Pakistani actress along with her husband Asad Khattak, a Dubai-based businessman, has contributed a substantial amount for the construction of a cancer hospital in Peshawar, Pakistan. The couple vowed to raise awareness as well as funds to complete the hospital project by cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan’s Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital & Research Centre in the capital city of Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa province.IMG-20150225-WA0014
Malik and Khattak were part of a dinner attended by Imran Khan who is in the city to attend the investment conference along with a delegation of higher-ups of Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa government led by his party, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI).
Talking to The Gulf Today, Khattak said that they received huge applause from Imran Khan and appreciated their support for his hospital project as funds are being generated through a series of events in Pakistan and abroad.
“As part of my family, we handed over a cheque to Khan Sahib and we will continue our support to see this hospital project operational through. The track record of Imran Khan is excellent, as one such hospital in Lahore is already treating thousands of cancer patients annually,” he said.
The duo has taken part in various awareness campaign as UN Goodwill Ambassadors and also used their fame to raise funds for refugees as a special request from the Red Crescent last year.
Malik is also a Goodwill Ambassador for International Women’s Empowerment and Child Rights to promote humanity and peace while visiting and attending events on different platforms.
“We assured Imran Khan of our support in raising funds for the hospital, and we are also diehard supporters of his party, PTI,” he added.

Pak ‘Justin Girls’

•February 25, 2015 • Leave a Comment

‘Justin Girls’ video goes viral; media platforms agog

By Jamil Khan @ The Gulf Today-Sharjah, Feb 25, 2015

DUBAI: In less then one week, the video of two Pakistani sisters singing Justin Bieber’s most popular single “Baby Baby” are an internet sensation, with the online and print media, both in Pakistan and abroad, declaring they are “tough competition”.
The video was uploaded just a couple of days ago and already has over 1.5 million views and more than 70,000 shares on Facebook by individuals and groups.
The video of the two girls, Saania, 13 and Muqaddisa 14, was shot in the Imamia Colony of Shahdra in Lahore where they live. The penetration of social media has resulted in the video becoming a sensation on the web. Fans of the girls have on Facebook and YouTube applauded them for singing Justin’s single with a traditional touch.IMG-20150224-WA0005
Talking to the host of Samaa TV’s morning show hosted by Sahir Lodhi, the mother of the young girls appreciated the role of the media in highlighting her daughters’ passion.
“We are thankful to the electronic as well as print media organisations for giving such importance to my daughters. We want fame and praise for our daughters, and the media helps to broadcast their singing talent to the entire world,” she said.
Muqaddisa told the host that they are fans of Bieber, like millions of other girls around the world. “The video of the ‘Baby Baby’ song mesmerised us so much that we decided to sing it. Many liked our voice and how we sang this as well as other local songs,” she added. Both girls have only completed their primary education, but have a passion for singing local songs. They also mastered crooning Justin Bieber’s famous single ‘Baby Baby’ and are now known on social media as ‘Justin Girls’.
The sisters, after being spotted on social media, were tracked down by the Samaa team in Lahore for a feature on them. Without any further delay they organised to telecast Lodhi’s interviews with family members and neighbours of the girls, which were recorded in the narrow-laned neighbourhood of Imamia Colony in Shahdra.
The girls hope their dreams to be in showbiz and earn enough fame and money will be realised soon.

Dubai Food Festival 2015

•February 24, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Activities in Dubai Food Festival entice food lovers

By Jamil Khan @ The Gulf Today-Sharjah, Feb 24, 2015

DUBAI: Visitors including locals and expatriates in Dubai’s prominent shopping malls are enjoying a wide range of activities during the Dubai Food Festival. For the second consecutive year, Majid Al Futtaim’s three flagship shopping malls in Dubai are celebrating the food festival, in partnership with Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE).
The three malls, Mall of the Emirates, City Centre Deira and City Centre Mirdif, are gearing up for nearly a month of fun and food-themed activities, running till Feb 28, to provide shoppers to be a part of the festivities and challenge their taste buds with a dishes around the world.
All three destinations have joined forces to showcase an array of international dining options, while hosting the “Hi-Fi Flavours” campaign, which will reward shoppers and diners with bigger prizes this year, creating great moments for everyone, every day. In addition, a round of activities and entertainment suitable for all ages will be hosted for three weeks to complement the family-friendly ambience that the festival brings.
“As a strategic partner of the Dubai Food Festival, Majid AI Futtaim continues to demonstrate its support to the Emirate’s emergence as a culinary destination by highlighting the diversity of world-class dining options,” said Hussain Moosa, Associate Director for Shopping Malls, Majid Al Futtaim Properties.
He pointed that City Centre Deira, City Centre Mirdif and Mall of the Emirates have prepared a tailored programme to enhance visitors’ experiences with family-friendly activities and winning opportunities, in addition to offering more than 220 choices of international dining outlets featuring Dubai’s culturally diverse culinary scene.
The three participating malls combined efforts with F&B retail partners to bring a wide array of types of cuisines and dining experiences. Visitors will be delighted by the diversity of the culinary offers, as they create great moments with their loved ones.
During Dubai Food Festival, the malls are being rolling out themed activities in a cheerful atmosphere with including Twirling Trays as each mall will feature a lively dance show with three representations per day, during weekends of Dubai Food Festival, featuring chefs, servers, delivery men and cleaners in a dynamic performance with trays, glasses, and brooms, while juggling food items.
Social media enthusiasts are encouraged to choose a dining venue from the mall’s array of international dining options and post pictures of their mouthwatering meals on Instagram to be eligible to win gourmet dining experiences at each of the participating malls.
Adding to the fun, the “Hi Fi Flavours” campaign will be hosted at 7pm every Tuesday at each mall, where lucky shoppers can win a prize pot money of minimum Dhs10,000 plus unique gourmet dining experiences from the mall F&B retailers.

Interview: Stepping Stones

•February 24, 2015 • Leave a Comment

ASPIRE transitioning programme assists differently-abled students

By Jamil Khan @ The Gulf Today-Sharjah, Feb 22, 2015

DUBAI: A group of professionals from Stepping Stones have launched the ASPIRE Transitioning Programme to help to address a number of issues faced by differently-abled students’.
In a recent email interview with The Gulf Today, Maria Quirke, the director of occupational therapy and vocational programme services at Stepping Stone, shed light on various aspects of the organisation and its services.
Stepping Stones’ mission is for the UAE to have an inclusive society for all Individuals with Disabilities (IWD) through both increasing awareness and through providing opportunities for IWD to become integrated within the community.
“Such awareness and opportunities also extend to those IWD who are transitioning into adult life in order to have meaningful employment opportunities to build upon their strengths, potential and gear them towards the maximisation of their independence. Stepping Stones is very open to collaborating with any governmental organisations that are willing to partner with them to achieve the goal of an inclusive society for IWD,” she said.
Currently, Stepping Stones provides individual and group treatment and educational support services for children. These services are provided within the Occupational Therapy Department, Speech Therapy Department, and Behaviour Analysis Department, the Special Education and Inclusion Department. Services include comprehensive and educational assessments for individuals with disabilities specialising in Autism Spectrum Disorders. They also cater to individuals with a variety of other disabilities.
In response to a question, she said that “within Greenwood International School, Stepping Stones has an inclusion programme for children aged 4 to 7 and are housed in this mainstream school. These children attend mainstream classes throughout the day with dedicated learning support. In addition, they attend the Stepping Stones’ special needs classroom within the school. The Director of Special Education and Inclusion, Hiba Bahsoun, proudly leads this programme.”
These children progress through the inclusion programme with the aim of being accepted into a mainstream school the following year.
Maria Quirke mentioned that the ASPIRE Transitioning Programme stands for Achieving Strengths, Potential, Independence and Readiness for Employment.
“This service houses a dedicated full-time programme, in addition to individual sessions for its students. Anna White, who leads the Aspire transitioning programme, has recently joined Stepping Stones from a ‘Person in Charge’ role of a Centre for Independent Living in Ireland,” she added.
The founder of the Aspire programme, Quirke possesses a Masters in Science in Occupational Therapy along with a Bachelors of Arts in Psychology and Masters in Business, from Smurfit Business School, in Dublin. Her previous business experience in Dublin combined with her Occupational Therapy experience in the UAE has proved beneficial for her contribution to the transformation and expansion of Aspire.
As part of Aspire, there is meaningful job placement assistance for the programme’s students. Aspire’s network of business collaborations includes Hilton Hotels and Resorts Dubai and Jumeirah College. These placements provide a fantastic opportunity for students to transfer learned skills, such as daily living, self-determination and interpersonal skills into the working environment.
This service provides students with the necessary Stepping Stones pathway towards both employment and transition into future careers. DP World has recently partnered with the Aspire transitioning programme, having been referred to Stepping Stones by the Community Development Authority.
Robin Windley –SVP Human Capital, approached Stepping Stones for their expertise and guidance in DP World’s mission to develop a structure within their organisation to provide employment opportunities for IWD. DP World’s ethos of “Making a Difference Together” perfectly complements the philosophy of Aspire. Stepping Stones is looking to connect with more organisations within Dubai to add to its network that they have already partnered with in order to provide job placements for their Aspire clients.

SCHS: Sharjah Charity International

•February 24, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Charity donates to humanitarian city

By Jamil Khan @ The Gulf Today-Sharjah, Feb 20, 2015

SHARJAH: A delegation from the Sharjah Charity International has visited the Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services (SCHS) and handed over a cheque worth Dhs200,000 to support the organisation offering a wide range of services to people with special needs.
The delegation incorporated with Abdullah Saif Bin Hendi, Director of Administration and Ali Rashidi, the Director of Finance at Sharjah Charity, confirmed that SCHS has been committed to delivering equality, tackling social exclusion, and ensuring people with disabilities are given fair and equal access to support and services.
Social empowerment reduces dependence and helps develop persons with disabilities to become physically and mentally stronger with greater independence. SCHS acts appropriately to stay on top of the latest trends in its line of work through its wise leadership.
To extend their support for SCHS, Bin Hendi and Rashidi visited SCHS on Wednesday and delivered a cheque to Mona Abdel Kareem, Deputy Director of SCHS worth Dhs200,000. The guests appreciated how positively the students interacted with them while they toured SCHS’s schools and centres.
These students make products compete with products made by those who are not differently-abled.  SCHS message to the public is clear: provide more support to people with disabilities who are capable of handling a wider range of activities independently.
Abdel Kareem directed her sincerest thanks to Sharjah Charity. She assured them that their cooperation will continue and intensify in the years to come.
SCHS has been operating under the patronage of Sheikha Jameela Bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, the Director General of SCHS, providing a wide range of facilities from education to training to hundreds of students with different disabilities.

Website & 50th Edition of Rashid

•February 19, 2015 • 1 Comment

Al Noor Centre launches greeting cards portal to sell special kids’ creations

By Jamil Khan @ The Gulf Today-Sharjah, Feb 19, 2015

DUBAI: Al Noor Training Centre for Children with Special Needs has launched a dedicated web portal entitled “Greetings by Al Noor” with the aim of encouraging the corporate sector and individuals to support the cause of students with disabilities as well as protect the environment by reducing carbon footprint.
A special ceremony was held at the centre attended by world-renowned artist Sacha Jafri, along with the Centre’s students and local artists who also contributed their designs to the project while board members were also present.
The website will feature an extensive collection of electronic cards designed by the students of Al Noor with contributions from local artists. The e-cards with classic and contemporary designs are an eco-friendly way to wish friends, loved ones and colleagues during occasions such as Ramadan, Eid, New Year, Season’s Greetings, Mother’s and Father’s Day, Diwali, birthdays and wedding anniversaries.
Users can simply go to the online portal http://www.greetingsbyal, select the e-card that suits the occasion, personalise the greetings or even customise it and then send it via e-mail.
For more than two decades, Al Noor Centre has been creating the traditional cards for corporates and individuals who also support students.
Rashid Centre Issues 50th Edition
The 50th issue of Rashid, a quarterly magazine producing by the Rashid Centre for the Disabled, has been released focusing on the issues of people with disabilities and highlighting the “Dubai- Friendly city for Disabled by 2020” theme of Dubai Government.
The 120-page bilingual, in Arabic and English, has the remarks by Maryam Othman, Director General of the Rashid Centre on the leading topic while articles showcase the huge varieties of events including, National Day Celebrations, visits of prominent showbiz and sports personalities from all over the world, held in the last three months at the Centre. It also included a number of special reports and interviews of prominent personalities and highlighted the expansion of the Board of Management of Rashid Centre that included Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Expo 2020 Higher Committee Chairman, President of the DepartmeJAMIL-Rashid-Magazine-1nt of Civil Aviation and Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Airline, George Beshara, Haroon Alulma, Dr Mohammed Al Zarooni, Mohammed Abdul Jalil Misbah, Abdul Rahim Al Zarooni,  Mohammad Baqer and Maryam Othman.
However, Maryam Othman, director general had confirmed that the board has been decided for the further improvement of the magazine and its website and increase its circulation and distribution in wide audience like various government departments and institutions and major companies as these are the contributors of the Centre in their own categories as well as raising awareness of disability issues in the mainstream society.
The current edition of the magazine also incorporate announcements of upcoming programmes to be held in the Centre as part of its inclusion in the mainstream society and providing its students a chance to take part in the regular events throughout the year.
Rashid Centre launched ‘Zad Zayed’ initiative as part of Zayed Day for Humanitarian deeds showing charitable and humanitarian memories of Late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan and Sheikh Rashid Bin Sa’eed Al Maktoum.
Rashid Centre magazine Rashid updates the reader on past, present and future initiatives at the centre and tells of the wonderful progress made by the very special children who enjoy learning, growing and challenging themselves at this school.  Rashid Centre has always aimed to spread awareness on disability issues and to prove that disability does not mean inability.

SCHS: Al Amal School For Deaf

•February 17, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Al Amal School for the Deaf joins smart learning platform
By Jamil Khan @ The Gulf Today-Sharjah, Feb 17, 2015

SHARJAH: Al Amal School for Deaf Students, part of Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services (SCHS), becomes the latest school in the UAE to join the Mohammed Bin Rashid Smart Learning Programme (MBRSLP), through a multi technology partner initiative.
The specialised school for deaf and hard of hearing students based in Sharjah has now integrated state-of-the-art smart technology in its Grade 8 and 9 classrooms. After a well-received test phase at the school, the MBRSLP partnered with technology heavyweights Hewlett-Packard (HP), Microsoft, Etisalat, ITWORX Education and Carawan Electrical Mechanical Works LLC, an electro-mechanic company, who provided the necessary soft and hard infrastructure as part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives to transform the classrooms into advanced learning environments.
Mohammed Gheyath, Director General of MBRSLP, said on Monday that they are extremely grateful to all our dedicated technology partners for this wholly philanthropic gesture.
“Smart learning is about enriching the learning environment for our students through the use of innovative techniques and technologies. Our partners are helping create a dynamic and interactive environment in which our students can positively thrive,” he said.
Sheikha Jameela Bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Director General of SCHS, addressed the gathering at a press conference held at the Al Amal School for Deaf Students: “We need to empower the youth, whether hearing impaired, disabled or otherwise and we believe that education holds the key. Although still in its early days, we have started to witness the positive effects that smart learning environments have had on our students in Al Amal School and look forward to expanding the programme in the future to more special needs facilities throughout the UAE.”
“I really enjoy the freedom that comes along with this new mode of learning. I can now access the syllabus ahead of my classes and even at home. The classes are also far more interesting as we have smart screens where our teachers show videos, ask questions and we can also participate by writing on the boards,” commented a Grade 9 student.
Al Amal School joins over 24,000 students from 146 schools across the UAE that have been integrated in the programme, an initiative aligned with UAE Vision 2021 to establish a knowledge-based economy through the integration of technology in education.
“At Microsoft, we believe education plays a fundamental role in empowering students to realise their full potential as future leaders. We are committed to supporting the vision of the UAE Ministry of Education and the Mohammed Bin Rashid Smart Learning Programme by working with schools and educators to expand the world of learning through technology, providing access for all students. Our partnership with the Mohammed Bin Rashid Smart Learning Programme empowers educators to use technology innovation to help students overcome any challenges , allowing them to acquire new skills to become independent learners, and prepare them for work and life beyond the classroom. The programme takes advantage of the agility and scalability of the Microsoft platform where tools like Office Mix and OneNote Class Notebook Creator enable educators to easily communicate with students with special needs,” commented Samer Abu Latif, Regional General Manager, Microsoft Gulf.
“We are delighted to share our expertise in the sector and together with Mohammed Bin Rashid Smart Learning Programme (MBRSLP), we have created a unique educational environment tailored specifically to the needs of students attending Al Amal School for Deaf Students. We have fully automated the Grade 8 and 9 classrooms, and through HP’s state-of-the-art technologies such as Smart Boards, laptops and tablets, we have helped create a rich and interactive learning environment for the students. To ensure the smooth running of our technologies, we also have one HP specialist available and dedicated to the school at any one time, helping students and teachers with day to day queries,” commented Herbert Zierl, Managing Director, Hewlett-Packard.


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