BREAKING: United Arab Emirates Says 5 Diplomats Killed in Afghan Blast 

Afghan security forces inspect the site of two large bombings in Kabul, Afghanistan, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017. Two loud explosions have rocked the Afghan capital of Kabul, causing casualties. The target of the blasts was probably an area that includes government and lawmakers' offices. Sediq Sediqqi, spokesman for the Interior Ministry, said that first, a suicide bomber carried out an attack, followed by a second explosion, caused by car bomb parked near the site. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The United Arab Emirates announced on Wednesday that five of its diplomats were killed in a bombing in southern Afghanistan the day before, one of the worst attacks to target the young nation’s diplomatic corps.

The federation of seven sheikhdoms on the Arabian Peninsula said it would immediately fly the nation’s flag at half-staff in honor of the dead from the attack Tuesday in Kandahar.

Meanwhile, the Taliban denied planting the bomb in the Kandahar attack, which also wounded the UAE ambassador to Afghanistan.

Afghan security forces inspect the site of two large bombings in Kabul, Afghanistan, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017. Two loud explosions have rocked the Afghan capital of Kabul, causing casualties. The target of the blasts was probably an area that includes government and lawmakers’ offices. Sediq Sediqqi, spokesman for the Interior Ministry, said that first, a suicide bomber carried out an attack, followed by a second explosion, caused by car bomb parked near the site. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)

Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the UAE’s prime minister and vice president, said on Twitter that “there is no human, moral or religious justification for the bombing and killing of people trying to help” others. Read the rest of this entry »


Lifting the Veil on Queen of Sheba’s Perfume

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Frankincense, one of the world’s oldest fragrances, is a gum resin that exudes from the bark of Boswellia trees, which grow in countries bordering the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. It has been used for more than 6,000 years by every civilization, from Mesopotamia to the present.

It is one of the oldest fragrances in the world. Nicolas Baldovini’s team at the Institut de chimie de Nice (CNRS/UNS) has just discovered the components that give frankincense its distinctive odor: twotumblr_inline_oeyg7o5vvm1qgjbhq_540 molecules found for the first time in nature, named “olibanic acids” by the scientists. Their research results have just been published online, on the website of the journal Angewandte Chemie International Edition.

It is mentioned more than twenty times in the Bible, where it is one of the gifts offered by the Three Wise Men. Frankincense (also called olibanum), one of the world’s oldest fragrances, is a gum resin that exudes from the bark of Boswellia trees, which grow in countries bordering the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. It has been used for more than 6,000 years by every civilization, from Mesopotamia to the present. Regularly burned during religious ceremonies, it contributes to the very particular smell of churches. Despite its long history and the large amount of research dedicated to it, the exact nature of the molecules that give frankincense its distinctive fragrance surprisingly remained unknown…(read more)


[VIDEO] Dubai World Record Eagle Flight

Click the link to watch the uncut, 5 minutes long flight version of this video


Iran Fires on, Seizes U.S. Ship in Gulf

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Pentagon officials say the US is monitoring the seizure by Iran of a Marshall Islands-flagged cargo ship

Iran has opened fire at a U.S. cargo ship and directed it to Bandar Abbas port on the southern coast of Iran, Al Arabiya News Channel has reported on Tuesday.

A Pentagon spokesman told Reuters Iranian forces had boarded a Marshall Island-flagged vessel, the MV Maersk Tigris, in the Gulf. He said the boarding occurred after Iranian patrol boats fired shots across the vessel’s bow and ordered it deeper into Iranian waters.

U.S. planes and a destroyer were monitoring the situation after the vessel, the MV Maersk Tigris, made a distress call in the Strait of Hormuz, one of the world’s most important oil shipping channels.

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The ship had no U.S. citizens aboard, the spokesman said, contradicting earlier reports which said there were 34 U.S. sailors on board.

Reuters tracking data showed the Maersk, a 65,000-tonne container ship, off the Iranian coast between the islands of Qeshm and Hormuz. It was listed as sailing from the Saudi port of Jeddah, bound for the United Arab Emirates port of Jebel Ali.

A U.S. government official said the ship was intercepted by the Naval force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) at 0905 GMT. Read the rest of this entry »


French ‘Spiderman’ Scales Dubai Skyscraper

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — A French climber has scaled one of Dubai’s tallest skyscrapers, relying on just chalk and sticky tape on his fingertips to help him up the 75-storey high Cayan Tower in the emirate’s glitzy marina area.

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Alain Robert, 52, completed climbing the 1007-foot (307 meter) high structure in just 70 minutes on Sunday. He had no harness and little space for his feet on the ledges of the tower, which twists as it ascends.

Robert, who is often described as “The French Spiderman,” is no stranger to scaling tall buildings. Read the rest of this entry »


Massive Fire Engulfs Hi-Rise Residential Skyscraper in Dubai

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Read more New York Post 


Meanwhile, in Dubai…

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Dubai is building a massive temperature-controlled “city” that will house an 8 million square foot shopping complex called the “Mall of The World,” the United Arab Emirates’ ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, announced Saturday, according to Khaleej Times. (via Business Insider)

Applied Technotopia


Amy Klobuchar Cites Rolling Stones in United Arab Emirates Fight

'I figure if Mick Jagger can play Abu Dhabi, these guys shouldn’t be in jail,' she said. | AP Photo

‘I figure if Mick Jagger can play Abu Dhabi, these guys shouldn’t be in jail,’ she said. | AP Photo

Lucy McCalmont reports:  Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar on Friday came to the defense of an American jailed in the United Arab Emirates over a parody video he made mocking youth culture — and she dragged the Rolling Stones into the controversy.

Shezanne Cassim, 29, was sentenced this week to a year in jail for a video, which was created and posted online in October 2012 and pokes fun at teenagers in Dubai’s suburbs acting tougher than they are, influenced by hip-hop culture and calling themselves “gangstas,” according to reports.

The Stones concert, which was announced earlier in December, will be held in Abu Dhabi on Feb. 21. The concert will be the first time the rock band has played in the country.

Cassim, a U.S. citizen who moved to Dubai in 2006 after graduating from the University of Minnesota, was arrested in April and charged with violating cybercrimes and endangering national security, The Associated Press reported. He entered a not guilty plea and has been held at a maximum-security prison since June.

Read the rest of this entry »


American jailed over video mocking Dubai teens

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Abu Dhabi (AFP) – A UAE court jailed on Monday an American and four other men for one year after they made a YouTube video that mocked Dubai teenagers, The National daily reported.

Shezanne Cassim, a 29-year-old from Minnesota, has been held since April after being charged with endangering the security of the United Arab Emirates under a cybercrimes law.

He was also fined 10,000 dirhams ($2,725).

Two Indian defendants were handed a similar punishment, while two Emirati brothers, already behind bars, were jailed for eight months and each fined 5,000 dirhams ($1,362), The National reported.

Read the rest of this entry »


Breaking the Taboo: Saudi Men Assisting in Campaign to Allow Women to Drive

An image from a video uploaded by Saudi activists on YouTube on Oct. 26, 2013 allegedly shows a fully veiled woman driving in Riyadh during a planned nationwide day of defiance of the ban on women driving. Only a few Saudi women braved official threats of punishment and got behind the wheel in defiance of a ban on driving, but organisers say their campaign will continue. Photograph by: DSK , AFP/Getty Images

An image from a video uploaded by Saudi activists on YouTube on Oct. 26, 2013 allegedly shows a fully veiled woman driving in Riyadh during a planned nationwide day of defiance of the ban on women driving. Only a few Saudi women braved official threats of punishment and got behind the wheel in defiance of a ban on driving, but organizers say their campaign will continue.    Photograph by: DSK , AFP/Getty Images

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — A growing number of men are quietly helping steer a campaign to end Saudi Arabia’s ban on allowing women to drive, risking their jobs and social condemnation in the conservative kingdom. [See below: VIDEO – CNN’s Mohammed Jamjoom report: ‘Women Drive for Change‘]

Some of the men have even been questioned by authorities, and one was detained by a branch of the Saudi Interior Ministry — a move that sent a chill through some of the activists working to put women behind the wheel.
On Saturday, more than 60 women said they defied the ban, although they faced little action from police.
Read the rest of this entry »

Kansas City, U.S. Man Receives 14 Years for Sending Funds to al-Qaeda

This photo provided by the Kansas City Police Department shows Khalid Ouazzani, a Kansas City auto parts dealer who had sworn allegiance to al-Qaeda. (photo credit: AP/Kansas City Police Department)

This photo provided by the Kansas City Police Department shows Khalid Ouazzani, a Kansas City auto parts dealer who had sworn allegiance to al-Qaeda. (photo credit: AP/Kansas City Police Department)

KANSAS CITY, Missouri (AP) — A businessman who swore an oath of allegiance to al-Qaeda and three years ago pleaded guilty to providing financial support to the international terror group was sentenced Monday to 14 years in prison, despite a plea from his attorney for leniency because of the risk he took by becoming an informant against the organization.

Khalid Ouazzani, 35, who pleaded guilty in May 2010 to bank fraud, money laundering and conspiracy to support a terrorist group, was sentenced in federal court in Kansas City.

Federal prosecutors claimed Ouazzani provided more than $23,000 to al-Qaeda and had pledged more, with the hope of eventually traveling to the Middle East to join the fight against the US.

In his guilty plea, Ouazzani admitted making false claims to borrow money for a used auto parts business and wiring the proceeds to a bank in Dubai. That money was used to purchase an apartment in Dubai that later sold for a $17,000 profit, which was given to al-Qaeda. Ouazzani also admitted sending the terror group $6,500 from the sale of his business.

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Man Crashes Car Into Home of Father’s Secret Second Wife

This seems like it will require a lot of therapy to get past

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 reports: There’s a riskiness to performing death-defying stunts in your fancy car, but one Saudi man’s taste for danger nabbed him more than he bargained for: he crashed his car into a home that his father secretly shared with his second wife.

According to Emirates 24/7, a Dubai-based news web site, the man was performing a high-speed car stunt in Riyadh when he lost control of the vehicle and crashed into the back garden of a nearby home. Unbeknownst to him, his father was sitting in that very garden, which was owned by the father’s second wife whose existence was unknown to the son.

The unnamed newspaper cited by Emirates 24/7 reported that the father suffered “light injuries” from the wreck, and the son fled the scene after learning the truth.

@jessicakroy TIME.com