Foreign Investors in SF Gateway Marriott (JF27) Project Obtain Conditional Green Card Approvals

WASHINGTON, June 07, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — EB5 Capital is pleased to announce the first large wave of individual I–526 and I–526E petition approvals for investors in its SF Gateway Marriott (JF27) project. An I–526/I–526E approval is a significant step in the EB–5 immigration process as it qualifies the investor and their immediate family members for conditional permanent residency in the United States.

EB5 Capital has raised foreign investor funds across approximately 40 EB–5 projects throughout the United States, including half a dozen hotel projects in California. The SF Gateway Marriott (JF27) project, also known as Gateway at Millbrae Station, is a $300 million mixed–use development containing 400 apartment units and 200,000 square feet of commercial space in Millbrae, California, a suburb of San Francisco in San Mateo County. EB5 Capital raised foreign capital from 60 investors, representing a variety of nationalities, to finance a portion of the capital stack for the Residence Inn–branded hotel component of the larger development. The project opened to the public in early 2023 and created over 800 jobs as a result of the investment.

“We are happy that over a dozen investors have recently been approved in this project as several of them filed their cases with USCIS before the outbreak of the Covid–19 pandemic in late 2019,” said Molly FitzGerald, Director of Investor Communications and Engagement at EB5 Capital. “Our clients have patiently waited for USCIS to adjudicate their cases and they can now move on to the next step in their immigration process.”

The SF Gateway Marriott (JF27) project has created more than the number of jobs required by the EB–5 program to support all the investors with the remainder of their immigration journey at the I–829 stage when they apply for permanent residency in the United States. Until then, EB5 Capital is looking forward to additional I–526/I–526E investor approvals soon and will continue to keep its clients informed on the operations of the hotel.

About EB5 Capital

EB5 Capital provides qualified foreign investors with opportunities to invest in job–creating commercial real estate projects under the United States Immigrant Investor Program (EB–5 Visa Program). Headquartered in Washington, DC, EB5 Capital’s distinguished track record and leadership in the industry has attracted investors from over 75 countries. As one of the oldest and most active Regional Center operators in the country, the firm has raised over $1 billion of foreign capital across approximately 40 EB–5 projects. 100% of our investors’ funds are protected by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) insurance prior to their deployment into our projects. Please visit for more information.

Katherine Willis
Director, Marketing & Communications

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e& leads as the Top Telecoms Employer Brand in Employer Brand Index 2024

  • e& UAE is the Top Telecoms Employer Brand in Brand Finance rankings
  • e& ranked 16th in the Top 20 employer brands across all categories in 16 countries
  • Achievement reflects the broader reputation of UAE as a global talent hub

LONDON, June 07, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — e&, the global technology group, attained the highest position in Brand Finance’s inaugural Employer Brand Report 2024 with its UAE entity ranking as the Top Global Telecoms Employer.

The group also secured the 16th spot among the Top 20 Employer Brands across measured employer brands across financial services, telco, media, and tech (TMT), oil, gas, and energy, professional services, retail, automotive, and fast–moving consumer goods (FMCG) in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the United States.

Ali Al Mansoori, Group Chief People Officer, e&, said: “This recognition as an employer of choice reflects the incredible dedication and passion of our people, who are our greatest assets. It also reaffirms our commitment to cultivating a unified company culture where every employee is empowered to think differently, experiment fearlessly, and innovate continuously. In today’s rapidly evolving landscape, having a talented workforce is more critical than ever.”

David Haigh, CEO of Brand Finance, said: “Middle Eastern telecom brands are increasingly overtaking their European and American counterparts as desirable places to work. This reflects the career opportunities and exciting technological developments created by consistent, high–quality investment in the Middle East.”

Leading the way in employer branding and talent development in UAE, the group scored highly across several considerations, including as a 'prestigious brand,’ an ‘inspiring vision,' ‘enjoyable and rewarding work,' and a ‘well–managed and governed company.’ e&’s achievement reflects the broader reputation of the UAE as a global talent hub and the preferred destination for people seeking to shape a prosperous future.

“At e&, we are committed to equipping our team with the skills necessary to navigate and thrive in the digital age. Our vision is not just to keep pace with change, but to lead it. We are building a resilient, forward–thinking workforce capable of driving our company and our community towards greater heights. Our strategy includes comprehensive training programs, partnerships with educational institutions, and an environment that rewards creativity and bold thinking. We are dedicated to creating opportunities for professional growth and supporting our team as they develop the technological skills and mindset essential for the future,” added Al Mansoori.

The inaugural “Employer Brand Index” report showcases the world’s top brands with global and regional league tables. The research–driven study is the first of its kind, measuring internal and external perceptions of employer brands from 16 countries. The Index is derived from responses from an anonymous survey of the public across various industries conducted via independent online panels.

The Brand Finance 2024 Employer Brand Index follows the release in January of the global brand rankings in which e& UAE was rated the strongest telecom brand globally (AAA rating) and the strongest brand in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) across all categories.

Brand Finance is the world’s leading brand valuation consultancy. For more than 25 years, it has been bridging the gap between marketing and finance by evaluating the strength of brands and quantifying their financial value to help organisations of all kinds make strategic decisions. Every year, Brand Finance conducts more than 5,000 brand valuations, supported by original market research, and publishes over 100 reports that rank brands across all sectors and countries.

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وفقاً لمؤشر براند فاينانس العالمي لأفضل جهات العمل 2024 “إي آند” أفضل جهة عمل في قطاع الاتصالات عالمياً

  • يدعم هذا الإنجاز الاستراتيجية الوطنية لدولة الإمارات لاستقطاب واستبقاء المواهب

لندن،, June 07, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — حقّقت “إي آند الإمارات” لقب أفضل جهة عمل في قطاع الاتصالات عالمياً، وفقاً لتقرير “براند فاينانس” الأول لأفضل جهات العمل في العالم للعام 2024، بينما حلّت مجموعة “إي آند” في المركز السادس عشر بين أفضل 20 جهة عمل عالمية في جميع القطاعات وفقاً لاستطلاعات أجرتها براند فاينانس في إفريقيا وآسيا وأوروبا والولايات المتحدة. وشملت الاستطلاعات عدة قطاعات منها الخدمات المالية والاتصالات والإعلام والتكنولوجيا (TMT)، والنفط والغاز والطاقة، والخدمات المهنية، وتجارة التجزئة، والسيارات، والسلع الاستهلاكية سريعة التداول (FMCG).

وتصدرت “إي آند” في ذات المؤشر عدد من التصنيفات، منها “العلامة التجارية المرموقة” و”الشركة ذات الرؤية الملهمة” و”أفضل مناخ للعمل وتقدير الموظفين” و”أفضل شركة من حيث الإدارة والحوكمة”.

وقال علي المنصوري، الرئيس التنفيذي للموارد البشرية في مجموعة “إي آند”: «يجسّد تصدرنا للتصنيف العالمي لأفضل جهات العمل في قطاع الاتصالات تفاني وشغف كوادر “إي آند” الذين يعدون أهم أصولها، كما يعكس في الوقت ذاته جهودنا الرامية إلى خلق بيئة عمل تتيح للموظفين الوصول إلى أقصى قدراتهم وإمكاناتهم، والتفكير بشكل مختلف، وخوض التجارب بلا خوف، والابتكار بشكلٍ مستمر. ويأتي هذا الإنجاز كعنصرٍ داعمٍ للاستراتيجية الوطنية لدولة الإمارات لاستقطاب واستبقاء المواهب، لترسيخ مكانة الدولة الإمارات كإحدى أفضل الدول في مجال تنافسية المواهب العالمية».

وأضاف المنصوري: «في عالمنا سريع التطور، أصبح وجود قوة عاملة موهوبة أكثر أهميةً من أي وقت مضى، وبحصولها على هذا التصنيف، تلتزم “إي آند” بمواصلة تطوير بيئة العمل نحو الأفضل وتعزيز ثقافة النمو والشمول والإبداع، وتزويد الموظفين بالمهارات اللازمة للازدهار في العصر الرقمي. إذ تتبنى “إي آند” رؤية لا تهدف إلى مواكبة التغيير فحسب، بل وقيادته عبر استراتيجية شاملة للموارد البشرية تتضمن برامج تدريبية شاملة، وشراكات مع كبرى المؤسسات التعليمية، وجهود مستمرة لخلق بيئة عمل تكافئ الإبداع والتفكير البناء».

من جهته، قال ديفيد هاي، الرئيس التنفيذي لمؤسسة “براند فاينانس”: «تشهد العلامات التجارية في قطاع الاتصالات في الشرق الأوسط تفوقاً متزايداً على نظيراتها الأوروبية والأمريكية باعتبارها وجهات مرغوبة للعمل؛ مما يعكس الفرص الوظيفية والتطورات التكنولوجية المذهلة التي تخلقها الاستثمارات المستمرة وعالية الجودة في الشرق الأوسط

وتعمل “إي آند” على توفير بيئة عمل إيجابية وداعمة لاستبقاء موظفيها الذين ينتمون لأكثر من 90 جنسية مختلفة. وبفضل ريادتها في الابتكار وتشجيع المواهب على الإبداع والابتكار، تعمل المجموعة على إعداد موظفيها للمستقبل عبر عدد من المبادرات لتحسين وصقل مهاراتهم، مثل برنامج خريجي الذكاء الاصطناعي وبرنامج تعزيز المهارات “CitzenX” وبرنامج إعداد القيادات، إلى جانب برنامج تطوير القيادة التنظيمية للمجموعة GOLD المخصص للقيادة العليا في المجموعة، ويتضمن خوض التحديات في الابتكارات وفرص التدريب الخارجي لدى عددٍ من أفضل الجامعات العالمية.

ويسلط التقرير الأول لمؤشر “براند فاينانس لأفضل جهات العمل في العالمالضوء على أفضل العلامات التجارية، كما يبرز ترتيبها على الصعيدين الإقليمي والعالمي. وتعد هذه الدراسة البحثية الأولى من نوعها التي تصدرها “براند فاينانس، إذ تعتمد على قياس التقييمات الخارجية لجهات العمل في 16 دولة. ويستند المؤشر إلى نتائج استطلاعات تم إجراؤها خلال استبيانات مستقلة في 16 سوقاً عالمياً.

ويأتي تصنيف “براند فاينانس لجهات العمل 2024” بعد إصدار تصنيفات العلامات التجارية العالمية، في يناير الماضي، والذي حصدت فيه “إي آند الإمارات” لقب أقوى علامة تجارية في قطاع الاتصالات حول العالم (بتصنيف AAA)، وأقوى علامة تجارية في الشرق الأوسط وأفريقيا في مختلف الفئات.

يُذكر أن “براند فاينانس” هي هيئة استشارية رائدة في مجال تقييم العلامات التجارية المستقلَّة على مستوى العالم، وتعمل الهيئة على سد الفجوة بين التسويق والتمويل منذ أكثر من 25 عامًا، وتُجري تقييمًا دوريًّا لقوة العلامات التجارية وتحدِّد قيمتها المالية؛ لمساعدة المؤسسات بجميع أنواعها على اتخاذ قرارات استراتيجية. وتقوم الهيئة بإجراء تقييم سنوي لأكثر من 5000 علامة تجارية، وتنشر أكثر من 100 تقرير لتصنيف العلامات التجارية في جميع القطاعات والدول.

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Are We Equipping Women or Merely Filling the Gender Gap?

Alina Kadhila, a hydrogeologist at Namibia Water Corporation, operating a mud rotary drilling rig. Credit: Alina Kadhila

Alina Kadhila, a hydrogeologist at Namibia Water Corporation, operating a mud rotary drilling rig. Credit: Alina Kadhila

By Ashley Malepe
PRETORIA, South Africa, Jun 7 2024 – In the expansive field of groundwater resource management, a pressing question often emerges: are we truly equipping women with the necessary tools and opportunities to thrive, or are we simply attempting to fill in the gender gap without tackling the root causes?

Despite significant progress in gender equality across various sectors, including science and technology, the underrepresentation of women in groundwater-related fields remains alarmingly high.

Recent statistics reveal that women make up only 22% of the global groundwater workforce, a stark indication of a persistent gender gap that demands immediate attention. This gap suggests that while there may be efforts to increase women’s representation, there may still be systemic challenges and barriers that hinder true equity and inclusion in the field.

While progress has been made in bridging the gender gap in recent years, the statistics present a stark reality of the hurdles that women still encounter in entering and thriving in groundwater-related professions.

Despite significant progress in gender equality across various sectors, including science and technology, the underrepresentation of women in groundwater-related fields remains alarmingly high. Recent statistics reveal that women make up only 22% of the global groundwater workforce, a stark indication of a persistent gender gap that demands immediate attention

Despite their equal capabilities and potential to contribute to the field, systemic barriers such as limited opportunities for career growth, and pervasive gender biases persist, impeding their full participation. In addition to these structural hurdles, women in groundwater often face cultural norms and stereotypes that reinforce the idea of male dominance in scientific and technical fields.

For instance, women have been believed to be suited for lighter duties, while more physically demanding duties, such as drilling or engineering work, are often associated with men.

Even when women are hired in these fields, they encounter resistance in being acknowledged and respected for their authority and expertise. In some cases, individuals may refuse to follow directives issued by women, viewing them as less authoritative solely because of their gender. This resistance not only undermines women’s contributions but also perpetuates the belief that women have no place in positions of leadership or decision-making.

Reflecting on her experiences, Alina Kadhila, a hydrogeologist at Namibia Water Corporation, notes, “While progress has been made in recognizing the importance of gender diversity, there’s still a long way to go.” Societal norms and cultural beliefs greatly shadow efforts to promote gender equality.

Entrenched stereotypes perpetuate the notion that certain professions are inherently male domains, “To address these challenges truly,” she asserts, “we need to challenge stereotypes, dismantle systemic biases, and create pathways for women to thrive. Alina emphasizes.”

Phera Ramoeli, Executive Secretary at the Permanent Okavango River Basin Water Commission (OKACOM), echoes Kadhila’s sentiments, emphasizing the need for an integrated approach to gender equality and equity.

“Gender equality is not just about promoting the interests of one gender over another,” he emphasizes. “It’s about creating a level playing field where everyone has equal opportunities to succeed.” Ramoeli advocates for empowering both a girl and boy child, nurturing a culture of inclusivity that transcends traditional gender norms.

Furthermore, Ramoeli highlights the importance of recognizing diversity’s inherent value to the groundwater sector. “Diverse perspectives foster innovation and drive progress,” he asserts.

By embracing gender diversity, organizations can tap into a broader talent pool, resulting in more creative problem-solving and sustainable solutions to complex challenges. Encouragingly, as awareness grows regarding the benefits of diversity, there is a growing momentum towards fostering inclusive environments where all individuals, regardless of gender, can thrive.

Addressing the challenge of societal norms and cultural beliefs that perpetuate gender disparities requires a paradigm shift and multifaceted strategies. In the groundwater field, tackling the challenges rooted in societal norms and cultural beliefs demands a targeted approach.

It begins with reshaping perceptions from the ground up. Implementing gender-sensitive educational programs within hydrogeology and related disciplines can debunk stereotypes and instil values of inclusivity early on. Integrating these programs into academic curricula will pave the way for a future generation of hydrogeologists who understand and champion gender equality.

Within the professional sphere, initiatives aimed at creating inclusive environments are paramount. Groundwater organizations must adopt policies that accommodate the diverse needs of their workforce, particularly women.

Flexible work arrangements tailored to the demands of fieldwork and family responsibilities can remove barriers to entry and retention. Mentorship programs that pair women with experienced professionals offer guidance and support, nurturing talent and fostering career advancement.

Equally essential is ensuring equitable opportunities for pay and progression, underlining the value of every individual’s contribution irrespective of gender. By cultivating a culture of inclusivity and support, groundwater institutions can heighten the collective expertise of all professionals, driving innovation and progress in the field.

The journey toward true equity involves more than just providing access; it requires dismantling systemic barriers and fostering an environment where every individual, regardless of gender, can thrive. It demands efforts to challenge ingrained biases, reshape societal norms, and advocate for inclusive policies and practices.

As we navigate this path, it becomes clear that actual progress lies not in isolated initiatives but in a holistic, systemic change. It entails equipping women with the tools, resources, and opportunities they need to excel while simultaneously addressing the underlying structures perpetuating gender disparities. It requires a commitment to fostering an inclusive culture that values diversity and empowers individuals to reach their full potential.

Ultimately, the goal of gender inclusivity is not simply to bridge the gender gap but to create a professional ecosystem where gender is no longer a factor that impedes anyone’s ability to succeed.

It is crucial to proactively address gender biases, promote mentorship and networking opportunities, and ensure that contributions from women are recognized and valued equally. Only then we can honestly say that we are not just filling the gender gap but actively equipping women, forging a future where equality and equity is not just a goal but a lived reality.


Ashley Malepe is Communication Intern at the SADC-Groundwater Management Institute


تخريج الدفعة الأولى من طلاب الدكتوراه من جامعة محمد بن زايد للذكاء الاصطناعي المُصنفة من بين أفضل 20 جامعة في مجالها

أبوظبي، الإمارات العربية المتحدة, June 07, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — شهد سمو الشيخ خالد بن محمد بن زايد آل نهيان، ولي عهد أبوظبي رئيس المجلس التنفيذي لإمارة أبوظبي، يوم  6 يونيو الجاري، حفل تخريج دفعة عام 2024 من جامعة محمد بن زايد للذكاء الاصطناعي، وهي الدفعة الثالثة والأكبر منذ تأسيس الجامعة. وضمت الدفعة 101 خريج وخريجة من 22 دولة حصلوا على شهادتي الدكتوراه والماجستير في الرؤية الحاسوبية وتعلّم الآلة ومعالجة اللغات الطبيعية.

وقد أقيم الحفل في أبوظبي بحضور معالي الدكتور سلطان بن أحمد الجابر، وزير الصناعة والتكنولوجيا المتقدمة ورئيس مجلس أمناء جامعة محمد بن زايد للذكاء الاصطناعي، وكل من السيد/ (الاسم)، والسيد/ (الاسم) والسيد/ (الاسم) والسيد/ (الاسم)، ونخبة من كبار الشخصيات.

وخلال كلمته، قال معالي الدكتور سلطان بن أحمد الجابر: لقد شجعت السياسات الحكومية في الدولة على تعزيز الذكاء الاصطناعي حتى قبل أن تدرك العديد من الدول الأخرى الإمكانات التي يتمتع بها. إذ ساهمت هذه السياسات في نجاح شركات مثل “جي 42”، ونماذج لغوية كبيرة مثل “فالكون”. بالتالي، فإن دولة الإمارات تعمل على إنشاء منظومة عالمية المستوى للمواهب وريادة الأعمال في مجال الذكاء الاصطناعي، إذ تستقطب الاستثمارات الهائلة من الشركات الرائدة في مجال التكنولوجيا، مثل مايكروسوفت، لتعزز مكانتها كمركز للابتكار في مجال الذكاء الاصطناعي وتطبيقاته.

وأكمل معالي الدكتور كلمته عبر تسليط الضوء على نمو الذكاء الاصطناعي الذي يُعتبر أحد الاتجاهات الثلاثة الكبرى التي تشكّل معالم المستقبل، إلى جانب الوتيرة السريعة لتحوّل الطاقة، وصعود الأسواق الناشئة في الجنوب العالمي، فتوجه إلى الخريجين قائلاً: “أنتم تتمتعون بمهارات تتيح لكم التوصل إلى حلول لمجموعة من المشاكل الملحّة التي يواجهها العالم. في الواقع، لنتمكن من تحقيق الأهداف الطموحة لاتفاق الإمارات التاريخي الذي تم التوصل إليه خلال مؤتمر كوب 28 الذي عُقد في ديسمبر 2023 في دبي، لابد من الاعتماد على الذكاء الاصطناعي.”

الجدير بالذكر أن الحفل شمل تخريج الدفعة الأولى من طلاب الدكتوراه في تعلّم الآلة، إلى جانب طلاب الماجستير الذين تخصص 55 منهم في تعلّم الآلة، و28 في الرؤية الحاسوبية، و12 في معالجة اللغات الطبيعية. وضمت الدفعة خريجين من 22 جنسية شملت كندا، والمملكة المتحدة، وفرنسا، والهند، ومصر، وباكستان، وسريلانكا.

من جهته، قال البروفيسور إريك زينغ، رئيس جامعة محمد بن زايد للذكاء الاصطناعي والبروفيسور الجامعي، في كلمته: “خريجو جامعة محمد بن زايد للذكاء الاصطناعي لعام 2024 هم رواد المستقبل في مجالات التكنولوجيا والابتكار والإبداع، وهم مؤهلون لتحمل المسؤولية الملقاة على عاتقهم وإحداث تحولات جذرية في العالم. فهم ينطلقون اليوم في مسيرتهم بعد أن اكتسبوا المعرفة والمهارات اللازمة، وأدركوا أهمية الفرصة المتاحة أمامهم، ألا وهي فرصة تشكيل معالم مستقبلٍ يكون فيه الذكاء الاصطناعي في خدمة الإنسانية، في إطار أسمى المعايير الأخلاقية. كما أنهم على أتم الاستعداد لإيجاد حلول لأكبر التحديات التي تواجه عالمنا اليوم.

وتجدر الإشارة إلى أن جامعة محمد بن زايد للذكاء الاصطناعي أصبحت، في غضون خمس سنوات فقط منذ تأسيسها، من بين أفضل 100 جامعة في العالم في مجال علوم الحاسوب، كما صُنِّفت ضمن أفضل 20 جامعة متخصصة في مجالات الذكاء الاصطناعي، والرؤية الحاسوبية، وتعلّم الآلة، ومعالجة اللغات الطبيعية، وعلم الروبوتات، على مستوى العالم وفق تصنيفات (CSRankings).

للاستعلامات الصحفية، يرجى التواصل مع:
أيمي روجرز، خبيرة أولى في قسم التواصل في جامعة محمد بن زايد للذكاء الاصطناعي

روجر فيلد/آية حسن
واليس للعلاقات العامة

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Top 20 AI university graduates first Ph.D. cohort

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, June 07, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — His Highness Sheikh Khaled bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council, attended the Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence’s (MBZUAI) 2024 commencement ceremony on June 6, celebrating 101 graduates from 22 countries, receiving post–graduate degrees in key AI fields including computer vision (CV), machine learning (ML), and natural language processing (NLP).

The event was also attended by His Excellency Dr. Sultan bin Ahmed Al Jaber, UAE Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and Founding Chairman of the Board of Trustees of MBZUAI, and other dignitaries.

“Before many other countries recognized its potential, government–led policies encouraged the promotion of AI in the UAE,” Dr. Al Jaber said. “They nurtured the success of companies like G42 and large language models like Falcon. As a result, this small country is creating a world class ecosystem for AI talent and entrepreneurship. We are attracting major investment from tech leaders such as Microsoft and emerging as a significant hub for AI innovation and application.”

Dr. Al Jaber noted that the growth of AI is one of three megatrends shaping the future, alongside the accelerating pace of the energy transition and the rise of emerging markets and Global South: “The Class of 2024’s growing expertise will hold the keys to unlocking solutions to some of the world's most pressing challenges. In fact, if we are to achieve the ambitious goals of the historic UAE Consensus agreed at COP28 in December in Dubai, AI must play a critical role.”

MBZUAI’s third and largest commencement celebrated the university’s first Ph.D. graduates in ML along with master’s graduates in ML (55), CV (28) and NLP (12) with students hailing from countries including UAE, Canada, United Kingdom, France, India, Vietnam, Pakistan, Ethiopia and Sri Lanka.

MBZUAI President and University Professor, Eric Xing, said: “MBZUAI’s Class of 2024 are the future leaders of technology, innovation, and creativity, they are equipped to accept the responsibility that comes with the stewardship of something so powerful and transformative. They depart us with the knowledge, skills, and a profound understanding of the opportunity before them – the chance to shape a future where AI serves humanity with compassion and unwavering ethical standards – they are ready to tackle the greatest challenges facing our world today.”

Five years since its inception, MBZUAI is now recognized as one of the world’s top 100 computer science universities and is ranked in the top 20 for its specializations in AI, CV, ML, NLP, and robotics (CSRankings).

To apply for admission, visit or contact For press inquiries, please contact:

Amy Rogers, MBZUAI’s Senior Communications Specialist 

Roger Field/Aya Hassan

A photo accompanying this announcement is available at–c10f–449c–85d5–dd39d3b960bd

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Blue Economy Must Benefit Fishing Communities in Global South, Says WorldFish Chief

Dr Essam Yassin Mohammed, Director General of WorldFish.

Dr Essam Yassin Mohammed, Director General of WorldFish.

By Neena Bhandari
SYDNEY, Jun 7 2024 – The Global South is crucial for ensuring aquatic food security to feed the growing world population. It is imperative that blue economy initiatives benefit fishing communities in developing and small island nations, which are facing disproportionate impacts of climate change, says Dr Essam Yassin Mohammed, Director General of WorldFish, an international non-profit research organization based in Penang, Malaysia.

“More than three billion people depend on aquatic foods as their main source of protein and micronutrients, and nearly 800 million people rely on fishing for their livelihood. The Global South produces a significant portion of the world’s aquatic food and 95 percent of the fishing workforce comes from these regions,” notes Mohammed, who is also CGIAR’s Senior Director of Aquatic Food Systems.

Growing up in Eritrea’s capital, Asmara, situated on a highland plateau 2325 meters above sea level, Mohammed learned the value of food early in life. The country had recently gained independence from Ethiopia in 1991, and young children like him were motivated to contribute to the nation’s food security.

“Eritrea, a coastal country by the Red Sea, had abundant fish and marine resources. We believed these resources would be critical in making the country food secure so some of us decided to study marine biology and fishery science,” he adds.

While working for Eritrea’s Ministry of Fisheries, he was tasked with enhancing fish consumption amongst the Highlanders, who traditionally had no connection with the sea. He then realized that driving behavioral change in people’s diets, while considering cultural food preferences, is far more complex. To meet this challenging task and to better understand the interaction between humans and the ecosystem, he decided to train as a development economist.

“Integrating fisheries science with economics has profoundly shifted my viewpoint and deepened my comprehension of the intricate interplay within socio-ecological systems. This has defined my career, and I have never looked back,”  says Mohammed, who is committed to improving fisheries and aquaculture amidst the challenges of climate change, habitat degradation, and aquatic animal diseases.

Shifting ocean currents and warming waters are having a significant impact on fish stocks and coastal infrastructure, inundating lands and altering marine ecosystems, which is affecting the productivity of some fish species and forcing them to migrate to more optimal environments.

He says, “While large-scale commercial fishing vessels can still pursue and catch these fish say 20 km away, it is technically and financially prohibitive for small-scale operators with small boats to do so. This is where climate change becomes a social justice issue, impacting coastal communities’ access to food and causing loss of livelihoods and cultural identity.”

“At WorldFish, we are going beyond helping communities become climate resilient by creating viable livelihood opportunities, which include development of climate-resilient fish strains, adoption of sustainable aquaculture practices and assisting governments strengthen their fisheries policies, for fishing and fish farming-dependent communities to thrive under a changing climate,” he adds.

WorldFish research is helping prevent aquatic animal diseases, which cause an estimated global annual loss of over USD 6 billion, by ensuring that the food being produced is safe for human consumption.

“One of the critical aspects of fish farming is that once fish are exposed to a disease, the entire stock can perish.

We are democratizing fish health diagnosis with Lab in a Backpack initiative. It’s a compact digital tool that enables fish farmers to quickly diagnose the disease, contact service providers for treatment advice, and also learn how to deal with anti-microbial-resistant  diseases,” he explains.

The initiative is helping fish farmers build their capacity for the best biosecurity management practices by integrating the One Health approach, which prioritizes the health of fish, the environment, and people.

Besides diseases, plastic pollution in the ocean poses a significant threat to marine life and ecosystems. In November 2024, governments will meet for the final round of UN negotiations for a global treaty to end plastic pollution.

Mohammed says, “Once plastics enter the ocean, they are there to stay indefinitely. We have seen many instances of plastics harming marine life—straws stuck in the nostrils of turtles or dolphins—and now traces of microplastics have been found in fish tissues. It means those microplastics are being ingested by human beings, impacting their health too.”

“We need a legally binding treaty to mitigate plastic pollution. There is a global consensus now, but this needs to be followed by action on minimizing and eliminating plastic use and establishing a robust waste management system,” he adds.

Mohammed warns that many developed countries are prioritizing short-term economic gains at the cost of long-term sustainability and conservation of the global marine ecosystem. “We need to perceive the natural capital—marine life, oceans, and water bodies as economic infrastructure; and reinvest in them to ensure they continue to provide for us in the future,” he asserts.

According to the World Bank, blue economy is the “sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of the ocean ecosystem.”

Currently, investments in blue economy initiatives are not percolating down to developing countries. WorldFish research reveals that from 2017 to 2021, USD 5.9 billion allocated to blue economy initiatives was concentrated mainly in Europe and Central Asia, and 35 percent of examined projects had potential risks for creating or exacerbating social inequities.

“Blue economy investments must benefit developing countries and small island nations. Those who are farthest behind must be able to benefit the most,” Mohammed tells IPS.

The total fisheries and aquaculture production (excluding algae) is expected to reach over 200 million metric tons in 2030, according to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation.

“Small-scale operators in the Global South supply up to 50 percent of aquatic food consumed globally. Ensuring that investments in the blue economy benefit these communities is essential for achieving shared prosperity and addressing climate change impacts on food security,” says Mohammed.

IPS UN Bureau Report


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IPS UN Bureau, IPS UN Bureau Report, Blue Economy, World Oceans Day 2024

India’s Election: Cracks Start to Show in Authoritarian Rule

Credit: Himanshu Sharma/picture alliance via Getty Images

By Andrew Firmin
LONDON, Jun 7 2024 – India’s Hindu nationalist strongman Narendra Modi has won his third prime ministerial term. But the result of the country’s April-to-June election fell short of the sweeping triumph that seemed within his grasp.

Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has shed seats compared to the 2019 election, losing its parliamentary majority. Modi remains prime minister thanks to coalition partners. It’s a long way from the 400-seat supermajority Modi proclaimed he wanted – which would have given him power to rewrite the constitution.

The outcome may be that Modi faces more checks on his power. If so, that can only be good news for those he’s consistently attacked – including civil society and India’s Muslim minority.

Modi’s crackdown

Under Modi, in power since 2014, civic space conditions have deteriorated. India’s election was accompanied by the usual headlines about the country being the world’s largest democracy. But India’s democracy has long been underpinned by an active, vibrant and diverse civil society. Modi has sought to constrain this civic energy, seeing it as a hindrance to his highly centralised and personalised rule.

Modi’s government has repeatedly used repressive laws, including the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, to harass, intimidate and detain activists and journalists on fabricated charges. Law enforcement agencies have raided numerous civil society organisations and media companies. In October 2023, for example, police raided the homes of around 40 staff members of the NewsClick portal and detained its editor.

This was one of many attacks on media freedoms. Independent journalists routinely face harassment, intimidation, threats, violence, arrests and prosecution. Last year, the government banned a BBC documentary on Modi, followed by tax investigation raids on the corporation’s Indian offices.

The authorities have also used the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act to block access to international funding for civil society organisations, targeting those critical of their attacks on human rights. In 2020, the government amended the law to make it even stricter, extending powers to freeze bank accounts. Since the start of 2022, the authorities have cancelled registrations of almost 6,000 organisations.

The authorities have also unleashed violence against protesters. In 2019, citizenship legislation created a way for undocumented migrants to become Indian citizens – but only if they weren’t Muslim. Despite India’s secular constitution, the law introduced religious criteria into the determination of citizenship. The passage of this discriminatory law brought tens of thousands to the streets. Security forces responded with beatings, teargas and arrests, accompanied by internet shutdowns.

It was the same when farmers protested in 2020 and 2021, believing new farming laws would undermine their ability to make a living. The farmers ultimately triumphed, with Modi repealing the unpopular laws. But several farmers died as a result of the authorities’ heavy-handed response, including when a minister’s car ploughed into a crowd of protesters. Once again, the authorities shut down internet and mobile services, and police used batons and teargas and arrested many protesters.

As the new citizenship law made clear, those who have least access to rights are the ones most under attack. Muslims are the BJP’s favourite target, since it seeks to recast the country as an explicitly Hindu nation. The party’s politicians have consistently stoked anti-Muslim hatred, including over the wearing of hijabs, interfaith marriage and the protection of cows – a revered animal in Hinduism.

Modi has been accused of spreading anti-Muslim hate speech and conspiracy theories, including on the campaign trail. During the election, he called Muslims ‘infiltrators’ and alluded to India’s version of a narrative often advanced by far-right parties – that a minority population is out to replace the majority through a higher birthrate and the conversion of partners.

The BJP’s populist rhetoric has encouraged hatred and violence. In 2020, Delhi saw its worst riots in decades, sparked by violence at a protest against the citizenship law. Groups of Hindus and Muslims fought each other and 53 people were killed, most of them Muslims.

Top-down institutional violence followed the unilateral revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special autonomous status in 2019. The removal of constitutional protections for this Muslim-majority region was accompanied by a military occupation, curfew, public meeting ban, movement restrictions and one of the world’s longest-ever internet shutdowns. Indian government authorities have detained thousands of Kashmiri activists and criminalised countless journalists.

Disinformation thrives

Ahead of the election, the state detained key opposition politicians such as Delhi’s Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and froze opposition bank accounts, including of the main opposition party, Congress. Almost all politicians investigated by the government’s Enforcement Directorate are from the opposition.

Indian elections always take several weeks, given the huge logistical challenge of allowing up to 969 million people to vote. But this one, spread over 82 days, was unusually long. This allowed Modi to travel the country and make as many appearances as possible, representing a campaign that put his personality front and centre.

Disinformation was rife in the campaign. BJP politicians spread claims that Muslims were engaged in what they called a ‘vote jihad’ against Hindus, accompanied by accusations that the opposition would favour Muslims. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was a particular target, with false allegations of links to China and Pakistan and doctored videos in circulation.

But despite the many challenges, the opposition coalition performed better than expected. The result suggests at least some are tired of the Modi personality cult and politics of polarisation. And for all the BJP’s attempts to emphasise economic success, many voters don’t feel better off. What matters to them are rising prices and unemployment, and they judged the incumbent accordingly.

It’s to be hoped the result leads to a change in style, with less divisive rhetoric and more emphasis on compromise and consensus building. That may be a tall order, but the opposition might now be better able to play its proper accountability role. Modi has lost his sheen of invincibility. For civil society, this could open up opportunities to push back and urge the government to stop its onslaught.

Andrew Firmin is CIVICUS Editor-in-Chief, co-director and writer for CIVICUS Lens and co-author of the State of Civil Society Report.


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Youth Speak Out Against Big Tobacco

By Rajika Mahajan
BANGKOK, Jun 7 2024 – Each year, millions of children worldwide fall prey to the targeted tactics of the tobacco industry in its attempts to lure new customers. This year’s World No Tobacco Day (May 31), aptly themed “Protecting children from tobacco industry interference”, saw global youth unite to confront the pervasive influence of Big Tobacco.

The Global Youth Voices (GYV) movement, convened by the Global Center for Good Governance in Tobacco Control (GGTC), has become a powerful front to hold the tobacco industry accountable and safeguard the well-being of future generations.

The addictive nature of nicotine, a key ingredient in tobacco products, is largely unknown to many. Nicotine is as addictive as cocaine or heroin, manipulating nerve cells to release more dopamine, which creates a feeling of ‘high’. The young brain creates more receptors to handle the anticipated nicotine, which leads teens to needing more nicotine to get the same high.

This addiction is particularly potent in young brains, which continue to develop until about age 25, making teens more susceptible to addiction. Among youth, smoking causes faster heart rates, shortness of breath, increased risk of lung cancers, reduced lung function, limitations on performance and endurance , and other health issues. ,

Moreover, emerging evidence shows that Electronic Nicotine Delivery System (ENDS) or e-cigarettes, launched by the industry as alternate tobacco products are harmful and may act as a gateway to conventional smoking among young people or the renormalization of smoking in society.

At a momentous summit hosted by GYV, the youth adopted a Declaration demanding comprehensive measures to address the tobacco industry’s exploitation of young people.. They called for accountability from the tobacco industry for luring young people into addiction and inflicting harm on health and the environment. They urged governments, educational institutions, international organizations, and the media to combat the industry’s insidious influence.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has thrown its weight behind the role of young people in combating the tobacco and nicotine epidemic and, underscores the pivotal role of youth as a force of change and a key element in shaping a tobacco-free future. This acknowledgement of the energy, passion, and innovation that young voices bring to the table is instrumental in galvanizing a global movement against Big Tobacco.

The tobacco industry has long manipulated and ensnared youth into lifelong addiction through flavored tobacco products and targeted marketing. According to WHO, about 37 million children (13-15 years) globally use tobacco products, including e-cigarettes. Young e-cigarette users are two to four times more likely to transition to traditional cigarettes, underlining the urgency of the situation as it threatens to roll-back any achievement in controlling youth smoking.

Beyond addicting youth, the tobacco industry inflicts significant environmental harm, costing an estimated US$26 billion annually due to plastics in cigarette butts and packaging. Cigarette butt pollution has become a pervasive global issue, exacerbating environmental degradation for future generations.

The urgency of addressing the tobacco industry’s profound threat is indisputable. Dr. Mary Assunta, Head of Research and Advocacy at GGTC, highlights the need to dismantle the industry’s deceptive web to protect children, “The tobacco industry is a diabolical predator preying on children, despite its claims of not targeting them. Telling children not to smoke or vape is simply not enough. We must act to prevent the industry from trapping our youth.”

In response to these alarming trends, GGTC has empowered youth to counter the tobacco industry’s ploys. Its new advocacy toolkit, “Protecting youth from tobacco industry interference” offers easy–to-execute strategies and guidance to tobacco control advocates.

To harness the creativity of youth to expose the deceptive tactics of the tobacco industry, a global media competition, the ‘Social Reels Challenge,’ a collaboration with WHO, provides a platform for youth to voice their concerns..

With millions of children worldwide falling into nicotine addiction trap, it is imperative to act decisively and stop the exploitative actions of the tobacco industry. The voices of youth must be heard, their stories shared, and their calls to action heeded as we work towards a future free from the grip of Big Tobacco.

The collective efforts of global youth supported by international organizations and the public health community are spearheading this vital movement to safeguard the health and well-being of present and future generations. Together, we can pave the way for a healthier, tobacco-free future.

Rajika Mahajan is the Communications Officer at GGTC.

IPS UN Bureau


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Hitachi Energy to invest additional $4.5 billion by 2027 to accelerate the clean energy transition

Zurich, Switzerland, June 07, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Hitachi Energy will invest an additional $4.5 billion in manufacturing, engineering, digital, R&D and partnerships by 2027, doubling the investments done in the last three years. This complements the recently announced $1.5 billion investment in April this year to ramp up global transformer production.

These investments will enable the company to meet customers' commitments and market demand, increasing its global R&D, engineering and manufacturing capacity of transformers, high–voltage direct current (HVDC) and high–voltage products. It will also support the deployment of power electronics–based solutions, grid automation and software solutions, and services in line with the Hitachi Energy 2030 Plan.  Investments will also go into partnerships, supply chain, digitalization and automation, which are enablers to support capacity expansion and increase speed to market.

Electrification is pivotal to achieving Net–Zero goals and the energy transition requires innovative software solutions and services and a significant increase in the production of critical technologies for an expanded electricity grid. Integrating more renewable energy sources like solar and wind, alongside meeting the electrification demands of transport, buildings, industry, and other sectors, necessitates a secure and flexible grid infrastructure. According to IEA, the increased usage of Gen AI and the ever–growing quantity of digital data requires an expansion of data centers and the global electricity demand from data centers and AI could double towards 2026.

The company also announced today that it is investing around $330 million to expand and modernize its flagship factory in Ludvika and a new campus in Vasteras, Sweden, across all product portfolios. The Ludvika factory, with over 120 years of innovation, manufactures transformers, high–voltage products and HVDC systems, and will expand by more than 30,000 square meters. This will especially enable new manufacturing capacity of large transformers to meet the deliveries of key HVDC projects. A new campus in Vasteras will accommodate 1,800 employees, including an R&D center and a state–of–the–art production facility for grid automation. The workforce in Sweden will additionally grow by 2,000 to support the accelerating energy transition.

According to the IEA Report in October 2023: The recent clean energy progress we have seen in many countries is unprecedented and cause for optimism, but it could be put in jeopardy if governments and businesses do not come together to ensure the world’s electricity grids are ready for the new global energy economy that is rapidly emerging. This report shows what’s at stake and needs to be done. We must invest in grids today or face gridlock tomorrow.

“Electricity will be the backbone of the entire energy system and the change is happening faster than many thought possible. New business models, harmonization of designs, along with partnerships are key drivers for the increase in the pace of change,” said Claudio Facchin, CEO, Hitachi Energy. “The world is in a race to transform energy systems. Technology is not the bottleneck and electrification is creating unprecedented demand for power grids systems combined with digital solutions and services. As the market leader, we are responding with an unprecedented level of investment, people and innovation to meet that demand.”

Just in the last month, key HVDC projects were announced that are urgently needed to meet rapidly growing market demand. Underpinned by new scalable business models pioneered by Hitachi Energy, framework agreements were signed with RTE in France, RWE in Germany, Marinus Link in Australia, in addition to a service contract with Pattern Energy in the US. The company also announced the Sa.Co.I.3 interconnection between Italy and France, another industry–leading multi–terminal solution. 

Governments, industries, and consumers are accelerating the switch from fossil energy to electricity to power transport, building heating and cooling, and industrial processes. Decision–makers and operators require real–time grid data for insights and collaboration. Digitally enabled transformers, switchgear, substations, converter stations, Lumada Asset Performance Management and digital twin data platforms like IdentiQ™ are critical for a more sustainable, flexible, and secure energy system. The company is also leveraging synergies between Hitachi Energy and Hitachi Digital to provide the unique position across IT, OT, product and service capabilities to support our customers throughout the entire lifecycle.

– End –

About Hitachi Energy 
Hitachi Energy is a global technology leader that is advancing a sustainable energy future for all. We are advancing the world’s energy system to be more sustainable, flexible and secure and we collaborate with customers and partners to enable a sustainable energy future – for today’s generations and those to come. Hitachi Energy has a proven track record and unparalleled installed base in more than 140 countries, serving customers in utility, industry, transportation, data centers and infrastructure sectors. With innovative technologies and services including the integration of more than 150 gigawatts of HVDC links into the power system, we help make the energy value chain more efficient, making electricity more accessible to all. Together with stakeholders across sectors and geographies, we enable the digital transformation required to accelerate the energy transition towards a carbon–neutral future. Headquartered in Switzerland, we employ around 45,000 people in 90 countries and generate business volumes of around $13 billion USD.

About Hitachi, Ltd.
Hitachi drives Social Innovation Business, creating a sustainable society through the use of data and technology. We solve customers' and society's challenges with Lumada solutions leveraging IT, OT (Operational Technology) and products. Hitachi operates under the 3 business sectors of “Digital Systems & Services” – supporting our customers’ digital transformation; “Green Energy & Mobility” – contributing to a decarbonized society through energy and railway systems, and “Connective Industries” – connecting products through digital technology to provide solutions in various industries. Driven by Digital, Green, and Innovation, we aim for growth through co–creation with our customers. The company’s revenues as 3 sectors for fiscal year 2023 (ended March 31, 2024) totaled 8,564.3 billion yen, with 573 consolidated subsidiaries and approximately 270,000 employees worldwide. For more information on Hitachi, please visit the company's website at


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