x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Space exploration

25.07.09 to 31.07.09 Abu Dhabi announced it could become the launch pad for Virgin Galactic's tourist flights, the price of a parking place on busy streets was set at Dh3 an hour, and Adrian Hayes completed his epic 67-day trek.

An Iraqi Kurd hangs a carpet with the image of the Kurdish regional president Massud Barzani, who is also the leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, which was been in power for the last 20 years. 
This week's vote saw the Change Group win 25 seats in the legislature, creating a serious opposition for the first time.
An Iraqi Kurd hangs a carpet with the image of the Kurdish regional president Massud Barzani, who is also the leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, which was been in power for the last 20 years. This week's vote saw the Change Group win 25 seats in the legislature, creating a serious opposition for the first time.

Nicolas Sarkozy, the president of France, was taken to hospital after collapsing while jogging. Doctors said the cause was a combination of heat and overwork and told Mr Sarkozy, 54, to rest. The president collapsed while jogging in the grounds of Versailles and several official engagements were cancelled, including a visit to Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy.

The British Museum in London will offer its expertise to create the new museum dedicated to Sheikh Zayed, the founding president of the UAE, on Saadiyat Island. The British Museum, one of the most important in the world, will advise on construction, training and education, and will help to establish a governing body. Due to open in 2013, the Zayed National Museum will have five permanent galleries, each dedicated to a value attributed to the late President. Mubarak al Muhairi, the director of the Tourism and Development Investment Company, said the museum would be "a place of inspiration and pride for Emiratis".

The explorer Adrian Hayes completed his epic 67-day trek across the Greenland icecap. The three-man team arrived at the northern coast after a journey of 4,262km that saw them gather scientific data to measure the extent of global warming. Their unsupported trip means they are the first men in history to vertically cross Greenland. Hayes, who is based in Dubai, used kites to pull his equipment over the snow. He expects to return to the UAE before the end of this month.

Michael Jackson's hair is to be turned into diamonds by a US company. LifeGem claimed to have obtained a lock from the singer which he lost during the filming of a Pepsi commercial in 1984, when his hair caught fire. The Chicago-based company will subject the hair to massive pressure to transform the carbon content into diamonds. According to Dean Vanden Biesen, the founder of LifeGem: "This will be a limited collection and we anticipate great interest."

The creator of Bruno has angered a group of Palestinian insurgents after he included them in his new film. The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades issued a statement saying it was "very upset" and would "respond in a suitable way". Sasha Baron Cohen, the British comedian, interviewed Abu Aita, the alleged leader of the group, in the guise of Bruno, a flamboyant interviewer for the fictional Austrian Gay TV. He begs the group to kidnap him, saying: "I want to be famous. I want the best guys in the business to kidnap me. Al Qa'eda is so 2001."

Abu Dhabi could become the launch pad for commercial space flights after a partnership was announced with Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic project. A Government-owned investment company will take a 32 per cent stake, valued at Dh1 billion (US$280 million), in the company, with plans for a space port in the emirate. Around 300 people have already paid a deposit to fly with Virgin Galactic, which hopes to launch its first $200,000 flights from New Mexico in two years' time.

A bank robbery in Baghdad by suspected insurgents left eight security guards dead. The gang blasted open the vault at the state-owned Rafidain bank in the Karrada district of the city and escaped with around 5.6 billion Iraqi dinars ($7 million) that had been deposited to pay police salaries. The dead guards were later found bound and shot in two basement rooms. Although violence in Iraq has dropped to its lowest level since 2003, insurgents are responsible for a growing number of violent robberies to fund their activities. Another attack on a bureau de change last week left four dead and 12 wounded.

The first ever wedge of "space cheese" returned to Earth, still in one piece. The cheddar was lifted 30km into the Earth's atmosphere by a high altitude weather balloon, in a flight organised to commemorate the first Moon landing. The cheese landed 120km away from the launch pad in a garden in the West Country region of England. The owner handed the cheese over to police, who returned it to the ground crew, a group of local cheesemakers. Dom Lane, of the Shepton Mallet West Country Farmhouse Cheesemakers group, said, "I may try a bit to see if it has matured at high altitude."

Opposition groups made significant gains in elections in the Kurdish areas of Iraq, ending 20 years of unchallenged rule by the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. The Change Group took 23 per cent of the vote, giving it 25 seats in the regional parliament, creating a serious opposition in the legislature for the first time. The ruling coalition, made up of leaders from the Barzani and Talabani clans, took 59 seats and retains power, but will now have to submit to public questioning. Previously there were too few opposition MPs to form a legal opposition, and the absence of public accountability had led to allegations of corruption.

The sight of low-flying fighter jets caused panic in Beirut until it was released they belonged to Lebanon's long-grounded air force. Several ancient Hawker Hunter aircraft, dating from the 1960s, took to the sky for the first time in 30 years to practise for a military parade, but without informing the media. Residents of the city are more used to aircraft from the Israeli air force, and briefly believed they were under attack, with tourists even rushing to their hotels to pack and head for the airport.

Four senior executives from the country's largest mortgage lender appeared in court charged with making Dh44 million in profits from illegal land deals. The four included the former chief executive of Tamweel, a 38-year-old Emirati man identified as AA. The case involves allegations that the men bought land from Tamweel at the price the company paid, and then sold it at a substantial profit. They deny the charges.

An elderly pilot nearly caused a major accident at New York's Kennedy Airport after he got lost and tried to land on one of the main runways. John Prendergast, 69, from Virginia, was trying to find a local airport on Long Island as he circled the airport, one of the busiest in the world. A jumbo jet was forced to abandon its landing, flying over the top of Mr Prendergast's plane, an experimental model he had built himself. A police helicopter eventually led him away from the airport, to land safely elsewhere.

Parking charges will be introduced in Abu Dhabi for the first time this October. Fees will start at Dh3 in main streets, at Dh2 elsewhere. Annual permits for residential areas will cost Dh800 for a first car and Dh1,200 for a second. The charges are an attempt to bring order to the chaotic state of parking in the capital, although the Department of Transport has yet to reveal how it will penalise offenders or issue residential permits in a city without a functioning street address system.

* The National