UAE clubs assert dominance in Master division of Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-jitsu Championship

ABU DHABI, The ongoing Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship delivered another spectacular day of action on Wednesday with elite-level performances from some of the top athletes in the game.

As the competitions for the Master division were held at the Jiu-Jitsu Arena in Zayed Sports City over the course of two days, the UAE’s Commando Group asserted its dominance and powered to the top spot.

Athletes over the age of 30 put up a remarkable effort in the blue, purple, brown and black belt classes on Day 5 and Day 6 of the nine-day jiu-jitsu carnival, proving that their experience in the sport is a component that shows out. After two days of intense action, the Commando Group took the top spot while A.F.N.T finished in second place, followed by Kazakhstan National Team in third place.

Today’s competitions were attended by Abdul Moneim Al Hashemi, Chairman of the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation, President of the Ju-Jitsu Asian Union, and Senior Vice President of the Jiu-Jitsu International Federation, Mohammed Salem Al Dhaheri, Vice Chairman of the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation, Rashed Lahej Al Mansoori, Director-General, General Administration of Customs – Abu Dhabi, Saeed Al Fazari, Executive Director for Support Services Sector, DCT Abu Dhabi, Matar Al Nuaimi, Director-General of the Abu Dhabi Public Health Centre and Fahad Ali Al Shamsi, Secretary General of the UAEJJF.

Fahad Ali Al Shamsi, Secretary-General of the UAEJJF, congratulated the athletes who took out remarkable performances in the Masters division.

“Six days into the launch of the championship, the Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship is winning accolades from various quarters from across the world. We are humbled by the appreciation we are receiving. It inspires us to continue our efforts to take the sport to greater heights,” he said.

Al Shamsi noted that it has been nearly impossible to spot vacant seats in the stands since the championship began and urged the fans to turn up in big numbers during the competitions for the Professionals division starting tomorrow.

Rashed Lahej Al Mansoori, Director-General, General Administration of Customs – Abu Dhabi, expressed his happiness with the professional competitive atmosphere he witnessed in the 14th edition of the Abu Dhabi Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship.

“We should appreciate everyone who contributed to the organisation of this prestigious competition. This is not a small feat; it shows the sound vision of the wise leadership of the UAE. Personally, I’m excited to be here and take part in presenting medals to winners of the Masters division,” he said.

“The Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship is an excellent place for individuals who are interested in sports, especially jiu-jitsu, to get to know one another and to mix cultures, traditions, and customs and serves as a platform for friendship and tolerance,” he added.

Saudi athlete Muhammad Al Yami, who travelled all the way from the US to compete in the ADWPJJC, won gold in the Men’s Blue Master 2 (62 kg) division. “The Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship was a chance I couldn’t pass up. Many of my family members and friends came to watch me fight and cheered me on. My gold medal achievement came as a happy surprise for them,” he said.

Cinthya De Paula Oliveira from Brazil, who competed for Icon Jiu-Jitsu Team – International club, captured gold in the blue belt Master 1 (70kg) division. She said has been looking forward to this moment.

“Honestly speaking, Brazilian athletes like the Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship. Everybody was counting on this championship. It’s wonderful that I was able to win the medal, but more than that, it’s a great event where we can reconnect with old friends and make new ones in the jiu-jitsu community,” she added.

Valmyr Neto from United Kingdom’s Checkmat International club, who scooped gold in men’s Black Master 2 (62kg) division, expressed happiness on grabbing the medal.

He said, “The UAE, especially Abu Dhabi, is the land of real opportunities. All you need to do is prepare, show courage, and perform. If you do these three, you will get the desired outcomes. The tournament is fantastic in every way, and I want to return the next year.”

Source: Emirates News Agency

Planning in the Age of Pandemics: Renewing Suburban Design

Covid-19 was not the first pandemic to force changes in how we live: Communicable diseases have transformed urban planning before.

The Black Death outbreak in 14th-century Europe saw narrow public squares transformed into larger public spaces better integrated with nature. The cholera outbreak in 19th-century London prompted improvements to water-management infrastructure. And during the Spanish flu, residents eschewed cramped public transport in favor of walking in uncrowded streets.

Many of the practices in architectural and urban design prevalent now evolved from similar measures taken throughout history to safeguard the health, hygiene, and comfort of city dwellers. Now, researchers from Khalifa University are turning their attention to suburbia.

The team comprised Dr. Khaled Alawadi, Associate Professor in the Department of Civil Infrastructure and Environmental Engineering, Asim Khanal, Research Assistant, and Abdallah Mouselly and Abrar Bashar Aletaywi, MSc students in the Sustainable Critical Infrastructure program. They present a scientific, evidence-based approach to physical planning and show that accessibility and walkability are crucial aspects for pandemic-proofing neighborhoods. Their findings, published in Sustainable Cities and Society, show suburbs can be redesigned for better pedestrian accessibility if the right combination of structure and design is achieved.

“We explored accessibility in the neighborhoods of Abu Dhabi and Dubai to draw tangible lessons for designing future neighborhoods to be more pandemic-resilient,” Dr. Alawadi said. “The undesirable prospect of lockdowns in the future due to other pandemics cannot be denied. During the pandemic, people experienced a greater need for open spaces and easily accessed outdoor areas.

“Cities have to learn how to balance the competing demands of social distancing, preserving the economy, and promoting people’s wellbeing. These demands reduced interest in densification and we argue that suburban design in the post-pandemic era should facilitate a balanced density level that is higher than the suburban norm but lower than that of traditional compact cities. Finding this balance is necessary to maintain the difficult balance between environmental concerns and human well-being.”

Despite the vast majority of the population continuing to reside in suburbs, retrofitting efforts to promote walkability and transit-oriented development are mostly limited to city centers. In GCC countries and the UAE in particular, suburbanization is the dominant development trend: suburbs occupy more than 50 percent of Abu Dhabi’s urbanized land and 40 percent of Dubai’s urban area.

“Many urban-planning scholars and practitioners have criticized suburbs and lamented the tendency of cities to expand outward from the old core,” Dr. Alawadi said. “In most cases, traditional city centers are known for their organic, compact and human-scale design. They are more sustainable: a compact design saves land resources, reduces the need for vehicles and thereby carbon emissions, improves walkability and promotes public health. In contrast, suburbs are spread-out, isolated patches of development where walking is uncommon and a private vehicle is necessary. The process of suburbanization continues and is shaping cities all around the world.”

Because suburbs are likely to continue to be the primary features of urban development, the KU research team argues that suburban design should be rethought, instead of vilified, discarded or ignored. Their work presents a more thorough and scientific approach to physical planning and integrates morphological mapping, urban network analysis, and forgotten urban-form elements such as alleys into designing future suburban areas. They focused on neighborhoods in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, examining the structural and physical layouts of both cities, which resemble neighborhood typologies common in Western cities.

“The urbanization and suburbanization trends, along with the resulting development of different neighborhood forms in the UAE, were imported from Western countries,” Dr. Alawadi said. “Both cities have a history of inviting and hiring consulting firms and foreign architects who were all trained in Western countries. The grids and fragmented layouts that comprise the diverse set of neighborhoods in Abu Dhabi and Dubai are the same applied in city planning around the world.”

The need to rethink suburban design stemmed from the need to confront climate change, long before the emergence of the novel coronavirus. Suburbs have been harshly criticized for their social, economic, and environmental impact, and in terms of physical planning ideals, one of the key criticisms is low pedestrian accessibility.

Detached, single-family housing — the primary form of the suburban landscape all over the world — has either been glorified as the icon of the American dream of vilified as a deplorable built environment, but the KU team argues suburbia should not be visualized as sprawling low-density settlements only.

“The potential to design suburbs in various forms and levels of density cannot be overlooked,” Dr. Alawadi said. “For example, new suburbs can be designed to feature interconnected street systems rather than fragmented and broken street networks. Accessibility plays a vital role in good urban form. Residents are more likely to walk or cycle when their local area is more accessible and the distance between origins and destinations is shorter.”

Accessibility and mobility go hand in hand: Mobility can be defined simply as how far you can go in a given amount of time, whereas accessibility is how easily one can get there. Research shows that, at neighborhood scale, accessibility has a significant influence on urban living, spatial equity, public health, and walkability.

The Multiple Centrality Assessment is a tool used to both visually and mathematically understand accessibility in different neighborhood shapes and structures. It computes accessibility at a local scale, and its values represent the number of reachable destinations within a certain search radius. For the KU team’s investigation, accessibility is defined as the ability to reach as many destinations as possible with walkable radii of 400m and 800m, considering two network scenarios: streets and streets with alleys. They also consider accessibility as the ability to walk to any destination by any route, looking at the accessibility efficiency of the entire system and the various walking purposes: health and fitness, mental and psychological needs, leisure, and utilitarian.

When comparing Abu Dhabi with Dubai, the researchers found that Dubai is more accessible overall but particularly when its network of alleys throughout its streets is considered. These results suggest that better accessibility can be achieved by linking street networks with alleys between buildings. The grid system much of the UAE is built on may not create highly accessible environments by itself, but strategic alley placement can enhance accessibility.

“Walking within neighborhoods for recreational, fitness, and utilitarian purposes is indispensable in a post-pandemic world,” Dr. Alawadi said. “The Covid-19 pandemic revived old debates in urban planning but there is an almost unanimous consensus regarding the need for walkable neighborhoods in post-pandemic cities. People want easy access to outdoor spaces, public parks and other destinations to meet their daily needs. Redesigned suburbs with more suitable infrastructure for local accessibility have the potential to serve as a viable housing option for the post-pandemic world.”

Source: Khalifa University

Social Media forcing people to change: Singaporean academic

ABU DHABI, The battle against misinformation features high in the panel discussions of the ongoing Global Media Congress, with panellists emphasising on the central importance of providing credible information for any media outlet to survive in a multi-faceted, rapidly changing world.

During an interview with the Emirates News Agency (WAM), on the sidelines of the second day of the Global Media Congress, Carl Skadian, Senior Associate Director-Singaporean Middle East Institute, National University of Singapore, said, “I don’t think it’s technology that is driving a significant change in the media industry, but rather credibility. Many media outlets just worry too much about technology. Technology is there, and we must use it, but at the end of the day, it’s just another delivery vehicle right. It’s the mission to provide credible information. All the technology in the world is not going to help you if the people don’t think you’re credible so that it’s most important.”

The academic cited in this regard a law introduced by the Singaporean government to combat misinformation across social media platforms despite international criticism. “You know the international reaction is not what really matters. What matters is that you know we’re responsible to our citizens, so this is a law that is aimed at keeping harmful effects away from Singaporeans; keeping them safe from misinformation which can cause a lot of damage to society. So, this is a decision that we are taking in our own interests and I think that it if it benefits Singapore and Singaporeans, then it should not be very controversial.”

Skadian stressed that spreading fake information is not freedom of expression. “I think some people do believe that you can say whatever you want, but frankly, that has not been my view at all, and I don’t think it’s the view of our leaders in Singapore, because we saw during the COVID-19 epidemic that fake information can cause a lot of damage. Fake news about vaccines in particular could have caused a lot of damage, but credible media should be able to battle that,” he explained.

The academic doubled down on the importance of having a credible brand to battle fake news. “The media has a great role to play to combat fake news. I think reputation is the most important. If you’re a reputable brand, people will naturally view you as a credible source of information, but if you’re biased, then they go and get the information from social media, including WhatsApp chat groups and things of that sort, so your credibility is the most precious thing that you have, and once you lose that, you can never get it back.”

He highlighted the importance of gatherings like the Global Media Congress to address the public in the right way. “Events such as the Global Media Congress are important to help bring people together and provide greater understanding of how media works towards solving the challenges that we are facing,” he said in conclusion.

Source: Emirates News Agency