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From The Editors Technology

Dubai on Track to Become World’s First City with Airborne Taxi Service

It appears that Dubai will, after all, become the world’s first city to fill its skies with flying taxis in the not too distant future. Monday’s test flight of a taxi drone is indeed a giant step in that direction by the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), which has worked closely with the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority to streamline legislative and operational guidelines.

The much-hyped autonomous aerial taxi (AAT) – developed by German drone company Volocopter – is an unmanned flying vehicle with a two-seater cabin – very much similar to that of a conventional helicopter. Integrated atop the cabin is giant hoop with 18 rotors to keep the vehicle airborne.

The AAT is equipped with necessary fail-safes should the vehicle encounter any mid-air trouble, including two parachutes for worst case scenarios. Nine independent quick-charge battery systems can be fully juiced up in a mere 40 minutes, powering the craft for a maximum flight duration of 30 minutes. While the standard cruising speed of the Volocopter drones is 50 kph, they are capable of achieving speeds of up to 100 kph.

A number of U.S. and European companies, including Uber, Airbus, and Kitty Hawk among others, are also working on their own versions of unmanned aerial transport vehicle prototypes. However, Monday’s maiden test staged in the presence of Dubai Crown Prince Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, indicates that Volocopter may be a length or two ahead in the race.

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“We only go public when we can show something that flies,” Alexander Zosel, Volocopter’s co-founder and chief innovation officer, told Reuters in an interview ahead of the Dubai trial. “We show facts, not visions.”

Explaining how the service has been planned to work, Volocopter CEO Florian Reuter said: “Implementation would see you using your smartphone, having an app, and ordering a Volocopter to the next voloport near you. The volocopter would come and autonomously pick you up and take you to your destination.”

“It already is capable of flying based on GPS tracks today, and we will implement full sense capability, also dealing with unknown obstacles on the way,” he added, giving an estimated timeline of five years for developers to initiate the service.

Sheikh Hamdan, looking regal in a traditional white robe and headdress, witnessed history in the making from a viewing deck while the craft soared to a height of 200 meters. The Crown Prince and his entourage applauded generously as the ATT finally alighted after staying airborne for some five minutes. The drone used in the trial is a Volocopter 2X.

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“Encouraging innovation and adopting the latest technologies contributes not only to the country’s development but also builds bridges into the future,” Sheikh Hamdan said in a statement.

It must be pointed out that the first version of the ambitious project employed the Chinese Ehang 184, a 500-pound, single-seat passenger drone. While the Dubai RTA has not given a reason for the switch over to Volocopter, they did praise the German firm for its reputation for safety.

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From The Editors Travel

The Middle East is Fast Becoming a Paradise for Adventure Seeker’s

The term Middle East was first coined by British military strategists in the 19th century to give a definitive identity to a region including West Asia and north-east Africa. Whether it was intended as a geographical identity or one with political connotations, or both, is a matter of conjecture.

The countries that make up the Middle East include Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestinian Territories, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. Many would dispute the inclusion of Egypt and Azerbaijan but generally, they are considered to be part of the Middle East.

With the kind of development this region has seen in the last couple of decades, most of these countries, with their ultra modern cities with lavish hotels and resorts, modern skyscrapers, world-class transportation networks, tallest hotels and buildings, artificial islands, corniches, clock towers, souks, shopping malls and much more, are excellent tourist destinations.

People on shopping holidays invariably head for Dubai, those looking for some history and ancient culture make a beeline for places like Oman, Israel, Egypt and Jordan, and so on.

However, of late the region has been in the news, not so much for tourism related to modern cities, big-name hotels and multi-million-dollar man-made tourist havens, but more for its adventure scene that is catching on thick and fast among visitors. Suddenly, it’s all about rugged mountains, walking trails, hiking, dune bashing and the likes.

Here’s a look at some of the places in the Middle East that are worthy adventure destinations.

Abu Dhabi

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A city of magnificent gardens and parks, lush boulevards, international luxury hotel chains lavish shopping malls, and glitzy skyscrapers, Abu Dhabi is also the capital and the largest city in the United Arab Emirates.

Here are some of the best outdoor activities you can undertake if you are of the adventurous ilk.

Natural Outdoors

Abu Dhabi, being a desert city that it is, has some incredible natural destinations like gushing waterfalls, freshwater lakes, and fossil-lined cliffs. Wikitravel recommends Weekenduae, “a blog that freely shares ideas, routes, and plans for weekend adventures with all trip details including description, GPS track, interactive map, and photos.”

Desert Safari/Dune Bashing

Hire a specialist Desert Driver and head out to the desert for a gut-wrenching but thrilling SUV ride over sand dunes. With the help of the driver, who doubles as a guide as well, you can view the sunset from the best vantage point and then enjoy a sumptuous spread, with music and dancing to end a perfect day of adventure.

Alternatively, you can purchase or rent a 4×4 and join the numerous 4×4 clubs in the UAE like the emarat4x4, the uaeoffroaders, the arabianoffroader , the 4X4 dune ride and several others who offer free training to newcomers scheduling trips according to the level of driving skills of the members.

Mangrove National Park

Tired of too much desert around you? No worries. Not far from the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is the Mangrove National Park, a 7-square-mile forested area where you can go heron and flamingo spotting in the mangroves while kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding.

Arabian Wildlife Park-Sir Bani Yas Island

This 1,400-hectare of wildlife sanctuary is home to more than 13,000 animals of different species like Beisa Oryx, Arabian Rock Hyrax, Ostriches, Giraffes, Striped Hyenas, Cheetahs, and many more that you can have the pleasure of viewing.

The Park offers some exciting activities like guided Nature and Wildlife Drives or Walks, Horseriding or Mountain Biking giving you the “opportunity to traverse the varied landscape of the Arabian Wildlife Park and see these animals in this unique open environment.”

Dubai

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A lot has been written and said about Dubai’s status as the most modern and fast developing emirate in the U.A.E. but the Dubai we wish to discuss is kind of different – a rather rustic kind of Dubai.

Let’s take a look at what this Dubai has on offer for adventure lovers.

Natural Outdoors

Dubai, being a desert city that it is, has some incredible natural destinations like gushing waterfalls, freshwater lakes, and fossil-lined cliffs. Wikitravel recommends Weekenduae, “a blog that freely shares ideas, routes, and plans for weekend adventures with all trip details including description, GPS track, interactive map, and photos.”

Camel Races

Camel race is a winter attraction with two days (Thursday and Friday) dedicated to the sport when visitors can watch the races and even visit the paddocks for a closer look at the animals and how the jockeys saddle up.

Water Sports

In addition to banana boat rides and parasailing, there are many other water sports activities one can enjoy in Dubai.

Attraction World’s Sunset Safari & BBQ Dinner

Attraction world has a great ‘Sunset Safari & BBQ Dinner’ package that includes dune-bashing, sunset in the desert from strategic vantage points, belly dancing, and henna applications.

Hot-air balloon flight

Take to the air in a hot-air balloon for a bird’s eye view of the city and its surroundings. The local operator, “Balloon Adventures,” can even arrange a mid-air falcon show for additional thrill.

Shark dive

Shark dives can be booked at the Dubai Aquarium for a face-to-face encounter with the largest collection of sand tiger sharks in the world.

Oman

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Once an under-developed and introverted nation, unwelcome to visitors, Oman has seen continued progress in infrastructure, education, and tourism since 1970 when Qaboos bin Said exiled the previous Sultan.

Omanis are, basically, friendly and helpful people especially towards guests in the country and expect visitors to respect their ways and tradition in turn. Not only are they proud of the progress they have made in the last 50 years but take great pride in their country’s heritage as a sea-faring nation as well.

Oman is home to over 500 forts and towers, some dating as far back as the early 16th century.

The scenery around the country’s rugged mountains is simply stunning and can be enjoyed while driving in the dry wadis.

The seemingly endless sand dunes stretch right up to the horizon.

Oman’s beaches are the main breeding grounds for different turtle species. Masirah Island is easily the most favored breeding space for at least four turtle species including the largest gathering of leatherbacks in the world.

Excursions by Alila Jabal Akhdar

  • Leisurely walks through traditional villages of Al Aqr and Al-Ayn
  • Level five graded trek across a via Ferrata.

Intrepid Travel

Intrepid Travel offers an eight-day adventure termed the ‘Discover Oman’ tour which takes you on a journey through the unadulterated landscape of Wahiba Sands, the different forts along the route, and an awe-inspiring canyon at Jebel Shams.

Qatar

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Rich in oil and natural gas and the revenue they generate makes Qatar one of the richest countries in the world with a per capita income at par the leading industrial countries in Europe.

Here’s what a desert safari in Qatar has to offer.

  • Dune-bashing may not be unique to Qatar, but dune-bashing across the undulating dunes in a 4×4 with a view of the sea definitely is.
  • Go sandboarding
  • Drive a quad bike up to Khor Al Adaid, the Inland Sea
  • Falcon Tours Safari Rates:
  • Half-day desert safari – £83 and up
  • Overnight Safari + BBQ at the water’s edge – £284 and up

Israel

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There is plenty to do in Israel to keep the adventurous types occupied. Here’s all that adventure seekers can look forward to in Israel.

  • Hike up the rugged ancient fortress of Masada at sunrise
  • Swim with dolphins
  • Take a 4×4 drive through the Ramon Crater
  • Sleep under the stars in the desert

Features of Israel Highlights Tour package by Cyplon

  • Eight-day tour
  • Take a cable car up to the Masada fortress
  • Swim in the Dead Sea
  • Pass through the Jordan Valley and stay in a kibbutz overnight.
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From The Editors Technology

The World’s First Hyperloop is Officially Coming to Dubai

There is a lot being said and written about the Hyperloop-One project. It’s a supersonic transport deal between the RTA (Road Transport Authority) of Dubai and the creators of this extraordinary transport system that will reduce the travel time between Dubai and Abu-Dhabi to 12 minutes.

However, before we get into the nitty-gritty of this deal, let us first talk about the company Hyperloop-One and the technology involved. As understood by the information available on the Hyperloop-One website, it’s a novel way to transport people and cargo between 2 points at “airline speeds for the price of a bus ticket. ”More importantly, they claim it to be an “energy-efficient and safe” mode of transport.

Dubai to Abu Dhabi in less than 15 minutes-Yes
Dubai to Abu Dhabi in less than 15 minutes? Yes!

The technology basically involves the use of a levitated pod going through a low-pressure tube powered by a “custom electric motor”. Again, their claim is that the ride would be a smooth glide for miles together, free of any turbulence.

Having spoken some basics about the technology, let us now discuss a bit about the organization itself, and how they grew into developers of one of the world’s most talked about technology.

The humble beginnings of this high-tech Company are as recent as 2014, launched from a Los Angeles garage. It is now a 200 strong team of engineers, welders, machinists, and designers and builders, working out of three campuses in Los Angeles and Nevada.

Dubai takes first step towards super-fast Hyperloop system
Dubai takes first step towards super-fast Hyperloop system

Now, coming back to the Dubai RTA and H1 deal, they are now in the process of evaluating the feasibility of this first ever surface transport system. If successful it would cover the 99-mile journey between Dubai and Abu-Dhabi in an incredible 12 minutes. The same journey between the two points by car takes about 2 hours.

H1 is, therefore, bang on target about being in the “business of selling time” as they consider the time to be the “most precious resource” of the modern era. According to a statement made by the Dubai Transport Authority’s Director General, Mattar al-Tayer, the cost of building the system will be “an important factor when making such a strategic decision on whether or not we can have Hyperloop”.

The CEO of Hyperloop-One, Rob Lloyd is quoted to have said “[Dubai] is our number one priority so we will do everything to make that happen,” He gave this statement soon after signing the deal with the Dubai transport authorities. The H1 CEO gave a time estimate of 5 years from a technical point of view.

Some of his statements after signing the deal:

“As a central global transport hub, pursuing the implementation of a Hyperloop in the UAE makes sense.”

“The leaders of the UAE understand that transportation is the new broadband, with the power to transform life throughout the GCC”.

“We are now at a stage where, from a technological point of view, we could have a Hyperloop One system built in the UAE in the next five years.”

It seems rather symbolic and may even seem flashy to some, that the deal was signed at the top of the world’s tallest and iconic building, the Burj Khalifa, earlier this week. Hyperloop-One ran their first test on their “custom electronic motor” in May 2016. However, the full system test will be conducted early next year. The company is working towards the goal of transporting cargo by 2020 and people by 2021. Now, that is fast progress.

It would be unfair not to mention Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk, who originally thought of the concept while Hyperloop-One is developing the technology.

The only other company involved in this business is the Hyperloop Transport Technologies which has been working with the French Railway Company (SNCF), exploring feasibilities to develop high-speed transport in the country.

The Hyperloop-One technology of reaching speeds of up to 760 mph (1,220 kph) on land is mind boggling. It has the potential to revolutionize land transportation for a long time to come.

Speaking at a presentation on Tuesday, Hyperloop-One recommended a network connecting Abu-Dhabi and Doha, Qatar through an undersea tunnel, in just 22 minutes. The company claimed that the network had the potential to extend up to Bahrain, an island nation, and Saudi Arabia.

Saif al-Aleeli, the young CEO of the Dubai Future Foundation, which hosted the program said, “Imagine that you can live in Riyadh, work in Dubai, have your dinner in Abu Dhabi and watch a movie in Qatar,” as reported by the Associated Press. “Dubai is trying, as a mission, to prove that concept” he added.

A trip from Dubai to Doha in 23 minutes? Welcome to Hyperloop One!
A trip from Dubai to Doha in 23 minutes.. Welcome to Hyperloop One!

Chris Vasquez, the director of product development for the Hyperloop Company said, ““This is a place where big things happen…. they don’t get bogged down by regulations, not that those things aren’t important and don’t deserve due diligence, but we’ve all seen projects stalled by over-crippling regulatory environments where it just stalls for years and years and years.”

A possible link between Al Maktoum International Airport at Dubai World Central, Dubai International Airport and Fujairah International Airport were some of the ideas floated around by selected groups present at the Tuesday ceremony.

“Imagine stepping out of your villa in Dubai, into a self-driving vehicle that resembles your living room and arriving just 48 minutes later at your office in Riyadh. That is what Hyperloop- One can deliver,” said Mr. Giegel.

“This is an opportunity to help transform the UAE from a technology consumer to a technology creator, incubating expertise for a new global industry, in line with the UAE’s Vision 2021,” said Mattar Al Tayer, director general of the RTA.

Booking a trip would become as easy as booking an Uber ride using a smartphone App. This would be possible because the pod itself is an independent vehicle. The pod has the capability of traveling independently on roads; hence, the Company is exploring this possibility of taking passengers directly to their doors.

According to Hyperloop-One, “The world is ready for a new mode of transportation that will change the way we live. We’re in the business of selling time, the most precious resource there is. When cities become metro stops, regions will flourish.”

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Entertainment From The Editors

11 Of The Weirdest And Most Frequent Things Lost In Dubai Nightclub

Everyone loses things on a good night out. From phones and laptops to bracelets and glass eyes, it is a strange world we live in and people lose some very strange things indeed. From the team that brought you the craziest things people say in nightclubs, Societe Dubai brings us a list of some of the weirdest and most frequent things lost in the club over the last 12 months.

Societe Dubai Nightclub
Societe Dubai Nightclub

Alcohol is a cruel mistress. It fuels great conversations, pointless arguments, and in some cases- elevated stupidity. You end up losing things that you should not lose. From walking sticks, monocles, and a single glass eyeball, people have lost anything from their most prized possessions to the weirdest things they own, inside a nightclub. The owner of Societe Dubai, Gary Holliday spills the beans on the top most bizarre things people have left behind at the club over the past 12 months.

#1 One glass eyeball – This one left us really flabbergasted. We found the single glass eyeball stuffed down the side of one of the sofas at Societe.

#2 One walking stick – We saw this guy coming in with his walking stick, but leave without it. Clearly, a night of cutting shapes to his favorite retro tunes loosened him up enough to walk home without it.

#3 One rather risqué corset – This was found in the middle of the night, stuck down the women’s toilet!

#4 One monocle – maybe this belonged to the guy who left his glass eye behind?

#5 16 pairs of shoes

#6 25 odd shoes – Plenty of “Cinderella’s” seem to leave behind a shoe and it begs the question, how are they walking home in only one stiletto?

#7 30 laptops!

#8 147 bags full of presents and gifts – We find small bags filled with chocolates, flowers, and more expensive items like bracelets and watches.

#9 230 mobile phones – From iPhone’s and galaxies to old school Nokia’s, we have had every kind of mobile phone that’s been left behind in the club.

#10 322 earrings – These earrings are never found in pairs, so we have ended up with this big bowl of odd earrings and no one ever seems to claim them!

#11 A whopping 541 credit cards!