Finally, a Roundup of Good News Stories

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Photo: Courtesy of Jeremy Bishop

The news can be pretty gloomy, but despite all of the memes currently floating around the internet about how 2018 tried to kill us, let us not forget that some pretty awesome stuff happened too. Here are some of the best news stories to come out of the UAE in 2018.

1

Clear efforts were made for the protection and conservation of our oceans.

It was the year that everyone recognized how dire the problem of plastic in our oceans had become – and people not only started listening, but they also took action. Aside from the ever-increasing number of beach cleanups that take place on the regular, many of Dubai’s restaurants joined the movement by vowing to help reduce their reliance on single-use plastic (and called on their customers to do the same). In other news related to the conservation of our oceans and their inhabitants, new legislation announced by the Abu Dhabi Environment Agency, following a resolution issued by the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, has banned surface fishing in Abu Dhabi, thereby helping to prevent the death of the endangered species – such as dugongs and turtles – that get caught in nets.

2

Pet abandonment officially became illegal in the UAE.

Animal welfare took a turn for the better on dry land as well. This year, new regulations announced by the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment declared pet abandonment (under any circumstances) to be illegal in the UAE. This is now considered an act of animal cruelty and bears the consequences of a fine or a jail sentence.

3

Child protection laws and anti-bullying efforts became tougher.

New regulations were issued regarding the protection of children, spanning employment (children will need permission slips from a parent or guardian), entertainment (all films must come with clearly declared age-restriction warnings), and access to spaces (the prohibition of entry for children in adults’ places of entertainment, smoking areas, or areas with any toxic or chemical pollution) to name just a few. Meanwhile, Dubai Police’s ‘Schools Security’ program led to a 38 percent decline in complaints resulting from incidents of bullying, smoking, and fights in Dubai-based schools.

4

New smoking laws mean less secondhand smoke in residential areas.

Thanks to a new smoking law in the UAE, any cafés or restaurants that are situated in residential areas will have to either ban smoking or relocate within two years. The legislation means that it’s also illegal to grow tobacco for commercial use, that all tobacco products sold or imported require warnings on the packaging, and that it’s not permitted to promote smoking or tobacco products. What’s more, children are being further protected by a ban on the sale of sweets that resemble tobacco products and on smoking in closed public spaces with or in cars carrying kids under the age of 12.

5

Women in Saudi Arabia began driving.

While it was announced in 2017 that women in Saudi Arabia would finally be able to take the wheel, it wasn’t until this year that licenses were officially issued. That’s a win for all women in the Middle East.

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