Man commits suicide by jumping from Burj Khalifa

A man committed suicide on Tuesday by jumping from the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The unnamed man, believed to be in his twenties and of a South Asian ethnicity, jumped from the 147th floor and landed on a decking area of the 108th floor. His death would be the first known suicide that has happened at the skyscraper—currently the tallest in the world—since the building opened in January 2010.

The Burj Khalifa is the world's tallest building.

The owner of the building, Emaar Properties, released a statement saying that at 09:00 local time Tuesday, “an incident involving a male” was reported. They continued, saying, “The concerned authorities have confirmed that it was a suicide, and we are awaiting the final report.” According to witness statements taken by the police, co-workers said the man had had a holiday request denied.

Suicide rates in the United Arab Emirates are higher than several other developed countries. Workers in Dubai say they suffer from “social abuse,” facing long work hours and few days off. Chenji, a Chinese worker in Dubai, spoke to the Big News Network about the man’s suicide, saying, “It’s a desperate act.” He added, “They promise things they don’t give once you get here.”

The Burj Khalifa has been temporarily closed to visitors as a result of Tuesday’s incident.


Wikileaks cable disclosure shows Arab fears of Iranian ambitions

Sunday night’s release of leaked United States diplomatic cables shows widespread concern in the Arab world over Iran’s ambitions to build a “Persian Empire in the 21st Century”.

Wikileaks, so far, have released under 300 of the quarter million plus diplomatic communications posted to them on a memory stick. The small sample shows, over several months, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Kuwait and Bahrain asserting that further sanctions against Iran will likely have no effect.

President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Early November last year, General David Petraeus discussed the situation with King Hamad of Bahrain, who argued for the use of force to thwart Iran’s nuclear ambitions; stating: “The danger of letting it go on is greater than the danger of stopping it.”

In that meeting concern was expressed that more Arab involvement in Iraq was needed to frustrate Iranian plans. Petraeus was told Bahrain sought Egyptians and Saudis support, but talks with the latter revealed no interest in taking a leading rôle.

The King did welcome the prospect of India becoming involved in the region as a stabilising influence.

A mid-December meeting between Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan of the UAE and US Deputy Secretary of Energy, Daniel Poneman, saw the subject brought up again. In a discussion that touched on the two countries renewable energy plans, and reliable movement of oil through the Strait of Hormuz, the Prince asserted Iran saw itself as spearheading a campaign for a “Persian Empire in the 21st Century.” Alleging Iran has established “emirates” in Kuwait, Bahrain, Eastern Saudi Arabia, Southern Iraq, Yemen, and South Lebanon, his picture of Iranian nuclear ambitions is “Al-Qaeda is not going to get a nuclear bomb; Iran is a matter of time.”

The Prince was keen to stress that those in power are the same people who, in 1979, seized the US embassy in Tehran.

Subsequent talks between a congressional appropriations sub-committee and UAE’s Foreign Minister were the scene of equally serious predictions. The sub-committee, consisting of Nita Lowey, Tom Cole, Barbara Lee, and Donna Edwards, heard from Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan that if Iran became a nuclear state the rest of the region would likely follow suit.

Plans to keep the fifteen-millions-plus barrels of oil passing through the Strait of Hormuz each day moving were discussed. Whilst keen to weaken Iranian ties with China, Sheikh Abdullah stressed the US$50 billion in trade between the two; this being considered an obstacle to China backing, and enforcing, a stronger sanctions regime.

The sub-committee’s Emirates host, like many in the region, stated progress on the Israeli peace process was a good route to de-escalation.

A meeting in Febuary this year with Kuwaiti Interior Minister Jaber Al-Khaled Al Sabah was the scene of comparable warnings. Alongside discussions on travel restrictions to be enforced against former Guantanamo Bay detainees, he described Iran as the “beating heart” of Islamic Extremism.

Concerns over Iran’s involvement in Yemen were discussed, with the minister saying Iran is intent on exporting its revolution; that its nuclear ambitions can only be thwarted by force.

Updating the US on perceived Iranian actions, he claimed they were attempting to infiltrate Egypt by recruiting the poor. And, they were becoming involved in the drugs trade, shipping narcotics into Yemen to fund millitants.

The cable on the Kuwait meeting closes referring recipients to a wiki page: Wikinews believes this is probably a page on the US State Department’s Diplopedia; an internal project, based on the same technology as Wikipedia and intended for use building dossiers on countries, regions, their politicians, and diplomats.

A cable originating in London from January this year is corroborated by later U.S. news reports; hinting that the Iranian government may indeed be using tactics more reminiscent of the cold-war.

In the opening weeks of the year, London-based Voice of America commentator, Ali Reza Nourizadeh was advised that Mohammed Reza Sadeqinia intended to target him for assassination, along with others. Sadeqinia was previously arrested in California, and prosecuted for attempting to hire a hit man. The target at that time was reported to be Iranian-American broadcaster Jamshid Sharmahd, one of the main figures behind Tondar — a loose collection of in-exile Iranians opposed to the current regime.

Tehran insists Tondar is a terrorist organisation, accusing it of being responsible for a 2008 bombing that killed 14.

Sadeqinia, who worked as a painter in Ann Arbour, was arrested on July 28, 2009 near Los Angeles International Airport in posession of thousands of dollars and an Iranian passport. FBI investigations into his possible Iranian government ties were still ongoing a month before his scheduled release in July this year.

Found guilty by Los Angeles Superior Court of attempting to hire someone to murder Sharmahd, he had been expected to spend around a year in jail. Tondar spokesman Iman Afar, in the lead up to Sedeqina’s release, expressed concern for his own safety and that of others in the L.A. area.

Cargo plane crashes in Dubai, two dead

According to Wakalat Anba’a al-Emarat, the official news agency of the United Arab Emirates, a Boeing 747-400 cargo plane belonging to the United States courier UPS Airlines, crashed after take-off in Dubai on Friday. Two crew members were on board at the time of the crash, both of whom were killed. There were no reports of any other deaths or injuries on the ground.

Crashed UPS Airlines Flight 6

The aircraft was en route to Cologne Bonn Airport in Cologne, Germany when it crashed. According to witnesses, at around 7.45 p.m. local time, it caught fire and attempted to return to the airport, then crashed into the ground near Dubai Silicon Oasis. It had just taken off from Dubai International Airport a few minutes beforehand. The crash site is inside the perimeter fence of Emirati air base, located near a busy highway intersection.

UPS 747-400

A contributing witness on the Professional Pilots Rumour Network, an aviation discussion board, wrote: “Just five minutes ago. I heard and saw an aircraft, possibly an airliner going down in Dubai near Silicon Oasis. It has just over-flown my house and [there was] a big fireball.” Another contributor suggested that the aircraft was attempting to land on Runway 30L, when it declared an emergency and subsequently veered off course. The aircraft then allegedly disappeared from radar, descending through 500ft doing 250 knots. Another contributor reported that “the wreckage trail is fairly long … so it looks like it is possible they still had control & tried to force land it.”

UPS international operations manager Bob Lekites released a statement describing the incident as “very unfortunate” and that UPS “will do everything to find the cause.” An investigation into the cause of the incident has been launched by UAE authorities, and Boeing has announced it intends to “send a team to provide technical support to the investigation upon invitation from the authorities.” The National Transportation Safety Board of the United States also released a press statement, stating that it “will dispatch an aviation investigator to assist the government of United Arab Emirates in its investigation of the crash”. The team will, according to the statement “include NTSB specialists in the areas of human performance, fire, operations, and systems.”

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