Thursday, September 30, 2010

Pedestrian fatalities hit record low over 9 years: RTA

Pedestrian fatalities hit record low over 9 years: RTA

Maitha bin Udai: RTA places much emphasis on awareness programs besides building pedestrian tunnels, bridges and crossing points

Pedestrian fatality accidents in Dubai have touched a record low average in the first half of this year dipping to 25 cases compared to 47 cases in the same period last year; recording in the process a 47% drop rate from last year’s level where pedestrians fatality rate dropped by 33% from the level prevailing in the year before, according to the statistics compiled by the Roads & Transport Authority (RTA). These statistics also showed that run-over accidents have hit an all-time low during the last 5 years as the resulting fatalities have not exceeded 78 cases whereas the number of reported run-over fatalities in the year before was 116 cases.
Commenting of these figures engineer Maitha bin Udai, CEO of RTA Traffic & Roads Agency, said that pedestrian safety indicators in Dubai reflected a huge progress in the plan of Traffic & Roads Agency regarding the enhancement of pedestrian safety and curbing of run-over accidents in Dubai. “Last year witnessed several field measures and joint awareness efforts to curb pedestrian accidents; which ranked amongst the most serious challenges facing traffic safety specialists,” she said.

Bin Udai indicated that the drop by almost half in the pedestrian fatalities to 25 cases reported during the first half of this year meant that it was the least period witnessing pedestrian fatalities over the last 9 years. There were 28 pedestrian fatalities in the first half of 2002 and the number remained the same in the following year, but soared in the first half of 2004 to 49 cases, and dropped slightly in the first half of 2005 to 48 cases. Again the number picked up to hit 57 cases in the first half of 2006 and to 59 cases in the first half of the following year. Pedestrian fatalities hit a peak of 60 cases in the first half of 2008 before falling to 47 cases in 2009.

The CEO of Traffic & Roads Agency attributed the drop in mortality rate to a host of measures introduced by the RTA as part of its traffic safety plan through constructing footbridges & subways, identifying & marking crossing points, and rolling out educative traffic awareness campaigns. Contractors and consultants had also been ordered to deploy vehicles to shuttle their workers between the two side of the road to avoid road crossing and accordingly risking their lives. “Pedestrian accidents in Sheikh Zayed Road plummeted by 83.4% over last year with only two fatality accidents reported compared to 12 fatality cases in 2008; which is attributed to the operation of three footbridges linking with the metro stations. In Damascus Road, pedestrians fatalities dipped by 75% from 4 cases in 2008 to one case in 2009 following the opening of 3 footbridges on the same Road. Similarly pedestrian fatalities on Amman Road dropped by 40% upon construction of two pedestrian crossing points and distinguishing them with white markings plunging from 5 cases in 2008 to one case in 2009.

Maitha continued: “Over the last year, Traffic & Roads Agency was engaged in addressing more than 7 blind spots witnessing recurrent run-over accidents in some parts of the city such as Al Qouz, Al Wasl and the Service Road of Sheikh Zayed Road.
“The RTA-lead awareness efforts made in conjunction with its strategic partners with the aim of improving traffic safety levels across the Emirate so far seem successful and moving on the right track, judging by the previous figures & indicators. Through its concerned Department and implementing traffic safety measurements, RTA managed over the last three years to make headway in reducing traffic fatality rates each and every year. Consequently, traffic accidents mortality rate in Dubai dipped from 332 cases in 2007 to 294 cases in 2008 and plummeted further to its least level over the last four years during last year which witnessed 225 fatalities,” explained Maitha.

She cautioned that it would be difficult to achieve positive results in improving traffic safety levels or have an effective impact on drivers’ attitudes unless the community members respond and react to those efforts. Accordingly, the success made by a part of the awareness programs which contributed to a reduction in fatality rates is attributed to the contribution of RTA strategic partners and the public who reacted to them, be it in terms of compliance with the educative directives and tips, or enhanced compliance with the traffic rules.

Maitha elaborated on traffic awareness efforts and said: “RTA efforts, which contributed to achieving the required harmony between the official efforts and the community response, have benefited from the successful international practices and experience accumulated over RTA lifetime spanning 4 years in line with the plan encompassing awareness efforts and several site measures taken by Traffic Department. During the last two years, RTA embarked on an ongoing process spanning three key thrusts; namely running traffic & safety engineering as well as enforcement-related educative campaigns, launching traffic awareness drive in schools, and educating the students on the key traffic safety principles.

“Specialists of Traffic & Roads Agency were keen on implementing world-class standards in designing and upgrading roads and pedestrian walkways, and providing sufficient numbers of pedestrian footbridges & subways along with urging the public to use them. Currently there are 14 subways and 18 footbridges in place, including three glazed bridges constructed by RTA over the last three years in addition to those footbridges linking with most of the metro stations. Pedestrian tunnels and bridges spread all over Dubai, particularly in areas witnessing intense pedestrian movement such as the abra area and Deira Corniche. Besides that, RTA is aspiring to double the number of pedestrian bridges and tunnels by 2013.

“The most prominent issue standing in the way of traffic awareness drive is the ignorance of several individuals, particularly among Asian workers, of traffic safety principles. So the biggest challenge is to educate them on the importance of using safe means, such as pedestrian crossings, tunnels and bridges, to avoid run-over accidents. For this purpose RTA held last year several meetings with its strategic partners that yielded the launch of three awareness campaigns about pedestrian crossing & cyclists targeting more than 75,000 workers. The Campaign comprised delivering lectures in Arabic, English and Urdu, distributing thousands of brochures and hundreds of posters as well as a special booklet about the right of pedestrians in crossing. The events covered workers density areas such as Jebel Ali and Al Qusais and indicators revealed that there was a 31% decline in the run-over accidents in areas where the events were held.

“In 2009 schools witnessed active traffic awareness activities and the main highlight in this regard is that Dubai was free from children run-over accidents by school buses last year compared to one run-over accident recorded in the year before; which bears reference to the success of the traffic awareness effort in this field. Part of this success is attributed to an educative program run jointly with Emirates Transport and Johnson & Johnson dubbed as School Bus Program; which is a school bus featuring an eye-catching & convenient internal and external design customized for children with a view to giving youngsters at nurseries and primary grades a practical exposure on how to board and alight from the bus in a proper and safe manner, and how to cross the road and avoid run-over accidents by adopting the Golden Rules. The program managed to cover 74 schools last year. There were also traffic campaigns oriented to students, parents and those working in the field of education. In the beginning of the academic year 2009/2010 RTA rolled out an educative drive in collaboration with the Ministry of Interior under the theme: Safe Student Transport during which it distributed more than 130,000 copies of School Transport booklet which was compiled by RTA Public Transport Agency, and currently we are gearing up for an eventful program to welcome the new academic year 2010/2011.
“The fall in pedestrian fatality rates in Dubai brings fresh challenges to those concerned with traffic safety in Dubai highlighted by the need to maintain the progress made last year; which warrants redoubling our efforts and moving ahead with the plans which proved successful in realizing RTA vision of: Safe & Smooth Transport for All,” said Maitha bin Udai in a concluding remark.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Memon Investments continues construction of current projects amidst reports showing 38 per cent of all UAE projects are currently inactive

Memon Investments continues construction of current projects amidst reports showing 38 per cent of all UAE projects are currently inactive

Leading developer stands firm on commitment to complete AED 1.34 billion worth of projects

September 26, 2010

Memon Investments, a leading Dubai based property developer and part of the multi-billion dollar international business conglomerate, the Shaikhani Group, has reported that construction activity on all of their current line of projects are still ongoing despite the global downturn which has affected the regional real estate sector. The announcement follows the recent release of a Proleads report that states that 38 per cent of the UAE’s construction and development projects are currently inactive. The country’s residential sector, which comprises of 682 projects valued at USD 306 billion, represents 62 per cent of construction projects in the UAE. Memon’s current portfolio, which is currently valued at AED 1.34 billion, consists of high profile residential development projects like the ‘Frankfurt Sports Tower’ and the ‘Champions Tower’ series.

According to a recent report released by UAE-based research firm Proleads Global, a total of 1,296 projects valued at more than USD 418 billion are currently being built in the UAE, with an additional 303 projects worth USD 143 billion already in the design, planning and or bidding stage. However, the report also stated that 38 percent of these projects have ceased construction and have become inactive as a result of the global financial crisis. As one of the very few developers to maintain continued construction activity, Memon Investments remains steadfast in its commitment to complete and deliver all of its projects through the support of satisfied customers. The developer is also confident that its current portfolio of projects will provide buyers a wide range of investment options that offer excellent return potential.

“Many promising construction projects in the UAE have ceased development and construction activity as a result of the global financial crisis, “ said Ahmed Shaikhani, Managing Director, Memon Investments. “Memon Investments is glad to report that it is continuously moving forward with all of its projects. Despite the recession, we have managed to stay afloat by adopting strategic initiatives and practices. Rest assured, we stand firm on our promise to complete and deliver our projects in accordance with the expectations of our discerning clientele.”

Memon Investments recently announced that it has already crossed the halfway mark for ‘Champions Tower II’ (CT II) and ‘Champions Tower III’ (CT III), two of its prime residential projects located in Dubai Sports City. Construction has reached the 9th floor in CT II, with the developer preparing for the next slab and block work has also been done till 6th floor; while the 10th floor in CT III has already been cast. Leading MEP contractor Anwar Al Aqsa has been awarded the contract to manage the electrical, plumbing, fire alarm and fire fighting installations, while ETA MELCO has been commissioned to install six high-speed, state-of-the-art Mitsubishi elevator units for both towers. As construction progresses rapidly, the developer is currently looking to award contracts related to the finishing and facility management to credible partners in the UAE.

“We are very pleased to share that both of our Champions Tower projects have already crossed the halfway mark and we expect to complete both projects fairly soon. Awarding various contracts to some of the UAE’s leading contractors and MEP companies has largely contributed to the fast-paced construction of both towers. Similarly, implementing a sound project management plan has played an important role in our efforts to maintain continued construction activity. Our strong commitment towards customer satisfaction continues to provide us with the confidence and inspiration to finish all of our projects scheduled deadlines”, concluded Shaikhani.

About Memon Investments LLC
Founded as the property development arm of the international business conglomerate, the Memon Group of Companies, Memon Investments has grown to become a leading property player in the region offering a diversified portfolio of premium property projects. Guided by a tradition of excellence, the developer’s intense focus lies within its core competencies, specifically acquisition, design and development, consultancy, leasing and management of properties. Leveraging the Memon Group’s extensive real estate development experience, Memon Investments’ UAE portfolio comprises of prestigious residential projects including ‘Champions Towers I, II, III, and IV’ and ‘Frankfurt Sports Tower I’ in Dubai Sports City; ‘Gardenia I & II’ in Jumeirah Village, and its inaugural commercial venture - ‘Cambridge Business Centre’ in Dubai Silicon Oasis, all of which embody the developer’s trademark top-notch quality and uniqueness.

Having delivered over 30,000 units across the globe with a presence in 90 countries spread across Asia, Africa, Middle East and Europe, the Memon Group of Companies is presently commemorating its 30th year of delivering unique offerings and services to its global customers. In addition to its extensive expertise in the real estate market, the Group has also built a strong reputation for its unwavering support for various causes such as poverty alleviation, environmental conservation and academic development. As a socially-aware international corporation, the Group has devoted 19 years in support of the Rabia Charitable Foundation and the Rabia Relief Fund.

RTA opens five new metro stations mid-October ,Al Tayer: Stations to open include Business Bay, First Gulf Bank, Sharaf DG, Nakheel and Jumeirah Lake

RTA opens five new metro stations mid-October

Al Tayer: Stations to open include Business Bay, First Gulf Bank, Sharaf DG, Nakheel and Jumeirah Lake Towers stations

 22 trains deployed in peak time, 16 trains off-peak time
 Service frequency 6 minutes in peak time, 8 minutes off-peak time
 28 feeder buses to link the new stations with the neighbourhood

Roads & Transport Authority – Mohammed Al Munji:

The Roads & Transport Authority (RTA) is poised to open five new metro stations on the Red Line of the Dubai Metro, bringing the total number of stations opened to 26 stations.

“Stations to be opened include Business Bay, First Gulf Bank, Sharaf DG, Nakheel and Jumeirah Lake Towers stations, and the remaining three stations will be opened upon completion of real estate and investment projects around them; as they have been especially constructed to serve these projects in which construction works are still underway,” said Mattar Al Tayer, Chairman of the Board and Executive Director of the RTA.

Al Tayer added: “Through the Metro operating company, RTA has finalized all trial technical tests of the metro; which included testing the communication systems, auto operation systems, power feed, air-conditioning, onboard electronic systems, lighting systems and the integration & coordination between various subsystems and components. RTA has also finalized the training of front-end and customer service employees deployed at the new stations to attend to various systems. These employees have already joined up their duties in different locations several days ago following the completion of intensive training courses in the fields of customer service, implementation of rules and regulations introduced by the RTA for safeguarding the project facilities, and the enforcement of law against offenders.
RTA Chairman of the Board and Executive Director confirmed that the new stations were ready to receive passengers. “22 trains will be deployed during peak time and 16 trains will be in operation during off-peak time, and the service frequency (headway) will be 6 minutes during peak time and 8 minutes during off-peak time. RTA has carried out site surveys covering the neighbourhood of all stations to be opened shortly and accordingly opened new bus routes to feed the metro stations. 28 buses are being deployed to link the metro stations with the surrounding areas and the service is set to run at 13-20 minutes frequency,” he elaborated.

Al Tayer commented on the criteria upon which the new stations have been selected for opening and said: “Stations have been selected based on the extent of population density in the locality served by each station so as to provide convenient services to the inhabitants in the neighbourhood, availability of commercial activities in the area served by each station, availability of government activities in the vicinity of each station, and the projected number of passengers at each station. Nakheel Station is one of the stations expected to be busy with commuters considering its proximity to the American University in Dubai, and the mega residential projects in the vicinity of the station,” added Al Tayer.

Commenting on the metro ridership Al Tayer said: “From 9/9/2009 to 9/9/2010, the Dubai Metro lifted 30.22 million persons and the daily ridership is estimated as 130 thousand passengers. This number is set to rise with the opening of the new five stations to as much as 150 thousand passengers, and the number of the metro users is poised to receive a further big boost with the operation of the Green Line in August 2011; which will serve vital areas with commercial & government activities and huge population density”.

“The huge investments pumped by the Government of Dubai to uplift the infrastructure of transportation sector has paid dividends and proved both successful and effective. The number of users of public transport means, including the Dubai Metro, public buses, water transport and taxis, is approaching one million passengers per day. There is also an improvement in the culture of using public transport by all segments of the community and the drive was particularly helped by the metro service,” stated Al Tayer.

“Using mass transportation brings about a host of benefits & advantages that include the physical & psychological comfort of the user, minimizing crashes, economizing on fuel & maintenance costs of private vehicles and ridding the public from the hassles of finding parking spaces for their vehicles; which has become a challenge facing most modern cities worldwide. Besides that, the use of public transportation effectively reduces environmental pollution resulting from the use of massive numbers of private vehicles,” said Al Tayer in a concluding statement.

Photo captions:
- Mattar Al Tayer
- Stations ready to receive passengers

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Effective strata law key to future of Dubai real estate

Effective strata law key to future of Dubai real estate

New law will not necessarily bring down community service fees but will be cost-effective, regulated and transparent says property solutions expert

The effective introduction of the Strata Law is essential to regulate transparent community service charges which will improve investor confidence especially in the residential market, according to the head of property solutions at Dubai-based MAG Group.

Mazen Falhout, General Manager of MAGme Property Solutions, a division of MAG Group, said, “The Strata Law will not necessarily mean service charges will come down due to the technical, administrative and legal requirements of the Law but owners will be able to appoint their chosen management company, thus regulating both the cost and level of service required,” said Falhout.

The law transfers responsibility for property maintenance from developers to owners through the establishment of owners’ associations. The rules are legally binding and give owners a greater say in the management of communal areas, including choosing maintenance companies and helping to solve disputes between owners and developers. Owners also risk losing their property if service fees are not paid. However, there have been suggestions it will renew investor confidence in the Dubai housing market as it will provide transparency across the board.

There has been apprehension among some owners that the Strata Law, will create a potential rift between developers and owners as responsibility for community areas, whether it be in an apartment building or villa complex, are handed-over.

It is understood from the regulations that Owners’ Associations will take responsibility for all maintenance issues within six months of a new development project’s completion. For existing developments that process will start as soon as practically possible, within the existing time frame.

“It will be interesting to see which existing developments have made adequate provisions, by way of a sinking fund, for major maintenance work such as replacing chiller units or overhauling lifts, which may not normally be required for up to ten years,” said Falhout.

In addition the law states that the residents’ committee must consist of at least five members but some homeowners are reluctant to sign up because they are cautious about taking responsibility for any issues.

“Current owners want property values to appreciate, so it is vital that developments are maintained professionally, with best value for money and therefore it is within the owners own interests to get involved. As with any new administration it might be time-consuming initially but once policies and procedures are in place the process will become easier,” said Falhout.

However, Falhout has warned that owners must address the long-term impact of decisions and Owners’ Associations have to choose the best contractors and or service providers, which may not be the cheapest, but will represent best value.

“Because rents have become more competitive over the past 12 months, service charges can, on the surface seem inflated since only about 10% of fees are spent on visible services such as cleaning and security.

But when it comes to air conditioning or swimming pools, preventative maintenance is always the most cost-effective. As a guide, owners should expect to spend between 15% and 25% of rental income on service charges,” explained Falhout.

“The future of the property market in Dubai rests with the Strata Law being effectively implemented and managed. Homeowners will benefit in the long-run by taking ownership of their own community and ultimately their investment,” added Falhout.

Photo caption: Mazen Falhout, General Manager – MAGme Property Solutions.

About MAGme:
MAGme is a member of Moafaq Al Gaddah Group (MAG Group) and focuses on providing maximum benefits to investors and customers. Its range of services include; brokerage, snags and rectification, property management, owners association management and financial services.

About the MAG Group

The Dubai-based Moafaq Al Gaddah Group of Companies (the MAG Group) was established in 1978 and has grown into a multinational organisation with 18 offices in eight countries throughout Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

In the past five years the MAG Group Properties has invested in 12 properties at various stages of development across the residential, commercial and industrial sectors. The company focuses on projects that provide long-term benefits to investors and customers.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Ibn Battuta Gate offers holistic living solution

Ibn Battuta Gate offers holistic living solution

Apartments, a five-star hotel, customised offices and a shopping mall, provide ideal work-life balance in the heart of new Dubai – it even has its own Metro station

Dubai-based property management company Asteco, today announced that the apartments at Ibn Battuta Gate are now available for lease, offering residents a perfect balance between comfort and convenience thanks to its proximity to new state-of-the-art offices, leisure amenities and five-star service.

Adjoining the recently-opened Ibn Battuta Gate hotel, which is managed by Swiss hotel operator Mövenpick, featuring the iconic 60-metre gateway arch, and a stone’s throw from the mall, the complex provides superior living with annual rents starting from just AED 70,000 in an environment that fosters a healthy work-life balance.

The apartment building which consists of 156 stylish one- and two-bedroom apartments, spread over ten floors, is just 400 metres from the new Ibn Battuta Metro station, which provides direct links to Dubai World Trade Centre and Dubai International Financial Centre.

“The apartments offer luxury living at an affordable price. In addition, tenants also have the unique choice of using either the Mövenpick’s pool and health club or the state-of-the-art leisure facilities within the apartment building,” said Camilla Van Der Merwe, Head of Sales and Leasing at Asteco, which is managing the flagship mixed-use development on behalf of building owners Seven Tides.

Meanwhile, the office tower, located at the opposite end of the archway, spans 454,000 square feet across 11 floors and is perfectly positioned to attract businesses from both Dubai and Abu Dhabi. In addition, all Ibn Battuta tenants have access to dedicated secure covered car parking, located underneath the building.

“Living within walking distance of work is not often feasible, especially in a climate such as we have in the UAE, but Ibn Battuta Gate allows people to do just that. However, we are also seeing more and more people commuting between Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and this development is perfectly placed to service both markets, as well as the more local commercial hubs of Jebel Ali Free Zone and Dubai Media and Internet cities,” said Van Der Merwe.

Annual rents at the apartments include access to the five-star Mövenpick hotel’s swimming pool and gym, in addition to 24-hour security, internet connection, satellite television, utility bills and parking. Each apartment also features with built-in wardrobes, lavishly finished bathroom, and solid wood floors in the bedrooms and marble flooring in the main living area.

Another attraction, Ibn Battuta shopping mall spans 1.3 kilometres in length and features more than 250 retail outlets, a hypermarket and over a dozen food and beverage outlets, in addition to a 21-screen cinema.

Photo caption 1: Inside an Ibn Battuta Gate apartment.
Photo caption 2: The Ibn Battuta Gate complex.

About Asteco

Founded in Dubai in 1985, Asteco is a major regional real estate services firm and the one of the largest property services company in the United Arab Emirates. Asteco offers clients independent market analysis, design development consultancy and valuation services, sales and leasing services, as well as asset and property management services.

Friday, September 17, 2010

RTA female staff explore sky high views from Burj Khalifa

RTA female staff explore sky high views from Burj Khalifa

Roads & Transport Authority – Nashwan Atta’ee:

The Women Committee, Roads & Transport Authority (RTA) has recently held a unique entertainment tour for as many as 120 RTA female employees and wives of RTA employees, to the top of Burj Khalifa during which they enjoyed a thrilling sky-high view of the Dubai City from the tallest man-made structure in the planet.

Commenting on the visit, Dr. Aysha Al Busmait, Chairwomen of RTA Women Committee, said: “Through its members & ambassadors in various agencies, RTA Women Committee has proved once again its ability to take the initiative and organize distinguished events far from contrasting opinions and controversial issues despite the large number of participants involved in this event; thus succeeded in boosting some core values and concepts campaigned by the RTA. The group travelled from Al Rashidiya Metro Station on board the Dubai Metro and came back to RTA premises on board public transport buses”.

The tour, which will remain live in the memories of all participants, included taking a lunch high in the sky, attending water shows, a tour of the tower and taking memorable photos. The event was also a good communication and orientation platform for RTA female staff and wives of RTA employees who meet for the first time under the umbrella of the Women Committee.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

RTA opens a key bridge at the 1st Interchange, Sh Zayed Rd

RTA opens a key bridge at the 1st Interchange, Sh Zayed Rd

Roads & Transport Authority – Mohammed Al Munji:
The Roads & Transport Authority (RTA) has opened yesterday one of the key bridges in the 1st Interchange of Sheikh Zayed Road, linking Al Safa Street with the Financial Center Street, thus ensuring smooth flow of traffic inbound from the Financial Center area to Al Safa Street towards Al Wasl Street as well as providing a curved path leading back to Sh Zayed Rd in the direction of Deira.

Commenting on the event, Nabeel Mohammed Salih, Director of Roads Department, RTA Traffic & Roads Agency, said: “By opening this phase, RTA has completed almost 85% of construction works in the main bridges and roads of the 1st Interchange at Sheikh Zayed Project; which is one of the key and most sophisticated projects currently undertaken by the RTA. Last May RTA opened bridges crossing Sheikh Zayed Road providing free traffic flow from Al Safa Street to the Financial Center Street and vice versa, and smooth traffic flow from Al Safa Street towards Dubai through these bridges. All works in the project will be completed and fully opened for traffic by the end of December 2010”.

“The 1st Interchange on Sheikh Zayed Road is one of the biggest interchanges in the Emirate, and the total length of bridges currently underway measures 3 km. Tunnels in the project extend 850 meters and the overall cost of the project, which is carried out by the Italian Salini Co., is around 617 million dirham,” said Nabeel.
“The significance of this project is underlined by its vital location on Sheikh Zayed Road in the vicinity of Burj Khalifa and the Financial Center. It provides these districts with a link with the main surrounding roads such as Sheikh Zayed Road, Financial Center St. and Al Safa St. This area is considered one of the busiest in Dubai with considerable importance attached being on Sheikh Zayed Road and bordering these vital and important districts for Dubai in the fields of tourism, economy and investment,” added Al Nabeel.

It is worth-mentioning that the 1st Interchange on Sheikh Zayed Road allows seamless traffic movement in both directions of Al Safa Street and Financial Center Street, and links Sheikh Zayed Road as well as the Upper & Lower Decks of the Financial Center Street. The project encompasses construction of a tunnel linking the road passing at the back of Mazaya Center with the Road passing behind the high rises overlooking Sheikh Zayed Road in addition to widening Al Safa Street, and improving the intersections thereon up to Al Wasl Road.

- Nabeel Mohammed Salih
- layout of parts opened in the project
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