Last update08/06/2018


Travels (101)

Taking a break doesnÔÇÖt mean breaking the bank. WeÔÇÖve put together a list (in alphabetical order) of destinations near the UAE that you can visit with USD 500 or less in your pocket. For a hassle-free travel experience, carry your gocash prepaid travel card with sufficient cash and let loose your sense of adventure.

Amman, Jordan
Hop on a flight to the Jordanian city, and visit its two-thousand-year-old Roman Theatre, as well as many other antiquities. The newly opened Jordan Museum is a must-see. Culture vultures will enjoy the Amman art scene, with a visit to the Darat al Funun art museum.

Beirut, Lebanon
The Lebanese capital is a trendy, vibrant cultural hub, with a fantastic urban party scene. Stroll the Corniche to people-watch, eat some street food for a few pence, and visit one of the many free art galleries showcasing contemporary creativity. FlyDubai will get you there from the UAE, and there are many budget hotels.

Colombo, Sri Lanka
Keep an eye out for bargain airline tickets and you can bag a flight to Colombo for under USD 250. Once there, itÔÇÖs easy to keep costs down. Take a rickshaw tour of Colombo and check out the Hindu and Buddhist temples. Then jump on a local bus to Galle, where you can stay in a beach cabana, eat delicious local food and soak up the sun for as little as USD 20 per day. Make sure to save some of your money to buy (and bring home) some Sri Lankan tea.

Destinations you can visit with USD 500 or less

Doha, Qatar
There are many flights to Doha every day from the UAE, some at rock bottom prices. Once there, check out the (free) Museum of Islamic Art, stroll along the Corniche, or pick up a bargain (and some delicious street food) at the Souk Waqif.

Manama, Bahrain
Manama may not be as glitzy as other Gulf capitals, but thereÔÇÖs still plenty to see and do for the budget-conscious traveller. Marvel at the Great Mosque (and get a free tour), learn more about the country at the Bahrain National Museum (entry USD 2). Visit the Al Areen Wildlife Park (USD 3) where you can see 500 species of animals such as oryx and camels.

Muscat, Oman
The Omani capital is a popular destination for a mini-break, with its beautiful location between the mountains and the sea. Check out the spices and textiles of the Mutrah market, watch the world go by at an outdoor caf├®, or marvel at the beauty of the Qaboos mosque. You can drive there from the UAE, or hop on a cheap Fly Dubai flight.

Mussandam, Oman
This area of Oman is stunningly beautiful, with scenic coastline on the eastern peninsula. The Khor Al Najd fijord is a must-see, giving this area its nickname of ÔÇ£Norway of the Middle EastÔÇØ. You can fish and spot dolphins, or visit the 16th century Khasab castle. You can just drive here from the UAE.

A walk through QatarÔÇÖs Arty Side

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Qatar might be in the spotlight for winning the rights to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, but this GCC country has also quietly emerged as the Gulf regionÔÇÖs artistic hub. Qatar has for years invested heavily in art, culture, heritage experiences, and supporting state-owned museums and galleries. Take a journey through QatarÔÇÖs artsy side by heading to some of its major museum spaces:

Arab Museum of Modern Art
Opened in 2010, MATHAF, the Arab museum of modern art focusses on contemporary Arab art in the Gulf. By visiting the exhibitions, you can explore the achievements of Arab artists through all forms of media. The permanent collection here, houses art works dating back to the mid-19th century. Lectures and educational programmes are designed to give visitors a deeper understanding of Arab art.

Fire Station Art Centre
The building is indeed an old fire station that was converted into a creative space. ItÔÇÖs where emerging artists take part in an ÔÇ£artist in residenceÔÇØ programme, where they work exclusively in the venue for a stipulated period, and have their works exhibited. 2017 is set to be a banner year, with exhibitions dedicated to art greats Pablo Picasso and Alberto Giacometti.


Museum of Islamic Art
Discover one of the worldÔÇÖs finest collections of Islamic art in this stunning building sitting right on the waters of the Corniche, designed by renowned architect Ieoh Ming Pei. The Mathaf Al-Fann Al-Islami (to give it its proper name) brings together works from across the Middle East and Central Asia, from ceramics and textiles to carpets and manuscripts.

National Museum of Qatar
The new museum is a truly breathtaking sight. Designed by architect Jean Nouvel and inspired by the petals of a desert rose, it takes shape through a series of interlocking disks built around the historic Amiri Palace ÔÇô the former home of the National Museum. The museumÔÇÖs designers want to create a new kind of cultural institution that prioritised participation, and theyÔÇÖve succeeded. Doors will open in 2017.

Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim al Thani Museum
Situated outside the city in Al Samriya, the Sheikh Faisal Museum is housed in a historic fort. Within, you will find an eclectic collection of over 15,000 artworks collected from around the world and encompassing Islamic art, rare vehicles and coins.

Apart from the museums, the Qatari government is committed to installing art in public places. YouÔÇÖll find striking pieces dotted around the city. Two more mega-museums are also due to open in the not-too-distant future: the Olympic and Sports Museum, and the Orientalist Museum. Their arrival will add even more heft to QatarÔÇÖs reputation as the artistic centre of the Gulf region.

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UAE Exchange takes immense pleasure in announcing the winners. 

And the winners are...

Winner Name Mobile Number ending with Prize
Ghinwa Merheb

Samsung Galaxy A5 

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500 AED Cash Voucher 

Congratulations to all the winners!
We extend our heartfelt gratitude and best wishes to all the participants who made this contest a huge success.

Winners are requested to send us their full name, address, contact number, email-id and a copy of identity proof to with ÔÇÿUAE National Day Contest 2016ÔÇÖ in the subject line.

winners of UAE National day contest

Are you an entrepreneur with a brilliant idea, but not enough money to turn your idea into a profitable finished product or service?

While banks may have teams dedicated to financing Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), that option may not be suitable for entrepreneurs just starting a business. To mitigate their own risk, banks will ask for guarantee or collaterals. These are difficult for entrepreneurs to furnish early in the business cycle.

So what can you do? 

Crowd Funding new

You can try other practical alternatives to bank finance. One such great option is crowdfunding. Having emerged as a saviour for start-ups with promising ideas, crowdfunding attract small denomination capital from many people. All you have to do is, use technology to pitch your ideas to a large audience. The crowdfunding revolution was sparked by the very successful, which by November 2016 had funded over 115,745 successful projects and raised over USD 2.7 billion in pledged money.

Crowdfunding comes in three basic flavours ÔÇô donation or reward-based, debt-based, and equity-based. Reward-based crowdfunding, as popularised by, sees investors give money to promising ideas based on the premise that the project creator will reward them with finished goods and services. For debt-based crowdfunding, the creator or entrepreneur promises to pay back the money borrowed. Meanwhile, equity-based crowdfunding sees the entrepreneur give away a stake in the business to each contributor.

UAE based start-up Beehive enables debt-based peer-to-peer lending. The idea is that investors lend money to promising businesses, and get returns on the capital they have invested. Start-ups benefit from lower capital-raising costs, while investors enjoy higher than average rates of return.

On the other hand, UAE based start-up Eureeca uses technology to enable its investor network to buy shares in promising businesses. These investors range from friends, family and casual investors to angel investors, venture capital funds and institutional investors.

Crowdfunding isnÔÇÖt the only venue available to entrepreneurs. But it certainly is helping plug a large financing gap. The International Finance Corporation (IFC) estimates a USD 2.7 trillion gap in funding for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in developing countries alone, with the MENA region alone needing an additional USD 320 billion in credit for MSMEs.

So if youÔÇÖre in the early stages of bringing your start-up to life, try crowdfunding. ItÔÇÖs a powerful addition to your capital-raising toolbox.

Want a quick break to unwind and recharge your batteries? No worries, because one-third of the worldÔÇÖs population is within a five-hour flight distance from the UAE. Before you board your plane, donÔÇÖt forget to top up your gocash prepaid travel card so you can efficiently organise your travel money. Here are just some of the wonderful holiday destinations within 5 hours from UAE:

5 holiday destinations under 5 hours away from the UAE

Istanbul ÔÇô Where Asia meets Europe

Turkey is a popular destination for GCC residents because of its short flight time. The country, on the cusp of both Asia and Europe, offers a mix of historical influences. Head to Istanbul for a cruise across the Bosphorus Strait. You could go on a walking tour around the city to take in some of its historical ambience. Make sure to stop by the famous Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque and donÔÇÖt forget to walk the lanes of the Grand Bazaar to immerse yourself in a labyrinth of colourful markets.
Travel time: 4+ hours from the UAE

Seychelles ÔÇô Island magic

Powdery white beaches, breezy tropical weather, clear blue waters ÔÇô the Seychelles is a quintessential relaxation destination. Cinnamon and coconut-drenched Creole curries offer a gastronomic gateway into the islandÔÇÖs colonial past. A pit stop at the food market in Victoria, Mahe, is highly recommended to sample fresh sea catch, sublime vanilla pods and aromatic tropical fruits.
Travel time: 4+ hours from the UAE

Georgia ÔÇô Tbilisi and beyond

Georgia is beautiful, and not very far from the UAE. Head to Tbilisi if itÔÇÖs your first time there, and soak in the varied history and architecture which borrow from medieval, classical and Soviet influences. Take a tour through Old Town and sample some delicious local specialities. If you have the time to make a day-trip, the ancient Davit Gareja monastery complex and Kazbegi National Park are both around 4 hours away from Tbilisi.
Travel time: 3.5 hours from the UAE

Cyprus ÔÇô Beaches and Culture

Secluded bays, pristine blue waters and long stretches of beach make Cyprus the perfect beach holiday. On top of that, the countryÔÇÖs unique blend of Greek and Turkish culture means you can sample a combination of both during your stay. Visit the monasteries and churches during the day and then stay up for CyprusÔÇÖs famous nightlife.
Travel time: 4+ hours from the UAE.

India ÔÇô A melting pot of experiences

Unwind at a hill-station resort at Shimla, relax on a houseboat over the Kerala backwaters or party away on the beaches of Goa. Alternatively, head to the capital city of New Delhi to tour a culturally rich collection of old temples and the Lodi Gardens public park. Or head to Taj Mahal, one of the seven wonders of the world or visit the red sandstone Qutub Minar, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. India offers myriad experiences and attractions for everyone. The country is also home to some of the best gastronomic experiences in the world, ranging from street food to fine dining.
Travel time: 3.5 hours

Safe Destinations to Travel Solo

Thursday, 03 November 2016

Love to wake up with an open heart and pinch yourself, to see if itÔÇÖs really you? Well, thatÔÇÖs how solo travel feels. Nourishing the human spirit, traveling alone feeds oneÔÇÖs soul with perspective, self-awareness and excitement that even the best personality development programs canÔÇÖt teach.

However, are your solo travel plans hurdled due to safety concerns?

HereÔÇÖs our list of safe destinations for unaccompanied exploration. Our suggestions are based on the Safe Cities Index 2015, an Economist Intelligence Unit report. The destinations have been declared safe keeping in mind digital security, health security, infrastructure safety, and personal safety. The world is not such a bad place after all!

Solo travel destination

1 Japan

While prepping for Olympics 2020, Tokyo and Osaka have been declared one of the safest cities in the world. Travelling alone, you can explore accommodation options such as hostel stays, couch surfing, capsule stay or home stays to connect with the warm locals to appreciate their culture and tradition. DonÔÇÖt miss to see the fall foliage and dine at the interesting themed cafes along the neon lit streets of Tokyo!

2. Singapore

The city in a garden, Singapore is rated as the second safest place in the world. A land of contrast, Singapore is an ideal location for shopaholic solo travellers, as itÔÇÖs equipped with an efficient public transportation, ultra-modern malls, and delicious food. If you feel hotels are boring and expensive, try bed and breakfast or capsule hostel options for fuss-free economical stay.

3 Scandinavia

A dream destination for solo travellers, Nordic countries such as Denmark, Iceland, Finland, Norway and Sweden have the lowest crime rates and the highest quality of life across the world. To experience the best of Nordic fairy-tale you can stay at castles or manor houses. You can also opt for accommodations at farmhouses or cottages and laze around the rolling meadows and azure lakes to experience the Scandinavian countryside.

4. Australia

Fun and lively, Australia is one of the safest destinations to travel. Cities such as Sydney and Melbourne are known for their culture of music and backpacking stories. So the locals are very warm and friendly towards solo travellers. Opting for short stay apartments is a good alternative to bond with locals and avoid expensive hotels.

5. UAE

Oozing opulence and warmth, UAE has one of the lowest crime rates in the world. Abu Dhabi and Dubai are architectural marvels that are beyond imagination. With man-made islands, futuristic skyscrapers, giant aquariums, biggest malls and sensational shopping arenas, UAE is the wonderland of the Middle-East. You have to spend minimum a night at the Bedouin desert camps to make the most of your trip.

Traveling solo is a voyage to self- discovery. Even though the above locales are considered safe, youÔÇÖll still need to exercise caution to avoid mishaps. Secure you original documents in the hotel room safe, and donÔÇÖt carry all the cash in your wallet. Have a dummy wallet, so that in case you are cornered, you can hand it over and escape unscathed.

If you plan on visiting more than one country, then ensure you carry your multi currency travel card. Several cards offer up to 16 world currencies, POS payments, ATM withdrawals, interest rates locking facility and also free travel insurance.

So, where would you like to travel solo?

Dreamt of waking up in a beautiful island decked with palm trees, surrounded by clear blue waters and tropical jungles with exotic flora and fauna?

Then itÔÇÖs high time you plan this dream vacation in the Caribbean. With white sandy beaches, turquoise waters, tropical drinks, and a warm laid back lifestyle, the Caribbean islands lures vacationers from all over the world.

Wondering if the vibrant Caribbean will pinch your pockets? DonÔÇÖt worry, weÔÇÖll help you find affordable islands to chill out. Here you go!

budget islands in caribbean


Rich in expansive coral reefs, marine life, and ocean caves, Curaçao is a great place to go snorkelling, scuba-diving, rowing, canoeing, turtle watching or just lay back. Check out accommodation options such as Scuba Lodge & Suites, WAVE Hotel & Cafe Curacao, Plaza Hotel Curacao for reasonable prices.

Dominican Republic

Dramatically lined with rocky cliffs, wind-swept dunes and serene mangrove lagoons, the Dominican Republic consists of glamorous islands such as Punta Cana, Puerto Plata, Samana and La Romana. You can enjoy stunning mountain scenery, desert scrublands, evocative colonial architecture and beaches in these islands. While looking for accommodation, ensure you consider Viva W Palace, Four Points by Sheraton Puntacana Village and Hotel Merengue for best prices.


The land of craggy coastlines, hidden waterways and Bob Marley, Jamaica is the jewel of the Caribbean. However you can explore islands such as Negril, Ocho Rios, Montego Bay even on a budget. Look for hotels such as Seastar Inn , Samsara Cliffs Resort, Silver Seas and Crystal Ripple Beach Lodge for economic accommodation options.


Have you seen pink sand beaches? Then head to the Little Britain of Caribbean, Barbados and bask in the luscious beauty of the beach in the mornings. Snorkel and swim with the turtles at daybreak and have smashing parties at night. You need not worry about cost, if you consider these economic stay options at South Gap Hotel , Butterfly Beach Hotel and Rostrevor Hotel.


The gorgeous desert island surrounded by turquoise waters, Aruba is fringed with palm trees and kissed by the gentle tropical breeze. You can bask in this striking beauty, even if you are on a tight budget. Try hotels and resorts such as MVC Eagle Beach, Brickell Bay Beach Club and Villa Sol Palmas for affordable accommodation options.

To cut more cost, you can opt for alternative hospitality options from Mind my house, House carers, Couchsurfing, Servas, Hospitality Club and Airbnb. Apart from looking for economic accommodation options, another area where you can save money is while booking flight tickets. Check out websites such as Skyscanner, SkipLagged and Airfarewatchdog for good deals in flight tickets. You can also save on the currency exchange rates by locking ideal rates using a multi-purpose travel card and avail free travel insurance too.

Now go ahead, pack your bags and get ready to groove to the Caribbean rhythm!

Shopping during your vacation abroad is an irresistible indulgence. Imagine standing proud of your bargain conquests at the store, and you find out your wallet is missing. More guilt and frustration creeps in when the nearby surveillance camera shows that your purse was picked while you were bonding with the goodies down the store aisle.

Could there be a worse nightmare ever?

A stolen wallet scenario is more than just losing money. Your IDs, licences, debit/credit cards, business/ personal contact and keys could be lost along with the cash. So, instead of flying off the handle, try to get a quick grasp of the situation. Make sure you take the necessary steps below to salvage the situation.

stolen wallet

Gain your composure and make a list

Calm down, take a deep breath, think clearly and write down the contents of your wallet. Also make a list of the people you need to notify about the loss to prevent any misuse. DonÔÇÖt miss to make a note of pictures or any other personal details in your wallet. This will help you warn your dear ones against any unsolicited advances.

Report the theft

Go to the nearest police station and file a report on the stolen wallet. YouÔÇÖll need a copy of this report to process any duplicate IDs, insurance claims, card replacements etc.

Keep your money safe

Call the 24 hour helpline of your bank and debit/ credit card companies to block the card usage immediately. This will stop you from losing your money in addition to suffering from a ruined trip!

Get help from your embassy

ItÔÇÖs a good idea to notify your countryÔÇÖs embassy at the destination. They will be helping you out with the right contacts to get in touch.

Protect identity and property

If your ID, passport and driving licences were part of your wallet, then immediately call the respective offices back home. Notify the theft and also request for duplicate copies. Since your name, work and residence addresses have been stolen, take help from neighbours to watch out for strange occurrences around your place. Once you reach home, invest in a good security system, as organised criminals donÔÇÖt hesitate to cross borders for their loot.

Claim Insurance

Speak to your travel insurance provider to begin processing your claim. They will need you to submit the police report before going ahead with the process.

Receive money in an instant

In case you do not have access to any cash, ask your friend or family member from home to send money as soon as possible. There are several trustworthy instant money transfer providers in the market, through whom you can receive money within minutes.

In the future to avoid mishaps such as these, please do not carry original IDs, passports or all the cash in your wallet. Always leave some reserve cash and photocopies of all important IDs and documents in your hotel room locker. ItÔÇÖs safe to carry a multi-purpose travel card, which can be used at POS machines, ATMs etc., and if stolen can be reported and blocked. Attaching digital trackers to your wallet is also a good idea to track down your precious belongings.

Raise your guards and be vigilant always, to protect your money, identity and property!

Getting hitched soon?

ItÔÇÖs magical when your whirlwind romance blooms into a beautiful wedding. Most love birds today prefer a barefoot bash type wedding instead of a conventional one. Recent trends show that destination wedding is the in-thing with couples choosing exotic memorable weddings over elaborate societal obligations.

Great news is that destination weddings are getting more enticing with extended honeymoon option, lower cost and ability to spend quality time with closest family and friends. Now couples can plan their wedding anywhere around the world. Right from pristine beaches, game reserves and historic houses, the possibilities are endless.

Below are our personal favourites to seal the deal!

1 900 X 500 Pixels 3


Exchanging vows amidst turquoise waters, white sands, lush rain forests, cascading waterfalls and volcanic mountains, may sound like a wedding in paradise!

Multicultural Hawaii provides you one of the best spots to get married irrespective of the theme or style of wedding. Islands such as Oahu, Maui, Kauai and the Big Island offer several wedding options for couples to choose from.

Barcelona, Spain

Fancy getting married in Neo-Gothic castles, iconic museums or at architectural landmarks with a panoramic view of the city? Then plan your wedding at Barcelona, a jewel in the Mediterranean crown!

A significant cultural centre famous for its Romanesque, Gothic and Modernist architecture, Barcelona is filled with stunning landscapes such as the romantic coves at Costa Brava, beautiful beaches at Costa Dorada and the majestic Pyrenees Mountains.

Reykjavik, Iceland

Looking for an eccentric yet hip wedding by the black sand beaches or where the tectonic plates meet? Then Iceland is your spot, with geothermal pools, ice hotels and volcanic mountains.

If you are blissfully unaware of this Nordic beauty, then itÔÇÖs high time you include Iceland to your wedding destination bucket.

Masai Mara, Kenya

Have you ever dreamt of saying ÔÇ£I doÔÇØ in the presence of grazing gazelles, playful cubs, magnificent elephants and happy giraffes?

Then go ahead, tie the knot in the presence of natureÔÇÖs greatest spectacle at Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya. The wedding would be conducted in beautiful camps and is totally safe.

Dubai, UAE

Dubai never ceases to impress the world with its luxury wedding scenario at ultramodern hotels and resorts. However the exotic charm of a simple desert wedding is undeniable, when planned at the right time of the year.

Getting married in a Bedouin camp by the oasis, against the breath-taking back drop of fire torches and the canopy of stars is beyond romantic.

To avoid food mishaps, go local with banquet preferences. Play modest on the decorations so that the natural beauty of the locale is not tarnished. And it saves money too. Limit your guests to only the people you want to spend this best moment of your life.

Since you will be traveling to a foreign destination to get married, reach out to a trustworthy forex service provider for good foreign exchange rates. There are also several prepaid multi-currency travel cards that come with great features viz. free insurance plans, ATM withdrawals, POS transactions etc. You could also pre-load these cards and give them to your guests to be used at the destination.

Plan well ahead and donÔÇÖt stress over trivial details. Remember youÔÇÖve come half-way round the world to realise your faire-tale!

In search of a musical holiday!

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Music is the soul of life. Every genre of music is unique with an innate power to alter energy levels, improve mood and even heal emotional trauma. Like food, good music is a fascinating therapy that speaks to your heart.

UNESCO Creative Cities Network named 19 cities as the ÔÇ£City of MusicÔÇØ, in 2015. LetÔÇÖs have a look at 5 cities from the list.

Best Destinations for music

Liverpool, UK

The birthplace of The Beatles and The Mojos, Liverpool lives and breathes music. Recognised by Guinness World Records as the World Capital City of Pop in 2001, Liverpool celebrates and represents several music genres and cultures. Well-known for its cross-genre music form, this city has something for every music aficionado. So, while in this city, you must surely drop by the Concert Square, Mathew Street, Hardman Street and Hope Street for eclectic musical venues. Cavern, Zanzibar and EricsÔÇÖs club are spots you should definitely hit, to enjoy the best of Mersey beat, Pop, Jazz, Rock, R&B, Blues, and other contemporary music forms.

Salvador, Brazil

The true party capital of Brazil, Salvador is home to hip-swaying genre Ax├®, the Afro-Caribbean fusion of Marcha, Reggae, and Calypso. This city is a melting pot of musical forms such as Samba, Afro, MPB, Candombl├® music, Bolero and Salsa. Pelourinho, the old city centre comes alive with music and entertainment during the evenings. Stop by venues such as Pra├ºa Quincas Berro D'Agua, Largo Pedro Archanjo and Pra├ºa Teresa Batista for an enthralling musical experience.

Kingston, Jamaica

The hometown of Bob Marley, one of the most influential musicians of all time, Jamaica is a paradise for Caribbean music fanatics. Music forms such as Ska (fusion of Caribbean Mento and Calypso), Rocksteady, Reggea and Dub have their roots in this region. DonÔÇÖt miss out on the vibrant night music life at the Redbones Blues Caf├®, Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre and the Oneil's Place.

Varanasi, India

Varanasi, the cultural hub of India pulsates with mysticism, classic art and of course heavenly Hindustani music. The soul soothing rendition combined with musical instruments such as Shehnai, Sarod, Tabla and Sitar takes the listener to a different plateau. World renowned musicians such as Pandit Ravi Shankar, Ustad Bismillah Khan and Pandit Jotin Bhattacharya all hail from this beautiful city of Varanasi. The holy grail of Varanasi is The International Music Centre Ashram, which hosts concerts of the musical exponents. If you are staying a bit longer, you could even try learning this beautiful form of art.

Adelaide, Australia

With the strongest live music scenario, Adelaide is famous for Oz rock, Opera, and Contemporary indigenous music that embraces several genres such as folk, blues, pop, hip hop and classical music. The live vibrant music scene in Adelaide encourages upcoming bands and solo artists. While in Adelaide ensure you hop into venues such as Adelaide Entertainment Centre, Adelaide Unibar ,The Crown & Anchor (The Cranker) and the Ed Castle for a good jig.

Now give wings to your heart and fly into the city of music. Tell us your favourite musical destination!

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