News headlines

Excerpts from U.A.E. Dailies

Ban on import of day-old chicken, eggs from India

DUBAI — 21 Feb.:The recent outbreak of bird flu reported in some parts of India has forced the UAE to impose a temporary ban on import of one-day-old chicken and eggs.

Earlier, the UAE had imposed a ban on all live birds and poultry from all South East Asian countries including India, following reports of bird flu outbreak in these countries early this year.

“But, the recent reports on the outbreak of bird flu in India has forced the UAE to now stop all imports of eggs and one-day-old chicken,” a source at the Animal Wealth Department at the Ministry of Environment and Water said yesterday.

The ministry source disclosed that the UAE imports a large quantity of one-day-old chicken and eggs from India, which is now stopped temporarily, following the confirmation of the bird flu outbreak by the OIE and WHO.

He noted: “Around 25 local poultry farms in the UAE imported one-day old chicken and eggs from India, and the recent ban will surely affect the local poultry industry, resulting in a short supply of chicken in the local market.”

However, Dr Hussain Hassanin, Secretary of the UAE Poultry Producers Association, denied any import of one-day-old chicken by local poultry farms from India. He refused to give further details on the impact on the local market following the recent import ban from India.

Ibrahim Al Bahr, Operations Manager at Union Cooperatives Union in Dubai assured that the cooperative outlets will not be affected by the ban on import of poultry from India, Egypt, and other countries, because “we stock fresh chicken sourced from local poultry farms only.”

He, however, confirmed that the recent reports of bird flu outbreak in India and Egypt have resulted in a slight drop in the sales of chicken and eggs at the Union Cooperative outlets in the country over the last few days.

Meanwhile, an official at the Ministry of Environment and Water has urged people not to panic because the UAE is taking necessary measures to combat the spread of bird flu in the country.


No restrictions on flights from India

DUBAI — 21 Feb.:Airline sources said there are currently no restrictions being implemented with regard to incoming flights from India, despite news reports that the Indian state of Maharashtra has confirmed its first outbreak of the dreaded H5N1 strain of the avian influenza.

“We are in contact with the Dubai Department of Health and Medical Services with regard to a Pandemic Preparedness Plan. Should the World Health Organisation (WHO) declare the bird flu to be a pandemic, our preparedness plan will be activated,” a spokesperson of the Emirates airline said.

The spokesperson said that Emirates follows guidelines laid down by the WHO and the International Air Transport Association (IATA), both of which have ongoing programmes preparing to deal with a bird flu pandemic should it occur.

“Currently, the WHO is not recommending any special entry or exit screening measures for travellers and is only cautioning against close contact with poultry. There is also no recommendation to defer non-essential travel,” the airline spokesperson said.

Captain Mohamed Ahmed, Director of Operations of Air Arabia, also disclosed that their airline is following all existing regulations and preventions as stipulated by the UAE regulatory bodies.


Stress on healing rift over cartoons

ABU DHABI - 21 Feb.: An Arab political analyst has said the international community should urgently address the issue of freedom of expression in order to heal the rift which surfaced in the wake of the crisis over the offensive cartoon.

“Perhaps, the most important issues which need to be addressed in the light of these events are; the possible limits on ‘freedom of expression’, the restraints on the right to protest, and the undesirable mixing up of religious, social and political issues in any contentious situation,” says Bishara Nassar Sharbel, a veteran journalist and university professor.

He said in a paper titled ‘Crisis Over Offensive Cartoons: How to Bridge the Rift?’ published by the Abu Dhabi-based Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies and Research (ECSSR) that the crisis over the offensive cartoons had not only revealed the divergence in values and the difference in the historical evolution of the Christian West and the Islamic East, but has also indicated that political conflicts aggravate sensitive situations and provoke public outrage.

"The events that occurred subsequent to the publication of the cartoons failed the very values which are cherished in both the Christian West and the Islamic East. The concept of ‘freedom of expression’, which grew with socio-historical developments in the Renaissance period, the French Revolution, and the modern age has suffered a setback in failing to meet its first and most inviolable condition, namely, not to insult or humiliate others. “Indulging in such insults leads to anarchy and is contrary to the spirit of freedom itself, which is based on the respect for privacy and decorum. One has to be mindful of the consequences of an insult directed at the sentiments of millions, perhaps billions of people.”

He said the second failure was on part of the Muslims. “They failed to understand that in European countries, the role of a government is that of an organiser and that it does not assume the powers of a ruler, who may enjoy absolute control over all the affairs of its people. These countries place the rights of the individual before that of the community, and their governments cannot enforce sweeping restrictions on its people or any group of people. It is only the judiciary in these countries which has the power to judge and differentiate acts of freedom from acts of slander and aggression.” Dr Sharbel said if demonstrations against the caricatures were deemed lawful in the Muslim world, the acts of wanton sabotage and arson against diplomatic missions, along with threats issued to European citizens, certainly contradicted Islamic laws which stipulate that no one can be held accountable or be punished for crimes perpetrated by someone else.

He gave a set of recommendations to promote dialogue among civilisations.

“The easiest way to solve the problem is not through theoretical analysis or through education of the masses, but through modernisation of religion. Any study within this context will only be meaningful and scientific if an attempt is made at establishing the modern ideals of statehood, by relieving the state from the strains of metaphysics and by separating the essence of religion from religious ideology, that comes in the way of community development on the one hand and withholds the ability of true faith from promoting human progress.”


Ambulance ‘delayed’ when boy faints at Emaar Springs residence

DUBAI — 21 Feb.: Residents of Emaar Properties have again voiced their concern over the lack of essential medical facilities at its various communities, to deal with health emergencies.

A resident yesterday complained about the absence of a health clinic and ambulance facility on the premises, which, she said, nearly killed a three-year old Indian boy, Ashish. The boy fell unconscious outside his home at 7.15pm, while playing with friends. While the family waited for the ambulance, his condition worsened, leaving him breathless.

Contacted by Khaleej Times, a member of the security staff at Emirates Hills denied there was any delay in the arrival of the ambulance. “When we were informed about the child's condition, the security staff  immediately summoned a police ambulance, and it reached the Villa No.5, located on street 4 at Springs 5, at 7.40pm. “But, the mother of the victim was not found in her villa since she had panicked and rushed to the main gate of Springs 5, delaying the ambulance in reaching out to the child quickly," the security said.  A neighbour of the victim's family said the ambulance took a while to reach the spot. “The police ambulance arrived after 8.15 pm and the child's condition had worsened due to lack of immediate medical help,” the neighbour said.

The child was rushed to Al Wasl hospital where doctors attended on him immediately. He is reportedly out of danger. “While the neighbours heaved a sigh of relief,  Ashish’s parents were not available for comment since they were busy with the doctors.

The residents complained about the lack of a medical clinic or hospital in the vicinity of the Emaar properties to attend to emergencies.

“With over 7,000 villas located in the four communities of Emaar properties, it is shocking there is no clinic or hospital in the vicinity to attend to emergencies. A few months ago, we had learnt that Emaar had stationed a 24-hour ambulance service, but probably the service has been discontinued."

The Emaar security staff denied this. "We launched the service two months ago and an ambulance with three paramedics is still stationed outside the security office of Emaar. However, sometimes the ambulance is not available due to the change of shift of the staff. Then we alert the police ambulance service through 999 emergency service", the security said.

Meanwhile, residents said, “We need more facilities — and a health clinic in the area.” The closest clinic, residents say, is located in the Jebel Ali Gardens, but this is not open 24 hours.


New office-bearers

ABU DHABI — 21 Feb.: The India Social Centre, the apex organisation of expatriate Indians in the capital, elected its new office bearers on Saturday.

Thomas John is the new President. A well-known social figure and manging director of Bin Sagar Group, John has twice held the post in 2001 and 2004. He was also the President of Malayalee Samajam in 1998 and 2000. K. Anil Kumar, General-Secretary, C. Karunakaran, Vice-President, John .P. Varghese, Assistant Secretary and K.M. Santosh, Sports Secretary are other winners.


CBSE students to get ‘cool-off’ time during exams

DUBAI — 21 Feb: Students appearing for the Class X and XII examinations of the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) starting next month will now get a “cool-off” time of 15 minutes for running through the question paper.

Over 450,000 students in India and overseas are expected to appear for the Class XII examinations this year, while more than 640,000 will sit for the Class X exams.

Under the new plan announced recently, students will be allowed entry into the examination centres 45 minutes before the specified time on the first day and 30 minutes on subsequent days, quoted The Hindu, an English daily. While the exam will start as usual at 10-30am, the question paper will be distributed at around 10-15am, giving students ample time to fill personal details on the answer sheet and read the question paper properly. Also, the Board has increased the number of pages in the main answer books to avoid handling of supplementary sheets.

Further, the question papers have been designed in such a way that they can be completed within two-and-a-half hours.

Three subjects of Class X and seven of Class XII have been restructured to suit the new format.

Another major change is an amendment to Rule 43(ii) of the examination by-laws that would now allow students who fail in their sixth subject to take the compartment or improvisation exam in the same year.

At a Press conference in India recently, CBSE Chairman, Ashok Ganguly, described the move as significant.

"Students often take physical education or some other light subject as a sixth subject. Even if they fail to clear a main paper like chemistry or physics, they are declared passed because they have cleared five subjects. But then students in Class XII often face difficulty in getting admission as they don't have the required subject. The new rule will help such students improve their score now.”

Elaborate preparations have been made to ensure that students do not use unfair means, he added.

This year will also mark the use of internal assessment in social science for Class X students, with the theory paper accounting for only 80 marks.

Students of Class XII will for the first time take the exam for fashion studies. In the Gulf, it will be only students from the Indian High School (IHS), Dubai, taking the fashion studies exams this year, said IHS CEO Ashok Kumar.

Noting that the helplines had been receiving a good response, Ganguly asked the students to remain calm.

“We have been receiving a lot of calls from worried parents saying their child was normal and not tense about the exam and so may not perform well.

So we probably need to focus on the parents too. Students must take it as a routine thing and leave no room for anxiety," he stressed.

The Helpline centre in the UAE located at IHS, Dubai is currently operational and will continue to offer guidance and help to both parents and students over the telephone until the end of the examination.


Men 'on date' plunge from building

Dubai: 21 Feb.: Two visitors who claimed they had arranged to go on a double date ended up jumping from the second floor of a hotel apartment while fleeing from a resident who thought they were thieves.

Dubai Public Prosecution has charged one of the two Armenians with trespass and attempted robbery. The police heard the duo had met two Russian women who agreed to go on a date with them.

The men told police they headed to the women's hotel apartment in Al Ghusais. One of the men went ahead to the apartment and knocked on the door.

He noticed it was unlocked and entered the room. The occupant jumped towards him and screamed in his face. The Armenian started running down the corridor. The second man followed him while the occupant chased them, shouting "thieves, thieves!"

The men went to the second floor and found an exit, to their surprise it led straight to the street. One of the men broke his legs and arm while the other broke an arm and a leg. They were treated after which the man who had entered the room was arrested. A court will rule on the case soon.


Dubai roads see a fatality every day this month

Dubai: Feb. 20: One person has been killed every day on an average in traffic accidents this month, police said yesterday.

Nineteen people have been killed in accidents in February up to yesterday, while 25 were killed in January. Statistics from Dubai Police's Traffic Department revealed that 17 people were killed in January 2005. Twenty-five people were killed in February last year.

A total of 44 people have been killed since the beginning of this year in various road accidents.

A six-year-old UAE national boy was killed on Sunday after being run over in Al Quoz. A small pick-up driven by a Pakistani hit the boy while he was running to cross the road in the evening.

The driver told police he was not speeding, but he did not see the boy because it was dark. Police said the boy flew 30 metres on impact and died on the spot. Police said there was no one with the child at the time of the accident.

Pedestrian dead

Another man was killed on Sunday at the Nad Al Hamr interchange. The Indian was trying to cross the road, which does not have a pedestrian crossing, when a large pick-up driven by a Pakistani hit him.

Police said the driver was not speeding, but was taken by surprise when he saw the victim running across. He tried avoiding him, but could not. He hit the man, swerved to the left and hit the pavement. The victim sustained serious injuries and died in hospital.

Last year, 236 people were killed in traffic accidents compared to 206 in 2004, a near 15 per cent increase.

Dubai Police have taken a number of measures to curb speeding such as installing 247 radar devices all over the emirate.

Still, radar violations continue unabated with motorists spending almost Dh1.5 million in fines. Dubai sees one radar violation every minute.



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