NEWS FROM THE U.A.E.
Excerpts from UAE Dailies
Worker crushed to death
DUBAI — 11 May :A 31-year-old Indian construction worker, Birbal Singh, was crushed to death after a truck ran over him on the Jumeirah Beach Road yesterday morning while he was working on the Jumeirah beautification project.
Employed with Bin Laden Constructions, Birbal was measuring the road line at 8am when the company's heavy construction vehicle, which was reversing, ran over him. He was killed on the spot.
The police have arrested the truck driver Anwar, an Egyptian.
“Everything happened within seconds. We were sitting together and measuring the road line. We did not even realise the truck was reversing. Suddenly I saw the truck had passed behind me crushing Birbal to death. There was nothing we could do to save him as he died within seconds,” said a colleague who had a narrow escape.
The truck was parked overnight at the site. Police rushed to the spot, and the body was taken to the morgue.
"The company announced a day off for the workers soon after the incident. We all came back to our labour camp but still could not believe that Birbal Singh is not with us any more," the colleague said.
When contacted, an official of the company said Birbal’s medical insurance amount will be sent to his family in India.
“All our workers have insurance. We will make sure the money will be sent to the family as early as possible. It was an unfortunate incident. The company will do all things possible to repatriate the body soon," said the official. The company will bear all the expenses for the repatriation and send a person along with the body.
Birbal Singh, hailing from Bharo-mazara village in Nawan Shahar District in North Indian state of Punjab, had been working with Bin Laden contracting company for past nine years. He left behind a 18-month-old child and wife, besides old parents and two younger brothers and two sisters. He was the breadwinner for the entire family. He was earning Dh900 per month.
Gittar Singh, Hardep Singh and Gurmeet Singh, close friends of Birbal, said they were working together for the past nine years.
"We lived in the same camp and always talked about family and problems. He was very optimistic and a pleasant person and supported his entire family back home in India," one of them said.
Man’s apparent suicide highlights outpass issue
Dubai : 11 May:An Indian worker who allegedly took his own life out of frustration at his inability to secure an outpass to allow him to return home to India, has highlighted a growing problem among bluecollar workers.
Raja Reddy reportedly committed suicide on Sunday because he had lost his passport and could not get an outpass to leave the country.
Indian Consular officials were quick to point out that people did not realise that an outpass is not a solution or the way out of the UAE for illegal workers.
BS Mubarak, the Consul for Labour Welfare at the Indian Consulate in Dubai, said: “It is unfortunate that he [Reddy] committed suicide. We have no records of him having applied for an outpass. But workers need to be educated about the issue and should know not to give away their passports and to avoid working on visit visas.” He said that an outpass was an emergency certificate, a document that was issued in case of an emergency of any kind.
He said: “Many illegal labourers working in the UAE lose their passports to their sponsors or to the agents who bring them to the country.
“They want to go back to India and have to apply for an outpass.
“Many social organisations, recognised by the consulate, bring such people to us.
“We have to ascertain the nationality and the emergency of the situation; the outpass is issued once the person proves his nationality.” He added that the consulate issues a supporting document to prove the specific emergency.
However he added the outpass was only the first step to leaving the UAE. Once it (the outpass) has been issued, a worker then has to approach the immigration department. The worker will be held because they have stayed in the country illegally.
“Many people come back to us even after we issue the outpass.At times the immigration officials let them go or reduce their fines but this is not a rule; it is just an exception on humanitarian grounds,” said Mubarak.
“They have to understand that if they have committed some sort of violation [usually labourers have stayed in the country] they will have to face legal consequences, including imprisonment and deportation in some cases.
“People take these important documents for granted and assume it is OK to give away their passports, as they will be automatically get an outpass which will free them.”
Police warning to women over Bluetooth blackmail
Dubai - 11 May:Do not keep private images on your mobile phones – that is the stark warning from Dubai Police.
The increase in Bluetooth crime prompted the police call to women not to keep their private images on their mobile phones. Police said that these pictures can be stolen using the latest mobile phone technologies and misused.
Brigadier Mohammad Saeed Al Marri, the Deputy Director of Dubai Police Community Services Department, said that from the launch of the Al Ameen service in September 2003 until the end of last year, the police had received a total of 210 complaints.
“These complaints were from ladies who said that men were blackmailing them, saying they will distribute these pictures if these girl did not agree on fulfilling their requirements.” He added: “Some of these girls were in relationships with these men and gave them their pictures willingly. When they broke up, these men were using these pictures to blackmail them.
“However, we also found that other girls’ pictures were stolen by hackers from their mobile phones via Bluetooth or other technologies.” Brigadier Al Marri said that this is against the law. He urged women who found themselves in such situations to immediately contact the police.
“They can do so by going directly to the police station, or if they want to maintain privacy they can call Al Ameen on 800 4888,” he said.
He said that police had solved the 210 cases by confiscating the mobile phones in question and erasing all the images and video clips that they contained.
Brigadier Al Marri said that anyone who blackmails another person using her pictures, will be prosecuted under article 532 of the penal code. The offence is punishable by imprisonment.
He said that technology had developed very quickly recently and that many people were using it in the wrong way.
“This has a negative impact and can lead to many social problems,” he added.
Brigadier Al Marri added that the police have come up with many new regulations concerning cyber crime due to rapid development of this field, and the increasing number of complaints received by police.
Many beggars may have more money than you do
Dubai: 11 May:Do not be duped into giving money to beggars – some of them may actually be richer than you, a senior municipal official has warned.
The department in charge of cracking down on illegal vendors and beggars is urging residents to discourage beggars by reporting them to the 24-hour emergency telephone number, instead of being charitable to them.
Khalil Ali Hussain, the Director of Administrative affairs Department at the Dubai Municipality, said: “I would caution people against beggars and would advise that, should they see beggars on the streets, they should immediately contact Dubai Municipality who will then catch these beggars.
“People give them money and other things because they take pity on them. They don’t know that some of them are a lot richer than they actually seem – some even richer than the person who they ask for money.” Some, who pose as the poor and destitute, even have proper jobs, Hussain said.
“Not all are on visit visas or are illegal entrants; we often come across people who are legally working here.Whenever they are caught we inform the sponsors and warn them,” he added.
A team of inspectors from the municipality, immigration and the police conducts daily inspections to catch these illegal workers and beggars.
Last month 122 beggars were caught by authorities. Depending on the violation these people are taken into custody and action is taken against them.
Hussain added that controlling beggars was a problem as many of them entered Dubai from neighbouring emirates. Some even manage to get into the country despite being deported.
Hussain warned that a lot of people also brought along children with them in order to create more sympathy.They bring in children especially during the Holy month of Ramadan and on Fridays.
“We often find that, in case of children who go begging, it is the parents who send them. It is only when we find these children that we are able to trace their parents,” Hussain said.
Bishop says film ban will be counter-productive
Dubai: 11 May:The head of the Catholic church in the Arabian Peninsula has urged Christians to exercise restraint over controversial movie The Da Vinci Code which premieres in the UAE later this month.
Although the Vatican has stepped up its offensive against the Dh250m blockbuster and the Council of Churches in Jordan has called for a ban, Bishop Paul Hinder told Gulf News Christians had to make their own judgment about whether to see the movie.
"We are not going to oppose the movie because it would be counter-productive. We would rather count on the intelligence of the people to realise that what they see on screen isn't true," he said.
The movie stars Tom Hanks and is based on Dan Brown's best-selling novel. The storyline suggests that Jesus married follower Mary Magdalene and they had a child, starting a bloodline that still exists, something the Vatican vehemently denies.
"I have read the novel and I agree that the theories postulated in the book are objectionable. The book presents a distorted view of Christianity and any movie based on it is bound to hurt the sentiments of not only Christians but Muslims as well. I hope the movie doesn't do well in the UAE," Bishop Hinder added.
Dubai-based Pastor Pat Worsley agreed it "would not be appropriate" to resist the movie.
"We neither oppose nor endorse its showing. We don't want to ride on the commercialisation and marketing hype."
While Dan Brown's novel is fictional there has been little attempt by the author to present the story as a figment of imagination. As well as doubts from Catholic and Protestant churches, some Islamic scholars are also denouncing the book and movie, although not so strongly.
"The content of the movie contradicts the truth about Jesus as revealed in the Quran," said Ahmad Al Qubaisi, a senior Islamic scholar at the department of Islamic Affairs and Charitable Works in Dubai.
"You can watch the movie, but don't believe in it because that would be tantamount to kafara (apostasy). It is a piece of fiction and one should watch it that way."
The movie was due to be released on May 17, but has been postponed until May 31 after a delay in it receiving the green light from UAE censors.
Officials have stated only one small scene has been cut in the film depicting an albino assassin stripping naked in church to pray. The film's distributors have reportedly doubled the number of copies of the movie being brought to UAE cinemas in expectation of the massive demand when it opens.
Truck driver kills man while reversing
Dubai: 11 May: One person died and four people were injured in accidents over the last one week. The causes of the accidents ranged from careless driving to speeding.
An Indian was killed yesterday after a truck driver reversed without noticing the man standing behind the vehicle.
The accident took place on Jumeirah Road near Palm Strip.
A person was injured on Airport Road when he was hit by a driver who was accused of careless driving.
An Indian worker was injured when he was run over by a truck. The heavy vehicle is used for lifting containers in Jebel Ali Free Zone.
The victim had left his vehicle but did not notice that the truck was reversing.
A young Iranian woman and a man accompanying her were injured after a collision between her car and a truck. The accident took place as the 21-year-old woman was speeding down Al Soufoh Road near Dubai Marina. She hit the truck as she attempted to get on to the main road.
The police said she was driving at a speed of at least 120kmph, while the speed limit on that road is 60kmph.
The cause of the accident was entering the road before making sure the way was clear.
The victim and her companion were taken to hospital by the air rescue wing.
GMC Hospital cuts maternity ward charges
AJMAN — 11 May: The GMC Hospital Ajman has reduced its charges for normal deliveries to Dh1,000 only for patients opting for general ward facilities.
GMC Hospital has upgraded many facilities and has set a target of receiving more than 1,000 outpatients a day for quality care at nominal prices. GMC Hospital has also tied up with Health Management Corporation located at Dubai Health Care City for the accreditation of the hospital to meet international standards. The hospital has a modern Women’s Health Centre with specialist doctors available round the clock, six delivery suites, four major operation theatres, neonatal care, VIP and deluxe rooms.
CNG will provide solution to polluting vehicles in capital
ABU DHABI — 11 May: Significant improvements in Abu Dhabi's air quality can be expected, particularly in the urban areas, if there is a move towards using Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), observed the Technical Committee constituted under an Abu Dhabi Executive Council Decree early last year.
Twenty per cent of the most polluting vehicles in Abu Dhabi will have to switch over to CNG by 2012 if the plan is to succeed, noted the committee formed to ensure that CNG is used as an alternative fuel in the emirate.
The most polluting vehicles in Abu Dhabi are government-owned vehicles, taxis, buses and drivers' training vehicles, which are the most in use and roam the road for the major part of the day.
The decision was made at the Committee's 5th meeting held to follow up on the strategy to use cleaner, safer, more economical and more environmental-friendly fuels for cars, as part of a comprehensive plan to achieve sustainable development in the emirate.
The committee is chaired by the Environment Agency, Abu Dhabi and consists of members from Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, Mubadala, General Police Headquarters, Civil Defence, Emirates Standardisation and Meteorological Authority and the Department of Municipalities and Agriculture. Vehicles that will be converted will include those belonging to the Department of Municipalities and Agriculture, the Emirates Transportation Association, Abu Dhabi International Airport and Al Ain Airport, besides the rest of the government-owned vehicles as well as taxis.
The committee will set the standards and guidelines for the few cars already fitted with CNG, cars to be fitted with CNG in the future as well as the newly manufactured vehicles, exhaust emissions from different types of fuels such as Diesel and CNG and emissions from industrial stacks and processes.
The standards and guidelines will also cover all the car workshops that will convert the vehicles in order to run on CNG, and building of special gas stations to allow the private sector to get involved in providing vehicles with CNG.
Moreover, the strategy will encourage the public to use CNG by reducing the cost of having one's car converted to run on CNG.