News headlines

Excerpts from UAE Dailies

Parking fees to ‘be reasonable’

Abu Dhabi: 14 May:An Abu Dhabi municipal official has promised that the soon-to-be introduced parking fees in the capital will be “reasonable” and that residents in the affected areas will be given discounts.

“I can assure you that the residents will be given better prices,” said Saif Ahmad Butti Al Qubaisi, Assistant Undersecretary for Roads ad Technical Services Sector.

Al Qubaisi said that the new parking system, which will be tested in the area between Hamdan Street, Khalifa Street, Najda Street and Murur Street, will make life easier for motorists.

The system, which is to be given a trial run in the first week of July, will require motorists to pay hourly fees.

“One of the major aspects of the parking problem is not the supply but the management of the existing resources,” said Al Qubaisi, who insisted that the municipality was not seeking additional revenue. “The main objective of this project is to make sure each space is used by as many people as possible,” he said.

He said that the municipality was also considering whether to allow private contractors to run parking facilities independently or in partnership with the municipality.

Parking is an issue of concern in the capital’s downtown area, where the specific terrain makes it expensive to build underground parking – most buildings do not have any. A law introduced last year requires property developers to provide a minimum number of parking areas – but the law only applies to new buildings.

Al Qubaisi said he will not disclose the new rates, but said that “they will be very reasonable”.

Each of the areas where paid parking is to be introduced will first be redesigned, said Dr Atef Garib, chief of the studies and development department at the municipality.

“We will be improving the accessibility and the circulation in each area and adding more parking spaces before we put up the meters,” he said.

Users can pay the new fees in coins, including any GCC currencies, by credit card, a special parking card or by using their mobile phones.

The pilot project will be evaluated over a period of three to six months, during which a city-wide system will be designed.

At present there are no parking charges in the capital, with the exception of a Dh2 hourly rate at the city’s seven underground parking facilities.The new system aims to increase the usage of the underground facilities, which currently have many empty spaces.


Dubai court orders jail inmate to pay Dh4.5m to ex-business partner

DUBAI — 14 May:The Dubai Court of First Instance has sanctioned a verdict forcing Karamat A.A.K., an inmate of the Central Prison, where he is spending a jail term for forgery, to pay Dh4,581,913 to Yaqoub Z.A., as a share of the latter, for profits and revenues of a jewellery company being a partnership between the two from 1996 till 2004.

According to court records, the case dates back to 1996 when Karamat and Yaqoub set up a partnership company for jewellery. Under their agreement, the two partners shall not resort to courts in case a dispute arises between them, but to select an arbitrator to adjudicate in the dispute. If they fail in selecting him, the court will appoint an arbitrator.

Their partnership continued for years until Karamat was accused and convicted in the aforesaid case of forgery. Yaqoub called for the break-up of the partnership on the basis of the agreement in terms of settling the account and fixing the rights and profits of each party within two months of the date of terminating the partnership.

Since Karamat was not committed to the agreement, Yaqoub resorted to the courts asking for the appointment of an arbitrator. The court delegated an accounts expert to probe the case. The outcome, which appeared in his report, showed that Karamat owed Yaqoub Dh4,565,913, being his share in the profits and revenues of their liquidated partnership firm for the years from 1996 until 2004, plus the charges and expenses of the liquidation process which are shared by the two (Dh2,000 each). Therefore, the total amount Karamat has to pay his partner Yaqoub stood at Dh4,581,913.

Yaqoub’s defence lawyers, Abdul Malek and Partners, demanded that the court sanction the verdict and it be carried out. The court overruled the lawyer’s plea and approved the ruling, but Karamat will contest it at the Court of Appeal, the court heard.


Passengers pay more as airline fuel costs increase

U.A.E. ; 14 May:Increasing the fuel surcharge is perhaps the only way airlines are managing to survive. But it is passengers who are bearing the burden of the additional cost passed on to them by airlines.

Singapore Airlines’ fares recorded an increase of between three and eight per cent depending on the sectors in the past six months. And as from tomorrow, the airline will be increasing fuel surcharges by $5 (Dh18.6) on short haul sectors and $10 (Dh37.2) on long haul sectors, says Jose Thachil, the airline’s Marketing Manager for Gulf.

Similarly, the total price of a Lufthansa ticket has gone up by $20 (Dh75) on average in the past six months. According to Uwe Wriedt, Lufthansa’s General Manager UAE and Director Gulf and Pakistan, the airline increased its fuel surcharge by $10 (Dh37.2) for each intercontinental sector in that period.

Meanwhile, Emirates recently increased its fuel surcharge effec tive from the start of the month, when it started applying additional fuel surcharge of $15 (Dh56) for one-way and $30 (Dh112) for return trips on most destinations.This was the airline’s third fuel surcharge since September last year.

British Airways, on the other hand, increased the fuel surcharge on its long haul flights in April this year when its fuel surcharge touched $61 (Dh227.3) per sector, up by $10 (Dh37.2).

British Airways is offering prices (excluding taxes and surcharges) to the United Kingdom in World Traveller (economy) starting from Dh1,400 when departing from Abu Dhabi and from Dh2,250 from Dubai.

“And from just an additional Dh1,000 customers can upgrade to World Traveller Plus (premier economy). From Dh3,950 customers can travel from Abu Dhabi or Dubai to the US or Canada in the airline’s World Traveller Plus,” said Deborah Frampton, British Airways’ Manager for the UAE.


Officials clarify plastic cup ban

Dubai:14 May: Dubai Municipality has warned that rigid polystyrene cups should be avoided as they pose health risks, but clarified that not all plastic cups are harmful.

Rigid polystyrene cups, while the cheapest on the market, pose a health risk when hot liquids are poured inside, causing leeching of their component chemicals into the drink. Polystyrene, in high doses, is toxic to humans and can cause cancer and reproductive and developmental problems.

The Dubai Municipality Public Health Department said:“The suitability of the plastic to with stand high temperatures is the key factor in using plastic cups.While rigid polystyrene should not be used for hot beverages, they can be used for cold drinks.

“Plastic cups made of foam (plastic code 6) or polypropylene (plastic code 5) [should] be used [for hot drinks instead].” The municipality announced a ban on the use of the typical cafeteria tea cup in April for “health reasons”, but officials now point out that does not mean all plastic cups have to go. “It is a misrepresentation that all plastic cups are banned,” Khalid Sharif, Assistant Director of Public Health Department and Head of Food Control Section, clarified.


Nursing staff under strain

UAE: 14 May:The UAE’s nursing shortage is so acute that some hospitals are lacking a quarter of their workforce as nurses desert the country in search of better pay packages abroad, nursing chiefs have said.

Yesterday nurses across the UAE celebrated International Nurses Day, which in most countries is held on May 12 – the anniversary of Crimean War nurse Florence Nightingale’s birth.The day was postponed to avoid it falling on a Friday.

At a celebratory lunch in Al Baraha Hospital in Dubai, staff who had completed 30 years of service and nurses working in high-pressure wards such as accident and emergency were given certificates “to boost morale”.

But the nurses themselves complained that rocketing costs of living were making it next to impossible to survive on wages of as little as Dh2,000 a month.

One 42-year-old Indian nurse, who has two children, said: “The money is not enough.We like this country but if we don’t get more then there is no future for us.” Nursing chiefs told Emirates Today that nurses were “suffering” because they are not paid enough and their hospital has just 186 nurses – an ideal staffing level would be about 250.

They said similar shortages exist in hospitals across the country – but they insisted that patient care was not being seriously affected as a result.

To ensure priority units such as the intensive care unit, the cardiac coronary unit and the emergency ward were fully staffed, nurses are being diverted away from general wards and are also unable to attend training courses where they are supposed to learn how to use new equipment and technology, they said.

Zeinab Abdullah, director of nursing at Al Baraha, said: “There are many resignations – they are going to the US, the UK and Canada.

“When they leave we interview them and they say they are going for better pay and living situations. Staff nurses here get Dh4,000 a month, although a few get Dh2,000.They are suffering.

“Most nurses come from abroad – there are few nurses from the UAE.They come here to get experience and then move on.

“We have heard the resignations are the same all over the country.We cannot replace them the next day – the recruitment process takes up to four months. That’s why there is a shortage.

“We are making it up by transferring nurses between wards and bringing them on shift when they should be in classes improving their skills and learning to use new machines.” Asman Mohammed, acting district director of nursing in Dubai, said: “We are losing a lot of experienced nurses. But no matter how severe the shortage, all the patients get the care they need and no one has complained. But if we get more nurses then the care will be better.” She added that a nurse-topatient ratio of 1:1 in the ICU and 1:2 in the CCU was in place, as were good staffing levels in acci dent and emergency, operating theatres and maternity wards.

Nurse Zeinab said nurses were appealing to the Ministry of Health to increase wages, introduce free medical care for medical staff and make the recruitment process faster.

She added: “They have been promising to do something about this and I trust they will.”


Junk food eating on the rise!

DUBAI — 14 May:As adults, we are all guilty of eating a little too much junk food from time to time. Streets, worldwide and locally, are laid out with tempting outlets that serve tasty fast food which is also known as energy dense, low nutrients food.

Not all are even well-known brand names. If we are sinful of indulging our impatient palettes with junk food, then what about some of our youth who see junk food as snack, lunch and dinner.

Of course, the blame is not directed at businesses or unaware parents, and the solution is not to completely abstain from junk food once and forever. However, we can’t deny the variety of junk food outlets scattered everywhere, and the normality with which it has become accepted, unconsciously perhaps, as a part of the dietary guidelines. A number of educational organisations, like schools, universities and colleges serve known junk food brand names, alongside the healthy cafeteria food.

Hala, a high school student in the UAE commented: “Even though our school serves healthy food like sandwiches, brown bread, salads, rice, with junk food like burgers, pizzas and fries, people go for the junk food mainly.”

Even with educational seminars on nutritional and dietary guidelines, it is hard to expect students to keep their consumption of junk food at bay.

Have businesses taken over the welfare of our society? What does this tell us about our future? It is known that educational organisations benefit from serving well-known fast foods because they profit from them, especially since the school funding source is probably not adequate to upgrade facilities like the gym for example. On a positive note, the school health departments in the US have advised schools to stop selling fizzy drinks like Coke, and sell juice instead. Some schools have already acted on this.

When asked whether there is a strategic cooperation between school officials and government authorities on this issue, Abdullah Bu Rowda, the Counsellor of General Secretariat of the Municipalities of the UAE, said: “There has been a huge evolvement and improvement on this matter in the last 15 years. The municipalities work together with the schools to promote nutritional and dietary awareness.”

About the increasing number of new fast food outlets, not necessarily well-known brand names, he explained that the Food Control Department in every municipality has criteria that the businesses must comply with. One of the specifics is the use of products which are of controlled origin, (e.g. meat) products that are safe and don’t have hazardous material, he said, adding that the other more obvious criteria is the hygiene of the restaurant and the staff etc.

"However, the main concern is that there are more and more businesses on the rise," he believed.

On that point, he said: “We do need to strengthen the control procedures, because inspection and regulation are there to give the consumer the right to get nutritious and safe food. The person behind the business has also the right to do his business, but based on good practice and according to regulations implemented in the UAE.”

Khaleej Times also interviewed Adalat Nakkash of Al Zahra Hospital in Sharjah, who was the first Arab dietician in the UAE. A graduate of AUB in Lebanon, she started the first dietary department in Rashid Hospital in 1977.

She explained that technically, junk food is rich in saturated fatty acids, high in calories, high in sugar, but mainly has a high percentage of fat content.

“When you freeze meat for a long time, you lose the nutritional value. Nobody knows for how long the food has been frozen, of which preservatives and food additives have been added. The way they transport the food from one country to another can affect the quality or the nutritional value of the food in general. This does not apply to meat alone,” she said

In terms of obesity being described as an epidemic in the US, mainly a result of regular consumption of junk food, when asked whether such is the case here too in the UAE and the Middle East region, she said: “Obesity in the UAE has increased in all age groups, but especially among teenagers. This is due to many reasons like unhealthy food habits and lack of physical activity. Their diet consist of foods that are mainly high in fat. They don’t eat vegetables and fruits, but instead there is a lot of sugar and salt in their diet.”

The overconsumption or non-moderate consumption of unhealthy foods can definitely take its toll on a person’s immune system, from simple colds to more serious illnesses like heart disease, she said. However the main danger is that “obesity leads to the increased risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and hypertension. About 30-40 per cent of diseases in cancer have a direct relation to nutrition and exercise, meaning the lack of healthy meals, vegetables, fibres, vitamins, minerals and the lack of exercise. The accumulation of fat in the body and lack of exercise can lead to hypertension and heart disease.”

When asked to give an example of a healthy yet tasty meal for kids, she first said: “It’s important that mothers know that rewarding children through food is very bad. They have to stop it. Also, the way you raise your children and educate them, what and when they eat, is very important. For example, a lunch box should be prepared by the parents. It’s not the children’s role to cook.”

According to Adalat Nakkash, today’s younger generation have incorporated caffeine in their diet, especially from coffee, at a  much younger age than usual, and that it has become a part of the young, hip culture. She also said that children should be taught to eat salads.

On a last note, she said: “In the past 28 years in the Arab world, there were no dieticians, but now we are all in it. It has always been a science, but we have just realised it. To have a healthy way of eating does not mean cutting oneself off from all kinds of food. You can have all kinds of food in a healthy diet, where you include four groups of food in all your meals. For example, you can have some cake — two spoons — but not the entire piece, because ultimately, everything that’s forbidden is wanted.”

What a healthy diet is made of

BREAKFAST: Juice, cereal, fruits, or cheese sandwich.

SCHOOL SNACKS: Healthy snacks like fruit juice (unsweetened), sandwich, fruits, lots of water.

LUNCH (Main meal): An average portion of salad, chicken or meat, rice, bread, potatoes.

SNACKS WHILE STUDYING: A refreshing healthy vitamin snack like fruit juice, not crisps and chocolate, because the food additives affect children and cause them to be hyperactive.

DINNER: Should be light soup, salad, grilled home made burger sandwich, or turkey sandwich and milk.


Red Arrows coming to Abu Dhabi this month

Abu Dhabi: 14 May:A sonic boom will crash through the skies over Abu Dhabi later this month as the capital plays host to one of the world's most famous aerobatic display teams, The Red Arrows.

Skimming low over the corniche trailing their trade mark red vapour streaks the Royal Air Force's Aerobatic Display Team will at 5.30pm on May 26 perform what is globally recognised as one of the world's premier air displays.

It has been two years since the team last visited Abu Dhabi. Commenting on the event, British Ambassador Richard Makepeace said: "We once again are delighted to be welcoming back the Red Arrows to Abu Dhabi. I know the team is very much looking forward to the visit.

Rapid development

"They will notice the rapid development that has taken place in the city, including the magnificent Emirates Palace Hotel, which will be the backdrop to their display.

"The visit demonstrates the excellent co-operation we have with the UAE, not just in defence, but across a wide spectrum."

Since its formation in 1965, The Red Arrows has been thrilling audiences around the world.

According to the British Embassy, the team contributes to what has been termed "Defence Diplomacy" and supports wider British interests through the promotion of British industry overseas.


The team is called Red Arrows because RAF training aircraft were predominantly red in colour. The 'arrows' part of the title was in recognition of the Black Arrows, a very popular squadron aerobatic team in the late '50s and early '60s.

The Red Arrows began work in late 1964 to prepare for the 1965 Air Display Season. The squadron was officially constituted on March 1, 1965. The first official display was at RAF Little Rissington in the Cotswolds on May 6, 1965. This was a special display to introduce the team to the media, and due to bad weather a flat show was flown. The first public display was three days later (May 9) at Clermont Ferrand in France.




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