News headlines

Excerpts from U.A.E. Dailies


India raises jail term and penalties for illegal recruiting agents

Dubai: 05 June: Illegal recruiting agents in India operating in the Gulf sector can face a jail term of up to five years and pay a fine of Indian Rs25,000 (about Dh2,000), said a senior official from the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs in New Delhi on Sunday.

The new regulations were put in place after India witnessed a considerable number of its citizens heading to the Gulf for employment being duped by unscrupulous agents in the country.

Sources at the ministry told Gulf News that incidents of violence by Indian labourers in Dubai and the growing number of cases of non-payment of salaries registered with the Indian missions in the Gulf had made it imperative for the government to amend the Immigration Act of 1983.

The act deals with emigration authorities, registration of recruiting agents, permits for recruiting agents, emigration clearance, appeals, offences and penalties etc.

According to the source from the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs, the aim is to make the recruiting agents responsible if an Indian working overseas finds himself not being paid the amount promised to him during the time of his recruitment and contract signing in India.

A study tour to get a first hand information on the problems faced by Indian expatriates, especially the labourers, working in the Gulf was conducted by Vayalar Ravi, Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs, early this year.

There are about 4,580 recruiting agents registered in India. About 2,500 are in business, while 120 agents had their licences cancelled for violations.

By making the rules stringent for recruiting agents in India, the government is holding the agents directly responsible if labourers recruited by them are faced with non-payment of wages.

Figures provided by the Indian consulate in Dubai shows that on average about 13 labour-related complaints are received per month, while the number of group complaints stood at 15 per month.

The consulate has formed a labour committee that works closely with the Indian Community Welfare Committee.

B.R. Mubarak, labour consul at the consulate, said that currently there are about 27 companies that are blacklisted by the Indian mission in Dubai.

"A company is blacklisted based on the history and nature of labour issue. The companies list is then sent to the Protector of Immigrants in India.

"Once blacklisted the companies are not allowed to recruit labour from India.

"The increase in the jail term and penalties for erring recruiting agents are some of the initial steps that are being taken in the right direction," he said.

Mubarak said that 50 per cent of the blame for nonpayment of salaries lay with the unscrupulous agents operating in India.

According to him, the demand for Indian blue collar workers are mainly in the Gulf and the Far East. "Countries in these regions are plagued with labour-related issues especially non-payment of salaries," said Mubarak.

Orientation courses for workers

Steps taken by the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs to safeguard Indian Expatriates include:

- Increase in jail term for illegal recruiting agents from one year to five years

- Employment contracts to be attested by the Indian missions overseas

- Database to be maintained by the Indian missions on women going overseas as domestic helpers

- Get actual figures on Indians in jails in various countries

- Conduct orientation programmes for workers going overseas for employment


The Emigration Act

The 1983 Emigration Act provides for a regulatory framework for Indian workers.
Under the Act, all recruiters in India are registered with the government.

The minister has also proposed additional measures to ensure safety of women who work as domestic workers.

A database of women working in houses is to be maintained and a mechanism by which they get in touch with the Indian Missions is proposed.


Body found hanging at airport

Dubai: 05 June: An illegal immigrant ended to his life at Dubai International Airport, a top police official said.

Colonel Ahmad Mohammad Bin Thani, Director of Airport Security, told Gulf News the body of an unidentified man was found inside the airport.

Colonel Bin Thani said the man's body had been found hanging from the ceiling in a narrow corridor in a remote area of the airport.

"His body was found on Saturday evening. It seems he committed suicide sometime earlier because his body was decomposing," he said.

Colonel Bin Thani said the man did not have any documents to prove his nationality or identity.

"I cannot give his nationality or any information about him until we finish our investigations," he said.

He added the body had been sent to the forensic laboratory and they were waiting for the forensic specialist to release an official report.

"It seems the man entered the country illegally but we do not know when he did so and we are investigating the case. It seems he got stuck at the airport because he did not have any documents," Colonel Bin Thani said.

He said many people tried to enter the country without a valid visa or with forged documents or were cheated by people who falsely promised them visas.

Most of the time these people did not have the air fare to travel back to their home countries.

"We try our best to offer help to these people by offering tickets to send them back to their countries. There are some situations in which people get stuck at the airport but we try to solve their problems as soon as possible," he said.

Colonel Bin Thani said it seemed when this man found himself in trouble he did not ask for help but felt so desperate he ended his life in this tragic way.


Man loses Dh80,000 in car robbery
Abu Dhabi - 05 June:
A Pakistani expatriate was robbed of Dh80,000 and his mobile phone recently while changing a flat tyre in a car park on the busy Old Airport Road in the capital.
Following his misfortune, he has now warned people to be careful as he strongly believes that the theft was planned and organised by the robbers.

The engineer, who wishes to remain anonymous, said he and his friend wanted to buy some bonds and drove to the Union Bank on Hamdan Street, from where his friend withdrew some money.

The two then drove to the HSBC on Old Airport Road near the Gulf Air Office, from where the man withdrew Dh80,000.

The man told Emirates Today, the money was in an envelope he had kept on the right-hand side of the dashboard along with his phone. “My friend asked me to put the money in my pocket, but I told him there was no need to do that as we were in Abu Dhabi, which is very safe.

“Now I wish I had taken my friend’s advice,” he said ruefully.

“After we had driven 200 yards, the car started wobbling. We stopped in the car park of a department store and I got out to check. The right rear tyre was flat,” he said.

He and his friend, who was driving the car, a BMW, were busy changing the tyre, when some thieves took off with the money and the mobile phone.

“They were very quick.Within minutes the money and the phone was gone.

“I am telling you this as I want to warn other [drivers] to be careful,” said the crestfallen man.

The engineer believes that the theft was planned and the robbers were tailing him.

He said that when they took the car to a garage to get the tyre repaired, mechanics informed them that someone had slashed the side wall of their tyre with a sharp instrument, which led to the tyre going flat after a short distance.

“This shows that the theft was planned. It is obvious we were being watched and tailed,” he said.

S Mohammed and A Abbas, two tyre specialists, confirmed that if a cut is made to the side wall of a tyre, it will not deflate immediately. Instead, as the car moves off, weight and pressure changes would cause the tyre to deflate.

The matter has been reported to Abu Dhabi Police. Investigations are in progress to find the culprits.


Power outage hits areas in Bur Dubai

Dubai: 05 June: Office workers took a welcome break on Sunday afternoon after the power to some areas of Bur Dubai was cut for about an hour.

A Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa) spokesperson declined to comment on the incident that left Lamcy Plaza and neighbouring buildings without electricity from about 4.30pm onwards. The area houses some of the city's major public relations and advertising firms.

It was not immediately clear how business was affected. Electricity to some buildings was restored quickly, while by 6pm some buildings were still without power.

A Dewa employee said there was a problem with the electrical main leading to that area, but said engineers had not yet identified the problem.

"We've been resting in the cafeteria, it's a nice break from work. But if the power cuts off in summer, it might not be that nice then," said a public relations executive.

The Dewa employee said it was impossible to guess if the same problem may recur.

In May, parts of Jumeirah were left without electricity for an hour.

A Dewa spokesperson at the time said the power cut was caused by ongoing roadwork. In March, Dewa signed a Dh3.6 billion deal to expand its production and network capacity.


ATM security comes in for Central Bank scrutiny

Dubai: 05 June: UAE Central Bank officials met here on Sunday to discuss the safety of bank ATMs after fraudsters hacked into a machine in Dubai last month.

The meeting was attended by its banking supervision and information technology officials. Details are expected to be announced on Monday.

A UAE Central Bank source said the move by some banks to withdraw ATM cards was aimed at improving the security system of the ATM network.

Lieutenant General Dahi Khalfan Tamim, Dubai Police Chief, said there were no complaints about money being stolen or any other fraudulent act through the use of ATM cards.

"Neither banks nor individuals have asked the police to intervene," he told Gulf News. "We shall take action when any party complains."

Customers reported a spate of problems including abrupt cancellation of ATM cards and difficulties in retrieving personal account statements and accessing online accounts.

An official with a payment solutions provider said most UAE banks have only "rudimentary ATM fraud prevention measures" in place.

"The industry has grave difficulty in measuring ATM fraud, given the secrecy surrounding such frauds," said Ram Chari, general manager of Network International, a subsidiary of Emirates Bank.


Emirates passengers will get to see all World Cup matches 

Dubai: 05 June: Emirates, an Official Partner of the 2006 FIFA World Cup, has bought the rights to the broadcast of every game from the 64-match tournament.

Emirates Airline's in-flight entertainment service will broadcast the previous day's matches beginning with Friday's (June 9) opening game in Munich between hosts Germany and Costa Rica before closing with the final, which will be staged in Berlin on July 9.

The deal in association with official FIFA World Cup Middle East broadcaster ART will provide Emirates passengers flying during the football fiesta with up-to-date action from the world's biggest sporting occasion.

And with Emirates also operating dedicated live viewing stations at 16 airports in 10 different countries, football-loving passengers will miss none of the joy and heartache of a tournament.

Gaith Al Gaith, Executive Vice-President Commercial Operations Worldwide, Emirates Airline, said: "This is an exclusive for Emirates as a FIFA partner and will be a valuable addition to our in-flight service.

"From a dedicated facility at Dubai International Airport, we will record and distribute full coverage of the previous day's matches to every departing Emirates flight. In addition, while each match is being played we will also send a goal-by-goal update to each aircraft."


Parking fees doubled in Sharjah 

Sharjah: 05 June: Parking fees in certain Sharjah areas have been doubled following installation of new parking meters, the municipality announced on Sunday.

Initially it is being implemented in Al Shuwaiheen district, and it will cost motorists Dh2 per hour, Dh5 for two hours, Dh8 for three hours and Dh12 for five hours, according to Butti Ahmad Bin Khadim, Assistant Director-General of Human Resources and Finance of Sharjah Municipality.

The decision follows installation of new parking meters in Al Shukh area. Other areas are expected to be covered by July 1.

The 600 new parking metres will provide convenience for customers to pay their parking fees. "The new machines accept coins, prepaid parking cards and mobile phones," said Abdullah Al Amiri, Director-General of the municipality.

To pay for the ticket, motorists will only have to send an SMS with the number of hours and the area. They will then receive the ticket from the parking meter.

The telephone number is directly linked to a control room at the municipality, which will then add the charges to the customer's Etisalat's phone bill. A study is also currently being developed to enhance the parking services in the emirates.


Price spiral defies quick fixes

Dubai: 05 June: Everyone is feeling the pinch of rising inflation rates in the UAE, but what is not clear is how the government should deal with it.

Mohshin S. Khan, Director of the IMF Middle East and Central Asia Department, told Gulf News that there is inflationary pressure in several countries.

"The advice in such a situation is to tighten monetary policies. But for a country like the UAE which is so open to movement of capital, that is not an option. So taking the surplus cash out of the monetary system will help. The government has to estimate how much liquidity can be injected into the economy and invest the surplus outside the country."

But Sultan Ahmad Bin Sulayem, executive chairman of Ports Customs and Free Zones Corporation, said government intervention to stabilise rents will be dangerous.

"We always believe in the market forces. I am confident that prices will stabilise as buildings are completed."


Swindler dupes 55 women of Dh1,500 each ‘to get them marriage partners’

AJMAN — 05 June: The Ajman Police arrested an African national yesterday on charges of having deceived several women by promising them that he would find suitable grooms for them — for a price.

Around 55 women, of various Arab nationalities, each paid him Dh1,500 convinced that the man would help them meet and marry ‘Mr. Right’. But then it all went horribly wrong for all of them.

The accused also decieved many people by persuading them he had supernatural powers which enabled him to treat all kinds of illness, as well as help victims of voodoo blackmagic.

Speaking to Khaleej Times, Major Abdullah Saif, Head of CID section of Ajman Police, said that the police received  a tip off regarding an African man who had duped many people in such cases.

The CID officers decided to set a trap and sent some undercover policewoman to his house in Al Nuaimiya area. They paid him Dh1,500 each “to get suitable grooms”.

The man promised that one of these “clients” that the groom will come to her house to propose to her within a week. The police entered and caught him red handed while he was practicing his mumbo-jumbo.

During the interrogation, the man, who was on a visit visa, admitted that he was indulging in these activities in order “to make a living”. He specially targetted women who were desperate to marry.

The case has been referred to the public prosecution office for further action including judicial proceedings.


Woman gets divorce from abusive husband

ABU DHABI — 05 June: The Federal Supreme Court has granted a woman’s plea for divorce on the ground that she was verbally abused by being described as a “donkey and female monkey”.

The apex court in its ruling dated May 14 this year, underlined that the husband, as per court documents, swore at his wife saying “Come on donkey and she-monkey”.

Manea Saif had filed a lawsuit with the Abu Dhabi Shariah Court of First Instance, demanding that his wife Faizah Sulaiman return to his house accepting his authority and obey him. On the other hand, the wife filed a counter suit, demanding divorce for the offence, since her husband beat her severely, and insulted her.

The Abu Dhabi Shariah Court of First Instance on May 2005, ruled in favour of a reversible divorce while dismissing the husband’s petition, besides ordering him to pay the court expenses.   The husband went into appeal against the verdict of the Abu Dhabi Shariah Court of Appeal, which on October 24, 2005, rejected his plea, upheld the verdict of the lower court.

The husband took the case to the Supreme Federal Court, arguing that the verdict was based on his confession to having insulted his wife, before the Family Guidance Section, and had paid no attention to the fact that he and his wife consummated their relationship afterwards, following which she withdrew her complaint.

However, the apex court observed that he had failed, both before the Court of First Instance, and the Court of Appeal, to prove that he consummated the relationship with his wife after insulting her. Neither could he prove that his wife withdrew her plaint before any court of law. The Supreme Court turned down his plea and ordered him to pay the court expenses besides confiscation of his deposit.


Model law to curb human trafficking

ABU DHABI — 05 June: A high-level UAE delegation took active part in developing and drafting a model legislation to combat human trafficking in line with international laws and conventions.

The delegation participated in the three-day meeting of the experts group formed by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. The group includes experts from the USA, UK, Canada, Austria, Brazil, Moldovia, Thailand, Cambodia, Ghana, Burkina Faso and representatives of ILO, the International Organisation for Migration, OSCE and the Europe Union’s Judicial Cooperation.

“The group which met in Vienna reviewed and discussed provisions of the UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime and related protocols (Palermo Convention 2000), particularly the protocol to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons, especially women and children and the protocol against smuggling of migrants,” said Abdulrahim Mohammed Al Awadi, Assistant Executive Director and Head of Anti-Money Laundering and Suspicious Cases Unit (AMLSCU) at the Central Bank of the UAE.

He said the country participated in the international forum in keeping with its strong commitment to the cause under the instructions of the President, His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, who have always offered UAE’s fullest support to the international community and international organisation in all fields.

Al Awadi said the meeting was successful in drafting and developing a model legislation which will be referred to member countries so that they can introduce such laws which can help in combating human trafficiking in line with the international laws.

He said that the legislation comprises 20 chapters and its articles and clauses cover definition, information gathering and exchange between law enforcement, and concerned authorities, prevention measures, rights of victims of smuggling, liability of legal and natural persons and carriers, confiscation and compensations as well as verification of validity of travel. 

He said it also has chapters on measures for combating illegal migration and repatriation of victims, establishment of funds for assisting victims, setting up of a centre/national agency in each state to undertake coordination with concerned agencies and establishment of a specialised agency for combating human trafficking and procedures for prosecuting smugglers.


Indian minister begins UAE visit

ABU DHABI— 05 June: Indian Union Minister for Human Resources Development Arjun Singh began a four-day visit to the UAE on Saturday. The Indian minister is accompanied by a high-level delegation.

During the visit Arjun Singh will hold discussions with Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research Shaikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan and Minister of Education Dr Hanif Hassan Ali, to explore the possibilities of cooperation in the field of education. The initiative expected to further boost bilateral cooperation in the sector. Shaikh Nahyan will host a dinner in honour of Arjun Singh.

Arjun Singh is also scheduled to visit Dubai Knowledge Village and interact with principals of various Indian schools and heads of higher educational institutions based in the country.

He is also expected to attend various functions organised by the Indian community in Dubai.



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