NEWS FROM THE U.A.E.
Excerpts from UAE Dailies
Security guards held for faking Dh1.5m robbery
Dubai: 18 June: Police have busted a gang of security guards involved in stealing Dh1.5 million from their own cash delivery van, a senior officer said.
Three employees of a security firm confessed to stealing the money from their security van and staging a fake robbery scene in front of a shopping mall on June 14, said Brigadier Khamis Matter Al Mazeina, Director of Dubai Police Criminal Investigation Department.
"They did this with the help of three other friends, who actually stole the money."
Six people, all Egyptians, including the three guards, who were employed by a leading security company, were arrested for stealing the money from a security van.
The driver of the van, who reported the incident to the police, broke down during the police investigation and admitted that he, along with his five accomplices, had staged the theft to make some easy money.
Al Mazeina said the gang had stolen Dh1.5 million on Wednesday from a security van parked in front of the Al Twar Centre in Al Ghusais.
He said police received information at 11.30am that a gang had stolen the money from a security company's van after breaking its window.
The van's driver, identified as M.M., told police he had parked the van in front of the shopping centre and gone to the toilet.
He said he had come back to find its window smashed and the money missing.
Police suspected foul play and when the investigators called his bluff and told him he had been seen by people breaking the window and taking the money, he got confused and admitted the crime.
He said that before going to the toilet, he had left the door unlocked so that his accomplices could easily steal the money and that he had broken the window in order to stage the theft.
Police later recovered the money from labour accommodation in Al Quoz.
Other members of the gang told police that the driver of the security van was the one who had convinced them to commit the crime.
Brigadier Al Mazeina said the gang was arrested within four hours of the crime being reported.
Holidaymakers advised to take health precautions
Al Ain/Dubai: 18 June: People planning to travel abroad for the summer holidays must take necessary precautions such as protection against infectious diseases, health experts warned on Saturday.
Vaccinations for different communicable and non-communicable diseases are available and people should take advantage of them as the first line of defence against the potential health risks, said a physician at Al Ain Hospital.
Some of the vaccinations health officials are recommending include tetanus, Hepatitis A and B, meningococcal meningitis and influenza. Additional vaccinations depend on the area of travel.
The annual holiday season is about to start and a majority of UAE families and individuals have been finalising their summer holidays programmes. The season starts with the school holidays starting from June 15.
Dr Riaz Ahmad Minhas, a physician at the Emirates Clinic and Medical Centre in Al Ain, said different vaccinations are available at government and private hospitals for many illnesses that include some dangerous diseases such as yellow fever and meningitis.
Some of the health problems and diseases that affect travellers are coughs and chest infections, diseases transmitted through food and water, hepatitis, influenza, malaria, typhoid fever, meningitis, tuberculosis, diarrhoea, cholera and yellow fever, he added.
"Vaccinations can prevent many of the travellers' health problems and the rest can be avoided through precautions such as drinking and eating safely, insect repellents and through proper sanitation," he said.
Dr Riaz said many travellers suffer from gastrointestinal problems and these problems can be avoided by following proper hygiene. People must wash their hands after using the toilet and before and after meals, he noted.
He said in some areas of Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Far Eastern and African countries malaria could be a problem.
"People travelling to malaria suspected or hit areas are also advised to take personal anti-mosquito precautions such as using insect repellents, insecticide sprays, mosquito coils, mosquito nets or screened mosquito free accommodations," he said.
Dr Ebtesam Bastaki, head of the Dubai Airport Medical Centre, told Gulf News that not enough people were taking health precautions when they go on their holidays.
"People think: let's travel and have fun. But they don't think about their health and what to do if they fall sick? What do they do if they fall down? What do they do if they have diarrhoea?" she asked. "When you travel, you don't want to end up in a hospital."
Risk groups include children, pregnant women and the elderly were the groups most at risk of falling ill during their travels.
"We have seen pregnant women travelling in their first trimester, but bleeding after getting off from long-haul flights. Some cases have ended up in a miscarriage," she said.
"We have also seen people who have come in with high fever or rash because they contracted malaria," she said.
Travellers from Dubai can get their shots at the Travel Clinic at Al Maktoum Hospital.
She added that the centre received about 150 cases of sick travellers a week.
Apart from a boarding pass, out-bound UAE travellers will soon get a health ticket reminding them of travel health precautions and information at the boarding gate.
The "traveller's health ticket", cut and made out to resemble airline tickets, contains standard vaccination requirements for international travel, recommendations on how to equip a travel first aid kit, health tips and a medical history checklist.
Dr Ebtesam Bastaki, head of the Dubai Airport Medical Centre and the one behind the ticket, told Gulf News that health officials expect the health ticket to be in travellers' hands within weeks.
"We are waiting for the response [from the airlines]," she said.
She added that the centre was also planning to sell travel health kits, which will contain medical basics such as painkillers and bandages, as well as water purification tablets.
- Leave contact details and numbers with a friend or family member.
- Leave spare keys with someone you trust.
- Be discreet about going away to reduce the risk of burglars.
- Check your home insurance is in order.
- Stop all newspaper and magazine deliveries.
- Arrange for care of pets, lawn and house plants.
- Inform watchman of duration of leave, and contact the police as well.
- Arrange that your mail and rubbish are removed while you're away.
- Ask neighbours to keep an eye on things and do the same for them when they are away.
- Turn water valves and electrical switchboard off.
- Throw/give away any fresh food and switch off your refrigerator.
- Unplug electronic appliances. They should not be in stand-by mode.
- Eliminate all possible fire hazards.
- Disconnect car battery and follow other auto manufacturer's suggestions.
- Ensure all the doors and windows are locked.
Ministry of Health to study fee cuts
U.A.E. - 18 June: The Ministry of Health has hired the services of a private company to conduct a study on the fees it charges at the hospitals and health centres run by it.
Highly placed sources say some charges are likely to be reduced.
Health Minister Humaid Mohammed Obeid Al Qutt ami said yesterday that his ministry would revise charges of some of the services it provides at government hospitals and health centres.
He said the ministry was considering revising rates for some medical operations and other specialised medical services in order to be able to compete with other health institutions in the private sector.
He revealed that the firm assigned by the ministry to conduct the study would compare the charges of services with those provided by other hospitals.
The company has been given until the end of the year to complete its work and give its recommendations, he said.
The ministry would then reduce the charges if it is found to be higher than those in the private sector.
“The Health Ministry will soon start a new phase of ‘quality services at competitive prices’,” he added.
Al Quttami also spoke about the so-called medical advertisements that appear in various publications in the UAE.
He said some advertisements were misleading people as they made “tall” claims and posed a threat to the health of the people.
750 labourers demand wage increase
Dubai: 18 June: Some 750 workers from a Dubai-based construction company protested on Saturday demanding a wage increase.
The labourers stayed at their accommodation in Sonapur demanding the company meet their demand for better wages and the fair distribution of overtime.
The labourers, who earn Dh675 inclusive of food expenses per month, demanded a Dh150 increase in their salaries as they felt that they were spending a lot of money on food as a result of inflation. They also demanded a fair distribution of overtime.
However, Salah Belal, Coordinator General of the Permanent Committee for Labour Affairs in Dubai (PCLAD), said their demands were unrealistic.
"We cannot force any company to pay extra money for food expenses especially as they are not mentioned in the contract, or intervene in the management's policy on who to give to overtime to."
The workers also demanded to be provided with cooking facilities in the accommodation, something they complained about to the PCLAD about earlier.
The PCLAD promised the cooking facilities would be ready by next week, but said that the other demands were not justifiable especially since the company was paying its workers regularly.
"We told the workers that those who wished to continue to work should do so and that those who did not wish to do so could leave the country on friendly terms as when they entered the country," said Belal.
Gardener gets death for killing woman
Sharjah: 18 June : A Pakistani gardener who stabbed a newly-wed woman to death in Sharjah has been handed capital punishment by a court.
Sharjah Public Prosecution charged the 22-year-old, S.K., with the premeditated manslaughter of the young UAE national N. and trespassing into the house, where he killed her in February.
The Sharjah Sharia Court of First Instance heard that the victim's husband dropped the woman home in Al Azra area and drove off for evening prayers at a mosque.
The accused went to deliver some laundry at the house when one of the housemaids reportedly let him in, police said.
N., who was in her early twenties, was said to have scolded the gardener after spotting him inside the house.
Initial interrogations revealed that S.K. snatched a kitchen knife and stabbed her several times. Police arrested the gardener hiding at a nearby place.
Man gets Dh150,000 for surgical error
Abu Dhabi: 18 June: A man was awarded Dh150,000 in compensation after a surgeon left a dressing in his nose, according to a ruling by the Federal Supreme Court.
The patient, Ahmad Qassem Ahmad, initially demanded Dh2.6 million in damages from a surgeon of a Dubai-based governmental hospital (Al Baraha Hospital), who operated on him and the Ministry of Health.
Ahmad said he suffered several ailments for two years and a half from the date he was operated upon in March 1996 until the dressing was discovered and removed in September 1998, according to the court's documents.
After a nasal bleeding, he added, he was examined and a strange body was found in the nose, where he was operated.
The body turned to be 3cm-long dressing which caused a sinal tumour in an area of 4x5cm also containing damaged tissues.
The Abu Dhabi Court of First Instance ordered the surgeon and the Health Ministry to jointly pay Ahmad Dh150,000 in damages.
The autopsy report said Ahmad had to visit the eye doctor for six months after the nasal operation and that the parasympathetic nerve responsible for the production of tears and nasal mucus was cauterised needlessly, which caused a persistent headache, nasal bleeding, burning pain in the eyes and dry eyes.
The patient told the court he also that he suffered a terrible odour in his sinus with very bad smelling sticky mucus, which caused people including his wife to stay away from him.
Ahmad appealed the ruling saying that the compensation was too little to rectify his suffering and that it was not proportionate with the huge medical mistake that was done to him.
The Abu Dhabi Court of Appeal upheld the lower court's ruling, but Ahmad, the surgeon and the Health Ministry appealed the ruling, which was confirmed by the Federal Supreme Court.
The court, presided over by judge Munir Tawfiq Saleh, also ordered the surgeon and the Health Ministry jointly to pay court and advocate expenses.
Heat exhaustion cases may rise due to World Cup fever
Dubai: 18 June: Some health officials fear that World Cup fever will cause heat-related illnesses among football-crazy residents, intent on trying out their stars' latest moves, as the UAE enters its hot season.
Heat-related cases, such as heat stroke and heat exhaustion, typically spike in the period from June to August, the hottest months in the UAE calendar.
With World Cup season in place, some physicians are worried that football fans will play the games without taking the necessary precautions.
Dr Ahmad Kalban, specialist registrar in family medicine for Dubai Department of Health and Medical Services (Dohms), told Gulf News that people can easily overheat in the hot and humid days of summer in the UAE, with temperatures that can go up to 49C.
"It's good that people exercise. But make sure they do it indoors, or ? early in the morning when it is cool, and drink plenty of fluids," he said.
He said the Safa Primary Healthcare unit, where he practices, has already received other World Cup-related cases, primarily muscle sprains. Other sports that put their players at risk of heat-related illnesses include golf and fishing.
Paramedics have also geared up for the expected increase of heat-related illnesses during the summer.
Omar Sakaf, head of training at the Dubai Police Ambulance Department, told Gulf News that paramedics were stocking their emergency vehicles with special heat-reducing items, including ice packs and cold jackets.
"We are prepared. The problem months are usually in July and August," he said.
Last year, paramedics responded to 23 calls, from people who were suffering from "vomiting, dizziness and nausea".
Labourers must drink plenty of fluids
Labourers working in the sun and in factories that use heat in its operations were more at risk due to their prolonged exposure.
"Companies should take precautions for their workers and give them time to rest, give plenty of fluids, provide them with a clinic where they can get IV fluids and other treatments," he added.
Heat-related illnesses happen when the body's temperature rises faster than it can lose the heat, sometimes to dangerous levels.
People need to keep the body hydrated and maintain appropriate levels of electrolytes, such as sodium, potassium and chloride, which are important to the body's metabolic function.
Symptoms include muscle cramps, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and fainting. Untreated, it can lead to organ failure and death.
Power outage hits businesses and families in Deira
Dubai: 18 June: A power blackout in a Deira neighbourhood on Friday resulted in the loss of hundreds of thousands of dirhams for businesses and immense hardship for families.
The lights went out at about 5pm at the Zeenah Building, a residential and commercial area right opposite the Deira City Centre, and power was restored only after seven hours at 12.20 am, a resident said.
The restaurant manager of Johnny Carino's said he had to turn away 300 weekend guests. "It was very difficult for us," said manager Mohammad Abbas.
"We could have managed to cook the food," but the smoke could not be sucked away, he said. The restaurant on Saturday threw out food, including chicken and pasta worth Dh4,000, he said.
At confectionary maker Delice, next door, the owner said huge orders for the top five-start hotels in the city, could not be completed.
"We came in at 1pm hoping to finish the orders by midnight," said chairman Jalel Ghayaza. "Each guest at Burj Al Arab gets our confectionary box," he said, noting the business loss is about Dh40,000.
The guard at the building said about 58 families live on the 11 floors of the tower.
"Dewa technicians came soon after we called, but they could not fix the fault. The residents kept 'roaming' the whole evening as Dewa kept promising the lights will come back soon," he said.
Dewa only said there was a "cable fault", without elaborating. No other building nearby was affected. But residents said the traffic lights in the area did not work for hours.
Residents said they heard the power blackout hit another commercial and residential tower nearby.
The operations manager of Ali Baba Sweets said the power failure not only hit the weekend sales but a lot of ice cream, cakes and chocolates had to be thrown out.
Crackdown on firms that offer poor housing
U.A.E. - 18 June: Companies that do not provide “appropriate” accommodation for their workers will not have their application for more labourers sanctioned, Labour Ministry officials said yesterday.
Such applications, they said, will be approved by the competent authorities only when erring companies rectify their status and start to provide the appropriate accommodation for their workers.
“The intensified campaigns conducted by the ministry, aimed at ensuring health and safety standards at labour camps are met, have resulted in fewer group visa applications. This is because of the conditions set by the ministry that (health and safety as well as proper accommodation) requirements should be met,” one official said.
Many companies have failed to meet such conditions.
The official added that a number of firms resorted to applying for “individual” visas rather than applying for group visas, so as to bring labourers individually and avoid the potential of having group visas rejected.
Meanwhile, Dr Ali bin Abdullah Al Kaabi, the Minister for Labour, yesterday inspected the labour permits section at the ministry’s Abu Dhabi office.
He was briefed on the functioning of the section, and said problems encountered by ministry staff would be dealt with. He also said outstanding staff at the ministry’s various departments would be adequately rewarded.
Police move to enforce rule on heavy
Dubai - 18 June: More than 50 truck drivers were fined yesterday morning as part of a week-long traffic police campaign aimed at improving safety on Al Khail Road, a police official has said.
He said most of the fines were registered in the first half of the day. The number could go higher though as police continued with patrols late yesterday afternoon and through the early evening.
The drivers, all employees of transportation companies, were each fined Dh500 and given five black points in accordance with the Dubai Police’ black points system for not obeying the morning ban on heavy vehicles driving on Al Khail Road.
Trucks and heavy vehicles are banned from driving on the road between 7am and 8.30am and 5pm and 8pm. Police consider heavy vehicles on the road a major problem.
“We even caught two trucks belonging to the same company,” said the officer, who did not want to be identified.
As reported previously in Emirates Today, eight police patrols have been divided in two shifts and have been asked to monitor truck traffic along Al Khail Road.
Police have also warned drivers that they are going to enforce a Dubai Roads and Transport Authority ban on the movement of heavy traffic along the first and second lanes of that road as well as Ras Al Khor Road.
The fine for violating this rule is Dh400 and four black points. In the early afternoon, police had still not fined anyone for committing this offence, the officer said.
The campaign was launched after orders to improve traffic safety along the Al Khail Road were issued by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, VicePresident and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai. The order also tasked authorities to improve the safety conditions along Jumeirah Road.
“The decision to issue the restriction order was taken on the basis of an onsite study into the movement of heavy vehicular traffic on both these roads,” said Engineeer Maitha bin Adai, chief of Traffic and Roads Corporation.
“The study revealed that heavy vehicles such as trucks cause traffic jams when they drive into the third and fourth lanes on four-lane roads. The study also showed that heavy vehicles play a large part in increasing the number of accidents by violating traffic rules and road safety norms.”
Health ministry bans officials from giving statements to Press
ABU DHABI — 18 June: The Ministry of Health has banned senior health officials from giving statements to correspondents of local newspapers under a ministerial decision.
Heads of departments and assistant under-secretaries refused to talk to reporters yesterday claiming they were instructed not to release information to the Press.
Officials clearly stated that they were instructed by the minister, Humaid Al Qutami, not to speak to the Press directly. They were ordered to instead refer scribes to a newly-appointed Public Relations Officer. The officials said they were no longer authorised to release information and that reporters’ queries should be routed via the PR.
However, earlier last month, Mr Qatami had ruled out alleged censorship on the Press and confirmed that he had not ordered directors of departments and assistant undersecretaries not to speak to the Press.
“We received a ministerial circular stating that we are banned from speaking to correspondents of local newspapers. The order stipulates that official statements should go through a lady who has been appointed as a Media Coordinator by the ministry. I really cannot understand the reason behind such a decision, but in the end, we have to abide by the rules of the higher authorities,” a senior official at the ministry told this reporter yesterday.
Issa Al Mansouri, Director of Central Drug Contol Department, who seemed very discreet, said: “The minister has issued a ministerial decree banning senior officials — mainly directors of departments and assistant undersecretaries — from issuing statements to the Press.”
When contacted for information, Dr Mahmoud Fekri, Assistant Under-Secretary for Preventive Medicine Department at the ministry told this newspaper: “You can call the lady in charge of the Media Office. She is the one who is entitled to release information.”
Mass visa clearance to take just a week
DUBAI — 18 June: Mass visa transactions will henceforth be processed in just about a week instead of a month, the Ministry of Labour has affirmed. In doing so, the ministry is seeking to introduce a mechanism that limits the three-phase procedure to just two phases.
The ministry's operations taskforce will submit to the Minister of Labour Dr Ali bin Abdullah Al Ka'abi a detailed plan on the new mass visa processing mechanism in a month's time.
Humaid bin Demas, acting under-secretary in the ministry, the heads of visa committees and directors of various departments held an extended meeting with 200 representatives of major companies in Dubai to seek their opinion and assess current service levels before the ministry went ahead with any proposal for streamlining the process.
The company owners had made a series of observations demanding the simplification of collective visa procedures.
They recommended that some documents required to finalise the process be waived. According to them, the ministry needed to come clear on the conditions and required documents before the transaction was submitted.
Bin Demas disclosed that the taskforce would reconsider nine services offered by the ministry to the private sector.
“Regular meetings will be convened with companies representatives in order to reach agreement on many aspects,” he said, adding that the meeting was only the first of its kind and aimed at eliciting first-hand opinion from companies.
Bin Demas indicated that the Labour Minister had stressed the importance of coordination and consultation with the private sector to foster true partnership and dialogue between the two sides.
“No development will be made before the opinion of involved companies — our partners in service — is taken into account,” he insisted.
He announced that 900 major firms had benefited from the issue of 200,000 mass employment permits last year. The ministry had received 350 applications over the past five months, he added.
“The ministry is striving to truncate the time of processing to an ideal period of just one week provided that all required documents — the most important of which are contracts, commercial licences and adequate accommodation - are met,” he explained.
Representatives of companies also demanded that applications be submitted without attaching evidence of their need for workers. The ministry officials, however, rejected the plea, contending that they could not approve of workers numbering near 5,000 without being convinced of the real need for them.
The representatives also felt that the accommodation criterion could be waived but Bin Demas insisted that housing remained a basic demand and an indicator of the seriousness of the company in its application.
“Housing condition cannot be waived,'” he emphasised.
Bollywood invited to join hands with DSC
DUBAI — 18 June: Possibilities of cooperation between the stalwarts of Indian cinema and film makers at Dubai Studio City (DSC) were explored at a workshop ‘Professionals Meet Professionals’ hosted by DSC on the sidelines of the 7th Annual IIFA Weekend and Awards in Dubai.
Held at Cinestar Multiplex in Mall of the Emirates, the workshop was presided over by Jamal Al Sharif, Director, Dubai Studio City; Ashok Amritraj, noted Hollywood producer, chairman and CEO of Hyde Park Entertainment; Kabir Bedi, celebrated international film, TV and theatre personality, and Nayla Al Khaja, Managing Director and Founder, Dessart Productions.
Welcoming Amritraj and Bedi to Dubai, Al Sharif said: "Dubai Studio City is dedicated to empower, educate, and support filmmakers who share a desire to express themselves through cinema. This workshop was conceived as a platform for film-enthusiasts to come together and push boundaries, interact and share knowledge to develop new ideas for the film industry in the region."
Inviting Amritraj, Bedi and the Indian film industry to contribute to the success of Dubai Studio City, Al Sharif said: "I hope you will use this forum to discover new talent from the UAE filmmaking community."
The IIFA Film Workshop saw leading representatives from the Indian and regional film industry, students, and media representatives come together to discuss cinema as an ideal medium to bridge cultures.
A screening of Amritraj's Bringing Down the House and Bedi's Octupussy set the tone for the interactive session that had Amritraj and Bedi tracing their journey from India into international cinema.
Amritraj said: "I am always looking for good stories and good scripts, and I look forward to receiving interesting content from this region."
Bedi added: "I welcome acting offers from this region, provided the script suits me."
Speaking as UAE's first independent film maker, Nayla Al Khaja said: "Leading storytellers in the motion picture and television arts, both Ashok and Kabir have mirrored the changes in society through the films they produced or the characters they portrayed."
Accident victim dies
DUBAI — 18 June: Nasser, a 40-year-old Indian national hailing from Kerala, died in Rashid Hospital yesterday after suffering serious injuries in an accident two days back.
The accident took place on the Aweer-Hatta Road on Thursday when the tyre of his pick-up burst. The vehicle overturned and hit the fencing of the roundabout. Nasser had suffered severe injuries. Nasser was working with a petroleum company in Dubai for the past 15 years.
Special fly-drive packages for 11 countries offered
DUBAI — 18 June: For families looking to escape the summer heat, Holiday Autos Middle East has teamed up with four leading airlines to offer special fly-drive packages to 11 of the most popular countries for UAE holidaymakers this summer.
From Canada to Europe, South Africa to New Zealand, Holiday Autos’ special fly-drive deals including seven-day car hire start from as little as Dh2,020 to destinations in the UK, France, Germany and Switzerland with Etihad Airways. All prices include seven-day car hire along with the benefits of unlimited mileage, collision damage waiver, third party liability insurance, theft protection, airport surcharges, tax and VAT.
Travellers can also choose to fly economy return from the UAE with Royal Brunei to the UK (from Dh2,810), Australia (fromDh 3,460) or New Zealand (from Dh3,530); with Aer Lingus to Ireland (from Dh1,510); or Swiss International Airlines to France (from Dh3,380), Austria (from Dh3,530) or Switzerland (from Dh3,450).
Hotel ready to welcome guests
DUBAI — The Hilton Salalah Resort is getting ready to welcome guests from across the region and beyond for the upcoming Khareef season with special Oman Air packages. The idyllic retreat will experience tropical monsoon rains, a rarity for the region, and festivities unique to Oman.
Khareef is the local name for the Indian monsoon, which sweeps across the Omani southern coast each summer as it nears the end of its course.
The Hilton Salalah Resort has partnered with Oman Air Holidays to offer travellers a package from July 1 to end of August. Starting at Dh2,325 per person, UAE residents can fly from Dubai directly to Salalah for three nights with Oman Air. In addition to return flights and accommodation, the delightful package includes daily buffet breakfast, complimentary airport transfers and all hotel taxes and service charges.
Stylish villas at Al Ain Rotana
AL AIN — The Al Ain Rotana Hotel has announced the completion of its 10 additional villas, providing new levels of accommodation and facilities for visitors. The new duplex villas offer luxurious 3+2 bedrooms laid out over two floors. The new villas have been designed to accommodate a mix of guests, with state-of-the-art in-room facilities matched precisely to the needs of visitors.
A marble staircase leads to the upper level, where there are two en-suite bedrooms and a third smaller bedroom.
The aim of establishing new villas is to envelop visitors and tourists with the warmth of traditional Arabic hospitality and the splendour of modern luxuries that can only be possible at a Rotana Hotel.