NEWS FROM THE U.A.E.
Excerpts from UAE Dailies
Holders of false qualifications will be deported
Dubai: 21 June: People found holding false degrees will be deported and never be able to work in the country again, the Minister of Labour announced on Tuesday.
Dr Ali Bin Abdullah Al Ka'abi told reporters that even if the person holding the forged certificate applies for a job requiring lesser qualifications, he will not be given a work permit.
"He may hold a real qualification, but he will not be allowed to work in the UAE if he is once caught with a fake degree. In another instance if an individual is found with a fake certificate after he has been issued a labour card, we will get it blocked. The company may also be blacklisted if any employee is found holding a fake certificate," said Dr Al Ka'abi.
The minister also revealed that the ministry is planning to make degree verification mandatory next year when renewing visas.
The construction and engineering sector in the UAE have registered the largest number of fake certificate holders applying for labour cards, according to statistics released yesterday by a company that verifies degrees for the Ministry of Labour.
Other sectors that are a target for people with fake degrees are the service sector with 17 per cent, followed by the banking and financial sector with 9 per cent and trading with 8 per cent, figures provided by Integra Screen shows.
"About 421 fake certificates have so far been detected since September 2005, however the number has been in decline, as many people are starting to understand that they cannot get away with it," Dr Al Ka'abi told reporters.
Highest level of fraud occurs at junior positions
Sixty-two per cent of people who were found to have false certificates were applying for jobs at a junior level.
The smallest number of violators was among those applying for senior jobs, who made up only 3 per cent of the total number, while middle levels jobs had a share of 35 per cent of all false certificates.
Pakistanis ranked first amongst nationalities of fake certificate holders.
However, Paul Kane, Director of Integra Screen in the Middle East said this number has to be viewed in relation to the proportion of the Asian and Arab workforce, which is the largest in the country.
Elevator rapist gets 15-year prison term
Dubai: 21 June: A man who raped a 16-year-old girl in a lift after threatening her with a knife has been given a 15-year prison term.
Dubai Court of First Instance also sentenced the 25-year-old Tunisian rapist, B.O., to an additional five years in jail for stealing the Bangladeshi victim's mobile and cash. His 25-year-old compatriot and accomplice A.B., also received a five-year term for theft.
The court heard the two shadowed the girl as she walked towards her Deira apartment. When she got into the lift, B.O. put a knife to her face and raped her. A.B. acted as a lookout. They then stole her belongings.
Supermarkets under price watch
U.A.E. - 21 June: Supermarkets in the UAE are on notice from today after the Economy Ministry issued its new survey of consumer prices in what will be a weekly government watch over inflation.
All seven emirates are included in the price comparison of 19 commodities – from lemons to shaving creams – sold at nine chains and co-operatives around the UAE, including French retailer Carrefour.
A ministry statement said that “such [an] action is regarded a positive step to [make] the public aware to place a limit on price hikes. The price listing will appear weekly on Wednesday for consumers”.
The ministry also aims to educate consumers of the importance of keeping prices under control, and plans to monitor the markets to put an end to the trend of traders controlling the marketplace.
The products under watch include top brands such as Nivea shaving cream and Nido powdered milk. According to the ministry, the price of 100 bags of Lipton Tea, for example, varies between stores in the UAE – the most expensive being sold for Dh13.25 at Lulu Center in Dubai and the cheapest sold for Dh12.35 at RAK Co-operative store.
The survey showed that the most expensive South African red apples are sold at Carrefour in Abu Dhabi and Ajman for Dh5.95 a kilogramme and the cheapest sold at Carrefour Dubai for Dh3.95 per kg.A 28pack of Pampers nappies costs Dh15 at Emirates General Market in Abu Dhabi but only Dh13.95 at Sharjah Co-operative store.
The ministry’s move comes amid fears of further rise in consumer goods prices, especially after the recent increase in diesel price to Dh8.90 per gallon, up by 0.20 fils. That increase was the fourth in less than two months.
Abdullah Al Saleh, Undersecretary at the Economy Ministry, said several measures have been taken “to effect a balance in supply and demand” and that this will lead to price stability.
Among the measures is a mechanism to liberalise the import of basic food items and efforts to put an end to what the ministry said was “the collective price hikes”.
The ministry is also working closely with other government agencies on the new consumer protection law, specifying penalties against violators.
“The role of the consumer is enhanced in the liberal economy system adopted by the UAE, as the consumer remains the decision-maker in the mar ket amid product and mar ket diversity,” said a ministry official.
Ministry releases price lists
Dubai: 21 June: The Ministry of Economy yesterday announced a new public service involving a weekly price-list of a basket of consumer goods.
The new price-list was commissioned by Ministerial Council Decision for Service No 35/2/2006 to be published in local dailies in a fixed column to inform the public about consumer protection.
The purpose of this move is to spread public awareness and ensure a cap on price increases.
"The step was taken to inform the consumer of their role in controlling prices against monopolies and price hikes," said Abdullah Al Saleh, Undersecretary in the Ministry of Economy.
He emphasised that the consumer's role is sustained and supported by the free-market policy of the UAE, adding that the price list covers "food, construction materials, clothing, furniture, drugs and medical equipment."
"The government has taken further measures to bring a balance between demand and supply in the local market, where the prices of 15 essential items have been controlled," said Al Saleh.
He also pointed out the importance of educating consumers so that they will confront any unjustified price hikes or other methods of exploitation by suppliers.
Ministry cracks whip on fake certificate holders
Dubai - 21 June : A new educational degree verification system introduced by the Ministry of Labour has led to a crackdown on people, including top-level executives, trying to enter the private sector in Dubai using fake qualifications certificates.
Cases such as a security manager at one of the largest business groups in the region with false educational qualifications, a safety officer at a leading construction firm with a fake BSc civil engineering degree, and a nurse from a polyclinic with a fake diploma in nursing and midwifery have come to light.
The ministry has released a breakdown based on nationalities, regions and professions that revealed the Subcontinent had the most cases of fake degrees being used by individuals to penetrate the UAE labour market.
Ali bin Abdullah Al Kaabi, UAE Minister for Labour, said: “This is in proportion with the population. As the population from the Subcontinent is highest in the country these figures should not be conclusive.
“The idea of the programme is to bring in qualified people into the labour market.” While India had the highest number of educational certificates verified – 11,000 with 132 found to be fake – but it was not listed among the top 10 countries in terms of percentage of the malpractice.
The highest percentage of fake certificates was from Pakistan and the list of top 10 countries included the United Kingdom and Germany.
“The hierarchical distribution shows that three per cent of senior level staff, who hold key positions in a company have forged certificates,” said Al Kaabi.
Explaining the three possible situations of verification Ahmed Khajoor, assistant under-secretary for planning at the Ministry of Labour, said: “Applicants whose certificates are found to be fake before entering the country will not be given a visa.
“Those who have entered the country already will not be given a work permit and allowed to stay in the UAE,” he said.
Ahmed added: “The expatriate workers whose educational certificates have been voluntarily sent by their companies and are found to be faked will be deported from the country.” The Degree Verification programme, carried out by IntegraScreen on behalf of the Ministry of Labour, applies to anybody applying for the UAE employment visa and a residence permit to remain in the country.
The programme to check the malpractice, carried out directly from universities and technical colleges, had replaced the previous attestation process done through the UAE Embassy in the employee’s home country.
Labour discovers 421 fake certificates
Dubai: 21 June: The Ministry of Labour has discovered 421 fake certificates out of a total of 51,000 certificates job seekers submitted to the Ministry since September last year.
Addressing a press conference on Tuesday, Labour Minister Ali Bin Abdullah Al Kaabi said the fakes were discovered ever since the Ministry "made it mandatory for private sector companies to attest academic certificates in certain professions."
"These included a BS in civil engineering in the name of someone working as a manager in one of the big companies. We also discovered another fake civil engineering certificate in name of a safety officer in another big company. A fake certificate for a nurse was also discovered," he revealed.
The Ministry added that most of the certificates were from un-accredited academic instructions. Work permits were denied to applicants who submitted these certificate, the minister explained.
As part of this process, a professional background search of applicants in rare specialties is done in their home countries. This search revealed that some medical practioners had made medical errors. They were accordingly denied work permits in the UAE.
The process of attesting the certificate takes at least 15 days in countries such as Australia, and 25 days in India, Al Kaabi said.
Dh85bn transferred out in 2005, taking a toll on the country’s economy
ABU DHABI — 21 June: The outflow of funds from the UAE due to remittances by expatriates and foreign operating companies seems to be taking its toll on the national economy.
A statistical report released by the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ADCCI) shows that a total of Dh85 billion was transferred from the country by expatriates and companies last year.
The report which focused on the impact of transferring money abroad on the national economy, revealed that though new investment tools had been introduced in the UAE, there was complete failure in attracting the revenues and profits of the establishments, companies and individuals in the country.
Accordingly, such money is being transferred abroad which is considered a negative index of the national economy. On the other hand, the money transfer transactions help attract a lot of foreign investments owing to the consequent rise in the profits of firms in the UAE and the stability at the economic and political levels.
The report also indicated that the open door policy and non-imposition of fees for transferring money, has led to fund transfers from the UAE economy to the economies of other Arab and Asian countries unlike some countries whose economy depends on Oil such as Libya which delimits 60 per cent in case of money transference and Iraq with a limit percentage of 50 per cent.
The average money transference abroad as a result of the profits of companies amounted to Dh28 billion in 2005 compared to Dh18 billion in 2004. As such this average is expected to reach Dh32.3 billion this year. Furthermore, the remittance traffic has recorded an increase equal to 17.2 per cent out of the overall local revenue in the country in 2005 compared to 4.14 per cent in 2004. It is also expected that such percentage will go up gradually in 2006 as the higher per cent of remittance traffic came to 17.3 per cent.
On other hand, the number of expatriate laborers reached 2.9 million workers, about 91 per cent of the total size of labour working in the UAE. The unskilled labour represents 70 per cent of the total volume of workers here in the country as they work for the contracting sector along with the domestic servants. As for this kind of labour, they transfer about 85 per cent of their income to their homelands.
The reports also clarified that the number of money exchange offices in the country reached 106 in 2005 with 61 offices located in Abu Dhabi. One of these offices secured nearly 9 per cent of the overall local income as it got Dh10 billions throughout a year.
In addition, the report disclosed that about 64 per cent of money was transferred to India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, 15 per cent to the Arab countries mostly in Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Morocco and 21 per cent of money transference goes to the European, African and American countries.
The study demonstrated also that the Asian labour represents 78 per cent of the total expatriate labour in the country as most of them are living here without their families. About 30 per cent of the Asian labour unofficially transfers their savings to their motherlands. On other hand, the Arab labour forms 15 per cent and mostly bring their families to accompany them.
The study unveiled that the Arab labour force transfers minimum 5 per cent and maximum 15 per cent of the total revenue of an individual. The report, however, called for opening up opportunities for residents to invest as per the legislations, laws and the control of the UAE authorities. This would positively impact the national economy in addition to creating new returns to the expatriate labor.
The report recommended setting up of residential areas for the limited income people at a low rent in an effort aimed at persuading them to bring their families to the country. The report also called for reduction of visit visa fees and introducing financial and investment policies aiming at attracting such money. The report also recommended granting citizenship to expatriate employees and setting up a fund to be supported by all companies and establishments operating in the country in order to serve the society.
After cups, use of plastic plates for hot meals may be regulated as well
DUBAI — 21 June: In line with its earlier decision to regulate the use of plastic cups used to serve hot beverages, the Dubai municipality is likely to clamp restrictions on the use of disposable plastic plates used to serve hot food items. The measure was aimed at avoiding health hazards and to safeguard public health, a top official stated.
Speaking to Khaleej Times, Khalid Sharif Al Awadhi, assistant director-general, Public Health Department, Dubai municipality, observed, "We started to regulate the use of plastic cups in order to avoid public health problems. Now we propose to impose new directives regarding the use of plastic plates. It does not mean that we are going to ban the use of all varieties of plastic cups and plates."
Al Awadhi disclosed that "The General Secretariat of the UAE Municipalities has adopted Dubai municipality's decision. Now they are going to regulate the use of plastic cups used to serve hot beverages in all the other emirates. UAE civic service authorities too have started implementing a strategy with regard to all materials used for packaging. The plan will be implemented on a gradual basis. The practical plan started with cups and will cover other such vessels that could have a direct impact on human health."
"Dubai municipality conducted a study on plastic cups used in stores, cafes, restaurants, cafeterias and other places and discovered that they were being misused. We found that some plastic cups couldn't tolerate temperatures above 1000 degree Celsius and were likely to catalyse a reaction between chemically-processed substances in the cups with the beverage," he noted.
"Dubai Municipality is keen on citizens' health. The municipality has actually contacted the companies manufacturing or importing such items and asked them to display a warning on whether the products were to be used for cold or hot drinks. The companies were given a fixed grace period to adhere to the instructions. The measure will make it much easy for the consumers to distinguish between plastic cups meant for consuming hot beverages," Al Awadhi said.
He disclosed that awareness campaigns had already been launched, besides inspection visits to stores and restaurants, to ensure that the cups were used properly. "The inspection campaigns proved that 70 per cent of plastic cups in Dubai are eligible for use," he said.
‘Karate kid’ puts dean in ICU after he was caught cheating in exam
DUBAI - 21 June: The examination hall at the Dubai University College was turned last evening into a fighting circle, when one of the students, who was caught cheating, struck the dean of the college with a karate move that sent him straight to the Intensive Care Unit of Rashid Hospital.
While inspecting the examination hall where the first year students sat for the business exam, the controller saw the student Ahmed Khan Saheb trying to cheat from a paper that he hid under his cap. The controller tried to take off the cap but the student resisted even after calling the college security and its Dean Dr. Omar Hefni.
Dr. Hefni was trying to intervene to solve the problem by withdrawing the exam paper and cancelling it, he was surprised by the student pushing him and beating him with a fast move that dropped him unconscious on the floor. He was rushed to Rashid Hospital, where he was still lying till the time the newspaper went to press.
The student ran away after beating the dean and until late last night, the Muraqqabat Police station did not approach the dean to take his statement on the incident.
Radio phone-in blames careless Asian drivers for traffic chaos
Dubai - 21 June: Callers to a radio phone-in show yesterday vented their frustration at the traffic situation in Dubai by pinning the blame on Asians, who they claimed were the main cause of accidents and congestion.
It was prompted by an appeal from Arabic radio station Noor asking for opinions on the state of the traffic in the city.
Adel Hussain, Programme Director of the show, said: “I gave the audience many factors that could be the cause of traffic, such as culture, psychology, and gender.
“I was surprised when the majority of the 450 text messages and callers that we received at the station attributed the situation to careless driving by Asians.” According to statistics from the Roads and Transport Authority, the majority of car crashes are the fault of UAE nationals, Indians and Pakistanis.
One caller to the show highlighted the importance of education among Asians by undertaking an awareness campaign through television and radio stations, as well as newspapers.
The caller said:“When a person is not aware that they have to drive slowly on the right lane and not the left lane, and gets agitated when you cut them off – that means they need to be informed of traffic laws.” Another factor that a caller believed triggered the traffic congestion problems in recent years is the lifting of a law that had in the past prohibited lowincome workers (predominantly Asian) from applying for a licence.
The caller explained that in the past low-income workers, such as gardeners or labourers who are unable to read or write, were not granted a licence because they did not necessarily need it and they did not have their families living with them.
In addition, he claimed it would be difficult to read the signs on the road if a driver is uneducated or unaccustomed to living in a big city such as Dubai or Abu Dhabi.
Hussain added: “Some women did call in to say that UAE nationals drive too fast and need to follow the rules more regularly.
“But in the end I personal ly believe that an education about traffic laws for the many nationalities that live in this major city is a must.” He added: “I do think that women are more careful drivers than men.” Another noticeable trait that callers believed could be attributed to car crahes is “rubber necking” – when people take their eyes off the road to look at the scene of a crash or something at the roadside.
Medical emergency drill reveals an alarming scenario
Dubai: 21 June: An emergency drill held at a five-star hotel illustrated the need for enough trained personnel to handle medical emergencies after staff failed two out of three scenarios.
Hotels in Dubai are advised to have an Automated External Defibrillator (AED), a life-saving device designed to measure heart rate and restart the heart, under a safety programme conducted by the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing and the Department of Health and Medical Services (Dohms).
The drill, held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel yesterday by the Dohms ambulance department, involved several scenarios in which heart attacks were simulated to see how quickly hotel staff responded.
The response time for the first emergency was 20 minutes, the second seven minutes and the third five minutes.
In the first two scenarios, the staff could not immediately operate the AED as they were unauthorised to use it, although they could perform cardio-pulmonary resuscitation.
Head of training at Dohms said the problem stemmed from the lack of staff trained to use the AED.
Dibba-Dnata employee vanishes with Dh0.4m of customers’ money
FUJAIRAH — 21 June: Dibba-Fujairah policemen are at their wits end to track down an employee of a tourist company who managed to smooth-talk people here into parting with nearly Dh400,000 before disappearing from the area. It is being conjectured that the accused has left for his homeland Egypt.
Dibba-Fujairah police station first received complaints two days back from three expatriate teachers and some UAE nationals, all of whom complained that they had been swindled by Hamadah Ahmed, an Egyptian national employed with Dibba Dnata Company for Tourist Journeys.
The victims complained that they had reserved air tickets long back for family vacations in Egypt. On getting to the airport, however, the families learnt to their shock that Ahmed had only made false reservations and fled with their money.
Dibba Fujairah police station has been receiving a slew of similar complaints with the onset of the summer vacations. Policemen who approached the company for clarifications were told that Ahmed had not been reporting for duty. The company apparently belongs to a UAE national.
Dibba-Fujairah police have launched a widespread search for the accused. The company's owner, meanwhile, was questioned but denied any knowledge of the incident.
The accused apparently used to furnish customers false reservation documents on the dates of their choosing, exploiting their fear of not finding tickets at a later stage.
Indian Police to probe Dubai links of recruitment company
DUBAI — 21 June: Indian Police will seek the help of their Dubai counterparts to probe the probable involvement of Dubai Tours Travels in fraudulent recruitment activities in Chandigarh in northern India in collusion with agents in the emirate.
The office of the tours and travel company was shut down by the Chandigarh police three days back.
The police in the Union Territory of Chandigarh have arrested two staffers of the travel company and seized millions of rupees they had collected from the workers on the false promise of providing them jobs in Dubai.
Speaking to Khaleej Times over telephone, Jagbir Singh, a senior Chandigarh police officer, said they were still trying to find out if the company has links with recruitment agents in the UAE.
"We are tracing the links of the company with the recruiting agents in Dubai. Once we get proper information we will ask assistance from the Dubai police to crackdown on the racket," he said.
“The two men, Shailey and Ravi, arrested on Saturday, had been operating an illegal racket in Chandigarh city for almost a month. They had opened their company’s bank accounts using fictitious names.
“The two had placed advertisements in local newspapers inviting applications from youngsters, promising them jobs in Dubai and had opened an office," he said
He disclosed that the police were tipped off by one of the applicants who neither got a job in Dubai, nor refund of his money.
“We are also conducting raids on a Mumbai-based man suspected to be the mastermind behind the entire scam. Substantial evidence has already been obtained by the police regarding those who were running the racket. Raids are being planned accordingly,” said Jagbir Singh.
Following a raid on the agency’s office, police recovered 20 passports, and Rs1.1 million (Dh89,360) in cash and bank drafts worth 2.6 million rupees (Dh211,210).
Police also recovered another 160 passports from their hotel rooms.
“Investigations have revealed that the agency was also running branches at Dehradun and various parts of Punjab and Jammu regions, where they were reportedly following a similar modus operandi. We are raiding all their offices,” he said.
Meanwhile, about 90 persons from various districts of Punjab yesterday lodged their complaints against Dubai Tours and Travels for allegedly cheating them after making fake promises of sending them abroad and taking money.
Talking to Indian Media yesterday, former Army man Ram Prakash Soni said, “I am a 68-year-old man. I had saved some amount from the pension I get and thought of using it to go and earn a living in Dubai. I read their advertisement in the newspaper and applied for the post of a driver. I paid them Rs 20,000 and deposited my passport on May 25 but they never responded. I don't know if I could ever get my money back.''
Two Nangal residents, Anil Kumar and Raj Kumar, also have a similar tale to tell.
“'They said they would get us visas to Dubai without any delay. We never expected they could commit a fraud with us,” they said.
Others who lodged their complaints with the Chandigarh Police include Sukhwinder Singh and Hardev Singh, residents of Bathinda, who had paid Rs20,000 each while handing over their passports to the accused.
According to a source in Indian consulate in Dubai, they have asked Delhi to provide information about Dubai Tours and Travels to check whether the company has any connections in the emirate.
“We requested the concerned authorities in Delhi to collect more information.
“We will get it soon to make an effort from our side to crack down on the fraudulent company," said the source.
One in every 76 people in the UAE is a ‘$’ millionaire
U.A.E. : 21 June: One in every 76 people in the UAE was a dollar millionaire at the end of 2005, as the country added 6,200 new millionaires to its ranks riding on the back of booming capital markets and robust real estate market growth.
These statistics, unveiled yesterday as part of the annual World Wealth Report, show that the number of people holding financial assets of greater than $1 million (Dh3.67m) reached 59,000 across the UAE in 2005, up 11.8 per cent over 2004, and representing the ninth highest growth rate in the world.
There were 26 per cent more UAE millionaires in 2005 than there were in 2003, the 10th annual report compiled by Merrill Lynch and Capgemini, showed.
The report includes people who have $1m (Dh3.67m) or more of investible assets, excluding their primary residence and consumables.
Mones Bazzy, Merrill Lynch Market Director for Middle East Onshore, attributed the surge in the UAE to both strong GDP growth of 6.7 per cent last year, the result of oil revenues, and to market capitalisations going through the roof.
The Dubai Financial Market was one of the bestperforming global markets in 2005, adding around 170 per cent from January to December, and fashioning many millionaires as individual stock prices soared.
Meanwhile, the robust real estate market – particularly in Dubai – lined the pocketbooks of investors, particularly as demand for residential and commercial properties outstrips supply.
Around the world, the wealth of millionaires reached $33.3 trillion (Dh124.14trn) in 2005, divided between 8.7 million people – a rise of 8.5 per cent over 2004.
Meanwhile, the number of ultra-high net-worth individuals globally – people holding financial assets of more than $30m (Dh111.84m) – surged 10.2 per cent to 85,400 last year, the report said.
But the growth in financial wealth is rising most rapidly in the Middle East, the statistics show. In 2005, $1.2trn (Dh4.48trn) was spread over 300,000 millionaires regionally – 19.7 per cent more wealth in millionaire’s hands than in 2004.
As a percentage of the total, this would indicate that UAE millionaires collectively held $236 billion (Dh879bn) in assets last year.
The report, however, listed hurdles to further wealth development in the UAE. “Concerns regarding an overheated economy are strengthening,” the report said, noting a “strong appetite” for risk in the Middle East, with asset allocations among millionaires “highly skewed into equities and real estate”.
The greatest negative pressure likely on wealth creation this year will be the dramatic downturn of the local capital markets, Bazzy said, adding that Merrill Lynch anticipates flat growth in UAE millionaires in 2006 as a result.
“How much [the correction] will reflect on 2007 results will depend on what happens in 2006. It will have a negative impact, but the main drivers of growth in wealth are still in place,” he said.
Emirates to stand by its order for Air Bus A 380 Aircrafts purchase
Dubai - 21 June: Emirates, the largest customer for Airbus’s A380, said it will stand by its order for 45 of the aircraft after the world’s biggest aircraft-leasing company said yesterday it may cancel its $3 billion (Dh11bn) order on delivery delays.
“We are not considering cancelling our A380 order even though we have the ability to do so,” Maurice Flanagan, vice-chairman of Emirates, said yesterday during an interview. “We don’t think further delays are likely.” Steven Udvar-Hazy, chief executive of Los Angelesbased International Lease Finance Corporation, yesterday said his company may cancel its order for 10 of the 555seat aircraft after Airbus told him the planes will be delivered up to 14 months later than originally agreed.
The Emirates official said that airlines can cancel its A380 order without penalty after a six-month delay. The airline said last week that it expects to receive its first A380 in October 2007. That is six months later than the April 2007 delivery date it had negotiated with Airbus.
The International Lease Finance Corporation warning follows demands for compensation by Emirates and Singapore Airlines, and may encourage other carriers to switch to Boeing’s new version of the 747 and also ask for compensation. (Agencies)