News headlines

Excerpts from UAE Dailies

‘Indian regulations on hand luggage posing problems’

DUBAI — 19 Aug: The current regulations imposed by the Indian Civil Aviation Ministry on carrying hand luggage on aircraft are posing various kinds of problems for passengers, especially when they are forced to wait for long hours following any flight delay.

Take the passengers of Dubai-bound Air India Express Aircraft, IX 343, which left Calicut on Thursday night. They were stranded for about 12 hours at the Mumbai airport after the aircraft was re-routed, thanks to a technical snag. According to passengers, they had a tough time at the airport because they were not allowed hand luggage and hence, they couldn't carry any food. They alleged that airline officials did not provided them with any food.

"The flight was scheduled to leave Calicut at 9.45 pm, but it took off at 11.30 pm. When it was air-borne, the pilot announced that the flight was being re-routed to Mumbai because of a technical snag," said a passenger.

"When we arrived in Mumbai, airline officials took us to the transit area and told us that the other aircraft would be taking off soon. Later, they took us to another aircraft and we were on it for  two hours. But it did not take off. Then they shifted us again to the transit area," she added.

"We were not allowed to carry hand luggage. We didn't have any food and airline officials did not provide us with any. Passengers who were travelling with infants suffered more. Finally, the flight took off from Mumbai yesterday afternoon."

Meanwhile, the delay created panic among the families of passengers because no information about the delay was conveyed to them. "My wife and kid was travelling on the aircraft. When I went to the Dubai airport to receive them, the flight information desk told me that the flight would arrive at 3am yesterday. But it didn't arrive. I called the Calicut airport and they informed me that the flight had left. No airlines officials were at the airport to give any information," said Rajan, a resident of Sharjah.

The passengers who were scheduled to leave on Thursday at 9.45 pm for Calicut on the same aircraft were also stranded at the Dubai airport. They finally left yesterday at 5 pm.

The passengers protested at the airport because of the delay. The Dubai Police had to intervene.

No official from Air India was available for comments.


Asian labourers forced to wait at airports for visas from sponsors

DUBAI — 19 Aug: Asian labourers waiting for hours at the Dubai International Airport for their visas to be delivered to them by their sponsoring companies are becoming a common sight.

In most cases, companies who hire labourers through recruitment agents in their home countries fail to deposit the visas with immigration desks on time.

About seven Bangladeshis recently fell prey to what companies regard as "logistical and communication problem". They were stranded at the Dubai International Airport for 12 hours after the company failed to pick them up from the airport when they landed in the city. According to Muhammad Alam, one of the workers, "We arrived from Bangladesh at 9am. The agent back home told us that company officials would arrange for pick-up from the airport. As he had instructed us, we waited at the exit, but nobody came."

"We were really worried and didn't know what to do. We are in a  new country after all. The agent gave us a telephone number of the company, but we had no local currency to make calls. Besides, the whole system was new for us,” said Alam.

"Fortunately, a person who was waiting for his friend at the airport came forward to help us. He called our company from his mobile phone and enquired about what was happening. The company told him what they were not aware of our arrival," he continued.

However, he said the company assured them that they would soon be picked up from the airport. "But they arrived only at 9pm even though they were informed in the afternoon," Alam said.

Raja Muhammad, another labourer, said, "I paid Dh7,000 to the agent for obtaining a UAE visa. We waited for 12 hours at the airport without food. It was a horrible experience."

Five Pakistani labourers had to share the same ordeal a few days ago. They were stranded at the Dubai International Airport for nine hours because company officials failed to show up. "The agent had told us that we would be picked up by company officials soon after our arrival. But nobody came," said Umer Gul, one of the labourers.

Harish Kumar, employed at a hotel's guest-receiving counter at the Dubai International Airport, said, "Labourers waiting for their employers for hours is a common scene at the airport. I see at least 10 to 20 labourers waiting for hours for their companies to pick them up every day."

Khaleej Times spoke to a few companies about the issue. An official from a company, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said, "Such incidents happen sometimes. Mostly it is because of logistical or communication problems. Sometimes the agents do not provide us with the correct information regarding the arrival of workers. In some cases, company vehicles might be busy at the time the labourers arrive."


Dramatic rise in suicides by labourers from India

ABU DHABI — 19 Aug: There has been a dramatic rise in suicides by Indian labourers since the beginning of 2006, according to a top Indian diplomat.

"Over the past seven months, 69 Indians, all of them labourers, committed suicide," said Chandra Mohan Bhandari, Ambassador of India to the UAE.

In an interview with Khaleej Times, Bhandari said the number of Indian workers who reportedly committed suicide last year stood at 100. "Our observation is that lot of these people who committed suicide were mentally upset because when they left India they started with certain expectations as they were told the working conditions are good and they will get good pay," said the ambassador.

However, once the labourers came to the UAE, they discovered they had been exploited by recruiting agents back home and their dreams would never come true with the difficult working conditions they had to face.

He said workers who took their own lives were frustrated by the very poor working conditions, including improper and unhealthy accommodation, as in some cases,12 labourers had to live in one room without an air-conditioner," said the ambassador.

He attributed labourers' frustration to the non-payment of salaries for months which is a malpractice carried on by some unscrupulous companies, while the unfortunate workers had to live up to many commitments and expectations they had back home.

"I think these are the major problems and that is why counselling is very important so labourers do not feel they are alone. We encourage workers and help them to be cheerful. We coordinate with the Labour Ministry and the Municipality in our efforts to support labourers.

''Some employers are also helpful as they care for productivity," said Bhandari.

Asked whether the government of India had taken steps to protect overseas labourers, the ambassador replied: "Efforts were on at a national level.

''The Government of India created a new ministry called the Ministry of Overseas Indians to exclusively deal with overseas Indians and look after their welfare. It focuses on the Gulf region where we have most of our labour force."

Responding to a question about coordinating with the UAE government to fix a minimum wage for the unskilled Indian labour force to ensure their security, Bhandari said: "We tried with the UAE Ministry of Labour to fix a minimum wage but that has not been done because I believe the general understanding in the Emirates is that the market decides a minimum wage.

''Even though the Ministry of Labour does give guidelines on a minimum wage, there is no legislation and cannot be challenged in court."

''On the Indian side, when we certify documents we insist that a minimum wage of Dh800 must be paid for workers who opt to work in the UAE prior to certifying contracts,'' added the ambassador.

On the number of Indian labour force in the country, Bhandari said there were about 1.3 million labourers in the UAE out of which 50 per cent are unskilled, 30 per cent are semi-skilled and 20 per cent are professionals and businessmen.

"The numbers are increasing because the UAE economy is growing and needs human resources. However, I expect a more skilled labour force as we are trying to upgrade unskilled labourers to a semi-skilled level through government-to-government coordination."

Refuting claims that Indian labourers did not trust the embassy to solve their problems, the ambassador said such claims were due to a feeling among labourers that the embassy was a high office that is out of their reach.

"Over the last 14 months since I have been here, I have been trying to break the barriers between the labourers and the embassy by visiting labour camps and mixing with workers to increase confidence in our embassy," he said, noting the embassy had intervened in many labour cases both in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

"Now the positive thinking of 'Go to the embassy and they would intervene' is common among labourers and our work is speaking for itself," added Bhandari.

Elaborating on the free medical camp the embassy organises for needy labourers, the ambassador said the embassy was providing doctors who volunteered to provide poor labourers free medical check up at a venue at the embassy headquarters in Abu Dhabi.

He revealed that the embassy was trying to bring labourers, in cooperation with employers ,to a permanent labour camp in Musaffah where most of the labour camps are located to carry out medical check-ups.

This would save the workers the trouble of travelling a long way from Musaffah to the embassy to get themselves medically examined.


Devices will not check errant drivers 

Dubai: 19 Aug: There are many good things about Dubai, but sadly the driving standards are not often cited as a plus point of being a UAE resident.

Many people love to speed through the long wide highways, and the accident statistics show that going to fast has a devastating price when it comes to human lives lost.

In future the roads could be a little bit calmer as taxis are going to be fitted with devices that will limit their maximum speed to 120 km per hour.

As reported in Gulf News, about 6,000 taxis in Dubai will get the devices within the next three months.

Should this technology be extended to all vehicles? City Talk took to the streets of Dubai to find what residents thought.

Emad Khawaja, 30, a Jordanian who works as an assistant marketing manager, said that while it would be a good idea for all cars to have the devices, it was most important for taxis to have speed restrictions.

"It should be taxis because they drive in a horrible way. Just now I nearly had an accident because of a taxi. They don't care. If they see someone who wants a lift they will drive straight across the road from left to right," he said.

Lebanese administration manager Hanna Malak, 34, said "for sure" all cars should be fitted with the speed limiters. "The roads here are good but the way people drive causes problems. Speeding is a big problem," she said.

Aircraft engineer Abdullah Al Daboor, 44, a national, said it would be "very good" if all vehicles were stopped physically from going above the speed limit.

"It will be safer for the road users because we have a lot of people who drive really fast. It will help," he said, adding that "a lot" of drivers regularly travelled at speeds well above the limits.

He said some vehicles on the roads could travel as fast as 300 km per hour, something which he said was "very dangerous".

Most accidents are caused by speeding, explained 54-year-old Iranian engineer Mahdi Afrand, and so speed limiters on all cars could help to make the roads safer.

"I think on roads like Shaikh Zayed Road, cars should be limited to 100 km per hour," he said.

Palani Dharman, 28, from India, who is employed as assistant to a legal manager, said he feared that some drivers would manage to disable the speed limiters and continue to drive above the legal maximum. "It will become the new scam. I think people will be taking them off their cars. I don't think they will help in trying to reduce speeds on the roads."

Mohammad Alfa, 33, an Egyptian bank employee, said speed limiters were a good idea for taxis but not for cars owned by members of the public. He said there were exceptional times when drivers might have to break the speed limit.

"Some people have emergencies. If I was sick and have to go to the hospital, or my wife is sick I might need to do more than 120 km per hour on the highways."

Iranian doctor Mortza Hashimi, 40, was not impressed with the idea of limiting all cars to a maximum of 120 km per hour.

"It's not logical. It's not necessary I don't think," he said, adding, however, that for taxis it was needed.

"When they are empty and don't have anyone inside, taxis go very slowly and cause traffic problems, but when they have customers they go very fast right up behind you. This is not good," he said.

Teacher Katrina Marcopolo, 33, from Greece, said speed limiters could do more harm than good, explaining that sometimes cars need to accelerate to avoid hazards.

"For taxis it could be reasonable so they keep to speed limits, but for private cars if they see trouble they might need to go past it," she said.

Ajit Pimpalkhare took the opposite view, saying that private cars were more in need of having their speed restricted than taxis were.

"I don't think taxis are speeding much. It's the rest of the population. I don't think it will help fitting taxis with a speed limit," he said.

He added though that speed in itself was not necessarily a problem and that "road manners" were more of an issue. "In Germany they don't have any speed limits on some roads but they don't have lots of accidents," he said.

Chris Peet, a vice-president of Emirates airlines, echoed Pimpalkhare's view that there was not a major problem of taxis driving at very high speeds.

"By and large taxis are reasonably well disciplined. I think the biggest problems are caused by the minibuses and the way they hurtle down the road," he said.

With the general public, Peet said there were other ways of ensuring they kept to speed limits that could be given priority over the use of speed governors.

He said more cameras should be working and that the enforcement of "traffic discipline" should be stricter.


Going home will no longer allow you to skip debt

UAE : 19 Aug: Legal experts have revealed how unpaid loans and other debts accured in the UAE can no longer be avoided simply by leaving the country.

In the past, many people managed to avoid paying back money by going back to their home countries.

However, firms are now not forgetting about the debt and are putting in extra efforts to get the cash back.

TK Hashik, a legal consultant handling such cases in Dubai, said cases involving Indian expatriates had been particularly affected.

He said: “This type of recovery from abroad is a recent phenomenon. Earlier, expatriates felt immune from legal proceedings in their own country. Insurance and reinsurance companies, the main losers in default cases have started taking recovery measures. For normal recovery proceedings through civil courts in the customers’ jurisdiction, the banks should produce a copy of the judgment from the UAE courts and necessary documents attested by Interpol proving the liability.

“After the signing of the extradition treaty between the UAE and India, civil cases can be filed against Indians who commit financial offences here. As recovering loans through legal procedures in Indian courts take a lot of time, banks use other methods using blank cheques from customers and their passport copies.” A Dubai-based lawyer, Shamsuddin K, added: “Banks can now better trace people to their home country.” Emirates Today spoke to many people who know colleagues who have fled debts in Dubai in the hope they would not have to pay them – only to discover there was no place to hide.

“A few months back, my colleague left Dubai, leaving behind a huge amount of credit card liability. Agents were persuading him for months to take a credit card.

“Representatives of the bank’s Indian branch contacted his family in India and he had to repay the outstanding amount with interest,” said Sijo Jacob, an employee of a multinational firm.

Another reason for these changes is links are being built between bank branches in countries belonging to the same company.

For example, HSBC in Dubai has a close relationship with HSBC in England.



Top Stories

Leave a Comment

Title: News headlines

You have 2000 characters left.


Please write your correct name and email address. Kindly do not post any personal, abusive, defamatory, infringing, obscene, indecent, discriminatory or unlawful or similar comments. will not be responsible for any defamatory message posted under this article.

Please note that sending false messages to insult, defame, intimidate, mislead or deceive people or to intentionally cause public disorder is punishable under law. It is obligatory on Daijiworld to provide the IP address and other details of senders of such comments, to the authority concerned upon request.

Hence, sending offensive comments using daijiworld will be purely at your own risk, and in no way will be held responsible.