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Excerpts from UAE Dailies

Employers who charge staff for health insurance to be penalised

ABU DHABI — 24 Aug: Employers who force employees to bear partial value of the health insurance policy will be slapped with a Dh10,000 fine on account of each employee.

According to Law No. 23 of 2005 on health insurance and the executive bylaws, “Employer who will practise coercion to compel his staff to refund part of the insurance cost will be fined Dh10,000 for each employee. He would also be asked to return the deducted money to the employee,” official sources at the General Health Authority for the Emirate of Abu Dhabi (GAHS) told Khaleej Times yesterday.

Under a presidential decree a health insurance policy has been introduced to alleviate the suffering of expatriates who groan under exorbitant costs of medical services.

As per the law, employers should fully cover employees with a national health insurance system that phases out the existing health card. Expatriate employees, especially those who are already facing labour problems with their companies including late payment of dues, have been anxious whether sponsors would bear their medical expenses.

The first phase of the health insurance project was enforced on July 1 and included companies with a labour force that exceeds 1,000 staff. However, the second phase slated for January 1,2007 will include all expatriates dwelling and working in the capital. “Employers who failed to cover their employees with the insurance policy or renew membership of their employees and their dependents will be subject to pecuniary penalty,” the sources have warned.

Dh300 will be collected from the employer for each employee whose membership has not been renewed, they cautioned. They underlined that insurance companies or health institutions that undertake issuing insurance cards for establishments without the approval of GAHS, will also be penalised. “Insurance companies or health facilities that opt to provide the national health insurance policy without being authorised by GAHS will have to pay Dh20,000 for each violation,” warned an official.

Responding to a question about categories that are exempted from the insurance, officials stated that UAE nationals, the non-local wife of a UAE national, the sons of a UAE female national married to a non-national and the AGCC citizens, are permanently exempted from the project.

“Those who have been granted a federal decree on getting citizenship but still have certain procedures to complete, besides those partially or completely exempted by GAHS, need not join the insurance scheme,” added the official.


Sailor’s family is waiting for body

DUBAI — 24 Aug: The wait for the body of Swaranjith Singh, a 20-year-old Indian sailor who died on August 17 in a hospital in Sharjah following severe heat stroke, seems endless for his family in Chandigarh.

And with no proper information available from either the local authorities or his employers in Sharjah, the Kasab Shipping Company (KSC), the tragedy is turning into a catastrophe.

Preetham Singh, the distressed father of the deceased who has been calling up the shipping company regularly, told Khaleej Times that the KSC has given no clear reply regarding the repatriation of his son’s  body to India.

“I have made several telephone calls but no one has been able to tell me when we can expect to receive my son’s body,” the father lamented.

“I want at least to see my son’s body. His mother too is too traumatised,” the grieving father said.

Swaranjith died last week, the second day after he arrived in the UAE,  in Kuwaiti Hospital after suffering a severe heat stroke.

He worked on board the vessel MV Nancy owned by the Sharjah-based Kasab Shipping, which is currently docked in Sharjah Creek.

A source at the Sharjah Police said that Swaranjith’s body will be released only after the forensic laboratory report has been filed.

“The forensic report will disclose if his death was a result of a heat stroke,” said the source, adding that the company should bear all the expenses for the repatriation of Swaranjith’s mortal remains.

A source from the Mission to Seafarers, the organisation assisting the family to repatriate the body,  said, “We are in touch with the shipping company officials. They are also waiting for the police to release the body. We will also make sure that the family receives the insurance claim for the death of their son while on duty.”

No KSC officials were available for comment.


Free parking only on Fridays: RTA

DUBAI — 24 Aug: Despite rumours suggesting that the parking fee in the emirate will be waived on Saturdays as the UAE government has officially announced Friday-Saturday as a weekend for the public sector from September 1, the Roads and Transport Authority has ruled out any such waiver.

According to Mehdi Ali Ridha, RTA’s director of parking, “even though the government has announced Friday and Saturday will be a holiday for the public sector, the free parking facility will be limited to only Fridays.

Commenting on the practice adopted by a number of residents who reserve public parking spaces, Mehdi said, “It is illegal. Public parking slots cannot be encroached upon in this fashion. Moreover, strict action will be taken against those who violate the law.”


Post-lunch nap helps enhance efficiency: survey

DUBAI — 24 Aug: Arguing that a 20-minute siesta is as good as a full night’s sleep, a recent survey has found that employees in the UAE are in favour of introducing the ‘power nap’ concept at work.

According to an on-line survey conducted in July by, the region’s largest recruitment and career planning company, 84 per cent of 1,305 respondents who participated said that a post-lunch nap could boost their performance and concentration.

The survey randomly polled people of different cultures, lifestyles and work environments across the gulf.

Another recent survey by reveals that 40 per cent of employees in the Gulf region get less than the recommended eight hours’ sleep every night. Health experts worldwide are united in the belief that sleep deprivation affects both productivity and family life, leading to depression and mental illness.

Around 80 per cent of patients in an informal study conducted by Jebel Ali Hospital in Dubai admitted to encountering stress and depression as a result of sleep deprivation. More than 60 per cent said they did not get enough sleep due to their lifestyle, which included regular socialising, surfing the Internet, improper diet, and excessive nicotine and caffeine intake.

In the UAE, modern lifestyles have made it difficult for many people to get the recommended eight hours of sleep daily. In’s poll, 80 per cent of 2,794 respondents say they require between 7 and 8 hours sleep to be more productive at work. Almost 40 per cent of 1,630 respondents admit to sleeping less than six hours each night.

Dr Suresh Menon, specialist physician at Jebel Ali Hospital in Dubai, said: “Although the average adult gets about 7 hours of sleep every night, people should theoretically be sleeping eight hours or more.”

He pointed to research carried out in India which indicates that a quick afternoon nap increases productivity, creativity and problem solving skills of employees at work. “More importantly, adequate sleep is essential for the safety of employees, especially for those doing physical work involving delicate and heavy machinery. Most studies show that giving in to the urge to nap — even for 15 or 20 minutes — can boost mental and physical performance as well as mood for the rest of the afternoon.”

Dr Haleh Azarpazhooh, specialist psychiatrist at Jebel Ali Hospital, said: “Researchers at Loughborough University’s sleep research laboratory have found that people are designed to sleep twice a day, once at night and a nap in the afternoon. One should, however, not compromise on a full night’s sleep as it is still necessary for many vital body functions.

“Sleep deprivation is bad for your brain when you are trying  to do complicated thinking tasks. In fact, if the brain does not  receive a break it will soon begin to shut down resulting in serious consequences both on performance and on the way your brain functions,” she added.


Airport moves to ease rush at Arrivals
Dubai - 24 Aug:
Dubai Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) last night started special arrangements at Dubai International Airport allowing visitors to pick up their friends and relatives from the upper level outside Departures area.

The move is aimed at distributing the rush outside the Arrivals area and facilitating smooth flow of passengers at the point of pick up.The alternate pick-up facility will be available until September 7.

“This additional arrangement, which is available only between 8pm and 3am, is aimed at reducing the seasonal rush at the Arrivals area,” said Yousuf Al Shaibani, general manager of the customer service division at DCA’s Protocol and Public Relations Directorate.

Al Shaibani noted that visitors can avoid the rush at the Arrivals area during peak hours by informing their friends and relatives arriving at the airport of the alternate arrangements. He said the airport is encouraging visitors to use the alternate option to help avoid the rush outside the Arrivals area.

“To make the alternate option more convenient for both the visitors and passengers, the DCA has arranged for taxis on the upper level during the specified time slot. The police have also been requested to allow visitors to pick up passengers from the upper level,” he said.

Al Shaibani pointed out that those coming to the airport to pick up passengers can wait in the seating areas or one of the coffee shops in the upper level instead of standing outside the Arrivals area.

He added that since the rush at the Departures area was relatively low between 8pm and 3am, those using the option would find it hassle-free.

“Activity is relatively low at the Departures area… especially this part of the year, so the new arrangement will not in any way affect the flow of vehicles or passengers there,” said Al Shaibani.

Drivers who speed warned about strict penalties

Abu Dhabi: 24 Aug: Road accident fatalities in Abu Dhabi are rising despite measures taken by the traffic police to curb violations.

Between August 6 and 19, 12 people were killed and 93 were injured in 48 accidents. The dead were two UAE nationals, six Asians and four Arab nationals.

Police reports indicate that August witnessed a large number of accidents which resulted in the death of 15 people. About 170 people have been injured this month.

According to reports, the major cause of the accidents is speeding and jumping the signals.

A senior traffic police officer has warned drivers that serious penalties will be given to those failing to abide by speed limits.

Colonel Khamees Ishaq, Deputy Director of Traffic and Patrols Department at Abu Dhabi Police said speed limits are well defined.

“Drivers on the Abu DhabiSeh Shuaib road should not exceed 160km.The speed limit on the road from [Mussafah Bridge and Al Maqta] in Abu Dhabi to Al Ain is also 160km,” he explained.

The Arab Gulf (Al Khaleej Al Arabi) Street is not classified as a highway and the speed limit on this road is 120km, he said. However, the road leading to Hair in Al Ain from Abu Dhabi International Airport has a limit of 160km.

“We are open to any query from the public and will respond to any complaint to help them about speed limitations on the roads in the capital and Al Ain city,” he said.

He added speed limits are fixed and no additional speed margin will be tolerated.

“The department has sophisticated mobile cameras and radars deployed on all important roads to monitor violations and violators will be penalised heavily,” warned Colonel Ishaq.


Major crash brings Emirates Road grinding to a halt

Dubai: 24 Aug: A serious traffic accident between two trucks and a car on Emirates Road caused a huge snarl-up on Wednesday, police said.

Two people sustained injuries in the collision that took place on Emirates Road between interchanges 4 and 5.

The accident took place when a truck driver who was said to be speeding rammed into another truck after losing control. The second truck hit another car.

As a result, the second truck driver sustained minor injuries, while the car driver sustained serious injuries.

The truck driver who caused the accident escaped uninjured.

Motorists stuck on Emirates Road at the time of the accident expressed their anger. Ahmad Sulaiman, a UAE national, said: "This is too much. I was very annoyed with the traffic jam, it seemed endless. This is the problem, when there is an accident on one part of the road, the entire movement on that road is affected."

Mohammad Rasheed, an Egyptian, said: "I use this road to escape the daily traffic on other roads and to reach my work on time, as I work on shifts.

"Today, I regretted using this road, as I got stuck in the long traffic jam and could not even call my work to tell them I will be late, as I did not have credit on my mobile."

Around 156 people were killed in road accidents on Dubai roads in the first six months of this year, an almost 42 per cent increase from 2005, when 110 deaths were reported in the first six months.

Around 156 people were killed in road accidents on Dubai roads in the first six months of this year, an almost 42 per cent increase from 2005, when 110 deaths were reported in the first six months.

Gulf News

Duo 'trained their children to take valuables from cars'

Dubai: 24 Aug:A couple who forced their two young children to steal valuables from cars have been arrested.

Brigadier Khamis Mattar Al Mazeina, Director of Dubai Police's Criminal Investigation Department (CID), said the two children, a nine-year-old boy and his four-year-old sister, were forced by their parents to carry out a number of thefts at health spas and hotel car parks.

He said the spate of thefts started taking place in the middle of 2005.

"The parents, A.S. and A.M., used to choose certain health and spas at hotels. They took advantage of busy people heading to the parking lots. They opened their parked cars and directed the children to get in and steal wallets and mobile phones," said Brigadier Al Mazeina.

He said criminal investigation teams worked hard to prepare the follow-up and search procedures, as the suspects lived in one of the northern emirates and used to leave the city after carrying out the thefts.

"The mother A.M. took advantage of her veil, going to electronic stores in different emirates and selling the mobile phones and electronic devices the children had stolen," Brigadier Al Mazeina said.

He said they tried to ensure nobody identified them, and some of the stores she went to did not ask for identity cards.

"Investigation teams could not identify the suspect due to that reason, although the teams had special monitoring procedures," Brigadier Al Mazeina said.

He said the fingerprints of the children, identified as M.A. and N.A., had matched five complaints so far, while there were around 20 complaints against the suspects.

"During preliminary investigations, the parents confessed to committing 16 of those thefts, while the complaints are still being investigated," Brigadier Al Mazeina said.

He said that during the investigations the parents told police that they were living in difficult conditions, which had made them come to the UAE to make a living.

"The father could not find a job here after searching and ended up stealing from health spas and gyms, as they had already carried out similar thefts in their home country and they have criminal records there," Brigadier Al Mazeina said.

He said police also found some ATM cards on the suspects, which they had damaged after using them.

The cards were with their pin numbers and the suspects used them to withdraw money.

The suspects have been referred to the Public Prosecution, while the two children are being looked after by their grandmother.

Brigadier Al Mazeina said it was sad these children were exploited by their own parents who did not think of the consequences of their actions.

"The parents' role when they have children of this age is to teach them good manners, and not use them for crimes, so they can grow up in a psychologically-healthy environment."

Gulf News


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