News headlines

Excerpts from UAE Dailies

Majority now spend half of salary on rent

Dubai - 28 Aug: A new survey of Dubai’s property market shows residents are dismayed by the thought of paying close to half their annual salaries on rents.

DSL Exhibitions, organisers of the Resale and Rental Property Show (The R&R Show) – to be held on September 8 to 9, 2006 in Dubai recently commissioned a consumer survey that interviewed 412 individuals who have lived in Dubai for at least three years on various aspects of the property market.

The survey showed 72 per cent of residents spent half or more of their annual income on home rentals, while 67 per cent said that this made living in Dubai “unviable” in the medium to long term.

However, 87 per cent of the respondents felt that rents were unsustainable at their current levels, but only 32 per cent of the respondents said they were “sure” rents would come down in the next three years, while 47 per cent said they were “cautiously optimistic” of rents returning to lower levels.

Regarding property buying, 62 per cent of the respondents said that the mortgage market in Dubai was still “nascent” as schemes such as rentto-buy were either non-existent or very rare.

Of those surveyed, 21 per cent felt that mortgage products were growing to meet the needs of property buyers.

However 82 per cent of the respondents said that mortgages were “too expensive” when compared with developed markets.

“The business survey we recently conducted with executives working in Dubai’s real estate sector received excellent responses, both from the industry as well as the media,” said Tessa Morris, Marketing Director at DSL Exhibitions.

“This is the second survey we conducted with consumers and lay people in Dubai to understand opinions from the other side of the fence, so we can present a full picture on what people feel about Dubai’s property market,” she added.

The survey, conducted by a research division of Communicraft, chose demographic backgrounds of the respondents to reflect the population mix of Dubai to avoid bias that a particular segment may hold.

The proportions were as follows: UAE nationals 20 per cent, Indian Subcontinent expatriates 60 per cent, Arab expatriates 15 per cent and other expatriate nationalities five per cent.


Abandoned woman roams city with her three children

Dubai: 28 Aug: A woman and her three children have been living out of a rental car after her husband took a second wife, changed the locks of her house and threw her out.

He has refused to divorce her and pay the necessary allowance.

For the last five days R.M, 31, who ironically works for a real estate company has been homeless and living in a car with her three young children ages two to seven.

R.M, who asked to remain anonymous, said her husband threw her out of the family home in Umm Al Quwain on August 8 after beating her.

"He told me two months ago that he had married a woman five months ago and I had to leave. He put me and our children in a house in Ajman but three weeks ago he changed the locks and said we had to leave. A removal van came and took all our things," said R.M.

After suffering physical abuse and with nowhere to go, R.M. filed a complaint with Ajman police.

"There is nothing more they could do and told me to go to a hotel but I have an overdraft on my credit card and I can't afford to do that," she said.

R.M. said she has a hearing scheduled with the Sharia court for September 10 but her husband is refusing to divorce her.

"He has remarried and that is fine but he has responsibilities towards his children and he should divorce me. If he divorces me he has to pay me. He said he doesn't want to give me any money and said that I should divorce him, but then I receive nothing. This is not fair. I have rights and I have my babies to look after," she said, speaking on the steps of a mosque in Deira.

R.M. said she was able to stay with her sister for about 10 days, but with six children of her own she felt she was too much of a burden and decided to leave. Her in-laws have offered her no support, she said.

"I'm living in my car. I need to go to work. I leave the children with my sister sometimes," she said. During the day R.M. said she roams in parks and takes refuge in mosques to change her clothes.

"I try and go to different places. I feel so ashamed I don't want people to see us. I can't keep the car running all the time so we go to gardens," she said.

She said she had not spoken to her company or any support groups or imams because she is too mortified. As of yesterday, however, a women's shelter has taken her in with her three children.


Four-inch 'unidentified' spider takes all by surprise


Abu Dhabi: 28 Aug: Questions remained yesterday about the species of what its captors described as a 'particularly large' spider delivered to Gulf News in a jam jar over the weekend.

Describing the 4-inch arachnid which has a yellow abdomen and black stripes on its bristly legs, Director of Dubai Zoo, Dr Reza Khan said, "While it looks like a particularly large species of Heteropoda [House Spider]. I am hesitant to confirm."

Oasis Fernandes, a Marketing Executive with Island Falcon Technical Services, who noticed the spider as it crawled across his office ceiling, said a colleague captured it because they were concerned it might be poisonous.

Chairman of the Dubai Natural History Group, Gary Feulner, who has been a keen arachnid enthusiast in the UAE for over 15 years said he was also reluctant to identify the species on the basis of photographic evidence.

"Spider identification (taxonomy) is notoriously difficult," he said adding that because of the import of goods into the UAE from around the world, new species of insects and arachnids are sometimes transported into the country.

"New species of these small creatures come into the UAE. Some survive the harsh conditions and some don't. While I am not saying that this is a new species from the evidence I have, I would not be at all surprised if this is something new. Maybe we should all keep our eyes open for it," he said.

Keen to draw greater awareness of arachnid species and populations in the UAE, Feulner said he hoped a systematic study of spiders would one day be conducted in the country.

"Although significant attention has been given to many animal groups in the UAE, there has been no concentrated study of spiders here. This would be useful," he said.

Last year Gulf News reported that a type of Red Back spider had been found in Dubai. The sub-species has subsequently been confirmed as being less venomous than those native to Australia.

According to Arlene Castillo, a domestic pest expert with Dubai based pest control company, Ridapest, there have been less reports of the Red Back spider in Dubai this year. She was reluctant to confirm a species type of the spider found in Abu Dhabi.

"We cannot confirm that this particular arachnid is just the common house spider species," she said.

The Environment Agency, Abu Dhabi told Gulf News their arachnid expert was unavailable for comment yesterday because he was currently out of the country.


US visas will be sent by courier

ABU DHABI — 28 Aug: To improve visa services to the public, the US Embassy in Abu Dhabi and the US Consulate General in Dubai will initiate a courier passback service for non-immigrant visa applicants, effective from September 4.

According to a Press release, passports containing non-immigrant visas will be returned to the applicant by Empost Express courier service direct to any location in the UAE requested by the applicant.

Empost will collect a Dh20 fee per passport upon delivery. In order to make our visa processes as effective as possible, we are requiring that all applicants participate in this programme, except for those applying for official visas.

Visa applicants will no longer need to return to the Embassy to collect their passports and visas.

Applicants will have their passport with visa returned directly to them at a time and place of their choosing, thus saving time and avoiding inconvenience. 

After the visa interview, applicants will provide a UAE-based address and telephone number on an Empost delivery form which will be attached to the passport.

Applicants will retain a receipt with their Empost tracking number. When the passport and visa are ready to be returned, Empost will courier the passport to the applicant within two business days.

Applicants can use their tracking number to check their passport delivery status by calling Empost toll free at 800-5858 or visiting the Empost web site at The rules for other types of visas remain unchanged.


Sexual abuse: maids remain vulnerable lot

DUBAI — 28 Aug: All she could think of was her children and how much she wanted to protect them from knowing what really happened to her in Dubai.

Barely a month in the emirate, the middle-aged Filipina housemaid told Khaleej Times that she ran away from her employer whose brother allegedly raped her.

Speaking to the Press on condition of anonymity, the Filipina said she opted not to file charges or make her case public as she is worried the news may reach the Philippines and traumatise her children.

“I just want to go back home and be with my children. I don’t even want to think any more of what I went through. I have worked in Saudi Arabia and in Kuwait but I never experienced anything similar to this,” the Filipina said as her voice cracked while narrating her ordeal.

Her case is not an isolated case. Every now and then, the Philippine Overseas Labour Office-Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (POLO-OWWA) in Dubai receives Filipinas who claim they have been sexually harassed or raped by a close relative of their employers or the employers themselves.

Philippine Labour Attache Vicente Cabe said that Filipinas who are bound to work overseas as domestic helpers are required to undergo a special kind of Pre-departure Orientation Seminar (PDOS) at the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) in Manila.

During the PDOS, Filipinas are trained and given information materials on how to prevent rape. Despite that, there are cases of sexual abuses of housemaids.

Cabe said the issue can be attributed to many factors. “Although we orient the housemaids on what they should do to prevent rape, there are things you cannot determine beforehand. For instance, employers or their relatives may really have bad intentions towards the maid or the maid may have failed to follow certain preventive measures,” the labour attache said.

One of the materials handed out to Filipina housemaids is a small white brochure written in Tagalog, the Philippine’s vernacular.

Cabe said that as per procedures, once a housemaid reports to them that she has allegedly been raped, representatives of the POLO-OWWA directly bring her to the hospital for the mandatory medical check-up, which also forms a big part of physical evidence.

The case will then be taken to the police, who will call the other party (employer or the alleged sexual offender) for their side of the story.

“Once the authorities conclude that there is enough merit to file charges, based on the evidence and statements presented to them, they will then file a case at the Public Prosecution,” Cabe explained.

Cabe also encourage the housemaids to report to the POLO-OWWA as soon as a man in their employer’s household has attempted to harass them.

The Filipina whom Khaleej Times interviewed said she was aware of the training given at PDOS, as well as the information materials on preventing rape. “But in the actual event where you’re cornered, anything can be and is done against your will,” she said.





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