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Excerpts from UAE Dailies

14-year-old Indian boy found dead on roadside near house

SHARJAH — 04 Sep: The school re-opened on a tragic note for the staff and students of Delhi Private School, Sharjah, which lost their grade 9 student Akash Anand in a tragic and mysterious incident early yesterday morning.

The 14-year-old boy was found lying in a pool of blood on the roadside just below his apartment block at around 3.30am by the building watchman.

The watchman immediately alerted the parents who were shocked to learn that Akash was found dead under the apartment block. They could not believe the news because the last they saw Akash, he was sleeping in his bedroom.

No details on the exact time or cause of death have been yet determined by Sharjah Police who are waiting for the post mortem report.

The police were unable to comment whether Akash had committed suicide, or the death was caused by an accidental fall from the apartment.

However, investigations are on and the forensic report is expected today, a police source said.

Meanwhile, family friend Rajan told Khaleej Times that the parents are in a state of shock and unable to figure out what could have caused the death of their only child.

“Akash, a ninth grade student,  was absolutely normal on the weekend and appeared excited about returning to school after a two-month vacation,” the friend recalled, disclosing that the family had gone to bed early the previous night in preparation for the first day of school.

“The parents had last seen Akash going to bed in his room. No abnormal behaviour was noticed in Akash before going to bed on Saturday night,” said the friend, recalling the boy as being a very obedient and quiet child with no history of any medical or psychological problems.

The death of Akash remains a mystery for family and friends who refused to refer to it as suicide. It could be an accidental fall caused after slipping which flung him out of the 9th floor apartment of a plush building located in Al Khan in Sharjah.”

Meanwhile, a family friend said, “We are all shocked  to learn about the boy’s death.”

However, the friend added, the police have assured to release Akash’s body sometime today so that his parents could fly it down to Chennai in India for his last rites.

The school principal, Abha Sehgal, expressed deep shock on learning about Akash’s tragic death.

“The school received  a telephone call from Akash’s residence informing us of his tragic demise. We are all in a state of shock and cannot come to terms with his death. He was a good and very well behaved student, recalled the principal, however adding, he was a bit of an introvert.”

A student of DPS for four years, the child was good in his studies and had no parental pressure of any sorts to excel. In fact, both his parents were very supportive, the principal said, ruling out possibilities of academic stress or peer pressure in school that may have led to his alleged suicide. 

However, she said his quiet nature was brought to the notice of his parents by his class teachers and they had with the parents help succeeded to some extent in bringing him out of his quiet self by encouraging him to participate in sports activities at school, Sehgal said, noting that his death is a big loss to the school.

The school supervisor and manager visited the family yesterday. However, Akash’s death was not officially announced in school yesterday.

DPS will hold a special assembly today to break the news of Akash’s death to his peers and teachers, the principal said.


Parents resent rise in stationery prices

SHARJAH — 04 Sep: With the prices of school stationery items and uniforms on the rise, parents feel that traders are exploiting consumers during this ‘Back to school’ season in the absence of any form of price control directives from the government.

Parents also complained about the lack of credibility of sales and discount promotions announced by retailers during this time of the year. Such promotions are simply gimmicks, say parents in Sharjah and Ajman. The rising prices of basic stationery items like pens, pencils, stationery cases, erasers, sharpeners, etc are affecting the budgets of many middle and low-income families.

Awatif Hamid, mother of three school-going children, said she just could not believe that the minimum price of a school bag is now Dh70 and like many other parents, she has to buy new bags for each of her children for the academic year. In addition to school bags, which are now available at steep prices, parents have to spend on other school items like water bottles, stationery, shoes, and tiffin.

“Last year, the school bags cost Dh30, which was affordable, but this year bookshops and stationery outlets have hiked the prices by more than 100 per cent, pushing the basic school items beyond the reach of commoners. The government has to do something to control greedy traders who refuse to think about us,” Awatif complained.

Naeem Maqpoul, also a parent, said that traders are exploiting the ‘Back to school’ season to make maximum profits. “All these sales and reduction announcements by various outlets are only there to decorate shop windows,” he said. Nabeel Al Suwaidi, who has three school-going children, said the market is full of stationery items that are attractive and expensive, and it is very difficult to convince children to buy ordinary products. He added that children are fascinated by items having the pictures of their favourite cartoon characters.

Nassir Wali Al Deen, owner of a stationary outlet in Sharjah, said that the rise in prices is just normal during this season. “All outlets have raised the prices of all kinds of stationery by 45 to 70 per cent compared to that last year. But in my outlet, the prices are affordable and the reductions in prices by up to 50 per cent are genuine,” he said, adding that he has a licence from the municipality.

Yahya Al Rayasa, Head of the Licence Department in the Ajman Municipality, said that the sale and discount announcements in all commercial outlets in Ajman are licensed by the municipality. Licence for reduction offers would not be issued, unless the outlet proves that these are genuine, he said.


Doctors’ licence to be valid for one year

ABU DHABI — 04 Sep: Health authorities have decided to cut down the licence validity for doctors, technicians and health centres in the private sector to one year instead of the current two years to curb violations, a senior health official has revealed.

“We have decided to slash the validity period of licence granted to doctors, technicians, and health facilities to one year in an attempt to better control breaches committed by this category,” said Dr Ibrahim Al Qadi, Director of the Private Medical Practice Department at the Ministry of Health yesterday. The official clarified that the two-year validity period has been contributing to a growing number of violations committed by medical cadres.

“Having a two-year licence validity has made it difficult for the ministry to compile data on physicians who actually attend the Continued Medical Education (CME) programme prepared by the ministry to ensure their compotency and keep them abreast of new scientific approaches,” explained Dr Qadi.

He underlined that as the system of collecting data on CME attendance was not electronic, many doctors sometimes managed to skip these accredited education courses without being tracked down. “Cutting down the validity period to one year for doctors would ensure compliance of medical cadres with the education programmes and assist the ministry to have documents stating their attendance,” said Dr Qadi.

As for the technicians, he said the new policy will reduce the increasing numbers of technicians employed by the private sector without a licence. “We want to tighten the grip on health centres and clinics that recruit technicians without a licence and prevent the continuation of unqualified technicians in medical services,” said the official.

Technicians have to undergo the ministry assessment examinations prior to getting a licence to work in the private sector.

He said all private health facilities, excluding hospitals, have to abide by the new measure in order to make sure they follow the fee structure imposed by the ministry. “Some private health facilities add new specialisations without paying the ministry the fee levied for introducing new specialities. A one-year licence will force these centres to abide by the fee structure,” said Dr Qadi.


Shaikh Zayed Road the most dangerous in Dubai, Emirates Road comes next

DUBAI — 04 Sep: Shaikh Zayed Road has been labelled the most dangerous road in Dubai, accounting for 10 per cent of road fatalities during the first six months of this year.

As a precautionary measure to minimise the accidents in Dubai, the RTA has started fencing Shaikh Zayed and other main roads to avoid the random crossing by pedestrians. Other roads will be fenced in less than a year. 

Emirates Road comes second in the list with 49 accidents followed by Al Khail road (16 accidents), Dubai-Al Ain and Shaikh Khalifa Road and Shaikh Zayed service road (15 accidents each), Khalid bin Al Waleed and Al Ittihad (the busiest road in the emirate) have witnessed 14 accidents each, while 12 accidents occurred on Shaikh Rashid Road, and an equal number on Al Aweer road.

The report also shows that among the 157 people killed, 32 were nationals.

As a result of 915 traffic accidents 1,457 persons were injured during the first six months of this year.

The statistics show that the Indian nationals in Dubai top the figure among the people who caused traffic accidents by committing 228 accidents which caused 344 casualties resulting in 30 deaths, making up 19.2 per cent of victims.

About 193 accidents caused by Pakistani community drivers added up to 23.7 per cent of the total traffic victims as 37 people died among 332 casualties.

About 20 Arabs, including GCC nationals, have been killed in  163 accidents in which there were a total of 257 casualties.

The RTA and Dubai Police are doing their best to minimise road accidents by organising campaigns and raising awareness even by seizing vehicles when needed, said Engineer Bader Al Siri, Director of the Traffic Department at RTA. 

Meanwhile, Khalfan Al Berwani, Director of the Traffic Safety Section at RTA, said the youth aged between 18 and 25 are the main victims and the cause of traffic accidents.

About 80 per cent of major accidents are due to speeding, resulting in death while pedestrians are 40 per cent among the deaths caused by traffic accidents.

RTA also has built a number of flyover pedestrian bridges on highways and main roads. Works are going on for 10 bridges while another 17 will be built in soon.

About 47 overbridges will be ready for the users of Dubai Metro at the main station areas, which will reduce the incidents of pedestrians being hit.


Heavy vehicles banned during rush hours

Abu Dhabi: 04 Sep: The General Headquarters of Abu Dhabi Police has banned the plying of heavy goods vehicles in the city and its suburbs during transportation hours of schoolchildren.

The new restrictions took effect yesterday and covered vehicles going to or coming from construction sites. The restricted timings from 6am to 8am and 1pm to 3pm will be imposed every academic year henceforth.

Heavy goods vehicles going to Port Zayed can only use Eastern Ring Road via Salam Street in Abu Dhabi City. Their movement is also banned in other residential and commercial areas where they can only use main routes, such as Mussafah road via Eastern Ring Road.

Colonel Gaith Al Za'abi, Director of Abu Dhabi Traffic and Patrols Department, said this while announcing a month-long Back To School Road Safety Campaign.

Al Za'abi said to guarantee the restriction is fully implemented, increased number of patrols will be monitoring traffic in various parts of the city at random. Those violating the rule, he added, will be punished.

The campaign is being carried out in cooperation with Emirates Driving Company (EDC), Abu Dhabi Marine Operating Company (ADMA-OPCO) and Abu Dhabi Education Zone.

Announcing the programmes for the campaign, Al Za'abi said the number of patrols guiding school buses and other vehicles ferrying students will be further increased during the campaign.

"There will be special patrols under the supervision of 20 officers, a team of 124 policemen and 64 patrols in addition to normal patrolling of streets during the campaign," Al Za'abi said.


Police warn residents to be alert after errands to banks

Sharjah: 04 Sep: Bank customers have been told to be extra careful because criminal gangs are targeting people who withdraw large amounts of cash from bank branches.

The warnings came after a Dutch resident had Dh40,200 stolen from his car just minutes after he had collected the money from a bank.

The 47-year-old airline industry manager, J.K., thinks he was followed for 5km after he withdrew the money from a bank along King Faisal Road, Sharjah, to pay his rent.

He drove to the Al Muraijah area of the emirate and while he went to a tailor's to collect some clothes, the thieves struck.

They smashed their way in through a window of his car, broke open the locked glove box and picked out the wad of cash stashed there. The incident happened at about 11.45am on Saturday.

"Normally I don't leave money in the car but I did in this case because I was only doing an errand. It was just 10 minutes. My car was right in the middle of a load of other cars but they knew exactly where to look," said the married father of two, who has lived in the UAE for five years.

He added that he had heard other reports of people being targeted when they left banks after withdrawing large amounts of money.

"I was disappointed it happened here. People here don't worry about this sort of thing. People need to be more alert. These thieves go to banks and they observe people who come out with envelopes. Then they follow you until they get the money," he said.

A police officer from Sharjah CID said similar incidents were happening and many arrests of those involved have been made.

"When people go to the bank, many of the thieves sit inside the bank as though they are customers," he said.

He added that most of those who committed offences of this type were on visit visas, many of them Iraqis, Iranians and Pakistanis as well as other nationalities. He added that the criminals moved between emirates.

Police say they have warned people of the risk of these incidents several times. "It seems people are ignoring police warnings," he said.

He said sometimes the gangs deflate tyres of cars of victims and then strike when the person gets out of the car to deal with the problem.

Police confirmed that they were investigating the theft of the Dh40,200 from the Dutchman's car and were taking fingerprints in the hope it would help them trace the thieves.


Parishioners watched over from above by CCTV security camera

Dubai - 04 Sep.: A Catholic church in Dubai has installed a security camera to monitor parishioners as they worship.

The discreet, dome-like black camera at St Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, in Jebel Ali, is almost unnoticeable, but some believe it is a result of a spate of car breakins outside the church as well as an alleged theft that took place there last year.

“The box, situated near the church’s doors was stolen. According to a Filipina parishioner who’s active in this church, a security camera had to be installed due to the incident,” said a regular churchgoer, who asked to remain nameless.

Another churchgoer said: “It was a petty theft and a oneoff incident.” Some who worship at the church said they had seen the camera, but were not sure why it had been installed.

Albert, a regular parishioner originally from India, said: “I’ve noticed that camera, but could not comment on the reasons behind it.” A female parishioner at St Mary’s Church in Dubai added: “I heard that there was a security camera when we had our retreat there, but I did not take notice of it or check where it was.” Father PM Peter, the parish priest of St Mary’s Church, said that he did not know whether a security camera was installed at Jebel Ali, or of any theft that had taken place.

“Others may go to church with the wrong intentions, but the bottom line is one should take care of their belongings inside the church. Generally, when you are sitting with someone, you develop a certain rapport. You may ask the person to mind your belongings when you go for communion,” he said.

“The church is meant for believers, but no one can question a non-believer when he enters the church. There are no restrictions, but we expect that most of those coming to church are believers. At the same time, I believe that one has to take everything in good faith.” He did admit, however, that there had been some com plaints of cars being broken into. “But it is the responsibility of the owner of the vehicle to inform the police,” he said.

Merla Bungcasan, who regularly goes to St Francis of Assisi Church, said her Pajero was broken into two months ago, with the thief stealing a mobile phone and money that had been left inside a bag.

“My car was parked outside the church and I did not expect that someone would break into it and steal the valuables inside.We did not report it to the police since it was so late in the evening. It was distressing.We were thinking that the thief would have really grown desperate and needed money, but how about the victims of the theft?” she said.

The church has a large out door camera, which, according to Father Joseph K, is a requirement of Dubai Municipality. “We are mandated by the municipality to install the camera. We don’t have any other cameras inside the church,” he said.


New rules confuse Abu Dhabi butchers
Abu Dhabi - 04 Sep:
Butchers across Abu Dhabi are furious at the harassment they say they are subjected to by the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority due to new rules and regulations.
“We are being subject to new rules every other day. One day we are told to use a white plastic base for dicing meat, the next day another official tells us to change the colour to red, this costs us money. Why can’t they decide what they want?” asked a butcher at Madina Zayed market.

Responding to the complaints, Mohammed J Al Reyaysa, manager of communications at the authority, said: “The regulations are based on international standards necessary to maintain good hygienic conditions in butchery shops.”


Failed candidate works as a medical director

ABU DHABI — 04 Sep.: A doctor who has failed the assessment examinations of the Ministry of Health twice has been found occupying a senior post at a health centre and examine patients, Khaleej Times has learnt.

Mohammed Farook, who failed the assessment tests twice was holding a position of a director at the Al Diyafah Medical Centre in Sharjah and practises medical profession as he was allowed to examine patients. When contacted Dr Ibahrim Al Qadi, Director of the Private Medical Practice Department at the Ministry of Health, said the medical candidate will not be allowed to work or even stay in the Centre.

“The ministry will issue a final warning to the Centre to clear the violation. If the breach was repeated, the Centre will be subject to closure,” said Dr Qadi.

He said other five non-national doctors and technicians have been recently hauled up by the ministry while illegally working for private medical centres in the country. “Penalties will be meted out for the detected doctors and technicians as well as the health institutions that illegally employed them, in accordance with the laws regulating the private medical practice in the UAE,” said the official.

Al Rahma Medical Centre in Ajman will be closed down for two moths for employing Shubash Chandra, a dental technician without a licence. “The Centre was asked to clear violations immediately and the director was given final warning,” said Dr Qadi. Dr Parviathi Ann, an Indian general practitioner was working with Medical Gulf Research College Hospital in Ajman without obtaining the ministry’s licence. The ministry decided that Dr Ann should not work or even stay at the Hospital and issued a final notification to the facility to clear the violation.

Rajesh Dilip, a nurse at the International Centre for Medical Specialisations in Ajman was illegally working for the Centre as she was not licensed by the ministry.

The Centre was issued a final warning to clear the act or face the penalty of closure. The ministry also spotted Safi Opticals in Sharjah and Al Fareed Opticals in Ras Al Khaimah recruiting unlicensed opticians, namely Mohammed Nushad and Anna Christina. Final warning was issued to the centres.


Surprise paid parking makes ministry staff struggle for coins!

DUBAI —04 Sep.: The employees of the Ministries of Labour and Social Affairs were caught in a jam yesterday frantically looking for coins to insert in the prepaid parking machines near the ministerial premises at Hor Al Anz East.

Failing to find the coins, some employees had no other option but to park their cars in non-paid parking areas one km away from the ministries. Staffers could be heard joking that they would fall prey to traffic violations unless they found coins on time, according to an official source.

Being put in effect since yesterday morning, the decision on prepaid parking has proved a big hindrance to all employees.  Apparently they were not in the know of the decision. They even resorted to offering a Dh5 note for three one dirham coins to avoid paying fines for violation of the prepaid parking regulation, according to some of the employees.

The two ministries were promised 90 free parking spaces following considerable correspondence between the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, and the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority. Yet, there was some disagreement between the  ministries over the allotment of the number of parking lots.

The DRTA had given the ministries a grace period of four days to decide on this issue. Otherwise, the decision of prepaid parking would be put into force and there would be no free parking allowed around the premises of the ministries, according to some sources.


Police increase patrols near schools

Dubai: 04 Sep: Traffic police have increased the number of traffic control patrols and policemen around schools to ease the heavy traffic flow which began on Sunday with the start of the new academic year, a senior police official said.

Brigadier Eisa Aman, Acting Director of Dubai Police's Traffic Department, said the department's officers and patrols were urged to take precautionary steps to prevent any accident or crisis.

Brigadier Aman told Gulf News on Sunday that the first day of schools was smooth regarding traffic.

Dubai Police's Traffic Department on Sunday launched a traffic awareness programme for schools to spread awareness on traffic issues.

"The department started the programme on the first day to send a strong message to parties concerned with pupils' safety to be careful while driving near schools and houses in the mornings and afternoons," Brigadier Aman said.

Brigadier Aman urged school administrations and educators to directly communicate with the Dubai Police General Headquarters either to report any misbehaviour around schools or to request traffic awareness programmes.

Lieutenant Colonel Mohammad Al Ali, Director of Accident Planning Department, urged parents and motorists to drive carefully, especially when passing areas that have schools or educational institutions or children waiting for buses.




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