News headlines

Excerpts from UAE Dailies

Boy 'is snatched from his doorstep' 

Dubai - Oct. 01: A resident has warned parents to be careful after his son narrowly escaped being kidnapped on his arrival home from school.

Indian A. J. Varghese, 50, a Hor Al Anz resident, told Gulf News yesterday he has filed a complaint with Muraqqabat police about the kidnap attempt on his 10-year-old son Rinoy. No one was available at Muraqqabat Police Station to comment.

Varghese said according to his son the kidnapper hid behind the staircase and snatched him as he was reaching for the doorbell. The kidnapper put his hand over Rinoy's mouth and tied his hands behind his back. He then emptied Rinoy's schoolbag at the doorstep, rang the bell and ran off with the boy.

"I fail to understand why a kidnapper would want to alert the family to their child's kidnapping," said Varghese.

Pile of books

As Varghese and his wife were at work, Rinoy's older sister opened the door for him, only to find a pile of her brother's books and no sign of Rinoy.

Varghese said the kidnapper tied a piece of cloth around Rinoy's face to cover his mouth, tied him to his back and covered him with a shawl. As the kidnapper dragged the boy into the Hor Al Anz area a man "dressed in a shirt, pants and a tie" noticed him and confronted him. "This good man removed the shawl and mouth-covering from my son and asked the kidnapper what he was doing with the child," said Varghese.

The kidnapper reacted violently, pushing the man to the ground. Rinoy realised he had a chance to escape, bit his abductor and managed to break free. "He ran home crying, where his sister found him," he said.

Varghese said he was very worried about having his son walk home and has asked his neighbour and daughter to escort Rinoy from the bus to the apartment when he arrives from school from now on.

"I don't know why someone would want to kidnap my son. I don't have any enemies. I'm good to everyone," he said.

Varghese, a secretary for a construction company, said he had not encountered such an incident in the 13 years he has lived in the building, and the 22 years he has lived in Dubai.

"There's no crime here. I know all my neighbours and even the people who run the shops downstairs," he said.


TRA asks Etisalat to withdraw promotion

ABU DHABI/DUBAI — Oct. 01: In a rare move, the Telecom Regulatory Authority (TRA) has asked Etisalat to withdraw the promotional offers it had announced for the benefit of its customers on the occasion of its 30th anniversary celebrations.

Under the offer, those who subscribed for a new GSM postpaid/WASEL prepaid, or those who renewed their WASEL were to get "an equivalent amount in talktime free". There were other offers as well. The TRA said  these offers were in violation of the telecom law, its licence and the Authority's  policy on price regulations.

Following the TRA directive, Etisalat has postponed the offers for the time being. Ahmed bin Ali, Manager, Corporate Communication, Etisalat, said, "As per the directives of the TRA, Etisalat has postponed the launch of its special promotion to mark the 30th anniversary of the corporation."

Since early last year, Etisalat has been obtaining approval from the TRA for price changes, including promotions. With this procedure, the TRA can screen out anti-competitive pricing behaviours. "The TRA is responsible for ensuring that competition is introduced in a fair manner and the TRA is also responsible for regulating prices for telecommunication services," said a TRA official.

"However, Etisalat has violated the telecom law, its licence and the TRA's price control policy by publicising a promotional offer for mobile services without having sought or received approval by the regulatory body. The TRA holds the Etisalat board responsible for this deliberate disregard of the rules."

It further said that with the offers, Etisalat actually tried to hook customers on it before competition began.

Etisalat, with over five million subscribers, is apparently willing to spend millions in order to lock in customers, which is apparently an act of anti-competition.

The TRA Director-General elaborated on the necessary steps to be taken further by saying, "The TRA is currently assessing the situation. Any decisions regarding penalties to Etisalat for these serious violations will be determined in due course."

'Furthermore, as a result of these serious violations, the TRA is calling for an urgent meeting of the Supreme Committee for the Supervision of the Telecom Sector to be held within the next 48 hours."  However, Etisalat customers are disappointed with the postponement of the offers which they expected to avail of from Friday.

"I went to renew my Al Wasel card in a shop near my house. I was happy to hear about Etisalat's new offers. But I was shocked to hear that I would not get any extra credit since the offer was not valid," said Kajol, a resident of Dubai.

Ayaz, another Etisalat subscriber, said, "I went to renew my Al Wasel card expecting to get the Dh100 promotional credit. But I was surprised when no extra money was credited in my account."

"I called up Etisalat customer service but they did not give me any proper answer. I do not understand how a responsible company like Etisalat can announce something without getting ready for it," he added.


Two stores gutted in Al Quoz fire

DUBAI — Oct. 01: Two warehouses located behind Choithram at Al Quoz in Dubai were gutted in a fire that broke out yesterday. A part of another third store was completely destroyed. No casualties were reported, the police said. The police was informed yesterday at 6.40am that a fire broke out in three stores near the fourth interchange at Al Quoz on Shaikh Zayed Road.

Fire engines of Al Quoz and Karama Civil Defence were immediately sent to the scene to put out the blaze in the warehouses, which contained furniture, decorations, and plastic materials. It took the fire-fighting men two hours to bring the fire under control.

Material losses of the stores, which could be millions of dirhams, have not been ascertained yet, said Civil Defence sources. The cause of the fire was not yet known and a forensic laboratory expert was delegated to detect the cause of fire and the value of the losses.


Ministry to check 'unusual rise' in prices of essential goods

ABU DHABI — Oct. 01:Shaikha Lubna Al Qasimi, Minister of Economy, has said that the ministry would take necessary measures at an opportune time to check ‘unusual rise’ in prices of essential commodities.

Speaking to Nur Dubai Radio, Shaikha Lubna said, “The ministry has the responsibility to intervene and rectify the situation if there has been unusual rise in commodity prices. We have the means of checking and stopping unnecessary increase in prices as we did during the milk price rise in  summer. We will also ascertain if this increase was caused by local or external factors.” Shaikha Lubna said that the recently enacted consumer protection law was to ensure justice for all parties and also safeguard consumer rights. ''Issues such as increase in foreign oil prices, ships insurance costs or transport costs may arise sometimes and these are beyond our control.” 


New projects to boost Abu Dhabi's tourism potential

ABU DHABI — Oct. 01: A group of 35 senior executives of a few leading hotels and members of the Abu Dhabi Hoteliers Committee held discussions recently regarding the major developments in Abu Dhabi tourism.

According to statistics available, the hotel occupancy rate hit a record 80.7 per cent in the second quarter this year.

Representatives from the Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company (ADNEC) briefed committee members about the progress made regarding its Dh 8 billion Exhibition Complex under construction in the capital and its immense potential to boost the emirate's hospitality and business tourism industry.

The landmark Exhibition Complex will open up lucrative business and investment opportunities for the UAE hotel industry.

Attracting investments worth about $50 billion insofar as the hotel industry is concerned, Abu Dhabi adds to the country's appeal as a prime destination for business and leisure.

The project is being executed in three phases and will be completed in October 2009.

"The incredible pace of development across diverse sectors of the Abu Dhabi economy has created a demand for the Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions (MICE) sector, positioning the emirate as a unique, strategically located destination for trade shows and conferences," said a committee official.

ADNEC's state-of-the-art Exhibition Complex is being built on an integrated development site boasting of parking lots, accommodation, business, residential, leisure and retail facilities to cater to this growing demand. It is poised to play an important part in supporting significant new international and regional events.

"ADNEC's Centre will become a focal point for visitors, business professionals and event organisers, giving a tremendous boost to the UAE hospitality and tourism industry and drawing huge investments. The hotel sector plays a crucial role in ensuring the success of ADNEC's complex. This is a symbiotic relationship and close coordination between ADNEC and the Abu Dhabi Hotels Committee is essential for future growth," said the official.

Following the meeting, the group of executives was taken by officials from ADNEC on a tour of the development site.

The first phase of the project will be completed in January next year. It will also be hosting the International Defence Exhibition (IDEX 2007).

Costing about Dh500 million, the initial phase will add about 28,500 sq m to ADNEC's exhibition area, and will comprise seven halls, 17 meeting rooms and two conference suites with a total seating capacity of 1,200.

The 'U-shaped' Centre will also house a central landscaped plaza for outdoor events. In total, it will offer 57,000 sq m of exhibition floor space, a 21,000 sq m visitor concourse and 7,500 sq m of multi-purpose halls.

The most outstanding feature of the new complex will be a 33-storeyed tower that will curve above the centre, overlooking the waters of the Arabian Gulf. There will be four hotels, eight residential towers offering serviced accommodation for 2,000 people, 17 towers offering commercial and office space, a retail zone with 100 shopping outlets, hotels and a marina and waterfront leisure zone in the adjacent land.


10-year-old in Terminal replay at Dubai airport

Dubai: Oct. 01: A 10-year-old boy found wandering about the departure area of Dubai International Airport has claimed he has been abandoned by his parents, police said.

Airport Police security officials told Gulf News yesterday they found the Bangladeshi boy six days ago. Police said the boy told them through a translator that his name is Yahiya Saeed Al Islam. He said his father and mother were travelling with him, but abandoned him at the airport and travelled to an unknown place.

Police said the boy does not have his passport or other identification papers. Officials said they found his name on the records, but his picture does not match the one on the list. The boy told police he used to live with his parents in Naif in Deira.


"We have been taking him in our vehicle to Deira every day. We drive for hours in the area, hoping the boy will be able to identify his home," a police official said. "But our efforts have been in vain.

"Even his mother tongue is not fluent. He says he's 10 years old. First he said he came from abroad and no one was waiting for him at the airport. Then he said he was travelling with his parents and that they left him at the airport.

"The boy told the translator yesterday that he goes to a school in Hor Al Anz. We will try to trace the school and see if someone can give us information on him and his parents. We are trying hard to track his family down, but it is becoming difficult because he is giving contradictory statements."

The boy has been living in the office and police have been providing him with meals. Police are urging anyone who can recognise him or know his family to contact them. Police said no one has filed a missing person's complaint.

Viktor's travails

The 10-year-old's fate resembles the tale portrayed in the Hollywood blockbuster, The Terminal, starring Tom Hanks in which he plays Viktor Navorski, an immigrant, stuck at JFK airport in New York.

His troubles start after a fiery coup plunges his country into turmoil. With a passport from nowhere, he is prohibited from entering the United States and must spend his days and nights in the terminal's transit lounge until the war at home is over.


People with information on the boy should call any police station or Dubai airport police on 04- 2162509.


Cleaners rescued after drama in high air

Dubai - Oct 01:Dubai Police and Civil Defence plucked two cleaners to safety as they dangled in air after the rope of their cleaning platform snapped yesterday, sources said.

Police sources said the men were cleaning windows of Ramada hotel, and the rope snapped when they were on the third floor. A witness told Gulf News he was crossing the road when he saw the two cleaners dangling in the air. "I thought they were trying to commit suicide. But when Civil Defence came I realised they were in trouble."

On the spot

Dubai Police's rescue teams were at the site in minutes. Civil Defence used an electric crane and ladder to rescue them.

Ehsaan Al Haq, General Manager of Ramada Hotel, said the platform's base gave way because the cleaners got too close to the wall. "They held on to the rope for about 15 minutes till they were rescued." The cleaners are not hotel staff but belong to a cleaning company.


When home is a bench in the bus station 

Dubai: Oct. 01: Abandoned by his family, an old man lives in a bus station in Bur Dubai clinging to every ray of hope that life will take a turn for the better one day.

A bench serves as his bed and a small plastic bag contains his possessions. The man says he does not know how old he is, but reckons he could be 80 or even 90. Esmail does not have documents to prove his identity. Originally from Oman he says he has been in the UAE since he was a child. Today, the bus station at Al Ghubaiba is his home.

With a wizened face and a furrowed forehead, Esmail looks tired.

"I have two sons and a house in Al Satwa," Esmail says, but he has no other details.

Workers at a nearby restaurant say Esmail came to them a year ago asking for food.

"He was unkempt and looked very dirty. We could not let him into the restaurant. We told him to wait outside and we would bring him food," says one worker at the restaurant.

Since then Esmail has been a familiar face. Staff at the restaurant have become his family.

"We only offer him liquids because his health does not allow him to eat solid food," the restaurant worker said.

Staff also wash his clothes and take him to the barber.

"Esmail is sick, his health is deteriorating day by day. He cannot even go to the toilet unaided. We help him. Two weeks ago he fell very sick. We had to call police and an ambulance. He was taken to Al Baraha Hospital but he came back to the bus station after two days," the worker says.

Passersby also offer him money and food.

"We hope the bench doesn't become his deathbed. Esmail needs to be taken to a shelter and given treatment," the worker added.

Esmail has never left the bus station on his own for the past 12 months. With tears streaming down from his tired eyes he says with a feeble voice.

"I can't go on like this. But I have hope ..."



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