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Excerpts from UAE Dailies

Capital bans ‘key money’ system

ABU DHABI — Oct. 10:
The practice of delegating tenancy rights by one occupant to another in Abu Dhabi has been banned, according to a decision taken in pursuance of the directives of Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Deputy Supreme commander of the UAE Armed Forces, who is also Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council.

Jumaa bin Harmash Mansouri, director of the rents division of the Social Services and Commercial Buildings in Abu Dhabi, revealed this to Khaleej Times.

The orders issued by Shaikh Mohammed aimed at scrapping the unhealthy practice of “the key money”, a process where huge amounts of money — sometimes more than Dh50,000 —are paid by a tenant to another tenant for acquiring the apartment occupied by him. “The Department will not be accepting any applications by tenants who want to delegate their tenancy rights on flats, stores or any leased real estate,” he said.

The rule, however, will not be applicable to a tenant who is leaving the country for good. This will ensure that the delegation of his tenancy right is genuine, and the tenant is not taking advantage of the housing problem, which has gripped the capital.

Mansouri said the accommodation problem Abu Dhabi was witnessing now was a result of the fact that some people leased flats and then delegated their occupancy rights to others against payment of massive amounts of money.

He appealed to the public to immediately report on any tenant found asking for leasing the flat he is staying in against key money.

Those who violate the rule will be referred to the court of justice for interrogation and legal action.


75pc sceptical about new taxi system: mini survey

ABU DHABI — Oct. 20:The Abu Dhabi government's decision to establish a new taxi system in the emirate has become a topic of discussion among the taxi drivers and the public.

Khaleej Times  spoke to a cross section of people on the streets of  Abu Dhabi to find out  their reactions to the new system. 

A poll, covering some 50 people from different walks of life, showed that 25 per cent favoured  the new taxi system saying “it would be cleaner, more organised, and better managed than the current cabs”. 

Seventy-five per cent had reservations about the new taxi system because it would be more expensive and therefore cast a burden on the low salaried class.

Enver Kocabihik, a Turkish bachelor, said, “It is really a great step to travel in a new and clean taxi here. I have always suffered from the rudeness of current cabbies. Undoubtedly, I would prefer the new system.”

Hameed Khoory, an Emirati, said that the new system would be good and the new taxies will be surely cleaner and the cabbies, more civilised.

On the other hand, the middle class and the families have another point of view. Manuel Mindosah and his wife Lordes, a Filipino couple with three kids, said, “we were paying Dh35,000 as the rent of our accommodation last year, and this year we paid Dh60,000. We can not handle new financial burdens. Every thing is getting expensive. Our  salaries however have remained stagnant for several  years.”

Another worker, Arshad Mahmoud, commented, “I cannot afford to pay any more for taxi because of my  limited salary. So I don't approve of any hike in  the new taxi fare.”

A Pakistani, Mohammad Sohail, said, “Old is gold, because we can pay the old taxi fare.” 

The cabbies KT spoke to appeared satisfied with the new proposals. “Yes, it would be better because I pay everything related to the taxi such as petrol, repairs as well as fines. But the new system can be to our advantage as drivers,”  Kamal Hussain, a  taxi driver said.

Dhameen Khadim Hussain, a Pakistani driver, said, “It is a good idea, but the new fare should be affordable to poor sections of the society.”


Drug prices likely to come down under the new pricing system

ABU DHABI — Oct. 10:Drugs will become cheaper under a new pricing system that is being mulled over by the government, Khaleej Times has learnt.

Humaid Mohammed Al Shamsi, Assistant Under-Secretary for Pharmacy and Supply Department at the Ministry of Health (MoH), confirmed that the ministry is contemplating new pricing system for medicines that aims at lowering prices of pharmaceuticals and ensure their availability in the local market.

“Under the new pricing policy, we might fix the CIF (Cost, Insurance and Freight) value of drugs arriving in the country,” he said.

“The fixed value of the CIF is proposed for both original and alternative medicines,”  Mr Shamsi added.

“If the CIF value is fixed, the prices of drugs will go down in the long run. The move will also largely contribute to stabilising the drug prices in the local market,” he said. Shamsi pointed out that another benefit of implementing a fixed CIF value will be the availability of all types of pharmaceutical products in the market.

“This policy will put an end to the scarcity of cheap  medicines in the market. It will also turn the focus of the pharmacies from selling only expensive drugs. Our goal is to ensure availability of all types of medicines,” said Shamsi.

He said the proposal on the new pricing system will be discussed next week prior to commencement of the procedures needed for implementation. About the profit margin of medicines, the official said no changes would be introduced at present.

In 2004, the ministry cut down prices of drug products by 15 per cent. The reduction was followed by a further slash of around 20 per cent in 2005 on profit margins of both distributors and pharmacies. Answering a question on monopoly of some drugs, Shamsi said the ministry might consider to peg the euro exchange rate to Dh4.65 compared to Dh4.3 fixed parity against the euro.



Five roommates detained in Sharjah double murder case

Sharjah: Oct. 20: Police have detained five suspects for the murders of two men on Saturday, police sources said.

The victims, both Pakistanis, were sharing a room with five other compatriots who have been detained.

The crime occurred at about 9am on Saturday. "The two men were alone in their room in their building in the Industrial Area No 5. Late at night on the same day, one of their roommates came back from work and found the two victims murdered in a brutal manner," the source said.

The source said one of the victims named Hezbollah had his head smashed with a heavy tool, which could be a hammer, and stabbed several times. The body was found in a pool of blood on the bed. The other victim, Abdul Samad Abdul Aziz's head was smashed with the same heavy tool.

Investigators said the target was probably Hezbollah because he was stabbed and his head was smashed in. The murders occurred in the morning, but the bodies were discovered after Iftar, they said.

Abdul Aziz, 41, hailed from Peshawar. Hezbollah, in his forties, was from Swat.

Mohammad Hanif, Abdul Aziz's brother-in-Law, told Gulf News yesterday that Abdul Aziz was working for Sharjah Electricity and Water Authority (Sewa) for the past three years as a meter reader and Hezbollah used to work as technician in a workshop in the industrial area. Abdul Aziz has two boys and three girls, one of whom suffers from mental problems. Hanif said Abdul Aziz's family lives in Peshawar.

"Abdul Aziz came to work in the UAE eight years ago to support his family and he was keen to offer a good life to his children. He was a good man and he did not hurt anyone. I cannot believe what has happened.

"I have told my sister and her children that their father was involved in a traffic accident and he is in a critical condition. I could not tell them that he was murdered. I will tell them later that he died due to the injuries from the accident," he said.

Arshad, another relative of Abdul Aziz told Gulf News that he was planning to meet him but could not contact him. "I went to his office at Sewa on Sunday and I asked them if I can meet him. But I was told that he had not come to work yet. One of his colleagues knew where he lived. We came to know about the murders from the neighbours," Arshad said.

He said that he did not know Hezbollah but only knew that he was from Swat and that he was a friend of Abdul Aziz.


Abu Dhabi building tenants face severe water shortage

Abu Dhabi: Oct. 10: A residential building with about 100 apartments in the heart of the capital has been facing a water shortage for more than two weeks due to maintenance.

According to residents of the building, some of the apartments did not have water continuously for a week or more, while others have been facing shortages intermittently.

The 14-storey building is located on Zayed the First Street in Khalidiyah, which is a very busy area of the city.

The management of the building was not available to explain the cause of water shortage. The supervisor of the maintenance company repairing the water supply system said it will take 10 to 15 days to complete the work.

He said: "We are replacing all the old pipes, which are aged. There is a lot of work to do. It might take another 10 to 15 days to finish the work and restore the supply fully."

Residents complained the problem started about 20 days ago with most of the apartment taps drying up. However, some of the residents gradually started getting water. About a quarter of the apartments continue to suffer a water shortage.

"The weekends are the worst days when there is no water in the entire building," said a resident, who asked to be identified as G.M. He said situation is worst on the top floors where residents have been facing problems persistently.

Another resident, an Indian, who lives in the building with her husband and two schoolchildren, said they have been facing the problem since September 15.

She also claimed the management has rented out a portion of the building to bachelors, which is a violation of regulations.

A resident of the building said all the apartments in this particular portion have been altered to increase the number of rooms to squeeze in more and more bachelors.

She said: "There are from 25 to 30 bachelors in each apartment. This building has always been a family-oriented property, but now with renting out of apartments to bachelors we find it unsafe for our children, particularly girls coming out alone."

Another resident said he is worried about the safety of his children and wife with invasion of bachelors.


Homeless bachelors live amid garbage and flies in Satwa

Dubai: Oct. 10: An abandoned post office building has become home to bachelors and labourers in Satwa.

There are stagnant pools of water in the dilapidated post office which is filled with garbage and buzzing with flies. It serves as a night-time dwelling for these men.

With their clothes and other personal items tucked in large municipality garbage bags these men sleep on newspapers and worn out mattresses in the building.

Speaking to Gulf News the men said that they live in constant fear of the law. "We make use of this place at night to sleep. We are not troubling anyone. There is no other place for us to go," said a labourer.

Each morning the men go to work, leaving their belongings in the building. Some of them are daily wage earners and frequent the place at noon for an afternoon nap. There are times that men get free food from cafeterias and small restaurants located close to the building.

The men said that during Ramadan they save money on food as they join others at mosques during Iftar.

Allauddin, 27, is a daily wage earner who came to the UAE two years ago. His earnings vary depending on the nature of work undertaken by him every day.

"I have no fixed work. I go out in search of work every morning. At times I end up working as a helper at construction sites or as part time domestic helper," he said.

Allauddin said he is married and has a young daughter with whom he keeps in touch twice a month.

"I save some money and telephone my neighbours in India and enquire about my family. There are times I get to speak to them as well," he said.

Some of these men confessed to spending their meagre earnings buying homemade Indian liquor (arrack) from bootleggers operating in that area.

"Anyway we do not save big. We are depressed and lonely," added Allauddin who earlier slept in parks and bus stations.

Sometimes these men are also provided with medicines by good samaritans who either live in nearby buildings or work in one of the small shops that surround the post office.

Help is also rendered by labourers or municipality workers who come to offer their noon prayers inside the building.

"They buy us Panadol," said a dweller.

Help comes to them in kind as many fear that the men will misuse the money given to them.

The men said they would definitely like to go back home but with good savings and in better shape.

"We do not want to be a burden on our family," said one of them.




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