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Excerpts from UAE Dailies

Dubai to crack down on reckless drivers

Dubai - 31 Oct.: His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, yesterday ordered road and traffic officials to come down hard on reckless drivers.

He also ordered them to find immediate solutions to the city's burgeoning traffic problem and implement them on a priority basis, according to WAM.

"Strict action should be taken against reckless drivers who cause congestion and endanger other motorists' lives," Shaikh Mohammad told officials of the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority and the Dubai Police during a meeting.

Irresponsible behaviour by drivers will not be tolerated, said Shaikh Mohammad who instructed the officials to draft strict rules to punish errant motorists and reckless drivers. He ordered the police to increase patrols to deter reckless driving and ensure punishment for violators.

Shaikh Mohammad told the officials that any delay or slackness in implementing the directives would be considered negligence and will not be tolerated.

Calling for swift results, he asked the road and traffic officials to speed up efforts to implement the rules.


Congestion taxes residents' minds

UAE - Oct. 31:As commuting woes continue to bother UAE residents, a few have spoken out and responded to what they perceive as the root causes and possible solutions in the latest Gulf News/YouGov survey that focused on traffic and roads in the UAE. Within the general responses there were sharp divides and visible differences in opinion among the nationalities and income groups.

Looking at the road network, a total of 87 per cent say that they find the road system either insufficient or highly insufficient to deal with the current volume of traffic. However, only 21 per cent thought that the condition of the roads was bad, with UAE nationals being the most critical.

An average of 52 per cent of all respondents find police patrol on the roads inappropriate, with the vast majority of Westerners participating in the survey expressing discontent over the road monitoring system currently in place.

When questioned about the path to getting on UAE roads, that is obtaining a driving licence, respondents were divided down the middle over the ease factor. However, 55 per cent of Westerners and 46 per cent of UAE nationals are of the opinion that it is relatively easy to get a licence, while 43 per cent of Asians thought otherwise. The fact that persons with a valid driving licence from most Asian countries have to undergo a physical driving test, while most persons holding a valid driving licence from a Western or GCC country obtain a UAE licence over the counter could have influenced this result.

As parking is also troubling many residents, 84 per cent say that the most effective solution to reduce parking problems is to build paid multi-storey parking garages, with only 14 per cent in favour of introducing more paid parking meters in residential areas.

Once on the road the sample size of 519 respondents was asked what they thought were the primary causes of accidents. Aggressive and rash drivers ranked top with 77 per cent, with mobile phone usage coming second at 66 per cent and speeding following a close third at 64 per cent. Asked for suggestions to minimise accidents, the survey found that 55 per cent thought road widening would help while 49 per cent felt tougher driving tests would be beneficial.

Differences of nationality cropped up when asked about the cost factor associated with traffic fines in the UAE. A near equal proportion of 42 and 41 per cent found the fines are just about right or too expensive, respectively. Westerners (43 per cent) found the penalties are too cheap, while only 5 per cent of Asians and UAE nationals agreed. The majority of Asians found it too expensive and 53 per cent of UAE nationals thought the current fines are fair. Though it appears to be a nationality divide, it could be read into further as an income-group divide given the disparity in salaries among the different communities.

An average taken of time spent in commuting for professional purposes revealed that the respondents spent 18 per cent of their working day on the roads. When broken down further it averaged out to approximately 84 minutes (about 1.5 hours) per day as the time spent in purely getting to and from work. Queue jumping while merging with traffic was cited as the major cause for traffic congestion with 70 per cent voting for it and 85 per cent calling for an improvement in public transport facilities as a way to alleviating commuter issues. Other factors highlighted as causing congestion were same timings for schools and offices, bottle necks, impatient drivers and not enough lanes in certain areas. Another favoured solution to prevent jams was to encourage public transport by having a dedicated bus lane.

However, most Westerners are not optimistic about motorists respecting dedicated lanes, with an overwhelming 78 per cent expressing pessimism. UAE nationals were equally divided between yes, no and don't know when asked about drivers abiding by the dedicated lane law and Asians were largely confident that they would be respected. Interestingly, the lower income groups were also more optimistic, and religious differences were also evident as most irreligious individuals were less enthusiastic about the success of a dedicated lane.

Currently, 83 per cent of the respondents travel by car and 43 per cent of them said they would prefer to use the metro-rail assuming all modes of transport were available. However, bus and boat or abra were not looked at as favourable travel options among the respondents and most said that long waiting periods, long routes and congestion prevent them from using buses, and lack of easy availability or accessibility dissuade them from travelling in abras.

Westerners and Asians are more enthusiastic about the metrorail with UAE nationals emerging as the group least likely to use it. Also in terms of using the bus or abra, Westerners are the group least likely to use them though UAE nationals attributed their reasons for not using these modes of public transport to lack of status and lack of commuters from the same nationality.

Not surprisingly those with an income of less than $2,665 say they are most likely to use the bus, citing cheaper costs as the main advantage of public over private transport.


Suicide and a Fatal Jump - Kumar was best known as problem-solver in company

Sharjah - Oct. 31: Kumar Acharya Vasudevan was best-known as the problem solver in the company. He was a role model.

This was how one of his colleagues at Baskin Robbins described Kumar, who strangled his wife with a rope, smothered his two-year-old daughter with a pillow and then jumped to his death with a tape around his mouth so he would not scream.

His colleague who saw him for the last time on Saturday, said Kumar was enthusiastic and happy. "I am still in shock ... I can't believe that he out of all people would commit suicide."

Brigadier Saleh Ali Al Mutawa, Chief of Sharjah Police, said Kumar, 33, from Mumbai in India killed his 32-year-old wife and daughter as they slept. He then jumped from their 10th floor flat in the 15-floor Al Fardan Building in the Al Qasimiya area.

Brig Al Mutawa said: "The operations room received information at 7.39am that a man was found dead in the parking lot behind the building with a tape on his mouth after falling from a building. CID patrols found a man bleeding from the nose and his mouth was tied with a tape. Passersby saw a man wearing beige shorts and a red T-shirt fall out of the apartment."

Police broke into the one-bedroom flat to find the mother and her daughter lying in the bed. There was a rope near the mother's body and its marks were clear on her neck, police said. The window in the hall was open and there was a chair near the window, which police believe was used by Kumar to jump to his death.

"The apartment was tidy and clean. This showed the family was well-educated and came from a good background. Everything was in its place, clean, shiny, sparkling and quiet. There was also a computer in their room," he said.

Kumar's wife's sister was called by police to identify the bodies. She could not control her emotions as she cried and wailed, begging to know what had had happened.

Some residents of the building who left for work earlier in the day were contacted immediately by family members when news of the incident spread.

"When I left for work in the morning everything was normal. But half an hour later, I got calls from my family asking me to come back as they were terrified by what had happened," said Hassan, a resident.

The family was paying rent of Dh26,000 a year. Kumar started off in the company as a sales accountant, and gradually worked his way up by becoming a brand trainer and finally was promoted last month to a training manager for the entire Gulf region.

Brigadier Al Mutawa said the case has been transferred to the public prosecutor for more investigations, while the three bodies have been sent to the forensic laboratory.


Two company workers to serve two-year jail terms

Dubai - Oct. 31: Two men will spend three years in prison for breaking into their company's premises and stealing electric cables worth Dh120,000, a court ruled yesterday. They will be deported after serving their terms. The Dubai Court of First Instance found A.B., a driver, and M.W., a worker, both Pakistanis, guilty of breaking into the office and stealing. The court heard earlier that the driver assisted the worker in loading the stolen cables from the company onto his truck. According to police records, the driver and the worker broke into the company and used an iron cutter to remove the cables.

Woman jailed for drinking in public

Dubai - Oct 31: A woman was fined Dh1,000 for consuming liquor in public. The Dubai Court of First Instance found 44-year-old J.S., from New Zealand, guilty of having liquor in a public place. The woman confessed to the charges. When the judge asked her about her charges, she replied, "I did not know that it is illegal to drink liquor in public in the UAE." The initial verdict is subject to appeal.

French family rescued from desert

Abu Dhabi - Oct. 31: A Frenchman and his family who lost his way on a desert safari was rescued by Abu Dhabi Police near the Oman-Saudi Arabia border. Colonel Ali Mohammad Al Mazroui, Director of Operations - Air Wing of the Abu Dhabi Police Command, said after getting an SOS message from the family a team of officials reached there in a helicopter and rescued them. Their vehicle was stuck in the sand.


One killed policeman and other two were rapists

Sharjah - Oct. 31: A firing squad yesterday executed a man who was sentenced to death for killing a Sharjah police officer.

The man shot dead Lieutenant Mohammad Al Tunaiji in December 2002 in the Al Dhaid area, court officials said yesterday. Officials said the death sentence was carried out at the Sharjah Central Prison against the 62-year-old identified as Khalifa Khalfan Al Qaizi, a UAE national, who was convicted of killing Lt. Al Tunaiji while he was chasing him in Al Dhaid for stealing a car.

Dr Mohammad Khalifa Al Mualla from Al Dawliya Advocates and Legal Consultants, who represented the victim's family and the Interior Ministry, told Gulf News that Al Qaizi had a criminal record and that he committed his first crime when he was 14.

In separate cases, two men, both UAE nationals, were also executed yesterday after they were sentenced to death for rape.



Dubai - Oct. 31:Filming for Bollywood movie ‘Welcome’ continued in Dubai yesterday, this time on the service road along Sheikh Zayed Road close to the Shangri-La hotel. Traffic was stopped while the camera was rolling causing congestion on the service road and slow moving traffic on the main road as drivers slowed down to have a look. The film, directed by Anees Bazmee, stars Akshay Kumar and Katrina Kaif.


Woman changes price tags at mall, hubby gets caught

DUBAI - Oct. 30: If men live in dread of their wives going on a spending binge, here’s one more reason why they should think twice before accompanying them to shopping centres!

When an Arab woman, identified as NAA, was allegedly caught cheating at a shop in Deira City Centre recently, she fled the premises along with her children, leaving her husband in a tight spot.

The family was shopping for Ramadan. They have been living in the country for the past 18 years.

Thanks to her smart moves, the Public Prosecution has launched a probe into the attempted theft, implicating her husband in it. 

The woman reportedly tried to replace the high price tags on some items she bought for her children with those displaying cheaper rates.

She was apparently not aware of the fact that there were hidden cameras everywhere recording her every move.

When she went to the cashier for payment, a security man stopped her and told her husband what she had been up to.

After his wife ran away along with her children, the man tried to settle the matter. He offered to pay the actual amount for the articles. But his pleading fell on deaf ears as the shopping centre’s security men called the police.

When the police refused to believe him, the husband sought a lawyer’s help. Nasser Hashim Al Kamali, the lawyer, submitted a petition to the prosecution requesting that the woman be  medically examined.

He said she had been suffering from psychological disturbance, as per medical certificates. She had earlier placed her husband in similar situations, but she never meant to steal any thing, he said. She was not aware of what she had done, the lawyer pleaded.




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