NEWS FROM THE UAE
Excerpts from UAE Dailies
Bus from Sharjah to Jebel Ali
Dubai - Nov. 03: A new public bus service to serve people travelling between Sharjah and Jebel Ali will start soon, said a senior official.
The shuttle bus service will be operated every hour and it will have a fixed fare of Dh10 one way, said Obaid Al Mulla, Chief Executive Officer of the Dubai Public Transport at the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA).
The service will be operated between Rolla Square in Sharjah and the main Jebel Ali Free Zone Gate via Shaikh Zayed Road.
The RTA has also launched this five night bus routes to benefit late night travellers.
The RTA is also planning to run international bus services called 'Dubai Bus' in 2008 between Dubai and Oman, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Jordan. In 2009, the services will be extended to Qatar, Kuwait, Egypt and Syria.
Woman denies swearing during road rage incident
Dubai - Nov. 03: A woman is being tried for swearing at a businessman during a road rage incident in which the man was earlier sentenced to a month in jail for lewdly gesturing at her.
Dubai Public Prosecution charged the 34-year-old UAE national female, identified as M.R., with slandering her 41-year-old compatriot, identified as A.S., who was charged with lewdly gesturing in public.
The woman told the Dubai Court of First Instance yesterday that she did not swear at the businessman.
A Bangladeshi taxi driver who appeared in court as a defence witness told the judge M.R. had stopped and asked him to drive her to a hospital in Dubai.
"She asked me to drive fast to the hospital where she wanted to see a patient. On our way, the 41-year-old was driving his car slowly and when I beeped at him to increase his speed, he pulled out in front of us."
The witness said A.S. stepped out of his car and walked towards the taxi.
"He was asking me why I hooted my horn when the lady intervened and explained that she was in a rush and needed to reach the hospital. Then he flashed his middle finger in her face twice after they got involved in a heated argument. She did not curse or even talk to him," testified the driver.
When the presiding judge Mahmoud Al Sharshabi asked the 34-year-old suspect whether she had called the man impolite, she said she had not.
The Dubai Court of Appeal had earlier confirmed a month in jail against the 41-year-old for waving his finger in the woman's face.
Special team to probe mystery illness
Dubai - Nov. 03: A special team has been set up to investigate the 'mystery illness' that struck down a two-year-old boy and sickened his 8-year old sister and father, the Health Ministry announced.
The Syrian family were admitted to Al Qasimi Hospital on Sunday for high fever and bleeding from the nose.
The boy died on Tuesday, while his sibling and father are reported to be in stable condition.
Dr Ali Shakar, undersecretary at the ministry, told Gulf News that the ministry team is to be headed by Dr Abdul Ghaffar Al Hawi, assistant undersecretary of curative medicine.
He added that the illness, which was suspected to be herpes encephalitis, was unlikely to be contagious as no other similar cases have been reported.
Gulf News employee dies in motorbike accident
Dubai - Nov. 03: Gulf News delivery boy Furkan Ali Yousuf Ali Kazi was killed on Thursday when his motorbike reportedly crashed into an overturned trailer on Shaikh Zayed Road.
The 40-year-old Indian, who had worked for Gulf News since 1994, is survived by his wife and three-year-old son.
He was riding towards Ibn Battuta Mall to collect his papers when the accident happened at about 1am. He was due at a rendezvous area for the delivery boys at 1.30am.
Thomas Mathew, Gulf News subscription sales manager, said many staff were sorry to hear of Furkan's death.
"It is difficult to take. We work with these people every single day, so a lot of people in the office are quite upset that this has happened. Some have said that they only spoke to him the day before and it's very hard to believe this could have happened," he said.
Mathew described Furkan as "a very cheerful guy" who was committed to his job and always showed an "enthusiastic attitude to work".
"He had a young son and parents who were unwell so it's even more sad that this has happened," he added.
Mathew said paramedics reported that Furkan, who lived alone in Karama, was alive when they arrived on the accident scene, but efforts to save him were unsuccessful and he was pronounced dead at Rashid Hospital.
He said staff were planning to have a collection to help Furkan's Mumbai-based family, who were informed of what happened soon after the death.
Director says he chased Aishwarya for 13 years
Dubai - Nov. 03: "Aishwarya is my Helen of Troy whose face stopped me from going to war again," said J.P. Dutta, director of the period movie Umrao Jaan, here on Thursday.
The Bollywood director who earlier made the war movies Border, LOC (Line of Control) and Refugee, said Aishwarya made him change his genre when she finally consented to do the movie after 13 years.
The Bollywood movie premiered here yesterday, attended by the stars and the director who flew in from Mumbai. Dutta has come under flak from critics on his remake of the classic.
The former Miss World arrived more than 90 minutes late to the press conference to announce the premiere, and immediately the spotlight shifted to her even as Bollywood star Abhishek Bachchan was speaking.
Photographers stopped taking his pictures and went to the back of the room to catch her entry.
Wearing a black sari and blouse and long, dangling silver earrings, Aishwarya laughed when asked whether she would be a contender for the Oscars in the future.
The former Miss World celebrated her 33rd birthday a day earlier and said she managed to take time off from her hectic schedule to be with her loved ones.
At one point in the conference Bachchan became irritated. He leaned forward and exclaimed, "Excuse me" a couple of times, when a journalist asked when he and Aishwarya were getting married. "You tell us," he said in exasperation, "since you have been telling us that since the past year."
But the body language was very obvious between the two stars. At one point Aishwarya stopped walking towards the exit when she looked back and saw Bachchan still speaking to journalists. He nodded to her across the room, stopped talking and rushed to her side.
Bachchan said he was "humbled" by the "Sexiest Man in Asia" tag. "It is not true, but thank you making me feel embarrassed," he said. He topped the list of the "50 sexiest men" in Asia in a survey by Eastern Eye, Britain's most popular Asian newspaper. "It's shocking. Are people blind?" he had responded.
Residents complain of lack of adequate pedestrian crossings on main roads
Dubai - Nov. 03: Residents in Dubai have complained of a lack of pedestrian crossings on the city's main roads, especially Shaikh Zayed Road which claimed 23 of the 100 pedestrian lives on the roads last year.
The 59-km Shaikh Rashid Road and the Shaikh Zayed Road corridor, from Garhoud Bridge to the Abu Dhabi border, with high residential, commercial and industrial developments on both sides, has only two pedestrian crossings.
These two crossings are located within a short distance of about one kilometre between the Trade Centre roundabout and the Defence Interchange.
"I have to take a taxi to go to my office, which is right across the road on Shaikh Zayed Road," said Mohammad Anas, an engineer.
He said he has frequently seen people running across the road, risking their lives.
Kaleem Malek, a Pakistan banker, said that there was no way to cross Al Ittehad Road.
"I have seen a number of accidents involving pedestrians on this road," he said.
A spokesperson at the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) said the RTA had already identified at least 45 black spots where pedestrian accidents frequently happen.
The RTA recently launched a plan to upgrade the present pedestrian facilities on Dubai Roads and build new ones.
"The plan will provide safer and expedient crossing facilities and its implementation will reduce fatalities by 40 per cent," he said.
The Dh70 million pedestrian safety plan will include 17 new pedestrian bridges, seven signalised crossings and four flat hump crossings. At least 17 roads will have fences to protect pedestrians. The projects will be completed within one year.
Out of the Dh70 million, Dh50.1 million will be used to construct pedestrian bridges, Dh18.47 million for pedestrian fences, Dh0.73 million for signalised crossings and Dh170,000 for the construction of flat humps.
The number of pedestrian deaths has increased sharply over the last three years.
According to an RTA study, 69 pedestrians died in 2003 in traffic accidents. The number increased to 83 in 2004 and touched an alarming 100 deaths in 2005.
"The combination of a lack of safe crossings and the high traffic speed on the multilane facilities made it very dangerous for pedestrians to cross the road and led to the high number of fatalities," the study says.
"We are concerned about this phenomenon and have planned a number of projects to avoid pedestrian deaths," the spokesperson said.
With the construction of 17 new pedestrian bridges, the total number will be 40. Currently, seven of these bridges are under construction at a cost of Dh21 million in addition to the 16 now in use.
The RTA is also preparing a traffic safety guide book, which will include statistics about accidents, causes of accidents and suggestions to avoid accidents both for motorists and pedestrians.
Dubai metro project to have 45 crossings
Dubai Metro stations will be provided with around 45 pedestrian crossings and this will help to further reduce pedestrian deaths.
The total number of pedestrian crossings as a result of this plan and the Dubai Metro project will increase the number of crossings to 93 by the end of 2009.
Fog brings chaos - Flights Disrupted
Dubai - Nov. 03:Heavy fog yesterday disrupted flights at Dubai and Sharjah airports as police reported more than 250 traffic accidents caused by poor visibility. More than 50 flights were delayed or diverted to neighbouring airports. All incoming flights from 4am were diverted for several hours to Abu Dhabi, Ras Al Khaima and Muscat as the visibility level at the two airports plummeted, officials said.
Landings at Dubai airport only resumed at 8.30am when the fog lifted. Although an official spokesperson denied it, sources at Dubai airport said that computer problems had added to the disruption. “The complete system at the airport was down and it was set right only by 2am,” an airport worker said. An Emirates spokesperson told 7DAYS that six of its incoming flights were diverted to other airports.
Four Air Arabia flights arriving from Amman, Damascus, Nagpur and Jaipur, a Singapore Airlines plane from Bangalore and another flight from Lufthansa from Chennai were diverted. Six departing Air Arabia flights were also delayed. Dubai police said they had received at least 251 reports of accidents from 6.00am to 9.00am as motorists failed to slow down during the hazardous conditions.
An officer in the police control room said there had been seven injuries, but no fatalities. “The fog was heavy, and many accidents happened because of the motorists’ high speed and because they didn’t leave enough space between cars,” the officer said. During an average day police will deal with 500-600 accidents, according to official statistics.
Three killed, nine injured in road accidents in capital
ABU DHABI — Nov. 03:Three persons were killed and nine others injured in two separate road accidents in Abu Dhabi yesterday even as the authorities hardened their posture to deal ruthlessly with reckless drivers in the UAE.
One person was killed and five others were injured when a passenger bus rammed a vehicle parked on the side of the road between the Khalifa City Bridge and Abu Dhabi Airport on Wednesday morning, police said.
Ghaith Al Zaabi, Director of Traffic and Patrols Department, Abu Dhabi Police, said the bus carrying 28 passengers collided with the rear side of the parked vehicle, swerved and smashed against a tree on the median island of the road.
“An Indian was killed and five passengers of Indian, Bangladeshi, Pakistani and Chinese nationalities sustained injuries. Twenty two passenger escaped unhurt ,” he added, blaming the driver for his negligence.
Al Zaabi added that traffic, ambulance, rescue and civil defence teams were rushed to the scene of the accident. The injured were taken to Mafraq Hospital. In another accident, two persons were killed and four others hurt after the car in which they were travelling turned turtle on Abu Dhabi-Tarif highway yesterday. The accident took place when the driver lost control of the car which resulted in the vehicle veering off the road. It overturned many times before stopping in a somersaulted posture on the right hand lane of the highway, according to First Lieutenant Rashid Humaid, acting director of Investigation and serious accidents division of Tarif traffic section.
An Egyptian and a Pakistani passenger were tossed outside the vehicle and were killed on the spot, he said. The injured were taken to Mafraq hospital.
Meanwhile, to make driving safer and initiate strict action against dangerous driving on internal roads, highways and intersections in Dubai, around 150 new traffic police have been appointed by the Traffic Department. As many as 16 new police patrol vehicles too have been added to the traffic fleet, a source told Khaleej Times.
Electronic monitoring network to check traffic violations in capital
ABU DHABI — Nov. 03:Abu Dhabi Police will set up an electronic monitoring network project soon to check traffic violations in the capital.
As part of the project, surveillance cameras will be installed along the roads.
Officials told Khaleej Times that the network will cover almost all crucial facilities, buildings, ministries, federal and local departments and other areas.
Sources said the electronic network is capable of delivering real-time detailed and accurate data and the main objective of this system is to apprehend people who flout rules. They added that the network will work 24 hours a day.