NEWS FROM THE UAE
Excerpts from UAE Dailies
Mother's sacrifice saves toddler's life
Hatta - Nov. 20: The father of a two year-old boy has told of his son’s “miraculous” escape after he fell 60 metres in a tragic accident in Hatta that killed his mother. Mohammed Mubariz Uddin Nayyar said that his wife died clutching the boy in her arms, her body cushioning their son and saving his life.
Shehla Mohammadi and two-year-old Omar Mohammed were thrown out of a four-wheel drive after it toppled over in the rocky terrain of the Hajar Mountains on Friday. “It’s a miracle. My son survived the fall with just some minor bruises. All I can say is that my wife gave up her life to save our son,” said Nayyar, who was yesterday still suffering from shock. The family was part of a 15-member group that decided to go on a leisure trip to the Hajar Mountains near Hatta. The group chose to travel in their own vehicles in the rough terrain instead of going through a tour operator.
On their way back, the four-wheel drive in which the Nayyar family was travelling encountered a problem. “It appeared that the steering wheel got locked,” explained Nayyar. The car, which was carrying eight people, rolled over. Shehla, Omar and two others were flung from the car. I saw her tightly holding Omar in her hand. Everything happened so fast and I saw them roll into the valley,” Nayyar remembers.
The group started searching for those who had been flung out of the vehicle. Two of them were found about 70 feet away, but Shehla and her son could not be seen. “We went down into the valley looking for them. I was expecting the worst by then. I was sure they could not survive the rocks and thought I had lost my wife and son,” said Nayyar. They finally found the 34-year-old Shehla lying in a pool of blood, already dead.
“It was Omar’s cries that led us to the body,” said Nayyar. Shehla’s skull was broken but Omar was completely cushioned from the rocks and unhurt. All the injured were taken to Hatta hospital from where they were flown to Rashid Hospital. Friends and eyewitnesses believe that it was nothing less than a miracle that Omar survived the fall. “It’s just God’s grace that he at least got his son back,” said a friend of the family. Doctors at Rashid hospital said they were also amazed by the miraculous escape of little Omar.
“We cannot believe that such a young boy fell 200 feet and still survived,” one doctor told 7DAYS. On hearing about the accident, off-road experts in the Hatta area warned that it can be dangerous to drive in that terrain without trained staff. “There should be at least four adults in the car and the driver must be well trained to drive in this terrain. Travelling in these regions without trained professionals is a definite risk,” said a senior official from South Travels, which organises two to three trips a week to the area.
Taxi charge mystery
Dubai - Nov. 20: Dubai Transport has denied rumours a new meter system charging passengers a waiting fee is being phased in. Several 7DAYS readers claim drivers have told them, over the past few days, that new charge rates have already been introduced in some of the city’s cabs.
But the head of Dubai Transport, Ammar Bin Tamim, is adamant the charging system has not been altered. He told 7DAYS: “I would challenge any taxi driver to prove our rates have been increased - there has been no change. “For almost five years, when a passenger keeps a driver waiting for more than ten minutes they start paying half a dirham per minute. All taxi companies operate this system.”
Usually, when a taxi is stationary for ten minutes, passengers begin paying a standard fee of half a dirham per minute. But if rumours are to be believed, the new system would charge before those ten minutes - even when the cab is stopped at traffic lights.
One driver, who did not wish to be named, said: “The new system is being phased in gradually. Even when the taxi is in motion, but stopped at a red light, the meter charges for waiting - even before the ten minute period has ended.” He added: “It makes me feel bad, charging the customer more money for the same journey.”
But another taxi driver told us the move was good news for drivers, saying: “It means we make more money on the same routes - so we have to travel less.” A 7DAYS reader, who noticed a hike in his taxi charge this weekend, also heard the same story from two separate drivers in as many days. “My taxi arrived 15 minutes early”, he explained. “When we got downstairs there was already an dhs11 charge on the meter. The driver could see I was annoyed, and obviously felt quite awkward, so tried to explain it wasn’t his fault - the meter system had altered.
“The next day I asked another taxi driver about it, who told me it was being phased in gradually. He also said it was unpopular with drivers because they can see it is upsetting passengers.” But Ammar said the new meters being used by Dubai Transport taxis and the other Dubai taxi groups were simply new-look devices equipped with GPS tracking devices.
“The fees are exactly the same”, he repeated. “The idea behind the new system is to ensure all drivers are connected to one central system for improved security, efficiency, fuel conservation and distribution - it will mean we won’t have too many taxis in one area.”
All homework and no play make childhood dull
Abu Dhabi/Fujairah - Nov. 20: Doing homework after a long, tiring day at school is not an ideal way to spend an afternoon for most children.
Homework, however, has played a major part in education, but will this 'tradition' last forever? Recently, a small but increasingly vocal group of US parents and educators are pushing for homework to be abolished for younger children on the grounds that it serves no purpose.
According to two new books, American children are being robbed of time to pursue hobbies, sports and even family time because of too much homework. The books argue that children are doing more homework than ever with no concrete evidence that their effort contributes to their learning experience.
Gulf News asked a cross-section of residents whether homework is good for children.
While most parents agreed to the importance of homework, others said the homework load should be moderate.
Dora Maw, a translator from Portugal, said children should not be given "too much homework. I think one or two hours a day of homework are very good for children, they will learn responsibility because they will know they have tasks to perform," she said. "I know schools are very demanding nowadays, but as children need to study, they also need to play."
Adib Omary, a 59-year-old engineer from Syria, said homework assignments are very essential. "All children should have homework; it's part of their learning path and it will develop their way of thinking and make them participate more in classes," he said.
Kalim Gaffar, 43, from India, said children are getting more homework than they should. "It puts a great burden on them which I don't think is good. I think it should be balanced and they should get time to play."
Mohammad Ebrahim Yousuf, 47, from Egypt said he thought his first child got "too much homework", but with their second child "we knew what to expect and we help him with his work load".
"Our kids go to a private school which gives more homework than government schools, but that's one of the reasons why we enrolled them here in the first place. Here they learn more languages and as expatriates we need our kids to attain higher marks so they would be accepted in Egyptian universities, so it's natural they get a lot of homework," he said.
Usha Sundar, from India, said she is for moderate homework. "A little bit of home assignments will make children study more, if they had lots of homework it will become a burden. So I'm with giving them moderate homework," she said.
Indah Bernardi, from Indonesia, also agrees and says homework is good for children. "By doing homework, children will practice and understand what they [learnt] in school and it will give the chance to connect with their parents," she said.
Hamad Hassan, 50, from Egypt said it is important for children to follow up with their school work at home. "If they don't revise or do their homework they will not perform well in school," he said.
"If anything, teachers should increase the amount of homework, ... and if the kids won't have homework they will be wasting their time," he said.
Nevertheless, Hassan said there should be "some balance". "We should always allow pupils a chance to be children and not put too much pressure on them."
Asadullah Abdullah, 37, from Pakistani, said children are given too much homework and in some cases it is "beyond their capacity". "They are given homework everyday, which is okay, but sometimes it's a bit excessive ... the day before yesterday, I spent two and a half hours on homework with my kids," he said.
"They don't have enough time to play and be kids. After school they come home and rest for a while and then ... start their homework, which they finish by 6 or 7 in the evening. After that it's not possible for them to play much before their bedtime," he said.
Crowding in flats and villas illegal
Dubai - Nov. 20: Crowding in villas or flats is not allowed because it creates social, moral and hygiene problems, a Dubai Municipality official has said.
The official from the Building Department of the Municipality told Gulf News that the civic body had started action against landlords especially those who rent villas or old houses to a number of people. "There have been complaints of subletting. It is allowed if both tenant and the landlord agree but overcrowding is not allowed," he said.
He said the municipality has also started taking action against landlords who have built unauthorised partitions or construction in villas to accommodate a larger number of people.
Explosives bring down 21-storey Abu Dhabi building
Abu Dhabi - Nov. 19: Hundreds watched a 70-metre tall building in Khalidiya come down with a bang in 12 seconds yesterday.
The 21-storey building on King Khalid Bin Abdul Aziz Street behind Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank on Zayed The First Street was demolished with explosives after the last one was demolished about 11 years ago.
Demolition by controlled explosions were halted due to damage to neighbouring buildings during a previous operation.
The explosives were detonated at 12.12pm and within 12 seconds the tower was reduced to a mound of debris. The tower was vacated in February.
"The entire operation was successful. We have checked the area and there is no damage. I thank residents for their cooperation with Abu Dhabi Police and other teams involved in the operation," said Lt. Colonel Humaid Saeed Al Afreet, Head of the Committee for Building Demolition Operations and Director of the Abu Dhabi Police Explos-ives Control Section.
The demolition was carried out by Controlled Explosives of the UK, Bin Hani Establishment, the main contractor, and Gulf Rock, a Swedish firm based in Ras Al Khaimah and under the supervision of Lt. Colonel Al Afreet.
It was the third building to be demolished with the use of explosives in 12 years in Abu Dhabi. The first was in 1994 and the second more than a year later.
The demolition went as planned, without casualties or damage to nearby structures. "The building came down extremely well," said Robert Clark, a structural engineer at Controlled Explosives.
He said 200kg of explosives were detonated by a non-electrical method.
"We used power gel in columns and detonating cord in walls. We had 3,000 detonator charges in place. The explosives were placed on the ground, mezzanine, fourth, ninth, 13th and 17th floors."
Abdullah Hani Abdullah of Bin Hani Establishment said: "We started evacuating nearby buildings at 7.30am and shifted all the residents to ... the nearby Shaikh Nahyan Park.
"There were 882 apartments in 16 buildings marked for evacuation. Some of the apartments were already empty."
All residents of adjacent buildings returned to their apartments by 5pm.