NEWS FROM THE UAE
Excerpts from UAE Dailies
MAID FALLS TO DEATH FROM FLAT
Dubai - Dec. 24: A woman fell to her death while apparently trying to escape from an apartment in Deira. Shocked residents told how they found the Indian woman lying in a pool of blood in a busy street in the Naif area. The 23-year-old had apparently tried to escape from the balcony of the third-floor apartment by using a rope made of clothes and blankets.
But as she climbed down from the four-storey building at about 8.00pm on Friday evening the rope apparently gave way, sending the woman plummeting to the street below. “I was shocked to see this woman lying on the road. The blood stains were there on the road until this morning,” said an eyewitness.
Residents and shopkeepers tried to help the woman, who neighbours said is from Mumbai, but she was dead before the ambulance arrived, witnesses said. “I could not sleep the whole night,” said another resident. “We all wonder what could have made this lady take such a drastic step.” Neighbours said the broken rope could still be seen hanging from the balcony yesterday morning.
The watchman of the building, located near the Al Futtaim mosque, denied suggestions the woman was being held in the apartment against her will, insisting that she was employed there as a housemaid. “The truth is that she has been working as a maid at a home here for several years,” he said. “Why she did this is a mystery to all of us.”
Police and the Indian Consulate confirmed the incident, but declined to comment further.
The death follows a similar incident in Naif on Friday morning when a 33-year-old Ugandan man jumped off his balcony in an apparent attempt to escape police raids on illegal immigrants. Lwanyaga Hashim Madilu fell from the third floor on to a car below the building. Madilu died before he reached Rashid Hospital.
In June this year a 42-year-old German man fell to his death from the 30th floor of Al Murjan hotel apartments in Dubai Marina. Police said they believed Rino James committed suicide. And in January Indian Praveen Sridharan, 27, died after falling from the balcony of his third-floor apartment while apparently trying to hang out washing in the Ghusais area.
That accident was less than two weeks after Lisha Mary Alex, 13, fell to her death from her family’s ninth-floor balcony in Sharjah.
Dubai - Transport upgraded
Dubai - Dec. 24: The RTA has taken the first step towards integrating Dubai’s public transport. Buses on route 19 will now be timed so that passengers can head straight to an abra on route three.
While it’s only a small step, the idea is to eventually extend the scheme to all bus and abra routes, as well as the metro system and taxis. It’s hoped that by making public transport as efficient as possible people will be coaxed out of their cars.
A smart card allowing people to pay for all forms of public transport is also being planned.
Dubai - School fee hikes - parents fear have no choice
Dubai - Dec. 24: Despite reported calls by a senior education official not to pay, parents facing school fee hikes of up to 70 per cent say they feel they have little choice. Five schools run by GEMS announced plans last week to increase their fees in two stages: one in January and another in September. Ahmad bin Byat, Chairman of the Dubai Education Council, was quoted as saying in local media reports that the increase was “illegal” and that parents should not pay.
But parents spoken to by 7DAYS last night said they feared they had little choice. “This will affect our children, and so we will be forced to pay,” said a dad of two kids at Westminster School. Citing increased costs, GEMS plans to increase fees at Westminster, Winchester, Dubai American, Modern and Manchester Cambridge schools.
Monica Harter, director of corporate communications at GEMS, defended the hike, saying it had all been approved by the authorities. “We informed the parents six months in advance. We have gone through the Ministry of Education and we have assurances from them,” she said. She did not comment on whether GEMS had sought approval from the Dubai Education Council.
RTA urges caution
DUBAI —Dec. 24: The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has urged the drivers of vehicles and buses transporting pilgrims and other passengers through Dubai International Airport to follow the prevention and standby procedures.
These procedures will prevent overcrowding and accumulation of vehicles in queue at the airport and will facilitate the flow of traffic for the pilgrims leaving for Saudi Arabia.
Engineer Maitha bin Adai, CEO of Traffic and Roads Agency in the RTA, said that passengers should arrive early at the airport to avoid rush. She said that the movement witnessed at Dubai International Airport is the highest in the region.
Flights from Dubai not affected
DUBAI — Dec. 24: Outgoing flight operations from Dubai to London Heathrow were normal yesterday despite the British Airport Authority’s (BAA) advisory that the United Kingdom’s capital will continue to experience fog in the next few days.
An Emirates spokesperson said that their flights to and from London Heathrow have been within an hour of schedule, despite the fog.
“We are monitoring the situation and continue to operate flights as normal,” she said, adding that as of yesterday, they have not experienced any disruptions in their operations.
An official source from British Airways said their outgoing flights from Dubai have been unaffected.
“We have not had any cancellations or disruptions of flights from Dubai although passengers have been advised that delays will be experienced by transit passengers at London Heathrow,” he said.
The BAA’s official web site has announced that passengers, particularly those joining the Christmas rush, are likely to be affected by the lingering fog. “We advise passengers to contact their airlines for further information.
Christmas dishes differ from place to place
ABU DHABI — Dec. 24: There is a lovely smell of sweet spices in the Sheraton Hotel’s lobby.
“It’s coming from here,” says Bernhard Koenig, one of the hotel’s chefs, pointing at a gingerbread house. “It is actually made of real gingerbread and icing sugar, so you can eat it!”
Koenig, who comes from Bavaria, Germany, wanted to do something special for Christmas this year. And he hit upon the idea of making a gingerbread house.
“The lebkuchen (gingerbread) house is a very old Christmas tradition, originating in Germany,” adds Koenig, while speaking to Khaleej Times about how Christmas is spent in his country.
It is now part of Christmas traditions in several other European countries. For the winter holiday, apart from gingerbread, Germany is also famous for stollen, a heavy fruit cake and mulled wine, a boiled mixture of red wine, tea, orange juice, sugar, cinnamon and cloves.
“Our Christmas cake is made with a dough exactly like the one for pizza, mixed with fruits that ideally should be marinated for a year. It is heavy, but delicious,” says the chef.
Other typical German Christmas sweets are cookies made with nuts and real peppercorns.
“I used to bake these cookies two weeks before Christmas, together with my children. In fact, Christmas is for children,” says Koenig.
Ashild Kjok, deputy head of the mission at the Norwegian Embassy in Abu Dhabi, remembers how Christmas is spent at home, “On December 23, we decorate the Christmas tree and unlike other countries, we start the celebrations on Christmas Eve. At 4pm, we go to the church and after the service, all church bells ring throughout the country. We begin the feast at 5pm when baby Jesus was born. After we eat, we walk in a circle round the Christmas tree, holding hands and singing. Then it’s time to open the presents. We end the evening with coffee and cakes.”
Christmas dishes in Norway vary from region to region, but the most common ones are mutton ribs or cod, followed by a special rice pudding.
A very old Christmas tradition is baking the seven types of cakes. According to Kjok, Christmas is still a family affair, people travelling to their villages, where they spend a week with the whole family. “On Christmas Day, everyone stays at home, as it’s considered impolite to visit a friend,” adds the diplomat.
In Ireland, it is traditional to leave mince pies and a bottle of Guinness outdoors as a snack for Father Christmas, while in Britain, children write letters to Father Christmas listing the gifts they want and throw them into the fireplace. This way, the letters will float up the chimney and fly quickly to the North Pole, where Father Christmas lives, it is believed.