NEWS FROM THE UAE
Excerpts from UAE Dailies
Temporary work permits for pvt sector employees
DUBAI — Feb. 26: Private sector workers in the UAE will now be able to avail themselves of temporary work permits. However, for every contractual period of a minimum three years, a worker is eligible to apply only twice for the temporary work permit.
The Minister of Labour, Dr Ali bin Abdullah Al Kaabi, has issued a ministerial resolution to this effect. The ministerial order was put into effect as of February 22, and published in the official gazette.
To apply for a temporary work permit, which shall not exceed six months, a worker has to fulfil certain criteria. One, the worker should have valid residence visa until the expiry of the temporary permit, and he/she should also have spent a minimum one year in service with the employer (sponsor).
Further, the worker should present a written approval from the employer (sponsor) to apply for the temporary work permit.
Humeid bin Dimas, Assistant Under-Secretary at the Ministry of Labour said, “the temporary work permit has been in place since 1997. What has changed now is that it can be given twice during the contractual period, while it used to be granted only once earlier. Also, it’s now open for all professions, with no exceptions. Earlier, it used to be confined to 18 professions only.”
Bin Dimas added: “This resolution aims at giving more freedom to people to work and shift to another company within the legal frameworks. A worker can now opt to change his/her job and apply to work for another company for a six-month period. This happens within the contractual period with his sponsor. This can spare workers long commitments, which are often the cause of violations of labour law by some sponsors.”
The official said this system would benefit the employers also. “He (sponsor) can set the worker free for that limited period of time and hire him again, if there is a need to, while he is still under his sponsorship,” he pointed out.
One dead, 100 injured in morning road mishaps
DUBAI/SHARJAH/UMM AL QUWAIN — Feb. 26: One person was killed in a road accident on the Dubai-Al Ain highway, and nearly 100 people were injured, eight of them critically, as poor visibility due to foggy weather conditions caused 152 minor and major road accidents on Dubai roads yesterday morning.
Most of these accidents were reported between 5am and 9am. Foggy conditions also prevailed during the morning hours in Sharjah, Umm Al Quwain and some parts of Al Ain.
In Dubai, traffic came to a standstill on several roads, delaying office goers and schoolchildren.
All the major roads in Dubai, including Shaikh Zayed Road, Emirates Road and Al Khail Road, registered accidents and traffic snarls. The traffic chaos continued until the skies cleared at 10am.
Some 42 people injured in accidents were admitted to Rashid hospital yesterday morning. Out of them, eight had received critical injuries, hospital sources said.
The source also said that that 35 people were admitted to Al Baraha Hospital while 21 were taken to Dubai Hospital.
Major accidents were reported in Al Quoz, Shaikh Zayed Road, Al Ain Highway and Palm Jumeirah areas, the source revealed.
Colonel Omer Abdulla Al Shamsi, Director of Control and Command Room of the Dubai Police, who disclosed the accident figures, has urged motorists to be careful while driving in adverse weather conditions.
Colonel Omer said motorists should comply with the traffic regulations by minimising speed, leaving enough space between vehicles and keeping the right track under such weather conditions.
Among the injured were some 50 labourers of a contracting company. The bus carrying them collided with a trailer on Al Khail Road.
More than 35 accidents were reported on the Dubai-Al Ain highway, said Colonel Omer.
In Sharjah, where the fog was not as dense as in Dubai, only four minor injuries were reported in road accidents, police officials said.
The officials pointed out that the recent traffic awareness campaign carried out by Sharjah Police had been a success.
Meanwhile, the Meteorological Office at the Dubai International Airport has warned that similar foggy conditions were expected in Dubai and other emirates on Monday morning also.
Ahmad Al Nassar, Duty Forecaster at the Meteorological Office, said the fog had reduced the visibility at the Dubai airport yesterday by about 100 metres.
“The fog was a result of humid air coming in contact with cool air. But we can expect a fine weather condition throughout the day once the sky clears at around 10am,” Al Nassar said.
28 flights diverted
DUBAI — Feb. 26: A thick fog that covered the skies of the Northern Emirates until around 10am yesterday forced international airports in Dubai and Sharjah to divert incoming and outgoing flights.
Official sources have confirmed that while 16 flights were diverted by the Dubai International Airport (DIA), 12 flights were re-routed by the Sharjah International Airport.
A source at the Dubai Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) disclosed that the flights had been diverted between 6am and 7:42am yesterday. “Flights were diverted to Al Ain, Abu Dhabi, Muscat, Fujairah and Bahrain. But once the skies cleared up, we resumed our normal operations,” he said.
Dubai-based carrier Emirates Airline has confirmed that “a few” of their flights were diverted due to the foggy condition.
“All the diverted flights arrived back in Dubai by 1pm. EK501 from Mumbai was delayed longer as, due to aviation regulations, the crew had to be replaced and a fresh team was sent to Muscat from Dubai,” said an Emirates source.
The flight reportedly arrived in the emirate at 3pm and passengers were not allowed to disembark in Muscat, where it was diverted, to avoid overcrowding of passengers at the Muscat International Airport, the source added.
Hari Harran, Section Head of the Ground Operations Department at the Sharjah International Airport said 12 commercial flights, mostly of Air Arabia, Fin Air and Egypt Air, were diverted to Fujairah, Kuwait, Bahrain, Ras Al Khaimah and Abu Dhabi. The flight diversions, he added, has caused delays in the schedule of some other flights.
A source at the low-cost carrier, Air Arabia, revealed that five of their Sharjah-bound flights from Riyadh, Doha, Bahrain, Alexandria and Chennai had been affected by the diversion. Another flight from Beirut to Sharjah was cancelled.
However, the airline said the affected passengers had been properly informed and their flights had been re-scheduled.
Temperature to soar across the country
ABU DHABI — Feb. 26: Temperature will soar today in all parts of the country from 34ºC to 35ºC in day time, and will gradually drop to 15ºC to 19ºC at night, between 3am and 7pm, according to an official source at the Meteorological Authority in Abu Dhabi yesterday.
Fog will show up on freeways and internal roads due to the change of winds to south easterly, the sources said. Sea waves will vary from half metre to one metre high, and the winds will be Southeasterly to Northeasterly gusting between 18 to 15 knots. In the morning( Tuesday) the winds gusting up to 20 to 25 knots, and the sea becomes to rage from 2am with waves reaching from 2 to 3 meters high during day time, the sources said and advised sea goers not to risk going at day and night.
The mercury rose to 28ºC yesterday, two degrees more and will continue to shoot up to 3ºC to 5ºC today. The sources, however, said the temperature would see a remarkable drop tomorrow and is expected to reach 25ºC to 27ºC at day time, and weather will remain unchanged on Wednesday.
Money laundering racket busted
DUBAI — Feb. 26: The Dubai Police, in a major crackdown, has arrested several gang members (all foreign nationals) involved in a big money laundering racket in the emirate.
The gang of criminals, comprising Asian, European and American nationals, “misused financial institutions — assisted by some of their staff to conceal such crimes, against commissions paid to them,” according to police sources.
Following specific leads for almost a year and a half, a well-coordinated police investigation alongwith several other security agencies, uncovered the money laundering operation. Nine companies, who have not yet been named, are also involved in this case, according to a police statement issued yesterday by the Dubai Police Headquarters. It added, the General Administration for Search and Criminal Investigation as well as the Anti-Money Laundering and Suspicious Cases Unit at the Central Bank of UAE assisted the police investigation actively — and carefully scanned all commercial and financial activities of the main suspects.
Meanwhile, the Central Bank of the UAE has already issued an alert notice to all banks and money changers operating in the country, instructing them to immediately freeze the bank accounts of all the main suspects, all those who assisted them, as well as the nine companies involved. In addition, any bank transfers in their names have also been prohibited.
The joint investigation, involving the Dubai Police, the Central Bank and the Prosecution Office is continuing and a detailed report regarding the full ramifications of the money laundering racket will now be submitted to the General Prosecutor in Dubai to initiate further legal action and prosecution — as per the UAE laws.
The Dubai Police Chief, Lieutenant General Dhahi Khalfan Tamim, told Khaleej Times yesterday “all necessary measures taken in this case fall within the purview of UAE’s policy of combating crime — including money laundering and terrorism. Our main aim is to protect our society and financial institutions from falling victim to any such criminal activity.”
He declined to comment any further on the case, but assured that were no UAE nationals among those arrested.
National traffic safety awareness drive starts
ABU DHABI / SHARJAH/UMM AL QUWAIN — Feb. 26: The National Campaign for Traffic Safety Awareness kicked off in several emirates yesterday.
The campaign, which will run until March 3, is being held under the patronage of Shaikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Chairperson of the Women’s Union.
The campaign is being organised by the Ministry of Interior and Emirates Traffic Safety Society. Titled “Our safety is our responsibility”, the campaign aims at raising awareness on traffic safety. Both government and private organisations are supporting the campaign.
Flagging off the campaign in Sharjah, Brigadier Rashid Ghareeb Al Mahmoud, Director-General of Sharjah Traffic and Licence Department, said the campaign aimed at coordinating efforts with the concerned traffic safety bodies, enhancing traffic safety awareness of people, encouraging voluntary services, and promoting the feeling of responsibility.
“The cooperation of the civil society is vital to achieve this,” he added.
Salih Al Mutawa, Director-General of Sharjah Police, urged motorists to strictly abide by the traffic rules, which, he said, was in their own interest.
In Umm Al Quwain, a rally was taken out to mark the occasion. The rally was led by Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashed bin Ahmed Al Muala, head of the Financial and Administrative Department, and Marawan bin Rashed bin Ahmed Al Muala, head of the Property and Lands Department in Umm Al Quwain.
Schools affiliated to Umm Al Quwain Education Zone as well as senior police officials of the emirate took part in the rally.
The Director of the General Department of Traffic, Lieutenant Colonel Abdullah Essa Al Houssani, said that booklets would be distributed and lectures would be organised for school students throughout the week.
Major-General Saif Abdullah Al Shafar, Under Secretary of the Ministry of Interior, expressed gratitude for Shaikha Fatima for her initiative of launching the traffic safety campaign.
In Abu Dhabi, the campaign was kicked off at the Marina Mall.
Addressing the occasion, Al Shafar referred to the studies which show that traffic accidents cost the developing countries nearly 2 to 4 per cent of their total national income annually.
Brigadier Hassan Ahmed Al Houssani, head of the campaign organising committee, praised Lt.-General Shaikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Minister of Interior, for his support.
A large number of students of schools affiliated to various educational zones participated in the ceremonies, singing songs on traffic safety. They also presented a play, which highlighted importance of abiding by traffic rules.
Over 1,500 labourers stage demonstration
ABU DHABI — Feb. 26: More than 1,500 labourers working with an Abu Dhabi-based company yesterday staged a demonstration in the Mussafah area, demanding that their salaries be raised and financial dues cleared.
The labourers who gathered in the industrial area for the second day also protested against the deduction of Friday overtime payments from their wages for the past five months and demanded that they be given medical insurance.
The company has reportedly completed the formalities for providing medical care to about 2,500 workers while about 1,500 workers are still waiting for medical insurance.
One of the workers told Khaleej Times, “We want the company to increase our wages because we work more than 13 hours a day. We usually start working at 5am and continue till 6.30pm. Meanwhile, the overtime we take is for only two hours according to the law.”
The labourers also alleged that the living conditions in the camps are very poor.
Officials from the Mussafah police station tried to persuade the workers to resume their work. However, the workers refused.
The police brought buses to take the labourers back to their work sites, but some workers stopped the bus and continued the demonstration.
A police source said the workers have breached the law as workers don’t have the right to strike or protest and firms must find a mechanism to settle these kinds of issues amicably.
Mohsen Ali bin Qahel, Director of the Inspection Department at the Ministry of Labour (MoL), said, “The MoL is currently investigating the matter. The labourers will be given all their rights such as overtime, Friday payments and medical care. However, an increase in their salaries by Dh150 a month is illegal because the workers have signed contracts with the company.”
The MoL gave the labourers two days to decide if they will be back at work or go back home. It also urged the company to pay the workers on a monthly basis.
Khaleej Times has learnt that the company has increased engineers and supervisors’ salaries and the firm also intends to give increment to workers.
The company’s Public Relation Officer refused to comment on the issue.
Worker in coma for 28 days
DUBAI — Feb. 26: Prakasan Cherayil came to Dubai to ensure a decent living for his family back in India. But fate had something else in store for the 35-year-old man who has been in coma for the past 28 days.
Prakasan, who hails from Calicut in Kerala, was admitted to Rashid Hospital on January 28 in a critical condition. According to his relatives, Prakasan, working as a labourer in the Emirates Ship Maintenance Company in Dubai, was admitted to the hospital after he fell off a scaffolding at a construction site.
Doctors at Rashid Hospital told Khaleej Times that Prakasan, who has been working in Dubai for the past five years, is not responding to the treatment.
“He returned to Dubai from his home in India only two months ago. He is the only breadwinner of his family consisting of his parents, two sisters, his wife and two kids,” said Surendhran, one of his relatives. “It’s better to send him back to India for treatment. But the family cannot afford it and doctors have told us that we cannot shift him to India at this stage.”
Surendhran added that Prakasan couldn’t save any money as he had to pay for his sister’s wedding. “He still has to pay back the money he had borrowed for the wedding. His family is in a big financial crisis,” he said.
Holi to be celebrated
DUBAI — Feb. 26: The Indian Association Dubai will be celebrating Holi, the festival of colours in India and kite flying on Friday at the Creek Park Dubai from 10am onwards.
People of all ages would be actively participating in the celebrations. Herbal gulal will be available at the venue. Pulsating music provided by DJ Shadad and DJ Kits will add rhythm to the celebrations and the food stalls will take care of the appetite of everyone. Tickets available at the Indian Association Dubai are priced at Dh30 for a family of 2 adults and 2 children and Dh10 for a single person.
Tenants to face power cut over dud cheques
ABU DHABI — Feb.26: Tenants who submit dud cheques will have the power supply to their flats disconnected after a week’s notice, according to a new resolution issued by the Department for Social Services and Commercial Buildings in Abu Dhabi (DSSCB). The resolution defines the mechanism through which dud cheques will be legally handled.
The rent collection section will notify tenants as soon as their cheques bounce. If the amount was not paid within a week from the date of the notice, power supply will be disconnected, the resolution said.
If a tenant fails to pay the full amount as per the cheque within a maximum period of one month from the date on which the dud cheque was issued or the date of sending the postal notice, the cheque will be referred to the legal section to initiate legal procedures within two weeks. Power supply will remain disconnected until full payment.
“As for issuers of dud cheques who handed over residential units to the DSSCB and could not be notified, they should be informed via post to report to the DSSCB to settle the financial issues. In case, they didn’t respond or were not informed for any reason within two weeks from the date on which the cheque bounced, the cheques will be referred to the legal section for filing lawsuits against the tenants concerned,” said the resolution.
Cheques concerning landlords’ contracts as per resolution No (3) for 1996 issued by the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi will be immediately sent to landlords’ unit in the legal section because they are protected by bank guarantee and “are not included in the statistics and programmes of cheques in the collection section”, it added.
Defining measures the legal section should follow to handle dud cheques, the resolution said, “If the tenant applied for a settlement of a cheque under legal procedures, the settlement will not be made for dud cheques dealing with current contracts and payment will be in cash. The resolution also raises the possibility of reaching a settlement with a tenant who has ‘a delivery contract’. Under this settlement, the tenant should pay not less than 50 per cent of the dud cheque in cash and the balance should be cleared in instalments but not exceeding four times or according to instalments of dud cheques or what ever less of the two options.”
Necessary guarantees like passport of the tenant or that of his bailing sponsor will be a key condition for any settlement, especially for non-nationals, it added. Issuers of dud cheques regarding non-renewable tenancy contracts will face legal suits, demanding that they clear the value of their dud cheques. The higher administration and the rent disputes settlement committee at the DSSCB are the only authorities to decide on exemption of dud cheque issuers from the provisions.
Dubai - Taunted over his woman
Dubai - Feb. 26: A Filipino who stabbed to death a former friend had been taunted that his girlfriend was out drinking with the other man, it was revealed yesterday. Eduard Della Rosa, a 46-year-old elevator technician, has now been charged with the murder of 34-year-old Matias Ela following the brutal slaying at a villa in Hor Al Anz in Dubai.
The case has been referred to Public Prosecution. Della Rosa stabbed and slit his victim’s throat following an exchange of goading text messages between the two men. He then calmly changed his blood-stained shirt and waited for police to arrive. It is believed the men had exchanged text messages via their phones arranging a fight to prove who was “the real man”.
The pair, who had previously been friends and even worked for the same company, had fallen out over a woman, friends and neighbours said. It was also revealed yesterday that Della Rosa’s girlfriend left the UAE last night on a business class ticket back to the Philippines. Neighbours living close to the villa where the murder occurred on Thursday night said that during a drinking session, Ela and friends had taunted Della Rosa that his girlfriend was out with them and drinking with them.
Some had even insinuated that she had been cheating on him with Ela. The two had previously been friends and lived in the same house together before Della Rosa moved out to another villa two months ago. A public prosecutor told 7DAYS: “I was present during the investigation and when the arrest of the suspect was made. He did not resist his arrest. He was drunk when he was remanded to police custody. He confessed to the charges so the case was immediately referred to the Public Prosecution to then await trial,” he said.
The body of the victim is currently being held at Dubai police General Headquarters. In five days, the headquarters will issue a death certificate and a clearance for the shipment of the remains back to the Philippines. The autopsy results will only be available after 20 days. Both men had been drinking alcohol prior to the murder and Della Rosa has also been charged with the consumption of alcohol.
A close friend of the victim said: “I am stunned this has happened. I feel sick and grieved that my close friend is no more.” The suspect is currently detained at the Muraqqabat Police station where he will be held until his trial.
DM bans labour accommodation in factory premises
Dubai - Feb. 26: Dubai Municipality asks companies to provide alternative arrangements with in 90 days
Dubai Those found violating the rules will face stiff penalties including legal action leading to closure of the facilities, a Dubai Municipality press release said.
Eng Hussain Lootah, acting director general of Dubai Municipality said, "This decision is based on the directives of H.H Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid, UAE Vice-President and Prime Minister, and Ruler of Dubai. It is also an outcome of the observations and recommendations submitted by the follow-up committee on the environmental and health conditions in labour accommodations, following surprise visits to random industrial, workshops and warehouses in the city."
Lootah pointed out that certain companies illegally accommodated labourers within its industrial premises, ignoring the minimum standards and specifications of safety.
“Consequently, Dubai Municipality has issued orders to eliminate such violations. Within 90 days from the date of receiving this circular, companies are required to provide alternative accommodation in the permitted areas,” he added.
Failure to comply with the Dubai Municipality directive will result in serious penalties for the offending company ranging from fines and disconnection of services to legal action leading to closure.