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Excerpts from UAE Dailies

Knife-wielding man attacks Sharjah girl

DUBAI — Marach 15: In an incident reminding Sharjah residents of the serial attacker who was arrested by the police some years ago, a Grade IX girl student was attacked with a knife by a masked man in Abu Shaghara area of the emirate early Monday morning.

A source from Al Gharb Police Station in Sharjah confirmed the attack, saying a police team was investigating the incident.

The victim, who did not wish to be named, told Khaleej Times that the incident occurred at 8.45am while she was on her way to a nearby apartment for tuition.

Hand injury

“I was passing through a deserted street behind Sharjah Union Cooperative when a masked man suddenly tapped my shoulder. As I turned around, he caught hold of my arm and slashed on my right hand with a knife,” she said.

Narrating the horrifying experience, the victim, whose injured hand has been plastered, said she could not move or shout for help as she was too shocked to react.

“The masked man then tried to stab me in my stomach but was unsuccessful. My clothes were torn but fortunately I was not seriously hurt,” she added. “The man then suddenly ran away. I do not know what his intention was and why I was targeted,” she wondered.

Luckily for the girl, her examinations were over. The parents of the victim have lodged a complaint with the Sharjah police. The girl has been living in Sharjah for the past five years with her parents.


No light at the end of the tunnel for Indian family

DUBAI — March 15: For this Indian family, the shadow of darkness enveloping it only seems to get longer. The woman who has recently lost her husband to cancer, and is barely able to make both ends meet for her four children, is now forced to live without water and electricity.

Power supply to her one bedroom unit accommodation in a traditional villa in Rashidiya was cut two weeks ago following the lack of action by the landlord to evict bachelors from the other rooms in the villa. “We are now forced to live in the dark because we have no money to even pay for the reconnection of electricity,” said Sareena, the mother of four.

“I do not know what to do,” she rued.

Her eldest daughter, 17-year-old Jamshene, is mentally retarded. She has three other kids — Anam 12, Fatima 3, and one-year-old Mohammed.

Her husband, Abdul Razak, died in Dubai Hospital two weeks ago. He had been suffering from tongue cancer for over two years.

His death had completely shattered the family, which had spent all its earnings on his treatment.

“Jamshene cannot pursue her studies any longer as I cannot afford the fees

of the school for children with special needs where she used to go. I cannot afford to pay fees for the other two girls also, who are studying in a private school in Dubai,” the widow lamented.

Sareena was forced to take up a job with a pittance of a salary to somehow run the household ever since her husband fell ill.   To add to her woes, some acquaintances of her husband have started knocking on her doors staking claims for money they say her husband owed to them. Her husband was running a small fish outlet in Dubai, which was a partnership venture.

“I have no clue about these loans. I am even unable to sustain my family. How can I pay back loans?” asked an exasperated Sareena, with tears rolling down her cheeks.

“My children do not know about their father’s death yet, and are unaware of the financial crisis we are going through. The little ones keep asking me about their father and complain about the absence of electricity and water at home,” she said.

“Some of our neighbours are helping us with some water, but surviving without electricity is difficult.”

The family hails from Calicut in Kerala and has been living in Dubai for the past nine years.


Employers cautioned over poor facilities for workers

RAS AL KHAIMAH — March 15: The Ministry of Labour (MoL), following multiple complaints from workers regarding sub-standard living conditions, poor facilities and several health and safety hazards, has warned sponsors and employers to refrain from violating the law and to resolve these problems at the earliest.

Khamis Bilal, MoL’s Head of Labour Relations, who issued the directive, also cautioned employers not to disconnect electricity and water connections in any of their labour camps or accommodation occupied by their workers.

He added, a Dh10,000 fine and/or other penalties will be imposed for any such deliberate violation of the country’s Labour Law.

A large number of complainants, mostly Asian construction workers, have pointed out that besides poor accommodation facilities, there are also several serious health and safety hazards that they face on a regular basis.

Environmental specialists too have warned that if proper hygienic and sanitary arrangements are not made in the shared flats and apartments occupied by workers, the problem will affect other residents in the neighbourhood as well.

Bilal has also asked the the sponsors to respect the workers’ basic rights and offer well-designed accommodation to their employees.

Meanwhile, official sources told Khaleej Times there is a specific regulation that prohibits bachelors from staying in family residential areas and that this rule would soon be implemented more effectively.

However, Ismail Sal, who works a for construction company said: “This particular regulation is one reason that prevents many of us from securing good, clean, accommodation in the emirate. All that we are demanding is a viable alternative.”


DNRD helpline for housemaids soon 

Toll-free number to receive complaints from sponsors and domestic helps

DUBAI - March 15: The Dubai Naturalisation and Residency Department (DNRD) is planning to open special units to receive complaints from sponsors and domestic helpers through a toll free number. The move, according to Brigadier Mohammed Al Muri, Director of DNRD, is part of the department’s effort to address the issues concerning domestic helpers.

Immigration authorities in Dubai will also soon hold a series of meetings with local immigration departments, workforce supply agencies and consuls of exporting countries of workforce to discuss domestic helper’s issues, said Al Muri in an Al Bayan report.

“These meetings are aimed at reaching a contract that is acceptable to all parties,” he said following a recent meeting in Dubai with federal top immigration officials and suppliers of workforce.

Reasons forcing domestic helpers to run away from their sponsors were the key topics of discussions, according to the report.

Al Muri said the stakeholders had exchanged views on the problem and recommended a set of proposals to sort it out and arrive at a compromise acceptable to all of them.

He stressed the need for drafting a contract governing the relationship between workforce supply offices, employers and domestic helpers.

A study conducted by the DNRD on absconding housemaids concluded that they were lured to run away and work with another employer on false promises of higher salary.

A group of managers of workforce supply offices blamed mistreatment by employers as the main cause forcing housemaids to flee. One manager said that a number of housemaids had approached his office complaining of abuses by their sponsors.

He listed these grievances as insults, late delivery of salary, threat with deportation and doing multiple jobs. Another manager drew the attention to gangs that instigated housemaids to run away in a bid to get higher offer or practice other professions. She accused some sponsors of not providing proper housing facility for housemaids, noting that some of them were forced to sleep on the kitchen floor.

But another manager believed there were no strong reasons to drive housemaids to escape. Instead, he advised them to approach manpower supply offices or their embassies should they face any problem.


Dubai - Murder suspect is ‘mentally ill’

Dubai - March 15: The lawyer of a man accused of murdering a German expat, chopping up his body and dumping it in a suitcase in the desert insisted yesterday his client is mentally ill. Lawyer Bader Al-Guru, of Horizons Advocate and Legal Consultants, said the 35-year-old American needs hospital treatment.

Speaking to 7DAYS he said: “His actions are not normal, he is mentally ill and I asked for him to be referred to the hospital, but the court has refused and I will present my defence at the next hearing. “I will demand mercy, but he may face the death sentence if the court convicts him.” The American, who entered the UAE on a fake passport, is accused with an Ethiopian woman of luring their victim to a flat in Sharjah before killing him.

The trial has heard that the victim was knocked out with chloroform before being killed. He had seen a picture of the woman on the Internet and arranged to meet her after  a series of emails between the pair. The woman is charged with also participating in the crime. The trial is due to resume next month.


Rise in Accidents  - 576%

Dubai - March 15: Dubai police have revealed to 7DAYS that the emirate’s roads have seen a massive rise in the number of people killed as a result of drink driving.

In 2005 a total of 13 people were killed in drink driving accidents. That figure rose by over 500 per cent last year to 75 victims, according to police figures.

The announcement comes in the wake of news that a drunk driver who killed three men in a car crash has been jailed for three months and ordered to pay dhs200,000 to each of his victims’ families. The man, an Indian expatriate, was driving recklessly while drunk along Sheikh Zayed Road when his 4×4 careered out of control, hit the central reservation and overturned.

Police said the driver had been speeding at the time of the accident last December. Three of his passengers were killed and another three seriously injured. Dubai Traffic Court also fined the man, identified only as BS, dhs3,000 and suspended his licence for three months. Brigadier Issa Aman, Deputy Director of Dubai Traffic Police told 7DAYS that patrols are now focusing hard on drunk drivers.

“If we see a motorist driving erratically then we will stop them and send him to the laboratory for tests. If it turns out that the results are positive and the driver has been drinking, we will refer them to the Public Prosecution. We are focusing on this kind of offence as it can have devastating consequences,” he added.

The UAE has a zero tolerance to drinking and driving. A leading trauma surgeon at Rashid Hospital added his voice to the warning against drinking and driving.  Dr Faisal Badri, head of general surgery, said: “We have just admitted a man with a fractured pelvis and chest who had been drinking when he crashed his car,” adding that staff see at least one serious case a week as a result of drink driving accidents.

“In the past month, we have had two patients admitted with very serious injuries who were innocent victims of drink drivers… If you want to drink then take a taxi - people know this across the world.”
By Ali Al-Shouk


Biggest Mother’s Day card

DUBAI — March 15: Around 100 students of public and private schools gathered in the Children’s City yesterday to draw the biggest Mother’s Day card.

Titled “To You My Mother With Love”, the event was launched yesterday morning under the sponsorship of Dubai Municipality and Children’s City. Supported by the Saleh bin Lahej Group, the event was to mark Mother’s Day.

The card prepared by the students will be photographed and printed to be circulated in all schools in Dubai so that students can gift it to their mothers.

Each of the participating schools had nominated 10 of its gifted art students to draw the card.


Accountants treat patients in clinics

ABU DHABI — March 15: Licences of two Abu Dhabi clinics, where receptionists and accountants, and not doctors were treating patients, have been cancelled permanently, a senior health official has disclosed.

The clinics, which were blatantly violating the laws of the country, were also maintaining very poor hygienic conditions, a senior official at the General Authority for Health Services (GAHS) for the emirate of Abu Dhabi said yesterday.

The official stressed that the measure was taken to protect the precious lives of patients.

“There were no doctors at the clinics. Receptionists and accountants were in charge of seeing and treating patients,” the official said.

The official noted that the violations were detected during an inspection drive carried out by a team from the GAHS. He said it was obvious that the appointed doctors were busy elsewhere, and ignoring their moral and ethical responsibility towards the patients at the clinics.

The treatment rooms at the clinics too were very small and the furniture were quite dilapidated.

According to the inspection team’s report, the medical records of the patients were kept in a very bad condition and were not properly documented either, the GAHS official noted.

While medicines given to patients were unlabelled and stored in open and dirty drawers, the vaccines were kept in the household refrigerator with unsuitable storing temperature, he added.

Citing other flagrant breaches, the official said the same thermometer was being used for all patients with no proper sterilizer in use.

Besides this, the patients as well as workers were exposed to electrical wires at the clinics.


Indian film festival from March 25

ABU DHABI — March 15: Abu Dhabi is hosting the third edition of the Indian Films Festival from March 25. Admission to the festival is free and open to the public.

The event, being organised by the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage and the Embassy of India, is supported by the Directorate of Film Festivals, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India.

Nine films will be screened during the festival. While the inaugural film is in English, the other eight are in various Indian languages with subtitles in English.

The films deal with the society and its reality in a unique way. They are voices with strong social issues like suicide, social reformers, mental trauma and many such sensitive issues.

The festival will be inaugurated by the Ambassador of India to the UAE, Chandra Mohan Bhandari. The festival partners are Air India and UAE Exchange. The inaugural film will be Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, an English language film. The other films to be screened are Kathavaseshan (The Deceased), Heda Hoda (The Blind Camel), Oorukku Nooruper (A Hundred Voices for a Cause), Kazcha (Vision), Kaalpurush (Memories in the Mist), Nizhalkkuthu (Shadow Kill), Not Only Mrs Raut and Maqbool.

Malayalam film director Blessy will attend the function on March 27 and India’s National Award winning director Budhdeb Dasgupta will be present on March 29.


68 Dubai pprivate schools seek 4-180pc fee hike

DUBAI — March 15: About 68 private schools in Dubai have asked for a hike in tuition fees, ranging from four to 180 per cent, for the new academic year, it was learnt yesterday.

Most of these schools are offering British and American curricula while others are following Indian and Pakistani syllabi.

A report issued by the Dubai Education Council (DEC) says of the 73 per cent of private schools that responded to a study conducted by the council recently, 51 per cent (68) private schools have requested for fee increases.

The DEC is currently studying the possibility of a hike and will inform the schools about its decision on the approved fee structure by the end of March, a DEC statement released yesterday said.

For the first time, the DEC has asked schools to adhere to an evidence-based strategy on determining fee increases that are in accordance with the overall aim to improve quality. The criteria being studied by the DEC for this strategy include level of investment in teacher development, international accreditation and certification and parent involvement. 

According to the DEC study, schools were asked to provide information on their plans to improve quality across the board and provide evidence of the impact of these measures on their education outcomes in line with the Dubai Strategic Plan 2007-2015.

Commenting on the request made by private schools for fee increases, an official of the Global Education Management System (GEMS), managing 22 schools in the UAE, said, “We understand that a very large proportion of private schools have made applications for fee increases to the Dubai Educational Council. This demonstrates the serious economic challenges that face the private sector schools, particularly those that have served the community for several years.”

“We at GEMS remain committed to improving the standard and quality of education in the UAE, and are optimistic that the DEC will take into account the realities of our situation,” she added.

She noted around 11 of the total 22 GEMS managed schools in the country have applied for a fee hike this year.



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