News headlines


UAE will ensure stricter compliance of labour laws

NEW DELHI/Dubai — March 31: The UAE has taken serious steps to deal with companies flouting labour laws, which include setting up a dedicated court and a centralised agency to supply labour to companies.

“Measures taken by UAE government to tackle labour issues include increasing the number of (labour) inspectors and compliance officers, a compulsory health insurance for labourers and a systematic mechanism for the collection of unpaid wages,” said His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, in an interview published yesterday in The Economic Times.

Shaikh Mohammed was on an official visit to India last week.

Last year, India and the UAE had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to safeguard the interests of the Indian workers in that country and to ensure their welfare during the visit of Labour Minister Ali bin Abdulla Al Ka'abi.

The MoU provides for facilitation of manpower recruitment and mutual sharing of information and experience. Also, all categories of workers will be protected under the UAE labour law and regulations.

The MoU came into immediate effect and will be valid for four years.   Since the MoU was signed, the Indian mission in Dubai has already reported a significant fall in labour complaints, Shaikh Mohammed added.

Meanwhile, the Indian government conveyed its concern to the UAE on the classification system where companies with more than 30 per cent of their workforce from one country have to pay higher employment licence fee.

This is apparently to discourage companies from employing workforce from just one country.

“The classification system has not impacted the growth of Indians or their ability to find jobs in the country,” he said in the interview.

Shaikh Mohammed was of the view that Indian companies should see the UAE as the gateway to the Gulf.

“We will encourage more Indian companies to contribute to UAE’s knowledge sectors such as technology, media and education,” he said.

Shaikh Mohammed said that UAE companies were interested in investing in India and urged the Indian government to relax rules and regulations for foreign investment in the Indian stock market, IT and infrastructure.

Giving an example of Emaar, which is developing real estate projects worth $4 billion in India, he said that UAE companies have substantial experience and strong reputation in developing ports, economic zones and infrastructure.

"India is undertaking major developments across the country, including about 170 economic zones, several ports, infrastructure and urban development in growing cities. UAE companies can provide tremendous support to their Indian counterparts in these projects, in all stages from financing to development to set-up and management," he said.

On India's apprehension on the issue of money laundering, he said his government had taken adequate steps to check violators.

"Additionally, the economic free zones are taking action against money- laundering, such as the Dubai Multi-Commodities Centre (DMCC) which will apply transparency standards on the gems and other precious metals businesses, and it will educate its staff on money-laundering, fraud detection, verification measures," Shaikh Mohammed said.


Man burnt to death in car crash on new bridge

DUBAI — March 31: A man was burnt to death and another injured when two four-wheelers caught fire after colliding with each other at the newly opened Business Bay Bridge around 1pm yesterday.

According to sources in the police, the deceased had not been identified yet while the other man, who sustained some minor injuries, had a miraculous escape.

They said two cars, a Hummer and a Chrysler, were moving towards the Emirates Road along the bridge when the Hummer suddenly lost control and hit a road barrier at top speed.

Witnesses said the collision was so strong that the fuel tank of the vehicle burst and the car caught fire instantly. The vehicle which was right at the back also lost control and hit the Hummer. Within minutes, both the cars were charred.

The traffic came to a standstill and it took a few hours to clear the road.

An officer at the Bur Dubai police station said, "Right now, we don’t know anything about the deceased. We have found no documents in the Hummer. The body has been sent to the Forensic Science Department for tests. We would also find out details about the car so that we can identify the man."

Sources at the Rashid Hospital said the Chrysler driver was brought to the hospital for treatment. "He is a UAE national. He had suffered a broken ankle and some other minor injuries," said an official of the hospital.

The police said an investigation had been initiated.


Eviction plea turned down

ABU DHABI — March 31: The Rent Disputes Settlement Committee has turned down the petition of the owner of a multi-storeyed building in Abu Dhabi, which has been converted into a hotel apartments unit, seeking the eviction of a tenant from one of the apartments in the building leased to him.

The committee said designating the building as hotel apartments, where rent is charged on a  daily basis, does not justify the eviction of a tenant, who had been staying in the building before it was changed to hotel apartments.

The committee also issued its final decisions on six other cases while it postponed looking into and deciding on 10 other disputes as the procedures were found to have been incomplete and some litigants had failed to attend the hearing.


Road barriers fail to stop 'adventurous' pedestrians

DUBAI — March 31: A senior official at the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has said despite efforts made by the authorties to save lives by erecting road barriers, pedestrians are somehow bent on ignoring them.

Badr Al Siri, Director of the Traffic Department at the RTA, said the aim of the road fencing project was to stop pedestrians from crossing busy roads from just any arbitrary point and encourage them to utilise safe pedestrian crossing facilities.

“But despite our efforts, pedestrians find ways to go past the barriers. There have been several instances in which pedestrians have cut the fences, dug holes underneath to squeeze through and tried all other means possible. They don't realise that fences are there to save their lives. We are coordinating with the Dubai Police to keep a closer watch on such people,” he added.

He said that a total of 40 pedestrian black spot locations all over Dubai have been targeted as part of the approved Dh70 million Black Spot Treatment Plan 2006.

Al Siri said the project in Dubai alone has considerably reduced pedestrian fatalities over the past one year.

“Around 30 per cent of the Pedestrian Black Spot Treatment Plan implementation has been completed until now,” said the official, adding that certain sections of 26 roads had already been fenced in Dubai.

He also said that the length of the pedestrian fences put up last October on Shaikh Zayed Road was 31km. It cost Dh22 million. “The whole project on this road will be completed next year,” he said.

Al Siri explained that the Pedestrian Black Spot Treatment Plan 2006 includes construction of 17 pedestrian bridges, a number of pedestrian fences, pedestrian operated signals and flat top humps.

Reduction in accidents rate because of fencing is shown by statistics in the table for the year 2005 and 2006.


Motorists feel end result will be beneficial to them

DUBAI/SHARJAH — March 31: Motorists feel that although the Al Ittihad Road expansion project, starting next month, may create temporary traffic chaos, the end result will be beneficial to them.

According to details provided by the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), a stretch of the road from Al Mulla Plaza to Al Qiyadah Interchange will remain closed to traffic while diversions will be in place for at least a year.

“This is part of the Dh480 million Expressway project which is expected to be completed by January next year,” says an RTA official.

Maitha Obaid bin Udai, Chief Executive Officer of the Traffic and Roads Agency at the RTA, says, “Motorists from Sharjah will have to turn to Al Wuheida Road, pass through Hor Al Anz and enter Salahuddin Road or back to Al Ittihad Road through Abu Hail.”

The diversion route from Dubai to Sharjah will start before the Al Qiyadah Intersection through Al Quds Road to rejoin Al Ittihad Road using Al Nahda Road. “Pedestrian crossings will be established wherever they are needed,” she adds.

Technician Shine George, who has to travel to Sharjah every day, says, “We still can manage as there are other routes such as that from Century Mall in Mamzar to Union Cooperatve towards Sharjah. Though the diversion may add to traffic chaos, I think at the end of it, the expansion will be beneficial.”

Says Shahjahan, who uses the Ittehad Road to travel from one emirate to the other, “The RTA is coming up with major road projects and this one is especially needed because every day, several motorists spend a lot of their time stuck in traffic. The real bottleneck is indeed Al Qeyadah.”

Mohammed Al Hamid says, “Though I work in Sharjah, my wife has to bear all the traffic snarls while travelling on this road. So before she travels each day, I log on to the Dubai Police web site which shows road blockades and accidents on particular roads. In this way, I can guide her to  roads where the traffic movement is smoother. I think the project will help people.”

Ashokan Pillai, a sales executive, says that as soon as one crosses Galadari Roundabout, the traffic situation gets better.

“I think that after the expansion project, the situation will be better. I take the Al Ittehad Road at least four times a day. I really hope that this expansion will make a difference,” he adds.


Expats back mandatory pre-nuptial medical tests

ABU DHABI — March 31: Most expatriates welcomed the new rule that makes it mandatory for non-nationals to undergo pre-marital medical tests for certain diseases.

They said it is a positive step in sparing next generations from health complications resulting from genetic disorders.

Health authorities in the country have passed a law under which expatriates who wish to get married must conduct screening for HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis B and syphilis (a sexually transmitted disease) as a prerequisite to go ahead with marriage procedures.

Genetic disorder

The pre-nuptial medical tests have become compulsory under a federal law passed by the Ministry of Health (MoH), in cooperation with health and other authorities concerned to ensure fitness of couples and avert spread of fatal post-natal diseases and crippling genetic disorders in the country.

Earlier, it was obligatory for UAE national couples to conduct these tests before marriage while it was optional for expatriates.

Under the law, if an expatriate marriage applicant tested positive for HIV/AIDS, marriage procedures will not be completed in the country and the applicant will be repatriated to his/her home country.

However, in the event of detecting ailments other than AIDS, he/she will be subject to a medical intervention by genetic clinics and an early detection programme for predicted postnatal diseases, while the choice for going ahead with the marriage will be left for the couple to take.

Expatriates, some of whom are engaged, to whom Khaleej Times spoke to,  believed that the decision augurs well for a future of a healthy generation and a health family free of inherited diseases which have huge social, and psychological impact on the family in particular and the society in general.

The adage, ‘prevention is better than cure’ was shared by most of those who praised the law.

Visionary concept

Marwa Al Toom, a Sudanese, said: “It is better to undergo premarital tests. I strongly support the decision because it has underlying benefits. We must look for the long-term benefits the rule encompass, in decreasing possibilities of passing on several diseases to the next generation.”

Ahmed Jawahiri from Iraq said the law envisages a visionary concept based on a healthy family and society.  “I think the decision is excellent. It is a practical step to ensure safety of generations to come and avert health problems resulting from inherited diseases. I believe the law is brilliant as it takes into consideration modern and practical concepts.”

Mariam Tahir from Yemen stressed that pre-marital medical tests are vital, especially in intermarriages where the possibility of transmitting of inherited ailments is bigger.

“Even if it is not mandatory, couples should be keen, I believe, to undergo medical tests to detect genetic diseases because it is far better to have an idea about possible health complications at earlier stages. Such check-ups will greatly help couples to have a better future for them and their children.”

Postnatal diseases

Dhanda Pani, an Indian, said: “I feel medical tests before marriage are a vital step to ensure safety of couple as well as their future children against postnatal diseases. The decision is very practical and must be appreciated.”

Ahmed Mohammed, an Egyptian national, said some people might be hesitant to go for the tests because of many concerns. “The procedure is excellent as it helps couples to find out congenital deformities their kids might have and other genetic diseases.”

“However, I think some people might not be comfortable with the idea and shy away from it because they might feel it is somehow  affect the emotional ties between a couple. But, apart from this, I believe the law is very positive and people should consider it seriously,” he said.



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