NEWS FROM THE UAE
Excerpts from UAE Daily
Overhaul of Dubai’s health sector soon
DUBAI — April 01: The Dubai Executive Council, together with the Department of Health and Medical Services, announced yesterday that a joint-committee had been formed to prepare the groundwork for restructuring Dubai’s health sector.
This initiative comes within the Dubai Strategy that was launched recently by His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
In the strategy, the health sector has to develop its services in order to further improve the quality of life and ensure a safe and healthy environment for all members of the community.
This committee includes leading consultants who will primarily identify the final vision of an enhanced health sector that caters to the community’s medical needs, and develop a comprehensive plan that guarantees that this vision is reached. Some of the important tasks to be undertaken by this team will include improving the quality of health and medical services to meet global standards, ensuring access to affordable healthcare for all members of the community, as well as increasing public health-awareness and putting together the public health plan.
The committee will establish the different operating and training processes for medical centres, regulate the production and import of foods and drugs, and help public and private sector companies in implementing employee health-awareness and healthcare programmes
Furthermore, plans to adopt a unified health insurance system for both UAE nationals and expatriates residents are also under way.
The final vision and plans are being finalised and will be announced by the committee within the next few weeks.
Metro work hassles temporary: hoteliers
DUBAI — April 01: While the completion of the Dubai Metro project promises to dramatically improve traffic situation in the emirate and promote convenient travel to residents and tourists alike, its on-going construction has slightly hurt the hotel business.
This is particularly felt by some hotel establishments along the main road of Al Rigga in Deira, according to industry sources.
Once famous as a nightlife destination for its walkway and stretch of hotels, restaurants and department stores, the Rigga Road has now been commonly avoided because of its notorious traffic situation.
“Yes, business has been affected because some tour operators do not want to book into our hotel anymore. Likewise in the evening, the noise from the construction affects our guests. We do tell our clients that the inconvenience is temporary,” said Francis Lobo, General Manager of Ramee Guestline Hotel.
Michael Alumkal, HR Manager of Hawthorne Hotel, commented that the situation has given their hotel a lacklustre first impression to their guests.
“Since the front parking and entrance facilities cannot be used, our guests would have to take the back gate, which somehow starts us on the wrong foot. We just compensate that by providing high quality service so our customers would leave satisfied,” he said.
Another hotelier, Adil Anwer, General Manager of Hall Mark Hotel, said that the street has lost its charm. “Before, we used to get 16 to 18 walk-in clients a day during the peak season but now, we only get a maximum of five or sometimes none at all. But it is the restaurants that have suffered a great deal because they’ve lost customers and they’re still paying huge rent,” he said.
Anwer was quick, however, to comment that although the situation may not be presently favourable for business establishments, the mass transit project, which is expected to complete its first phase by 2009, will eventually bring people back to Al Rigga.
Meanwhile, other hotels that are not situated along the main road have been more positive to report that their business has been as usual.
“Because we are in between Al Maktoum and Al Rigga Roads, our clients have easier access to our hotel. We also have an underground parking area that has enough space for more than 200 cars so parking is not quite a problem for our guests,” said Emad El Tohamy, Business Relations Manager of Taj Palace Hotel Dubai.
Manoj Pandhi, General Manager of Versailles Hotel, believes however, that the traffic scenario in Deira should not be zeroed in as it is happening anywhere in the emirate. “At the moment, we have no choice but to live with it. The fact is, if a destination is attractive, a little inconvenience will not stop tourists from coming here,” he said.
“As any new project that is being implemented, there is bound to have some hassles. But if you carefully think about, it in the long run it may even be a boon,” mentioned Wilson Joseph, General Manager of Lotus Hotel.
Commenting on the issue, Abdul Majid Abdul Razzaq Al Khaja, CEO Rail Agency said: “The Green and Blue Line will be useful for tourists and residents because they run through business and big residential areas.”
The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) official also asked the public to be patient, especially in Al Ras, Muraqqabat, and other areas of Deira where the construction work had increased. “This discomfort is temporary. In the end, it will be beneficial to the public. We want people to take the Metro and leave their private cars behind to reach office on time and in comfort,” he added.
Book show set for global prominence
ABU DHABI — April 01: General Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, inaugurated the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair here yesterday.
Gen. Shaikh Mohammed went round the various sections of the book fair where he was briefed by publishers on their publications on show.
More than 400 publishing houses representing more than 46 countries are taking part in the 17th session of the book fair.
Shaikh Sultan bin Tahnoun Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Tourism Board, who is also the head of Abu Dhabi Culture and Heritage Authority, said on the occasion that the authority would mobilise all its resources to make the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair one of the most important and prominent global book fairs.
“The Authority has mapped out a new cultural strategy in collaboration with the Frankfurt International Book Fair to promote Abu Dhabi International Book Fair,” he said.
“A comprehensive promotional plan has succeeded in attracting hundreds of publishers and thousands of books from various continents of the world.”
“As Frankfurt has become a centre for book fairs and cultures in Germany and the entire Europe, the Abu Dhabi Culture and Heritage Authority will make Abu Dhabi a minaret of culture in the Middle East, ” he stressed.
The inaugural ceremony was also attended by Abdul Rahman Al Owais, Minister of Culture and Youth, Bilal Al Budoor, Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Culture, and Mohammed Khalaf Al Mazroui, Director-General of the Abu Dhabi Culture and Heritage Authority, and a number of senior officials.
Penalties for jacking up prices urged
ABU DHABI — April 01: Residents have urged the authorities to include in the federal law for consumer protection harsh penalties for companies that raise prices of basic commodities only to make profits.
Says Nasser Al Nuaimi, a UAE national, “We see increases in prices of all commodities every day. Companies dealing in dairy products are set to hike prices by up to 30 per cent. This is going to affect our children. I am sure the authorities will penalise companies raising prices arbitrarily.”
He adds that prices of dairy products have already gone up by 10 per cent since last Ramadan.
Emad Abdul Hamid says counterfeit goods have flooded markets. “Consumers are victims of such deception. The authorities should take harsher measures to protect consumers.” Regarding such complaints, Ahmed Rashid Al Mansouri, Chairman of the Consumer Protection Section, Department of Planning and Economy in Abu Dhabi, said, “We have actually received similar complaints from consumers. We have a hotline number 8008811 which consumers can use to lodge complaints.”
He added that 50 complaints had been received over the past few days regarding sale of computers, fake training courses and technical faults in electric appliances and cars.
All ‘villa schools’ to face closure
ABU DHABI — April 01: The Ministry of Education (MoE) will close all private schools operating out of villas, an official of the ministry has said.
Mohammed bin Hindi, Under-Secretary at the MoE, told Khaleej Times that the ministry would continue to penalise private schools which fail to abide by the ministry’s instructions.
On March 26, the ministry approved the decision to close 20 schools operating out of villas in Abu Dhabi.
The Education Minister, Dr Hanif Hassan, had earlier visited these schools and reiterated his decision to close the “villa schools.”