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Excerpts from UAE Dailies

Expats with GCC licences to take fresh driving test

DUBAI — APRIL 06: Expatriate driving licence holders of 36 countries, including the GCC states, will now have to pass a test to acquire a UAE driving licence, a senior official of the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has said.

Earlier, driving licence holders of these countries could exchange their foreign licences for a UAE licence.

Speaking to Khaleej Times yesterday, Shihab Hamad Bu Shihab, Manager of Driving Licences at the RTA, said the step had been taken to unify the driving styles of these drivers with those in the UAE to make the country's roads safer for motorists.

Bu Shihab said the new rule was implemented on January 15 this year. The official did not explain why passport holders of these countries, including Oman and Kuwait, would still be allowed to convert their licences to the UAE's, after paying Dh100. "Licence holders from these 36 countries will have to attend a minimum of 21 classes before qualifying for a driving test conducted by the RTA," the official noted. The 36 countries include Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Canada, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the UK and the US.


FAO issues alert on River Valley Fever

DUBAI — APRIL 06:All countries, including the UAE, should be prepared to face diseases like Rift Valley Fever, which are even more deadly than the bird flu virus, Jacques Diouf, Director General of Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has warned.

Rift Valley Fever (RVF) is a disease which primarily affects animals, but occasionally causes disease in humans. It may cause severe disease in both animals and humans leading to high morbidity and mortality.

Diouf issued this alert while on a visit to the UAE during which he met the Minister of Environment and Water Dr Mohammed Saeed Al Kindi and other senior officials of the ministry.

The FAO official praised the UAE for its efforts at preventing bird flu but said it should be prepared to meet any future challenges arising out of other diseases, like the RVF.

Diouf also said that nations should start bracing themselves for the biggest-ever threat for mankind — the shortage of water.

Diouf stressed on the need to save water by all countries. “We are taking the conservation of water on a priority basis. Agriculture consumes around 70 per cent of the water. We are appealing to countries that share borders to ensure there is no conflict or clash over water,” he said.

Diouf said the stress should be on recycling of water.

“There are many countries that are not using their water resources in a proper way. They need to understand that unused water means wastage of water,” he pointed out. The officials of the UAE's Ministry of Environment and Water pointed out to the FAO official that the UAE had been focusing on recycling of water, and how most of the hotels in the emirates had already been doing this.

Diouf also had discussions with the UAE's Minister on the world food situation, implications of climate change, and the negative impact of pesticides on food safety.


Emiratisation of public and private sector discussed

DUBAI — APRIL 06: Minister of Labour Dr Ali bin Abdullah Al Kaabi yesterday discussed the issue of Emiratisation in the Union Coop and the private sector in general during a meeting with Khalid Al Falasi, General Manager of the national retail trading company.

"Employing nationals in the private sector is a joint venture between three groups — the government, the private sector and nationals themselves. A national employee must be prepared to enter the market and the private sector has to provide a suitable environment for a career path. The role of the government is to coordinate efforts in this regard," said Dr Al Kaabi. 

Twenty per cent of the workforce at Union Coop last year were UAE nationals, Al Falasi said, adding that the target now is to raise it to 25 per cent.


Weather instable due to low pressure

ABU DHABI - APRIL 06:An official source at the Meteorological Authority (Weather forecast) affiliated to the National Authority of Communication said that all regions of the country were affected by a situation of instability in the weather. He said the instability was due to low atmospheric pressure, which lashed the southeast of the Arabian Peninsula. He said that led to heated southeasterly winds and led to increasing the temperature and higher than normal in the last few days. The temperature ranged mostly between 37 to 40 degrees over most areas.

He added that the wind was moderate most of the time and is active and led to raise dusty wind and is expected to continue the state of instability in addition to the dusty wind until Friday evening.

He added that as the source of the wind will be changed to be northeasterly over to the northwest, which would lead to a drop in temperature between 2 to 4 degrees and the maximum temperature will range between 33 to 35 degree at night in the next two days.

The source added that there is a chance of light rainfall in the different areas of the country as long as the atmosphere will continue to be unstabie.

The source confirmed that the sea state would be between moderate, troubled, and high waves will be between 4 to 6 feet high and sometimes up to seven feet in the depth. He called on all the persons who are working in sea or those who are going on cruising to take caution. He added that the temperature would begin to drop on Saturday and Sunday to reach normal level during this period of the year where it ranges between 33 to 35 degrees during the day and Between 18 to 23 degrees during the night.


Law to check visa rackets proposed

DUBAI — APRIL 06: The Committee of Internal Affairs and Defence of the Federal National Council has put forth a proposal to adopt a legislation against people who run visa rackets.

The committee held a meeting on Wednesday at the council's Secretariat General in Dubai.

Ali Majid Al Matroushi, head of the committee, said adopting such a legislation would prevent people from entering the country illegally.

"The committee has also recommended that tourism companies applying for visas be asked to deposit Dh 3 million at the bank to be refunded later following a letter from the Departments of Naturalisation and Residency in the Ministry of Interior," he said.

The committee also received Mayssa Rashid Ghadir as a new member.

The meeting was attended by members Sultan Bin Hussain Al Ali, Saeed Al Hafiri and, from the Secretariat General, Ali Moussa, committee consultant, and Maryam Al Jarman, Head of the Committee of Work Planning Section.

Meanwhile, the Education, Youth, Information and Culture Affairs Committee held a meeting to resume discussions on Ministry of Education policies.

Dr Amal Al Qubaisi, head of the committee, said, "The points being discussed include the infrastructure of education and human resources, performance development, curriculum development methodology and educational plans".


Take a peek into future Abu Dhabi 

A futuristic view of the Abu Dhabi city  

Abu Dhabi - April 06: City Image Management Section of the Abu Dhabi Municipality has come up with a grand blueprint to make the capital city one of the best in the world

ABU DHABI With development projects to the tune of billions of dirhams being announced every other week, the capital city is surging ahead by leaps and bounds in acquiring a new look. Even as residents wonder how the city will look like in a couple of years, the City Image Management Section (CIMS) of the Abu Dhabi Municipality has embarked on a grand project to change the landscape of the city for the better.

The recently-established department is in charge of managing and improving the beauty of the city. CIMS promises a facelift that will revitalise the city that would eventually result in greater number of tourists and businesses coming to the capital.

Speaking exclusively to Evening Post, the head of the department, Engineer Omer Al Hashimi, gives us a peek into the future look of the city and the challenges he and his team face.
“At the City Image Management department, our philosophy is to cover the grey areas that do not belong to anyone, because these are the main areas that need attention. But besides improving the image of the city, the mammoth task ahead of us would be getting the maximum involvement of the public,” Al Hashimi says.

“The greatest challenge in front of us is trying to improve on an existing city. Though it is difficult, it is achievable. And we are confident there would be huge changes in the landscape of the city for the better,” he adds. Highlighting the importance of public awareness is making the city a beautiful place, Al Hashimi said that the key to the success of his department is instilling awareness in the public “and not just awareness, but active participation from all strata of the society”. The goals of the department are to establish and implement beautification schemes, and also to set the scene for international businesses.

“When we talk of the image of the city, we break it down, and we find everyone has a part to play in making or marring it. We would rope in businesses, most importantly the private sector, investors and decision makers to play their part. Of course, we have the best support of the government and of the higher officials of the municipality in doing this,” Al Hashimi says.


The department is all set to organise a massive campaign that would raise awareness about the city’s image and about social etiquettes that everyone needs to follow.
Elaborating on projects that will soon get underway, Al Hashimi says, “We have identified over seven projects that we would begin with.” The projects include lighting of the city, increasing civic amenities like toilets and parks, solving labour housing problems, upkeep of mosques, guidelines for restaurants and cafes, greening of the city etc. An international company has been brought in to study the nature of requirements for the city and several agreements have been signed to start off some of the projects already identified.

Some of the areas where the city lags behind, according to a study by the department, is the non-existence of a city centre, the lack of recognised city landmarks and entry gates, unorganised car parking and lack of theme parks. Al Hashimi says, “There would be a permanent committee for monitoring the city who would also transfer the feedback of the public to the department. Just months old, we have already received hundreds of suggestions and complaints for improvement of the looks of the city.”

Be it setting the right environment for international businesses to come here or ensuring that the money Abu Dhabi has put into tourism will return benefits, it all depends heavily on getting the image right and developing an identity for the city, he says.  And that is precisely the task in front of CIMS: To turn Abu Dhabi city into a modern, beautiful and dynamic city that can provide a world-class living, working and business environment of sustainable growth and citizens by the year 2015. For now, it is makeover time.


Death of Safari Driver -  We can’t tell the children

Sharjah - April 06: The wife of a desert safari driver killed when his vehicle overturned has been unable to bring herself to tell her three children that their father is dead. Mustafa Mohammed, 34, was killed on Tuesday evening in an accident on  Dhaid Road in Sharjah that also left five European tourists travelling in the Land Cruiser needing hospital treatment.

His wife Asmat has been left inconsolable and in deep shock and has been unable to inform the three young children of his death. Speaking to 7DAYS, Mustafa’s sister-in-law said: “She is in no position to talk at the moment and is grief-stricken. The children keep asking her what is going on, but she does not know what to tell them. She will tell them their father is gone when she feels the time is right. She cannot believe this tragedy has happened to them all.”

Their children are aged seven, six and four years old.Another family member said that financial problems had led Mustafa to take the driving job on a freelance basis to help provide for his family who live in Sharjah, but originate from India. The woman said that Asmat and the children will now move to Dubai to live with her parents until she has recovered from the shock of her and her family’s loss.

Alpha Tours, who Mustafa drove for, said they were waiting for a police report into the accident before commenting further on the incident. It is believed a wheel blow out on Dhaid Road led to the vehicle overturning. Mustafa suffered massive head injuries and died before reaching hospital. A funeral service was being held in Sharjah last night.

The company currently operates 46 jeeps daily for tourists who wish to go on desert safaris. Another family member said the company had been in touch with Asmat and offered assistance to help her through her ordeal.



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