NEWS FROM THE UAE
Excerpts from UAE Dailies
Man who returned after serving ban killed in accident
DUBAI — April 19: A 40-year-old Indian national who had just returned to the UAE after serving out his six-month job ban period in India died yesterday morning at Rashid Hospital where he had been fighting for his life for the past few days after being hit by a car in Hor Al Anz.
Padmanabhan, who had returned to Dubai eight days ago, was hit by the car in the evening on April 16 while he was trying to cross the road.
10 years in Dubai
Bharathan, a friend of the deceased, said Padmanabhan had lived in Dubai for 10 years working with different companies. “He was not earning enough to properly support his family in India. Six months ago, he was offered the job of a salesman at an electronics shop, which he was eager to accept.
“Thereafter, he got his visa cancelled and left for India. He could not return immediately as a six-month work ban was imposed on him when he cancelled his visa,” Bharathan added. Padmanabhan finally returned to Dubai on April 8 and joined the same electronics shop, which had offered him the job earlier. His friends remember him as a soft spoken man who loved to read. He was a kind man and was fairly active in community activities. “I have lost one of my best friends,” Bharathan lamented.
Bharathan said Padmanabhan’s family in India had been informed about the tragedy.
His body is kept in the Dubai Police morgue and will be repatriated to India once the legal formalities are over, Bharathan informed. Padmanabhan hailed from the South Indian state of Kerala. He leaves behind him his widow and two children who are all in India.
Dubai’s cart-pushers driven to extinction
With shop owners resorting to pick-up vehicles, men who have been making a living in Dubai by delivering goods on push-carts face a bleak future
Dubai - April 19: Hand-cart pushers in Dubai are under threat of losing their only source of livelihood as it has become a new trend among shop owners to use pick-up vehicles for after-sales delivery. For the shop owners, the move is aimed at providing a better customer-care service in order to lure more customers, but for the hard-cart pushers, who had been providing the same service for ages, it means going out of job.
Akhlaak, 58, a Pakistani who has been working as a cart pusher in Deira for over ten years, says, “This business had been very smooth for the past many years. We had many customers who would engage us to deliver their goods after purchase. I used to get seven to 10 customers daily and I could hardly get time to rest.” “Things are becoming tough these days. Our customers, both the sellers and buyers of merchandise, have now adopted the use of pick-up vehicles for delivery of the goods. We are now under-looked. I can hardly get four customers a day,” says Akhlaak, as he rests on his cart, waiting for customers. He has a family to feed back in Islamabad.
For Abdul Razak, the cart-pushing job has been his only source income for him and his family for the last five years. “I have been able to earn money from this job and make ends meet for me and my family in Kashmir, Pakistan. Since I had never gone to school, this has been a good job for me. I used to earn between Dh 50-60 a day. Now that we are short of customers, I wonder how I am going to survive,” says a worried Razak. Aggravating their sense of desperation is the rise in rent in Dubai. Abdul Rahman, 54, also a Pakistani cart-pusher in Naif area, says, “The hikes in the rent have made life very difficult for us and we can hardly save anything. In the old days, life in Dubai was affordable even for low income earners like me.” And faced with a bleak future of losing his source of livelihood, Rahman, who has been working as a cart-pusher for the last 12 years, is now a worried man.
Meanwhile, shop owners in Deira say that they find it much more economical having their own pick-up vehicles to deliver their customers’ goods since customers buying reasonable amount of goods need free delivery. “Cart-pushers have been good to us. They are readily available whenever needed. We can only give out a few goods to them for nearby deliveries to keep them in business. However, we find it cheaper and safe using our own vehicles since after-sales delivery service is now a must to our customers. Once you do not provide these services in such a competitive market, you may end up losing business,” says Ibrahim Shanawaz, a shop owner in Deira.
On the road over 30 years
Nearly 30 years ago, when there were fewer vehicles on Dubai roads, some among the expatriate community saw the need to transport traders’ goods to short distances and there was scarcity of the vehicles to do the job. That gave rise to the business of hand-cart transportation, says Akhlaak. The business is mostly done by the aged Pakistani nationals and they are self-employed. It is fully licensed by Dubai Municipality. They make these hand-carts by themselves and can cost up to Dh 800 to make one.
US Embassy assures safety at universities
DUBAI — April 19: Mourning the loss of students and faculty at the Virginia Tech carnage, the US mission’s flag in the UAE was flying half-mast yesterday.
Empathising with the families of students and professors killed, US Embassy spokesperson in Abu Dhabi, Hilary Olsin-Windecker, said, “It is really a tragedy that happened at the university. Everybody in the world feels a sense of sadness and loss for all those people who were killed.”
Asked if the embassy would in some way help alleviate the anxieties of parents, who wish to send their children to study in the US, she maintained, “The US remains the best place for education for students. Our universities and local, state and federal officials are doing everything they can for visitors and students to help them study in a safe environment.”
According to the embassy, there were about 5,74,000 students and exchange visitors in the US in 2006.
However, the horror of the Virginia Tech carnage sending shock waves through the world, both parents and students in the UAE, who have chalked out plans for higher education in the US, have mixed reactions about studying abroad.
While there was a sense of fear and anxiety, parents and students say they would feel a little more comfortable if university campuses had better security and if guns were not so easily available in the market.
Speaking to Khaleej Times, Aishwarya Shivkumar, a student who aspires to go to the USA next year for a course in Music said, “The incident has definitely got me thinking twice about applying in the US. We hear of freak accidents and shoot-outs often but I feel America seems to have seen a lot more massacres than any other country,” adding, “I am definitely a little scared to go now.”
Parent Namita Nair, who is also planning to send her son to study in the States next year, reasoned, “These are incidents that could happen anywhere. It is just unfortunate if you are caught in the middle of it. The fear of course would always be at the back of my mind when my son studies there simply because of free availability of fire arms.”
Resident of Dubai Natasha Aswani, who has a daughter studying in University of Virginia (about two hours from Virginia Tech), now has second thoughts about sending her other daughter to pursue her higher education in the States. “I have asked my daughter studying in the US to be extra vigilant especially at nights. As a parent living so far away from my child, I am obviously worried and now apprehensive about sending my second daughter too.”
Nevertheless, Rekha Sahane, who is studying in an American University and is on vacation in Dubai, feels it is a one-off incident that will not prevent her from going back to complete her education. “I don’t feel any threats in going back to study in my university. But I think there should be more responsibility when guns are sold. Hotlines could help create outlets for students who are depressed and feel like social outcasts,” she believed.
Man gets life term for kidnap, rape
DUBAI — April 19: The Dubai Criminal Court has sentenced an Iranian man, identified as NA, to life imprisonment followed by deportation for kidnapping and raping a 10-year-old girl.
According to court records, the girl was returning home after a visit to her friend’s house in Al Satwa when the man spotted her. He hit her, making her unconscious, shoved her into his car and drove away from the area.
The girl managed to escape from his clutches later. The parents informed police and the man was arrested. Forensic reports proved that the girl was raped by him.
Allowances merged for govt servants
ABU DHABI — April 19: On the directives of the President, His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, General Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces and Chairman of Abu Dhabi Executive Council, has issued a resolution amending the grade and salary structure for government departments in the Abu Dhabi Emirate.
Resolution number 16 for 2007 aims at bringing the emirate’s government performance on par with international standards through forging a drastic change in the driving philosophy of the salary scheme.
The new salary structure is an integral component of the Abu Dhabi government’s strategic development programme.
It will add credit to the government’s achievements in the area of streamlining governmental performance. It will also help realise the government’s aspiration to become a benchmark in all spheres.
Under the new scheme, over 40 allowances will be consolidated into one overall allowance, thus eliminating long bureaucratic procedures and saving considerable time and effort.
The scheme will apply invariably to all national and non-national employees. It will consist of a basic salary and an all-inclusive allowance that replaces all the previous allowances, both in kind and cash (such as housing, education, etc).
The scheme will support the government’s drive towards creating an excellence-conducive culture by establishing merit and eligibility as the underlying criteria for pay.
The new pay structure will enhance good governance as it focuses on transparency and sound performance. On the other hand, it will make government departments more attractive to nationals, which will in turn trigger the pace of localisation of these institutions.
DNRD’s SMS reminders touch 17,211 messages
DUBAI — April 19: SMS text messages sent by Dubai Naturalisation and Residency Department through the “Renew” service in the first quarter of 2007 reached nearly 17,211 messages.
About 2,110 messages were to remind people of the imminent expiry of their passports and 331 messages to facilities owners to renew their company card before it expires and 14,770 messages were sent to the holders of the UAE electronic gate card for renewal before expiry.
Brigadier Mohammed Ahmed Al Marri, Director of DNRD, said, “’Renew’ service is meant to interact with the customers and remind them of expiry date of their passports to prevent any problems or hurdles that may occur otherwise namely in urgent cases. The ‘Renew’ service aims as well at avoiding rush and delay in processing the applications in the peak seasons of travelling especially the summer vacations, during Haj and other occasions by reminding people of the expiry date of their passports”.
SMS text messages are sent between 9.30am and 1.30pm. They are being sent twice; six months before the passport expiry and one month before the expiry of the passport. The same applies to the facility’s card and UAE electronic gate card.
“’Renew’ service is free of charge and DNRD is relying on the department’s data base. If any change comes up as to the customers’ data we would like them to step forward to update their data or inform DNRD about their new numbers. We have added a mandatory space in the applications of passport renewal and the UAE e-gate where applicants, whether passport or card holders are required to provide us with their mobile numbers” added Brigadier Al Marri.
Hygienic standards for bakeries set
ABU DHABI — April 19: The Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA) has completed a comprehensive review of all hygienic standards set for bakeries.
The criteria cover warehousing methods and the maximum and minimum temperatures to be maintained in stores. For bakeries, the new rules oblige their owners to store flour sacks on a wooden stand and not on the floor.
Mohammed Jalal Al Reyasa, Director of the Department of Communication and Information at the ADFCA, said inspectors conducted a survey of all stores belonging to 70 bakeries in Abu Dhabi. “The ADFCA has also ordered owners of bakeries to fix signboards containing the commercial register in front of bakeries and warehouses,” he added.
RTA launches social participation project
Madinati campaign seeks to involve every resident of Dubai in ensuring safe and smooth transport for all
Dubai - April 19: The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) today announced the launch of its ‘Madinati’ project (My City), which aims at increasing the level of traffic safety and preserving the aesthetic appearance of the city through the involvement of individuals and social institutions. Eng. Maitha bin Adai, CEO of Traffic and Roads Agency, in a press conference today, described ‘Madinati’ as a national project that aims to increase and promote the level of social awareness about the practices to be adopted in preserving and maintaining the cultural, civilian and modern features of Dubai.
This will be done through lectures and awareness programmes and by involving various social segments and sectors, including individuals by giving them the opportunity to participate actively in the project. Eng. Maitha bin Adai explained that the public should protect public property and consider it as national and public wealth. The programme also calls for reporting any violation which may threaten the lives of people and public properties. The maximum penalty for damaging public facilities is Dh 200,000 for construction companies, though damages caused by motorists may be paid by insurance firms.
She said complaints and observations of the public will be received through the call centre and the RTA will periodically honour individuals who extend their cooperation. “Everyone’s cooperation is required,” she said. Eng. Maitha acknowledged the initiatives of UAE citizen Mansour Al Mansuri in notifying the RTA call center about any violations and faults committed by others. “Today, it is a pleasure to have with us Mansour Al Mansuri, a loyal UAE citizen who acted morally, thus extending his full cooperation and support by calling the RTA and notifying us of any episode that could have potentially caused obstruction of traffic movement or affected the appearance of Dubai.” The ‘Madinati’ project deals with all types of violations, which might be committed by some irresponsible individuals. This includes causing damages to public property such as traffic lights and signals.
Eng. Maitha bin Adai calledon all social segments, including individuals and institutions to cooperate with the RTA in this programme, which primarily aims at the safety of the community and the protection of public property, thus enhancing the RTA’s vision of achieving ‘Safe and smooth transport for all’.
Motor Bike Accident Death of a Champion a Tragic Loss
Dubai - April 19: The family of a 14-year-old motorbike champion was yesterday mourning his death after he broke his neck during a pleasure motocross race organised by a private company in Umm al Quwain. Alain Delleuse already had 15 racing awards under his belt in his nine-month stay in Dubai. Tragically, the young biker’s life was cut short by what the parents describe as ‘negligence’ on the part of the organising company.
“He was a champion and a good son. I am completely shattered,” said Freddy Delleuse, father of the young racer who was trained by five times world champion George Jobe. The family is now packing their bags to return to Belgium after their nine-month stay in Dubai. “We can no longer live here. We cannot deal with this,” said the moist-eyed Delleuse, who will soon liquidate his business in Dubai. The incident occurred on Friday when the family took part in a motocross event organised in Umm al Quwain. Alain and his brother Eric took part in the pleasure driving category instead of professional racing to avoid any risks. “I spoke to my son at 9.45am when he called from a petrol station saying he was enjoying it. We never knew of the dangers then,” said mother Fatima. After an hour of racing the two brothers were left behind after Eric was unable to climb a dune. Alain helped his younger brother catch up with the group but got left behind himself.
“Eric caught up with the group and told them that Alain was lagging behind. They just said that he will eventually come back himself,” said Freddy. However, at the end of the race Alain was still missing. The Police were called and a search started for the boy. After nearly an hour and a half of searching in the desert, Freddy found Alain lying next to his bike near a huge sand dune with a broken neck. “I saw my son lying in the sand with his neck broken. It was a shock that I cannot explain,” said Freddy, who confirmed that Alain had all the safety equipments, including the helmet, while he was riding. The shattered family told 7DAYS from their residence in Dubai Marina that the organisers should have ensured there was someone near the boys. “This would not have happened if Alain was not left alone. My son was lost and scared which is why he missed the dune and fell off,” said the weeping mother. The family said they wanted to tell their story so that no other young boy loses his life in this tragic manner. 7DAYS tried to contact the organisers of the race in Umm al Quwain. However, no one was available for comment.