NEWS FROM THE UAE
Excerpts from UAE Dailies
39 Indians with fake visas deported
DUBAI — APRIL 25: The Indian government has started investigations against the travel agent who issued fake visas for Dubai to 39 job-seekers after charging them hefty amounts, a source in the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA) said yesterday.
Thirty-nine Indians had been deported from Dubai International Airport on Monday night for travelling on fake visas. All the deportees reportedly paid huge amounts to the same travel agent in Chandigarh. The men travelled to Dubai in an Indian aircraft from New Delhi along with five others with a one-way ticket.
The airline provided return tickets for the 39 men after the Dubai immigration officials discovered they were carrying fake visas that were purportedly issued in the name of a Sharjah-based company.
The five men who were travelling with the group, however, possessed genuine visas. The MOIA source in New Delhi said yesterday the ministry had contacted the Indian mission in Dubai as well as the Protectorate of Emigrants Office in Chandigarh to start investigations.
Police in Chandigarh are on the lookout for culprits involved in this visa racket. “We will initiate a criminal case if it is a non-registered agent. If it is a registered agent we would cancel his license,” the source said.
The ministry, he added, was taking the issue seriously and measures would be initiated to curb such malpractices. However, it is still not clear how the 39 passengers managed to clear immigration formalities at Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi.
Consul-General of India in Dubai Venu Rajamony told Khaleej Times the matter has been reported to the Indian Government. “We met the airline officials to find out how the incident happened. It was a shocking incident and we have informed New Delhi about it,” he said.
Law on bachelor housing
ABU DHABI — APRIL 25: A law governing bachelors’ accommodation is currently being drafted by the Department of Municipalities and Agriculture-Abu Dhabi, Abdullah bin Nassir Al Geneibi, Director General of the Public Services Sector at the department told Khaleej Times yesterday.
According to him, the draft law will specify the maximum number of occupants in a room. Hefty fines and other penalties will be imposed on people violating the law.
The Abu Dhabi Municipality is also studying a proposal regarding the allocation of plots in various areas of the emirate for building houses for singles. “Such plots will be offered to private companies for investment. Such steps are being taken to solve accommodation problems faced by bachelors in the emirate,” he said.
New licence rule hits car rental companies
DUBAI — APRIL 25: The Dubai Car Rental Group (DCRG) has been seeking a dialogue with officials of the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) regarding the Authority’s policy of prohibiting tourists without an international driving licence or a temporary UAE driving licence from renting cars.
The policy, which was implemented by the RTA on January 11 this year, has seriously affected the business of the local car rental industry. Some companies have even stopped accepting applications from international customers, industry sources disclosed.
Khaleej Times has learnt that as of yesterday, tourists who do not have international driving licence, can apply for a temporary UAE driving licence at RTA branches located either at the City Centre in Deira or the Union Co-operative in Al Tawar, instead of going to the RTA head office in Rashidiya. Both branches are open from 9am to 9pm, Sunday to Thursday.
Tourists also need to present their passports (original and photocopy), eye test results, driving licences of the countries of their origin, and Dh110 as application fee. A temporary UAE driving licence is issued on the same day of application.
However, this licence can be issued only to the nationals of European countries, the US, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Singapore, South Korea and Japan.
Bob Farrow, General Manager of Hertz Car Rental and Vice-Chairman of the DCRG, told Khaleej Times: “We are hoping that a meeting between DCRG and RTA will be set up next week so that we can discuss extensively all the industry concerns relating to the new policy.”
He said that around 20 per cent of the tourists entering the UAE do not have international driving licence, which is a significant figure considering that they form part of the car rental industry’s clientele.
“Without an international or temporary driving licence, they (tourists) can’t rent a car legally. There may be some small car rental companies that would rent out vehicles illegally, but that will have grave implications as far as insurance issues are concerned,” Farrow pointed out.
Another industry source said the DCRG had been following up the issue with the RTA for more than two months but the agency had remained unresponsive to the group’s request for a dialogue so far.
“We have not received any response from the RTA with regard to the exact date when they will see us but we are looking forward to discussing and solving this issue with them,” he said.
In an earlier interview, the source had mentioned that his car rental company had lost around 30 per cent of its sales as they had to reject applications from tour operators and hotels. “We are only serving local clients now, which means UAE nationals or residents who have valid UAE driving licences,” he explained.
The source added that their other concern was whether expatriate residents in the other Gulf countries can apply for rented vehicles in Dubai. “Earlier, an expatriate resident of Bahrain, for instance, who had a valid driving licence issued by that Gulf state, could avail himself of a rented car in Dubai. But following the recent memorandum from the RTA, an expatriate’s Gulf country-issued licence is no longer accepted in the emirate. They, too, need to apply for a temporary driving licence,” he disclosed.
Experts highlight challenges faced by modern media
DUBAI — APRIL 25: Using the dynamism of innovative technology to enhance quality and accuracy of content, providing real time reporting and reaching wider audiences are the current challenges being faced by the media, according to experts attending the Arab Media Forum 2007.
In a discussion on “The Effect of Technology Innovation in Today’s Media,” Zaven Kouyoumdjian of Future TV acted as moderator.
Taking part in the discussion were Ali Al Assam, Managing Director, KnowledgeView; Samih Toukan, CEO of Maktoob.com; Ashish Patil, General Manager, MTV Asia, India; Osman Sultan, CEO of du; and Qassem Ali, CEO RAMATTAN, Palestine.
In his presentation, ‘Convergent Newsrooms: Challenges for Publishers in the Internet Age’, Al Assam highlighted the obstacles faced by traditional news channels like newspapers with the advent of Internet technology. He cited the loss of revenue of major European newspapers — up to 50 per cent — to Internet giant Google.
Citizen journalism, a byproduct of the Internet boom, has sprung a serious dilemma for newspapers, claimed Al Assam, forcing them to ‘change the newspaper business to news business.’
Representing one of the largest online Arab communities, Maktoob.com, Samih Toukan underlined the growth potential in the Arab world for Internet penetration.
With only 26 million people enjoying access to Internet — 8.5 per cent of Arabs — and 60 per cent in the region under 25 years of age, the Arab world has a significant vacuum that needs to be filled if it is to catch up with global trends.
Toukan added: “The Internet will become the fourth largest advertising platform in the UK, a far cry from the role of Internet in Arab media. The way forward is for traditional media to adopt the Internet as a tool and opportunity, rather than seeing it as a threat.”
Ashish Patil, General Manager, MTV Asia, India, said social settings have gone cyber. He underlined new ways of social interaction through the fusion of online technology with traditional mediums such as television.
Osman Sultan, CEO of du, addressed media members on the convergence of technology and its impact on transforming consumers from passive — receiving content — to active, possessing the ability to manipulate and use content at their own will and discretion.
“It is the devices that have changed and altered the way media and communication are understood,” he added.
Sultan also linked the discussion to the greater theme of progress, pointing out how the region uses technology rather than making it — an impediment to development and growth. He referred to the current information age as a window of opportunity the Arab world must not miss, as it did with the industrial revolution.
Qassem Ali, CEO RAMATTAN, referred to the Palestinian conflict — beginning with the first Intifada — to demonstrate how media portrayal has changed as a result of media technology. In the absence of media and broadcasting technology in the Palestinian occupied territories, images of the conflict projected by the Israeli side of the issue, with the world deprived of the Palestinian version. He added: “With convergent technology, foreign TV news channels are using Palestinian cameramen whose images — and own perceptions of the conflict — shape the story and, ultimately, provide a Palestinian voice to the conflict.”
Doctors’ licence renewal linked to CME hours
ABU DHABI — APRIL 25: The Health Authority, Abu Dhabi (HAAD) has made it compulsory for doctors in the private sector to obtain accredited hours of Continued Medical Education (CME) programme in order to have their licence renewed.
The rule, which takes effect from June 2008, will make it mandatory for physicians and dentists working in the private health sector to possess accredited CME certificate when seeking renewal of licence.
“The Authority has decided to link renewal of licence for health professionals in the private sector with accredited CME hours. The move is in line with HAAD policy to secure high standards of health services,” said Dr Ahmed Al Mazrouei, Chairman of HAAD.
He noted that the Authority applies this condition when issuing licences to health professionals in the public sector and primary healthcare centres.
“We are committed to ensuring highest standards of health services in the emirate of Abu Dhabi in both the public and private sectors,” he stressed.
He said the rule will also be applicable to pharmacy and nursing professionals from February 2009. Consequently, any health professional seeking licence renewal will be required to meet certain CME requirements.
“Medical scientific events will be classified into two categories; Category I will comprise formal learning opportunities provided by recognised educational institutions or professional bodies, and accredited by HAAD or any other recognised health body. Category II will cover self-learning activities or less profiled local training,” explained Dr Mazrouei.
He said the minimum annual CME participation requirements for health professionals practising in the emirate of Abu Dhabi will differ according to the medical specialisation. Physicians/dentists need to log 50 CME hours per year, out of which at least 25 should be in Category I. At least 10 of these 25 hours must be in their particular speciality.
Nurses and pharmacists must log 20 CME hours per year of which at least 10 hours should be in Category 1, he said.
The Ministry of Health has been applying the CME rule nationwide for more than two years.
Early diagnosis key to treatment of diabetes
AL AIN — APRIL 25: The eighth annual research conference of UAE University, which opened in Al Ain on Monday, stressed the need for early diagnosis of diabetes to prevent long-term complications.
The results of a national survey and a pilot study of diabetic patients in the UAE were also discussed during the three-day conference, titled ‘Community Partaking in Research and Development’.
About 94 papers from five universities are being presented at the conference.
In his inaugural speech, Shaikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research and Chancellor of UAE University, said, “The conference clearly reflects our understanding of the importance of research to national progress. It emphasises the role of the university in examining issues of social, economic, medical, and scientific importance. This focus on research, and particularly on the type of research that supports economic and social development, enhances the university’s mission of service to the country and its people.”
During a session chaired by Dr Elsadig Kazzam of UAE University, the results of a pilot study and national survey of diabetes and its complications were presented confirming the previously reported high prevalence of diabetes, including gestational diabetes, in the UAE.
Presented by Dr Hussein F Saadi from the College of Medicine of UAE University, the study found that micro-vascular complications were highly prevalent among diabetics and a significant proportion of subjects had these complications at the time of first diagnosis.
A film titled ‘Research Partnership: Working for Community’ that highlighted the research collaboration between UAE University and the public and private sectors was also screened.
The inaugural session of the conference was also addressed by Professor Arthur Bienenstock of Stanford University and Special Assistant to the President for the Federal Research Policy.
A delegation from the Belarusian State University headed by Prof. Vasily Strazhev, rector of the university, and another delegation from Yonsel University are also attending the conference along with the leaders of some major government and private organisations in the UAE.
”The scientific research needs an active partnership with the community and we are proud to develop collaborations with some of the leading organisations in the UAE. We are now an active part of the global knowledge network,” said Dr Maitha Al Shamsi, Assistant Provost for Research, UAE University.
Women with hearing loss better workers
ABU DHABI — APRIL 25: A high percentage of employees with impaired hearing very well comply with instructions and systems at workplace, according to a study conducted on those suffering from hearing loss.
“The vocational assessment showed that a 4.51 per cent of employees who have impaired hearing or are hard of hearing act in conformity with instructions and orders given to them in their workplace,” said Rawhi Obeidat, a psychologist who supervised the study.
According to the study, in terms of experience male employees scored over their female counterparts. However, women were found to be more efficient than men.
“The findings defy the common thinking that people with hearing disability should be restricted to certain professions and that data entering was the most suitable job for them,” said the expert.
The evaluation study, which covered the emirates of Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Ras Al Khaimah and Sharjah, was carried out by the Organising Committee for the Arab Deaf Awareness 32nd Week, that was launched on April 21.
As many as 75 people with impaired hearing occupying various posts in both the public and private sectors were covered by the study. In terms of occupational performance, employees with hearing loss scored 4.44 per cent while communication skills was rated at 3.48 per cent, thus reflecting the difficulties people with hearing imapirment encounter in interacting with colleagues and the public in workplace,” said Mr Obeidat.
He pointed out that 3.86 per cent of those suryeved adapted to their work environment and some of them were even occupying leading positions.
The expert recommended that training and rehabilitation programmes for people with hearing loss should match with demands of the local market. “Capabilities of such people must be upgraded on a regular basis so that they are able to compete with normal employees,” Obeidat demanded.
BEAUTY SPOT TRAGEDY
DUBAI - APRIL 25: A Dubai schoolteacher severely injured along with her husband as they were bird watching at the Ras Al Khor wildlife sanctuary has died of her injuries. Diana Parker and her husband Michael, both senior teachers at Dubai English Speaking School, were parked at the wetlands sanctuary when a lorry veered into the parking area shunting another car into the back of their vehicle as they were about to drive off.
Both were severely injured in the accident and they were airlifted to the Rashid Hospital in Dubai for emergency treatment. Diana suffered multiple fractures, a broken spine and needed one leg amputated due to the severity of her injuries. Her husband suffered two broken legs and needed a metal plate inserted for a head wound.
The couple, both in their 40s, were airlifted back to their home in Oxford, England, for further treatment where Diana died on Monday night from a heart attack. A family friend said: “This has been an unbelievable tragedy. They were testing out their new digital camera at the sanctuary taking pictures of the birds and were just getting into their car when the accident occurred. Michael was already in the car wearing his seatbelt but Diana was still climbing in and came off much worse.
“I’ve been friends with them since they moved to the UAE a few years ago and they loved being out here and experiencing life. It has been an unbelievable chain of events. Michael contacted me to say his wife had died and that he is absolutely devastated. “They had no children and really enjoyed their holidays away from the Middle East together. They had recently been staying in an igloo in Lapland and loved venturing around the world.”
The accident occurred eight weeks ago and the lorry driver is believed to be in custody awaiting trial. “He has told police that he blacked out and that is why he left the road. His family visited the hospital begging for forgiveness as they want him out of prison,” the friend added. David Hammond, head teacher at Dubai English Speaking School, said: “She will be sadly missed by all the school community. She was an excellent professional and her contribution to the school was exceptional. She was admired, respected and loved by children, staff and parents.”