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Excerpts from UAE Dailies

Good ties with UAE to benefit India: Tharoor

DUBAI — APRIL 26: “Good relationship with the UAE would help India in many ways. Both the countries could benefit in terms of trade and commerce. Since there are so many Indians living in the UAE, especially Dubai, a good relationship between the two countries serves the geo-political interest of India,” Shashi Tharoor, former under secretary-general of the United Nations, said here.

Tharoor was addressing the Special Policy Forum on “India: A Rising Star.”

Tharoor stated that Dubai was making honest attempts to have a more tolerant and multi-ethnic outlook and approach. “India is a nation which shelters people from different social backgrounds. Similar attempts are being made in Dubai too. The leaders here are trying to create a society where people of different castes, creed, religions and nationalities can mingle and interact. And this is a very good sign,” he said.

While pointing out that the emergence of a more tolerant Islamic world would serve India’s purpose, he said that considering the large Muslim population in the country, India could also be considered a part of the Islamic world.

Talking about India’s role in the UN, Tharoor opined that the situation, though not fully healthy, was consistently improving.

“In the 1950s and 60s India had a very important role to play in the UN. The country had eminent leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru and the world looked up to the country. But then there was a sudden downfall. The defeat at the hands of China exposed the hollowness of the country. Moreover, the economic failures too hit India in a bad way. But with the economic transition of the 1990s, the situation began to improve. At present, India is again looked up to by the UN. The world has realised that India cannot be ignored,” he pointed out.

To justify that India is a shining star, Tharoor gave a lot of interesting examples. “I am not talking about the political or economic side that makes India a shining star. The examples are more tangible and simple. India is the first nation in which a Catholic leader with an Italian background (Sonia Gandhi) made way for a Sikh (Manmohan Singh) to become prime minister of the country. And the Sikh was sworn in by a Muslim (A.P.J  Abdul Kalam) president.”

“The side with a better story always wins. And India has got the potential to become the side with a better story. It is India’s culture, ethos and values that make it a rising star,” said Tharoor.


Warning against illegal price hike

ABU DHABI — APRIL 26:The Ministry of Economy (MoE) has warned all suppliers and retailers against any illegal price hikes in consumer items following the salary increments of staff working with the government departments in the emirate.ose watch on the prices of consumer items.

Dr Neimei underlined that the government was keen keen to providing comfort to both UAE nationals and expatriate residents. “The government will not allow anyone to exploit the consumers, especially in view of the recent salary hikes,” he stressed.


Firms exempted from fines due to system fault at MoL

ABU DHABI — APRIL 26: The Ministry of Labour (MoL) will not impose fines on companies for the delay in renewal of labour cards, work permits and job visas on three days - from April 23 to April 25.

Khalil Khoury, Director of the Work Permits Department at the MoL, told Khaleej Times yesterday that this decision was taken because “some problems had cropped up in the computer system.”

“The system is okay now,” added Khoury.

The official added: “We received many complaints from companies that their representatives had come to the ministry for the renewal of the documents but had to return back without getting the work done because of the system breakdown.”


RTA hints at reducing private car ownership

DUBAI — APRIL 26: The Chairman and CEO of the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), Mattar Al Tayer, has hinted at introducing policies and legislations to bring down the high percentage of private car ownership in the emirate.

Without giving details, Al Tayer said, “The situation can be improved by providing a balanced mass transit system that provides reasonable alternatives so that people can do without the semi or full reliance on private vehicles.”

Al Tayer added, “Traffic congestion is caused by several factors including high car ownership rate which is 451 vehicles per 1,000 people in Dubai.”

This was a very high percentage compared to such international rates as 57 in Hong Kong and 103 in Singapore, he added.

Another reason, Al Tayer said, was a sharp increase in urban constructions and population.

“These factors collectively lead to a large increase in the number of monthly  trips — which during morning peak hours in Dubai are 350,000. This number is likely to increase by four times to reach 1.5 million trips in the morning peak hours by 2020.”

Al Tayer further said traffic bottlenecks have several negative effects on social, economic and environmental aspects.

“The overall traffic violations registered in Dubai increased from 488,000 in 2000 to 1.445 million in 2006. Excessive speed violations also rose from 292,000 to 884,000 during the same period,” he said, citing statistics.

“Such phenomenal increases, almost equivalent to threefolds of the original figures, are serious indicators that warrant strengthening the punishments imposed on offenders.”


New parking lot to be opened today

ABU DHABI — APRIL 26: The Department of Municipalities and Agriculture at the Abu Dhabi Municipality will open a new multi-storey parking facility today.

Located behind Al Nour Hospital, the underground parking facility has a capacity for more than 1,126 vehicles.

The parking facility is located at a strategic point between two busy roads.

The facility will be provisionally managed by the Department of Investment and Businesses Development at the Abu Dhabi Municipality and will be privatised later. The facility is part of a big project aimed at privatising car parking in the capital. It is also part of a strategy to build 17 multi-storey parking complexes  by 2010. The Department of Municipalities and Agriculture is keen to equip all parking complexes with necessary surveillance equipment to monitor them round-the-clock.

The department will use  e-technology for fee collection at the interim parking facility. Parking fees will be collected on a monthly and annual basis.

The new car parking  facility is expected to help overcome the parking problem in the area. Up to now, six multi-storey buildings have been constructed in overcrowded residential areas.


Capital auction for mother of all pearls

DUBAI — APRIL 26: One of the world’s largest natural pearls is expected to fetch $6-8 million when it comes under the hammer at Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi on May 3.

The 575 carat Arco Valley Pearl was displayed yesterday at a Press conference at the Dubai Central Laboratory. The auction is being organised by the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and proceeds will go to the Gulf Pearl Travelling Museum, which aims to promote the appeal of pearls to an international audience. Khaled Al Sayegh, a renowned pearl trader, said the main goal was to revive the region’s pearl industry.


Chance to book du numbers

DUBAI — APRIL 26:Customers who missed out on booking their du number during the telecom operator’s ‘055 - My Number’ campaign will now have another opportunity to do so. The company on Tuesday announced the launch of the second phase of their Number Booking Campaign from April 27 to May 31.

The second phase is to provide customers, who have either not successfully completed their number bookings under the ‘055 - My Number’ campaign or who did not participate in it, with the opportunity to secure their existing number with a 055 prefix if available.


The miracle motorist

Dubai - April 26: A motorist described as the “perfect driver” was honoured by Dubai police yesterday after not committing a single traffic offence in 32 years. Mohammad Rabea’a qualified to drive in 1975 and has not put a tyre wrong since.

According to Dubai Traffic Police records, Mohammad has not incurred one penalty in the past three decades.  And at the Traffic Police Headquarters yesterday he was presented with his award by Brigadier Issa Aman, the deputy director of the department, who said Rabea’a was the “perfect driver” and added he was a good example to other motorists.
“I appreciate and thank Mohammad for urging other drivers to follow the rules of the road and making sure the highways are safe,” Aman said. Mohammad, who is retired and in his fifties, was delighted that the award may encourage others to drive more safely. “The police’s idea of honouring good drivers will hopefully encourage others to follow the law and make sure that good drivers keep driving safely,” he said.

The award was announced on the same day the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) revealed that the number of traffic violations had tripled in the past five years. In 2000 there were 488,000 offences, while last year there were a whopping 1.445 million, and the number of speeders caught went up from 292,000 to 884,000 in the same period.

The number of fatalities has also increased, with 165 cases recorded in 2000 rising to 312 last year.  “Such phenomenal increases are serious indicators that warrant strengthening the punishments imposed on offenders, particularly the dangerous offences such as driving the vehicle in a way that poses risks to road users, crossing through red signals, contributing to a death of an individual and exceeding the maximum speed limit by 60 kph,” said Mattar Al Tayer, chairman and CEO of the RTA.

The RTA also announced that Dubai loses an estimated dhs4.6 billion every year due to the severe traffic congestion in the city. RTA officials said this was partly due to the huge number of private vehicles in Dubai, which equates to 451 vehicles per 1,000 people, adding that this was very high compared to cities such as Hong Kong at 57 vehicles per 1,000 people and Singapore  at 103 per 1,000.
“Policies and legislation capable of putting an end to this growing number of private cars in Dubai is required to curb this phenomenon,” said Al Tayer.



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