NEWS FROM THE UAE
Excerpts from UAE Dailies/Agencies
Indian mission issues 1,500 Emergency Certificates
DUBAI — JUL 03: Out of the 11,242 applications received from illegal workers, the Indian consulate has issued 1,500 Emergency Certificates (EC) to amnesty-seekers so far, a consulate statement said.
The consulate will begin distributing ECs at the Indian Association, Sharjah from tomorrow afternoon to applicants who have submitted their applications in Sharjah.
“Specific dates have been indicated for delivery of ECs on the receipt of each applicant. Those who have submitted applications in Dubai can collect them from the Indian High School, Dubai and those who have submitted in Sharjah can collect them from Indian Association, Sharjah. Those who have submitted EC applications at collection centres in other emirates can collect it from their respective collection centres from July 4,” the statement said.
The statement further said, “Those who have submitted applications for ECs prior to the declaration of amnesty can collect the same in the afternoon of July 5, 2007 from the consulate.”
According to the statement, the consulate has received around 11,000 passports of Indian citizens from Dubai Immigration authorities. The consulate is making arrangements to sort them out and make a list. The list would be made available on the Indian Consulate web site: www.cgidubai.com and at the collection centres in Dubai and Sharjah from tomorrow. These passports can be collected from the consulate every afternoon from tomorrow.
“The consulate would like to request all persons applying for ECs to produce photocopies of their passports or at least numbers and other details of their passports. According to the latest instructions received from the Government of India, details of persons unable to produce passport particulars or photo identity documents from India would have to be sent to India for verification. Issue of ECs to all such persons would, therefore, be delayed,” the statement said. “The consulate would like to request all those seeking ECs to apply before July 31. Because of the procedures involved in preparing ECs as well as time needed for clearance required from local authorities, it is extremely important that all those who seek to avail of the amnesty submit their applications immediately,” the statement urged.
As the large majority of people seeking ECs come from Andhra Pradesh, the consulate urgently needs Telugu-speaking volunteers in Sharjah and Dubai. Those interested may kindly contact B.S. Mubarak, Consul (Labour & Welfare) at e-mail address email@example.com or fax number 04-3570531.
The consulate has made special arrangements for companies seeking to employ labourers during the amnesty.
Such companies can collect particulars of job-seekers at its collection centres in Dubai and Sharjah by placing collection boxes or sending their representatives to meet them.
They can also place posters and leaflets with their contact details at our collection centres. Companies interested in availing of this facility may please contact B.S. Mubarak at the e-mail and fax indicated above.
1,046 ‘illegals’ leave from Abu Dhabi Airport
ABU DHABI — JUL 03: Ever since the declaration of three-month amnesty period, 1,046 illegals of various nationalities have left the country through the Abu Dhabi Airport, according to Major Jamal Hareb Al Zaabi, head of airport office of the Abu Dhabi Naturalization and Residency Department (ADNRD).
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Labour (MoL) offices in the capital had received till yesterday about 2,000 applications from illegals who wanted to regularise their status, according to sources at the MoL. Speaking to Khaleej Times, Ahmed Al Besher, a legal adviser to the ministry’s Disputes Department, said, “The department receives about 500 workers daily who have questions regarding their status. In addition, it receives applications from companies and sponsors requesting to regularise the status of illegals who were declared absconders.”
Al Besher said that the companies and sponsors would be required to pay all the charges regarding cancellation and transfer of the sponsorships, and not the workers.
Legs fractured, not hope
DUBAI — JUL 03: Thirty-eight-year-old Linga Reddy was one of the many illegal workers who had come to Indian High School to get his outpass yesterday. However, he was not on his own. He was accompanied by his brother and friends who carried him all the way to the venue. Reason: Reddy’s legs were fractured 10 days ago in an accident at a construction site in Deira.
Speaking to Khaleej Times, Reddy, who hailed from Andhra Pradesh, said, “I want to go back home to my wife and two young daughters. I don’t have any money left. My only wish is that I am issued an outpass soon.”
A daily wage worker, Reddy was abandoned by co-workers and the company, after he fell from a ladder, until his brother, Raju Reddy, reached the location. Raju has been taking care of him and bearing all his medical expenses.
“We want to send him back urgently and ensure that he is in safe hands. Here, even after he fell, nobody came forward to take him to the hospital. There was no compensation given to him. We have to help him with everything, including giving him a shower,” says Raju. Linga Reddy has been in Dubai for one year and has been doing odd jobs to eke out a living.
An official from the consulate told KT, “We will put Reddy on our priority list and ensure that he is sent home as soon as possible. Since he needs medical attention, we will try our best to expedite the process, despite the fact that he has no original documents.”
Dubai - Violators shamed
Dubai - Jul 03: The Ministry of Labour will name companies that violate the midday break for workers, officials said yesterday. The rule that took effect on Sunday forces companies to compulsorily give rest to their workers from 12.30pm to 3pm every day.
The law was put in place to give some respite to men who toil under the sun during the day. While most companies abide by the rule there have already been some violators this year. The official said that a list of violators will be released by the end of the week in an attempt to name and shame them.
The list will contain the names of the companies and their owners and will be released every week throughout summer. The midday break for workers will continue until August 30. The list will be followed with fines and all transactions to the violating companies will also be stopped.
The Ministry of Labour confirmed that the fines will remain the same as last year, with companies found violating the law for the first time fined dhs10,000 and their labour permit suspended for three months. Second time violators will be fined dhs20,000 and their labour permit applications suspended for six months.
Companies found violating the law for the third time will be fined dhs30,000 and be unable to issue new labour permits for a year. This is the third year for the midday break rule and the labour ministry claims that there are over 300 inspectors doing regular checks of sites.
No Salik fines until you get SMS alert
DUBAI — JUL 03: Motorists travelling through Salik gates without credit in their Salik cards will not be fined until they receive an SMS alert on their mobile phones.
Roads and Transport Authority CEO Maitha Bin Adai said motorists are not going to be fined if they are out of credit until they receive the SMS alert, and they can recharge their tags after receiving an SMS from the RTA.
Bin Adai clarified that once they recharge after receiving the SMS alert, the amount (Dh4) would be deducted from their new balance depending on the number of times they passed through the gates.
The Salik tag would be automatically operational and activated even if the motorist does not receive an SMS after the tag is placed on the windshield of the vehicle, she pointed out.
Officials of RTA pointed out that motorists need to produce their vehicle registration numbers when they go for a recharge.
Meanwhile, the RTA distributed 400,000 Salik cards yesterday following reports that the dedicated retail outlets had run out of tags. These cards were distributed to the Adnoc, Eppco, Enoc and Emarat petrol stations as well as the Dubai Islamic Bank and the Emirates Bank.
However, motorists were still a confused lot on the second day of Salik yesterday with many having expressed reservations and some worrying about being fined.
Suad Merchant bought her tag three days ago but had received no notification it had been activated. “I took two tolls yesterday,” she said. “I rang the customer service and I was told there would be no violation. But then I rang another at the customer service and they said it would be a fine. I am confused,” she said. “I have the papers. If I get fined I’m going to lodge a complaint,” she added. Tania McDonagh said she had understood the tag would be activated immediately. “I just bought it and they said it would be activated straightaway,” she said.
McDonagh lives in Jumeirah and said Salik had resulted in increased traffic in her area because motorists were avoiding the toll gates by taking free exits. “It’s terrible. They should have the tolls on every exit or not at all,” she pointed out.
Gautham Reddy said he had bought his tag a week ago and it had been activated soon after. “It was activated quickly,” he said.
He, however, felt many people won’t be able to afford the toll. “Most of the people in Dubai can’t afford the toll and the traffic situation will be unmanagable in other areas,” he said.
Delilah Sueeur said she also lived in Jumeirah and had noticed heavy traffic yesterday.
Drivers find their way on day two
Dubai - Jul 03: Traffic was moving more smoothly yesterday as Dubai motorists began to adjust to the Salik road toll system.
There were still some holdups, but the situation was much better than on Sunday – day one of the toll.
Many motorists continued to take detours to avoid the tollgates at Al Garhoud Bridge and Intersection Four of Sheikh Zayed Road.
And this resulted in traffic moving freely across the bridge and along the highway.
Commuters from Sharjah said they managed to reach their offices in Dubai in a record time of 20 to 25 minutes. Traffic on Business Bay Bridge continued to run smoothly for the second day.
And Airport Road – which was clogged up for most of Sunday – remained relatively free of delays yesterday.
Al Maktoum Bridge and Al Barsha were, as on Sunday, the areas worst affected by delays, as they were used by drivers seeking to avoid the Dh4 toll. But the hold-ups were confined to peak periods.HP 50730 ET (26.5x18.5) All roads leading to Al Maktoum Bridge were jammed from 7am. And at the other end of the Salik zone, traffic heading towards Dubai Media City and Jebel Ali spilled off Sheikh Zayed Road from Al Barsha to the Marina. P.ai This created a few prob 6/28/07 1:01:32 lems. Al Barsha resident Khadija Mohammad was unable to move her car from the front of her house for some time because of the traffic.
She said: “Why should vehicles be allowed into residential areas?” Traffic was heavy on Bank Street and around Dnata, too.
Meanwhile, the Roads and Transport Authority said it had distributed 400,000 Salik tags to Adnoc, Eppco, Enoc and Emarat petrol stations and branches of Dubai Islamic Bank and Emirates Bank.
Maitha Bin Adai, CEO of the Traffic and Roads Department, said 200,000 motorists had bought the tags during the three days prior to the launch of Salik.
“This rush caused a delay in the issue of the confirma tion SMS giving the sub scriber’s account number and pin,” she said. “But even if motorists did not receive a SMS, the tag is automatical ly activated and operational.” She said motorists will not be fined if they ran out of cred it before they received the SMS, and once they did they can recharge their tag.
Dubai - Man’s explosion threat
Dubai - Jul 03: A man has gone on trial for threatening to blow up a woman’s house in Dubai after she failed to pay him a substantial bribe. The accused is said to have found indecent photographs of the UAE national woman on her mobile phone and then tried to extort dhs20,000 from her, according to court records.
The defendant, a 22-year-old UAE national, denies the charges against him at the Court of First Instance. According to Public Prosecution records, the woman lost her phone and was then blackmailed by the man. She said: “He threatened me. He said that he will blow up my house and burn it and he would do any criminal act that came into his mind. He asked for dhs20,000 in order not to do this and after negotiations the amount became dhs10,000.”
As he had not received a bribe, the man again contacted the woman saying he would publish the inappropriate photographs found on the phone. After reporting the incidents to police, the man was arrested for making threats and attempting to blackmail the woman. The trial was adjourned until later this month.
Dubai - Child abuse trial begins
Dubai - Jul 03: An Asian man has gone on trial for sexually molesting a six-year-old British girl at a house in the Emirates Hills area of Dubai. The 39-year-old defendant is alleged to have attacked the girl in her bedroom while her parents were outside the house in the garden.
The accused had been hired with his wife to help clean the house, the Court of First Instance was told and the pair visited the home three times a week. The girl’s father said that his daughter had told him that the accused had come into her room and woken her up and that what had happened afterwards “was a secret”.
The alleged sexual assault is said to have occurred earlier this year in April. The accused denies the charge against him. The trial has been adjourned until later this month for the court to hear further testimony and evidence before issuing a verdict.
RTA Briefs Travel and Tourism Group
Dubai, Jul 3: The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) officials briefed members of the Travel and Tourism Group about taxis and other transport-related issues at a meeting organized by the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) to discuss tourism industry's concerns about RTA issues.
The meeting, held at the DTCM Head Office on Sunday, was addressed by senior RTA officials led by Mr. Mohammed Obaid Al Mulla, CEO of RTA?s Public Transport Agency. Also attending the meeting were Ms. Lina Makarem Dergham, DTCM Director Business Development and Ms. Afra Al Fahim, DTCM Deputy Director Business Development, among others.
They briefed the members of the group comprising of tour operators, rent a car firms, tourism companies, hotels and hotel apartments about the RTA initiatives for public transport services in the emirate.
It was disclosed that one of the requirements to license Car Rental Companies is to have a minimum of 20 luxury cars. Within two years, Dubai would have over 1000 buses connecting Dubai .
The RTA is in the process of reducing taxies? fuelling, cost and pollution.
It was disclosed that city tour taxi would be in operation shortly in which RTA would have drivers for all nationalities with a comprehensible knowledge about Dubai events and location among other things and it would work on hourly basis.
The RTA presently has a total of five vans for special needs people.
About the International Driving License (IDL) and Temporary License, the industry felt that the local license was more reliable than the international one. They added that holders of a UAE license could drive in the US and UK using the license.
The RTA officials explained that other emirates do not accept visitors to drive with their local licenses. Hence, if a driver makes an accident outside Dubai , he would be taken to court for driving without a license.
Moreover, the insurance would not cover the accident. Hence, the present system offered more protection to visitors and car rental firms at a license exchange fee of AED110 for certain nationalities listed on RTA website www.rta.ae . Other visitors could use their international license.
It was clarified that the IDL could later be obtained from the UAE Touring Club at the Airport, for outbound passengers only.
The RTA will contact Ministry of Interior asking that UAE law be amended to allow for reciprocal use of domestic license with certain countries.
The RTA said it would consider empowering reputed car rental firms to issue temporary license for domestic license holders of approved nationalities.
It was also disclosed that RTA was considering waiving the road toll between 10 pm and 6 am.
Accidents not due to signal timing: police
ABU DHABI — Jul 03: No traffic accidents took place in Abu Dhabi as a result of the signal timing, according to Major Engineer Hussain Al Harthi, head of Roads Engineering Section in the Abu Dhabi Traffic Department.
Khaleej Times had recently received complaints from members of the public regarding the signal timing system in the capital.
Major Eng. Al Harthi told Khaleej Times yesterday that there was no reason to conclude that the timing of the signals caused road accidents in Abu Dhabi city.
“The main reason is that some people speed their car to 120km inside the city, and we know that all the roads in the city are of the international standards for speed of 60km. Hence, the problem is mostly from the drivers,” he maintained.
Farewell to Bhandari
DUBAI — Jul 03: The Indian Community in Dubai bid adieu to the outgoing Indian Ambassador C.M. Bhandari, who relinquished his charge in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.
At a farewell hosted by Bharatbhai Shah, a prominent Indian businessman, on Saturday evening, the outgoing diplomat expressed his desire to return to the UAE some day after he retires from service in two years.
“I am overwhelmed with the UAE culture, traditions and its nationals and highly impressed with the warmth, friendship and strong family ties in Arab families and I hope to visit the UAE soon,” said Bhandari in his farewell address.
“There is a great scope of working jointly on the social front, building inter-personal relationships and bridging the divide between the West and the Middle East, said the diplomat who returns to India today.
Declining to divulge details of his next assignment, Bhandari said, he takes home some good memories of his two-year stint in the UAE. “The memoirs are very vivid, but one of the many things that has touched me during my tenure in the country is the care and strong family ties Arab nationals share.”
The cultures and traditions of the Arab world needs to be understood well, he feels, adding, a wide gulf which exists between the West and Middle East needs to be bridged soon.
Bread prices go up
AL AIN — Jul 03: Groceries in Al Ain have hiked the prices of bread from Dh2.5 a kilogram to Dh3 a kilogram. Also, foodstuff shops are now charging 25-30-per cent more for bakery products.
The retailer at Zahrat Al Shakla Grocery in Muraijib Area said that bread prices have been increased because the bakeries are charging more for items like pies, pastries and matzos.
“However, we put inside six pieces of bread instead of five in each plastic bag,” he added.
Mohamed Kutti, seller at Abu Khalid Al Khamiry Grocery in Al Ain Industrial Area (Sniaeyya) said all groceries in Al Ain have hiked bread prices as all bakeries have been charging more.
Mohammed Al Hamdan, sales officer at the New Sowaida Bakeries, too, said the hike in bread prices was a result of bakeries selling products to groceries at a higher price.
Keep it light on the road
Abu Dhabi - Jul 03: The General Headquarters of Abu Dhabi Police has launched a crackdown against overloaded vehicles leaving the country during holidays.
Lieutenant Colonel Hassan Ahmed Al Hosni, Head of Tarif Traffic and Patrols Department in the Western Region, said the summer road safety campaign was launched in May and will continue until August-end.
He said more than 60 vehicles were impounded and drivers were fined for overloading since the launch of the campaign.
The drive is a regular feature during this time of the year as thousands of Arab expatriates, mainly teachers, travel home by road during holidays. They travel by land to as far as Iraq, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, some even to Egypt and Sudan.
The traffic department has a safety standard that limits the height of loading luggage on top of a vehicle to 60cm, as per the unified GCC law.
“Vehicles carrying load exceeding the height limit are stopped and prevented from travelling.
“The vehicles will be impounded until travellers make alternate arrangements. This is for travellers’ safety.
“Travellers are also advised to only load vehicles that have cargo carrying facility,” said Col Al Hosni.
He said this time of the year, the highway leading to Ghuwaifat check post on the Saudi Arabia border witnesses heavy traffic.
The department also has increased traffic patrols on the highway to assist travellers and attend to emergencies.
Since 2000, the campaign has proved successful with reduction in accidents.
“Overloading is a very dangerous practise and can lead to fatalities. It can affect the balance of a speeding car and the vehicle may flip over,” said Al Hosni.
The official also urged traffic departments in other emirates to check luggage weight and height of vehicles before allowing them to pass through.
Al Hosni asked motorists to check travel documents of co-passengers, including permits, before heading for the border post.
Mobile phones fly off the shelves
Dubai - Jul 03: Customers are flocking to take advantage of a promotion that gives them free flights worth up to Dh12,000 if they buy a Dh7,000 mobile phone. The too-good-to-be-true deal is being offered jointly by Emirates airline and Axiom Telecom.
Some people are buying several phones to cash in on the scheme. It is linked to Emirates’s Skywards frequent flyer programme – similar to the Air Miles plan run by other airlines.
Customers buying selected Sony Ericsson phones collect up to 120,000 Skywards miles. And these can be exchanged for air tickets on Emirates’ network, which includes destinations around the globe.
Customers receive 40,000, 80,000 or 120,000 miles depending on which model they buy at Axiom stores.
With 40,000 Skywards miles, you could afford a return flight to Tehran, Sanaa in Yemen or Kuwait.
With 80,000 you could book a flight to Colombo in Sri Lanka, Paris or Vienna.
And with 120,000 you could choose from Jakarta in Indonesia, Tokyo or Beijing.
Karen Selby, 34, who lives in the Springs, said her husband Greg, 35, bought one of the phones for her as a gift after he heard about the offer.
“We are Skywards members and now have enough miles for three return flights to the UK,” she said.
“I think it’s a good deal. My husband has already transferred the miles into his account.” A UAE businessman and Skywards member bought two phones, each worth Dh7,000, to make the most of the promotion.
“I travel a lot for business and personal reasons, and for me it was an offer that was too good to miss.” he said. “I just wish I could afford to buy more phones.” The promotion may prove costly for Emirates as news of the generous terms spreads.
But rather than dwell on this, the airline is looking forward to attracting more customers to the Skywards scheme.
“This partnership unveils a one-of-a-kind promotion that aims to benefit Skywards members, while attracting new members at the same time,” said Ghaith Al Ghaith, Emirates’ vice-president of Commercial Operations Worldwide.
“We are delighted with our partnership with Axiom Telecom that will provide our members with competitive products and a high standard of service. We are confident that this promotion will attract more people to join our membership database.” Faisal Al Bannai, CEO of Axiom Telecom, said: “Sony Ericsson lovers, who choose to buy from a selection of high-end to mid-range handsets from Axiom, will be eligible to obtain these Skywards miles to travel across the four oceans.” The deal began on June 7 and ends on July 7.
Taxi company uses ‘name and shame’ to battle rogue drivers
Dubai - Jul 03: A taxi firm in Dubai is cracking down on errant cabbies who are breaking rules like drinking and driving.
Up to 15 National Taxi staff are sacked every month for breaking the UAE’s strict ban on drink-driving, a senior manager revealed.
Last month six were dismissed and their photos and identity numbers were displayed on a notice board at the firm’s depot to shame them and deter others.
In some cases drivers have fought with passengers while under the influence of alcohol. Some use their taxis to smuggle illicit liquor from Ajman, which they sell at a profit.
And company investigators have found alcohol that has been poured into mineral water bottles to conceal it.
The manager said the company always took tough action to ensure the safety of passengers and other road users.
Most of the cases came to light when drivers were involved in accidents and the police were called. One driver was sacked after National Taxi received a number of complaints from passengers who said he fought with them. He was found to be drunk.
Another was also dismissed for driving under the influence of alcohol and fighting with customers. And a third driver lost his job after drinking liquor in his taxi.
One cabbie said: “Some drivers make a habit of drinking and fighting with passengers. Often they live in shared accommodation and their roommates do not like them drinking in their rooms. They cannot afford to visit bars so they use the taxi as a safe haven for drinking.” The manager added: “A taxi is in the custody of the driver day and night and some use it for drinking. The cars are the property of the company and drivers cannot use them for illegal purposes.
“Those who want to drink can do so in their rooms or at hotels. Drinking inside a taxi is not allowed as we are concerned about customers and our company’s image.
“We take a final decision to terminate a driver only after conducting a thorough inquiry. Six investigators in a separate department look into customer complaints. We won’t entertain false complaints about drink drivers without proof.
“Once a driver is dismissed, we will not take him back and I think other taxi companies would also refuse to employ such staff.”