NEWS FROM THE UAE
Excerpts from UAE Dailies
Discounted air fares for amnesty seekers
ABU DHABI — Jul 11: Indian Embassy officials in the capital yesterday said that illegal workers who want to leave UAE under the amnesty plan can avail themselves of a special one-way economy class air fare of Dh600 through Asia Travels of Abu Dhabi, including taxes, from Abu Dhabi to Delhi and Mumbai.
Asia Travels has installed a counter in the embassy premises. Asia Travel, however, will provide Dh600 fare only on Gulf Air and is still negotiating with other airlines for the Dh600 ticket offer.
Qatar Airways, too, is offering its cheapest one-way economy class tickets, including taxes. The tickets are priced Dh1,060 to Delhi and Mumbai from Abu Dhabi. Other destinations like Hyderabad, Chennai, Trivandrum and Kolkata will cost Dh1,160, Dh1,190, Dh1,250 and Dh2,300, respectively.
“The fares are high due to the peak season from June 14 to August 15. The Abu Dhabi-Kolkata fare is higher since we do not have an online service and the routing is from Abu Dhabi via Mumbai, Delhi or Hyderabad on Qatar Airways and onwards to Kolkata on Kingfisher Airlines or Air Sahara,” reasoned the airline quotation to the embassy.
The Qatar Airways fares for amnesty-seekers will be lower from August 16 to December 9 as it is considered low season by the airline. Hence, the fares in that period would be Dh950 from Abu Dhabi to Delhi, Mumbai and Hyderabad, while the other destinations like Chennai, Trivandrum and Kolkata will cost Dh980, Dh950 and Dh2,190, respectively.
According to Qatar Airways, all the special fares are valid for travel between July and September 2, 2007. And if one books the tickets from Qatar Airways office in Abu Dhabi the passenger will be entitled to get five per cent more discount.
“The embassy has approached other airlines, too, for discounted fares. Hopefully, we will obtain the fare quotations from them by this weekend and we will put it on the display board in the premises of the mission. This will give people a choice to opt for the airlines with reduced fares to their desired destinations in India,” First Secretary Srinivas Babu said.
Any amnesty applicant in the capital can take advantage of this facility.
People from other emirates wanting to avail themselves of the reduced fares must approach the Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi or the Qatar Airways office in the capital.
Air India, Indian pitching in
DUBAI — The state-owned carriers Air India and Indian are expected to announce special air fares in a few days for Indian amnesty-seekers.
Officials from both the carriers yesterday said they had received requests from the Indian missions in the UAE for a discounted tariff for amnesty-seekers. “We are still discussing the discounts,” they said.
Anand Pandey, Country Manager of Indian said, “We have a meeting with the Indian diplomatic mission officials today. Within four days tickets with special rates for amnesty-seekers will be available in the market.”
“These rates will be applicable only for people who have outpasses. The fares will be much lower than the regular fares.”
Air India officials also said the matter was under consideration and new fares could be announced within a week.
Salik: Teething troubles continue
DUBAI — Jul 11: Motorists using Salik cards are complaining of their inability to recharge their tags at a number of petrol stations in Dubai, apparently because of snags in the system.
To add to the motorists’ problems, the online registration system, too, has yet to take off. People had earlier complained that they were not getting confirmation SMS after fixing the Salik tag. Some of them did not even receive balance alerts. There were also complaints about people not being able to recharge on www.salik.ae despite several attempts.
“In one of the petrol stations near Garhoud Bridge, we were told that there were no receipts available. We have been asked to come tomorrow.
“My balance is over and I need to recharge. When they have launched the system, every process related to it should have been taken care of,” said a motorist. “Similar things happened when I went for a recharge near a petrol station near the Maktoum Bridge. My balance finished two days back. Now, if I pass through a toll bridge, I will be fined.
“I want to recharge, but cannot. And I can’t roam around the whole city looking for one as I have to work, too.
“In addition, I have tried to use the online recharge system many a times. But it does not work,” remarked Irfaan Anwar.
The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), however, has denied any shortage of receipts and said that recharge was easily available at all Emarat/Eppco stations and also Dubai Islamic Bank and Emirates Bank.
“There is no shortage of any receipts and people can get it easily,” said an RTA representative. “The online recharge system is expected to be up very soon. People will not have any problems,” he added.
Dubai - Justice was done
Dubai - Jul 11: Dubai's top prosecutor has hailed 15-year prison sentences handed yesterday to a couple for human trafficking - the first ever convictions for the crime in the UAE. The two Indians bought their female victim for just Dhs4,300 and forced her into prostitution before attempting to sell her on.
Welcoming yesterday's sentences, Attorney General Eassam Al-Humaidan, told 7DAYS: “This is one of the ugliest cases we have seen. The verdicts were fit for such an inhumane criminal act. We asked for tough penalties in this case and we will continue to take a strong stand against anyone involved in human trafficking in this country.”
He added: “Everyone should take a stand against these types of crimes. These verdicts are a strong deterrent to such criminals.” The Dubai Court of First Instance passed down the prison sentences to the 25-year-old Indian driver and his accomplice, a 29-year-old Indian housemaid, after convicting them following their three-week trial. Both will be deported after serving their time. Judges were told that their 33-year-old Indonesian victim was bought from Al Ain and forced to work in Dubai as a prostitute while being regularly assaulted by the couple. The victim had suffered serious injuries during her ordeal, according to police records.
The court was told that she managed to eventually escape from her captors and report her predicament to police who then arranged a trap to capture the traffickers. In a sting operation, undercover officers contacted the couple and said they would buy the woman from them for the same price as the couple had originally paid for her.
Then, during a meeting in the Deira area of Dubai, police arrested the pair as they tried to negotiate the sale of their victim. A third defendant, a 27-year-old Pakistani, was cleared of human trafficking charges arising from the same case. Last November, a Federal law was passed in the UAE stating that anyone involved in human trafficking would be jailed for at least five years.
Anybody found guilty of forming a gang specifically involved in human trafficking would be sentenced to life in jail. The new law also stipulated that a life sentence would be passed down on anyone trafficking children. Earlier this year another Indian couple was cleared of human trafficking charges after being accused of smuggling two children out of India and through Dubai to France. They were, however, sentenced to six months in prison for falsifying the youngsters' passports.
Dubai - It’s smiles better
Dubai - Jul 11: It was smiles all round at the Jumeirah villa where 140 Sri Lankan women yesterday remained crammed as they await payment from their former employer. Despite their desperate situation, many kind messages of support and food donations from 7DAYS readers appeared to have brightened the spirits of the former garment factory workers, currently wedged into the 15-room villa while they wait for the three months’ wages and gratuity owed to them when the factory closed last month.
An early morning visit from their ex-boss, accompanied by an officer from Jebel Ali authorities, had also helped lift their mood considerably. Former worker Chandni said: “He came to see us this morning and promised each girl would have their money by Sunday at the latest. We feel happier today. We are packed and just want our salary so we can go home. A Sri Lankan company also called us to ask about our situation, some people want to come to visit us. Thank you.”
7DAYS was inundated with calls from concerned readers wanting to help the women and 60-odd male colleagues forced to sleep at the Jebel Ali factory, which closed suddenly on June 1 owing more than 200 workers wages they rely on to feed and house their families overseas.
The Sri Lankan Consulate in Dubai confirmed an officer had accompanied the employer to the villa to speak to the women and promised to investigate whether the men staying at the factory are receiving adequate food supplies.
Explosion at sub-station leaves Abu Dhabi residents in the dark
Abu Dhabi - Jul 11:Apartment blocks and shops in Abu Dhabi were plunged into darkness after an explosion at an electricity sub-station caused a power cut. Panic spread amongst more than 2,000 residents and many left their homes as temperatures soared because of the lack of air-conditioning.
The square where the build ings stand was packed with people, including many women and children.
Some slept in their cars with the engine and air-conditioning running. The temperature was 40 degrees celsius with high humidity.
The blast happened at 9.15pm on Monday, cutting power to properties behind Hamdan Street near the etisalat Building. Ten shops and six five-storey buildings, each containing 30 apartments, were affected by the power cut. “There was a huge explosion and then there was no power,” said Kevin de Souza, a 45-year-old Indian resident.
“The kids were all panicky due to the explosion and the darkness. After two hours it was unbearable due to the heat so we came down from the building.” Another resident, Illahi Bukhsh, a 32-year-old Pakistani, said: “I was in a nearby shop when I heard two big bangs.There was a small blast followed by a big bang, and the entire neighbourhood was in darkness. I thought it was some kind of an explosion.
“When I came out of the shop I saw smoke coming out of a nearby power sub-station.” Technicians from Abu Dhabi Distribution Company arrived within 15 minutes and worked through the night to replace a damaged transformer.
Power was restored seven hours after the blackout had happened.
Residents were full of praise for the engineers as many feared they might remain without power for 20 hours.
One of the technicians said: “The fault was caused by extra pressure on the sub-station. There was an overload as a result of over-consumption of power. Our advice to residents is to minimise the use of electricity to avoid such inconveniences.” Yesterday morning staff were still working on the substation after the power was restored. A technician said: “Everything is normal. What we are doing now is maintenance work on the sub-station batteries. Hopefully there will be no further problems.” A senior engineer at the distribution company confirmed there had been a fault at the sub-station, but could not comment further as he did not have details of the incident.
Bridge rumour is just the tip of the iceberg
Dubai - Jul 11: An iceberg on the Creek? Looks like all those warnings over climate change are true.
Everyone is talking about those quirky adverts that tell of the “iceberg phenomenon” and the “eighth wonder of the world in Dubai Creek”.
But if you’re desperate to know what they are about then stay cool – you will have to wait until next week to find out.
That is when the Roads and Transport Authority – which placed the ads in papers and magazines and on the radio – unveils its latest project.
The adverts show a picture of a giant iceberg floating across the Creek. And they tell of a delegation from northern Europe visiting Dubai to investigate the phenomenon.
A scientist from the delegation takes samples from the iceberg and says its “coolness seems to regenerate itself”.
But what is this iceberg and eighth wonder of the world?
“It is one of the RTA’s projects which will be revealed next week,” said a source at the authority. “You will be able to visit it and use it – that’s all I can reveal at this moment.” We asked shoppers in Dubai malls what they thought it could be.
Alan Dale, 38, an accountant from the UK, said:
“Knowing Dubai it will be a theme park, something to do with fun – maybe a floating ice rink.” But Dalia Khalid, 32, from Jordan, said: “I heard the adverts on the radio but could not make out what it was. I think it will be some kind of transport system.” She may be right. For we at Emirates Today believe the iceberg, which the ads say allows “a wave of cool fresh air” to wash over visitors, is the RTA’s new floating bridge.
The Dh81.5 million crossing is half a kilometre from Maktoum Bridge and is expected to carry 6,000 vehicles during peak traffic times.
It is 300 metres long and will allow drivers to avoid the Salik toll at Garhoud Bridge.
The new bridge has three lanes in each direction and will link Khalid bin Al Waleed Road and Oud Metha on one side to Ittihad Road and Deira on the other. It is made of floating hollow concrete blocks and is intended to ease bottlenecks on the Creek’s existing bridges.
But we may be wrong. It could really be an iceberg.
Guitar teacher behind bars
Dubai - Jul 11: A music teacher who molested a 15-year-old girl during a guitar lesson has been jailed for five years.
KB, 51, from Sri Lanka, was teaching MB, 15, from Croatia, at her home when the assault happened. He molested her by biting and touch ing her, Dubai Criminal Court was told.
The teacher was asked to leave the house when the girl told her mother about the incident.
Her father told the court: “I left my daughter alone in the house with him when he came to instruct her that day.” KB admitted the offence. He will be deported at the end of his sentence.
A music teacher who molest- ed a 15-year-old girl during a guitar lesson has been jailed for five years. KB, 51, from Sri Lanka, was teaching MB, 15, from Cro- atia, at her home when the assault happened. He molest- ed her by biting and touch- ing her, Dubai Criminal Court was told. The teacher was asked to leave the house when the girl told her mother about the incident. Her father told the court: “I left my daughter alone in the house with him when he came to instruct her that day.” KB admitted the offence. He will be deported at the end of his sentence.