NEWS FROM THE UAE
Excerpts from UAE Dailies
Sponsor can help regularise status
DUBAI — JUL 15: A sponsor is a must for those amnesty seekers who wish to regularise their status in the UAE, according to Humaid bin Demas, Assistant Under-Secretary at the Ministry of Labour.
“If the amnesty- seeker is on an expired visit visa he should cancel it at the Dubai Naturalisation and Residency Department and acquire a work permit at the MoL through his prospective sponsor,” he told Khaleej Times while clarifying various aspects of the Amnesty campaign.
Bin Demas said, “If the amnesty seeker has been declared an absconder he can either return to his sponsor if the latter agrees to take him back or find a new sponsor. The first and foremost thing is that the absconding report has to be withdrawn and for that purpose the labourer has to submit an application for removal of absconding report. That can be done at one of the typing offices dealing with the MoL in Dubai. The application for the withdrawal of the absconding report must be signed by the ex- sponsor. If the ministry does not receive any request for the withdrawal of absconding reports during the amnesty period, a ban will be imposed on the labourer after the expiry of the deadline.”
He said, “Once the absconding report is withdrawn, the process of transfer of sponsorship can start with the payment of the required fees to be paid by the new sponsor. This does not take more than a few days when all the labourer’s documents are available along with a non-objection letter from ex-sponsor.”
Bin Demas said that the workers applying for transfer of sponsorship under the amnesty are exempted from the following conditions:
1 — The labourer has a valid labour card and residency;
2 — The period required for transfer of sponsorship; and
3 — The number of times the sponsorship is transferred.
“Under the amnesty, all applications of transfer of sponsorship shall be exempted from the fees imposed due to a delay or non- renewal of labour card, “ he said.
As some sponsoring companies sometimes exploit the amnesty- seekers and try to pass on the expenses of transfer of sponsorship to the workers, Bin Demas warned that such practice would not be tolerated. “The ministry will slap the new sponsor with a Dh10,000 fine and a ban on the company’s activities for six months if the labourer brings a proof that he himself has paid for the transfer of sponsorship to MoL, ” he said.
“Many facilities have been given to illegals including exemptions from fees to eliminate the obstacles that may prevent the illegal labourers from regularising their status, “ Bin Demas pointed out.
“I call on the employers who have pending cases of labourers to comply with the government decision by adjusting their labourers’ status through cancellation of work permits or transfer of sponsorship. I also call on labourers who don’t work for their sponsors to approach the ministry to regularise their status,” he concluded.
Fair access to health services for low-income expats urged
DUBAI — JUL 15: Low income expatriates in the UAE are not getting adequate access to health services, according to Abdulla Mohammed Al Ahmadi, Finance and Administration Manager from the Ministry of Health.
Speaking at a seminar on medical insurance and its impact on the UAE at the Gulf Medical College (GMC) yesterday, he stressed the need for insurance for everyone.
“Many low income expats do not have health cards or insurance. Some people who fall sick wait for a vacation to go back home and get treated. This is one of the biggest problems faced in public hospitals where people come to get treated but have no money to pay,” he said.
It may be recalled that a law issued in 2005 made it compulsory for employers and business owners in Abu Dhabi to provide health insurance coverage for their expatriate employees and their families. Al Ahmadi told Khaleej Times, “A draft to make medical insurance compulsory for all residents in the UAE has been submitted to the cabinet. By 2008, it will be implemented in all the Emirates and it is being coordinated with Dubai presently.”
Marwan Al Naboulsi, the head of Enrollment and Inspection Health System Financing from the Insurance Division of Abu Dhabi Health Authority, spoke on the impact of medical insurance on the economy and healthcare.
He pointed out some of the challenges before the compulsory insurance came into place were that expats were forced to pay more from their pocket, operations were inefficient, a long waiting period and the fact that the healthcare cost and government spending always showed an upward swing.
Cable thieves gang busted
ABU DHABI — JUL 15: With the arrest of 24 people of Asian nationalities recently, the Abu Dhabi Police claimed to have busted a gang involved in theft of electric cables from the outskirts of Abu Dhabi and in other emirates.
The operation was carried out under the directives of Minister of Interior Lt-Gen. Shaikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who took special interest in the case, said Brig. Mohamed Al Awadi Al Minhali, Director-General of Police Operations at the General Headquarters of Abu Dhabi Police. After receiving many reports of thefts in different areas of Abu Dhabi and other emirates, police teams were set up to monitor movements of the suspects. Eventually, all of them were arrested, he said.
During surveillance operations, the police first checked companies that had bought the stolen cables. This helped the investigators to establish the pattern of trading and identification of suspects.
The crackdown began with the arrest of one of the suspects who was attempting to flee the country through one of the airports. During questioning, he confessed his involvement in several thefts across the country and guided the police to the areas where the thefts had taken place and gave the names and addresses of his accomplices and collaborators in stealing and selling the stolen cables.
On his tip-off, the remaining members of the gang were arrested in raids carried out in various parts of the country. The arrested confessed carrying out over 100 thefts, the police said.
Law seeks to ban cockfighting
UAE - JUL 15: A new law to ban cockfighting and other forms of barbaric entertainment involving animals is being drawn up. Cockfighting is staged mainly by expatriates from Pakistan, Iran and the Philippines on remote farms.
Participants, punters and spectators learn of upcoming competitions through word of mouth, and birds are often left to die from their wounds.
But the new law to prevent cruelty to animals means such events will be outlawed throughout the country.
Emirates Today recently attended two big secret cockfighting competitions in rural areas to witness the savagery first-hand. Large crowds gathered and cheered as the cocks slashed at each other.
Under the new law, those abusing animals will be referred to police, charged and – if found guilty – fined. Moreover, serious offenders could be jailed.
Dr Mohammed Saeed Al Ghandi, Minister of Environment and Water, said the Federal Law for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has been drafted to make sure that no creatures, including birds, were badly treated.
The legislation has already been approved by the Cabinet, and is awaiting presidential assent.
“Once the law, which contains tough punitive measures, is approved by The President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler of Abu Dhabi, and implemented, it will curb all activities – including cockfighting – that harm animals,” the minister added.
The move was welcomed by the World Society for the Protection of Animals which is in the process of opening a regional office in the country.
Middle East Programme Director Trevor Wheeler said: “The society was recently informed the UAE was about to introduce its first national animal protection legislation and we applaud the government for taking this important and necessary action.
“Activities such as cockfighting will be outlawed by this legislation and it is important that the authorities are now seen to rigorously enforce the law and punish offenders,” he added.
Emirates Road is about to get longer and wider
Dubai - Jul 15: The Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) is currently engaged in widening Emirates Road from three lanes to six lanes in each direction. Engineer Maitha bin Udai, chief executive officer of Traffic and Roads Agency, said Emirates Road is one of the busiest roads in the region and the project aims at improving the traffic flow and increasing the traffic volume on this vital road.
Engineer Maitha added that the contract includes widening Emirates Road from three to six lanes at a length of 32km, starting from the Dubai-Sharjah border and extending up to the Arabian Ranches Roundabout. Moreover, additional lanes will be provided at seven of the existing interchanges on Emirates Road, helping ease congestion at the entry and exit points of these roads.
Engineer Maitha said the development works on a number of key roads in Dubai are part of a series of vital projects being carried out to develop and improve roads and provide advanced services in residential areas in response to the requirements of growth and demographic expansion in the emirate.
Engineer Nabeel Mohammed Salih, director of Roads Department at the Traffic and Roads Agency, said the project works will cost a total of Dh333 million.
The project works started on February 25, 2006.
“Construction works in the first stage of the project, which extends from Sharjah borders to Al Aweer and extends 12km, will be completed on August 26, 2007.
“Stage two of the project, which extends 20 kilometre and links Al Aweer Bridge and Arabian Ranches Roundabout, is scheduled to be finalised on April 15, 2008,” he said.
Ministry rules on placement of healthy ads
Dubai - Jul 15: The Ministry of Health (MoH) has conveyed restrictions to the authorities concerned regarding advertisements of health products and services. In an official communiqué, the ministry instructed the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) and the municipalities across the country not to issue permits for mobile and fixed advertisements for health products on roads, shops and commercial buildings and advised applicants to approach the Ministry’s Medical Advertisements Department.
Dr Abdul Kareem Al Zarouni, Director of the Department, said advertisers should adhere to guidelines issued by the department for regulating health-related advertisements.
“The advertiser should add the phrase ‘This advertisement is sanctioned by the MoH’, the number of the licence and the date of issue and expiry of the licence on the advertisement,” he said.
The advertiser, he warned, should not make any changes in the wording of the advertisement without approval from the department.
“The design of the advertisements should not be changed under any circumstances,” he added. (Wam)
Dubai - Refusing to vacate
Dubai - Jul 15: Scores of families living in apartments which have been served with eviction notices say they will continue to remain in their homes until they are given replacements by Dubai Municipality. Residents of three buildings in Rashid Colony, Al Qusais - which house 500 families - have been ordered to leave their homes over the next 12 months, as the municipality plans to demolish the dilapidated buildings.
An extended deadline for the first batch of residents to be evicted expires next month. "Surprisingly, our rent has been increased by 15 per cent this year despite orders to move on. This is shocking, but we had no choice but to pay up. Many of us are waiting for our new homes promised by the municipality," said Abu Hena Choudhary, a resident of the condemned buildings.
The families were ordered to vacate the premises by October 2006, but the tenants contested the decision and appealed for an extension. After discussions with the municipality, the tenants were allowed to stay until the end of August to allow children to finish their schooling.
Residents have instead been offered flats in the Muhaisna area near Sonapur where they can rent their new homes for reduced rates. "We know that there are some buildings being prepared for us in Muhaisna. We have not seen them but we hoping they are good," added Choudhary.
Although many apartments have been vacated, scores more remain lived in. “Many people have gone on their summer vacations with their families, but many are planning to return to their homes," said another resident who did not wish to be named. "The new homes being offered are twice the cost of the present ones. In the new building we have to pay around dhs25,000 for a one- bedroom and dhs36,000 for two-bedrooms. This is twice what we pay here," said another resident.
Residents also complained that the new flats being offered in exchange were far from the city area. "Many people have sent their families back home and many are refusing to now leave,” said one tenant. The municipality has stated that residents will be given new homes as soon as they are built and completed.
Dubai - Porsche thieves strike
Dubai - Jul 15: Dubai Police are hunting a gang of car thieves who stole a Porsche from an expat advertising in local classifieds and shipped it to Russia - all within the 48 hours it took the owner to discover the cheque they paid him had bounced.
British expat Andy says he accepted a dhs155,000 cheque for the Cayenne after being assured by a local man known only as Khalid he would never “damage or bring dishonour on his family name” by bouncing a cheque. But four days later he returned to Dubai from a weekend away to discover the cheque had bounced and his car had been exported out of Dubai and to Russia.
Andy, who has lived in Dubai for more than four years, told 7DAYS: “I feel so stupid. I really wasn’t comfortable with being paid by cheque but the man seemed very nice, wealthy, and looked me straight in the eye and said I could trust him.”
Andy said he was told by police that as soon as it was in their possession, the new ‘owners’ registered the car in Sharjah and shipped it out of the country. Dubai Police confirmed they were investigating the case but could not say if the car had been sent out of the emirate and to Russia.