NEWS FROM THE UAE
Excerpts from UAE Dailies
Passengers left stranded as IA's Mumbai flight cancelled
DUBAI — JUL 22:Several Indian airlines passengers scheduled to fly on IA-684 from here to Mumbai on Friday, July 20, were stranded for a while at Dubai International Airport as their flight was initially delayed by about an hour and a half and later cancelled.
The IA flight was scheduled to leave at 11:15 pm. But it was delayed till 12:30 am and later cancelled. However, about 40 passengers agreed to go to Mumbai via Delhi on another flight while over a dozen were sent directly to Hyderabad. The rest of the 29 passengers were provided accommodation for the night in Dubai by the airline.
Local Indian airlines officials confirmed the flight delay and cancellation, saying it was due to a "technical snag" in the aircraft at Chatrapati Shivaji Airport in Mumbai. Abhay Pathak, IA's Regional Manager Gulf, said "We obviously regret the flight cancellation but we made various arrangements for all our passengers."
Meanwhile, Andrenna Caron D'Souza, 20, one of the stranded passengers exclaimed, "It was only after being stuck at the airport for nearly two hours that IA announced the flight cancellation and provided us with accommodation. I was quite inconvenienced as I was traveling without my parents and had to look after my siblings."
TV channel hires chartered flight for amnesty seekers
DUBAI — JUL 22: In a humanitarian gesture, the Malayalam television channel Kairali Television has chartered a flight to transport Keralite amnesty-seekers free of charge from Dubai to Kochi. The flight will depart from Dubai International Airport at 12.30pm on July 30.
The 160-seater aircraft has been hired from Air India.
According to E.M. Asharaf, Kairali Television's Associate Editor-Middle East, "We telecast a number of programmes on amnesty. It was an eye-opener for us and we learnt that many illegal workers are finding it difficult to buy air tickets. So we decided to charter the flight for them."
"A special committee comprising members of various social organisations has been formed to shortlist the needy people. Handicapped people, women and patients will be given priority," he added.
"We are getting good support from the Indian consulate. A lot of viewers and good samaritans are helping us in the venture. If needed, we will charter another flight for the amnesty-seekers," Asharaf pointed out.
Burj Dubai now world's tallest
DUBAI — JUL 22: Burj Dubai — the centrepiece of a Dh73.44-billion ($20 billion) venture ‘Downtown Burj Dubai’ being developed by Emaar Properties — is now the world's tallest building and global landmark.
Towering 512.1 metres, Burj Dubai is now taller than Taiwan's 508-metre Taipei 101, which became the world's tallest building in 2004.
In a statement, Emaar yesterday said that Burj Dubai has put the regional business hub of Dubai in the international spotlight and underlined the success of Emaar as a global developer.
"Burj Dubai has now reached 141 storeys — more than any other building in the world," the statement said, stressing that the design has not compromised safety measures against the effect of strong winds and seismic movements.
The tower will be the world's tallest structure by 2008, its scheduled completion, in all four criteria listed by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH).
30 violations of midday break rule reported
ABU DHABI — JUL 22: Inspection teams from the Ministry of Labour (MoL) found 30 violations of the midday break rule in the emirate of Abu Dhabi.
This reporter accompanied the inspectors to 12 sites in the Mussafah Industrial Area.
Mohsen Ali Saeed, director of the Inspection Department, said, "The inspection campaigns are non-stop during the midday break period. Five teams consisting of 17 inspectors visited 259 work sites in Abu Dhabi city, Mussafah Al Ain, Madinat Zayed, Bani Yas, Al Shahama and Delma."
"There were 19 violations in Abu Dhabi city, 10 in Al Ain and one in Delma," Saeed said.
Rashid Helal, a senior inspector, said, "We found five workers working out in the open at a Mussafah site."
The inspectors also found three workers without visas or labour cards. The MoL will investigate the matter.
Ayman, one of the workers, said, "I have been working for four months without visa or labour card. I requested the administration so many times, but the company did not give me the labour card."
Another worker, Mustafa, said, "The company calculates the overtime according to its own system, not according to the labour law."
The inspectors also served notice on a company directing it to provide decent accommodation to the workers.
"The company must provide clean housing for workers in order to protect their health. We won't accept this practice of lodging 18 workers in a 35-square-metre room. It is not healthy," said inspector Helal.
The inspector stressed that the Disputes Department will also investigate complaints of some workers regarding their right to cancel visa and leaving the country.
"We received complaints from workers of a decoration company. One of the workers wanted to cancel and leave the country.
The labourer alleged that the sponsor would deduct visa and labour card costs from his salary," said the inspector.
Evicted men take shelter in Satwa Park
DUBAI — JUL 22: With the spiralling cost of living in the emirate coupled with the decision of Dubai Municipality to evict bachelors from villas, many Indian labourers are forced to live in Satwa Park for many days. They are suffering from high heat and humidity.
The landlords started to evict bachelors last week after the municipality announced its decision to implement the order.
However, the most of the bachelors in Satwa area, who have been living in villas on a sharing basis, were hit by the move. Most of them say that they could not afford the sky-rocketing rents.
Selvaraj, an Indian national from Tamil Nadu, said, “ I had been living in the park for five days. I was sharing my room with 11 others in a villa. But owner of the villa evicted us saying that we were not allowed to stay according to the law.”
“ We tried to find another place to live but could not find anything which suits our budget. We were paying Dh220 each excluding electricity and water. It is very difficult to find a place with this budget,” he lamented.
Sarath Kumar, another labourer, said ìIt is really hard to survive the heat and humidity. But we are left without any other choice now. With the meagre income we have we cannot pay a high rent.”
“ We sleep in the park on the benches and use the public toilets in the bus station for basic needs. I have no clue how long we can live like this,” he added.
Abdul Razak, a real estate agent renting out villas in Satwa, said, ” The landlord of the villas I hired to sublease told me to evict bachelors. He told otherwise he would take back the villas from me. From now I want to lease the villas only to families.”
Housemaid narrates tale of woes
ABU DHABI — JUL 22: The Sri Lankan Embassy has said that workers, particularly the housemaids, who work in homes are allegedly badly treated and survive on scant diet and meagre salaries.
This conclusion emerged after the mission heard tales of exploitation of Sri Lankan workers who are seeking amnesty.
One on them is M.P. Nona Pausia, 48, who came to the UAE in 2004 looking for better life but the life turned her dreams upside down.
The allegedly rude housewife smeared eggs on the maid's face for minor faults and poured boiling water on her head.
She was working in the house of a national in Ajman who is married to an Indian woman from Andhra Pradesh. She is reportedly very rude and she used to rough up housemaids who work in her home.
Narrating her story to the Khaleej Times, Pausia said, "One day I was going to boil eggs but suddenly they slipped from my hand and all the six eggs broke. The housewife present at the moment smeared the egg on my face and body and took the boiling water from the oven which was kept for boiling eggs and poured on me. I fainted and fell down."
Her repeated pleas to the house-owner and agent to send her back was rejected. Pausia got a visa from an agent in Ajman who also found the job for her.
She has now approached the Sri Lankan embassy in Abu Dhabi to seek assistance to regularise her status and attain the benefits of amnesty scheme.
Pausia only spent one month in that house in Ajman and left for Abu Dhabi after this incident.
Here, she got work as a housemaid on a monthly salary of Dh800, but as of now, she is getting Dh1,300 per month. She has her passport, but her visa has expired.
After her bitter experience here, she has no plans of returning to the UAE. However, she is happy that she is going back under the amnesty scheme.
Used mobiles could land buyers in trouble
DUBAI — JUL 22: Buyers of used-mobile phones risk purchasing phones that were once possessed by criminals and who are being tracked by the police.
An official from Dubai Police said they had tracked down a criminal on his phone, but found that the mobile was being used by someone else who had just bought it. "It is worse when the buyer does not bother to take a receipt which could prove that he is not the 'wanted' man," says the police official.
Ahmed Khan, one of the dealers in used-mobile phones in Deira said he had not dealt with any such case but had heard about it from other used-mobile phone dealers.
He also said he was careful about accepting used-phones from his suppliers. "Whoever sells a phone to me has to provide a receipt of the shop where he had bought it from," he adds. "I deal with only the people I trust to avoid buying stolen phones or those once owned by criminals," said Khan.
However, the owner of a used-phone mobile outlet in Deira testified that he had once sold a used mobile phone which later turned out to be a stolen one.
He said once the police raided his shop because a stolen mobile phone had been sold to one customer. He had bought it from one of his suppliers without knowing that it was a stolen item.
"The good thing was that I had all the details of the supplier and from then on, our business relations soured as the police took him in custody," said Mahmoud.
Among other problems faced by buyers of second-hand phones is the unpleasant material stored in them, including pornographic material.
Some others say that memories of many of the used phones are found almost full with contacts stored in them by the previous user. Omar Hassan, a Somali expatriate, who is a regular buyer of used mobile phones got a shock when he discovered that his young son was watching pornographic pictures that had been saved on the MMS of his mobile phone.
"I had not bothered to check all the contents in the phone but my young son who very often fiddles with mobile phones quickly found out all that was stored in my phone," says Hassan.
"Once I received a call when he had my phone in his hands, busy checking out pornography. After answering the call, I noticed the porn images stored in my phone. I felt so embarrassed in front of my son. It was then that I realised the pictures were saved by the previous users of that phone. I had to erase all these pictures from my phone," said Hassan.
POTTER CASTS HIS SPELL OVER DUBAI
DUBAI - JUL 22: Harry Potter’s magic made thousands of copies of his latest and last adventure vanish from shelves yesterday in the biggest book-buying frenzy ever seen. The fever generated by the young wizard was at an alltime high when Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows went on sale at 3.01am UAE time.
Fans had chanted “Harry! Harry!” as queues formed outside Dubai bookshops in the run-up to the worldwide launch. And the mania continued throughout the day as readers young and old besieged stores to snap up copies of the book.
Books Plus sold more than 5,000 copies in its 14 stores across the UAE. Jashanmal sold 3,250 books, while Borders broke the 1,000 barrier at its single store in Mall of the Emirates.
“As we speak hundreds of books are being sold,” said Books Plus General Manager Melroy Dickson. “I seriously did not expect so many peo ple to come in on Saturday morning. The crowds started gathering at our Lamcy Plaza store at 1am and within two hours there were more than 500 people and the queue extended by 30 to 40 metres.” Alisha Zainab, 11, a Pakistani student at the Cambridge International in Dubai, was one of the first to arrive at Mall of the Emirates with her mum.
“I have been waiting for this day for the past six months,” she said.
“I cannot wait to open the book and start reading.” She was just one of thousands of fans in Dubai who had been eagerly awaiting the arrival of the book, which author JK Rowling has said will be the last.
Excited boys and girls as young as four forced their parents to come along and spend the night with them in the malls. Many were dressed as characters from the books.
Although most other shops closed by midnight, bookstores continued to buzz with activity amid a carnival atmosphere.
With cinemas across Dubai showing Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix to full houses, interest in the wizard has reached a new high. TV channels including Dubai One are screening some of the earlier movies.
Stores in Dubai imported supplies directly from the publishers, London-based Bloomsbury. While many stores overseas slashed the price by Dh35, most of those in Dubai were selling it at the full price of Dh99.
Intermittent green signal introduced
DUBAI - JUL 22: Intermittent green signal lights have been installed on major intersections in some areas of Dubai by the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA). Engineer Maitha bin Aday, chief executive officer of the Traffic and Roads Agency, said the authority has introduced the green signal lights on intersections and streets of Jumeirah and Sufouh.
The green signal lights will be gradually set up at all intersections and the main junctions in the city.
According to the new system, the signal will change from long-staying green to intermittent green, then yellow and red.
At the end of the sequence, it gives three flashes as a warning sign to motorists.
At this stage, a driver can either continue if he or she has entered the critical region or stop if the continuation will cause danger to the car and the traffic on the road.
Tenants pay price for ‘ignoring’ owner
DUBAI - JUL 22: Thirteen men were locked out of the apartment they were renting in Dubai and had to spend two days on the streets after they ignored a request to move out.
Hassan Ibrahim, 29, a lawyer from Egypt, said he and his roommates found themselves homeless and without their belongings.
His landlord, MA, a 25year-old engineer from Egypt, was subletting the two-bedroom, 70-square-metre apartment in Deira to him and 12 roommates for Dh700 each.
Ibrahim said MA came to the apartment with his wife and three men and started a fight with the one tenant, MN, 25, a sales representative from Egypt, who was home at the time. MN was forced to leave with whatever belongings he could carry.
When Ibrahim and his other roommates returned home later that afternoon, they found the flat’s lock had been changed.
“We had no choice but to stay on the streets,” said Ibrahim. “Some of us stayed in cars, others in mosques. It was a very miserable experience with the humidity and high temperature.” The 13 tenants went to Dubai Police to “complain and find a solution”.The landlord also reported the matter to police. He said he had met the tenants and “told them politely” that he planned to move into the flat with his wife and children and that they would need to move out. He said he did not try to force them to leave immediately.
“I had no problem with when they would leave, but I needed to inform them so they could give me an early notification – like a week, two weeks, a month or two months,” said MA.
He said the 13 tenants told him they would leave in a week, but when he came back he found the apartment was still occupied. “I started to feel they were not taking me seriously and that is when I had to report the matter to the Muraqqabat Police Station in Deira,” the landlord said.
“They thought they would drag this matter out for ever, thinking I will not take action,” said MA. “They forced me to use a new door lock based on our earlier agreement.” MA said he was shocked at the allegation he struck a tenant. “I did not hit anyone and I had no other adult with me but my wife,” he added.
The two sides have now reached an agreement.The 13 men will remain in the apartment until the end of August. As a guarantee that they will then move out, four have signed letters certifying they will pay Dh50,000 each if they violate the agreement.
Tenant Khaled Al Awadi, 27, a textile store manager from Egypt, said: “That is fair considering the situation of all parties involved.
Dubai Police confirmed that MA filed a report to obtain help to evict his tenants and that the 13 men filed a counterclaim that their eviction was illegal and that MA had assaulted one of those living in the apartment.
Abu Dhabi - Oil barrel pyramid for desert
Abu Dhabi - Jul 22: The quirky couple responsible for wrapping Berlin’s Reichstag and Paris’ Pont Neuf in fireproof fabric are bringing their unique brand of artistic licence to the UAE. Husband and wife artist duo Christo and Jeanne-Claude yesterday unveiled a plan to build a giant pyramid of oil barrels in the UAE desert, to stand for two weeks in July and August 2011.
Speaking at a presentation for the 150-metre monument, around two-thirds of the height of the Eiffel Tower, Christo said: “The Emirates is very keen to see this project realised.” The couple say the idea for the ‘Mastaba’ project - which will feature a flat summit made up of 390,500 oil barrels piled up horizontally, hails from the 1960s.
Previous attempts to erect the project in Texas and then the Netherlands, both came to nothing before they turned to the UAE. The pair, currently attempting to swathe a 10.7km stretch of the Arkansas river in western Colorado with clear fabric, say the project takes its name and shape from the rectangular construction of Ancient Egypt.
And while the exact location for the pyramid has yet to be decided, it will definitely be located in the UAE desert.