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Excerpts from UAE Dailies

Dubai - I can’t stop smiling says Construction Worker

Dubai - Aug 16: A 30-year-old construction worker who earns a few hundred dirhams a month has walked away with a life-changing dhs100,000 prize in a competition. Ravi Gundla, who has been toiling outside in the heat in Dubai for more than ten years, says he hasn't stopped grinning since learning of his massive win.

“It's like all my hard work has paid off. I know there are many like me struggling here but I haven't stopped smiling since I held the cheque in my hands for the first time,” he said. “When I get the money I am going on a honeymoon for six months,” Gundla, who has not seen his wife for nearly two years, jokingly told 7DAYS.

He received a call from Emirates Post two weeks ago asking him to head to the post office as soon as possible. The next day he reached the office to be told he was the lucky winner of the month and so had won the dhs100,000 prize. “I have still to tell my family about this. I want it to be a surprise,” he said.

The Indian said he had struggled to buy a postcard every week for the past two years but had always hoped of winning. “My salary is just about enough to survive on here. I have to save up for three months just to send dhs100 to my family. But I bought a postcard every week without fail, hoping I would get lucky someday,” Gundla said.
He arrived in the UAE in 1997 to help support his wife, mother and three brothers in India and his family has been surviving on the money he sends back home each month.

Gundla said he will now make life much easier for his family. “I will buy a house in India, probably a car and build a well. There is no water in my village and my wife walks for miles each day to collect water. My real dream is to see my family happy when I return with all the money.”

After a six-month holiday, Gundla said he will return to his home in Sharjah, but as a changed man. “I will come back here and live as a rich man. I would like to enjoy this country as a rich person,” he said. The South Indian from Andhra Pradesh is waiting to receive his money from Emirates Post before he flies home to inform his family of their dramatic change in fortune.


Indians in UAE celebrate I-Day with fervour, gaiety

ABU DHABI/DUBAI — Aug 16: It was a day of pride and joy for Indian expatriates in the UAE who thronged different venues to celebrate their country’s 60th Independence Day.

Delighted Indians waved tri-colour flags, distributed sweets and greeted each other to mark the occasion. Various cultural activities were organised across the emirates to add colour to the celebrations.

The celebrations started at the Indian missions in Abu Dhabi and Dubai with the flag hoisting ceremony. Indian ambassador to the UAE, Talmiz Ahmad, unfurled the national flag and sang the national anthem along with around 300 community members on the embassy premises in Abu Dhabi. Indian consul general Venu Rajamony hoisted the flag in Indian High School Dubai in the presence of a large number of Indians.

After unfurling the flag, both the ambassador and consul general read out the message from the Indian President, Pratibha Patil. A large number of Indian expats, including school children, turned up at the missions to witness the flag-hoisting ceremony.

Addressing the community members, the Indian ambassador said: “I recall the great efforts made by Indians in the UAE. Indians have made tremendous contributions in UAE’s development. We have toiled in the construction of buildings, roads and flyovers and participated in the setting up of different productions units,” he said.

At the Indian embassy in Abu Dhabi, a group of students from Abu Dhabi Indian School presented patriotic songs. In Dubai, a host of cultural events were organised on Indian High School premises.

Tikka Ram, Consul from Indian consulate hoisted the flag on Ras Al Khaimah Indian Association premises. The ceremony was attended by hundreds of amnesty-seekers, Immigration officials, community members and Indian Association Management members.


Dubai debate: Indians, Pakistanis reach out

DUBAI — AUG 16: That the people-to-people initiatives should gather more momentum to help resolve the lingering, embittered disputes between India and Pakistan was the shared sentiment at the first-ever Indo-Pak panel discussion that concluded in Dubai yesterday. Being organised by Pakistan’s GEO TV the show ended on a high note with a call from participants to resolve disputes and move ahead as both nations share a ‘common destiny’.

The programme brought eminent politicians and journalists from both countries on a common platform for the first time to discuss various issues of common interest.

The participants stressed the imperative to further the faltering peace process. Despite the controversial Kashmir issue dominating Tuesday’s debate, yesterday’s discussion focussed on people-to-people contacts and need to resolve conflicts sooner rather than later for cross-border socio-economic development. The comment of former Indian finance minister and BJP leader Yashwant Sinha that his party would support any peace initiative by the ruling UPA government dramatically caught the attention of the audience as well as the panel.

The debate began with former Indian army chief General Shankar Roy Chaudhary raising the concern over the escalating militancy. “There are some elements who do not like peace between the two countries. We know that the Samjhauta Express explosion was instigated by militants with external help. The aim was to damage improving relations between India and Pakistan” 

Pakistan’s Railway Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad interjected by saying that his attempt to reach Indian government to discuss details of explosion failed as India was hesitant to do so.

Dr Farooq Abdullah, former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir and Member of Parliament, admitted that India has not responded promptly to Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf’s peace proposals.  However, he added, instead of casting stones on each other citing the past we need to look forward to the future.”

While replying to allegations that the Bollywood has been portraying Pakistan as a base for militants, noted actor Farooq Shaikh rebutted movies are made for commercial nor political reasons.

When Mushahid Hussein Syed, member of Senate and General Secretary of Pakistan Muslim League, raised concern over the Gujarat anti Muslim riots, Barkha Dutt, presenter of the show and Managing Editor of India’s NDTV interjected saying that it is an internal matter for India. Dr Shahid Masood, Dubai-based Group Executive of GEO TV concluded the show by emphasising the need for constructive relationships between India and Pakistan.


Nurses open water bottle to find cockroach

Ras Al Khaimah: Aug 16: A group of nurses from a public hospital yesterday lodged a complaint against two major water companies.

The municipality imposed a fine on the first company and said more legal measures will be taken against it. It also summoned the director general of the other firm.

The nurses had purchased a carton of water for personal consumption but were shocked to find the company's paper label inside a bottle of water. One of them found some contamination in another bottle. The nurses purchased another carton of water bottles of a different company but found a cockroach in the first bottle.

Surprise visit

The inspectors seized the two cartons from the hospital. Tests showed water from both the samples was not fit for human consumption.

The inspectors paid surprise visits to the companies and tested the bottled water. They found a number of violations.

The inspectors ordered the director general of the first company to accompany them to the municipality.

Mubarak Ali Al Shamsi, Director General of the municipality, said hefty penalty was imposed on the first firm and more legal measures will be taken against it after further investigation.

Al Shamsi said that the director general of the second company was not present when the inspectors visited it but he has been summoned to the municipality.

Spoilt chocolate seized from bakery

The liquid chocolate used in making cake at a bakery of a popular shopping mall in Ras Al Khaimah was found to have expired yesterday. Civic inspectors scanned the bakery and seized the expired chocolate. The municipality issued the mall a warning letter along with other legal measures to be taken against it.

The municipality had received a number of complaints against the bakery which prepares huge quantities of the cake daily.

The inspectors tested the foodstuff and ingredients the bakers used but suspected the liquid chocolate. The inspectors found chocolate was past the expiry date. The inspectors seized the bottles of liquid chocolate and tested similar types of chocolate bars in the mall. They found that nuts in the bars had decayed.


Hot topic as Nokia issues battery recall
UAE - AUG 16:
Mobile phone handset maker Nokia’s worldwide recall of a particular batch of its BL-5C category battery is expected to have an impact on thousands of mobile users in the UAE.

Nokia has issued a worldwide product advisory of having identified a manufacturing defect in its BL-5C batteries, which could potentially overheat the batteries while charging, which is initiated by a short circuit, causing the battery to “dislodge”.The official statement from Nokia did not explain what exactly it meant by the term “dislodge”.

Nokia yesterday said all its dealers in the UAE will receive the advisory about the recall, which covers its BL-5C batteries produced by a Japanese vendor between December 2005 and November 2006.

In a statement to the press, Nokia Middle East and Africa, based in Dubai, said: “Nokia has several suppliers for BL5C batteries who have collectively produced more than 300 million BL-5C batteries.

“This advisory applies only to the 46 million batteries manufactured by Matsushita between December 2005 and November 2006, from which there have been approximately 100 incidents of overheating reported globally. No serious injuries or property damage have been reported.” The statement said consumers with a BL-5C battery subject to this advisory should note that all of the about100 incidents have occurred while charging the battery.

“According to our knowledge, this issue does not affect any other use of the mobile device,” the statement said.

When contacted by Emirates Today, some of the big Nokia dealers, including Emirates Computer and Jumbo Electronics, said they were aware of the advisory.

However, no officials were available to comment on it. “Only Nokia will be in a position to comment,” said an official at Emirates Computers.

Small shops dealing in Nokia and other brands of mobile phones were yet to be informed about the development. Some dealers in Abu Dhabi had no clue about the fault in the Matsushita-made BL-5C batteries.

“I have not heard anything about this,” said a salesman at a shop in Medinat Zayed Shopping Centre. He also said there had been no complaint from customers about faulty batteries.

“If you talk about batteries manufactured a year ago, then we would hardly have any of them left for sale. These accessories go very fast and we keep on getting new stocks,” said another small dealer in the market.

Consumers, too, had no information about the Nokia product advisory. “I have been using this Nokia phone (with a BL-5C battery) for more than a year but never had any problem. I’m not aware of any recall decision by Nokia,” said Kamran Hussain, who was shopping for a mobile hands-free set.

Yolande Pineda, Communications Manager at Nokia Middle East and Africa said dealers and small shops selling Nokia products will be informed about the fault by their bigger sub-suppliers.

Remove the battery from the device – a Nokia battery will have “Nokia” and “BL-5C” printed on the front. On the reverse, the Nokia mark appears at the top and the battery identification number (26 characters) at the bottom.
Visit the website and type in the 26 characters to check if the battery is affected. Alternatively contact your local Nokia call centre and give the number.

Batteries manufactured by Matsushita between December 2005 and November 2006 will be replaced free of charge.


Wanted man held at airport
Dubai - Aug 16:
A man wanted by police for killing a co-worker was arrested along with his brother at the airport in Abu Dhabi while trying to flee the country.

Dubai Police had been searching for the suspect, RG, after witnesses said he drove a forklift over another man at a construction site on July 22.

RG’s brother, AS, was also taken into custody and charged with attempting to hide a suspect.

After the incident last month, witnesses called police and said an Asian carpenter had been run over at a site near Jebel Ali.

They told police the victim, RN, had been seen sleeping underneath the forklift.

They said RG, who was working as a forklift driver, got into the vehicle and ran over RN, killing him instantly. RG fled the scene before investigators arrived.

Meanwhile, Dubai Police circulated the suspect’s description to authorities at the airports and ports to make sure he could not leave the country.

They also learned that he was working in Dubai illegal ly. He was sponsored by a construction company in Sharjah and authorised to work as a painter not a driver.

In fact, authorities learned RG did not have a licence to operate a forklift or other heavy vehicles.

At 4am on July 23, the two brothers were arrested when they checked in for a flight at the Abu Dhabi airport.

Upon interrogation, RG admitted to running RN over and said it had been an accident, since he had not seen the man sleeping underneath.

AS confessed that he had been hiding his brother in his friend’s car after the incident and that he had purchased their air tickets.

In addition to charging RG with murder and his brother with hiding a wanted suspect, police also arrested the employer of RG for hiring an illegal worker.

The man, DI, has been charged with hiring an illegal employee and permitting him to operate a heavy vehicle without a licence.

All three have been transferred to the Public Prosecution.

Colonel Khalil Ibrahim, acting director of Dubai’s General Department of Criminal Investigation, hailed the efforts of the team assigned to handle the case.

“Prompt action and creative thinking led to the identification of the suspect and prevented him from fleeing.”


Taxi rank and file are ready to get you there

Dubai - Aug 16: The Reservation and Distribution Section at the Dubai Taxi Agency handled 257,329 calls last month, at the rate of 8,577 calls daily, according to statistics revealed by the agency.

Ammar bin Tamim, acting CEO of Dubai Taxi Agency and director of the Fleet Affairs Department at the agency, said 2,115 taxis are currently deployed to provide round-the-clock service. Two drivers are allocated for each vehicle on a shift basis.

In May, 271 vehicles were added to the fleet, while 270 more will be added in September.

The number of trips made by Dubai Taxi vehicles last month was 1,238,644 in total, while the total number of reservations made for cabs reached 296,317.The average handling time of reservation calls was 17 seconds and the average response time – the time it took for a reserved cab to reach a waiting customer – was 14 minutes.

On the agency’s airport service, Bin Tamim said: “The total number of vehicles operating reached 252 and the number of trips made was 265,604, recording a two per cent over the previous month. The number of drivers deployed in the airport service was 569, of whom 17 were women.” Around 6,200 taxis belonging to Dubai Taxi and fran chise companies are being monitored through a satellite tracking system, Bin Tamim said. Work is on to link another 541 vehicles recently added from the franchise firms to the satellite monitoring network, to bring the total number of monitored taxis to 6,741.

This is expected to assist in providing vehicles for a larger number of customers within five minutes.

The system will also contribute to limiting time wasted on road through providing a rationalised system of direction for vehicles, and averting traffic bottlenecks.

“The agency adopts a system of receiving and sending data based on digital mapping to assist in positioning vehicle locations, and facilitating reservation and tracking operations until a vehicle reached customers. This system enables full control over all operations and fleet movement,” said Bin Tamim.

He said the agency is seeking to reduce its response time to customer calls.


Dh40,000 heist in Fujairah

FUJAIRAH — AUG 16: Three men of Asian origin raided a jewellery shop in Kalba’s main street and decamped with more than Dh40,000 worth of valuable items after tying up and beating the shop worker yesterday.

According to the police, the shop worker was alone in the shop when three men entered the shop, beat him up and after tying him up , they placed him behind a table and escaped with jewellery worth more than Dh40,000 in a getaway vehicle that was waiting for them.

The worker suffered injuries on his body. He was shifted to a hospital by the police.

The police have launched a manhunt and alerted the checkpoints on the roads going to Oman, Khorfakkan and Dubai.


Dubai - Paramedic faces mobile phone theft rap

Dubai - Aug 16: A paramedic has gone on trial charged with stealing a mobile phone from the patient he was supposed to be helping at the Dubai Court of First Instance.

On January 26, the paramedic was called to a house in Karama where a 57-year-old American man had suffered a stroke. The patient claims he then handed his phone to the defendant and asked him to call his wife and son to let them know what had happened. He alleges that the paramedic took the phone and then went about his medical duties, failing to make contact with his family.

After they arrived at the hospital, the American claims the paramedic still did not ring his wife, but kept hold of the phone. Police then questioned the defendant at the hospital, where he denied attempting to steal the mobile. The paramedic told 7DAYS: "The case has dragged on for seven months. I hope that a verdict will be issued soon, and that I will be acquitted of the charges.”

The case has now been adjourned until September 2, when the paramedic’s lawyer will mount his defence.


High price, low supply

UAE - AUG 16: POTATOES this year are not only selling at relatively higher price than what they were sold for last year, but supplies from some countries are also dwindling.

Purchase Manager of a leading chain of supermarkets said that Indian potatoes are not available in majority of the Dubai markets which are more dependent on supplies from Lebanon and Saudi Arabia.

He said that supplies from these countries have come down due to poor harvest in these countries. He added that though Chinese potatoes are coming to the market but its life is quite small and mainly supplied to hotels and restaurants.

"Prices of potatoes have gone up in comparison to the last year and rising transport cost is also one of the contributing factors," the purchase manager added.

A major wholesaler, Mohammed Badruddin said that supplies of potato from Saudi Arabia have come down this year for various reasons including "domestic compulsions."

He said that quality of potato from Saudi Arabia is also not up to the mark and hoped that situation would improve in two months after the season becomes more suitable for cultivation.

He said that Chinese potatoes are coming in plenty and its supplies have helped bring a semblance of stability in prices of potato.

Price of Indian potato in the domestic market has also grown up steeply as the commodity which was available at Rs10 per kg (about Dhs1) in the last week of July to Rs18-25 (Dhs1.5 to 2.5) in the second week of August. The impact of price hike on UAE market could not be ruled out, he added.

Another trader, Hassan said that prices of potato went up steeply during conflict between Israel and political factions in Lebanon in 2006 and its impact on prices of potato in local UAE market is still being felt.

The whole sale price of Lebanese potato is also on higher side, around Dhs2.50 per kg, in comparison to that of Indian or Pakistani potato which is nearly Dhs1.40 per kg.

Super markets in Sharjah are selling potato at Dhs3.50 per kg to Dhs4 per kg but fluctuations in the prices of potato even during a short time frame could not be ruled out.

Price of potato in majority of the supermarkets was Dhs2.75 per kg during last year, added the manager of a leading supermarket in Sharjah.

"It is true that prices of potato started rising during and after the Israel-Lebanon conflict and the prices remained on higher side despite favourable situations emerging at later stage," commented a Dubai based accountant, Richard D' Silva.

Chinese potatoes are available in the supermarkets and they are also better processed but still people want the stuff from Indian subcontinent, he added.

"Supplies of potato from other countries have become little bit difficult following huge production of potato chips and other value addition to the commodity in exporting countries," commented another office goer.



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