NEWS FROM THE UAE
Excerpts from UAE Dailies
Sharjah’s Port Khalid closed after fire
SHARJAH – AUG 18: A massive fire that raged for over 11 hours at Emirates Lube Oil Company at Port Khalid in Sharjah yesterday was finally put off by an army of firefighters early today morning.
Sharjah Civil Defence sources said that sand was also used to put off the raging fire that started at 11.45 p.m. on Friday at the store of Eloc that is used to keep oil and furnace materials. However, no one was reported injured in the blaze.
“Currently cooling operations are being carried out by the Sharjah Civil Defence,” added the source. “The whole plant of the company (10-15 yards) has been gutted while the fire has also spread to its surrounding areas,” said the source.
Major Jumaa Al Leem, head of Sharjah police public relations, told Reuters that Port Khalid would be completely closed for the day and it was still unclear when shipping would resume.
“The damage and the reason for the fire are still unknown but the damaged area is very big,” Leem said.
John Thekkanth, assistant manager at Gulftainer, which manages and operates Sharjah ports, said Port Khalid was “completely closed today”.
Port Khalid, on Sharjah’s Gulf coast, handles the majority of its general cargo traffic and has a 13-berth deep water harbour. Sharjah’s other main port is at Khor Fakkan on the Indian Ocean coast, well away from the blaze.
An eyewitness said the flames had reached a height of 200 metres.
Buildings for same nationalities!
DUBAI — AUG 18: Giving priority on the basis of nationality, religion or caste etc. while renting out flats, rooms or bed spaces might be a common affair in Dubai, as the classifieds in the dailies can show.
However, the trend seems to be changing now, with some real estate companies too preferring to rent out entire buildings to people belonging to the same nationality.
While there are some who are feel that it is a clear case of discrimination, the officials think otherwise.
According to them, with Dubai attracting people of various nationalities, the observation and experience indicates that people belonging to the same nationality tend to live in peace and harmony.
For the officials of Dubai Municipality, this is a new development, something they have not come across.
The three-storey building in the Rigga Al Buteena area is one example of this new trend.
The new building, which has 18 flats consisting of studio and one to four bedroom halls has been ‘reserved’ just for the Filipino community.
The building has got a banner which clearly states that the building would be given just for the Filipino nationals.
The building, situated in a prime location is bound to attract a lot of people, particularly bachelors, especially after the civic body has clearly said that the bachelors could live anywhere, except in the villas. “I thought that the real estate company just preferred the Filipinos more than any other nationality and that they would be a bit flexible. But when I inquired, they clearly stated the same.”
“This is not a good practice as the bachelors at present are facing so many problems in searching for accommodations. The concerned authority should look into the matter. This is a sort of discrimination,” said Nizaam Hasan, a bachelor who had approached the real estate for a flat in the building.
The officials of the company, however, had a different approach and viewpoint. Mohsen Kafiri, manager of the Pearl Island Real Estate, which manages the building denied allegations that they have been prejudiced in their decision to rent out flats to a particular nationality.
“We respect people of any nationality. In the years that we have been in this business, we have observed that people of similar nationalities tend to live in harmony much better because they share the same culture and communicate easily with one another,” he explained.
Kafiri added that they plan to acquire additional residential properties, which they intend to lease to other nationalities. “In the near future, we plan to rent out flats only for Indians or Pakistanis. We are even thinking of renting out flats exclusively for women and another only for men,” he disclosed.
Engineer Omar Mohammed Abdul Rahman, head of the Buildings Inspection Section in Dubai Municipality, said, “We have not come across something like this before. But then a real estate company can rent out its building to anyone they wish to. If people have a complaint, it can be addressed to the Rent Committee,” he said.
Driving schools raise the bar as RTA issues warning
DUBAI - AUG 18: Dubai driving schools are raising standards for hiring driving instructors following criticism from the Roads and Transport Authority about the quality of their teachers. The RTA recently blamed the high rate of accidents in the emirate on driving schools that pass students who are not qualified enough to drive.
The criticism was aimed directly at instructors who fail to teach students basic driv ing techniques. Now driving institutions are pulling out all the stops to ensure the quality of teaching improves to meet the demands set by top RTA officials.
Among the changes being introduced are tighter recruitment policies and refresher courses for instructors returning from holiday.
“The quality of our driving instructors has scaled up tremendously due to some improvements in our remedial programmes,” said Mohammad Hussain, Manager for Advanced and Instructor Training Courses at Belhasa Driving Center. Hussain said that all new instructors will have to undergo a new rigorous interview process and only those with the best instructing skills will be chosen.
The school receives more than 100 applications annually, but fewer than 50 per cent of them succeed in gaining the Driving Instructor Permit.
Hussain revealed that RTA officials are fully involved in the interviewing process and the instructor training courses that follow. He added: “To apply as an instructor one must have three years of driving experience, be more than 25 years of age and must have a minimum of 10 years of formal education.” An instructor-training official at Al Ahli Driving School admitted that the school had set up programmes to ensure higher teaching standards, which include regular evaluations and additional training programmes.
Through the evaluations, the performance of existing instructors is determined and appropriate action is taken to retrain them. “We want them to produce highly qualified drivers as this would help to reduce cases of reckless driving,” said the official.
He said new instructors also now have to undergo a series of new interviews that test their driving and leadership skills and how effective they can communicate with the students.
The criticism from the RTA came after a team of consultants visited driving schools earlier this year and asked them to improve the overall standard.
TRAM LINE TO SERVE NEW DUBAI AREAS
DUBAI - AUG 18: A 15-kilometre-long tram line could service people living in some New Dubai areas, said Obeid Al Mulla. The line, which is currently under study, could pass through residential and shopping areas, including Jumeirah Beach Residences, Mall of the Emirates and Ibn Batutta Mall.
Earlier this year, the Chairman and Executive Director of the Roads and Transport Authority, Mattar Al Tayer, said officials were studying the option of connecting the Metro’s Red Line with the Purple Line via a tram route connecting Sheikh Zayed Road to Emirates Road.
Sevanam gives 100 air tickets to illegals
DUBAI - AUG 18: Sevanam, a Dubai-based voluntary organisation working for the betterment of Indian community, has decided to donate air tickets to 100 illegal labourers, who are penniless and wish to repatriate using the three-month reprieve granted by the UAE government.
Rajendraprasad, president of Sevanam, and Saju Edackattu, secretary of Sevanam jointly stated, "We have already given 60 air tickets to prisoners who have been held in Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah, Ajman and Abu Dhabi jails. In addition to this, we are providing those with medical aid, who have been suffering.
Sevanam gives more important to charity activities and the organisation is one of the biggest organisations in UAE with around 8000 members. Several blood donation campaigns in various hospitals in the UAE and the repatriation of dead bodies from here to their homeland, who have no relatives or friends here to assist, are among the various activities of the Sevanam.