NEWS FROM THE UAE
Excerpts from UAE Dailies
AJMAN - AUG 20: A one-legged father-of-78 is preparing for his next two marriages as he closes in on his target of having 100 children by 2015. UAE national Daad Mohammed Murad Abdul Rahman, 60, has already had 15 brides, though he divorces wives to make way for new ones in order to stay within the legal limit of four. His youngest child, Tariq, is 20 days old and his oldest, Ayoob, is 36. And he has more babies on the way from two of his three current wives.
Daad Mohammed lost a leg in a road accident and plans to have an artificial limb fitted in Jaipur in India – and while there he hopes to find one of his new brides. One more has already been lined up in Baluchistan, Pakistan.
“In 2015 I will be 68 years old and will have 100 children,” he said. “After that I will stop marrying. I have to have at least three more marriages to hit the century.
“Two of my wives are pregnant and they will give birth within two months.Tariq was delivered by my wife Mariam. He is healthy and happy and will have two more brothers or sisters soon. And I am also happy because Allah is giving me more children.” The retired truck-driver, policeman and soldier has two other babies – fourmonth-old Alma and eightmonth-old Sara.
Two other children, Adnan and Sulaiman, are under two years old. His wives and exwives include Bedouins from the UAE plus women from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iran and Oman. They live in Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Sharjah, Abu Dhabi and Al Ain. Daad Mohammed, whose home is in Al Bustan, Ajman, spends time with each of them and has a family gettogether every Friday.
He is head of possibly the largest single UAE dynasty with 127 members, including 49 grandchildren, and has 15 houses. Two of his wives have died. Now he is going to have the same type of artificial limb – known as the Jaipur foot – that Indian dancer Sudha Chandran uses.
“After Ramadan, I will go to Jaipur to get an artificial leg and marry a beautiful Rajasthani girl,” he told Emirates Today. “I have had seven Indian brides.
“At present I use a crutch to move around. I am told that the Jaipur foot works better than other artificial limbs.” Daad Mohammed said he received generous support from the Ajman Government, including houses and cash. He was paid a military pension of Dh24,000 a month by the Abu Dhabi Government.
“Even though my family is big, I don’t have any problem managing the budget,” he said. “If I buy fish for the entire family I have to spend a minimum of Dh500 per day. If the menu includes mutton at least Dh1,000 per day is required, and that’s just for the meat.” And despite having so many offspring he does not overlook the vital duty of any dad. He added: “I take care of their requirements – and pay pocket money to each and every child.”
Hitching a ride on etisalat’s service
UAE - AUG 20: Some etisalat mobile users are taking advantage of a credit transfer system to make a profit from people who cannot afford to pay for Dh25 recharge cards.
“Freelancers” buy calling time from the telecoms company and get an incentive of 10 per cent extra. They then transferring it in smaller denominations to customers for an increased charge.
Siddiq Mohammed, who lives in Rolla, Sharjah, said he makes hundreds of dirhams a month from the scheme.
“I go to the Emirates Post office and recharge my mobile for Dh1,000,” he said.
“Etisalat gives me an incentive of 10 per cent. So for Dh1,000, I get calling time worth Dh1,100. Every month I sell calling time worth Dh1,000 and make around Dh350 in profit.
“Many customers buy call ing time of Dh5 or Dh10 by paying a premium because they don’t have enough money to buy a full phone card and pay Dh25.
“Each time I sell calling time worth Dh5, I charge Dh6 and make a profit of Dh1. After selling the entire amount I make a reasonable profit,” added Mohammed.
“During the weekend, I do good business because a lot of workers come to Sharjah.” Mohammed said before the credit transfer service was introduced, he sold prepaid etisalat calling cards.
However, he said he used to only make Dh5 or Dh10 in profit after selling four cards worth Dh100.
He added that transferring credit is much easier for him because he does not have to carry cards around.
Rama Reddy, an Indian who works in the construction sector and buys transferred credit, said the system works for him.
“It is good to buy calling time for Dh5 or Dh10 because sometimes I do not have Dh25 to buy a full card,” he said.
“Many shops in Sharjah, Ajman and Dubai are selling calling times for small amounts, and many of us find it a good arrangement.” Some of the freelance credit sellers have said they maintain multiple mobile numbers in order to get around etisalat’s cap on the amount that can be transferred.
The minimum transaction amount is Dh5 and the maximum transfer amount per day is Dh100. In addition, there is a monthly maximum transfer amount of Dh1,000.
Ganesh Nair, who sells transferred credit in Bur Dubai, said: “When the scheme was introduced, I started selling calling time worth Dh2,000 and made a profit of Dh700 per month. Many of my friends are doing good business by carrying two or three mobile phones.” Etisalat has said its credit transfer service is intended for use by family members and friends to allow the flexibility of having credit in different denominations or to allow someone to transfer credit in an emergency.
The service allows customers to transfer credit from GSM postpaid,Wasel prepaid and Ahlan prepaid accounts to other prepaid accounts.
There is no charge for the etisalat service and a customer need only type *100* the mobile number * the amount # and press the send key to transfer credit from one mobile to another.
Sharjah blaze loss put at Dh300 million
SHARJAH — AUG 20: A top official of Emirates Lube Oil Company (ELOC) that was reduced to ashes in Friday’s devastating fire at Sharjah’s Port Khalid, which reopened yesterday, said that the factory alone had incurred losses estimated over Dh300 million. However, officials of the Sharjah Civil Defence and Police said the total estimate of the damage caused by the fire will only be known once the investigations are over. The fire erupted at around 11.20pm on Friday causing heavy damage to the oil storage facility and nine port berths. It was one of the most devastating blazes, top official said. Three workers suffered burn injuries.
Maj-Gen. Abdulla Saif Al Shaafar, Under-Secretary of the Ministry of the Interior, said: “There was a very large amount of stored items, including inflammable material, at the site. It’s to their credit that the firefighters managed to control the fire in a relatively short time.”
The Eloc warehouse and oil containers that were gutted in the fire belonged to a Sharjah businessman. ELOC sources said the warehouse was used to stock fuel, oil, equipment and machinery.
While investigations are on, normal activity has resumed on Port Khalid. According to officials, nine berths of the port were badly damaged. The fire also caused damage to several nearby buildings and cars in the area.
Speaking to Khaleej Times, Ghareeb Shabban, Director-general of Sharjah Civil Defence, said the civil department and police together managed to control the fire and bring the situation to normal within 22 hours of its eruption.
Rashid Al Limi, Director-General of Sharjah Port Authority, confirmed the situation had returned to normal. “Efforts are on to clear the debris and waste while the damaged port platforms, are being repaired and will become fully operational by Monday,” he said.
‘Errant firms will pay for firefighting costs’
SHARJAH - AUG 20: Firms and business establishments will have to improve on their fire safety standards with proper equipment and skills.
Emphasising the need, Major General Saif Al Shaafar, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Interior, issued a strong warning errant institutions will have to pay the cost of firefighting.
He issued the warning following a blaze in a lubricant factory and warehouse located in Khalid Port, Sharjah.
If companies are proved not to be abiding by the safety and security measures, they will have to pay the civil defence cost, he said.
Most of the fires reported in Sharjah, especially in industrial areas are due to poor safety measures.
He said the ministry will extend all efforts and will deploy all needed facilities to save lives and properties should a fire broke out.
“But if it is proved the com pany was not applying safety and security measures, an invoice with the cost of extinguishing operation will be issued to the firm.” Lieutenant General Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Interior, said he appreciated the heroic work of the UAE Civil Defence forces for their bold effort in putting out the fire at Sharjah.
“It was a significant achievement,” Sheikh Saif said, citing the civil defence’s ability to contain the fire that broke out on Friday at the storage depot of Emirates Lube Oil Company in record time. He said quick response by firefighters prevented its spread to other sites.
Sheikh Saif who inspected the scene on Saturday, called for lessons to be learned from the incident to upgrade existing measures to protect vital premises against such hazards in the future
Oil spill after Port Khalid fire triggers climate concern
DUBAI — AUG 20: The devastating fire at Sharjah’s Port Khalid that gutted Emirates Lube Oil Company (ELOC) in Sharjah has caused an estimated one tonne oil spillage, triggering environmental concerns. However, officials from Lamalco, a company that carries out the cleaning of oil from the sea, said plastic booms had been used to control the oil spill since it (the spill) was spotted.
Atif Mustafa, public relations manager of Lamalco told Khaleej Times that the cleaning up of oil using skimmer had started yesterday evening. “We expect that the entire oil can be removed within two days.”
The blaze, he said, fortunately occurred on shore, so the environmental effect could be lesser. “If the fire was off shore it would have been more delicate and may have caused more environmental issues,” Atif added.
Meanwhile, environmentalists pointed out that inhaling smoke from oil burn could create health hazards. “The smoke from oil and the spill could cause trouble not only for human beings but also for fish and birds. But fortunately, most fishes are in deep sea this time of the year,” said an environmentalist.
Burning crude oil emits a toxic mix of hydrocarbons and sulphur dioxide which would pose health problems for those in the vicinity of the smoke from Sharjah’s Port Khalid fire, warned Dr Chithra Shamsudheen.
Eyewitnesses described the flames as dozens of feet high after the fire began at around 11.20pm on Friday and raged, fuelled by crude oil contained at the ELOC site. Thick black smoke continued to fill the air around the site during Saturday and into the evening.
Dr Chithra said the health hazards could be severe for those badly affected and may trigger allergy or asthma attacks. “It’s not good for the lungs,” she said, adding: “It can cause allergies and cough and people who have asthma can suffer asthma attack.”
Dr Shamsudheen advised that people in residential areas badly affected by the smoke should either move out or hang wet curtains to filter the smoke. “It’s very irritating to the lungs and it’s best to avoid it or hold a wet cloth to the nose and mouth to filter out the smoke particles,” she said.
“People prone to asthma should take precautions,” she reminded.
More than 40 runaway maids repatriated under amnesty
DUBAI — AUG 20: Some 45 of the 68 runaway housemaids seeking shelter at the Philippine Overseas Labour Office-Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (POLO-OWWA) in Dubai have been repatriated under the on-going amnesty programme.
Philippine labour attache Virginia Calvez said on Friday last that they had received a directive from the Dubai Naturalisation and Residency Department (DNRD) that all 68 wards can leave the country before the amnesty period ends on September 3.
“We have sought the assistance of the Filipino community leaders in providing air-fares to some of these housemaids,” she said.
Calvez pointed out that while most of the wards at the POLO-OWWA have not had problems securing their air-fares, since they were hired through authorised recruitment agencies, others were simply in dire straits.
“Some of the household workers were victims of illegal recruitment while others were visit visa holders who have been employed here. In such cases, it would be difficult to get their dues settled because there are no recruitment firms that can be held accountable,” she explained.
Last week, the POLO-OWWA in Dubai had urged members of the Filipino community to donate air tickets to the housemaids. So far, only 23 wards are still awaiting support from the community.
“We have received positive response from the community. A donor even came to our office with 10 tickets for the wards,” she said.
With only two weeks to go before the three-month amnesty programme ends, Calvez said the POLO-OWWA and the Philippine Consulate General (PCG) had stepped up their information dissemination campaign to encourage more illegal residents to avail of the clemency.
As of August 16, nearly 2,000 Filipinos from Dubai and the Northern Emirates have already enquired and requested assistance from the Philippine missions here with regard to the amnesty.
Ittihad Road: traffic worse after diversions
DUBAI — AUG 20: Those commuting between Sharjah and Dubai through the Ittihad Road say the traffic situation seems to have grown worse ever since the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) started work on its ongoing road expansion project.
While the RTA says the project would indeed be beneficial for people in the future, commuters say they had been suffering a nightmarish traffic situation everyday. And with just a couple of weeks to go before the schools reopen, commuters say the conditions will surely become even more worse.
The RTA closed the section between Al Mulla Plaza and Dubai Police Headquarters on the Sharjah-Dubai road a few days back. Earlier in July, they had closed the opposite side of the road.
“We have got into a real pathetic situation now. For the last three days I have been reaching my office in Dubai two hours late. The stress is too much to handle now,” said a frustrated Gautam Kapoor, who works with a bank in Dubai.
For those who do not have cars, the problem gets even worse, as Akram Sheikh, a daily commuter, points out. “I have to wait for hours to get a taxi. Sharjah taxi drivers refuse to carry us to Dubai. I tried calling up officials of the taxi companies but they expressed their helplessness.”
Some of the commuters from Sharjah break up their travel to reach the destinations in Dubai. Said Nitin Negi, who lives in a building located on King Faisal Road in Sharjah: “I first take a taxi to Monalisa Building right next to the highway and wait there. Some illegal taxis also stop by but they don’t want to travel to places like Bur Dubai and Shaikh Zayed Road. So I get dropped near the Dubai Cinema. After that, I again wait for a taxi or bus to take me to the destination. Each day, I end up travelling at least six hours — three hours in the morning and three in the evening.”
Commuters feel these new diversions should have been made at the beginning of the summer. Once the schools reopen, they say, their troubles will increase manifold.
RTA officials, on the other hand, say the new diversions are only for the betterment of commuters in the long run.
“The road closure is a part of the Dh800 million road expansion project. This is expected to get completed by the end of next year. Commuters should follow the new diversions and take care of the traffic signals. The ongoing road project, once completed, will solve their problems once and for all,” said an RTA official.
RTA to link different modes of transport
DUBAI — AUG 20: Mohammed Obaid Al Mulla, the CEO of Public Transport Agency and Acting Chairman of the board and Executive Director of Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), has stated that the RTA would develop the public transport and mass transit sector in terms of quality, efficiency and modernity.
Al Mulla pointed out that the mass transit system in Dubai is considered vital in the daily mobility ofcommuters.
Abras plying Dubai Creek ferried around 26.7 million passengers in 287,423 trips, registering a growth rate of 22.7 per cent during 2006 as compared to the previous year. Public buses carried 87.8 million passengers in 2 million trips in around 504 buses. “RTA has worked out an ambitious plan to develop mass transit system so that the contribution of mass transit modes would rise to 30 per cent. The plan includes commissioning of Dubai Metro Project, at a cost exceeding Dh15 billion and developing mass transit system by increasing the number of buses, trips, routes and services. The number will reach 1,200 buses by 2008.”
“It also envisages marine transport modes at a cost exceeding Dh1 billion by operating 10 water buses with a capacity of 35 passengers each. The waterbus service has already started in the Dubai Creek. In addition to this, 6 ferries with a capacity of 120 passengers each will be operated and the service is scheduled for commissioning in 2008,” Al Mulla commented.
He said that the Public Transport Agency has implemented the initial steps of integrating the mass transit modes in Dubai through establishing a link with the Marine Agency.
This has been materialised by linking transport Route No. 19 with Abra line No. 3 (linking Al Seef and Bani Yas Stations).
The Agency developed eight plans for integrating Abra stations with other modes of transport, which include buses, Dubai Metro, water bus and collective transport boats.
Al Mulla added that bus route No. 19 has been modified to pass across Al Seef Abra Station in order to provide a comfortable transport mode for abra users.
The distance between the public buses station and Al Seef abra station is only a one minute walk. From here commuters can move through Line 3 to Bani Yas Station opposite Dubai Municipality building in a three- minute walk. Bus route No. 19 is one of the vital routes on which 9 vehicles are deployed carrying around 2.4 million passengers every year.
Young men left in the lurch by recruiting agents
DUBAI — AUG 20: Saravana Pawan and Neville are two young men who came to Dubai a year back from their hometown in Trincomalee in Sri Lanka, with the dream of earning a good living as electricians. The two, who are related to each other, sold all they could from what they owned and took heavy loans to pay to recruiting agents to realise their dream.
After paying Sri Lankan Rs1,50,000 to the agents, the two landed, albeit separately, in the UAE. They came here thinking a job with a reputed electrical company awaited them.
However, both were cheated by their agents, who also took away their passports before disappearing. Left in the lurch in an alien country, the two wandered around aimlessly initially.
“We didn’t know where to go and what to do after the agent left us. Then, we tracked down some friends who are living here and started living with them in their camps. We have been doing small electrical jobs to make ends meet. Since we had spent so much money to get here, we couldn’t go back too,” says Pawan.
Now, the two are trying to get their out pass made, so that they can go back home. “We want to go back and never come back. The experience has been so horrifying for us that we would rather try and make a living in Sri Lanka,” he adds.
The two, however, haven’t figured out what exactly they would be doing to earn a living back home. “We’ll go home first and then see,” says Neville, smiling.
Dubai - New giant skyscraper to rise into Dubai’s skies
Dubai - Aug 20: If even the thought of a trip to the top of Burj Dubai brings you out in a spell of vertigo, then it's probably not advisable to picture Dubai's latest skyscraping project - The Tall Tower.
The Nakheel building, due to be tendered next year, is estimated to be a nerve-twitching 1,050 metres tall - which, if true, could exceed the estimated finished height of its rival the Burj Dubai. The Burj, which became the world's tallest building on July 21, is due to be completed next year and industry sources estimate it will reach a towering 800m.
But designs for the new 'Tall Tower' could snatch the Burj's title from its grasp. Plans for the project, originally labelled 'The Pinnacle' show 228 floors packed with offices, ultra-luxury apartments and hotels, restaurants, a health club and an observation deck.
The top 'habitable' floor will sit at a breathtaking 850 metres, topped by a 200-metre central spire with a three-level function floor.
And it is believed to consist of three separate towers built around a hollow interior and joined together by several sky bridges which function as 'sky lobbies'. But despite the initial height estimation, recent reports suggest the project has been downgraded, with Nakheel CEO Chris O'Donnell reported as saying “height isn't everything”.