News headlines

Excerpts from UAE Dailies

Grace period likely for departure of illegals

DUBAI — AUG 22: A top Dubai Naturalisation and Residency Department (DNRD) official yesterday said the Immigration authorities are considering a grace period of one-week to one-month for the amnesty seekers to leave the country after the September 2 deadline.

“The exit passes issued by the DNRD’s Follow-up and Investigation Section (FIS) in Jumeirah are valid for one week. However, after September 2, DNRD may be considering increasing the departure deadline,” said Captain Abdullah Al Matrouchi.

Capt Al Matrouchi added, “Increasing the departure deadline was just a suggestion and it is not yet confirmed. We have been informed that there is some problem with the booking of tickets considering the rush to travel in this period.”

“We have already urged the airlines to cooperate and be part of this process by eliminating hurdles facing the travel of amnesty seekers. However, in worst-case scenario if the amnesty seeker has been issued an exit pass and he couldn’t manage to leave the UAE, he can approach the DNRD again to have his exit pass renewed. He should then leave within one week from the renewal date.”

Tareq, a counter staff at FIS, stated, “Each day we process between 3,500 to 4,000 applications for amnesty seekers. We don’t begin processing the application unless the amnesty seeker gives proof of his air travel ticket. We need to know the date of his flight in order to issue an exit pass. This is a preventive step against any potential problem with the airline companies as the exit pass is not valid for more than one week.”



Abu Dhabi landlords go on eviction spree

ABU DHABI — AUG 22: In a new trend that is noticeable in the capital, an increasing number of landlords and apartment owners are reportedly asking their tenants to vacate the premises on the pretext of demolition or maintenance.

The apparent reason for such a tactic being used by landlords to evict tenants is the lure of higher rents from new tenants.

Engineer Mohammed Al Dali, one of the residents in the city, said the annual rent of apartments in the capital ranges between Dh30,000 and Dh60,000, that too for apartments which are not centrally air-conditioned.

He pointed out one specific case in which tenants of a complex were surprised to hear from the landlord that the building they were living in would be demolished. The landlord even showed to them a licence from the Abu Dhabi Municipality authorising him to demolish the building.

In such a case, the tenants’ families are put to inconvenience, specially those who cannot afford high rents.

Mohamed Shawkat, a resident of another complex, said when the landlord tells the tenants to vacate at short notice it becomes difficult for them to find a place. Moreover, it inconveniences some of the tenants among whom are widows and orphans who have nowhere to go.

The landlord should not ask the 350 families living in houses built in a compound to vacate at this time when there is severe housing shortage, Engineer Al Demerdash Sa’adudin said.

Ali Qassim, a resident, urged the officials to take a decisive stand against landlords who want the tenants to move out  so that he could demolish the building in order to build residential towers. Their only aim is to earn more money without any concern for the hapless tenants.

According to Ibrahim Furaihat, Secretary-General of the Rent Disputes Settlement Committee, the committee receives around 200 complaints every month against landlords who demand eviction of their tenants.


One dead, three hurt in Sharjah building fire

SHARJAH — AUG 22: A 65-year-old Palestinian man died and three of his family members sustained burn injuries when a fire broke out in their 8th floor flat in Al Tahira Building in Sharjah in the early hours yesterday, a Sharjah Police official said.

The building is located opposite the Etisalat building in Al Nahda area of the emirate. According to the police, the fire started at around 2.10am. A team of Anjad patrol from Al Buhairah police station rushed the 65-year-old Palestinian, his wife and two children to Al Qasimi Hospital, but the man died on way to the hospital.

Police and Civil Defence teams evacuated the building and managed to extinguish the fire in nearly two hours. They also prevented the fire from spreading to nearby buildings. “The entire area was cordoned off and building residents were asked to stay outside their apartments for some time,” the police official said. The official added that most of the items in the flat were gutted.

A source from Al Qasimi Hospital said the three injured had been admitted to the ICU where their condition is stable. The cause of the fire is yet to be ascertained and investigations are on, the police said.

Fear grips Al Tahira residents

The residents were asleep when the blaze erupted in the 8th floor flat around 2am yesterday morning. Soon, officials evacuated all the residents of the building in a bid to avoid a massive mishap.

According to the residents, yesterday’s blaze was the second in the same building in a span of five months. In the previous incident of fire, a Filipino girl had a close shave.

Talking about yesterday’s incident, Mohan Das, a resident of the building said: “I was sleeping when the security staff of the building knocked on my door informing that a fire had erupted in the building. I immediately took my children and rushed out. Hundreds of residents were already standing outside. We were not allowed to use the lift.”

Das added: “I did not hear any fire alarm when the fire erupted.”

Another resident of the building said: “I heard the screams of help from the affected family. I think they realised the fire very late.”

He added: “I saw a young man in blaze rushing out in a desperate attempt to save himself. He managed to douse the fire after getting out from the building.”

Hundreds of residents gathered outside the building waited for the fire to be put out. “We kept waiting until receiving order from the officials to return to our apartments. This fire incident is alarming for all of us as it keeps recurring,” said a resident.

“I do not know the affected family personally. But I used to see them quite often. It’s a tragedy and I feel all of us are vulnerable,” the resident added.

The building comprises 11 storeys and each floor has 15 apartments. None of the relatives of the affected family was available immediately for comment.

When contacted, Col. Garib Shabban, director-general of the Sharjah Civil Defence, said the Civil Defence, in coordination with Sharjah Municipality and Economic Department, was working hard to ensure that all buildings follow the safety regulations by installing alarm systems, fire extinguishers and water hoses.


8th Interchange on Sh. Zayed Road in two years

DUBAI — AUG 22: The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has approved the construction of the 8th Interchange on the Shaikh Zayed Road.

The Interchange would be constructed by Chimozo Corporation, a Japan based company. The total cost of the project rests at Dh645 million and would be completed in two years time.

Senior RTA officials said that the construction work has already commenced on August 19. “The intersection would consist of 10 bridges. “This type of multi-bridge junctions do not involve any overlapping so as to ensure smooth and free traffic flow in all directions, particularly traffic flow to the left and right as well,” said Mattar Al Tayer, Chairman of the Board and Executive Director of the RTA.

He said that the intersection would ensure free traffic flow to the northern and southern parts of Jebel Ali Free Zones, Jebel Ali Airport, Jebel Ali Industrial Area and down town Jebel Ali. The intersections include two main bridges; the first one serves for the traffic flow from Dubai towards Jebel Ali Airport and the second one serves for the traffic flow from Jebel Ali Airport towards Abu Dhabi. The project also includes widening of Shaikh Zayed Road from 4 lanes to 6 lanes in each direction in a sector extending approximately 10 km from The Gardens Intersection up to the 9th gate at Jebel Ali Free Zone. The project also includes all utility works related to agriculture, irrigation, sewage, lighting, traffic and directional boards.

Dh45 billion earmarked  for RTA Strategic Plan

“This project comes as part of the Strategic Plan of the RTA extending up to 2015 which focuses on developing roads network to remove traffic bottlenecks. RTA has budgeted around Dh45 billion to execute a number of road and bridges projects including constructing new main roads extending 500 km and nine ring roads. The plan also includes an increase in the number of lanes over Dubai Creek from 19 to 47 crossings by 2008 and to 100 crossings by 2020. The plan also envisages constructing 95 multi-tier flyovers as well as modifying 25 existing intersections” revealed Al Tayer.

He stated that traffic congestion problems require integrated solutions, including upgrading and widening road networks, Creek crossings and developing all elements of mass transit system such as metro, tram, buses and marine modes. It also requires developing traffic and transport technological systems to ensure optimum utilization and highest efficiency of roads and transport systems.


Property agents excluded from draws

ABU DHABI — AUG 22: Property agents and their staff are no longer entitled to apply in property draws, as per a decision taken by the Department of Commercial Buildings, Khaleej Times has learnt.

The decision is aimed at giving greater chances to accommodation seekers, and preventing property agents from keying in their data in the computer system, which randomly picks up applicants to win any of the vacant apartments available, informed sources said.

A number of property agents, who won some of the apartments in the draw system, were found to have subleased the apartments at higher prices.


Worker loses fingers in freak crane accident

RAS AL KHAIMAH — AUG 22: A 27-year-old labourer was admitted to Saqr Hospital on Monday evening after all his fingers of the left hand got accidentally chopped off by a machine while at work.

Shabir Khan, a Pakistani national and an employee of an Abu Dhabi based construction company with a branch in Ras Al Khaimah, was trying to help in the off-loading of sand from a pick-up. He accidentally put a hand in the crane machine that chopped off his fingers.

Mohammed Riyadh, the site engineer and Khan’s supervisor confirmed the worker was assisting the pick-up owner to off-load the sand but he was not aware that the crane was operating very near when he accidentally put his left hand in the machine.

Sources from Saqr Hospital told Khaleej Times that the patient was admitted in the Surgery ward but he had lost all his fingers of the left hand and was still under intensive care.


 ‘Lost’ man gets help to fly home
An Indian suffering from a brain tumour will return home to his family tomorrow thanks to investigative work by a UAE charity.  Ravi Varikuppala, 22, was found wandering the streets by Dubai Police in March. He could not remember his name or where he lived.

He was admitted to Al Baraha Hospital in Dubai where he had a series of tests to determine his condition. Varikuppala was referred to Tawam Hospital, Al Ain, where a scan revealed lesions on the brain.  He had emergency radiology and chemotherapy treatment – but doctors at the hospital said they could not operate on the tumour.

However, Varikuppala’s condition began to improve, and he was transferred to Kuwaiti Hospital in Sharjah. While this was happening, Varikuppala lost contact with his family in India and his employer in Sharjah reported that he had absconded.

But then the Valley of Love charity, which helps expatri ates who are sick or in prison, stepped in. Volunteers learned about him during a routine visit to the hospital and immediately launched efforts to identify him and offer him a safe passage home.

“We managed to find out his employer’s name and then found a friend who could identify him,” said CP Matthew, Valley of Love’s chief co-ordinator. “We obtained help from radio stations in India to track down his family.

“We are now in touch with his family and will repatriate him. We will try to get some care for him in India.” The group discovered that Varikuppala was from the remote village of Adilabad in Andhra Pradesh and arrived in Dubai in July last year to work on a construction site.

And now – with help from Dubai’s immigration department – the charity has booked an air ticket for Varikuppala. A Dubai doctor will accompany him to India tomorrow, where his parents and four brothers are awaiting his return.

Valley of Love, which sends home between 70 and 80 expatriates each year, is now trying to locate medical experts who can administer treatment in his

Women enjoy more rights than men at work
Critical issues concerning women in the workforce were raised during the Second Dubai Centre for Corporate Values (DCCV) CSR Committee meeting yesterday.  A cross section of women working in both public and private sectors, however, felt women enjoy more rights than men at the workplace in the country.

The meeting was told that some private sector companies were denying women their full rights under UAE labour laws, particularly with regard to maternity leave.  However, what raised concern was that women were not aware of their rights as employees.

It was also felt that veiled women faced difficulties in finding jobs, while women in general had to encounter more challenges in receiving training. Employers were also not clear about the capabilities of Emirati women, the committee noted.

Humaid bin Deemas, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Labour, disagreed with the issues raised at the meeting, stressing that they have never come across any complaints or problems against women at work.

“Since 2002, the ministry has a special section under the UAE labour laws that looks into several aspects such as working hours, maternity leave, types of jobs which do not suit women and other related issues.” He said in case any woman has a complaint or has faced discrimination, she must complain to the ministry, which will look into the issue.

Alyazeya Ahmad, a 24-year old national working in a private company in Abu Dhabi, said women in the UAE enjoy more rights at work than men.

“I don’t feel there is any discrimination against women at the workplace here in the country.

“Evidence of this is seen in more and more women joining the workforce and taking leading positions, such as Maryam Al Roumi, Social Affairs Minister, and Sheikha Lubna Al Qassimi, Minister of Economy.” Manal Saeed, a 22-year-old national working in a bank in Al Ain, said: “Women in the UAE are aware of their rights at the workplace, and, in my opinion, enjoy more rights than men.

“What I have also noticed is that women get promoted more often then men here.” She said it is men who should complain about discrimination, not women.

Najeeb Mohammed Al Ali, Executive Director of DCCV and head of the CSR Committee, said: “Women are a vital part of our society and important contributors at work.

“Employers are fully accountable for their employ ees and are obliged to comply with ministry regulations. However, it is also the duty of employees to be aware of their rights.” Following the discussions, the committee affirmed that companies need to fully comply with the labour laws and regulations, and grant employees their full rights, especially with regard to maternity leave.

This could be complemented by offering facilities such as flexible working hours or work-from-home options for women who have family commitments.


Teenager saved from drowning

A teenager was rescued from drowning off the Abu Dhabi Corniche on Monday by the marine wing of the emirate’s police.  Major Khalid Al Shamsi, head of Abu Dhabi marine police, said a group of Arab expatriate youth were swimming off the Corniche near the Royal Le Meridien Hotel at about 7.30pm when one of them, aged 14, started to drown.

“A rescue team immediately reached the spot and rescued the boy. He was provided medical treatment and is safe,” he added.

A teenager was rescued from drowning off the Abu Dhabi Corniche on Monday by the marine wing of the emirate’s police. Major Khalid Al Shamsi, head of Abu Dhabi marine police, said a group of Arab expatriate youth were swimming off the Corniche near the Royal Le Meridien Hotel at about 7.30pm when one of them, aged 14, started to drown. “A rescue team immediately reached the spot and rescued the boy. He was provided medical treatment and is safe,” he added. 

Trip to the Top of Burj Dubai - Don’t be fooled

Dubai - Aug 22: Emaar is warning online auction users to beware of shady traders offering illegal 'VIP' tours to the top of the unfinished Burj Dubai, in which they will dress tourists up as workers.

The sellers are attempting to charge dhs1,300 per person for a three-hour tour of the construction site, saying they will take a maximum of two people up the tower per trip and provide blue worker’s uniforms, a protective helmet and safety instructions as part of the deal. But developer and property owner Emaar says it has certainly not approved the tours.
A spokesperson for the company told 7DAYS: “Emaar has not sanctioned any public or for profit tours and we strongly advise members of the public not to subscribe to such claims.”

The trader, who goes by the name ‘Tunafish’ and advertises on, invites people to take a day or night tour of the site to: “See many of the most spectacular buildings in Dubai from a unique perspective”.
The posting adds: “Be quick, rare offer! We have started a waiting list”. When an undercover 7DAYS reporter emailed the seller to find out when these tours are set to commence and if they actually have permission from Emaar, the trader responded by saying: “You are a brand new member and we will surely not disclose any details of the tours without knowing you personally.

“Tours commence on demand and comprise of a maximum two persons. You are dressed in a worker’s suit and will need to sign a secrecy paper prior to the trip.” He added: “Emaar people are involved so who else shall grant permission to access the site and tower. You will enjoy the trip!”

A spokesperson for the web site said while in Dubai and the UAE they see far fewer bogus transactions than elsewhere in the world, they take any matters which “collide” with local or international laws “very seriously”, adding: “Inadequate or fraudulent listings are removed. We have a strict policy to ban sellers who repeatedly do not adhere to the site.
“There is little we can do about listings which appear genuine and offer touring services of sites, buildings or other locations but rest assured we will take the matter further should there be evidence something is wrong with the offer.”


Dubai - How did she die?

Dubai - Aug 22: Police have recovered the decomposing body of a missing Filipina in the Jumeirah district of Dubai. Last week 7DAYS reported that  38-year-old  housemaid Mary Ann Carbellido, had been missing since an early morning driving lesson on August 12.


The victim's younger sister Anariza Tangan, 35, was contacted by Bur Dubai Police at 11am yesterday to identify the body at the morgue. “Police told me that they found her behind a villa in Jumeirah and they believe that she had died five to six days ago,” Anariza said. She said that when she went to view the body, she could not recognise her sister's face, which had turned black.

Police showed her Mary Ann's silver watch, jewellery, and the black blazer and black jeans which she was wearing when she went missing. “I could not go near the body which was wrapped except for her face. I was only able to positively identify her when the police showed me her belongings,” Anariza said.

Mary Ann has three children and a husband back in the Philippines, who she called at least three times a week. “I haven't informed anyone yet in the Philippines.  Her employer told me today that he will cooperate with the CID to trace the whereabouts of the person who took my sister to the driving school. He said that the person who drove her to her driving lesson has already left the country,” Anariza said.

The last time she saw Mary Ann was on August 10 when they visited friends in the Satwa area of Dubai. “We didn't have any problems. We were so happy that day. I can't believe that she's gone forever now,” her sister said.
A spokesperson for the Philippine embassy told 7DAYS she believed the case was being treated as murder and that they would be monitoring the case closely with police. The family has requested the repatriation of Mary Ann’s body back to her homeland.


Investigation into Palm fire begins

DUBAI - AUG 22: A WORKER jumped to death while another was electrocuted after a fire broke out in maintenance cradle on the ninth floor of a residential block in Palm Jumeirah on Monday morning.

The workers were cleaning the exteriors of the 12-storey building when the fire accident took place around 10am forcing one of the workers to jump. He died on the spot after sustaining serve injuries. The other worker who was in the cradle died due to electric shock and his body was charred beyond recognition. The identity of the workers is not known.

A spokesperson of Nakheel, which is developing the world's largest man-made island, told The Gulf Today that the building was located in the trunk part of The Palm Jumeirah.

"A full investigation is underway to know the reasons behind the mishap. With deep regret we can confirm that two employees working within the maintenance cradle died as a result of the fire," said the spokesperson. He said that The Palm Jumeirah Civil Defence permanent Fire Tender arrived within minutes of the incident being reported.

This is the second major accident fire accident in The Palm Jumeirah. Earlier this year one person was injured in a blaze that raged for nearly three hours in a building under construction at the same place.

Hundreds of labourers were evacuated from the construction site on the trunk of the palm tree shaped island which has become one of the wonders of the world because of its unique design and marvellous construction.

Dubai Civil Defence said that it's operation room received a call informing them about the incident and they immediately dispatched a fire brigade from Al Quoz station. "The fire brigade reached the spot at 10:01am and doused the fire. Two workers were killed in the accident," officials said.

The entire area was cordoned off and no one was allowed inside the block.


Hopes fade as girl's health deteriorates

SHARJAH - AUG 22: HOPES about the recovery of the girl, who went into a coma after swallowing a balloon eight days ago, have diminished with her condition deteriorating day by day.

Doctors and family members have started fearing the worst outcome as six-year-old Alia Mohammed Ali Al Nuaimi has not been responding to medications given to her at the Intensive Care Unit of Al Qassimi Hospital in Sharjah.

The UAE national girl was rushed to the hospital after she accidentally swallowed the whole of a 10 centimetre-long balloon late night on August 11.

The child had collapsed after the balloon blocked the major airway into her lungs at the bifurcation of the trachea. She had sustained a cardiac arrest and a major brain injury before reaching the hospital. Doctors have suggested "remote chances" for the survival of the girl and that she was likely to suffer from some sort of disabilities if at all she recovers. "She has been on ventilator ever since she was admitted. Her condition has been deteriorating as the vital centres in the brain have been affected. Her blood pressure was going down and we have been maintaining it with medication," a doctor told The Gulf Today.

Meanwhile, Alia's family members wished to advise parents to take caution about the toys and tiny things that children play with. Her father Mohammed Ali Al Nuaimi, an inspector with Dubai Roads and Transport Authority, advised parents to be vigilant about the possible dangers from their children's toys.

Her aunt Ayisha Ali Saleh said, "Children are always children. Parents need to be more careful so that what has happened with Alia doesn't happen with anyone else."

She said that the four sisters of Alia were anxiously waiting for Alia to be discharged for buying new clothes and other items for their school re-opening. Alia is supposed to enter grade two in Al Noor School in Sharjah when schools re-open in September.




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