NEWS FROM THE UAE
Excerpts from UAE Dailies
Amnesty causes shortage of housemaids in the UAE
ABU DHABI — SEP 09:The recent amnesty granted to illegals has caused a shortage of housemaids in the country as most of those working illegally took advantage of the UAE government’s leniency and left the country.
After the expiry of the amnesty deadline, the Interior and Labour ministries announced that 278,715 illegals had benefited by either legalising their status or leaving the country without they or their employers being fined.
Sources at the Abu Dhabi Naturalisation and Residency Department (ADNRD) disclosed that most of the illegals were housemaids and farm workers.
As a result of the shortage of housemaids, the number of people wishing to sponsor maids has almost doubled with ADNRD receiving 700 applications a day.
A few months before the amnesty, Filipino housemaids had begun to demand increase in wages which the sponsors felt was a financial strain on them.
Waheed Ahmed, a resident of Abu Dhabi, says, “I think the problem does not lie in the amnesty. It is the demand of the housemaids for increased salaries which compelled sponsors to employ illegals.”
He, however, adds, “Since the cost of living has gone up, the maids, too, have to make their ends meet by demanding a bit more,” he adds.
Iqbal, a salesman, says, “In the past I used to pay about Dh900 and the maid was working six days a week from 7am to 6pm. Now, I am finding it difficult to find a maid. Thus, I have entered into an arrangement with a cleaning company for my flat to be cleaned twice a week, which costs me Dh350 a month.”
“The illegal housemaids phenomenon surfaced because employing a maid legally involves an expenditure of Dh7,000-10,000 for visa fee, air ticket and guarantee as well as commission for the recruiting agent,” says Doha Al Wazani, a public relation executive.
She notes that the government’s amnesty decision was right and necessary for streamlining the market as well as protecting the workers’ rights because the illegals cannot claim any benefits.
Some sponsors feel that one of the solutions to ease the housemaid shortage situation is for the government to lower the expense involved in sponsoring a maids.
Illegal residents decline in capital
ABU DHABI - SEP. 09: A total of 4,866 illegal immigrants were arrested in Abu Dhabi by the Anti-infiltration Section at Abu Dhabi Police during 2004, 2005 and 2006. These included 1,048 illegal immigrants last year, 1,295 illegal immigrants in 2005 and 2,523 illegal immigrants in 2004.
During the same period, as many as 1,022 employers of illegal immigrants were arrested in Abu Dhabi, including 424 in 2006, 357 in 2005 and 241 in 2004. These employers were referred to the competent authorities on charges of harbouring illegal immigrants.
The Anti-infiltration Section at Abu Dhabi Police also arrested 9,556 violators of the residence law during the period in question including 2,202 in 2006, 3,446 in 2005 and 3,908 in 2004.
A report issued by the latest issue of the Police Magazine showed that a total of 5,616 inspection campaigns were conducted by the Anti-infiltration Section at Abu Dhabi Police at different workplaces across the emirate in 2004, 2005 and 2006. These included 2,787 in 2006, 1,826 in 2005 and 1,003 in 2004. The campaigns led to the arrest of 15,444 illegal immigrants, violators of residence law and employers of illegal immigrants.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Interior unveiled that international organised crimes were involved in bringing illegal immigrants into the UAE against sums of money. These gangs had got advanced means and devices that they used for importing illegal immigrants through the UAE's road and sea terminals.
The ministry said this phenomenon was dangerous due to the fact that the illegal immigrants had got no identified place of residence and held no identification papers, not to mention that some of them suffered from contagious diseases.
Pointing out that it was very hard to pursue some of these illegal immigrants who committed crimes, the ministry accused some establishments with subcontract projects of harbouring those illegal immigrants and helping them work in the same establishments, owing to the fact that these illegal immigrants accepted low salaries for hard work and could not file official pay-related complaints with the competent authorities because they were not on the sponsorship of these establishments.
The UAE, in particular, is facing this problem more than the rest of the Gulf Co-operation Council countries due to the fact that the UAE occupied a high economic position and had a lot of job opportunities that attracted many illegal immigrants seeking better living conditions.
Failing to find a job, however, illegal immigrants may kill, pass off drugs, steal, impersonate other people etc., thereby helping expand the scope of crime in the country.
The magazine pointed out that the UAE's road and sea terminals were covered by modern and high-precision radar networks operated by highly qualified staff who were provided with advanced equipment and control devices that dealt with targets in the different circumstances.
Landlords play foul to force tenants out
ABU DHABI — SEP. 09: Landlords in the capital are using every tactic to force tenants out of their flats so that they could rent out their properties at higher rents.
Ibrahim Feraihat, Secretary-General of the Rent Disputes Settlement Committee in Abu Dhabi, said some landlords and real estate offices were refusing to renew tenancy contracts, running away from tenants and not receiving annual rent with a view to evicting the tenants by filing a lawsuit accusing them of not paying the rent.
He warned tenants against falling into such a trap. “Non-claiming of rent and non-renewal of tenancy contracts by the landlords are no justifications for seeking eviction of tenants,” he said.
He added that the committee has tackled the problem by allowing tenants to deposit the value of rent in any bank in the name of the landlord and then notify him. “By this measure, the tenant can stay in the leased unit even if he hasn’t renewed the contract,” he added.
Alukkas’ plane crashes in India
UAE - SEP. 09: An aeroplane chartered by Joy Alukkas, Chairman of the Joy Alukkas Group, has crashed near Goudarapalya, Bangalore, India while on the way to pick him up from Kochi.
“The aircraft was going to Kochi to pick up Joy Alukkas, chairman of the group, and take him to Thiruvanthapuram to attend a function when the mishap occurred,” the group’s media manager Balakrishna Periya told Emirates Today over the phone from Kochi.
The Joy Alukkas Group, though based in southern Indian state of Kerala, has extensive business interests in the UAE. The Indian media quoted Deputy Commissioner of Police (South) Alok Kumar saying that the aeroplane crash happened at around 3.20pm (IST) and that four people died in the accident. The plane crashed into a lake after hitting a coconut tree.
Waterbuses may replace abras on major routes
DUBAI — SEP. 09: The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) is studying a proposal to replace the abra service with that of the waterbus on the route between the Baniyas and Al Seef stations in the Dubai Creek.
According to the RTA officials, with a lot of government offices situated near the Al Seef station, the move could help a lot of government employees who complain about reaching work late because of the traffic.
Khalid Al Zahid, a senior official of the Marine Transport Agency at the RTA, said that the work would be carried out in phases in order to ensure that there is no disruption in marine transport system along the route.
“Till late, we have launched two routes of the waterbus service. The first route goes from Al Sabkha to Bur Dubai and the second route starts from Al Sabkha and goes to the Al Seef station and vice versa. The routes from Baniyas to Old Souk and Baniyas to Al Seef would be opened shortly. Also there would be another route starting from Al Seef and going till Al Shandaga station just for the tourists,” he said.
“The Al Seef area had got a lot of government buildings like the Dubai Municipality, The Rent Committee etc. And the place is always crammed due to traffic. We are thinking about using the waterbus between the Baniyas and Al Seef stations. These waterbuses would be replacing the abras plying along the route. The government officials can take advantage of it and reach their offices on time without getting caught in any traffic snarl,” he added.
The officials said that every route would have two waterbuses plying. “The number would be increased for each of the routes in the future. We are not hurrying into things at the moment. The plan would be in a phase wise process so that there is no disruption in the commuter service along the two routes. The matter is being given a serious thought. The abras operating along these routes can be adjusted in other places along the creek,” added the official.
Essa Abdul Rahman Dosari, the CEO of the Marine Transport Agency of the RTA said that they were closely monitoring the situation after the waterbus launch and changes could be made once the evaluation is done.
“We don’t think that there would be any adverse effects in Marine transportation. Though slow, the waterbus is getting popular with time. And many people use the marine transport as it saves a lot of time. Transport by taxis is expensive and bus takes in a long time. So people using Marine transport are not going to leave it.”
“Moreover in accordance with the international standards, an evaluation will be done in 6 months in order to know the real status of the new service. It is on the basis of the report that there could be some changes when it comes to the ticket rates etc,” opined Dosari.
Deals galore at Gitex
DUBAI — SEP. 09: The Gitex Shopper and Consumer Electronics Expo 2007 has drawn in crowds keen for a deal or the latest gadget with stores giving away laptops and other products proving especially popular.
Dr R Samuels said she had come looking for laptops and cameras and had been impressed to find good offers and the “very tempting” smallest phone.
“There was great new things for the cameras with data so you could download a power point to your camera,” she said.
The Jumbo Electronics store has been giving away one free laptop every hour as part of their prizes worth Dh500,000 which will be given away this week.
It had Jumbo hailing laptops as the draw card for the event and the best-sellers.
It certainly rang true for Joseph Labaki who took away two laptops after winning an extra one free and said he would be keeping both to remind him of “a rewarding visit.”
Dr Rashad Omar was in the market for a laptop as well but said he was disappointed with the prices.
“This year there are a lot more laptops but the prices need to go down,” he said.
Lloyd De Jongh, an IT manager, said he had been keen to see what unusual products were available but found the technology more mainstream.
“At other technology fairs there are a lot more unusual items,” he said. “But it’s well worth it. There are great prices.”
He and wife Bronwyn left with several bags with a new Nokia phone catching their eye and items for work.
Nokia phones were also being given away and five BenQ LCD TV’s every hour were up for grabs.
At the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) the buzz surrounded the introduction of intelligent communication for small businesses from Extreme Networks.
Other deals included a Xerox Phaser 3117 for Dh299 and an Optima projector Dv11 selling at a Dh500 discount.
Etisalat’s new service music to the ears of its customers
DUBAI — SEP. 09: Mobile phone and computer users can now download full track music from their personalised radio channels streamed to both 3G mobile phones and personal computers as part of an interactive service being demonstrated at the Etisalat stand at GULFCOMMS 2007.
Etisalat and RealNetworks® Inc., a digital entertainment services company, yesterday announced their partnership to bring the Middle East’s first fully convergent music service to the UAE.
The service will enable Etisalat customers to access hundreds of thousands of songs from the world’s leading record companies, including songs in Arabic. Customers can access streamed radio channels and channels that they themselves have defined.
Essa Al Haddad, Chief Marketing Officer, Etisalat, said, “Empowering our customers with the popular Real system and catalogue is a breakthrough in personal entertainment, and with this option on the PC as well as the mobile, Etisalat is enabling customised entertainment 24/7. “
The key feature of the service is its easy-to-use personalisation system, which enables customers to ‘train’ the pre-programmed radio channels to their own personal tastes by simply pressing a button to indicate ‘Like’ or ‘Dislike’ while listening to a song.
Customers can choose pre-defined and personal channels, where they select a song or radio channel based on mood or genre.
They can also buy songs that they like, which will be automatically available for download. Personal settings and personal channels created on the mobile phone will also be accessible from the PC. This service extends the experience to the popular Greetune service.
Two die in August at capital work sites
ABU DHABI — SEP. 09: Two workers died during August as a result of accidents at work sites in the emirate of Abu Dhabi , according to Khaleed Mohammed Al Menhali, head of the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Section in the Ministry of Labour (MoL). As many as 65 companies had reported accidents at work sites.
“The ministry also followed up with the respective companies the issue of compensation and end-of-service benefits that need to be paid to the heirs of the two deceased labourers,” added Al Menhali.
The ministry has made it obligatory for the companies to furnish quarterly accident reports, accompanied by medical reports, to the OSH section. Al Menhali also stated that the OSH team visited 143 labour accommodations in the capital to ensure compliance of safety and hygiene rules.
Dubai - Bank scam foiled
Dubai - Sep. 09: Three bank employees have gone on trial in Dubai for plundering the accounts of customers. The Indian employees - one a manager’s assistant at the bank - are alleged to have used customers’ credit card details to buy goods over the internet.
The three have been charged with stealing more than dhs10,000 from two of the bank’s customers. Police are still searching for a fourth member of the gang who was also employed at the bank, the Court of First Instance was told. According to case records, a complaint was made to the bank from one of its customers claiming that his credit card was being used illegally to buy goods over the internet.
The bank made an official complaint to Dubai Police who then started an investigation into the case. Officers tracked down the employees who were using customers’ details and bank passwords to order goods. Police then arrested the gang members in connection with the series of thefts.
During questioning it was revealed that one of the men had the authority to search for customers’ credit card details. He then used the information to help the other thieves steal from the accounts. One of the men used his personal email account with the stolen credit card details while trying to buy goods which allowed police to link him with the crime.
All three deny theft and the trial has been adjourned until later this month.
Dubai - Street robbers jailed
Dubai - Sep 09: Judges at Dubai Court of First Instance have sentenced a gang of three Ethiopian men to six months in prison each and deportation for robbing dhs7,500 from a man who was waiting for a taxi.
According to police reports, the 29-year-old Sri Lankan victim was waiting by a main road in the Al Qusais area of Dubai for a taxi.
“It was in the afternoon in March and I was surprised when I saw a car stop beside me and two men leave it,” the victim said in the records read to the Court of First Instance.
One of the men held the victim while the other stole his wallet and jumped back inside the car. After stealing the cash from his wallet, he then hurled it back at the victim. The third accused was driving the rented car which then sped away.
The victim memorised the car’s number plate and informed police who managed to trace the men.
Smoking zones in shopping malls not mandatory: DSMG
DUBAI — Sep 09: With only a week left for the smoking ban in the shopping malls in Dubai, the senior officials of the Dubai Shopping Malls Group (DSMG) have clarified that it is not mandatory for the malls to have specialised smoking rooms in their premises.
However, the private security personnel posted in each of the malls would ensure that no one smokes inside the mall premises. They would be assisted by the inspectors of the Dubai Municipality as well as the Dubai police to ensure strict implementation of the smoking ban.
The officials said that it was the prerogative of the shopping mall management to either set up dedicated smoking rooms in accordance with the international standards inside the malls or carry on with a complete ban. The smoking ban in the malls comes into effect from September 15.
The Dubai Municipality has already cleared the air by stating that though the ban would be announced by them, the primary responsibility rests with the mall management to ensure that the directions are being followed.
The senior officials of the civic body have said that they would be placing their inspectors in the malls, who would coordinate with the private security guards of the malls in implementing the ban.
Also the municipality would be taking help of the Dubai police in the same connection.
“We are not stating that all the malls need to set up smoking rooms inside their premises. The choice is upto them. If they don’t want to set up these smoking rooms, they can ask anyone smoking inside to leave the place and go outside. But then if they are setting up a smoking room, they have to ensure that it is in accordance with international standards,” said Eisa Adam Ibrahim, the Chairman of the DSMG.
“It should be covered from all sides and should have proper air purification system and ventilations. The big malls with many stages and floors can have one such room on each of their floors. It would be the responsibility of the management to implement the ban and they can do it in whichever way possible,” said a senior DM official.