NEWS FROM THE UAE
Excerpts from UAE Dailies
Fire erupts in Jebel Ali firm’s storage facility
DUBAI — SEP 11: A massive fire erupted in the storage facility of Prime Tech ME (formerly named United Flexible Packaging Co. Ltd) located in the southern area of Jebel Ali Free Zone yesterday morning, Free Zone officials said. However, no causalities were reported in the blaze.
The cause of the fire, which started at around 3am, is being investigated. The figures on the estimated losses were not immediately available.
Eyewitnesses told Khaleej Times that thick plumes of smoke enveloped the skies soon after the fire erupted. “Police cordoned off the area and firefighters were seen rushing to the vicinity,” an eyewitness said.
A statement from the Environment, Health and Safety (EHS), the regulatory arm of Dubai World, said they rushed six firefighting units and two ambulances to the scene, and took control of the situation within 30 minutes. However, the firefighters worked for nearly nine hours to put out the fire completely.
A statement from Dubai Civil Defence, which took part in the firefighting operations, said that under the supervision of Colonel Rashid Thani Al Matroushi, director of Dubai Civil Defence, the Dubai team, in cooperation with Jebel Ali firefighting team, managed to put out the fire which erupted in the factory housing flammable plastic tins and machine for manufacturing plastic.
“The operation room of the Dubai Police received information at around 3.17am that a fire had erupted in a factory in Jebel Ali. Firefighters from AL Quoz reached the site at around 3.43am. To control the fire and to prevent it from spreading further, the Civil Defence called firefighters from Jumeirah and Karama.
Dubai Civil Defence officials said that according to the primary information, the fire had erupted in the main hall which had machine and plastic materials, and extended to the offices located at the entry of the factory.
Ahmed Abdul Hussain, the CEO of EHS said: “Our primary concern was to keep the fire from spreading beyond the Prime Tech facility, which our units managed within half-an-hour of arriving at the site. There are no toxic fumes emanating from the fire as no toxic chemicals were involved. Although the initial plumes were thick, the fire has been under control.”
Nutankumar Manvatkar, vice-president, EHS Fire Department, said: “The warehousing facility contained plastic granules and polyethylene films, and the firefighting personnel succeeded in preventing the fire from spreading to the adjacent facilities. The flames have been completely put out, and we are currently engaged in cooling operations by spraying water over the affected area.”
Prime Tech ME is a flexible packaging material manufacturer and exporter and its facility has a built up area of 4,158 sq. meters comprising a production area, and raw material and finished goods storage warehouses.
School timings during Ramadan
DUBAI — SEP. 11: Classes in private schools across the country will begin at 8.30am and end at 2pm during the holy month of Ramadan, while government schools for boys will begin work at 8am, according to a circular issued by the Ministry of Education yesterday.
According to a circular, copies of which will be distributed to the schools today, the study will begin at 9am in kindergartens and schools for girls, but the closure timings of government schools will depend on the number of periods.
Each period in private schools will be of 40-minute duration and the break will be of 15 minutes.
Cafeterias and canteens in the schools will remain closed during Ramadan, the circular said.
In government schools, each period will run for 35 minutes at primary level and 40 minutes at preparatory and secondary levels.
The break will be of half an hour at the developed kindergartens and 15 minutes at the undeveloped ones.
The recess timing will be applicable to all classes of government schools, the circular added.
RTA plans new system to encourage ‘car pooling’
DUBAI — SEP. 11: The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) would be evolving a new system under which people interested in car pooling will have to register their vehicles with the RTA.
Senior RTA officials said they were thinking about a concrete system that would draw a line between car pooling and the illegal taxi business in Dubai.
Engineer Essa Abdul Rahman Dossari, CEO of the Marine Transport Agency, said the Public Transport Department of the RTA would be setting up a regulation in this connection. “We are in the process of collecting necessary data and would come up with a new system soon,” he said.
The officials added that car pooling was not an offence and that the RTA was encouraging it in many ways.
“The motive behind launching Salik is to reduce traffic congestion. And one way to do it is to use lesser number of cars. And car pooling is one of the best means to do it,” said Dossari.
“Though the intricate details are yet to be discussed, we are trying for a system under which people interested in car pooling register themselves with the RTA. The RTA would carry out investigations before the registration,” he said.
HELP TRAFFIC FLOW AND WIN DH1M
DUABI - SEP. 11: A sum of Dh1 million is up for grabs to any organisation in Dubai that uses innovative ideas to improve the traffic situation in the emirate.
The Dubai Award For Sustainable Transport (Dast) was launched yesterday by the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) and the winner of the contest will walk away with the prize money.
Any group that implements transportation practices, which prove to have a positive impact on the environment, road safety or decongestion, can compete for Dast.
“Dast will not only increase awareness but also help to achieve an integrated transport system that is safe and vital for Dubai’s sustainable development,” said Mattar Al Tayer, executive director and chairman of RTA’s board.
Dast targets public, private and non-profit organisations and encourages them to come up with creative solutions and put them into practice. In addition to the grand prize, smaller awards will also be awarded by the RTA.
For groups to compete, they should be able to prove that their transport practices significantly helped in decreasing the number of trips made by private vehicles or contributed to increasing the use of public transport. Practices that help to decrease the level of air and noise pollution, other hazardous emissions or helped to improve general safety standards are also grounds for consideration.
Applicants can begin submitting their innovations for traffic improvement next month and the prize money will be awarded after one year.
Al Tayer said the prize would be increased annually to encourage more participants in the competition to be held every year.
The RTA was encouraged to offer the prize, Al Tayer said, because traffic jams in Dubai result in economic losses estimated at Dh4.5 billion each year while costs from accidents amount to Dh400 million annually.
Al Tayer said the RTA was committed to improving public transport and reducing congestion on the roads and pointed to the new road toll system as a recent success. He claimed the Salik toll system had reduced traffic on some of the most congested roads in Dubai.
“For six years, Al Garhoud Bridge had a problem with traffic jams. The problem has been solved and motorists who use the road are now happy,” said Al Tayer.
He denied that Salik was causing congestion and accidents on smaller roads and blamed those problems on bad drivers.
“Some drivers deliberately ignore driving and traffic rules, others are just drunk, while some are illiterate and cannot read the variable road signs.This is our biggest problem in Dubai,” he said.
Al Tayer said the road authority was constantly implementing new solutions. In this regard he pointed to the launch of dedicated public bus lanes that are due to be introduced by the end of this year to reduce the waiting time of commuters.
Police to give bikers a rough ride
DUBAI - SEP. 11: Fatal traffic accidents involving motorcycles, bicycles and electric bicycles have led authorities to crack down on violations by their riders.
Brigadier Abduljalil Mahdi, deputy director of the General Department of Preventative Security at Dubai Police, announced a campaign to confiscate bikes used improperly and to increase surveillance.
The majority of accidents involving bikes result from riders being run over, especially those who drive against traffic, he said.
As part of the campaign, motorcycles without number plates, those without rear lights and bicycles pedalled by riders against the proper direction of traffic will be confiscated, Mahdi added.
Bikes that ride too fast through crowded traffic or pedestrian areas, or those who cross intersections without obeying traffic laws will also be targeted as they endanger lives.
Noting a disturbing trend, Mahdi said police will pay special attention to bikes driven in crowded areas as they have been used in the past to aid thieves during robberies.
He said police patrols will be dispatched to the neighbourhoods where bikes are used the most to look for illegal motorcycles and any bike used in an improper manner.
Mahdi called on all bike riders to obey traffic laws and cautioned violators they will face tough repercussions.
Visa process smoother: US
DUBAI — SEP. 11: The strict visa process implemented by the US after 9/11 has become smoother without affecting the country’s security, according to the US embassy in Abu Dhabi.
UAE residents who may have experienced a lengthy process in obtaining a visa to the US directly after the September 11 attack in 2001 can now have their visa application completed quicker, embassy spokesperson Steven Pike said about visa changes since the day. “It was less a matter of changing laws as being more stringent in reviewing visa applications,” he said. “We did a variety of checks and that took time.”
Pike said the government’s aim had always been “Open doors, secure borders,” such that travellers should not be unnecessarily prevented from visiting the US, but security needed to be ensured.
“In the last three years there have been big improvements,” he said. “There has been increased computerisation and information sharing and the computer process has been streamlined. Interview times are down and issuance times are down.”
Pike himself had been affected by 9/11 when he worked in the State Department in Washington DC where the Pentagon attack occurred.
However, he felt lucky his experience had been minor compared to others who had lost loved ones. “I didn’t lose anybody,” he said. “My apartment where I was living at the time overlooked the side of the Pentagon where the plane hit. I remember watching firefighters going in there and trying to save people’s lives.”
Ministry to investigate Emirati’s detention
RAS AL KHAIMAH - SEP. 11: An appeal court adjourned the case of a website owner jailed on defamation charges while he remained behind bars despite a court order to free him on bail, his lawyer and relatives said.
The next hearing in the appeal filed by Mohammad Rashed Al Shehhi in Ras Al Khaimah has been set for September 17, defence lawyer Abdullah Omran said.
Shehhi was sentenced last month to one year in jail and the court began hearing his appeal on August 26. He was also ordered to pay Dh69,777 in fines and compensation to a local official who sued his popular website, majan.net, for defamation.
The website was closed. Shehhi is also being tried in another defamation case along with a fellow Emirati, Khaled Al Asli, in relation to the same site.
A court of first instance, handling the latter case ordered the release on bail of the two men on September 4, but Shehhi was still in jail on Sunday, his lawyer said.
Shehhi’s older brother, Ahmad, said he had complained to the interior ministry about his brother’s detention despite the judge’s order to free him on bail.
“A ministry delegation will come from Abu Dhabi to Ras Al Khaimah tomorrow to investigate why he is still being held,” Ahmad said. (AFP)
Rain heading northwards
AL AIN - SEP 11: People in the Northern Emirates may need their umbrellas as rain is predicted to fall over the next three days, the Meteorological Department said.
A heavy rain lashed another area of the UAE on Sunday, when it rained in Al Ain for the third time within a week.
“The rains that fell on Al Ain were predicted but still surprising, and it was unexpected that it rained three times in a week,” an official from the department said.
The rain not only pleased farmers, but also daredevil motorists who drove to the outskirts of the city to areas such as Al Fawah to slide their cars along the slippery roads.
No accidents were reported last week after more than 2,000 cars are said to have taken part in the slippery driving experience, said Captain Al Kaabi, head of the Public Relations Department of the Al Ain Traffic Department.
“Police patrols were sent to the scene to prevent them from putting their own lives and others’ in danger,” he said.
Super surgeon: Boy meets life saviour
DUBAI - SEP. 11: LITTLE Khalid was happy to hear the guest he met on Saturday telling his father to give him an ice cream a day. But little did he know that he could celebrate his second birthday a few months ago with a lot of ice creams only because of that elderly man.
Khalid's father Majeed Rabah had taken his son to Dubai on Saturday to meet veteran Indian cardiothoracic surgeon Dr KM Cherian, who was in town for inaugurating the CT scan Department of Fathima Medical Diagnostic Centre in Bur Dubai. The life of the Palestinian boy was saved by Cherian, who did an innovative cardiac surgery on Khalid when he was just 18-days-old.
Khalid was born in Sharjah's Al Qassimi Hospital with a congenital heart problem. He had truncus arteriosus, a complex malformation where only one artery arises from the heart and forms the aorta and pulmonary artery. A baby with truncus arteriosus usually begins to have problems in the first week of life. Its oxygen levels are often lower than normal resulting in cyanosis, a colour change in skin.
Khalid had to be flown to Cherian's new hospital in south Indian city Chennai because of a lack of expert hands in paediatric cardiac surgeries in the UAE. Khalid was the first to undergo the complex surgery including tissue engineered xenografts in India, which was done three days after he reached Chennai.
Today Khalid is a healthy and active boy. "Of course, he wasn't aware that he was meeting the person who saved his life. But he was very friendly with Dr Cherian," Rabah told The Gulf Today after spending saturday evening with the legendary surgeon in Dubai.
"I was very happy to get his mail saying he is coming over to Dubai. I don't know how to thank him. He saved my son's life," said Rabah, who works as the sales manager of Italian Lights Company in Sharjah.
During his short trip around the city, Cherian analysed Khalid's recent medical reports and suggested that he may have to undergo one more surgery when he turns five or six years old. "The doctor also told me to give him an ice cream a day to take care of his daily milk intake," Rabah said.