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Excerpts from UAE Dailies

Tough steps against firms hiring illegals
Legalise your Maids and Drivers or Face Punishment - Says the Minister

ABU DHABI — SEP. 18: Minister of Labour Dr Ali bin Abdullah Al Ka'abi yesterday approved a new ministerial decision detailing penalties that would be imposed on companies if they hired illegal workers after October 1, this year.

Addressing the media, the minister laid emphasis on the efforts to halt the illegal workers phenomenon in the UAE. "There are many sponsors who hire illegals as drivers and housemaids. It is a violation of the Labour Law because there is no protection of the workers' rights in such cases. Hence, the ministry is giving the sponsors two-week grace period to legalise the status of the workers, be it at home or in a company," said Dr Al Ka'abi.

According to Assistant Undersecretary in the MoL Humaid bin Deemas, "The employers should apply for a work permit and labour card after signing contract with the labourers. That is to protect  the workers' rights because it is not proper to employ a housemaid and make her work at the company as well."

He also pointed out that the sponsors can transfer the employees from different companies provided they take MoL's  approval.

He added that the penalties, classified into seven categories, would  depend on the kind of violations.

The penalties include suspension of the violating firm's transactions with the ministry, blocking of sponsorship transfer and downgrading to 'C' category. In case of repeat violations, the ministry can order the company closed.

In the list of violations, the first category is providing employment to a worker who entered the country illegally. For the first violation, if the firm is in the A-B category, it will face one-year suspension and downgrading to 'C' category. In the case of second violation, the company will face two-year suspesion and downgrading to 'C' category. If the firm violates the law for the third time, it would face downgrading to 'C' category in addition to downgrading of all the firms sponsored by the same sponsor to 'C' category for six months.

If the violating company is already in the 'C' category, it will face two-year suspension for the first the violation, three-year suspension for the second and three-year suspension for the third violation, in addition to downgrading of all his firms for a year.

In the second category, if an A-B class company hires absconders, it will face one-year suspension and downgrading to 'C' category for nine months. For the second violation, it will face one-year suspension and downgrading to 'C' category. For the third violation, the company would face downgrading to 'C' category for two years, in addition to downgrading of all the firms sponsored by the same sponsor to the 'C' category for six months.

Moreover, if the errant company is already in the 'C' category, it will face one-year suspension for the first violation, two-year suspension for the second violation and three-year suspension for the third violation, in addition to downgrading of all his firms for six months.

Violation in the 3rd-7th categories include hiring of a labourer who is on another company's sponsorship, without MoL approval; a labourer working without MoL work permit; recruiting workers who have a work permit issued from free zones as well as hiring of housemaids, private drivers, farms workers who are on their relatives' sponsorship; recruiting a worker sponsored by government or semi-governmental firms without MoL approval; and recruiting workers who come on visit visa or are in transit.

Assistant Undersecretary in the MoL Obaid Rashid Al Zahmi said, "If we want to control the labour market we should protect the rights of workers. Hence, the minister has stipulated stiff punishments for those hiring illegal workers in the country."

He added that the penalties mentioned in the ministerial order would be imposed in addition to the punishments stated in the Cabinet decision.

The ministry will cancel the work permit of any expatriate who is held  responsible for hiring illegals. Furthermore, in addition to the penalties, the case will be referred to the General Prosecution.

Who is illegal?

— Any person who has entered the country illegally.

— Absconders.

— Any person who is working for a company other than the original sponsor, without MoL approval.

— Any person working without MoL work permit.

— Any person who has a work permit issued from free zones and is working for any compnay outside the free zones.

— Any person working for a government or semi-governmental firm without MoL approval.

— Any person who takes up a job while on a visit or transit visas.


MoL inks MoU for salaries’ transfer

ABU DHABI — Sep. 18: Minister of Labour Dr Ali bin Abdullah Al Ka'abi signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with UAE Exchange Company yesterday to facilitate transfer of salaries of workers to bank accounts by employers.

Dr Al Ka'abi announced this at a Press conference attended by the assistant under-secretaries of the MoL — Humaid bin Deemas, Obaid Rashid Al Zahmi and Ahmed Kajour — as well as representatives of the UAE Exchange Company.

According to the cabinet decision, all companies in the UAE must pay the workers' wages and salaries through bank accounts, and not in cash, from January 2008.

"The companies must open bank accounts or issue smart pay cards to ensure that there is no delay in the payment of wages or salaries any more.

"From January 2008, the MoL will impose stiff penalties on the firms which have not issued smart pay cards or opened bank accounts for workers," Dr Al Ka'abi said.

The cards would enable the workers to withdraw or transfer money to their countries.

The minister told Khaleej Times the new system would be in place across the nation. "It will help the ministry to monitor as well as check whether the companies are paying the wages and salaries on time," he added.

The MoL would also set up a telecommunication link with the company and serve notices in case of delay in depositing the payments.

"The companies which do not comply with the instructions will face stiff penalties. We will not issue work permits until the firms open bank accounts or issue smart pay cards to the employees," Dr Al Ka'abi said.

Ahmed Kajour, Assistant Under-Secretary, said the move would help protect the rights of the workers and streamline the labour market in the country.

The MoL will also sign MoUs with three more exchanges — Western Union, Workers Equity and Empost — to enable a smoother transition to the new system. Marwan Al Mazroui, executive director of the UAE Exchange Co, said the companies would benefit if they issue smart pay cards to their employees.


Two held with 100 tablets of heroine

DUBAI — SEP. 18: Dubai police recently foiled an attempt of drug traffickers to sell some 100 tablets of heroine. The case has been referred to the Public Prosecution.

Yousuf Al Adidi, deputy director of the Anti-Drug Unit of Dubai Police, said he had received a tip that an African national and an Asian were in possession of 100 tablets of heroine and were looking for a buyer. The CID immediately formed a team to investigate the matter and set a trap to arrest them.

Kumar, the Asian drug trafficker, had fixed an appointment to meet the African national, Samuel, near the Hyatt Regency hotel in Deira. The police arrested the two suspects red-handed with the 100 tablets in their possession. The African suspect resisted the police and tried to escape before being arrested. During interrogation, the two suspects confessed to their crime. Kumar told police that he was asked by somebody whose identity he does not know, to deliver the drug consignment to Samuel. He said he was paid money to do so.

Kumar said he had no details of the person who had smuggled the heroine tablets into the country. He claimed he was only an agent who had been asked to deliver the drugs to another person in Dubai. Laboratory tests showed that both suspects were not using drugs. However, Dubai Police have charged the two with possessing and trafficking drugs and referred them to the Public Prosecution.


UK visa aspirants must submit applications at VACs in person

DUBAI/ABU DHABI — SEP. 18: People applying for the United Kingdom's visas will have to come in person to submit applications at the newly set-up Visa Application Centres (VAC) in Dubai and Abu Dhabi to give biometric data (electronic fingerprinting).

UK embassy officials announced this at Press conferences held in the two emirates yesterday.

Deputy Director of Visa Services at the British Consulate in Dubai Jackie Colton told Khaleej Times: "Earlier, people could send anyone to submit applications and collect their visas. Now everyone, including handicapped people, have to come in person to the centres to give their fingerprints and get their digital photographs taken. We have made the centres accessible to people with special needs."

There is no change in the other requirements for processing the visas or in the fees, she said. Applications would no longer be accepted at the missions though.

"The new centres have been built taking into consideration the likely increase in the number of applicants in the next five years. In case there is further increase, we will have to look at a larger area then," Colton added.

The number of applications processed in a day would double once the centres open their doors to the public on September 26.  The working hours of the new centres are from 9am to 5pm, she added, unlike the British missions, which operate from 7am to 11am.

According to official statistics, the British missions in the UAE processed 72,000 visas of all categories during 2006-2007, a 15 per cent increase from 2005-2006.

Bharat Joshi, Regional UK Visa Director for the Gulf States and Iran, said the processing of a majority of visa applications would still take 24 hours at VACs.


Web service based in Saudi Arabia offers internet users in the UAE unrestricted access
Regulator TRA issues threat of prosecution to anyone bypassing its internet filters
UAE - SEP. 18:
Internet users are being offered a way to bypass the system that blocks unsuitable sites – giving them unrestricted access to the worldwide web.  Proxy1Arabia says its service is legal – but the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) last night warned that it was not.

A request to access a website from a user in the UAE is routed through a system known as a proxy server that prevents access to material deemed offensive or unsuitable. But the new service provides each customer with a unique proxy that enables him or her to avoid the official one and call up any site they wish. Proxy1Arabia is offering the loophole to subscribers in the UAE and Saudi Arabia.Three packages are available costing Dh70 for one month, Dh180 for three months and Dh330 for six months.

Its website claims: “We provide unrestricted internet access. We offer you a proxy that you can use to bypass your national proxy service.

“Even if our site is blocked we guarantee your unique proxy will never be blocked.” However, subscribers are told the service can be halted if they give details of their proxy to anyone else – even friends and family members.

“If you share your proxy with others and the proxy gets blocked we will not refund you,” customers are warned.

Subscribers to the service have to be aged 21 or older. The website adds: “We’re sub ject to rules just like everyone else. We are required to give information to legal authorities if they have the proper authorisation such as a search warrant or court order.

“Short of that your information is locked up good and tight. All members agree to uphold and maintain our privacy policy.” The company assured users it will not share any personal information such as names, email addresses or phone numbers with any other business or marketing campaign without their permission.

The national proxy system filters out websites whose content is deemed to be inconsistent with the country’s religious, cultural, political and moral values. The process is run by the regulatory authority. A TRA official said an investigation would be launched into Proxy1Arabia. He said: “It is illegal to bypass the national proxy and those subscribing to this are actually going against the country’s laws.

“We will investigate the service provider and block them,” he added.


Drunk jailed for inflight leak on fellow traveller
A drunken businessman who urinated on a fellow passenger during an Abu Dhabi-toLondon flight has been jailed for four months.  The Abu Dhabi resident of Arab origin targeted the Business Class passenger as he slept on an Etihad Airways plane on August 14.

Victim James Cole woke to find a 30-year-old man relieving himself on his lap, he told a jury at Isleworth Crown Court in London.   Prosecutor Douglas Adams said the plane’s crew confronted the businessman over the allegations, according to

Adams told the court although the defendant was “clearly drunk,” he denied he had urinated on Cole.

However, after Cole retur ned to his seat, the man staggered back down the aisle and told him: “Next time I will do it in your face.” Adams said: “Later the man was seen going to the restroom with a blanket around him and carrying his trousers which appeared to be wet.

Police met the plane when it landed in London, and arrested the developer, whose trousers were still wet. He told officers he was an alcoholic who had been drinking before and during the flight.

The father-of-five reportedly asked the officers: “Can I speak to the man [Cole]? I would like to kiss his head.” In court, the businessmen pleaded guilty to being drunk on an aircraft and possessing a small amount of marijuana, which was later found in his luggage.

Michael Orsulik, the man’s lawyer, said his client was a businessman from Abu Dhabi who had travelled to London to visit his grandmother who was undergoing surgery.

“He is extremely remorseful, apologetic and ashamed of his behaviour. He has no recollection of the incident and was shocked when told about it,” Orsulik said.

“He accepts he had too much to drink before and during the flight and wishes to apologise to Mr Cole and all the other passengers.” After passing sentence, Judge Sam Katkhuda said: “Travelling on an aircraft places a special duty on passengers to behave in an orderly manner.” A Etihad Airways spokesman said: “Misbehaving is unacceptable on any aircraft no matter what the misdemeanour and it will not be tolerated on any Etihad Airways aircraft.”


Sharjah - No School break

Sharjah - Sep. 18: A leading education official has refuted claims a pupil had his leg broken by a teacher during a school lesson and says she is baffled by his parents' actions following the alleged incident.

The private school teacher was arrested and held for two nights in police custody after kicking the young boy for not standing properly during prayers. But although the parents claim their son's leg was broken by the kick, Fawzya Gareib, the director of Sharjah Education Zone, told 7DAYS that a medical report from hospital showed no signs of such a serious injury and that the child had merely suffered a bruise.

She said: “According to the medical report, the student doesn't have any kind of break. We are now making our own investigations to know the exact circumstances of what happened and to get the truth.”  The parents of UAE national Hamdan Jasim, a sixth grader, reported the teacher to police last Wednesday stating that he had broken their child's leg. They claimed the teacher had struck out at their son during a Koran lesson for not standing correctly.

“He needs to cover his leg for four weeks to recover because the teacher kicked him like a ball,” the mother told an Arabic newspaper. When arriving at the Sharjah school to collect her son, the mother said she heard a female teacher say he had fallen on the ground and fractured his ankle. She then said that she took him to a private hospital where x-rays revealed the break.

“I do not know why the parents went to the private hospital to get a report,” said Gareib. “The report from Al-Qasimi Hospital says he does not have a broken leg but a bruise.” The teacher, a Tunisian, has been sacked by the school and referred by Sharjah Police to Public Prosecution for lashing out at the boy.


Dubai - Metro trains on schedule

Dubai - Sep. 18: The first two trains set to be used on Dubai’s new metro system are shortly to be tested in Japan.

Adnan Hammadi, Director of Rail Construction Projects, Rail Agency, said: "Another important milestone will be the starting of the train dynamic tests where the propulsion and brake systems will be tested at the factory’s test track in Osaka, Japan. This initial dynamic test will be carried out at slow speed in anticipation for November’s dynamic tests in Mihara, Japan where the trains will be tested at up to 60kph."

The first train is expected to be delivered to Dubai in March of next year while the remaining 43 trains will be delivered in the last quarter of 2008 in preparation for passenger service starting in September of 2009, Hammadi added.


Man found guilty of molestation

Dubai - Sep. 18: A SOUTH Asian and a North American shall be deported after serving their prison terms of three and four years respectively, the Dubai Court of First Instance has ruled.

In another verdict released on Sunday by Presiding Judge Fahmy Munir, a Southeast Asian has been declared innocent of theft.  The South Asian was identified as HA,25, a cleaner from Bangladesh; the North American was IZ,52, a professor from the US; and the Southeast Asian as CB,35, a paramedic from the Philippines.

HA was found guilty of sexually molesting an 11-year-old girl from Lebanon in May inside the lavatory of a commercial building where, according to court records, HA was asked to do some repair.

The documents stated that the complaint was filed by the girl's mother who saw her daughter being pushed out of the lavatory by HA who had also been convicted for forcing the girl to give him her mobile phone number.

HA was sentenced to three yeas in jail.

Professor IZ was convicted to four years imprisonment for the 0.91 grammes of marijuana detected inside his luggage upon his arrival at the Dubai International Airport on July 28.

He was returning to the UAE that day after 32 years to pay his last respects to his late mother.

At the first day of his trial on Sept.9, IZ claimed he did not know that the prohibited stuff was inserted in his belongings.

As for CB, the DCFI pronounced that he did not steal the mobile phone of North American stroke patient 57-year-old TR in the latter part of January.

CB was the paramedic deployed by the Dubai police authorities to attend to TR when they got an emergency call about his worsening health.

Files showed TR asked CB to use his mobile phone and notify his wife and son about his condition.

CB however failed to do that, having to attend to TR and then to the other patients at the hospital emergency room after he had endorsed TR to the proper hospital personnel.

While at the hospital emergency room, CB was fetched by a policeman who took him to TR's room where he was asked to return the mobile phone.

On Jan. 27, CB was asked to report to his boss and there he learnt about the theft case.



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