News headlines

Excerpts from UAE Dailies

Celluloid giant to deliver movie magic to Abu Dhabi 
What’s up doc? Quite a bit in Abu Dhabi after a developer yesterday signed a multi-billion-dirham deal to bring the creative energy of Warner Bros Entertainment to the emirate.  A joint venture was created between Aldar and the newly-established Abu Dhabi Media Company and the studio that brought us the Harry Potter and Scooby-Doo films and Bugs Bunny.

The massive entertainment project will include a theme park, a luxury hotel and multiplex cinemas on Yas Island, the formation of a joint fund to finance feature films and develop and produce video games, as well as the growth of new media in the emirate.

And that’s not all, folks… New Warner Bros branded cinemas will also be built in Abu Dhabi’s under-construction Central Market, Ruwais in the Western Region and Al Ain.

Abu Dhabi Media Company Chairman Mohammed Khalaf Al Mazrouei said: “From theme parks to hotels, this agreement will put Abu Dhabi at the centre of the world’s entertainment map.” Aldar will co-ordinate and oversee physical construction of both the theme park and the hotel. Both projects are expected to start in 2009.

Warner Bros International Cinemas will develop, design and manage jointly owned multiplex cinemas in Abu Dhabi, to be built by Aldar. Construction on the multiplex cinemas at the Central Market development has already begun and they are due to open in the first quarter of 2010.

The film production fund, a 50-50 venture, calls for the development and production of broad-appeal films, with Warner Bros retaining worldwide distribution options and rights on all such projects.

Separate from this arrangement, Warner Bros Pictures International will work with Abu Dhabi Media Company to develop and produce Arabic-language films for local and regional distribution.

Specifics about the cost of the deal were not revealed in the announcement. Emirates Today spoke with Osama Ghanoum, Aldar’s Media and Marketing Manager in New York, who declined to reveal details but said: “It is a huge multi-billion-dirham project.” The agreement was signed in the presence of Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who is also the Chairman of the National Media Council.

Warner Bros Chairman and CEO Barry Meyer said he was “thrilled to be partnering with Aldar and the Abu Dhabi Media Company on these exciting endeavours”.

“We are impressed by their… philosophy. It is a first rate company, led by first-rate executives,” said Meyer.


Drivers who hit pedestrians on fast roads get right to defend themselves in court

UAE - SEP. 27: Motorists who run over pedestrians will for the first time be able to mount a defence in court following a sweeping review of the UAE’s traffic laws.  At present, drivers in such cases are held responsible. However, under a new law they will be able to contest charges – but only when an accident happens on a road with a speed limit exceeding 80 kilometres per hour (kph).

It is illegal for pedestrians to attempt to cross roads with a limit higher than 80kph.  The new laws – due to come into force next March – will enable police and the courts to impose tougher penalties.

At present police can hand out fines up to a maximum of Dh500, but this limit will be raised to Dh3,000. Most traffic offences across the country are dealt with by the police.

But cases involving death, injuries or substantial dam age to property are referred to traffic courts, where judges decide the penalties. The new laws will allow them to give more severe sentences in some cases.

Minimum fines are being introduced for a raft of offences, while maximum jail terms are being varied in some cases.

Driving without a valid licence or while suspended by a court order, will result in imprisonment for not more than three months or a fine of at least Dh5,000, or both. The current penal ty for this offence is a maximum of two years in jail and a fine of up to Dh7,000.

Drink-drivers will be imprisoned or receive a minimum Dh20,000 fine. The current maximum two-year limit on jail term for this offence is being lifted. At present the maximum fine is Dh7,000.

Similarly, a driver who runs away from the scene of an accident will either be jailed or fined at least Dh20,000, or both.

A document setting out the scale of fines for all traf fic violations is due to be released soon.

Some police authorities have suggested that pedestrians must be held more accountable for accidents in certain cases. But a Dubai traffic expert said he feared a ban on pedestrians crossing roads with higher speed limits would encourage reckless driving.

“Very few accidents are caused by pedestrians who are intentionally negligent. Often they are forced to cross busy highways as they do not have any other convenient and safer means of transportation besides walking.

“Drivers have been given a privilege in society, and it comes with a responsibility for the safe use of the vehicle. The foremost responsibility should be with the privileged person. In addition, the person who can do the most to prevent a collision is the driver,” the expert added.

Between January and August this year, 86 pedestrians were killed in crashes – comprising 44 per cent of road traffic victims.


Con victim struggles to clear his name
DUBAI - SEP. 27:
Seven months after he was arrested by police when his cheques bounced, an Indian salesman has asked authorities to clear his name and let him travel to India to see his ailing father.
Kiran Kumar Nandlal Tontai, 30, said his employer at a typing centre in Dubai lost his passport in 2001.

Criminals then got hold of it and used it to borrow loans worth more than a million dirhams from a bank.

Six years later in February 2007, he was arrested in Ajman for cases related to bounced cheques.

For the past seven months, Tontai has been unsuccessfully travelling to the emirate’s court every 15 days hoping to resolve his case.

“Every time I go to the court, the case is postponed for the next hearing date. There is no reason given and I am tired of it,” said Tontai.

Several cases registered against him in Dubai courts were dismissed following a report from forensic experts that the handwriting in the bounced cheques did not match Tontai’s.

“I have not been able to travel home all these years and cannot wait any longer. My father is unwell and has been admitted to the intensive care unit in a Mumbai hospital. I need to return home,” said Tontai, who has not travelled out of UAE since 2003.

“In 2003, two years after the incident, I managed to travel to India by obtaining clearance from 10 different cases.

“I returned in December the same year and there were no cases pending against me,” he added. Since then, his passport has been kept in different police stations and courts.

“I am going through difficulties, but the man who is responsible for losing my passport and the man who used it to cheat people continue to remain free,” said Tontai.

He has registered a case with Interpol officials in Dubai against Jabbar Manjakkandi from Kannur district in Kerala, whose photograph was found on the altered passport bearing Tontai’s name.

Manjakkandi, along with several others, started bogus trading agencies in the UAE to purchase products worth hundreds of thousands of dirhams. Payments were always made by cheque, most of which eventually bounced.

Emirates Today published the man’s picture on February 27 after he used Tontai’s passport to open businesses in the UAE. Based on this photograph, several other victims came forward.

Two UAE-based Indian businessmen took it upon themselves to find the man and finally traced him to Kannur in April this year.

However, Indian police had to release Manjakkandi as there was no case registered against him in India.


Capital to get London taxis

Modified London taxi cabs will soon be touting for fares on the roads of the United Arab Emirates, the firm behind the project announced yesterday.  The iconic cars will appear in the UAE capital Abu Dhabi next month but will be painted white rather than the traditional black, the Al Qudra Holding Group said.

The vehicles are being built in Coventry and have been upgraded to cope with the hot climate of the Gulf.

Modified London taxi cabs will soon be touting for fares on the roads of the United Arab Emirates, the firm behind the project announced yesterday. The iconic cars will appear in the UAE capital Abu Dhabi next month but will be painted white rather than the traditional black, the Al Qudra Holding Group said. The vehicles are being built in Coventry and have been upgraded to cope with the hot climate of the Gulf. 

Annual medical check-ups for nationals

DUBAI — SEP. 27: Annual medical check-ups have been made compulsory for all UAE nationals, the Ministry of Health said yesterday. The check-ups would be free.

They would be made mandatory for expatriates also in future but they will have to pay a certain fee, Dr Mariam Mattar, Assistant Undersecretary for Public Health and Primary Health Care at the MoH, said.

The check-ups are part of the Primary Healthcare Programme of the MoH to produce a “healthy generation in a healthy environment”.

“This programme existed earlier but was not organised well. We have now put it in order. A pilot project was launched in July at two Primary Health Care Centres (PHCCs) in Sharjah — at Al Wasit and Al Rigga,” she said, adding the project would be extended to other areas depending on its success.

The decision to make annual check-ups mandatory has been taken after a local order was passed in this regard earlier this year.

“People of all ages, including children, will be required to undergo regular annual health check-ups at PHCCs. However, how often they require to undergo them will depend on their health, age and other vital factors,” said Dr Mariam.

This procedure is different from the check-up required while obtaining a health card. “We are expecting at least 3,000 people to take part in the project,” she said.

“Caring about health and preventing diseases are the basic objectives of the health services in the country,” Dr Mariam said.

Dr Haifa Hamd, Deputy Director, Central Department for Technical Affairs, PHCC, said: “The programme is based on international standards but has been adapted to suit the local population.”

She said the decision would also help in establishing a clear mechanism to promote health education among the masses as the results  would be an important reference for the MoH employees.

Dr Haifa, who is also the supervisor of the programme, said the check-ups would include radiology and laboratory tests if required for early detection and prevention of diseases.

She stressed the importance of reviving the concept of the family doctor for ensuring continued health and therapeutic services to all patients.


RTA mulls introducing flashing green signals

DUBAI — SEP. 27: The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) is exploring the possibility of introducing Flashing Green Signal System in different parts of the emirate in a bid to prevent road mishaps.

Senior RTA officials said the number of road mishaps in the Jumeirah area came down by 54 per cent as a result of the system introduced there on a trial basis in August.

Maitha bin Adai, CEO of the Traffic and Roads Agency of the RTA, said: “This will lead to reduction in traffic accidents at intersections caused by jumping of the red signal. Following the success achieved on Jumeirah and Al Saffoh roads, RTA is exploring the possibility of introducing the system in the remaining areas of Dubai.”

“Traffic accidents due to jumping of the red signal by motorists came down by 54 per cent on Jumeirah Road after the system was introduced. The number of offences reported on this road in August dropped to 983 from 1,812 offences in July,” she added.

Under the new system, the signal changes from the constant green colour to the flashing green colour and then moves to the yellow colour followed by the red one. At the end of the period specified for the green signal, the signal flashes three times as a cautionary notice. This gives the driver time to make a decision whether to proceed even if he/she has already entered the critical zone or stop.

The Flashing Green Signal System is widely used in many countries reputed for advanced traffic systems. Introduction the system in Dubai is part of the ongoing efforts of the RTA to ensure traffic safety.

“The system aims at minimising accidents due to jumping of the red signals and enabling motorists to estimate the remaining time of the signal and make a suitable decision. This will help vehicles to cross the junction safely,” Bin Adai said.

Most of the accidents taking place at intersections are attributed to jumping of the red signal where motorists sometimes have to take a quick decision.


Abu Dhabi - A deadly menace

Abu Dhabi - SEP. 27:  The elimination of human trafficking was described as the ‘number one priority’ for the UAE, as senior leaders met this week with a delegation of US anti-trafficking officials. The UAE officials met with Ambassador Mark Lagon, Director of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, to help increase international cooperation to eradicate the global crime.

Dr Anwar Gargash, the head of the National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking admitted that UAE is suffering from the menace of trafficking. He said: "We acknowledge that as a country we suffer from this issue as do many other developed societies and are deeply concerned for the victims of human trafficking.

“We in the UAE share the universal core values that make the elimination of this heinous crime a number one priority, and we are acting comprehensively on the levels of prosecution, protection and prevention," he added.  Gargash, who is also the Minister of State for Federal National Council Affairs, discussed the progress made by the UAE National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking since its formation.

Gargash said that the establishment of the Dubai Shelter for Women and Children is an extremely important initiative that can be replicated across the country.  “This is a pilot project and the beginning of a long-term process for us in the UAE  to build a victim support network and protection structure,” he said.

The meeting came a day after the Dubai Court of Appeal reduced the sentence of two people convicted of human trafficking in the country.  Their sentences were reduced from 15 years to seven years followed by deportation.

A third suspect in the case was given a three-year jail sentence and deportation. The suspects were charged with trafficking an Indonesian woman and forcing her to be sex worker.
The case is one of only three cases of human trafficking to have been tried in the UAE.


Dubai - Murdered for cooking

Dubai - SEP. 27: A Pakistani labourer killed his work colleage following a row over the food he had cooked. The 23-year-old accused punched his victim in the head until he died, a court in Dubai was told.

The incident happened earlier this year at accommodation in Bur Dubai. In court the defendant admitted fighting with his colleague but denied killing him. The trial continues.


Dubai - Hoax emails circulating throughout the UAE

Dubai - SEP. 27: An email currently circulating in the UAE warning of a new mobile phone virus which hijacks mobile phones has been labelled as a hoax. The email, sent to a Windows staff member, claims to be from the Dubai Department of Tourism and states: “If you receive a phone call from any person, saying he or she is a company engineer, or telling that they’re checking your mobile line, and you have to press #90 or #09 or any other number end the call immediately.”

It adds: “End this call immediately without pressing any numbers. There is a fraud company using a device that once you press #90 or #09 they can access your SIM card and make calls at your expense. Forward this message to as many friends as you can, to stop it.”

But, according to the official web  site of security firm Symantec, the e-mail is a hoax and was first discovered in 1999. On February 13 of this year, a second version of the e-mail sent to Orange users in the UK was posted to warn online users. According to the site, there are several versions of the e-mail circulating online.
Symantec’s web site urges users to ignore the emails and to not send them on.



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