NEWS FROM THE UAE
Excerpts from UAE Dailies
New six-month visa will ease staff shortages
UAE - SEP. 28: Officials plan to press ahead with the introduction of the first new visa in more than 20 years to help companies fill a large number of short-term vacancies.
More than 200,000 illegal workers have left the UAE under a recent amnesty – but this has left some sectors with staff shortages.
To offset the problem, the Ministry of Labour is planning to introduce a so-called mission visa, which will allow people to live and work in the UAE for up to six months.
Under the proposals, the mission visa would be open to all businesses for any type of employee.
The ministry first floated the idea of a short-term work visa in March, but at that time there was little interest from the business community because staff shortages were then not a problem.
“It was easier and cheaper for employers to offer jobs to visit visa holders who came to the UAE to find work, Ahmad Kajoor,” the assistant undersecretary of the Ministry for Planning and Manpower Affairs, told Emirates Today.
He said the revised visa will be open to all companies, regardless of size.
He said businesses will be classified in two categories – companies that need temporary staff in limited numbers, such as schools, clinics, hos pitals and tourist operators, and those that require temporary staff in large numbers.
However, in each individual application, the ministry will evaluate the actual need for short-term staff, he said.
Mission visas will no longer bind businesses and their employees into a long-term contract as the typical threeyear work permit does, he said yesterday.
“It will help employers to assess the efficiency and competency of the employees.
It will also give employees the opportunity to study the work environment during the six-month period,” he said. Kajoor said he expected employers needing temporary staff would opt for mission work permits rather than risk offering jobs to visit visa holders and paying heavy penalties.
“Now, employers would not risk employing illegal workers and the heavy fines, imprisonment terms and potential business closure that comes with the illegal practice.
“Companies that hire visit visa holders can be fined as much as Dh50,000 per employee,” he said.
Ashok Pillai, general manager at Fast Track Recruitment in Dubai, gave the plans a cautious welcome.
He said: “The Labour Ministry already announced plans for a six-month employment visas, but there were not many takers as the fees of the mission work permit is Dh1,200, whereas it is Dh100 to obtain a visit visa and Dh500 for a three-month extension.
“Pillai said changes in the rules might make the new visa more attractive.
He said: “Although, the present rules do not allow employees to change from a visit to an employment visa, but mission work permits may be transferable to employment visas. And, government revenue will go up,” he said.
“Qatar has already started issuing six-month employment visas and it is proving to be successful there.” Siddiq Suleiman, manager of a contracting company in Jebel Ali, said he believed the ministry was close to reaching a decision.
“I went to the Ministry of Labour to inquire about applying for new visas. Officials there told me to wait because they are planning to introduce mission visas soon.
“Many companies are facing a shortage of staff, especially skilled workers, and mission visas would be a great help,” he said.
The site manager of a leading construction firm said the new category would be welcomed by desperate employers. “Skilled labour shortages are hurting the entire construction industry in the UAE,” he said.
Firecrackers on sale despite police vigil
DUBAI/SHARJAH/AJMAN — SEP. 28: The intensified crackdown on distribution and sale of firecrackers by police departments and municipalities seems to have come to nought as a number of children are still seen lighting sparklers and bursting crackers on the streets of Dubai, Sharjah and Ajman during Ramadan.
A number of groceries and small shops in the three emirates, according to sources, are selling crackers during the holy month despite the ban.
On Tuesday, Ajman police arrested two Indians and confiscated a large quantity of firecrackers from a van. Yesterday, another Indian was nabbed red-handed while selling firecrackers stocked in a van to youngsters and groceries.
The emirate’s police told Khaleej Times that all three who were caught in the last two days have admitted that they had been buying the crackers from Dubai and distributing them in Sharjah and Ajman.
The authorities and public in Ajman have urged Dubai Police to crackdown on the warehouses of firecrackers and tighten screening at ports to prevent illegal import of the explosives.
Yahya Al Rayaysa, head of the Commercial Licence Section at Ajman Municipality, said the ongoing campaign would target warehouses that store firecrackers illegally.
Brig Saeed Humaid, Head of Ajman Police Stations, said smuggling of firecrackers could not be checked without the cooperation of the supervision section at the ports, municipalities, parents and society at large.
“The police and municipality had fined and warned several outlets and shops for selling firecrackers.”
He also issued a stern warning to the owners of some small shops which are still selling the crackers for profit regardless of the grave dangers they posed. He urged the public and parents in particular to cooperate with the police in this regard.
In Sharjah, the police seized 148 boxes of firecrackers in Al Zubair areas during the past two days. The follow-up unit of Al Hamriyah police seized 80 boxes of crackers when its owner was trying to get rid of them. Another 68 boxes of crackers were seized recently from two areas in Al Zubair district.
Brigadier Salih Ali Al Mutawa, Director-General of Sharjah Police, urged all those in possession of firecrackers to hand over their stock to the police to ensure safety for themselves and others. “The police will help them destroy the crackers safely,” he said.
When asked about the efforts made to curb the phenomenon, Brigadier Abdul Jaleel Mahdi, head of the Preventive Security section of Dubai Police, told Khaleej Times that they have undertaken campaigns against illegal selling of firecrackers. CID teams have been deployed to monitor the markets and take legal action against the traders selling firecrackers.
Recently, the CID team received information that firecrackers were being sold in one of the groceries in Al Ras area and that plenty of firecrackers were stored in a van parked in front of the grocery. A trap was laid later and the distributor arrested.
The General Department of Criminal Investigation in Dubai has urged the public to provide information about shops and vendors selling firecrackers so that police are able to take any necessary action to ensure the safety of children.