NEWS FROM THE UAE
Excerpts from UAE Dailies
Soaring inflation triggers Gulf pay rises
DUBAI — OCT 01: The 12 per cent inflation, mainly due to high rental fees, seen for this year in the UAE and the rising cost of living that exceeds pay increases made annual salaries climb to 10.7 per cent this year compared to 10.3 per cent in 2006, according to a study released yesterday by GulfTalent.com, a regional internet recruitment portal.
The study, Gulf Compensation Trends 2007, said that aside from costly living expenses, sustained economic growth and intense competition for talented workers among companies were key drivers of pay rises in the Gulf states, particularly Qatar and the UAE.
It also said the continuing fall of regional currencies pegged to the weakening US dollar (against the euro) was eroding the value of compensation packages for European expatriates in the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
Noting that salaries in Kuwait have been competitive, with the latest appreciation of its currency at three per cent, against those in its neighbours since it abandoned the US-dollar peg, the study said this "may intensify the pressure on other GCC countries to follow suit". It quoted 41 per cent of UAE-based expatriates surveyed as saying that they made no savings on their income, which is the highest in the Gulf, due to high rent levels and increasing prices of commodities over the last few years.
But having attractive career opportunities and modern infrastructure and facilities, the UAE has remained popular prompting employers to attract a number of professionals and skilled workers from around the globe. The country's commercial capital of Dubai is the favourite destination, mainly due to many job vacancies and a liberal society.
"This is allowing UAE-based employers to continue to attract and retain professionals with below-inflation pay rises, albeit with greater difficulty than previously," said the study.
Based on 18,000 professionals and interviews of businessmen and human resource managers in the Gulf, the study also said that construction, banking and energy were the sectors enjoying the highest pay rise in the region while healthcare and education registered the lowest increases.
It said that engineers and finance employees received the biggest pay rises across the GCC region, followed by human resource professionals.
"Historically under represented in the region, the HR function has recently been catapulted to the frontline as Gulf-based employers grapple with the challenge of attracting, developing and retaining staff," it said.
It noted that the 15 per cent pay rise for public sector employees in Oman helped the country register the biggest jump in salary increases to 11 per cent from 5.6 per cent. It said that recent government decision to allow expatriates to change employers has likewise prompted companies to increase salaries.
The pay rise in Bahrain jumped to 8.1 per cent from 6.4 per cent while Kuwait's was almost the same at 7.9 per cent compared to eight per cent last year, the study said. Wages in Qatar, on the hand, rose by 10.6 per cent, which is lower compared to last year's increase of 11.1 per cent. In Saudi Arabia, salaries increased to 7.7 per cent this year as against 6.5 per cent in 2006.
The study said that solid economic growth and rising salaries in India, which is the main supplier of workforce to Gulf countries, as well as the easing of rules on expatriates changing employment in some GCC countries also contributed to pay increases in the region.
"With government controls no longer protecting employers against staff attrition, many are forced to raise pay levels to retain their employees," it said.
It stressed that the lack of skilled workers has stunted the growth of many companies as they turned down new business opportunities or missed the delivery of new projects.
It warned that this could limit overall growth in the non-oil sector and hamper the region's plan to diversify investments to other industries such as tourism and manufacturing.
"The long-term impact for the market could be to impede growth of start-up companies, lead to smaller companies merging with larger enterprises and discourage new entrepreneurial ventures," the study stressed.
It said that Gulf employers have begun recruiting workers from China, Eastern Europe and Latin America as the supply of skilled staff from the traditional sources of India and Egypt had diminished. Companies also began outsourcing more operations and embracing technologies to cope with the shortage of manpower.
Temporary work permits from today
ABU DHABI – OCT 01: All companies in the country can now seek temporary work permits to facilitate the process of recruiting foreign manpower, said Assistant Under-secretary in the Ministry of Labour Obaid Rashid Al Zahmi.
He said the Work Permit Department in the MoL will today begin issuing temporary work permits to companies in different fields to give them an opportunity to place the new workers in a probation period. In the past, such permits were issued only to oil and energy companies.
The three-month temporary permit will cost Dh500. For a three-month extension of the permit, companies would have to pay Dh500 along with a Dh3,000 bank guarantee.
“Temporary permit is not expensive. It is beneficial to all, as the firms can check the qualifications and the performance of the workers they have recruited, and the workers’ rights would be protected,” added Al Zahmi.
Laser Beam at Police Helicopter Triggers Alert
ABU DHABI - OCT 01: A young man who aimed a laser beam at a police helicopter triggered a major alert in the capital.
The pilot took immediate evasive action. And he gave the exact location of the source of the beam to colleagues at the Abu Dhabi force’s operations room.
The airman, who was on a routine patrol, told officers he feared the laser could have endangered his flight.
The CID sent a team to a villa that the pilot had pinpointed and the building was surrounded.
Officers quizzed members of the UAE national family, including children. Soon it became clear that a 21-yearold male member of the family had been playing with a laser pointer, used during presentations, on the rooftop. He had pointed the beam at a number of objects – including the police heli copter. “At first he denied using a laser pen and aiming it at the helicopter,” said a police spokesman. “But after questioning he admitted and handed over the pen, which was confiscated.” The young man was not named and the family promised officers the incident would not be repeated.
“He also made a pledge that it would not happen again and said the incident had been a good lesson for him,” added the spokesman.
Major Salem Al Ka’abi, who led the CID team, said: “People should be aware that the misuse of laser pointers can cause accidents and is dangerous.
“It is particularly dangerous to aim a laser at an aircraft during flight. It could divert the attention of the pilot or make him believe the aircraft was being targeted with some kind of sophisticated weapon.
“It is also dangerous to aim a laser pen at human eyes. Many children do that and parents should advise their children against this as it can damage eyesight.” Al Ka’abi said the misuse of laser pointers was against the law and the devices should be used only for their intended purpose.
Cheap versions of laser pens are easily available across the country. They are even sold to children in grocery shops. Laser pens are very cheap – with some costing just Dh1.
Eid Al Fitr likely on October 13
UAE - OCT 01: The Emirates Astronomical Society has announced that October 13 will be the first day of Eid Al Fitr in most Muslim countries as the month of Ramadan will be of 30 days.
Mohammed Shaukat Awda, member of the society and chairman of the Islamic Crescents’ Observation Project (Icop), said astronomical calculations show that Saturday will correspond to the first day of Shawal.
The Icop includes 350 scientists and engineers as members competent in moon-sighting and evaluations. (Wam)
The Emirates Astronomical Society has announced that October 13 will be the first day of Eid Al Fitr in most Muslim countries as the month of Ramadan will be of 30 days. Mohammed Shaukat Awda, member of the society and chairman of the Islamic Crescents’ Observation Project (Icop), said astronomical calculations show that Saturday will correspond to the first day of Shawal. The Icop includes 350 scientists and engineers as members competent in moon-sighting and evaluations. (Wam)
Construction sites to have sprinkler systems
DUBAI - OCT 01: Building companies and contractors in Dubai have been ordered to fit life-saving temporary sprinkler systems during the construction of all high-rise projects.
The instruction is one of a series of fire safety measures being introduced by Dubai Civil Defence. A spokesman for the National Fire Fighting Company said inquiries had already been received from contractors who wanted to have sprinklers installed.
“It is compulsory for all buildings under construction in Dubai to have a temporary sprinkler system,” he said.
“For a 25-storey tower there should be a water pump, 24 hoses, a water tank, smoke detectors and sprinklers. In the event of a fire, the system will set off a siren that can be heard up to 1.5km away.” Steve Van Wyngaard, Project Safety Manager at Al Sharaf General Contracting Company, said: “We have received a circular from Dubai Civil Defence telling us to introduce temporary sprinkler systems and smoke detectors to control any fire in high-rise buildings under construction.
“All rooms will have an additional temporary layer with pipelines connected to a water tank below. If there is a fire, a smoke detector will locate the source and activate the mechanism. This means a fire can be controlled before it spreads to adjacent areas.” A civil defence team is drawing up a series of regulations following a number of blazes at high-rise construction sites in the city. Previously the main fire safety measure was to keep fire extinguishers at construction sites, but in some cases this was not sufficient to control a fire.
Now flammable construction materials such as paint, thinners and oil are to be stored in areas where smoking and naked flames are completely banned.
A spokesman said Dubai Municipality already had a set of safety rules and its inspectors often monitored building sites. Companies that flouted the regulations were fined.
Vehicle stuck in underpass
DUBAI — OCT. 01: The Garhoud underpass in the direction from Deira to Al Garhoud Bridge was closed for over six hours on Saturday night after a concrete-mixer vehicle got stuck in the underpass, a Press release from Dubai Police said. The vehicle got stuck at 11pm on Saturday causing damage to the tunnel and leading to a traffic jam.
Fire in Al Quoz workshop
DUBAI — OCT. 01: A fire erupted in a workshop in Al Quoz at around 2.11pm yesterday, which the Civil Defence officials attributed to a short circuit. However, no injuries were reported in the incident.
A Civil Defence official told Khaleej Times: “Firefighters from Al Quoz and Karama rushed to the site at 2:14pm and managed to control the fire within 15 minutes. However, three wooden caravans, each of them with three beds, were burnt completely.”
Eyewitnesses said thick fumes of black smoke enveloped the skies after the blaze erupted. “I was working in the next building when I noticed the fire. We alerted the Civil Defence immediately. The officials pumped water to the burning caravans to put out the blaze,” said Raj Mohan, an eyewitness.
Meanwhile, the fire brought to light a violation of civic body’s rule on the workshop premises. A police official on the spot said that housing workers on the work site premises is a violation of the civic body’s law.
Warm response to Salik on-line recharging
DUBAI — OCT. 01: The on-line recharge facility for Salik users launched last week by the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has attracted an enthusiastic response from motorists, with more than 7,000 transactions having being carried out so far, Maitha bin Adai, CEO of the Traffic and Roads Agency of RTA, has said. This service for Salik users has been launched in cooperation with the Dubai e-Government.
The on-line recharge service, available on Salik’s official website (www.salik.ae), enables users to add credit to their Salik accounts through three payment options, namely credit card, e-dirham or direct debt from the user’s bank account. The minimum recharge amount is Dh50. “The on-line recharge service has been well-received by Salik subscribers as it saves efforts and time,” said bin Adai. “The new bilingual on-line service reflects RTA’s keenness to provide the best services to the public, ” added bin Adai.
AI Express schedule for Kerala flights announced
ABU DHABI — OCT. 01: Budget airline Air India Express yesterday announced its winter schedule of its flights between Abu Dhabi and the southern state of Kerala in India.
“All our flights on the Kerala route will have a convenient night departure schedule from October 28,” a Press release from the Air India office here said.
The Abu Dhabi-Trivandrum daily flight will depart from the Abu Dhabi International Airport at 12.45am and arrive in the destination at 6.05am (Indian time), while the Abu Dhabi-Kochi direct flight will depart from here on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 2.15am and will arrive in Kochi at 7.25am. Another flight to Kochi via Trivandrum will depart from Abu Dhabi at 12.45am on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday and arrive in Kochi at 7.30am.
The Abu Dhabi-Kozhikode direct flight will depart from here on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday at 2.15am and arrive in Kozhikode at 7.20am and another flight via Trivandrum on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday will depart from here at 12.45am and arrive in Kozhikode at 7.45am.
The Trivandrum-Abu Dhabi direct flight will depart at 10.45pm and arrive here at 1.15am (UAE time) the next day. Kochi-Abu Dhabi direct flight on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday will depart from Kochi at 9.15pm and arrive here at 11.45pm and the flight via Trivandrum on Monday, Wednesday and Friday will depart from Kochi at 9.20pm and arrive here at 1.15am the next day.
The Kozhikode-Abu Dhabi direct flight on Monday, Wednesday and Friday will depart at 9.25pm and arrive here at 11.45pm and the flight via Trivandrum on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday will depart from Kozhikode at 9.10pm and arrive Abu Dhabi at 1.15am the next day.
Residents look for ways to tackle pests
UAE - OCT. 01: Pests, especially bedbugs, have amazing capacity to multiply and adapt, only to disturb people in bed. The bedbugs land many a person in trouble. At some places, the people find themselves extremely fed up with their presence. Shamila Jamaluddin examines the main factors, which lead to this
ACCORDING to experts, most insects considered serious pests are not native to the UAE but have been accidentally brought in.
Many pests like household and garden insect pests in the capital have been accidentally introduced either through commercial activities, infested food, plants or even through the belongings of the millions of travellers who enter the country.
Moreover, the life style of low income expatriates of sharing flats and apartments are also contributory factors for existence of pests.
Along with cockroaches, the bedbug menace is common in many homes, a truly vexatious problem faced by many residents.
Khalid Al Mehairbi, Head of the Pest Control Section, Abu Dhabi Municipality, explained that pests like bedbugs and other insects found in the capital are those which have come from other countries found in cartons and other materials through the form of eggs or larvae.
"The cargoes which arrive at the ports both land and sea do come under greater scrutiny by the Municipality and screened for pests. Only after getting a clearance letter from the Municipality, the cargoes are allowed to enter the country," he said.
"But despite these very arduous efforts by the Municipality to keep the pests off and from entering the country, sometimes they still enter," he observed.
According to Mehairbi, during the summer time, the capital face a larger bedbug and other pests menace and as a result, six groups of pest controllers from the department are sent to more than ten homes in a day.
"It's obvious that pests can enter buildings through windows and doors, and living with pets, like cats and dogs, can also breed bedbugs," Mehairbi added.
"And most of the homes that request our services are from people living in apartment buildings, and very less from single family homes or villas" he explained.
Mehairbi further said that of late, the pest control department was compelled to levy a fee for its services especially to the expatriate community because some are rebellious and arrogant to the servicemen paying no respect to their services.
"Their complaints most often are that the pests aren't eradicated and keep calling and troubling us frequently, sometimes every two months," he said.
"Now with the fees levied, we expect less trouble from these types of residents. The fee depends on the intensity of the pest control and range from Dhs100 to Dhs200. The services are free for nationals," he added.
The Department consists of two groups from the south and east of Abu Dhabi for rodents comprising twenty servicemen, a group of forty for mosquitoes and six groups for pest control comprising five servicemen in each group.
According to Dr Zlatina Mineva, Dermatologist, Amrita Medical Centre, Abu Dhabi, bedbugs aren't known to spread disease to humans but patients coming to her clinic with bug bites are not uncommon.
"The difficult part is to convince them they suffer from pest bites, which they consider an offence to their personal hygiene," she said.
"The children experience more difficulty to control the scratching and more often come with complications from infection but rarely an allergic reaction is observed," she added.
"Regardless whether it is children or grown ups, if anyone experience allergic reactions or severe skin reactions to bedbug bites, they must see a doctor for professional treatment," Zlatina advised.
"Bedbug-bite signs and symptoms will usually only affect the surface of the skin, revealing themselves as small itchy red bumps known as papules or wheals."
"However, you may experience psychological effects due to a bedbug infestation, such as imagined itching. This is normal and a bedbug infestation is nothing to be embarrassed about. Even the cleanest, most meticulous individual can suffer from a bedbug problem in the home," opined Zlatina.
Further she explained that treatment of bedbug bites relieves the symptoms, but they usually resolve themselves within one to two weeks without treatment.
n Screening and diagnosis of bedbug bites
n Diagnosis of bedbug bites requires a history of your exposure and a physical examination of the bite areas. Because the bites can be mistaken for those of other insects or other skin problems, your doctor will need to rule out fleas, body lice and scabies before determining a diagnosis of bedbugs.
n Diagnosis of a bedbug infestation in your home can be more difficult, since bedbugs work primarily at night. If you have signs or symptoms, immediately inspect your home for the insects. Thoroughly examine crevices in walls, mattresses and furniture. You may need to perform your inspection at night when bedbugs are active.
n Some individuals may develop allergic reactions or larger skin reactions such as:
n Large, itchy wheals up to 20 cm across
n Blister-like skin inflammations
n Groups of small, swollen sacs of pus
n Factors that will increase your chances of suffering a bedbug infestation:
n Climate - Bedbugs thrive in tropical areas, although they can be found in all climates.
n Type of housing - Infestation is more likely in apartments and homeless shelters - which have high turnover - than in single-family homes.
n Living with pets - Cats and dogs can carry bedbugs into the home.
Look for these signs:
n Discrete bloodstains on sheets and mattresses
n Specks of blood behind wallpaper or other sites of heavy infestation
n Insect excrement at the entry to hiding places in furniture crevices, and walls
n An intense, sweet odour caused by bedbugs' oil secretions.
Dubai - Prayers Answered
Dubai - Oct. 01: Workers in Sonapur were all smiles while heading for their morning prayers yesterday as the raw sewage that had flooded their route to the mosque for weeks had finally cleared.
“Our prayers were answered this time,” said Mushtaq Ali, standing on the road that was once flooded with dirty and stinking drainage water. “We can finally breathe without fear of falling ill.” 7DAYS reported last month that the flood of filthy water coming from the sewage tanks of several labour camps had been collecting in front of the mosque for several weeks. More than 1,000 frustrated workers appealed for relief during Ramadan so that they could reach their mosque and pray without being covered in stinking and foul smelling water.
“All we ask for is a clean place to pray after a day of hard work. We are happy that now we can walk to the mosque without getting dirty and enjoy the holy month of Ramadan,” said another worker. Two weeks after the report, 7DAYS visited the area again to find that the stagnant water finally cleared from the area.
Following our report Dubai Municipality acknowledged the issue and promised 'immediate and stringent action'. They approached the companies violating the rules and issued severe warnings. “We held meetings with the companies in the area and warned them. We are now working on a long-term solution to the issue,” said an official from the Environment Department with Dubai Municipality.
Following the warnings the companies controlled the leaks, the official said. Environment officials warned that violators may be fined or even have their licenses suspended if companies break the rules again and allow raw sewage to leak onto the streets.
The stagnant water was becoming a serious health issue with some workers being taken to hospital with sicknesses attributed to the rotting filth, claimed some labourers living near to the mosque.
Dubai - Salesman goes on the run
Dubai - Oct. 01: A salesman in Dubai has been convicted of stealing dhs3 million from a jewellery store, and sentenced to three years in jail. However, the Lebanese expat fled the country before being caught by police and is now being hunted by Interpol.
An accomplice in the theft, a 32-year-old Egyptian man, was arrested in Dubai and received the same sentence. He will also be deported after serving his prison term. Police were told by an informant that the Egyptian was attempting to sell the stolen jewellery in Ras Al Khaimah. Undercover officers met him in a coffee shop and arrested him when they confirmed he was in possession of some of the stolen jewellery.
A police officer told the court: “We heard he was trying to sell some of the items so we set a trap for him. We met him in a coffee shop and made the arrest there.” According to police reports, the theft took place at a store at the Ibn Batuta Mall in Dubai earlier this year. Video surveillance cameras picked up the Lebanese man selecting items of jewellery from display cabinets before hiding them in his clothes. He fled the store before he could be apprehended. He is believed to have escaped from the UAE with the stolen jewellery.