News headlines

Excerpts from UAE Daillies

Facebook users face Orkut fears

DUBAI — OCT 2: Net surfers in the UAE have said they were not being able to gain access to Facebook, the social networking web site, and were apprehensive that like Orkut, it might have been banned too.

A number of Facebook users said that in the past two days, whenever they tried to log on to the site an error message flashed on their screens.

“After the ban on Orkut (a similar web site) three months ago, I am afraid Facebook too has been banned in the UAE as I have not been able to log on to it for at least two days,” said Mark Porter, a Dubai resident.

In fact, it was after the ban of Orkut that many users shifted to Facebook.

“I am connected through this website (Facebook) to all my friends around the globe now. Earlier, we were using Orkut. So when I was unable to access it, I presumed Facebook might have been banned by the service provider -in my case- Etisalat,” said Ahmed Saleem.

However, Etisalat has denied that the web site has been banned. A senior Etisalat official has said that any such decision is taken only by the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA). “There was some connectivity problem for a couple of days, but the web site is accessible now. If there is a ban, a red message of Etisalat flashes across the screen saying the site cannot be accessed. However, any decision on banning of a website is taken by TRA, not by the service provider,” the official pointed out.

When contacted, a TRA official also confirmed that the website had not been blocked. “We have been receiving calls from users, but the website has not been banned. There might be a problem with the service provider. Net surfers can use the du network to access the site if they are having problem with Etisalat.”


Slaughtering animals at home is illegal: Official 
A campaign to stop residents slaughtering livestock at homes and farms and in public places has been launched in Abu Dhabi.

Only official slaughterhouses should be used, said the emirate’s Food Control Authority. And shoppers were urged to stop buying meat from unlicensed and unauthorised shops.

“Slaughtering animals for food in places other than official slaughterhouses managed by the municipality is illegal and a punishable offence,” said Mohammed Jalal Al Reyaysa, the communications and information manager of the food authority. “Official centres provide all the essential health safety measures such as checks by vets to ensure animals are free from disease, making sure premises are clean and well maintained and that clean equipment is used.” Al Reyaysa said the campaign had been launched because an increasing number of goats and sheep were being slaughtered in unhygienic conditions outside – and even inside – homes.This reflected badly on the image of the emirate.

The message would be driven home through announcements in the media, leaflets and field visits.

Ahmed Kulaib Al Tunaiji, manager of the authority’s Animal Production Section, said: “The number of animals slaughtered for food at homes, farms and at official facilities has increased by 100 per cent during Ramadan compared with other months.

“With this campaign we are trying to deliver awareness of the need to use official slaughterhouses, which have been established with huge investment by the government.

“These centres have been built to serve the public and people must use them for their own health and safety.

“Abu Dhabi, with 18 units, has the largest number of such facilities in the country. The figure is larger than the total of all the slaughterhouses in other emirates put together.

“These facilities have been built taking all health safety standards into consideration. They are clean and manned by experienced and healthy butchers assisted by veterinarians,” he said.

Al Tunaiji said two of the slaughterhouses had large capacities and offered commercial services to hotels, restaurants and butcher shops.The 16 facilities for use by the public are located close to residential areas for easy access and convenience.

Dr Abdul Latif Yousuf, head of the authority’s Meat Inspection Section, said most of the livestock was imported from Somalia, Iran, Australia and Pakistan.

“Meat is very delicate and prone to bacterial infection and contamination,” he said.


Old age, but new tricks
Student James Robinson is proving you really are never too old to learn, by moving to the UAE and going to university – at the age of 78.  And last night he said: “Look – I have a lot of homework to do.” Robinson began studying French at Paris-Sorbonne University in Abu Dhabi on Sunday after leaving his adopted home country of Australia.

“I want to be able to think in French, to speak French, to read French and to study French in an Arab country,” he said.

And after learning the language, he intends to study for a BA in art history, archaeology and literature. But why the UAE? And why Abu Dhabi rather than Paris, home of the original Sorbonne?

“It is closer to Australia than Paris, it is less expensive than Paris, it is new and it has all the prestige of the Sorbonne,” he said.

“I had feared it was not possible to learn and [return] to university at my age. But I love the people around me here, and I look forward to discovering the city of Abu Dhabi.” He admits, however, that he misses friends of his own age from Lower Chittering, Western Australia, where he owns a 10-acre farm.

“We used to have challenging intellectual conversations,” he said.

“I like to discuss… abstract ideas and issues of justice and equality rather than business affairs and politics.” O’len Gaultier, the university’s head of communications, said: “It is amazing to have a student like James Robinson here.” And her colleague Maysoon Barbar said: “All staff members and students respect the fact he is in their class.” Robinson was born in Chicago in the United States in 1929. He obtained an MA in educational technology at Philadelphia and settled in Perth, Australia, in 1974.

His wife, an industrial designer, moved Down Under with him, but was unable to obtain work and the couple separated. He later took Australian citizenship.

Robinson has travelled to many countries around the world, but the UAE is only the second Arab nation he has visited – and he has never been to a Gulf state before. He is living in an apartment close to the university.

And his wish to learn languages will not be satisfied even when he masters French. “I would like to take this opportunity to learn Arabic later on,” he said.

Cabbies raise concern after fellow assaulted in Al Quoz

DUBAI — OCT 02: A horrified taxi driver who was attacked by three unidentified men in the early hours of Saturday in Al Quoz and other fellow cabbies yesterday expressed concern over their safety during night shift.

Sudheesh Krishnan, who is from the Indian state of Kerala and works with Dubai Taxi, was attacked by unidentified culprits after they hitched a ride from the World Trade Center (WTC) roundabout to Al Quoz Industrial Area around 3am.

“We are vulnerable to attacks especially at night. We hope the police will nab the culprits soon,” said Mohammed Arif, a taxi driver.

Rajesh Kumar, another driver, said: “I will think twice before taking passengers especially to deserted areas. We do not know what kind of people are travelling with us and what their intentions are.”

Sudheesh said: “I can hardly believe I am still alive. Three men asked me to drop them in Al Quoz. When we passed the Grand City Mall, they ordered me to stop the vehicle. The fare reading was Dh32 but they paid me Dh50. When I took out my wallet to give them the balance amount, the men sitting on the back seat hit me on my face and snatched my wallet. They tied me to the seat and beat me up and took away my mobile phone. My mouth started bleeding and I passed out. When I regained consciousness, I was in Rashid Hospital.”

Police informed him that a UAE national spotted him in the car tied up and unconscious. He alerted the police and the officials shifted me to the hospital.

“The culprits spoke in Hindi,” Sudheesh said. Police have confiscated the car, he added. Police sources confirmed the incident and said an investigation is on.


Cancer awareness drive begins

DUBAI — OCT 02: Thousands of pink balloons launched the BurJuman Safe & Sound Cancer Awareness Campaign 2007 at the BurJuman Centre yesterday.

As part of its most comprehensive breast cancer awareness campaign over the last 10 years, thousands of pink balloons were released into the air to mark the beginning of the campaign.

Sabina Khandwani, head of PR and marketing at BurJuman said, “We hope to give women across the UAE the opportunity to learn more about breast cancer and empower them with information that could one day be instrumental in saving their lives.”

She went on to say: “Our fundamental goal remains to break the breast cancer taboo and get a greater number of Emirati women involved in the campaign. We invite you to join us in this fight against breast cancer and help us spread the message of awareness and prevention.”

The campaign, which was officially launched yesterday in front of Paul’s Cafe in BurJuman Mall, was attended by survivors, partners, sponsors and spectators alike. “Empowering people is at the heart of our initiative. To that end it’s important to recognise the amount of sponsor and partner input that we’ve received in the course of promoting this campaign,” said Khandwani.

As part of 10 successful years of breast cancer awareness, this year’s event will see a wider, fuller range of events compared to the previous years, including the ‘Pink Walkathon’, a walk for charity on October 26. Nearly 5,000 people, including women, men and children of all ages and fitness levels are expected to take part in this initiative by sporting the Safe and Sound T-shirts and caps. Breast cancer survivors will lead the 3.6km walk as a statement of empowerment, treatment, success and hope,” she explained.

Another highlight of the Safe and Sound Breast Cancer Awareness Programme is the unveiling of the Pledge Wall, a statement of on-going commitment to finding a cure for this disease. Numerous other events are scheduled in October,  including the Harley Davidson Parade, Pink Bazaar, Cycling Challenge, and musical and children’s events, to raise awareness on breast cancer.

Khandwani added, “We feel that breast cancer cannot be fought by medicines alone because it requires the overall involvement of society to understand the causes and know the treatments. There is a social and moral aspect tied to this cause and we believe that this campaign will keep growing with the wonderful support of the community.”


MoL initiates action against firms hiring ‘illegal’ workers

ABU DHABI — OCT 02: The Ministry of Labour (MoL) has initiated legal action against companies that are found hiring illegals, according to Assistant Undersecretary in MoL Obaid Rashid Al Zahmi.

He said during the past two weeks, company owners have been told about the imposition of penalties as laid down in the ministerial order, in addition to the punishments defined in the Cabinet order.

The penalties include suspension of the violating firm’s transactions with the ministry, blocking of sponsorship transfer and downgrading to ‘C’ category.


Dubai - Ad causes offence

Dubai - Oct 02:  Diplomats and Europeans living in the UAE have roundly condemned an advertisement for a Dubai-based property company picturing reviled German dictator Adolf Hitler and the phrase 'Conqueror, the world is yours!'

The company responsible for placing the advert in a daily newspaper was flooded with calls from irate readers demanding to know why a man responsible for murdering millions of people during the Second World War was fronting their advertising campaign. A spokesman for the German Embassy told 7DAYS that the advert was unacceptable stating: “The embassy condemns the use of the picture of Adolf Hitler for commercial purposes. The advertisement in question is unacceptable.”

“I could not believe what I saw. How this was ever printed is amazing to me,” said a reader who saw the promotion. “Who are they going to feature next? Pol Pot who killed millions in Cambodia or maybe a few famous serial killers? I think the advert is offensive to all those that suffered under the Nazi regime.”

German national Lothar Hohmann, who lives in Dubai, said it was completely tasteless and not something he wished to see again in an advert.  “The Germans today have nothing to do with what happened in the past and such attempts at this of using Hitler to sell property just unnecessarily bring back old memories,” he said.

The General Manager of the real estate company however defended the advertisement and said the idea was taken for purely commercial reasons.  “The intention was to attract attention. I believe only in business and I think the advertisement worked for us,” he said. “Property companies are known to use unusual advertisements to catch the attention of people. We have nothing to do with being political. We use famous people to attract attention and Hitler is famous.”  The advert that was carried in the property section of the newspaper on Sunday was not repeated yesterday.


Taxi woes continue in Sharjah

SHARJAH - OCT 02: SHARJAH Municipality has categorically said that the transportation system in the emirate is an issue that needs to be seriously dealt with.

Head of the Public Relations Department Abdullah Al Showaikh said that "Sharjah Transport Comapny should look into on-going transportation problems being faced inside Shrajah city."

Newspapers have been reporting the problems being faced by people due to shortage of taxis.The number of taxis has dwindled from around 11,000 few years ago to less than 5,000 and the population in the emirate more than doubled.

The situation is even worse on weekends. Showaikh said "our official explanation to this issue is that we do not have anything to say because this does not come under our purview. We do not want to make any comment on this. You can write this quoting me," the official insisted.

Sharjah Transport authorities, were not available for comment.

The Gulf Today and other newspapers including Al Khaleej, have several times highlighted the issue of taxis in Sharjah, which aggravated more than a year ago.

Acute shortage of taxis in Sharjah and the heavy clamp down of police on illegal taxi operators have already made commuters' lives miserable.

A few illegal taxi operators in Rolla are now opting for only one passenger for "an engage trip" to Dubai charging Dhs25 or more to several dropping points in Dubai.

They had already, from mid-November 2006, cut down the number of passengers from four (an ordinary car can carry at a time) to two for one Dubai trip for fear of police action on Dubai roads. The drivers said Dubai Police was straight away slamming hefty fines on every illegal taxi caught on the emirate's roads.

Passengers are now left at the mercy of legal and illegal taxi drivers as the number of regular transport buses are not in ratio with the population.



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