News headlines

Excerpts from UAE Dailies

Stress takes its toll on Dubai residents

DUBAI - OCT. 03: The number of deaths caused by high blood pressure in Dubai is three times higher than the toll in the rest of the emirates.  And stress due to traffic jams, stock market fluctuations and the high cost of living are among the causes of the condition, according to a leading heart consultant.

A Dubai Department of Health and Medical Services report says: “The study of deaths caused by high blood pressure between 1999 and 2006 throughout the country confirmed that the highest number of cases was in Dubai. The rate was highest among people aged over 55.

“The diseases linked to high blood pressure were among the top 10 causes of death among UAE nationals in 2005. And high blood pressure is one of the main caus es of cardiovascular disease.” Consultant Dr Aref Noriani at the Ministry of Health said the number of patients with high blood pressure or those suffering from heart problems had grown across the UAE in recent years.

He said the causes of the increase included hereditary factors, tightening of arteries in the kidneys, hormone disorders and obesity. But he said psychological issues also contributed to the problem.

“Most patients at Al Qasimi Hospital who have high blood pressure use the SharjahDubai road, which is notorious for traffic jams,” added Noriani.

“Bottlenecks and sitting in cars for many hours create a state of high tension among motorists, increasing the secretion of hormones and causing high blood pressure.

“Stock market fluctuations cause a big psychological burden too, and lead to high blood pressure.

“And there are other causes of the disease, such as low salaries compared to the high cost of living, and high rents, that cause continuous tension and prevent some people from sleeping sufficiently.

“The longer blood pressure remains high the more it poses a threat to the organs – especially the brain and heart.

“High blood pressure accounted for 9.8 per cent of the cardiovascular cases treated in Dubai health department hospitals. It was the cause of two-thirds of visits to cardiovascular wards at private hospitals and clinics.” Noriani said work on road projects should be speeded up to ease congestion. He called on the Ministry of Economy and other relevant organisations to act to reduce the high cost of living and rents.

He said treatment for high blood pressure should not be neglected as the condition could lead to heart attacks and strokes.


UAE media adopts code of conduct

DUBAI — OCT. 03: Editors of leading Arabic and English newspapers in the UAE on Monday signed the Charter of Honour and Code of Ethics underlining their commitment to a responsible media which would ensure credibility, accuracy and unbiased nature of news content.

The  26-article document which defines the rules and ethics of the journalistic profession, was drafted following the political leadership’s keenness on ensuring a favourable environment for the freedom of Press in the country.

Addressing the media fraternity after signing the Charter in Dubai, Mohammed Yusouf, Chairman of the UAE Journalists’ Association (UAEJA),  said, “The Press community highly values the directives by President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed al Nahyan for offering all forms of support to journalists so as to assume their duties in serving the nation.”

He also praised the instructions of His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of  UAE and Ruler of Dubai, for ruling out imprisonment of journalists for matters related to their professional duties.

“As these instructions provide enough room of freedom of the press,  they will put additional responsibility on journalists with regard to commitment to the Code of Ethics,” Yusouf affirmed.

He said that Shaikh Mohammed had welcomed the new move by terming it as a leverage of confidence between the media and the local community.

The UAEJA chairman also praised the role of the National Media Council, under the chairmanship of Foreign Minister Shaikh Abdullah bin Zayed al Nahyan, in devising the Code of Ethics, thus upgrading the profession in terms of responsibilities, obligations and rights in line with the values of Arab and Muslim communities.

The Charter of Honour underlines respect for truth and the right of the public to have access to authentic and accurate information, he said.

“While performing their duties, journalists should keep in mind the principles of freedom and integrity in gathering and publishing stories and also voicing fair and neutral comments and criticisms,” he added.

“Besides, they should use only legitimate means to obtain information, photographs and documents from genuine sources,” he cautioned.

“Journalists should respect the privacy of individuals and not publish anything without the consent of the individuals concerned,” Yusouf said.

With regard to the source of news, both the charter and the code emphasise that professionalism and confidentiality must be strictly observed if the source demands anonymity.

“Journalists should not seek to provoke or inflame public feelings, and must strictly refrain from the use of media organs for purpose of libel or slander,” Yusouf said.

Journalists should avoid stories that carry a hint of discrimination of race, sex, language, faith, nationality and social backgrounds.

The charter stipulates that in crimes and issues dealing with children, names and photographs of suspects in ongoing trials until final verdicts are pronounced should not be published.

The charter expects journalists to be unprejudiced in their reports and refrain from publishing photos of brutal violence and respect the feelings of the public, especially children.

The document also expects journalists to avoid using offending and obscene language in their reports.

Human rights should also be respected and valued and should not be abused by the media under any pretext, the document states.

The charter describes plagiarism, ill-intention interpretation, libel, slander, censure, defamation, allegation and bribery as dangerous violations. Accepting gratification is considered breach of the code, Yusouf stated.


Five Pakistanis burnt to death in car crash

DUBAI — OCT. 03:Five Pakistani nationals were killed in a road accident in Bur Dubai at 2am yesterday. A Pakistani national who was driving a BMW car with Dubai plate number 59822, reportedly lost control over his speeding vehicle and hit the fence of the tunnel in the direction of Garhoud Bridge. As a result, the car overturned and caught fire, Brigadier Abdul Jalil Mehdi, deputy director of Preventive Security Department said. By the time the rescue and Civil Defence team arrived on the spot, the driver and four other travellers in the car, all Pakistanis, had been charred to death.

The police removed their bodies from the car and sent them to the General Department of Forensic Science.


Ban on private cars of expats for Haj travel

ABU DHABI — OCT. 03: Expatriate residents in the UAE will not be allowed to travel in their own cars to Saudi Arabia for Haj or Umrah under an agreement signed between the UAE and Saudi Arabia, a senior official at the General Authority for Islamic Affairs and Awqaf (GAIAA) said yesterday.

Hamad Al Mualla, Director of Haj and Umrah Department, GAIAA, said, “The Saudi authorities will refuse entry of vehicles owned by expatriate residents for performing Haj or Umrah. The pilgrims should enter the holy lands in transport provided by their respective Haj operators. The Haj operators are responsible for serving pilgrims in the UAE and Saudi Arabia.” 

While stating that the agreement had been reached keeping in mind the safety of pilgrims, he warned that Haj and Umrah operators who allow the pilgrims to travel on their own inside Saudi Arabia, without any supervision, would risk stiff penalties.

“Vehicles of residents are only allowed to enter Saudi Arabia in two cases: if the visa is for visit or transit,” he clarified, adding that the UAE nationals may travel to Saudi Arabia in their cars any time because they don’t need an entry visa.


Crackdown on illegal vendors in Sharjah

SHARJAH — OCT. 03: The Sharjah Municipality has ordered a crackdown on illegal vendors who set up makeshift outlets on pavements and visit houses to sell various items.

The move follows an increase in the number of such people on Sharjah streets since the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan.

The punishment will include prosecution and deportation from the country, according to Fahd bin Shuhail, Head of the Consumer Protection section in the municipality.

Bin Shuhail told Khaleej Times that the authorities have noticed the increased presence of illegal vendors who move about the streets or set up makeshift outlets on pedestrian pavements selling a range of items like garments, toys, CDs and electronic gadgets.

The practice violates the Job Licensing Regulation No. (2) of 1981, he said. Under this, the offender will be detained and referred to security officials as a preliminary step before prosecution in a court of law.

Bin Shuhail said the Market Control Section in the municipality has intensified inspections in the emirate in view of Ramadan when such activities increase. Several people have been detained so far, said Bin Shuhail, who did not give an exact number.

He said the ongoing campaign is besides the daily efforts by the section to curb illegal activities in the market, including sale of smuggled and substandard goods.

Bin Shuhail said the municipality has adopted new procedures to counter the ingenious methods these vendors employ to evade the law enforcement agencies.  The municipality has deployed more qualified personnel for inspections and follow-up actions,  intensified monitoring on all days and instituted better display procedures for shops and supermarkets, he said.

Such practices hit the supermarkets and shops legally operating in the emirate as the illegal vendors can sell the products at lower prices. Buying health products from such peddlers could be dangerous.

The municipality is committed to protecting the interests of the consumers and the market, Bin Shuhail said.


Unused car number plates to cost owners Dh500 quarterly from Oct 13

ABU DHABI — OCT. 03: Owners of unused car number plates will have to pay a quarterly fee of Dh500 from October 13, according to a senior officer at the Abu Dhabi Traffic and Licensing Department.

The law is aimed to clamp  down on non-utilisation of registration numbers for a long time, Colonel Hamad Adeel Al Shamsi, Director of Traffic and Patrols Department at the Abu Dhabi Police, said.

The number plate will be transferred only to close relatives, Al Shamsi said.


Students face music over Facebook jokes

DUBAI — OCT. 03: About 40 students of an international school in Dubai were pulled up and forced to apologise by the school authorities on Sunday after they posted comments against a faculty member on popular social networking web site Facebook.

Students from the higher grades (Grade IX, X and XI) of the school allegedly created a group on the site to criticise and joke about a teacher whom they did not like.   

Some parents are upset that the school had intruded into the children’s private space. They say it is not the school’s business interfere in what children did after school hours.

A parent, Lana (name changed), told Khaleej Times, “These students have only expressed their views online. Facebook is like a chat room and they have exchanged opinions and jokes. Even parents do not have the right to intrude into their privacy.”

“Instead of reprimanding them, authorities should have asked these children why they did not like the particular faculty member,” said parent Natasha (name changed).

Confirming the incident, a school official told KT, “A few students started a hate campaign about an administrator who was trying to deal with some of them who were causing disruption of classes. They started a scandalous campaign against him on Facebook. We told the students it is not acceptable and we will monitor their behaviour from now.” The students were asked to apologise in writing and the students did so. He said that an advisory committee met with the students and the parents individually to rectify the situation.

It is believed that one of the students informed the school authorities after which they contacted the UAE service provider and tracked down all the students who were part of the group.

Knowledge and Human Development Authority officials said that since it was a school’s internal matter and no parent had officially lodged a complaint, they would not interfere in it.


What is Facebook?

Facebook is a social networking website which was launched on Feb. 4, 2004. It was founded by Mark Zuckerberg, Harvard graduate and former Ardsley High School student.

Initially the membership was restricted to students of Harvard College. It was subsequently expanded to other universities.

Since 2006, it has been made available to any email address user who inputs a certain age range. Users can select to join one or more participating networks, such as a high school, place of employment, or geographic region.

At present, the website had the largest number of registered users among college-focused sites with over 34 million active members worldwide (also from non-collegiate networks).

From September 2006 to September 2007 it increased its ranking from 60 to 7th most visited web site, and was the number one site for photos in the United States, ahead of public sites such as Flickr, with over 8.5 million photos uploaded daily.


Vendors, beggars arrested in raids

DUBAI — OCT. 03: Dubai Municipality (DM) inspectors, in cooperation with the Dubai Police and the Dubai Naturalisation and Residency Department (DNRD), nabbed 274 people in raids conducted last month, including street vendors, beggars and illegal car washers.

Obeid Salem Al Shamsi, assistant director-general of Dubai Municipality for Administrative and General Services Affairs, said the crackdown also resulted in the seizure of several low-quality goods, pirated CDs and food items.

“DM inspectors conduct daily spot checks in the streets and public places to prevent street vending, begging and car washing in public places by individuals as this violates the law,” said Al Shamsi.

“Among the 274 people held in September were 55 street vendors, 206 beggars, eight car washers and five illegal butchers and fish cleaners,” the official added.

Al Shamsi said a total of 764 counterfeit products were seized from them, including ready-made garments, perfumes, cameras, and watches, aside from 1,956 pirated DVDs, 15 pornographic movies, and four bottles of honey.

Al Shamsi has urged the public to call the municipality’s emergency office on 04-2232323 round-the-clock to report any such illegal activities.



UAE - OCT. 03:
The future of a single currency across all the six Gulf Cooperation Council countries countries was thrown into mortal doubt yesterday.  UAE Central Bank Governor Sultan bin Nasser Al Suwaidi said, when asked about monetary union: “It is something we cannot see [taking] place even in 2015.” Bankers and economists responded to his comments by saying the ill-fated currency union – originally scheduled for 2010 – was unlikely to happen at all.

However, they said it was not essential to the Gulf region’s continuing prosperity.

Al Suwaidi said in an interview published by .Commerce magazine that unless the main components of a common market “are in place and start taking shape, it is very difficult” to forecast a date for a single GCC currency.

One banker who did not wish to be identified said: “The expectations for a single currency were low after Oman said it would not be able to meet the 2010 deadline. Now they are nonexistent.” Analysts believe currency union is not a prerequisite for continuing economic growth.

“Whether [monetary union] will be allowed to slip off the policy agenda is difficult to say,” said HSBC economist Simon Williams. “The Gulf’s leaders may judge that they have more pressing issues on their economic agenda.

“The Gulf will continue to prosper with or without a single currency or monetary union.” Al Suwaidi reiterated his position on retaining the UAE currency’s peg to the dollar.

Expectations of a revaluation in the face of the US currency’s weakness have been high since GCC member Kuwait dropped its peg to the dollar, which it blamed for rising prices of imports from Europe and Asia.

But the Governor ruled out unilateral action on scrapping the dirham’s peg, saying: “We would have to consult with other GCC countries. I think we have a political decision through our leaders in the GCC countries to peg against the dollar.” Last month the six GCC central bankers decided each country would tackle inflation unilaterally.

The UAE last month lowered interest rates in tandem with the US Federal Reserve.

Standard Chartered analyst Mary Nicola said economic prudence would normally prompt an increase in the rate at which money was lent when inflation was high. But she added: “A lower interest rate would drive investment.” Echoing the governor’s view, she added: “Remedying the housing problem is more urgent. There is increased demand but the country does not have the capacity to build supply.” Al Suwaidi said inflation in the UAE – which officially stands at 9.3 per cent – was the result of a shortage of homes and office space. Goods from Europe accounted for only 30 per cent of imports.

“We do not believe that monetary policy is the right medicine for inflation,” he added. “[Additional housing] will eliminate inflation, not just cool it.”


Dubai - Man with split personality cleared of dealing

Dubai - Oct. 03: An Iranian schizophrenic who was caught dealing drugs to an undercover police officer has been acquitted by the Appeal Court after being sentenced to life in prison at an earlier court hearing.

The 22-year-old accused, identified as MA, was charged with drug possession and dealing. He was found with 2.68g of marijuana after attempting to sell the drugs to the officer on March 24 last year. According to the prosecution he then confessed to bringing the drugs over from Iran. His lawyer said that his client had “two separate personalities” and that he has suffered with schizo-phrenia since a child.

A doctor told the court: “He thinks he hears somebody speaking with him and he has to carry out the voice's orders.” The doctor pointed out that the accused was having treatment for his illness at Rashid Hospital. His lawyer Saeed Al-Gelani said: “He doesn’t know which of his personalities sold the drug to the police source. He has many hallucinations.”
According to the prosecution, the accused confessed that he brought the drugs into the country from Iran.


Indian export ban to affect onion prices

UAE - OCT. 03: WITH the ban on export of onions by India, the UAE onion market is likely to see a good hike in the prices of the commodity.  Nandkumar of Emke Group said that Indian onion has the strongest presence in the UAE and hence the ban would have a tremendous effect.

The most disturbing part of the ban, however, is that it has come into effect when the month of Ramadan is progressing and the festival of Eid is also round the corner.

"Scarcity will hit the market due to the ban", he remarked. The absence of Indian onion would be felt very much by the Indian expatriates but even other nationalities are also fond of the commodity, he added.

He said that UAE importers will now most probably tap alternative markets for the assured supply of onions.

A Dubai based importer of onion, Karamat Hussain said that Indian onion commands a major share (estimated to be around 70 per cent) of local market and hence the Indian government decision to ban export of the commodity would have a huge impact on the local market.

The local market is presently heavily dependent on supplies from Iran and prices of Iranian onions are bound to rise following the export ban by India.

Similar views were expressed by Mohammed Lasheen of Jaleel Traders who said that Indian onions are quite popular among all nationalities and export ban by Indian would have a quite good market.

"Prices of onions are likely to increase significantly", he added.

He said that the local market has already been facing the pinch of comparatively poor arrival of Indian onions but the export ban would only aggravate the problem.

Concerned over the steep hike in prices of onion, Indian government on Tuesday put a ban on exports of the commodity for the next 15 days to ensure adequate stocks are available in the domestic markets.

The temporary ban comes a day after NAFED, the main India canalising agency for onion exports and 12 other canalising agencies increased the minimum export price by 50 dollars a tonne.

With increase in the export price, the price of export of onion to UAE was one of highest with 500 dollars a tonne while the price for export of onion to Pakistan was 445 dollars a tonne while for Greece it was 565 dollars a tonne, Singapore 495 dollars, Malaysia 470 dollars and Sri Lanka 480 dollars.

The price situation in India is likely to be under control by Oct. 15 as Kharif crops from Indian onion growing region of Nasik have started coming in the markets and would arrive in full swing in next 10 days, another importer informed exuding confidence that it will help the local market show some signs of improvement.




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