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Excerpts from UAE Dailies

Gadget Makes Cheating on Car Loans a Non-starter
UAE - OCT 07:
An electronic gadget designed to prevent drivers from defaulting on car loans has been launched in the UAE. The Sekurpay device is fitted to a vehicle and reminds the borrower with a flashing light when a payment is due.

If the cash is not paid, the device disables the ignition system. Cars that are reported stolen can also be immobilised remotely.   Two loan subsidiaries of leading banks and a number of hire companies in the UAE have already adopted the system. And it is being used by banks, rental companies and car dealers across the Middle East.

The device is supplied by Sekurus International, whose research and development centre is in Dubai.

“The rate of auto loan default is high in the region,” said its CEO, Basel Al Saleh. “So, many banks and financial institutions are using the system with the approval of the customer.  “Around 10,000 cars are equipped with this device in the Middle East – in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Iran. We have sold one million units all over the world.

“In the absence of a credit bureau in the UAE, banks and car dealers are in the dark about the credit history of customers. With this system they can control the use of a vehicle.The device will never stop a running car but can prevent the engine from being restarted. Rental firms use it to control customers who are late with payments.

“Company fleet operators can use the system to stop staff using cars outside office hours,” he said.

The device – which is the size of a cigarette pack – is mounted under the steering column.The bank or car dealer gives the customer a sixdigit code, which he taps in using a keypad on the device.

A green light flashes to indicate that payments are up to date. But when an installment is due it changes to yellow.

Three days before the date on which the car is due to be disabled number three on the keypad flashes, and when two days are left number two blinks. One day before immobilisation is due, number one flashes and the unit beeps.

If the payment is not made the car will then cease to start.

A new code is provided every time a payment is made, enabling the customer to continue using the car until the next instalment becomes due.

If the device is removed illegally, an anti-tamper circuit disables the ignition.

Al Naser Rent A Car of Dubai is one of the companies using the system.

Manager Abdul Rasheed said: “We have installed the device in 100 cars. Some customers use a vehicle after the expiry of the agreement. If a customer does not return a car we can immobilise it.”

Tenth Dubai Airshow to be the largest yet

DUBAI — OCT. 07: The Dubai Airshow, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, is set to become the largest to date with up to 900 exhibitors from 47 countries and 11 pavilions.

“It is not just the size that is significant this year but the scale of new-to-market entrants and technology that will be on show,” said Alison Weller, Director, Aerospace Division of Fairs & Exhibitions (F&E), which organises the event.

“Some 130 exhibitors from 24 countries are taking part for the first time — that’s one-tenth of the show’s entire exhibitor profile - and all are seeking emerging opportunities.

“This will ensure the 2007 Dubai Airshow lives up to the event’s well-earned reputation of being a truly B2B forum delivering genuine business outcomes.”

Among the newcomers are the Cayman Islands whose government registry is taking part; Afghanistan, represented by Safi Airways; Luxembourg by maintenance service provider CAE Aviation and the Philippines with Beechcraft spares stockist Aerospace Products International.

Dubai Airshow 2007 will run at Airport Expo Dubai from November 11-15. The event is organised by F&E in conjunction with the Department of Civil Aviation, Government of Dubai and in collaboration with the UAE Armed Forces.


School hikes fees despite MoE order

ABU DHABI — OCT. 07: Parents of students of a private school in Mussafah have petitioned the Ministry of Education (MoE) urging it to stop the “exorbitant” hike in the tuition fee and transportation charges slapped on them by the school. Representatives of the parents again met the MoE officials on Thursday urging them to intervene.

The school increased the fees after shifting from a villa in Abu Dhabi to the new spacious premises in Mussafah.

However, Khaleej Times has learnt that the school charged the parents the new tuition fee despite a circular from the MoE  on June 18 ordering it not to increase any charges as the 2007-2008 academic session has started. The circular issued on June 18 (a copy of which is with Khaleej Times) allowed the school to effect the hike from the next academic year. The ministry also clarified that it had approved the school’s demand to increase the tuition fee on the condition that it would be implemented only in the 2008-2009 session.

Whenever the harried parents approached the school authorities, the authorities had countered them saying they have the MoE’s approval to hike the fees.

“During all these days, the school had kept us in the dark about the MoE circular,” a parent, B.C., told Khaleej Times yesterday.

According to the petition to the ministry, signed by 278 parents, the school hiked transportation charges from Dh100 to Dh180 per month. The school authorities, however, refute the claim saying they have increased the charges only by Dh30 as they used to charge Dh150 last year.

The parents insist that they were charged only Dh100 earlier but after the school was shifted to Mussafah, the authorities charged them Dh80 more. “As per our calculation, the overall increase  for all classes has gone up to 76 per cent as mentioned in the petition to the Undersecretary of MoE,” the parents said.

The principal of the school, said: “The increase in the tuition fee is only 40 per cent and the transportation charges 20 per cent. This is reasonable and we are not going to rescind it as we have got approval from the MoE.”

The principal said the hike was to cope with the additional financial burden incurred by the school after shifting to the new premises.

When the parents approached the school earlier, they were showed the letter of approval for the fee hike from the MoE.

The parents first received a circular from the school on May 15 about the increase in the fees. They submitted separate petitions soon after to the MoE requesting the ministry to order the school to reinstate the old fee structure.

As many as 278 parents held a meeting at the Kerala Social Centre here last week and signed the mass petition urging the ministry to intervene.

“We respect the MoE’s decision to allow the increase in the tuition fee from next year. But we humbly request the ministry to review it sympathetically in favour of us and our children because it is affecting our family budget badly,” one of the parents said.


Etisalat allows calling even without credit

ABU DHABI — OCT. 07: Etisalat customers using prepaid packages can continue using their mobile phones as normal for a value of up to Dh3 even after their phone calling credit has run out.

Customers using prepaid ‘Wasel’ and ‘Ahlan’ packages can make calls and send SMS and MMS even after they have run out of calling credit.

This facility will ensure that prepaid customers never get stuck in a situation where they are away from recharge facilities, and run out of calling credit. Dh3 is enough for talk time up to 12.5 minutes on a local call during off-peak hours. The advanced credit shall be recovered when the customer recharges next.

Etisalat’s Vice-President Marketing, Consumer, Khalifa Al Shamsi, said: “Our prepaid mobile customers do not need to fear that they cannot reach anyone when they run out of credit in a remote place with no access to credit recharge. With Dh3 worth of communication time, it is now as simple as calling someone and requesting a credit transfer of the required amount.”

When recharging Etisalat prepaid accounts, customers can choose from a range of options. These are the Online and Mobile Payment solutions, bank outlets and online facilities, Emirates Post outlets, Etisalat Cash Payment Machines, and the popular Credit Transfer Service, which enables Etisalat prepaid mobile customers to receive calling credit from both prepaid and postpaid customers.

As a special gesture to all its prepaid customers during Ramadan, all credit recharges of over Dh100 are being given 10 per cent extra credit for free, while all amounts below Dh100 are being given extra credit of five per cent.


Labour card violations have come down: MoL

DUBAI — OCT. 07: The number of labourers with expired labour cards has dropped from 250,000 in July 2005 to 52,000 in September this year, a senior official of the Ministry of Labour (MoL) has revealed.

Humeid Bin Deemas, assistant under-secretary of the MoL, attributed this decrease in violations to a series of stringent measures adopted by the ministry since July 2005.

“The stringent measures have included heavy fines, denial of new labour cards to companies, as well as the closure of the violating companies,” said Bin Deemas.

“The figures show that this policy has proved effective,” noted Bin Deemas.

“In the last two years, the violating companies and establishments have ended up paying fines worth more than Dh450 million overall. It’s been the ministry’s objective to streamline the labour market and curb the violations of law. The hefty fines have deterred the companies from failing to renew the labour cards of their employees on time.”

The MoL official also stressed that this policy protects the labourer’s rights.




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