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Excerpts from UAE Dailies

Businesses miss usual Eid bustle

DUBAI/ABU DHABI — OCT 10: Businesses in Dubai and Abu Dhabi are missing the usual hustle and bustle associated with Eid shopping though the festival days are round the corner. And it is blamed on a number of factors — high inflation, skyrocketing prices and, even, weak dollar!

Unlike the previous years, traders say the turnout of Eid shoppers has been low till now. They hope the sales will pick up in the next two days.

While the businesses say the skyrocketing prices are due to inflation, many shoppers say it is a usual phenomenon during festival seasons. For instance, the price of gold — a favourite item of Eid shoppers — has risen from Dh72 per

gram last month to Dh81.5 per gram as of yesterday. The prices of textiles have increased by 10 per cent and those of general commodities 5-10 per cent in one month.

Sumaya Ahmed, a shopper, said: “I have been living in Dubai for the past six years. Every festival season, the prices of commodities shoot up. This year, I thought I would stock things early. When I went shopping two weeks ago, I was shocked to see that the prices had already gone up.”

Faisal Ismail, a resident of Bur Dubai, said: “I am already struggling to survive due to the high cost of living. The recent increase in the prices has forced me to scale down my Eid celebrations.”

Abu Dhabi residents are also not going on a shopping spree this Eid. They are limiting themselves to buying only clothes and confectionery due to the high prices.

Fatima Mohammed, an Abu Dhabi resident, said, “I did not purchase a lot this year. I only bought clothes. I found the prices are about 25 per cent higher than last year.”

“We are buying things most essential for Eid,” an Indian shopper from Mumbai, Jamal Ahmad Khan said.

Shoppers in Abu Dhabi are not falling for promotional offers either. “We are already struggling with high rents and can’t shell out much for festivities,” said one of them.

Nandakumar, Communication Manager of Emke Group, which runs the Lulu supermarket chain, said: “This is a competitive market. Nobody wants their outlets to be known as expensive. The hike in prices is not because the retailers are trying to earn more margin during the festival time but it’s due to the all-round inflation.”

He said most of the products selling in the market here are being imported from other countries. With the dollar getting weak, the currencies of exporting countries have become stronger. Naturally, the exporters demand more money for the products, Nandakumar said.

“We have launched some confectionery products especially for the Eid Al Fitr. Most of the people are purchasing clothes this time,” said Bejoy Pulicken, Advertising and Marketing Manager at Abu Dhabi Cooperative Society, a big chain of hypermarkets in the capital.

Although the gold market in Dubai faced an initial slowdown due to the the high prices, jewellers said there have been a marginal increase in sales in the past few days.

“The sudden rise of gold prices affected sales during last month. However, the sales have picked up marginally as people are gearing up for Eid. We expect a heavy turnout in the next two days,” said Babu John, managing director of Sky Jewellery.

Textile and gift retailers in Dubai are also glum due to the poor turnout of Eid shoppers.

“We expected a heavy rush of Eid shoppers from the third week of Ramadan. But the response has been disappointing so far. We hope we would get good business in the next two days,” said a textile shop manager in Karama Centre.

“I think people do not have enough money to celebrate Eid as most of them hardly save much with the rising cost of living,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Economy urged all traders and suppliers to avoid any form of exploitation of consumers. In an advertisement published in the local news papers, the ministry warned that the violators would be prosecuted under the consumer protection rules.

The government had held meetings with the leading outlets asking them not to increase the prices of products in the holy month.


‘Air India-Indian merger will benefit flyers’

DUBAI — OCT. 10: The merger of India’s state owned carriers -Air India and Indian- will add more benefits to the passengers in terms of cost, schedules, service, and network, a top official has said.

Jitender Bhargava, executive director, Corporate Communication, Air India, told Khaleej Times yesterday that the merger process of the airlines was currently under way and would be completed soon.

“The merger of top management is almost over. The merger at other levels is expected soon. Passengers will benefit from this as the merger will open more options to them with regard to schedules. It will also expand the frequency,” Bhargava said.

Bhargava disclosed that the Air India had ordered for 111 new aircraft to expand it fleet. Of these, 16 aircraft have already been delivered and the rest are expected to be delivered by 2011.

“We have plans to start our own networks for ground handling, engineering and related areas to offer services to other carriers operating in India. The civil aviation industry in India is growing day by day and we have solid plans to meet the future demands,” Bhargava said.

“In the past years, Air India has introduced new destinations. With the merger, we’ll have more destinations, with higher frequencies. We recently launched a direct flight from Nagpur to Dubai. Dubai-Jaipur service will start on October 28. We have plans to start Dubai-Goa direct flight soon,” Bhargava said.

Bhargava pointed out that the civil aviation industry in India had gone through revolutionary changes in the past five years. “India is one of the biggest markets in the world. The merger will help the national carrier to meet the new challenges that the market demands. Our policies will be focused on customer satisfaction,” he said.

Commenting on passengers’ complaints of flight delays, Bhargava said: “It happens with all airlines. But with the merger, the frequency of our flights will be higher and we’ll be able to give options to passengers to fly with another aircraft within a short time.”


One kg heroin found in man’s intestine

DUBAI — OCT. 10: Customs inspectors at the Dubai International Aiport have foiled an attempt by a man to smuggle into the country one kilogram of heroin concealed in his body, according to a statement issued yesterday.

The man, who had arrived from Pakistan’s port city of Karachi, aroused the suspicion of Customs officers when he was seen moving around nervously. An X-ray revealed presence of some suspicious material in his intestine.

After feigning ignorance initially, the suspect confessed that he had heroin capsules concealed in his body. Later, 100 capsules of heroin, each weighing 10 grams, were retrieved from his body.


Khalifa Park to open on Eid

ABU DHABI — OCT. 10: The Abu Dhabi Municipality will open the much-awaited Khalifa Park to the public on the first day of Eid Al Fitr as a magnificent gift to the nation.

Built on the eastern ring road, the park will be dedicated by the municipality to the country.

Spread over an area of half a million square metres, the unique leisure and entertainment facility is the first of its kind in the region.

With very distinctive architectural designs and landscaping unseen before in the region, the Khalifa Park is set to give the people all the excellent facilities for enjoyment, sports, leisure and enlightenment.

The park has a museum, an amphitheatre, a monorail time tunnel ride, a number of fountains and sculptures, sports area, theme parks, water features, restaurants and many more to offer to the visitors.

The museum traces the history of UAE  from the prehistoric era and showcases its gradual development across thousands of years.

The director-general of the Abu Dhabi Municipality Juma Mubarak Al Junaibi,  said that the municipality had prepared several festive events to welcome the visitors during the Eid holidays.

Al Junaibi expected a large number of people to visit the park because of its unique nature, and said that it would promote tourism in the emirate.


Indian embassy will host Eid Milan party

ABU DHABI — OCT. 10: he Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi will host an Eid Milan party at India House, the residence of the Indian Ambassador to the UAE, on October 13. Many local dignitaries and guests are expected to attend the function.


Exemption on parking fee from tomorrow

DUBAI/SHARJAH — OCT. 10: The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has announced that motorists will be exempted from paying parking fees during Eid-Al-Fitr holidays with effect from tomorrow, the 29th of Ramadan until Monday, Oct 15.

Engineer Maitha Bin Adai, CEO of Traffic and Roads Agency of the RTA, has called upon the people to refrain from misusing parking spaces during the exemption period. She asked them not to occupy parking spaces for extended periods, particularly in areas which are heavily congested.

Meanwhile, Abdul Rahman Ahmed Al Mahmoud, Head of Transport Section of Sharjah Municipality told Khaleej Times that the free public parking in Sharjah would begin from Thursday, the 29th of Ramadan (October 11), until Monday (October 15) if the first day of the Eid falls on Friday (October 12).However, if Eid is on Saturday (October 13), the parking will be free until Tuesday, October 16.


Compassion cuts red tape

DUBAI - OCT. 10:
A girl with a terminal heart condition, who has been living in the UAE illegally, has been granted residency on humanitarian grounds so she can spend her last days with her parents.   Jeevitha Sudhakar, a 13year-old girl from India, has been without a proper visa because of the family’s financial difficulties.

Taking into consideration that the girl’s condition is untreatable and she may not live out the year, Brigadier Mohammed Al Marri, Director of the Dubai Naturalisation and Residency Department, gave orders to legalise her residential status.

“I had some financial problems and could not renew her visa for long. If they had banned her from entering the country, even for a year, Jeevitha would not have survived for that long to return to Dubai,” said the girl’s father Muthukrishna Sudhakar, who has legal residency.

Sudhakar, who runs a garage in Al Quoz, said he has no words to thank Brigadier Al Marri, who gave Jeevitha’s case special attention and granted his daughter “a new lease on life”.

For his part, Al Marri said he gave immediate orders to process Jeevitha’s papers purely on humanitarian grounds.

“I was deeply touched when the father told me what state his daughter is in. I acted [immediately], in line with the noble policy of Dubai Government, which is to help people in need,” Al Marri said.

Jeevitha, a seventh grade student at the Ajman Indian School, has a congenital heart disease called TGV (transposition of the great vessels).

In people with the disease, oxygen-depleted blood from the heart’s right ventricle goes directly to the aorta and is then supplied to the rest of the body.

The condition is incurable and fatal as the body loses the ability to properly circulate oxygen-rich blood to organs and tissues.

“Doctors both in India and Dubai have said Jeevitha cannot be operated upon and, therefore, there is nothing they can do about her condition.

“Every day we are only praying that she lives to see the next day,” said Sudhakar.

While Jeevitha exhibits severe symptoms and is aware that she is ill, as of yesterday her parents said they had been unable to explain to her that the disease will claim her life.

“She knows that she is not well. But we have not told her that she will not live long.

“She turns blue if she exerts herself and cannot even carry her own school bag. So we take her to school and bring her back every day,” said Sudhakar

Pink bus spreads awareness
DUBAI - OCT. 10:
A pink bus will be making its way across the country over the next few weeks as health workers spread a simple message: Early detection of breast cancer saves lives.  The bus, launched in Dubai yesterday, will be touring the whole of the UAE, but will pay special attention to the Northern Emirates where there are scant services to help women, and men, detect the disease early.

The bus is sponsored by pharmaceutical giant Procter & Gamble, the Ministry of Health and Welcare World.

“Every year approximately one million cases of breast cancer are diagnosed across the world,” said Dr Ottmar Schmidt, Welcare Group’s director of marketing. “It is the most prominent cause of death among women. But it is still taboo here.

“We [are determined to] get across the message that a woman has a good chance of surviving [the disease] if she is diagnosed early.” The bus will operate throughout October to coincide with Breast Cancer Awareness month.

However Procter & Gamble’s representative for the Arabian Peninsula, Serine Haddad, said: “We hope it will become a permanent service eventually.” The sponsors are distributing 100,000 pamphlets called “Breast Cancer, What You Need To Know” to supermarkets and other public outlets across the UAE.

The bus will be staffed by healthcare professionals who will advise women on how to examine themselves regularly. However, it will not offer free mammograms.

Dr Schmidt added: “This is not only for women. There are currently five cases of breast cancer among men in the UAE.

“It is difficult to say how many breast cancer cases there are here, but official figures say 254 women were diagnosed in 2004, of which 24 died.” At the launch, Iman Hussein, 44, who was diagnosed and treated for breast cancer five years ago, said: “I had the tumour removed, and a mastectomy. Though I believe I have recovered from the disease, I still have frequent check-ups.” Mrs Hussein, who lost both parents to cancer, added: “My recovery is revenge for their deaths. Our hope for beating this disease comes ever closer. It will gradually become like the common cold or flu.” The bus is at Dubai Women’s College from 9am to midday today. It will then tour until November 4, visiting ladies’ clubs, universities, clinics, parks and shopping malls.


Dubai - Driver’s brutal attack

Dubai - OCT. 10: A passenger has spoken of his shock and surprise after he was brutally attacked by a taxi driver for complaining about his behaviour.  Mohammed Riyas, 28, says he was left with a dislocated shoulder by the punches rained down on him by the Metro taxi driver.

“It’s just shocking. I have faced rude behaviour by drivers very often in this city. However, this was just unbelievable. You do not expect to be attacked by a driver,” said Riyas, who lives in Al Qusais.  The incident occurred on Sunday evening when Riyas was trying to hail a taxi in Satwa. “After nearly an hour of trying, I finally saw this taxi dropping off another customer,” he said.

“I wanted to go to Bur Dubai and insisted he drop me there which he refused to do as he said he was close to finishing his fast and didn’t want to make the journey. He then began to verbally abuse me.” Riyas told 7DAYS that when he threatened to complain to the driver’s employers he was viciously attacked.

“He punched me in the head and then the shoulder. The blows dislocated my shoulder and I was in deep pain following the attack,” said Riyas, an Indian expat.  “My demand was justified and he had no reason to refuse me my journey. He was screaming and abusing me like a crazy person.”  “I’ve not just lost a lot of money for medical treatment but will also miss work for a week. I will dread to take a taxi again,” he added. 

Onlookers gathered to help Riyas as the taxi driver slipped away. The Roads and Transport Authority, which controls all the taxis running in Dubai said it is investigating the matter.   Meanwhile, Metro Taxi officials said they are aware of the complaint and would take stern action if the driver is proved to be guilty of the alleged offence.



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