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Excerpts from UAE Dailies

Pre-marital HIV test for expats soon

ABU DHABI — Dec. 25: Expatriates living in the UAE may soon have to undergo compulsory pre-nuptial medical tests before getting married.

A top health official at the Ministry of Health (MoH) has disclosed to Khaleej Times that the ministry has prepared a draft bill to make it compulsory for both nationals and expatriates to undergo pre-nuptial tests.

At present, it is mandatory only for nationals to undergo the tests for HIV/Aids, hepatitis B and sexually transmitted diseases, as a prerequisite for getting married.

“Once endorsed, the federal law will make it compulsory for both nationals and expatriates to also undergo medical tests for genetic diseases, namely thalassaemia and sickle cell anemia, in addition to the aforesaid medical tests,” the official disclosed.

The move aims at checking the spread of genetic diseases, which have registered a sharp increase in the country in the last few years. 

The MoH has set up a special panel to brainstorm on the details of the draft bill before forwarding it to the Cabinet for approval.

“If tested positive for a genetic disease, the person will be referred to a genetic clinic. They will then have to abide by a programme for early detection of the predicted post-natal diseases,” the official said.

“However, if any one of them tests positive for any of the ailments other than HIV/Aids, the choice of going ahead with the marriage rests with the individuals,” the MoH official clarified.

The official further informed that the panel, set up by the MoH, was mulling a proposal to also include tuberculosis (TB) test on the list of prenuptial medical examination.


Family quizzed over death of maid

DUBAI — Dec. 25: Dubai Police yesterday interrogated a Pakistani family in connection with the death of an Indian housemaid in Deira on Friday night.

The maid died on the spot when she fell from the balcony of a fourth floor flat.

A source in Dubai Police said, “We interrogated the family — the man and his wife and their children — to find out whether they had any role in the incident. However, no case has been filed against the family yet. Once the investigation ends, we will consider filing a case if the family is found to be involved in the incident.”

Residents of the building located near the Al Futtaim Mosque told Khaleej Times that the Pakistani family, who owns a business, has been living in the building for the past eight years.

“They are very gentle and never created any trouble. They have always behaved well and we all like them,” said a neighbour.

An official from the Indian consulate said they are in touch with the Dubai Police to find out details about the housemaid.


Dh830m road plan to solve traffic problem

DUBAI — Dec. 25: The work on expanding Al Ittihad Road will begin immediately and it will be completed within a couple of years, according to an official in the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA).

"This project worth Dh830 million will reduce congestion along the 5.7km Al Ittihad Road by 58 per cent, starting from the new Al Garhoud Bridge up to Al Nahda passing through the airport (bowling) junction and the Dubai Police Headquarters," said Nabil Mohammed Saleh, Director of the Roads Department in the RTA.

At present, traffic movement on the Al Ittihad Road is between 200,000 and 250,000 vehicles per day in both directions.

Following the directives of His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the RTA's Board of Directors, headed by Mattar Al Tayer, Chairman of the Board and Executive Director of the RTA, has awarded the expansion project to two companies.

The first contract was awarded to the Belhasa Road Construction company at Dh478.566 million and the second contract to the National Wheel J&P Company at Dh349.666 million. Eng Maitha Bin Adai, CEO of the Traffic and Roads Agency, said the first contract covers a part of Al Ittihad Road between Al Nahda and Al Sho’la intersection and will cover the tunnel at Al Nahda junction, changing the roundabout to a junction controlled by traffic lights. The project also includes building a two-lane bridge to ease the traffic from Al Quds Road to Al Ittihad Road. 

The second contract includes work on the junction stretching from Al Sho’la to Al Garhoud.

Matter Al Tayer said this project is part of the RTA's strategy to meet the needs of the growing population.  "The number of vehicles increases by 25 per cent every year," he said.


Etisalat introduces new packages

DUBAI — Dec. 25: Etisalat yesterday launched new 3 MB and 4 MB packages for its BusinessOne broadband service thereby providing a faster and completely integrated high speed Internet access solution for Small and Medium-sized Enterprise (SME) customers in the UAE.

All the advantages of a secure and reliable web hosting facility will be available to 3 MB and 4 MB customers. They will also receive increased web storage of up to 3 GB and 4 GB for the packages.

With a provision of 50 and 60 personalised virtual email accounts for both packages, email storage for both has been increased to 1 GB per email account.


Dubai - MOE denies fee OK

Dubai - Dec. 25: Confusion over plans to raise school fees by up to 70 per cent continued last night, as a senior official at the Ministry of Education denied claims the schools had received official approval. GEMS last week announced plans to raise fees at five schools by 70 per cent in two stages: one in January and another in September next year.

Despite protests from parents, GEMS insisted the Ministry of Education had approved the increases. But a senior Ministry official last night denied that, saying that fees can only be increased once every three years – at least one of the schools involved put up fees as recently as September 2005. “A three year fee revision is acceptable, but only up to 20 per cent,” said the senior official, who asked not to be identified. “We hear from the media that some schools are increasing fees up to 70 per cent, which is against the law.”

He insisted that any change in school fees had to be approved in advance by the Ministry. “Such revision of fees can be done only after the authorities inspect the claim and are convinced that the revision is justified,” he said.  When informed that GEMS says the Ministry has already approved its planned fee increases, he replied that claim was “not true”.

The confusion is likely to come as little consolation to parents of children at the five schools, who go into the Christmas period facing uncertainty over their children’s education. As 7DAYS reported yesterday, while parents are upset at the increases, many say they feel they have little choice but to pay for fear of damaging their children’s schooling. The head of the Dubai Education Council, Ahmad bin Byat, was quoted as saying in local media reports earlier this week that the fee increase is “illegal”.

However it’s not clear whether the body, which focuses on raising educational standards, actually has any powers to intervene. A spokesperson for the council declined to comment yesterday, other than to confirm bin Byat’s original statement. GEMS also declined to comment last night. The five schools are: Westminster School, Winchester School, Dubai American School, Modern School and Manchester Cambridge School.


Eid Al Adha holiday for govt sector

ABU DHABI — Dec. 25: Eid Al Adha holidays for the government sector will start from the 9th of Zul Hijjah 1427 (December 29) to the 12th of Zul Hijjah (January 1), the Ministry of Governmental Sector Development announced yesterday.

It extended warm greetings to the President, His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and Their Highnesses Supreme Council Members and Rulers of Emirates.



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