NEWS FROM THE U.A.E.
Excerpts from U.A.E. Dailies
Indian hangs himself in Dubai labour camp
Dubai: 21 May:Iqbal Alam, an electrician who had been showing signs of acute distress for some time, yesterday committed suicide.
The 29-year-old from the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh hanged himself at a labour camp in Al Quoz, Dubai.
Later, 200 of his colleagues gathered outside the camp to complain about the company’s alleged inaction.
Mohammed Iqbal, a worker who was friends with the deceased, said: “Everyone knew he was mentally ill.We have been petitioning the company [Power point Electromechanical] to send him home.
“Last week he walked all the way to Karama from the camp in Al Quoz to ask for his passport. But they sent him back to the camp. We don’t have friends or family here. If we don’t have faith in our employers who else can we count on?” The company’s public relations officer, who was present on the site, said the worker had been ill and that he had come back from another project in Qatar late last month.
The workers said Alam was showing signs of mental illness for a while and was desperate to go back home.
“A few days ago he burnt all his clothes and broke his phone. We were scared to leave him alone,” Mohammed Iqbal said.
Another worker, who was said to be a close friend of Alam, said: “He had not been home for three years. We did try to look out for him, but we have to go to work every day. We knew he could do anything, anytime, but no one could be there with him.We even volunteered to pool money for his ticket, but he could not even get passport back.” Other co-workers said he was the primary earner in his family.
Alam is survived by his father and brother back home. They have been notified of his death.
Doctor issues depression warning
Dubai: 21 May: Psychiatrists say that nervous breakdowns due to work-related stress are increasing among single workers in the UAE.
And one has now called for social workers to be appointed by companies. “Our department comes across 15 to 20 cases every week where the person is found on the streets, lost, often inebriated and abusive,” said Dr Samia Abul, a psychiatrist at Rashid Hospital.
“Most of these are recent immigrants who are very attached to the families they have left behind. Normally being family-oriented is considered a good thing, but in such cases, when there is no support, it means any big stress will cause a breakdown,” she said.
Dr Abul stressed the need for companies who employ many workers to hire dedicated welfare officers to ensure the mental, social and physical well-being of its work force.
Doctors say that in the past 10 years the number of patients with depression has doubled.
“When they come to us, they have no history, no life.The police find them and bring them.To be found on the street is the last stage. When we investigate there are financial problems, cheating or some bad news from families back home,” Dr Abul said.
“If there is support in the form of a social worker or health checks at all levels, this [kind of thing] will not take place. At the moment the companies simply cancel their visas and send them back,” she added.
Recruitment officials say that at least one or two per cent of the workers return home because they cannot adjust to the new workplace.
Deepak Chhabria, the chairman of an Indian recruiters collective, said: “Just last week, two of our workers were repatriated because they were showing signs of distress. They missed home terribly.The company kept them for a week but they just could not cope.This usually increases in the summer months.” He added that mental health should form a part of the insurance package. “Depression and other medical problems should be covered under insurance.”
Another new side to Dubai
Dubai: 21 May:World-class urban planners are in Dubai to design Dubai Waterfront – the newest city within a city to come to fruition in the emirate.
It is expected to be free of the traffic problems and congestion that characterise much of Dubai.
The designers say that the principle reason for this is that Dubai has witnessed staggered and disjointed growth, whereas the Dubai Waterfront project is perfectly planned.The whole development has been planned out with consideration for the traffic infrastructure and the environmental issues.
The new city has been designed with 10 distinct districts in mind and will house 1.2 million residents from executives to service providers.
The emphasis on the Dubai Waterfront project, which will cover 81 million sq m and include one of the world’s tallest buildings, is not just elite and exclusive residences but a diverse and integrated city catering to different lifestyles.
In combination with the Palm Jebel Ali – which nestles alongside Dubai Waterfront – the two projects will be home to a population of around 1.6 million.
“You can’t make a city of 1.6 million exclusive. It is impossible – where does the baker live? – it needs to be serviced by people from different professions and skills,” said managing director Matt Joyce.
“We are trying to create a fantastic city to complement Dubai and all it and the Middle East stands for.” “The city will also take advantage of having an integrated private and public transport hierarchy taking into consideration pedestrians and we will try to reduce the dependency on private transport.” The roads themselves will be designed by using international best practices, with the best ideas and systems from around the world being used.
The development hopes to integrate with other developments on the west side of Dubai such as Jebel Ali Airport and the Cargo Village.
Joyce said the competitive advantage is that many of the workers from these industries will live in the new city.
Dubai Waterfront will include a new downtown and city centre and will also feature several manmade islands, which will create an arc shape from the coastal area off Jebel Ali. The project makes use of the best urban planners from Malaysia, Europe, Australia and America and will develop Dubai’s remaining stretch of coastal land.
The Jebel Ali Port will also be extended, which should add to the economic stability of the city in the future.
With all this in mind and the massive stress that will be put on the environment, experts have also considered the ecological impact of the development and will be recycling household waste and water.
“We are taking into consideration the local ecology and marine environment and it will be designed with environmentally sustainable principles and techniques,” Joyce said.
“We aim to have a population that can have a superior lifestyle and ultimately we are creating something that works.” Joyce also hailed the use of water, which will be a predominant feature of the city with canals, waterways, beachfronts and sea views.
“The city will be built along water which is pleasant to live by and attracts people,” he said.
The city will also feature a waterway – the 70-kilometre Arabian Canal, which will begin from the city and make its way south and then east into Dubai.
Health facilities and education facilities ranging from preparatory level to university also form part of the new development.
Buckle-up campaign proving successful
Abu Dhabi: 21 May:A study released by the Abu Dhabi Traffic and Patrols Department has revealed a rise in the number of drivers wearing seat belts following an awareness campaign.
The number is now over half and although more needs to be done it is a positive sign. The Buckle-up campaign was launched in March and will run until July.
Colonel Gaith Hassan Al Za'abi, Director of Abu Dhabi Traffic and Patrols Department, said before the campaign across-the-board figures showed only 35.4 per cent of Abu Dhabi drivers used safety belts However, the number has now jumped to 51.5 per cent. He added the use of seat belts among expats was five times more than that of UAE nationals.
Colonel Al Za'abi said this was the first local study of its kind. "The emphasis is to crack down on bad drivers who do not use safety belts," he said.
He said the use of seat belts among passengers was also very low. Among nationals, the percentage had increased from 7.5 per cent to 13.1 per cent and among expats from 37.3 per cent to 67 per cent.
Conducted by Dr Hassan Yousuf Al Hosni, Researcher and Specialist in Preventive Medicine and Traffic Safety at Zayed Military Hospital, the study was carried out in cooperation with Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc).
Doctors warn of climate-related ailments
Abu Dhabi: 21 May:With the rise in temperature and increasing humidity levels, doctors are reiterating the basic behaviour needed to keep common colds and allergies at bay.
Air-conditioners are cited as the main culprits for uncomfortable summertime colds and nasal and bronchial allergic reactions.
"This happens mainly because of the use of air-conditioners," says Dr Simin, GP at Al Noor Hospital. "In the summer, people walk outdoors and sweat, they go indoors and the air-conditioning levels are high, so they get dry suddenly, so the rate of getting a common cold is very high."
"Air-conditioners also carry contamination risks," adds Dr Simin. "Fungus and bacteria travel along the airways until they get into houses. As soon as the air-conditioner is turned on, people come into contact with all of those things which go into respiratory tracts. This can lead to allergies and asthma."
Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) specialist Dr Dhafer Ali Abood from Al Reef International Hospital says that allergies commonly found in the UAE are perennial rather than seasonal, and that they are generally due to house dust mites.
"The increase in humidity also contributes to higher incidences of allergies," he says. "Also, if air-conditioners are not properly maintained, this will aggravate nasal and bronchial allergies. People think it's a cold, but only a doctor can differentiate.
"People with a cold are generally tired, have a mild fever, a sore throat and a cough sometimes. People with allergies can be tired as well because they don't sleep well, but there is no fever or sore throat associated with allergies."
Both doctors urged allergy sufferers to seek treatment and comply with doctors' orders, for fear of exacerbating the problem.
"People must not leave allergies without treatment, says Dr Abood. "If allergies are not controlled, it could lead to frequent attacks of common colds, sinusitis, nasal polyps and asthma."
Emirates Post introduces online application mandatory
DUBAI - 21 May: Effective yesterday, job seekers applying for degree verification procedures at Emirates Post can apply online through any typing centres in the country, announced Paul Kane, Director of Business Development for Integra Screen in Dubai.
Kane said, “earlier the application for verification of degree was made by hand and submitted along with the degree photocopy to the Emirates Post service counters. But, this procedure often led to some applicants not signing the form, or furnishing incomplete personal details and address or telephone number, resulting in delay in the verification procedure. ”
To streamline the system, online application has been made mandatory for all applicants without any change in the verification procedure or fee, Kane pointed out.
Explaining the system, he said, applicants can now visit any typing centre and ask for Emirates Post degree verification form to be filled online. This form will be signed and submitted alongwith the degree copy for verification, thus eliminating any discrepencies or incomplete details of the applicant, he pointed out.
However, Emirates Post will still continue to deliver the verification letter to the applicant's post box on completion of the necessary procedure.
Integrascreen carries out the verification procedures on behalf of the Ministry of Labour through Emirates Post. The procedure takes anywhere between 8 to 10 weeks for a fee of Dh 500 per document.
Further, Kane clarified that in case of delay in the verification procedure, the applicant can furnish an ' IN' number given to him at the time of applying online . This number is also posted to the Ministry of Labour to confirm that the applicant is already in the process of degree verification.
The IN number or the ID number issued to the applicant on application is sufficient for the job seeker to apply for work permit. “In case the degree turns out to be a fake document after the verification procedure is complete, the applicant will be dealt with in accordance with the UAE laws,” Kane pointed out.
Wheelchair charges at airport may be waived
DUBAI — 21 May:The fees for a wheelchair, used to transport passengers with special needs from the aircraft to the airport exits, is likely to be waived.
Speaking to Khaleej Times on the sidelines of a Press conference yesterday to announce the Second International Forum for people with special needs in the Middle East to be held in Dubai on May 23, Jamal Al Hai, Director of Strategy and Chairman of Executive Board of the Department of Civil Aviation, said: "We are considering to waive the charges for wheelchairs at the airport. Our aim is to bring more special needs travellers to the country."
In any case, airport and airline sources clarified that it is the airline concerned which has to pay this wheelchair fees and not the passenger.
Meanwhile, Shaikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Department of Civil Aviation and Chairman of Emirates Group, has urged the players in the regional travel and tourism sectors and allied industry to acknowledge the economic and humanitarian significance of promoting tourism for people with special needs.
"I call upon the public and private sector establishments to work with us as strategic partners, to set the marketing and services strategies that will lead to a blending of this special segment of society and encourage them to travel freely through providing the appropriate facilities and services in airports, hotels, airline trips, shopping malls and land transportation," said Shaikh Ahmed in a statement.
Describing the upcoming international forum for special needs as a promising opportunity for developing Arab tourism, Shaikh Ahmed noted that in addition to humanitarian responsibilities attached to the issue, the increase of the amount of money spent by disabled tourists contributes to providing a large number of job opportunities in the tourism and allied industries.
The second edition of International Forum for people with special needs seeks the development of tourism for individuals with special needs in the Middle East, with emphasis on enhancing the position of the region in general and the UAE in particular, as a major destination for tourists with special needs.
The forum seeks to achieve these objectives by improving the interaction skills of frontline employees at airports, airline companies and shopping malls to deal with individuals with special needs.
Rights activists support night-only work shifts
ABU DHABI — 21 May: The night-only work shift initiative launched by your favourite No. 1 newspaper, Khaleej Times, to ensure the health and safety of construction workers has been welcomed by human rights activists in the country.
They said the idea conforms with human rights of the workers as well as the interest of the companies too. “The idea of hiring labourers to work during summer is not only in compliance with the issue of human rights, but also conforms with the companies’ and employees' rights too,” said Dr Ali Shokr, member of the newly-formed UAE Human Rights Association.
He added that laws governing human rights consider the productive capabilities of individual and the work conditions and circumstances. “If the capability of work performance is in harmony with a certain position, “we agree with it,” he noted.
Dr Shokr said the worker should be pinpointed the type of assignment and the job he is tasked with and assigned to carry out. Besides, the most important point in this issue is that the contracts signed between the employee and the company should be in consonance with this condition too, he noted. “Night work during summer would be better regarding the productive faculty of the worker,” he said, adding that the Ministry of Labour has set and promulgated statutes streamlining the relation between the two parties.
“Provisions of the law maintain the rights of the two, and should be considered when the idea is implemented,” he stated.
Workers during the two months of July and August, when the mercury shots up, reaching 50 Celsius, sometimes find it difficult to discharge their duty to the point of perfection, Nasser Yousouf Al Jaroodi, member of the association, said.
Al Jaroodi, who is a lawyer by profession, said night shift in lieu of working in the afternoon, is certainly, and by all accounts, better for the companies and the workers. The condition of working eight hours a day which is stipulated by the Labour law should remain unchanged, provided that the periods during which the employees take a break for rest should be taken into account, he said.
The proposal, from an economic point of view, is undoubtedly good for the companies, because exhaustion while working in the afternoon will reduce the production ability of the worker and vice-versa, he said. The idea also ensures the safety and health of workers, he added.