News headlines

Excerpts from U.A.E. Dailies

Floating Bridge on Dubai Creek to open in March 2007

Dubai: 30 May: Dubai is to have a Floating Bridge on the Creek, half-a-kilometer to the south of Al Maktoum Bridge. The six-lane bridge will hold over 6,000 vehicles during peak hours, according to officials of the Road Transport Authority (RTA).

His Highness Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has sanctioned the project.

The project will be tendered in July this year, construction work will begin in September and the project will be completed by March 2007.

Mattar Al Tayer, Chairman of the Board and Executive Director, RTA, made the announcement at a press conference held today. "The Floating Bridge project is in line with the directives of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and complements the Authority's efforts aimed at easing the traffic congestion in Dubai. We are constantly conducting studies on possible ways to modernise the transport system in and around Dubai, in addition to keeping abreast of international best practices."

The bridge will stretch across the surface intersection near Deira City Centre and Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club, and will end at the intersection to be built on Riyadh Street between Dubai Courts and Creek Park.

It will provide an additional link between Khalid Bin Al Waleed Road and Oud Metha Road from one side and Al Ittihad Road and Deira from the other.

"The project reflects the strategic plan adopted by the Authority to modernise the transport system and thus allowing us to keep pace with the rapid developments in the emirate and meet the present and future infrastructural needs of the emirate's transport system. In October 2006, we will launch 'Dalili', a service that will give drivers real time road and traffic information that will help them plan their travel route," added Al Tayer.

"The Floating Bridge is a temporary solution until the Authority successfully completes the design and construction of a permanent bridge at the same place," according to Eng. Maitha Bin Adi, CEO of Dubai Traffic and Roads Corporation at RTA.

Integrated system

The Floating Bridge project is part of an integrated system the RTA is implementing that will reduce the traffic congestion by 37 per cent on Al Maktoum Bridge, on which more than 150,000 vehicles pass each day.

The number of lanes that cross Dubai Creek will increase from 19 to 38 lanes by 2007 and to 45 lanes by 2008.

The Authority has completed a study conducted on 10 highly congested areas and will work on measures to ease the congestion in these areas.

The Floating Bridge, a first-of-its-kind project in the UAE, will be built out of 20-metre-wide hollow concrete blocks that will float on water.

The rolling segment of the bridge allows the bridge to open and close at intervals of 20 minutes. These opening and closing times will be set in coordination with the authorities regulating the movement of ships and ferries crossing Dubai Creek.

Ferries will have a side-way passage that will not require the opening and closing of the bridge.


Thousands of illegals 'held in unlicensed taxis' 
Dubai: 29 May: More than 116,000 illegal residents have been nabbed commuting in illegal taxis in Dubai, said a senior official.

"All of these illegals were caught during the corporation's continuous campaign against illegal taxis," said Mohammad Obaid Al Mulla, Chief Executive officer of Public Transport Corporation (PTC) at the Roads and Transport Authority.

The campaign was initiated in the late 1990s.

He said the PTC has played an important role in helping nab some 116,000 illegal residents until April 2006. "They included: passengers with illegal status and drivers [also illegal] caught driving private cars as illegal taxis," Al Mulla said.

He said the illegals were caught with the help of the police while commuting in Dubai in cars and light goods vehicles, which were not officially licensed as taxis.

"They were also caught in the taxis from other emirates that transport people in Dubai illegally without a permit," Al Mulla revealed.

He said the passengers and illegal drivers nabbed comprised 30 per cent of those who came to the UAE on visit visas and overstayed and 70 per cent are those who left their sponsors.

Al Mullah said that Dubai Transport Corporation, which is now called the PTC after its merger with RTA, would launch various projects to benefit increasing numbers of passengers.

"All the taxi companies in Dubai will be linked with satellite system to facilitate passengers and improve service," he said.

With the introduction of the satellite system, linking all the taxi companies, residents in Dubai will be able to call from their telephone to order a taxi from any company. Currently, only Dubai Transport Corporation taxis can be called using the telephone service.

"We are developing a satellite system through which the entire fleet of taxis will be linked and their movement will be monitored," said Al Mulla.

He said the system, which is designed for better time management, will link 6,000 taxis from the corporation with other transport companies.

"They were also caught in taxis from other emirates that transport people in Dubai illegally without a permit."


Ajman disconnects power supply to bachelors’ flats in residential areas

AJMAN — 30 May : Power was disconnected at labourers and bachelors’ accommodations in Al Bustan, Al Zahra, and Al Nuaimiya areas by the Ajman Municipality to force them to move to the Industrial Area. Due to complaints by the public and a report published in your favourite No.1 newspaper Khaleej Times on December 29, 2005, about the disturbance and insecurity caused by the labourers in residential areas, the municipality has decided to move them to industrial areas.

Speaking to Khaleej Times, Saif Salim Al Shamsi, Deputy Director of the Ajman Municipality, earlier gave these companies and owners of labourers’ accommodations a notice period of six months to move their

workers to industrial areas. May 1 was the last day of the notice, but they did not show any intention of cooperating with the civic body. The municipality, in coordination with the Ajman Police, warned 600 owners of bachelors and labourers’ accommodations in residential areas for the second time, giving them a one-week period, effective from May 8, to move to the Ajman Industrial Area. After the period of notice given to the companies expired and they failed to abide by the regulation, the municipality issued orders to cut off their electricity connection and then allowed the police to force them to move to the industrial areas.

He pointed out that there is a cooperative committee, comprising officials from the municipality and Ajman Police, recently formed to follow up on the shifting of bachelors and labourers to the industrial areas and enforcing the local law. The municipality, with the help of this committee, is making great efforts through its various inspection campaigns to ensure a healthy society and achieve maximum safety and security for the public.

Al Shamsi explained that many companies lease out traditional houses for their labourers in several residential areas in Ajman instead of establishing camps for them in the industrial areas. These labourers who live in residential areas among families cause disturbance, discomfort, lack of security and peace. The municipality and the police in various areas help in finding houses for labourers to compel them to move to industrial areas.

Saeed Humaid, Head of the Ajman Police Station Directorate, said that the presence of these houses is affecting the security and safety of the public, as “some Asian workers are allegedly causing public disturbance and indulging in ‘unethical’ behaviour that is not accepted in our conservative society.” He urged the public to cooperate with the police and the municipality to help in eliminating the number of these houses in the residential areas and districts.

Zuhair Mohammed, a Pakistani worker, said that following the municipality’s decision of moving the labourers to industrial areas, the room rents in the camps were hiked to double. It used to be Dh 800 a month, and now they are raised to Dh1,600. “What can we poor workers do to solve such a problem? We work hard in the heat and earn little money which is insufficient for our families’ expenses. How can we afford such a huge amount every month.”



Shisha more harmful than cigarette, says expert

DUBAI — 30 May: A single shisha session can be equivalent to the consumption of almost 100 cigarettes, said Dr Ayesha Al Mutawa, Director of the Central Department of Health Education.

“This is one of the areas we need to focus on in the UAE,” she added.

To discourage smoking, the Ministry of Health, in conjunction with Nicotinell, is holding an event in Deira City Centre to coincide with World No-Tobacco Day which is observed on May 31 every year. The three-day event will commence tomorrow.

Dr Ayesha said that a single shisha session normally lasts between 20 to 80 minutes where a smoker has around 50 to 200 puffs. In contrast, a cigarette normally lasts 5-7 minutes with the smoker inhaling an average of 8-12 puffs.

Across the world, more than 13,000 lives are needlessly lost each day owing to health complications brought about by tobacco use. Health educators and specialists from smoking cessation units and Nicotinell will be present to discuss various health hazards related to tobacco use and to offer advice on how to quit smoking with a demonstration of an evidence-based treatment proven significant in managing and overcoming the addiction of nicotine.

“Many people are not fully aware of what chemicals in the form of fillers are placed in cigarettes. We, at the Education department of the Ministry of Health, are taking initiatives to educate both existing and potential smokers as to the dangers and the full impact the smoking has on individuals,” said Dr Ayesha.

Smoking not only affects smokers but also non-smokers who regularly breathe in secondary smoke. Second-hand smoke contains more than 40 cancer-causing chemicals and those who breathe in this secondary smoke have a 25 per cent increased risk of developing both lung cancer and heart disease and an 80 per cent increased risk of suffering a stroke.

A higher concern at the Ministry of Health is addressing and tackling the issues related to water pipe smoking, commonly referred to as shisha in the Arab world. A recent study by the World Health Organisation (WHO) placed emphasis on water pipe smoking and the dangers of the habit in comparison to cigarettes.


Retrial ordered in DIB bogus shares case

DUBAI — 30 May:In an unexpected twist to the case of the Dubai Islamic Bank’s bogus shares, the Dubai Court of Appeal shocked the defence and suspects yesterday when it decided to reverse its verdict and referred the case back for pleading on the basis of technical expertise.

The court assigned a three-member committee from the Financial Auditing Department in the Ruler’s Court, who are well experienced in the field of Stock Market and Financial Securities, to review the documents of the case and observe the dealings on the Dubai Islamic Bank Shares during August 27 and 28 last year between the two suspects (1st & 4th) through the brokerage office.

The committee is assigned to trace the operations to determine its integrity according to legal market regulations.

The court also specified the amount of Dh100,000 as temporary bail for the charges and fees of the committee, and ordered it to be put in the court’s treasury.

However, the court decided to adjourn the case until the 10th of July, when the committee will be able to submit its report. The defence praised the decision of the court and said it was a positive step for the benefit of their clients, indicating that the evidences submitted by the Prosecution and the Dubai Securities Market are insufficient, and that there are doubts about its authenticity.

On the other hand, the Dubai Court of Appeal postponed the first hearing for the adulterated foodstuff case, in accordance with the demands of the Defence Committee, as they desire to review the case and prepare it by presenting new documents. The hearing is postponed to June 12.

According to the case history, manipulations by the two accused resulted in the stock price of the bank going up in an unprecedented manner.

The price of DIB shares soared after rumours spread that the bank was planning to increase its capital manifold. In order to make this happen, the two accused, Khaled bin Megren and Zayed Rashed, created false demand for the shares, 90 per cent of which turned out to be bogus. Bogus applications worth Dh8 billion and 80 million were manipulated by the duo for this.


Deadbody of man found in 'brothel'

DUBAI — 30 May: The Dubai Police have recovered the dead body of an unidentified man from a ‘brothel’ run in a villa located on the busy streets behind the Goldland in Deira on Wednesday evening. The identity of the dead man is not clear and the Dubai Police have failed to comment on the case. However, people living in the vicinity say that the dead man was either a Nigerian or a Pakistani national. Also, it is not clear whether the man was murdered or died a natural death. The body was found by the police at villa number 19 near the mosque located behind Goldland after a ‘customer’ — at what is said to be a brothel — alerted the police about the dead body.

According to shop keepers near the villa, the body of the man was found at about 5pm on Wednesday. “For the last two years, some Russian girls have been living in the villa and they are allegedly into the prostitution business,” the shopkeeper said, disclosing that a number of people had been found to visit the villa during the day and night. “But I have not given much attention to visitors to this villa,” he pointed out.

He added that on Wednesday afternoon at about 2pm, all the girls went out of the villa and we did not know what was happening. “At about 5pm, the police arrived and found the body. The door of the villa was open when the police arrived. I think some people who went to the villa had called the police and reported about the body. The police immediately took away the body,” the shopkeeper said, refusing to give further information about the residents of the villa.

Another shop owner in the vicinity added that all kinds of rumours were now floating about the identity of the dead man. While some say that the man was a Nigerian national aged about 40, others say the man was a Pakistan national. “About the death also, there is no confirmation on the cause,” he added.


Supervisor ignored advice not to venture into desert

 Ras Al Khaimah - 30 May: Officials from Ukrainian gas company NaftoGaz said yesterday that supervisor Volodimir Sovich, 50, died after ignoring advice not go out into the desert at the hottest time of the day in a vehicle ill-equipped for driving on sand.

On Saturday, the desert claimed the lives of two Ukrainian geologists prospecting for gas after the car carrying one of them ran aground on sand, sparking a frantic manhunt among his colleagues in which a would-be rescuer also died.

Sovich’s lifeless body was discovered in sand dunes in Al Sa'idi by the Ras Al Khaimah police helicopter, while surveyor Dimitri Shobak, 27, died on the way to hospital after he was discovered running in a mountainous terrain by villagers. Sovich had flown in from Ukraine on Thursday.

One NaftoGaz employee told Emirates Today: “They just didn’t know the ways of the desert.” Sovich was keen to make an inspection of NaftoGaz’s 35strong surveying team but the pick-up he requisitioned at 11.30am at the company’s base in Dibba became beached about an hour’s drive into the desert.

Instead of waiting with the car, the four Ukrainians decided to strike out on foot, with each of them taking a different direction, NaftoGaz Middle East Chairman Hamad Derwish told Emirates Today. The driver chose to remain with the car and his advice to stay and wait for help fell on deaf ears.

Sovich quickly became lost and used his mobile phone to call his colleagues, who immediately drove out to try to find him. Neither group called the police.

Sovich, who only had a small bottle of water with him, then succumbed to the effects of the searing sun, collapsed and died of heatstroke and heat exhaustion.

His body was found after NaftoGaz employees at their base became worried and called the Ras Al Khaimah police helicopter.

Meanwhile, the group of rescuers discovered the pick-up with the driver waiting inside and they too went on foot to try to find their colleagues.

Shobak, one of the rescuers, walked towards a mountainous region and was discovered in a serious condition.

Locals called police but he died on the way to the hospital.

Derwish told Emirates Today: “It is a very sad thing. He ignored all of our advice. The surveyors are supposed to have a threehour break during the middle of the day but he insisted on going out. He didn’t take a proper 4x4 – he took a pick-up.

“We provide all our employees with cars equipped with global satellite positioning and water and they all have mobile phones.” Derwish added that Sovich may have been in a rush to do all of his work as quickly as possible because he planned to return to Ukraine on Sunday.

Other geologists also suffered heat exhaustion but all have now been discharged from hospital.

The two bodies are lying in a mortuary in Ras Al Khaimah and arrangements are being made to fly the bodies to Ukraine.

Man shot at by expat says he has no cash to fix windscreen

Dubai : 30 May: A Pakistani gardener who was shot at by a British expat after an argument says he is worried that his insurance company will refuse to pay to replace his car’s windscreen, which was smashed by the bullet.

Gulzar Zain said he must present a bill for a new windscreen to police in order to claim the money – about Dh440 – back.

However, he says he cannot afford to buy one at the moment as it is the end of the month and he is short of cash. In the meantime, he is concerned about the extra attention his damaged windscreen is bringing him.

“When I went to the area to work, some youngsters were examining the bullet mark and the smashed window. I am now scared to go and work in the area,” he said.

The 35-year-old father was attacked by the teen – who police say had been drinking – in Jumeirah, close to Safa Park, outside the villa where he works part-time.

Gulzar said he and the youth had argued many times.

The 19-year-old was prom pted to pick up the rifle after Zain had asked him not to drive his 4x4 dangerously. The gardener was concerned that the area he tended would be damaged.

The bullet meant for Zain missed him by inches, but smashed his car’s windscreen.


Decision on outdoor summer work expected by tomorrow

Dubai: 30 May: The Labour Ministry is expected to issue a decision over outdoor work in the summer heat by the end of this week, Gulf News learnt yesterday.

A senior labour official, who asked to remain anonymous, said that discussions were continuing with the UAE Contractors Association over details of a ministerial decision, specifying for how long labourers must rest during the hottest part of the day during the UAE's summer months.

He said the minister, Dr Ali Bin Abdullah Al Ka'abi, hoped to issue a ministerial decision which interprets legislation and is enforceable by tomorrow.

"The minister wants to issue it before he leaves for Geneva next week [for the International Labour Organisation global meeting]," the official said.

Last year the labour minister issued a ministerial decision halting all outdoor work from 12.30pm to 4.30pm during July and August.

The decision gave a reprieve to labourers from the UAE's hottest summer weather.

This year, the Dr Ali Bin Abdullah Al Ka'abi said he was unlikely to issue the same decision.

Another labour official said the UAE Contractors Association was pushing for a two-hour break, instead of four hours.

The official did not confirm whether the minister would agree to the change.


Parents keep children cool in cars due to power cuts

Sharjah: 30 May: People living in Maysaloon are suffering from recurring power cuts and parents are using their air-conditioned cars as temporary homes to help their children beat the heat.

The electricity keeps getting cut off for very long periods since the past year, said a resident. "We wet the floor tiles and lie on them to keep cool during the hot afternoons," said C. Surendran, living on Street 25.

A nearby grocery salesman said there is often a very bad burning smell from the power substation. "The Sewa people come and fix it, but the fuse again blows," said Noufal.

The people in this neighbourhood also suffer from lack of water because whenever the electricity goes off, the water pumps do not work.

Sewa technicians were hard at work fixing the cable yesterday afternoon, but staffer Mohammad Rahman said it was futile work. "The cables can handle only a certain load," he said. Apparently landlords have partitioned the rooms in these small houses and have rented them out to more people than the legal limit. "You have buildings with 20 air-conditioning units when only 10 are allowed," he said.

The area was popular with "bachelors" before the authorities pushed them out. "They [the bachelors] have nowhere to go and they have slowly started coming back," said Hafiz Mohammad Eslam, a long-time resident.

Residents said it gets so hot in the nights, that they are forced to sleep in the Al Safat Square park. "But the police come and chase us out," said Irfan, a Pakistani expatriate.

Mohammad Salim said his car had broken down so he could not take his family elsewhere. "The power went off at 11.30pm last night and returned at 8am. My children could not go to school," he said.

Sewa staffer Rahman said it was not correct to say that nobody answers the emergency number. "Call 991 and check yourself. There are always two people handling the calls," he said. "The complaints are tackled in sequence," he said.


25 held for selling cheap international calls  

Ras Al Khaimah: 30 May: Police here have busted a covert network of kiosks that was providing international calls for Dh1 a minute to customers.

The Ras Al Khaimah Police raided a number of groceries, construction material shops, garages, laundries, restaurants and vegetable shops and detained 25 Asians in this connection.

Police also seized electronic equipment used to tap into international lines on the internet.

Lieutenant Colonel Abdullah Munakhas, who heads the Investigations Unit at Ras Al Khaimah Police, said many of the suspects were caught red-handed while selling long distance calls.

He said police received a tip-off from one secret agent about the involvement of a number of Asians in the illegal operation.

Lt Col Munakhas said the network members used electronic equipment that is not available in the UAE to tap into international lines on the internet. Such operations are illegal in the UAE.

Lt Col Munakhas said the suspects had built a large clientele by offering cheap international calls.

He said police had received a letter from Etisalat regarding the illegal operation.

Police also found that all these shops had secret back doors to receive their clients.

Lt Col Munakhas said police also questioned several clients who were in the shops during the raids.

Many of the clients quickly admitted that they had been using the facility to make long-distance calls to their hometowns.

He said initial police investigations with the suspects and the clients showed that the rate of the international call was Dh1 per minute. The suspects were referred to the public prosecution.



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