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Excerpts UAE Dailies

Embassies tell residents to apply early for visit visas

Dubai: 10 June:As the summer rush for travel visas begins, consular officials have urged the public to be prepared with the necessary information required for the application process and to apply as early as possible.

With visa requirements differing from country to country, consular officials of major destination countries are keen to stress that foreign nationals must be prepared before submitting their applications, to prevent unnecessary delays in the process.

"Our basic advice is to apply now, travel later," said Alison Laird, Consul (Immigration) at the Australian Consulate in Dubai. "Most tourist visas are valid for a period of 12 months, and on average it takes around 2 weeks to process an application. In June and July we are expecting to process around 14,000 visa applications, so it is our busiest time."

As of April this year, the British Embassies in the UAE now accept online visa applications for all categories of UK visas, which has streamlined the process. The British Embassy provides a same day visa service, if people apply before 11am.

WWith more embassies acquiring online capabilities, officials advised that it is best to check the website of the destination country.

"Our visa applications can be downloaded online at," said South African Vice-Consul Michelle Aspeling. "The process normally takes around five days, but we would suggest that travellers apply one month before travelling and bring all required information to the consulate."

Applying for an Australian tourist visa is being made faster and simpler for citizens of five Gulf countries, the Australian Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs Amanda Vanstone announced.

As of June 1, citizens of the UAE, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait no longer need a visa label, or stamp, in their passports to travel to Australia.


Abu Dhabi to have Guggenheims Art Gallery at Saadiyat Island

Abu Dhabi - 10 June: The world-famous Guggenheim’s next art gallery is on course to be on Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Island with high-level talks taking place to make it happen.

The Guggenheim is a byword for cutting-edge design, with its Bilbao gallery in Spain among the most instantly recognisable buildings in the world.

It currently has museums in New York, Bilbao, Berlin, Venice and Las Vegas – and Saadiyat Island could be next on the list if negotiations go well.

A Guggenheim executive vis ited the UAE capital recently to discuss building the foundation’s latest gallery on Saadiyat Island, a source close to the deal who requested anonymity told Emirates Today.

He said: “A prominent member of the Guggenheim board has been spending time in Abu Dhabi discussing the planned museum. It’s definitely happening.” Saadiyat Island – which translates as Island of Happiness in English – is 27 sq km of land located 500m offshore from the UAE capital. It is half the size of Bermuda and will be the Middle East’s largest single natural island development.

Abu Dhabi’s plans for Saadiyat include “black pearls” – circular structures built out into the sea that will house sophisticated cultural institutions, such as the Guggenheim, in what will be known as the Culture District.

The Guggenheim plan is part of Abu Dhabi’s bid to increase tourism to the emirate from its current level of a million a year to three million by 2015 – a growth rate of 11 per cent a year.

The Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC), the company managing the massive development, was tight-lipped on the Guggenheim project – but did not deny it.

A spokeswoman said: “TDIC is committed to bringing worldclass facilities to the Cultural District of Saadiyat Island.

“The company is in consultation with a number of international suppliers of cultural activities, but it is far too early to comment on any specific plans for the district.” The UAE’s profile as an arts centre was boosted recently by big events, such as the Christie’s auction of Middle Eastern contemporary art in Dubai.

The Guggenheim Foundation in New York refused to confirm whether talks had taken place but did say that a full “feasibility study” had not been done.

As well as becoming a cultural centre, Saadiyat Island will be home to 150,000 residents.
It will have six distinct districts delivering a multitude of experiences with complementary environments and all connected by a palm-lined arterial freeway.

The island will have 19km of beach, two golf courses, 29 hotels including a seven-star property, three marinas, more than 8,000 villas, more than 38,000 apartments and eight iconic “string of pearl” architectural landmarks housing museums, a concert hall, art gallery and major cultural offerings.


Groceries selling drugs illegally

DUBAI — 10 June: Small groceries are still selling drugs in violation of a Ministry of Health imposed ban and have become a haven for counterfeit drugs as there is a close check on the pharmacies in the UAE. This has put the health of the residents to great risk.

The issue came to the forefront when recently the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Department of Dubai Customs, jointly with MoH confiscated significant quantities of counterfeit medicine including the commonly used drug Panadol that can be bought without a prescription.

Because counterfeit drugs are really difficult to distinguish from the real ones, it is the end-users who suffer the consequences.

Dr Issa bin Jakka Al Mansouri, Director of the Department of Drug Control, UAE Ministry of Health said that medicines that needed no prescription — including Panadol — had been banned from being sold in groceries by the MoH because there were increased chances of the product being fake.

"Buying commonly administered medicines, such as Panadol and even certain ointments from groceries is the easiest because you do not need any prescription. Besides, they are also cheaper as grocers have a lesser margin of profit. This increases the chances of the product being fake," he said.

Raising awareness among people so that they are able to distinguish between a "real" and "fake" is the main challenge that the MoH faces. "Everybody is well-aware of common, "household" drugs, therefore, before the product is bought, the label and price should be scanned carefully so as to make sure that the product is not fake," he said.

Dr Al Mansouri explained that the practice of buying medicines without prescriptions was also wrong. "People do not ask for an invoice after they buy a product which is harmful," he added.

To avoid buying fake products, people should notice the difference in price tags, see packaging differences and also read leaflets thoroughly. "Some pharmacies might be selling fake products but that is rare because MoH inspectors make frequent visits to check prices and the products," added Dr Al Mansouri.

Counterfeit drugs lack adequate quantities of the active ingredient which means that sick people might not be getting the required amount of medicine. The counterfeits might also contain substances that are actually harmful. Besides, it also means that genuine and branded drugs are now useless. If they contain less of the active ingredient, they may instead become inoculators to the virus, bacteria or the parasite they are supposed to destroy. 

A review by the World Health Organisation (WHO) titled "Global trade in counterfeit drugs," found that 60 per cent of fake drugs had no active ingredients, 16 per cent had the incorrect ingredients and 17 per cent had the incorrect amount.

According to the statistics released by Dubai Customs, injected medicines, including beauty products such as Botox and steroids, account for the bulk of counterfeit medicines seized in 2005 at 38 per cent. Assorted medicaments come next at 23 per cent, followed by Viagra tablets, herbal medicines, medicinal stickers, and medicines for the treatment of Aids.

About 41 per cent of counterfeit drugs seized in 2005 came from the Far East, while 35 per cent came from North Asia. The Middle East, Africa and Europe regions accounted for eight per cent each.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), counterfeit medicines are part of the broader phenomenon of substandard pharmaceuticals. The difference is that they are deliberately and fraudulently mis-labelled with respect to identity and/or source.

Counterfeiting can apply to both branded and generic products and counterfeit medicines may include products with the correct ingredients but fake packaging, with the wrong ingredients (some of which may be toxic), without active ingredients or with insufficient active ingredients.

In wealthier countries, the most frequently counterfeited medicines recently have been cholesterol lowering medicines, drugs used for treatment of growth hormone deficiency and for cancer.

In developing countries the most counterfeited medicines are those used to treat life-threatening conditions such as malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/Aids. Antibiotics are also often found among counterfeit medicines.



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