NEWS FROM THE UAE
Excerpts from UAE Dailies
Pak expats upset over denial of visa to Kerala
DUBAI — 20 Sep.:Kerala, the southern Indian state, is well-known for its natural beauty. But many Pakistani expatriates in Dubai who wish to visit ‘God’s own country’, as it is well known, have been disappointed after the Indian Consulate in Dubai refused to issue visit visas to Kerala.
Several Pakistani expatriates told Khaleej Times that they did not get any proper answer from the Indian diplomats in Dubai when they enquired why they had been refused a visa for Kerala.
“I heard about Kerala a lot from my Keralite friends and some other people who visited Kerala earlier. When I planned a vacation with my family, we decided to go to Kerala as it is well-known for its greenery. But when we approached the Indian Consulate, they refused to issue a visa to Kerala,” said a Pakistani national who did not want to be named.
“I was informed that I could get a visa up to Chennai, but not to Kerala. I do not understand why. If it was for Kashmir or other north Indian states, I could understand that those are sensitive areas. But Kerala is known as a peaceful state,” he added.
Muhammed Alam, another Pakistan national, a businessman in Deira, expressing the same sentiments, said: “I also had a similar experience. When I discussed the matter with my friends from Kerala, they were surprised. They told me they do not understand why Kerala is considered a sensitive place.”
Speaking to Khaleej Times, an official from the Indian Consulate said: “The issuance of visit visas to Pakistan nationals is done by the Indian government’s Interior Ministry. When we receive applications, we send it to Delhi for approval. We issue a visa only after their approval. The applicant should specify which places in India he wants to visit.”
“The Interior Ministry will check all the provided details and issue a visa. When the applicant asks for sensitive places like Kashmir and north-eastern states, and sometimes Kerala, it always takes time to check it and approve,” he said.
However, he did not provide any details why Kerala is considered ‘sensitive’.
Meanwhile, a source in New Delhi said: “The Indian government has tightened the procedures for issuing visas to Pakistani nationals due to the escalating terrorism problem. Many Pakistani nationals, who entered India on visit visas, absconded and the government considered this as a serious security issue. We are monitoring the entire situation. But in genuine cases, we always issue a visa without any delay,” the source added.
Ragging : expelled student’s family may sue institute
DUBAI — 20 Sep.: The ragging row at the Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani (BITS, Pilani) might end in court as the family of the expelled student yesterday said that they might sue the college.
The disciplinary committee appointed by the BITS, Pilani management to decide on the action to be taken against four students accused of ragging expelled one of them while another was suspended for a year. The other two students were allowed to resume classes yesterday on the condition that their suspension would be put on hold for a year.
Sources said the expelled student’s family was surprised by the decision and said that they did not receive any document from the college management regarding his expulsion.
“If the management’s decision is final, we will seek the help of the authorities and we may even file a law suit.. Let us watch the developments and then we would take a final decision how to face the problem,” said a source in the family.
“He refused to sign the apology documents while the management insisted that he sign it. He is innocent and he was not in the country while the alleged ragging took place. Why should he admit to something he did not indulge in? We have proof that he was away when it happened,” the source added.
However, M. Ramachandran, Director of BITS, Pilani, said, “We have given enough chances to the students to confess their mistakes. But they do not want to admit it.
“They want to question the management. So we were forced to take an final decision.”
“The other students have accepted the decision. The two students who resumed their classes will be monitored by the management. They apologised to the junior students and they are happy to accept the decision of the college,” he added.
Dream comes true for Indian expat
DUBAI — 20 Sep.: It was a dream come true for a new resident here, the 34-year-old Sathish Menon when he was presented with a prized two-bedroom apartment at Lakeside Residence.
The key to the apartment, located in Al Manal Development’s flagship project, was presented by Juma Ahmed Majid Al Ghurair, Chairman of Al Manal Development and Adam Ibrahim, President of Dubai Shopping Mall Group to Menon, the lucky winner of the DSMG and DSS mega prize. Valued at over AED 1 million, the prized apartment is part of an AED 300 million residential tower in Jumeirah Lakes, boasting 358 elegantly designed freehold apartments. “I’ve heard of Dubai being the new land of opportunity where dreams come true. Now I believe it more than ever, thanks to Al Manal Development and DSS”, said the proud winner from Mumbai, who has been living in the UAE only for four months.
Six security firms closed
ABU DHABI — 20 Sep.: The Abu Dhabi Police has recently closed six private security companies here for breaching the rules and operating without authorised permission. Major Ahmed Al Hantobi, Deputy Manager of the Private Security Companies Department at the Abu Dhabi Police General Headquarters, said that the companies that breach the rules would be closed down. After the closure of six companies, there are 10 private security companies operating in Abu Dhabi with more than 3,900 security workers, 50 per cent each from Arab and Asian nationalities.
The Private Security Companies Department at the ADGHQ issues permission to the new companies after evaluating their files. The conditions include, among others, that the age of the workers be 22 to 45 years and they should speak Arabic and English. The Abu Dhabi Police now wants to Emiratise this sector. However, the nationals don’t want to work as securitymen. The refusal of the nationals comes as a result of the long working hours that equal 12 hours a day, but with low salaries,” Hantobi said.
Petrol worker claims he was strip-searched
Dubai - 20 Sep.: A petrol pump attendant in Dubai has claimed that his superiors made him strip after a discrepancy was found in the amount of money he had collected by the end of his shift.
Mohammed Jaffar, who was an attendant with a leading chain of petrol stations in the Emirates, said the order was unjustified and outside the bounds of decency.
“First my supervisor said take off your things, so I took off my shoes, hat and T-shirt. Then he said take off your pants. I took them off too. He then said take off your underwear,” said Jaffar.
“Then I said: ‘Please sir, you cannot make me strip’. He said he could, and if I did not oblige, he would get four men to hold me down and take off my briefs. I said: ‘Go ahead’. He did not, but then threatened to call the police, and again I told him ‘go ahead’, because I knew the police would have taken my side. In the end, he did not and left.” The harassment, he said, was followed by insults and abuse the next day. Having had enough, Jaffar offered a curt reply when the same supervisor made him the butt of jokes the following day, which ended with his sacking.
“I gladly took off my shoes, hat, shirt and pants to show I did not have the two missing credit slips. But telling me to take off my underclothes, I think, was just to humiliate and insult me.” An official at the Ministry of Labour urged any workers in a similar situation to contact his ministry for action against their employer.
Jaffar admitted that searching workers when money went missing was included in the standard operating procedure that was part of an employee’s contract – but nowhere was a strip-search included.
“I worked for seven months and never before did I see the supervisor order someone to strip. The day after I was ordered to remove my clothes, another worker was Dh280 short and he was not made to strip,” he said.
The claim was supported by other workers at the petrol station in question.The company said it had taken the complaint very seriously and launched an investigation.
Runaway housemaid who stole from employer’s villa arrested
Dubai - 20 Sep.: A part-time housemaid who was on the run from authorities after stealing more than Dh500,000 in jewellery and Dh6,800 in cash from her employer has been arrested.
Dubai Police Criminal Investigation Department teams swooped to arrest her after a wide-ranging crossemirate investigation.
Brigadier Khamis Matar Al Mazeinah, director of Dubai Police CID, said the Asian housemaid stole the cash and jewellery from her employer, and that the search for her had been expanded to cover Ajman and Fujairah with the co-operation of the relevant authorities.
“Investigations showed that the housemaid came to the UAE on a visit visa about nine months ago,” he said.
Brig Al Mazeinah added the housemaid had worked for different families before moving to work for HA, her cur rent employer. “She waited for her employer to leave the house with his family, and then stole the jewellery.
“We found the stolen items with her when we arrested her at one of the villas in Fujairah,” he said.
He asked the public not to hire housemaids who run away from their sponsors and stay on in the country illegally.
“Hiring these housemaids can lead to many problems for the employers,” he added.
Brig Al Mazeinah said that the fruitful results of the CID team’s work was because of the strong co-operation between the different police departments in the UAE.
“I thank all the police departments which helped us in our search,” Brig Al Mazeinah said.
As reported by Emirates Today, the housemaid stole the jewellery and money last Saturday from the Asian family for whom she worked on a part-time basis in Dubai.
Metro tunnel work to begin in January
Dubai: 20 Sep.: Tunnelling for the underground section of the Dubai Metro will start in January 2007, said a senior official.
"A tailor-made tunnel boring machine (TBM), which has already been assembled in Japan, will reach Dubai in November this year," said Adnan Al Hammadi, Director of the Construction Department at the Dubai Metro Agency of the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA).
The machine has been manufactured to bore through hard rocks or sand layers. "Residents will not feel any impact of tunnelling work because there will be hardly any vibration," said Al Hammadi. The RTA has already completed the survey and determined the route of the tunnelling work.
The machine is named 'Al Bugeisha' after the small desert rodent found in Asia and North Africa.
"The tunnel boring for the underground part of the Red Line of the Metro will start in January 2007 at Union Square in Deira towards BurJuman Centre," said Al Hammadi.
The tunnel will pass under the creek up to a length of 1.6 km at a depth of 30 metres.
TBMs are used as an alternative to blasting methods and has the advantage of minimum disturbance to the surrounding soil.
Two lines to total 69.7km
The Dh15.5 billion Dubai Metro project has two lines, Red and Green, with a total length of 69.7 km.
A total of 12.3 km of the lines will be underground.
The Red Line, which is currently being constructed during phase one runs from Rashidiya Station to Jabel Ali Station, is 52.1 km long. It will include 4.7 km of underground metro line and 47.4 km elevated line.
The Green Line, which will be constructed during phase two, is 17.6 km long including a 7.6km underground line in the business district areas of Dubai. Around 9000 workers will be involved in the Dubai Metro project construction work from January 2007.
Expats charged entry fee at Oman-UAE border
Abu Dhabi: 20 Sep.: Residents of Al Buraimi, a northern Omani town that borders Al Ain, yesterday said that they could not afford the fee to cross the border.
Residents of Al Buraimi who hold Omani residence visas will no longer be allowed to enter the UAE unless they obtain an entry visa , a senior official said yesterday.
"Al Hilli checkpoint in Al Ain, which controls the movement of people across the UAE-Oman borders will now be treated like other checkpoints with other neighbouring countries. This means that expatriates who hold Omani or other residence visas from GCC countries must obtain entry visas valid for one month to enter Al Ain," Lieutenant Nasser Al Awadi, director of the Abu Dhabi Naturalisation and Residency Department, told Gulf News yesterday.
Residents of Al Buraimi complained that the decision was a 'U turn' without forewarning.
"On Monday I was not allowed to enter Al Ain without obtaining an entry visa for Dh100, which was cancelled on crossing the Al Hilli checkpoint on my way back home to Al Buraimi," said a resident in Al Buraimi, who asked not to be named.
He added that his children, who study in an Al Ain school, were allowed to cross the borders as they were travelling in their school bus. "But what if I have to pick them up in an emergency … I cannot afford to pay Dh100 to cross the borders, which we used to cross freely."
On Sunday, Al Awadhi told Gulf News that expatriates in the UAE and Oman will be allowed to cross the border if they have valid residence visas of either countries and on producing their passports.
"Yes that was the situation until Sunday, but a new decision was taken to stop this practice and make Al Hilli checkpoint an appropriate one similar to other checkpoints at the borders with other neighbouring countries," Al Awadi clarified.
However, residents in the UAE are allowed to enter Al Buraimi because there is no checkpoint on the Omani side.
Citizens of the six GCC countries will be allowed to enter and exit the country across the border between the UAE and Oman through the checkpoint after producing their identity cards, according to Al Awadhi.
Historically, trading, socialising and commuting between the cities of Al Ain and Buraimi had been commonplace, but security officials say that the measures at the UAE-Oman border are meant to stop the entry of illegal immigrants into the UAE
"On Monday I was not allowed to enter Al Ain without obtaining an entry visa for Dh100, which was cancelled on crossing the Al Hilli checkpoint on my way back home to Al Buraimi."