NEWS FROM THE UAE
Excerpts from UAE Dailies
Private sector hospitals deny exploitation charges
DUBAI — Sep. 30: Denying that private hospitals are exploiting healthcare seekers in the country with unethical practices, representatives of private healthcare services have claimed that the sector had qualtitatively complemented the public health segment, a contribution which should not be ignored.
In response to a report published in Khaleej Times on September 10, (Hefty charges keep patients away from govt, pvt hospitals), private healthcare providers maintained that the sector had offered much to patients in the country in terms of choices, state-of-the-art technological health advancements, in addition to the customer service quotient missing from government hospitals.
Says B R Shetty, MD and CEO, NMC Group of Hospitals, “The growth of healthcare in UAE has mirrored the growth of the nation from the sandy settlements to bustling modern cities of today.”
Reminiscing, he says, “I still remember the days when an X-ray scan appointment would be scheduled after a gap of three months”
Replying to allegations terming private hospitals as unethical exploiters, Shetty says such a generalised accusation was not warranted as it can be applicable to only a few who practice in such manner. “Such practices definitely come under the scanner of the health authorities who are doing a great job monitoring them,” he adds.
According to Shetty, the private sector has actively contributed in complementing the public sector. “While the government hospitals have been expanding to meet the requirements of a burgeoning population (less than 500,000 in 1975 to 4.4 million in 2005), the private sector stepped in with more than 30 hospitals and innumerable clinics to close the gap”, he points out.
Supporting the stance of Shetty, Dr Prem Jagyasi, Director, Business Development and Marketing, on behalf of Jebel Ali Hospital says, “In recent years, the private hospital have played an essential complementary role to public hospitals, providing efficient services to satisfy high demand. The private industry is preferred for all sorts of out-patient treatment. The number of out-patient treatments in Dubai are almost double as compared to government hospitals, especially because of less waiting time and personalised services offered by the private industry.”
There are 588 private clinics as compared to 22 government clinics (DOH and MOH combined), says Dr Jagyasi,adding . “It is also a matter of giving choice to the patient who can choose where to go (whether a hospital or clinic) and which doctor to see at any time”
On the cost factor, Dr Jaghyasi says “Comparison of prices is unfair as each country has their own set of price metrics. The same quality of services in the US and Europe could be three times more expensive than in the UAE. Does that make the services in the West bad”? The comparison should be under similar context like the entire health sector of the Asian countries (including Thailand, Malaysia, India ) with the UAE.
Upcoming multi-specialty hospitals will also hopefully provide more facilities in the UAE and patients would not be required to leave UAE for treatment.
“The private hospitals are actively involved in prevention of health diseases and provide significant information of hospital services utilisation along with database of medical conditions attended at hospitals, this helps government take special measures for planning and prevention” says Dr Shetty .
“The private sector has remarkably invested in technology and skills other than value-added services. Several Quality Standards have come into the country benefiting the healthcare sector. Companies have General Quality Standards like ISO, SIX Sigma, etc. Then they move on to Business Excellence models like Dubai Quality Awards, Shaikh Khalifa Excellence award etc eventually tagging on to specific Healthcare Standards like JCI, Canadian Health Standards, Australian Health Standards etc. These have the effect of strengthening the intrinsic quality of the organisation and imbuing them with best practices of this sector,” he explains.
On regulations guarding the healthcare sector in the country, Shetty said, “Currently regulators in the country are doing an excellent job. But in addition, I suggest they issue guidelines on ethical practice. Unhealthy and unethical practices should be firmly dealt with after giving warnings, naming and de-licensing.
He said that the private hospitals/medical centres of Abu Dhabi had already jointly formed an association aiming to conduct business in fair and ethical fashion. “Healthcare organisation that do not follow the code of ethics will not be allowed to become member, or there is already one, he will be warned before eventually being eased out,” he added.
He suggested that authorities open up dialogue on the licensing and related issues, involve the private sector in the Compulsory Medical Insurance and also encourage private sector in a public private partnership.
Renting a place to stay
Dubai: Sep. 30: If you have just arrived in the UAE you will be looking for a place to live, and will no doubt have heard nightmare stories about skyrocketing rents and property inflation in many areas.
With villas and apartments in central locales of Dubai and Abu Dhabi out of reach of many, residents are increasingly opting to live in areas such as Sharjah, Ajman and even Ras Al Khaimah.
However, wherever you decide to live, it is best to be prepared by keeping your wits about you, keeping fraudulent agents at arm’s length and checking our tips to finding a decent home.
The first thing to know is that rent is paid on an annual or biannual basis with post-dated cheques.
An advance payment is required which can put new tenants out of pocket, but housing loans are readily available from banks. Some companies also pay the landlord directly and direct debit monthly payments from your salary.
International cheques are not accepted and so opening a local bank account and getting a cheque book are prerequisites.
If a cheque bounces, due to minimal funds in an account or a month of particular heavy duty spending, you will be seriously penalised and can result in a jail term.
There are additional costs to be considered such as the real estate commission which is five per cent of the annual rent in a one off payment. There is also a maintenance charge and the municipality tax which are both an additional five per cent each of the annual rent. Add to this the refundable rental security deposit.
Once you have found a house or apartment that you like you can try and negotiate the rent and terms.
Paying the lease in one cheque or signing for a long term lease could bring down the rent. If you are happy with the price, sign the lease and read the contract thoroughly, especially the small print so you are aware of lease termination, subletting, or damage to the property. Only once you are happy with all the clauses should you hand over the cheques.
At the end of 2006, in Dubai the 15 per cent rent increase rule on rents will come to an end. New tenants do not often benefit from this but all renewing tenants should make sure that landlords have not increased rents more than this. If so you can direct your queries to the Rent Committee at Dubai Municipality.
In Sharjah landlords are not allowed to raise rents within three years, and if it happens, then residents can complain to Sharjah Municipality at the Rent Dispute Committee.
In Abu Dhabi complaints have been made about real estate agencies that charge non-refundable fees, normally Dh100, just for showing properties to their clients. Some agencies charge Dh200 for showing properties. If the apartment hunter is happy with the property and concludes an agreement, he or she has to pay a month rent as a commission to the real estate agency.
In Abu Dhabi, another problem is unchecked hike in rents. Tenants should also be aware of demands for huge one-off fees known as “key money” which often involves the purchase of poor quality old furniture before tenants can move into properties.
What to bring when leasing a house:
- Residence permit (copy)
- No objection letter from employer
- Salary certificate
- Rent cheque or cheques for the leasing period
- Real estate commission
- Your company should provide you with a copy of their trade licence
- Passport copy of person signing the rent cheque from your company.
- Termination and demolition
- When moving out you may be asked to return the property in its original state, despite having made improvements or changes, which you also may not be compensated for.
- Before signing your contract for an older property be sure to check that there are no plans for demolition.
Industry experts have advised Dubai residents to take strict precautions when renting property, to mitigate the risks.
“There are irresponsible players in every market, and the importance of exercising due diligence cannot be stressed enough,” said Andrew Chambers, Managing Director of Asteco. “Prospective tenants can take a number of precautions when buying or renting property with a minimum of fuss.”
Make sure you:
- Visit Dubai Property Group at www.dubaipropertygroup.com. It has a list of member companies that adhere to the group’s code of ethics.
- Check the agency’s reputation and whether they have a website.
- When dealing with a broker, ask to see the power of attorney from the owner.
- Check Dubai Municipality for the plans that name the owner of the property when issuing cheques
in his/her name.
- Keep in mind that only companies that have paid a substantial bank guarantee are entitled to take cheques in their name.
Tenant takes on new landlord over 'unfair eviction'
Dubai: Sep. 30: Mohammad Malek and his family have been living in their Al Qusais building for ten years and are now being evicted for what they see as an unfair reason.
A decision was recently issued by the Dubai Rent Committee requiring the tenant to evacuate his Dh2,300 a-month flat on the basis of 'an observation in the contract stipulating that the tenancy cannot be renewed.' Malek's problems arose when the ownership of the building he lives in was transferred to his current landlord, who asked all tenants to sign new contracts.
Since the transfer, Malek has had rent disputes with his landlord through the building's supervisor.
Upon taking ownership of the building, the landlord increased the rent of all residents to almost double, which resulted in the departure of several tenants. Malek instead chose to gather other residents to protest the rise, which the supervisor described as "mischievous."
The decision restricting rent increases to 15 per cent annually came shortly after, giving Malek justification to file a complaint against his landlord at the Dubai Rent Committee, which ruled in Malek's favour.
Malek's actions offended the supervisor who described him as a "trouble maker."
"He embarrassed me and my sponsor in front of everyone. He didn't have to do that," said the supervisor.
Malek believes the supervisor has had a vendetta against him ever since. He claims that he was threatened by the supervisor to be evicted "one way or another," a charge the supervisor denies.
Malek argues that the observation referred to by the Rent Committee, which was only written in English, did not state that the contract cannot be renewed, saying that all he understood from the "broken English" was that it could not be renewed for six months.
"I wouldn't have signed it if I assumed it to say that it cannot be renewed. I don't want to leave my flat," he said.
The observation on the contract stated that: "This contract not renewable for six months only."
Malek believes that the decision was made based on a mistranslation by the Rent Committee, pointing out the mention of the observation in the contracts of other tenants.
Although Malek was told that he could not appeal the decision, a Rent Committee official told Gulf News that the mistranslation claim would be 'looked into.'
Malek has submitted a letter requesting the committee to reopen the case and is awaiting a decision.
Etisalat discount offer hits snags
ABU DHABI — Sep. 30: The implementation of the discount schemes offered by Etisalat to Wasel and GSM subscribers as part of its 30th anniversary celebrations has been postponed by a few days because of some technical problems.
“The decision to defer the schemes was taken five minutes before midnight on Thursday,” a staff member at the Etisalat Contact Centre told an anxious caller who had subscribed to Wasel but did not automatically get the discount as promised by Etisalat. The Khaleej Times Complaints Corner was also flooded with calls from disappointed Etisalat customers.
An irate subscriber, Beenish Aman, said: “Is this the way Etisalat celebrates its 30 years? They should ensure that all technical details are taken care of before making an annoucement. Instead of making customers happy, it has given them discomfort.”
“I am sure many subscribers will not benefit from the scheme due to the changes,” she added.
An Etisalat official advised Wasel and GSM subscribers who opted for the discount schemes from September 29 onwards to give the details of the transactions to the Etisalat Contact Centre at 101. They will be entitled to the discounts once the technical snag has been dealt with and the schemes come into operation, he said.
Beggars should not be encouraged
UAE - Sep. 30: WHAT constitutes charity during the holy month of Ramadan? Obliging beggars who try to invoke the feeling of pity in you?
The answer is an emphatic 'no'. In fact, by not obliging beggars we will be serving a social cause because most of these people are able-bodied and become ''professional beggars'' to hoodwink us. During Ramadan which is considered an occasion for charity and giving, the number of these beggars reaches its peak.
We have to guard against these elements because they exploit our religious sentiments. Instead of just expecting the authorities to curb this menace, we too should take necessary isteps to discourage this degrading practice which is nothing but committing a fraud on the society.
If you want to reach out to the those who are really needy and in dire straits, the best option available is to contact charitable and relief organisations who know of people deserving help. Remember that religion strictly forbids beggary. Stop encouraging people who are social liabilities because of their lazy attitude. It was a funny sight to see a so-called ''disabled '' beggar displaying rare agility by throwing off his crutches on seeing a policeman! Let us work together to eliminate the evil of beggary which is eating away our social fabric and imbibe the true spirit of Ramadan.
Rising fuel costs make SUV owners think small
DUBAI — Sep. 30: Svetlana Zaire, a Russian national working in a multi-national company in Dubai, was driving a Land Cruiser two weeks ago. But now she has switched to a Toyota Corolla.
“I plan to sell the car, it consumes a lot of fuel and I cannot afford it now. I have hired a Corolla from ‘Rent A Car’,” she said.
Though most of the car showrooms won’t admit it, soaring fuel prices are forcing people to give up Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs) and opt for smaller cars.
As Abdullah Hashmi, who has been driving a Land Cruiser for almost four years, put it, “It's not about comfort these days. I am planning to switch to a small car like a Lancer or a Corolla. But then, I don’t plan to sell my Land Cruiser right away. The fuel prices are going up and big cars with powerful engines need more fuel. Maybe I'll use the big car only for certain occasions from next month. One has to maintain a budget,” he said.
According to motoring experts, bigger cars have very powerful engines. “They are heavier. If one talks about small cars, the capacity varies from 1.3 to 1.8 litres. It can even go a bit higher. So obviously, smaller cars consume less fuel when compared to SUVs,” said an expert dealing in motor parts and repairs.
Roger Jhosn, the marketing manager of a Mitsubishi showroom in Dubai, said, “We have not come across any drop in sales in our SUV segment. We have cars like Pajero, Nativa and Outlander coming under this segment and they are selling fine. And it is not necessary that a bigger car would mean higher fuel expense.”
But people beg to differ. Irwin Gazel, who works in a PR company, said, “I have to go to the petrol station almost three to four times every week with my car (a 2.5 litre car). And now I can't afford it. I plan to buy a smaller car.”