NEWS FROM UAE
Excerpts from UAE Dailies
Tough traffic rules on way
Dubai - Nov.24: Dubai Police yesterday announced tougher traffic rules to rein in unruly motorists.
According to the new rules, which will go into force next January 1, the licences of bad drivers could be suspended for a year for certain violations.
If a motorist gets 24 black points in a year, his driving licence will be confiscated for six months and the vehicle will be seized for one month.
Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Dubai Executive Council, approved the new traffic rules.
Violations that will result in the cancellation of the driving licence include causing the death of a person in an accident and fleeing from a police officer after an accident.
Other offences that will lead to the cancellation of the driving licence include drink driving or driving under the influence of drugs, reckless driving, racing, driving without number plates and exceeding the speed limit of a road by 60kmph.
After the cancellation of the licence, the motorist will have to retake the driving test a year after the date of committing the offence. There will be a record of traffic offences and black points.
If the motorist acquires 24 black points in one year for the second time, his driving licence will be cancelled and the vehicle is confiscated for three months.
Brigadier Mohammad Saif Al Zafein, Director of Dubai Police Traffic Department, said in the current system, black points are given on-the-spot.
In the new system, black points will be given even in absentia and the owner of the vehicle must inform the traffic department about who was driving the vehicle at the time of committing the offence.
"I am 100 per cent sure that this strict system will give positive results in controlling traffic and curbing traffic offences," he said.
The motorist can get the confiscated vehicle back if he pays Dh100 for every day of the confiscation period. The traffic control authority will alert a motorist when his black points reach 12 points.
Four black points are deducted when the motorist takes a training course in one of the approved driving institutes. However, this advantage can be availed of only once in a year.
Holiday for public sector announced
Dubai - Nov. 24: Federal and local government ministries, departments and public institutions will be closed for two days from December 2 to mark UAE National Day.
Work will resume on December 4, says a circular issued by the Ministry of Public Sector Development.
The ministry congratulated on this historic occasion President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and Their Highnesses Supreme Council Members and Rulers of the Emirates.
Rubbish collectors 'make mockery of recycling scheme'
Dubai - Nov. 24:Rubbish collectors for the Earth Watch recycling initiative are 'making a mockery' of the scheme, say residents.
Earth Watch was rolled out in September across the majority of Emaar properties in the Springs, Meadows, Lakes, Emirates Hill and Greens in a bid to improve the amount of rubbish recycled.
Households were encouraged to fill a cardboard box with paper refuse and green bags with plastic or metal materials in time for an alternative collection once a week.
However, residents now claim they see the Earth Watch collectors simply dumping the sorted rubbish in the wrong bins at the community centres, cancelling out the hard work already done.
Michael Cox-Hill, 30, lives in Springs six and says the collectors are making a mockery of the initiative.
He said: "On many occasions I have seen them fill the plastic and metal container with paper."
Jilianne Lafter also lives in Springs six. The mother-of-two says Emaar has not put enough thought into the project and should reassess the scheme.
Jilianne said: "The scheme can only be described as exactly what it is meant to collect - it's a load of old rubbish."
A spokesman for Earth Watch said he was unaware his staff were depositing the rubbish in the wrong bins.
The Earth Watch scheme was meant to encourage a 'sorting at source' mentality. Estimates hoped it would reduce a household's waste by 30-40 per cent.
Ahmad Al Falasi, director of property management at Emaar, said: "Earth Watch is being launched as a start. As one of the largest property developers, Emaar recognises the need to highlight the importance of recycling."
25% rise in number of Dubai residents applying for UK visas
Dubai - Nov. 24: More and more Dubai residents are applying to visit the United Kingdom, according to figures released by the British Embassy.
Over the past year there has been a nearly one quarter increase in the number of applications to the British Embassy in Dubai for UK visas.
The rise comes in the wake of the introduction by the embassy earlier this year of online visa applications.
Between January and October last year, the British Embassy in Dubai received a total of 32,704 applications for UK visas.
During the same period this year, 40,256 applications were received - representing an increase of more than 23 per cent.
Simon Goldsmith, second secretary for political and media affairs at the embassy, said officials were pleased to see the increase.
"We're delighted that the number of those travelling to the UK has increased significantly. We hope that the UK is a destination of choice for people.
"We have a long history of friendship and close relations and we welcome all visitors to the UK, be they tourists, business people or students - this exchange of people is in all of our interests," he said.
The online visa application service was introduced in April this year, making the UAE the first country in the Middle East to get the hi-tech facility.
Prospective UK visitors can submit all the information required by the embassy electronically.
Officials say this cuts down on queuing at the embassy when applicants or their representatives later visit to hand in a hard copy of the form plus the other required documentation. There are specified visiting times for online applicants.
Goldsmith said interest from UAE residents in visiting the UK was also boosted by the fact that the visa service offered by the British Embassies in Dubai and Abu Dhabi was a same-day system.
"We provide a quick and efficient same-day visa service and we are always looking for opportunities to improve the service further," he told Gulf News.
Caring for the needy away from home
Sharjah - Nov. 24: It all began eight years ago, when a couple of workers went to drop off a sick labourer at his accommodation located at the Sharjah industrial area.
An hour later they left the accommodation with just one thing on their mind - to take some time out from their busy schedule and give companionship to labourers at various accommodations.
By word of mouth, the idea was floated around and soon many like-minded community members joined in their initiative. Today their numbers have multiplied to about 150, of which 30 are full-time members.
Snehatazvara or Valley of Love (VOL) operates from a small room in Al Ghusais. Established with the aim of lending a helping hand to those in need irrespective of caste, creed, colour or sex, its members are everywhere and can be reached anytime.
C.P. Mathew, a full-time member, gave up his family business to look into the increasing number of cases being brought to their attention.
Soon the members started making weekly visits to the hospitalised, providing shelter to destitutes, rescuing women forced into prostitution, visiting prison inmates every week, tracking down family members of unclaimed bodies or raising funds.
At times they are also given the responsibility of conducting cremation and burial by family members who cannot afford to do so.
"When my father died I had no clue of all the formalities involved and of all the various paperwork .... There were not many to help me. After that it became quite a routine for a person in the same situation to just call me up and make inquires ... [about] burial or cremation [formalities] in the UAE."
VOL's popularity spread after some members appeared on a chat show on a Malayalam television channel. Cases started flooding in and even hospital staff started getting in touch with them whenever they came across people hospitalised with no one to take care of them.
"The authorities here have shown quite a lot of trust in our work. ... For example all the medical bills were waived by the Rashid Hospital and the Dubai government hospital in case of Haseena, an Indian woman who had undergone two brain surgeries and needed repatriation," said Mathew.
"The staff of Kuwaiti hospital in Sharjah have been very caring towards destitutes who cannot afford medical assistance. Proof of their humanitarian gesture is Regina, a Sri Lankan who was paralysed and was looked after by the hospital for over a year now," he added.
But what really brought them closer to the community was the 2003 amnesty that was launched by the UAE government.
The sheer amount of illegal immigrants who came forward to get an emergency certificate to exit the country led VOL to keep in close contact with the Indian consulate in Dubai.
The Indian Community Welfare Committee often pitches in and has been making regular financial contributions to cases brought forward by VOL.
"We also get enormous help from Dubai immigration authorities and Dubai Police with whom we are in regular touch. Both these authorities have brought to our attention a number of cases where an inmate needs to sort out his papers," said Mathew.
The media also came to their rescue by facilitating a repatriation case or in raising funds for the needy.
He said the media helped highlight the plight of a poor patient in need of an urgent kidney transplant, and help came pouring in from across the UAE.
"The best thing about people in the UAE is they are always ready to help others. There have been times when we had some people from ... other embassies getting in touch with us and wanting help with a needy case that was highlighted by the media."
The organisation is affiliated to the Department of Non-Resident Keralite Affairs and will soon be registered in the UAE.
Joseph Bobby, a VOL volunteer, said: "There have been plenty of cases when we receive letters from a father seeking help in getting his son or daughter back home. ... Being able to put a smile back on the wrinkled face ... is our biggest satisfaction, the rest is all secondary."
Clean up comes to end
Dubai - Nov. 24: Around 2,000 volunteers are expected at an industrial area in Al Quoz today to bring Dubai’s successful four-day ‘Clean Up The World’ campaign to an end.
Yesterday, around 400 construction workers laid down their tools and helped out the Dubai Municipality’s programme, on a long stretch of open land near Al Muhaisina Labour Housing. Contraction company Al Naboodah provided 2,000 truckloads of clean sand and equipment to level the area near Al Muhaisina’s graveyard - aimed at raising awareness among all segments of the society about the significance of environment protection.
More than 13,000 volunteers have been involved in the campaign.