NEWS FROM THE UAE
Excerpts from UAE Dailies
One person killed every 30 hours on Dubai roads
Dubai - Nov.26: Figures released by the Roads and Transport Authority have revealed that one person gets killed on Dubai's roads every 30 hours on average.
In the first nine months of this year, there were 215 deaths on Dubai's roads, the official statistics revealed. One person is injured on an average every three hours, the RTA figures released yesterday also showed.
Badr Mattar Al Siri, Director of the Traffic Department at the RTA, said some streets and areas were more dangerous because of congestion or speeding.
"Whatever the cause of numerous accidents in a particular location, it calls for greater caution when navigating the vehicle through the area," the RTA said in a statement. In the first nine months of this year, there were 1,341 accidents in Dubai that caused injury, with a total of 2,110 people hurt.
The 10 most dangerous roads were responsible for 89 of the deaths and 676 of the injuries, the figures revealed.
Among the roads with the highest number of fatalities was Shaikh Zayed Road, which saw 21 deaths between January and Sep-tember this year.
Other roads with high fatality rates during the same period included Emirates Road, Shaikh Rashid Road and the Dubai to Al Ain highway.
The Al Quoz Industrial Area was the scene of 22 accidents, causing a total of five deaths, while Jumeirah Road saw 14 accidents and three fatalities.
Crackdown on small driving schools overdue
Dubai - Nov. 26: A major bid to improve driving standards in Dubai was launched last week with the announcement that about 30 driving schools are likely to be shut down.
As reported in Gulf News, the licences of small driving schools that do not abide by federal laws will be cancelled as of next year.
Officials from the Roads and Transport Authority said some schools did not provide a proper curriculum to learner drivers - violating regulations.
With driving standards a major concern for all Dubai residents - there are few topics that come up more regularly in conversation - City Talk asked a cross-section of people if they thought this could lead to lasting improvements.
Tony Dandan, 37, a Filipino who works for an insurance brokerage, described the clampdown as "a great move".
"Here the quality of driving instructors is sometimes poor and they have to screen instructors to help improve the standards of driving on the roads," he told Gulf News.
Bangladeshi visual merchandiser Hashim Hussain, 31, also supported the measures being introduced against below-standard driving schools.
He said at present it was too easy to get a driving licence and said the new initiative would help to ensure that only well-trained drivers passed the test.
"They should be stricter on who gets a licence and this should help. There should be fewer licences given out," he said.
Typist Mohammad Rafi, 32, from India, described RTA's action as "a very good idea", explaining that it meant that only driving schools with "very good facilities" would be able to operate from now on. "This will mean very strict government checking [of driving schools]. It's a good law," he said.
Salesman M.N.M. Najeem, 29, a Sri Lankan salesman, said: "This is good because at the moment there are too many accidents. It should help to improve standards. It would make people drive more safely."
Mohammad Seddiqi, 35, an Emirati who works in the oil industry, said the extra attention on the quality of driving schools would lead to improvements in conditions on the roads.
"The driving standards will increase because the bigger companies [supposedly] have higher international standards.
"Small companies are mainly good for the poorer people who cannot afford to pay the costs of the bigger driving schools," he said.
Asha Satish, 33, an Indian business data administrator, said she learned to drive with one of the larger driving schools and felt these tended to offer higher standards.
"This is a good move. Some of the smaller schools let people take the test with fewer classes. The bigger ones give more lessons so people have the confidence to drive," she said.
Her view was echoed by Lebanese engineer Ali Isaac, 40, who said: "Some smaller schools don't give as good knowledge for the new drivers. Definitely there is a problem - it should be harder to get a licence."
However, not everyone felt that smaller driving schools offered poorer quality teaching.
Maria Neeraj, 31, an office administrator from India, said she went to one of the smaller schools and was impressed by the standards. "It was quite good. In both large and small driving schools I think they teach well," she said, adding that she felt that the driving test was currently sufficiently difficult and did not need to be made more difficult.
Distribution manager Chris Green, 26, from the United Kingdom, said shutting down smaller driving schools would have "small effect" on driving standards.
He added: "They should make the test harder. I've known people who have done the test and all they have had to do was to drive round the corner a couple of times. The standards are not good enough."
Human resources manager Waleed Garwan, 34, from Yemen, said he "fully agreed" with the move to shut down bad driving schools.
He said some schools just tried to get people through the test as quickly as possible without ensuring they were fully capable behind the wheel. "Some people choose certain schools because they know they will graduate fast and get their licence," he said.
Bank suspends clerk for signature forgery
Dubai - Nov. 26: A resident has said an employee at a Dubai branch of an international bank forged his signature to cover up a blunder that was made while setting up his account.
The customer, who recently moved here, said he was appalled to discover a clerk at HSBC's Creek branch had scrapped his original documents and drafted new paperwork - while he wasn't even in the bank.
He told Gulf News: "I first realised something had gone wrong when the bank called to say my rent cheque had bounced. Then when delivering my ATM card and chequebook, the courier company had a completely different surname from mine, despite having all the other details correct."
The Briton spent hours with staff to sort out the matter. He then noticed paperwork dated one week after he first went to the bank and set up his account - in fact on a day when he was at work - with the wrong surname and a signature authorising the account that looked nothing like his own.
"Once I pointed out the paperwork irregularity, the employee's face dropped and a supervisor was called," he said.
"They promised me it would be rectified immediately, but when I went back a week later, my records hadn't been updated."
He said finally a month after the incident, a regional HSBC manager contacted him and said the bank had suspended a staff member over the incident and launched an investigation.
"He apologised repeatedly and ... promised it was an isolated incident and he would keep me informed with the progress of the investigation."
An HSBC spokeswoman confirmed a member of staff was facing disciplinary action. "We have our internal disciplinary procedures and action has been taken with regard to the staff. However, due to the confidentiality of these procedures and out of our respect to the privacy of our staff, we will not be able to disclose any details."
Children, watch what you eat
Dubai - Nov. 26: Do parents really know what their child is eating at lunch and how it is affecting them?
School canteens - traditionally associated with churning out mass-produced, cheap food - play an important role in the eating habits of children and can affect their physical and mental development.
Belinda Rennie, a Dubai-based nutritionist, said school canteens should serve meals that contain quality ingredients to boost neurotransmitters for learning minds - in other words, brain food.
According to Rennie, nutrition in the formative years of life plays a critical role in the building of the brain and can influence the development of learning and behavioural disorders like dyslexia, autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
"Kids need quality protein in the middle of the day, especially growing kids with active minds such as chicken and lean meats, cheese, eggs or fish. I include biltong (dried meat) in my kids' snack boxes and they love it as well as chocolate coated raisins once a week," said Rennie.
"You should check the sugar content of bars. Over 12 grams of sugar per bar is too much," she said. "Children need variety to stimulate them and also to avoid toxic overloads if they are eating the same thing everyday. That's why the French do so well because they eat up to 30 different types of food in a day."
Car accessory that emits flame finds many takers
DUBAI — Nov. 26:Trendy, but dangerous car accessories are being sold in Dubai and Sharjah despite a ban imposed on such products.
A majority of the buyers consists of youths who want their cars to sound and appear like a roaring Ferrari.
And the latest addition to this is a device which when fitted into the silencer of the car, emits a flame up to one feet distance on the press of a button.
According to retailers selling car accessories in Dubai and Sharjah, the device has caught the fancy of the people with many turning up to the shops to grab one.
Aware of the hazards posed by the devices, shopkeepers agree that this device could turn up to be serious when it comes to a crowded place.
According to them, the flame which the device emits is enough to scare, shock and even hurt someone standing very close to the car.
“We cannot sell it in the open. These are additional parts and we could get into problem with the police if they catch us. But then the demand is very high. This particular device is of the size of a small rectangular or oval box. It has got a small tank in which one can fill in petrol or kerosene or any other lighting material. The box gets fixed into the mouth of the car silencer. There is a button with the driver in order to operate it,” said a car accessory seller based in Sharjah.
“Once the car ignition is turned on and the driver presses the button, the device emits a strong flame that goes up to one foot. This can be done at least three to five times before one needs to fill up the tank again. Such devices are common among the different Formula One cars. The price is also high and we are buying it at $600 from the US. But then it has not made a difference. The major buyers are the local youths who love speed and style. In fact I have sold more than 10 pieces in just 3 days,” he added.
“This is the latest craze. We don’t think it to be dangerous. But then it is bound to shock people. Another device which is equally popular is the laser light emitting switch. This one gets fitted into the gear box and once the switch is pressed, there are laser light inside the car. It looks good. This one also costs some Dh600. Both these things are selling like hot cakes for now,” said a shopkeeper.
Major Omer Ashoor from the General Department of Traffic of the Dubai Police said any person who modifies the vehicle without permission or uses items which endanger peoples’ lives such as devices which emits flames would be penalised.
He said the installation of such device is illegal and can attract legal action.
Regarding the withdrawal of such devices, he said the department had “no right to crackdown” on accessory shops, since the shops have the permission from the Economic Department and the devices could also be used for different purposes. He added that the driver themselves should comply with traffic laws and act responsibly by not opting for such devices.
But those who buy these “shockers” it is “just some fun” that makes the car a “head turner”.
Woman damages radar in accident
ABU DHABI — Nov. 26: A 45-year-old Pakistani woman damaged a traffic radar yesterday on Abu Dhabi Corniche, opposite Hilton Hotel, when her car hit the device. The woman got her licence only on Thursday.
The woman and her husband were injured in the accident.
Captain Yaslam Al Tamimi, Director of Investigations and Accidents at Abu Dhabi Traffic Police, said the husband had warned the woman about the radar and asked her to drive carefully, but the woman got confused and hit the radar.
Indian becomes millionaire with ADCB's dollar dreams scheme
ABU DHABI — Nov. 26: A Sharjah-based Indian expatriate, Musarrat Hussain Khan, yesterday became a millionaire when he won a million US dollar bumper prize in the Million Dollar Dreams Deposit scheme launched by the Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB).
Khan, an accountant by profession, invested in the ADCB Million Dollar Dreams. At the cheque presentation ceremony, a composed Khan said he was overwhelmed and ecstatic when he was informed of the prize.
"I conveyed the news immediately to my wife and three daughters. My little daughters are my pride and joy and have always brought good luck to our family", he said.
Mussarat Hussain Khan plans to start a restaurant and also give away part of his prize money to charity. Ala'a Eraiqat EVP, Head of UAE Banking Group, said: "Million Dollar Dreams received a fantastic response from customers. Given this response and the continuing customer demand, we have now launched Million Dollar Dreams–2, with 10 monthly cash prizes totalling Dh1 million in addition to the grand prize of 1 Million Dollars."
"There is also a Mercedes car to be won. Existing Million Dollar Dreams customers can enrol for Million Dollar Dreams 2 before December 31. With features of 2 per cent pa interest on a 12-month deposit and a pre-defined probability of one customer in 5,000 winning a million dollars, the MDD programme not only raised the excitement levels in the personal financial services but also strengthened ADCB brand equity."