NEWS FROM THE UAE
Excerpts from UAE Dailies
Over 50 injured in Sharjah pile-up
SHARJAH — February 14:Over 50 people received injuries, minor and major, in a pile-up involving 72 cars on Sharjah-Al Dhaid road near the 10th interchange at 7am yesterday.
Poor visibility caused by heavy morning fog led to the pile-up, Sharjah Police confirmed. In another accident in the same area at around the same time yesterday, a 53-year-old Pakistani national was run over by a car while trying to cross road. This accident, too, was caused by poor visibility, Sharjah Police said.
The pile-up, said the police, led to a traffic jam for over three hours. They had to block the road for motorists and rush the victims to hospital and remove the damaged vehicles.
The Sharjah Police rushed to the site immediately after the cars crashed into each other. Officials from the Al Dhaid police station, civil defence and Anjad Patrol also reached the site immediately to provide first aid to the injured and rush them to hospitals.
Brigadier Ali Nasser Al Fardan, Deputy Director General of Sharjah Police, has called on motorists to be extra cautious while driving during foggy conditions.
Single check-in baggage on BA flights now 23kg
DUBAI — Feb. 14: British Airways, the UK flag-carrier, began implementing its new baggage policy throughout its worldwide network, including Dubai, yesterday.
BA’s Economy Class passengers, as per the airline’s new baggage rules, are now permitted a free check-in of one piece of baggage not exceeding 23 kg — as against the earlier free baggage allowance of 32 kg.
However, BA sources clarified, “In effect, until September 30 this year, we will be flexible and continue to accept checked-in items up to the previous maximum limit of 32 kg — provided any single item of baggage does not weigh over 23 kg.”
But after this “grace period” expires in September, “any passengers who wish to check-in more bags than their free allowance (1 bag for World Traveller/Economy; 2 bags for Traveller Plus/Premium Economy; and three bags for Club World/Business and First Class) will be charged an excess baggage fee of Pounds 120 (Dh840) per bag.
Following September, the airline will not accept — for health and safety reasons —any passenger’s bag, from any cabin, that is over the baggage allowance limit of 23 kg.
BA’s Commercial Manager Middle East, Paul Starrs, told Khaleej Times yesterday: “Our free baggage allowance, for both checked-in and carry-on luggage, remains among the most generous in the aviation industry. Many other airlines offer smaller free allowances and charge for additional items such as skis, gold bags or other sport equipment.”
Also, he added, “previous charges varied according to weight, route and class of travel. We are replacing these with three simple rates for bags additional to our free baggage allowance.”
These new standardised excess baggage rates will be £30 per each extra bag on BA’s domestic sector flights, £60 per each extra bag on its European flights, and £120 per each extra bag on long-haul flights. But these changes will come into effect only after September-end.
Moreover, BA passengers would be able to avail a 30 per cent discount on these rates “if they pre-pay the excess baggage fee online.”
Starrs said, “For the 2 per cent of our passengers who exceed their free allowances, we have decided to simplify the charges they pay to make them easier to understand. In the vast majority of cases, the new policy will be more cost-effective when compared to our existing policy — and especially when compared to current market prices —for customers who wish to fly with excess baggage on top of their free allowances.”
Interestingly, BA sources said, “In the past, our check-in agents have reported checking in items including a washing machine, a car engine and even a kitchen sink!”
Day one goes without much fuss
DUBAI — Barring a number of telephone enquiries, the soft introduction of BA’s new baggage rules yesterday “went off without much of a fuss”, according to travel industry sources.
“So far, we have not received any complaint from passengers who have booked their flights via BA,” said Priyanka, a ticketing and flight reservation agent at Sharaf Travel.
Cecile Santos, a travel agent with Concord Travels and Tours, said their customers have been informed of the airline’s new baggage policy months in advance. “As soon as we received BA’s advisory, we immediately informed our passengers that BA would revise its baggage rules in February.”
At the BA’s reservations and general enquiries section in Dubai, Kavlin Kaur said most of the telephone enquiries they received concerned clarifications being sought regarding the new free and/or excess baggage weight limitations.
A BA spokesperson told Khaleej Times that their plan to change their baggage policy had been communicated to their agents and trade partners in the region as early as the middle of last year.
“The change was announced in June 2006 and details have been on the BA web site (www.ba.com) since then. We have also advised our travel agents and our frequent flyers. The changes will not come into full effect until September 2007,” the spokesperson added.
Schoolgirl critically injured in accident
UMM AL QUWAIN — Feb. 14: An 11-year-old schoolgirl sustained critical injuries after being hit by a speeding Land Cruiser while on her way to board her school bus on Monday morning.
Rawnaa Mahmoud Hussein, who is enrolled in grade VI in an Umm Al Quwain-based English school, was accompanied by her twin sister, Radwa, when she was hit by the vehicle in front of Umm Al Quwain Hospital.
After the Land Cruiser driven by a UAE national woman hit the girl, she got stuck beneath the wheels, and was dragged to some distance by the moving vehicle. Her twin sister waved and shouted at the driver to draw her attention but in vain. The vehicle finally stopped but the girl had sustained critical injuries by then.
Rawnaa was rushed to Umm Al Quwain hospital. She is in a state of coma and is suffering from internal bleeding. She has also sustained fracture in her chest bones and damage to her lung.
Revealing the details of the accident, Umm Al Quwain police sources said the driver was absent-minded at the time of the accident.
The woman driver said she could not see the girl and that’s why she failed to stop the car in time. She said she was shocked to see the girl in front of her car, police sources said.
Meanwhile, doctors at the hospital informed that the girl’s condition continues to be unstable, and she might remain in coma for another three days, till the internal bleeding stops completely.
The Umm Al Quwain traffic police are investigating the accident.
du offers online payment facility
DUBAI — Feb. 14: Customers who have already booked a du number can pay online for their number and line as well as du’s pre-paid and post-paid packages, through www.du.ae.
This facility comes as part of the final phase of du’s number booking campaign.
Individual and small enterprise customers opting for the online payment option will get free delivery of du SIM cards by courier.
However, large enterprise customers will be contacted directly by dedicated account managers to arrange the smooth delivery of SIM cards.
Osman Sultan, Chief Executive Officer of du, said: “du is investing significant time and energy in making the launch a convenient, comfortable and easy experience for all. This is reflected in the orderly phasing of the booking, allocation and confirmation of du numbers, followed by the rollout of services. All our efforts are focused on ensuring that our customers are at the centre of our planning and overall strategy.”
Sultan added: “The final stage of the number booking campaign has started taking shape and people would have begun receiving their SIMs. This will pave the way for making calls as soon as connections are activated and make use of the ‘thank you’ offer.”
Fine weather forecast till weekend
DUBAI — Feb. 14: Dense fog was reported in the Emirates yesterday, Phil Targett, duty forecaster at the Meteorological Office of the Dubai International Airport, said.
“However, it’s unlikely that we’ll witness fog in the next few days,” he said. Dubai and the rest of the Northern Emirates will enjoy a fine weather with partly cloudy skies today and it will continue until the weekend, the Met Office said.
“Except for the risk of some isolated rain showers, we can expect a fine weather in the next three days,” said Targett.
A northwest (shamal) wind is expected to blow across in Dubai today.
The minimum temperature last night was recorded at 16 degrees Celsius and the maximum temperature today will be 25 degrees Celsius, the Met Office said.
Hilli checkpost faces traffic jams
AL AIN — Feb. 14: There have been heavy traffic jams over the past couple of days at the Hilli checkpost near the Omani border town of Al Buraimi, specially when the Al Modif checkpoint between Buraimi and Al Ain remains closed after 12am following new regulations.
The Al Modif checkpoint is meant for GCC commuters. After it is closed, all commuters, including locals and expatriates, use the Hilli checkpoint that was earlier specified for expats only.
Colonel Gharib Mohammed Al Hawsany, Director of the Checkpoints’ Security Police said, “Moving all passengers after 12 am to the Hilli checkpoint instead of the Al Modif checkpoint was decided after a study showed that only a few commuters pass through it around that time.”
Residents who live in Buraimi and work in Al Ain have appealed to the authorities to solve the problem as they are failing to reach workplaces on time.
About 14,000 people commute from Buraimi to Al Ain. Among them are 200 students.
New patterns of crime
The UAE has called on the international community to take notice of new patterns of crimes taking place around the world. The appeal was made by Mohammed bin Nakhira Al Dhahiri, Minister of Justice, at a regional seminar held at the Armed Forces’ Officers Club to discuss impediments to the endorsement of the statute of the International Criminal Court (ICT).