News headlines

Excerpts from UAE Dailies

Taxi users in Dubai to pay road toll

DUBAI — Feb. 15: Were you confused about who'll foot the road toll bill if you were travelling in a taxi? The taxi driver, or you? Well, the verdict is out — people using taxis will have to pay both the road toll and taxi fare, Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) officials said yesterday, while introducing ‘Salik’, the brand name for Dubai's forthcoming toll system.

The 24-hour toll system will be implemented in Dubai from July this year. While the pre-paid sticker tags worth Dh100, topped up with a minimum of Dh50, will be available in the market from May, an amount of Dh4 (for one way) will be automatically deducted as a car with the sticker passes under the electronic gates.

The stickers have no expiry date and are damaged if removed. SMS alerts will inform the users if the balance is low. Eng. Maitha Bin Adai, CEO of the RTA’s Roads and Traffic Agency, said during yesterday's Press conference that though other forms of public transport would be toll-free for travellers, including public and school buses, and emergency vehicles, taxi passengers would have to pay the toll.

'The taxi driver will, however, give option to the passenger on using alternative routes,' clarified Maitha.

To help tourists, giant screens will be placed on entry points, guiding them to buy the Salik sticker tags from petrol stations or shopping malls.

Initially, the electronic gates — work on which has started — will be installed on Al Garhoud Bridge (both sides) and after the fourth interchange on Shaikh Zayed Road (near Mall of the Emirates). However, motorists who do not wish to use the system, will have alternative routes to use after the RTA finishes the projects by the year-end.

Among the alternative routes is the floating bridge, to be ready by July 2007. It will have three lanes in each direction, linking Al Ittihad Road at Deira City Centre to the Al Riyadh Road in Bur Dubai (by the creek park). It is expected to reduce traffic on Al Maktoum Bridge by 37 per cent.

The Fourth Crossing, with six lanes in each direction, will connect the Dubai International Airport tunnel to Shaikh Rashid and Al Khail roads. The Dubai bypass road from Shaikh Zayed Road to Al Ruwwaya is being widened to five lanes on each side.

The widening of Al Garhoud Bridge and Emirates Road will be completed by the year-end.

Also, the Ittehad Road project will be completed in 22 months.

The official also clarified that motorists using the roads within the toll gates will not pay anythin

According to an RTA study, an estimated 8,000-10,000 motorists use each side of the Shaikh Zayed Road during peak hours, while nearly 9,000 vehicles cross the Al Garhoud Bridge every hour.

'We estimate that at least half of the registered cars in Dubai will use the system,' said the official.

“Dubai is losing over Dh4 billion in traffic jams and Dh2 million in accidents,' added Maitha.

She also said that the toll system was expected to reduce traffic on the road by 25 per cent.

Tariff for vehicles

Following is the tariff for different types of vehicles:

- Motorcycle: Dh4

- Light vehicle: Dh4

- Heavy vehicle:  Dh4

- Light bus:  Dh4

- Heavy bus:  Dh4

- Light/heavy mechanical vehicles:  Dh4

- Card and subscription fee:  Dh100

- Card replacement fee:  Dh50

- Card cancellation fee:  Dh10

- Transfer of card:  Dh50


Experts to share expertise on prevention of cancer

AL AIN — Feb. 15:The Recent Advances in Clinical Oncology Conference, an initiative of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (FMHS) of the UAE University (UAEU), will be held at the Al Ain Intercontinental Resort from February 19 to 22.

Organised by the Oncology Research Priority Group, the conference will feature workshops, plenary and parallel lectures in symposia as well as short oral and poster presentations.

Professor George Carruthers, Dean of FMHS, said the research group comprises people with a particular interest in oncology and its members include scientists, FMHS experts and clinicians from Tawam Hospital.

Professor Carruthers said the international conference will provide a forum for the exchange of ideas and knowledge concerning cancer prevention and patient education as well as strategies for optimisation of clinical care.

The meeting will focus on recent advances and controversies through interaction with renowned international speakers.

Issues to be addressed include evidence based oncology, molecular biology, diagnosis, staging and treatment encompassing chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery and novel experimental and therapeutic strategies, palliative care and challenges in cancer care.

Special sessions related to common disorders in the UAE such as breast, haematological, colorectal, paediatric, upper gastrointestinal, gynaecological, prostatic and endocrine malignancy as well as lung and bone tumours will also be held.

Cancer is the third leading cause of mortality in the UAE, responsible for 11 per cent of all deaths.

Twenty-nine experts will be participating in the conference as Invited Faculty Members, along with speakers from the UAE, Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Spain, the UK and the US.


Indian wins Dh100, 000 in Postcard Millionaire

DUBAI — Feb. 15:Mahesh Manthal who hails from Kerala has won Dh100, 000 in the Postcard Millionaire draw.

He saw an ad for Postcard Millionaire Pack and wasted no time in buying it.

Mahesh, currently working as a division operator in an interior designing company, is the sole breadwinner for his family in Kerala.

He came to Dubai with the hope of earning some extra money in order to provide better education to his two children and to fulfil his dream of building a house in his hometown. His dream has now come true.

Residents from all over the UAE and visitors have a chance to win a total of Dh30 million during the third edition of the Postcard Millionaire campaign on purchase of a Dh30 Postcard Millionaire pack.


21-day annual leave proposal criticised

ABU DHABI — Feb. 15:A cross section of workers Khaleej Times talked to, have objected to the proposal to cut the annual leave from 30 days to 21 days, as per the draft of the new labour law.

They also said that such a law would imply curtailing of their rights as workers. 

The Labour Law No. 80 for the year 1980 entitles workers to an annual leave of 30 days.

The Minister of Labour, Dr Ali bin Abdullah Al Kaabi, has invited suggestions from the general public about the proposals mooted in the draft labour law.

Said Sheetal Borge, an Indian account executive working with a public relations company in the UAE: "It (21 days leave) is not at all enough. It takes us nearly three days just to travel home and back. So what are we left with? And why 21 days? Most multinational firms and companies around the world give their workers at least a month's annual leave!"

A similar concern was raised by Mohammad Ahmed, a Jordanian public relations officer (PRO). "Twenty-one days are not enough. If we take into account the cost of travelling to our countries, it's quite expensive," he pointed out.

He added: "We respect the laws of the country, but we are human beings. We need a sufficient and proper break to get ourselves reenergised. Studies carried out in the US and elsewhere have shown that it's in the interest of employers to give proper break to employees. Cutting the annual leave will send a wrong message."

Ahmed, however, said in case they were offered the five-day week, they could positively consider the 21-day annual leave system. "But in that case (21 days), most workers would prefer to spend their annual leave here in the UAE," he noted.

Said Hussain Hadi, another worker, who stays alone in the emirate: "If the annual vacation is reduced to 21 days, I will not find enough time to stay with my wife and sons back home. I just have one question for the ministry: Are 21 days enough?"


Dubai - Mother facing trial

Dubai - Feb. 15: A mother has been referred to Dubai courts charged with murdering her own baby girl. The Filipina housemaid is alleged to have killed the one-month-old child on December 18 last year. Public Prosecution referred the matter to court after collecting evidence from medical staff at the Rashid Hospital where the mother took her baby for treatment.

The Filipina maintains the baby must have been injured after slipping from her hands as she gave it a bath one morning. She said she was not worried after dropping the girl as she seemed normal and continued to cry and feed until the next day when she realised something was wrong with her. The woman said she had been made pregnant before arriving in Dubai after twice being raped by a watchman near her former home.

She concealed the pregnancy from her host family, but when she gave birth alone at her home, the family then helped her care for the child. A medical report from Rashid Hospital disputes her version of events and claims that the injuries on the baby were deliberately inflicted. The mother said the child had some slight bleeding from the nose following the accident, but was otherwise acting normally.

A report from medical staff at the hospital outlines that the baby suffered injuries to the head and body consistent with the child having been deliberately struck. The first court hearing has been scheduled for later this month. The woman has been remanded in custody.


Dubai - Sex attacker jailed

Dubai - Feb. 15: An Indian expat who tried to rape two women at knifepoint in Dubai was caught red-handed by police as he attacked one of  his victims. On October 14 last year, the 24-year-old attempted to force his way into the flat of a Tunisian woman in the Hor Al-Anz area of the city. She managed to fight him off and force him out of her apartment, the Court of First Instance heard.

Undeterred by his failed attempt he then tried to force himself into another nearby flat. His Indian victim was alone in the house when the man knocked on the door. When she answered he barged his way into her home and threatened her with a knife. The woman, identified as AA, screamed for help and grabbed her own knife from the kitchen to fend off her attacker.

The court was told that the man, who had been drinking alcohol and was drunk, managed to wrestle the knife away from his victim and force her to the floor. He then stripped her of her clothes and removed his own before attempting to rape her. Police, who had been alerted to the scene by the victim of his first attempted attack, heard the disturbance and managed to force their way into the flat.

They found the man in just his underpants threatening and attacking the woman, the court heard. The man, identified as SM, admitted carrying out the attacks. His lawyer claimed his client was mentally ill. He was sentenced to five years in jail and ordered to be deported following the completion of his prison term in Dubai. He was also fined dhs1,000 for drinking alcohol.



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