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Excerpts from UAE Dailies

Series of measures to end housing problems

ABU DHABI — Feb. 25: Affordable accommodation still seems to be a distant dream for residents of Abu Dhabi which is attracting investors and major industrial projects in droves.

Officials say a multi-stage plan has been adopted to end the housing crisis and harness the spiralling rents by 2012.

According to them, about 1,050 plots of varying areas have been allotted for construction projects. This will help ease the problem and curb the rent hikes in the long run, they assert.

Dhahi Al Suwaidi, Assistant Under-Secretary of the Tenancy Department for Financial and Administrative Affairs, says the seven per cent rent hike cap enforced in the capital last year is a major step towards resolving the housing crisis.

“The new law will provide a more stable real estate market. It led to the formation of a rent disputes settlement committee, which is now performing quite well to implement the law.”

Al Suwaidi added that the department has entrusted the Abu Dhabi National Bank with the responsibility of building several new residential complexes that will offer reasonably priced accommodation.

Juma bin Harmash Al Mansoury, Head of the Rent Section in the department, said, “We have 3,310 buildings here in Abu Dhabi, which is a large number of buildings constructed by the department to settle the housing issue.”

“We are not the only party responsible for this. I think rents are going to increase complying with the legal rent cap until 2012, after which they are going to stabilise because of the construction projects which will be completed in the next five years,” he added.

Raffle system

Regarding the raffle system to rent out apartments and shops in Abu Dhabi, Al Mansoury said the system was introduced last August because the demand exceeded the supply. “But this is a temporary arrangement. We’ll soon replace the system with an alternative.”

Mohamed Abdullah Al Basoos, Deputy Director of the Tenancy Department, said there is no problem in the properties meant for tenants who wish to lease villas or apartments which cost  more than Dh100,000 annually.

Small apartments, with one or two bedrooms, the rents for which range between Dh20,000 and Dh60,000, pose a big problem as these are scarce in the real estate market, he added.

Al Basoos called upon investors to put their money into reasonable residential units far from downtown Abu Dhabi. He said the Rental Department cannot compel UAE nationals to invest in such projects. “We tried several times to persuade UAE citizens to construct affordable buildings. The Tenancy Department told them that they would be financing such projects. But they refused, saying they must not be deprived of the right to construct high rent buildings.”      

Hence, the government will bear the responsibility of constructing such buildings, he added.

The Director of the Delma Municipality, Yousof Bu Hendi, said, “We must focus on islands like Delma around the capital which might help to solve the housing problem.”

Realtors should launch projects in these islands to attract both local and expatriate residents, he added.



Watch TV on your mobile!

DUBAI — Feb. 25: 3G-enabled mobile phone users can now view their favourite television news, sports and entertainment channels live on their phone sets at Dh39 a month, Etisalat announced yesterday.

Launching the new Mobile TV service for GSM post-paid and Wasel pre-paid customers, Essa Al Haddad, Chief Marketing Officer, Etisalat, said, “Etisalat mobile users will be able to connect instantly and enjoy watching TV channels on their mobile screens.”  The channels offered in the first phase of this service include: Abu Dhabi Sports Channel, Abu Dhabi TV, Dubai Sports, Al Arabiya TV, BBC World, CNBC Arabiya, Emirates, MBC1, Al Jazeera Al Jazeera International and Sama Dubai. Subscription for Mobile TV service and can be done through SMS by typing “r mtv” and sending it to 1010 for a fee of Dh 39 per month.

The channels offered in the first phase of this service include: Abu Dhabi Sports Channel, Abu Dhabi TV, Dubai Sports, Al Arabiya TV, BBC World, CNBC Arabiya, Emirates, MBC1, Al Jazeera Al Jazeera International and Sama Dubai, Al Haddad said.

Customers can access Mobile TV service through Weyak link sent to their mobile ( using Ewap. Customers can also access this service by having a bookmark on their mobile menu for Internet access.

Customers click on the Mobile TV icon in Weyak mobile portal where a number of live TV channels will be listed in the mobile TV folder on their handsets. Customers can click on any of those channels, and using media software such as Real Player they can play, stop and pause the streamed video on their full mobile screen.

“Etisalat’s mission is to extend people’s reach and by launching Mobile TV service we give our valued customers the freedom to access information and watch their preferred programmes on the move,” said Al Haddad.

More information on the new service can be had by calling 8006464 or on or


Traffic safety drive begins

ABU DHABI — Feb. 25: The national campaign for traffic safety will be launched today. Final touches were given to the campaign’s preparations at a meeting of the organising committee in Abu Dhabi. It would be carried out under the slogan, ‘Our safety is our responsibility’.

Meanwhile in Ajman, the Traffic and Licence Department announced to organise activities to create traffic safety awareness among motorists as well as pedestrians


MoL gets strict on accidents’ reports

ABU DHABI — Feb. 25: The Ministry of Labour (MoL) will penalise firms that delay providing the authorities with quarterly accidents reports, according to Qasim Jameel, Head of the Inspection Department at the ministry.

“Companies must provide the ministry with quarterly reports informing it about the number of  accidents and their categories (serious or otherwise). The reports are to be provided as per the Article 54 of the labour law that obligates companies to provide these reports,” he said.

He added that the firms which will fail to submit the reports will face penalties in accordance with Article 181 of the labour law that stipulates a fine ranging from Dh3,000 to Dh10,000 and/or sentencing the firm owner to jail for three to six months.

“Moreover, the company’s number will be suspended at the MoL system for three months. It will ban the sponsor from bringing in labourers or getting work permits.”

He added that the ministry would give all companies 10 days as a grace period, after completing three months from the day of submitting the last report.

Regarding reports that mention no accident, Jameel said, “The ministry will inspect the construction sites of the companies which reported that there had been no accident to ensure that the reports are true.”

“The inspection department will also insist on the delivery of the list of accidents by the companies as we do not receive these details from some establishments which lead to flaws in the accident statistics in the UAE. It may also harm workers’ rights such as pension and other financial benefits,” he added.

After receiving accidents reports, the MoL will check weather companies have paid compensation to the injured or to relatives of the deceased. “We will inspect the firms to ensure that they provided the suitable medical services for labourers preserving worker’s right to get medical care,” explained Jameel.


Giving out patient info will attract heavy fines

ABU DHABI — Feb. 25: Healthcare providers will have to pay heavy fines if they give out any confidential information about their patients.

“If a party that provides health services discloses details about insured patients’ medical records, it will have to pay a Dh20,000 fine for each file that has been tampered with,” a senior official at the General Authority for Health Services for the Emirate of Abu Dhabi (GAHS) told Khaleej Times.

The official clarified that the penalty is stipulated in the national health insurance law issued recently under a presidential decree to provide expatriates with a comprehensive health insurance system.

The law on the mandatory health insurance premium for expatriate employees was enforced on January 1 this year.

“As per the law, health care providers must protect the confidentiality of patients’ files.”

“No one is entitled to know the contents of these files. Police, judicial or health authorities can go through such documents if they need to do so for public welfare,” he said.

The official added that health care providers will also be penalised if they submit any misleading or false information about patients. 

“If any health care facility tried to forge medical reports on patients’ health conditions to assist them in getting insurance premium at a lower price, a Dh20,000 fine will be imposed on it for each patient.”


‘Get priorities right while dialling 999’

DUBAI — Feb. 25: Have you ever have dialled 999 for a panadol? If your answer is yes, then you have rightly remembered the unified emergency number. But you urgently need to get your medical priorities right.

Officials from the Unified Ambulance Centre (UAC) disclosed that the unified emergency number 999 was even being used to order the commonly used medicine.

“It is a great shock for us, because people need to get their priorities right in their use of the number and that too, urgently. There is an extreme lack of awareness in this regard,” says Omar Sakaf, Training Director of the Unified Ambulance Centre, Dubai.

“We have received all kinds of calls on this number,” he told Khaleej Times, while answering emergency calls.

“People have unnecessary called ambulances, putting at risk life of other patients who might require this free service more than anything else,” he adds.

“This is misuse of a free service being provided for by the Department of Health and Medical Services,” he says.

Explaining the working of the system, Sakaf says that after a person dials 999, the call is received at the control room, which then designates it to the  department concerned, including the police, depending on the nature of the emergency. The Unified Ambulance Centre receives 115-120 calls per day. And the number of calls is increasing,  says Sakaf.

“We use the Tetra System (walkie talkie) to keep in touch during emergencies, backed up with a proper navigation system,” he said, adding that sometimes the medical dispatch team reacts even without being told to, as the Tetra is monitored continuously through different channels.

“Increasing public awareness regarding the use of the number is a necessity. He says that in an emergency situation, the caller must try and remain calm.

“Getting tensed only worsens the scenario. The caller is required to give a precise location of the accident site so that help in the arrival of the service without waste of time. He should also be able to describe the nature of the accident correctly and should only stay at the place of emergency if he has received, at least, basic training in first aid,” said Sakaf.

“If needed, trained personnel from the control room stay online with the caller, guiding him until the ambulance arrives,” he added.

Sakaf also said that people should not crowd the area where the accident has taken place. “Most importantly, people should learn to give way to the ambulance,” he added.

“I suggest that new drivers should be given a course in First Aid during their initial training period. People should also know that wearing the seat belt will lessen their injury during an accident, ” Sakaf said.

The department, at present, has 84 ambulances out of which four are responders, six are bikes and two are mobile ambulances. The total number of paramedics at the department are 500, out of which 75 are female. There are 43 ambulance stations all over Dubai.

Sakaf said that the department had handled a 36 per cent increase in medical emergencies in 2006 as compared to 2005. In 2005, the number of medical injuries was 16,962 which almost doubled to 31,184 in 2006.


SMS Text Message fight tragedy

Dubai - Feb. 25: A text message challenge led to a brutal murder after a Filipino stabbed his friend to death in the Hor Al Anz area of Dubai.  Victim Matias Ella allegedly challenged suspect Eduard Della Rosa to a fight through a text message, apparently asking him to prove he was a ‘real man’.

Ella was stabbed to death outside his apartment late on Thursday night. Officials from the Filipino consulate in Dubai confirmed to 7DAYS that a personal grudge had prompted the accused to attack his old friend.  “On Thursday night, these two co-workers challenged each other to a fight through text messages,” said a consulate official.

“The challenge was to fight it out to prove who was the ‘real man’ among the two,” he added. The infuriated Della Rosa allegedly rushed to Ella’s home armed with a knife. They met outside the victim’s home and in a fit of rage Della Rosa allegedly stabbed Ella with the knife. Other friends of the two men looked on helplessly.

Ella started bleeding profusely and died within minutes of the attack. Shocked friends and witnesses immediately called police and an ambulance to the scene. However, Ella succumbed to the stab wounds before help reached him. A close friend of the victim said he was shocked and deeply saddened by the murder.

“I am stunned that this has happened. I feel sick and grieved that my close friend is no more,” said the friend, also a Fiipino. He added that the incident was completely bizarre and a result of a fit of rage. “I am completely shaken by the incident but I cannot say anything further about this. All formalities and procedures are been taken care of by the Filipino consulate in Dubai,” he added.

Ella and Della Rosa were known to be good friends and had lived together in the same apartment in Dubai for some time. However, they had parted ways after a falling out. Consulate officials said that both men had consumed alcohol before the fatal incident occurred.  The Murraqqabat Police station confirmed the incident but did not reveal any further information about the killing.

The body of the victim is still in police custody and will be released only after the post-mortem examination has taken place. “The normal official procedures will be completed and the body will be soon handed over to the family,” said the consulate official. Ella was a bachelor while the suspected killer, Della Rosa, lives with his family in Dubai.


Translators play pivotal role in Dubai Courts 

As Arabic is the official court language, they form a vital link between expatriates and judicial framework

Dubai - Feb. 25: In a city as cosmopolitan as Dubai, court translators are of paramount importance to expatriates with no knowledge of Arabic. The official language of the Dubai Courts being Arabic, translators form a vital link between expatriates and the judicial framework.
The Dubai Courts handle hundreds of cases everyday relating to narcotics, murder, social affairs, labour issues, property dealings and petty crime. The large expatriate population, particularly from Asian countries, also means a corresponding rise in the number of cases concerning them. In the absence of translators, it would be impossible to accord fair trials to expatriates with no knowledge of Arabic.
There are two translation divisions in the Dubai Courts – one interprets cases in the court chambers while the other deals with verbal and non-verbal translation in matters concerning the Public Prosecution.

Of the 30 translators in the Dubai Courts, 13 handle matters pertaining to the Dubai Courts while the rest work with the Public Prosecution. Work with the Public Prosecution includes visits to hospitals or prisoners to take down the statements of expatriates, who may be accused or victims as the case may be.

The Dubai Courts established the translation section in 1996. Today, it has the distinction of having translators covering a range of languages from Hindi to Chinese.
Aysha Rashid Al Hamli, Head of Typing and Translation Section, says, “We have plans to recruit multi-linguists in order to meet our demand for French and German translators. Presently, we seek help from the consulates if we don’t have a translator for a particular language.”

Al Hamli adds that cases needing German, French and Italian translators are a rarity. “The majority of the cases involve Urdu, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Punjabi, Persian, Sinhalese and English. So we recruit more translators in these languages,” she says.

Explaining that all court procedures are computerised, Waheed Hassan Al Jassimi Head of Translation Section, says that there are plans to computerise court hearings from 2008. “A translator will not need to be present before the judge. An online face-to-face interpretation will serve the purpose. This way, a translator will be able to handle several cases at a time,” he says.

The translators are constantly trained. Al Jassimi informs that they attend classes thrice a week at BurJuman centre. “A special English language course has been arranged to enhance their court and Shariah terminology,” he says.

Pakistani Fazal Rabbi acts as an interpreter for expatriates speaking Pushto, Arabic, Urdu and sometimes in English in court. He has been serving in the Dubai Courts for the last two years. He says, “I have worked at the Public Prosecution section in the Sharjah Court too. There is no any specific translation section in Sharjah Court, but Dubai Courts specialise in it and has the most number of interpreters in different languages.”

Indian Syed Mohammed Zafar Nadwi does translations in Urdu and Hindi. He is the senior-most translator in the section, having been in service since 1993. He handles around 30-40 cases everyday. When asked how the quality of translators can be enhanced, he says, “Visits to construction sites, dry docks, IT companies, business centre and banks will help translators get first-hand knowledge of the cases they handle.”

The translators handle around 10-40 cases everyday.   A translator’s job can be tough at times. Indian Perumayil Mohammed, a senior translator well-versed in Malayalam, English, Hindi and Urdu says, “Once I was interpreting for an accused in court. He confessed to his crime and I translated his confession for the judge and his lawyer. The lawyer, however, disputed the translation. As I was speaking to the accused again, I noticed his lawyer making subtle signals to him. The next thing I know is that the accused changed his statement.”

Such incidents have not demoralised Mohammed. “The translator is a pivot in cases involving expatriates. He should be aware that he is responsible to Allah,” he says.

Meet the court’s only Chinese translator

Saleemazhiliming is the only Chinese translator in the translation division. He has been serving as an interpreter in the Dubai Courts for the last four years.

Saleemazhiliming learned Arabic in the UAE. He studied at an Islamic educational school at Al Ain and graduated from the University of Ajman for Technology and Sciences. He has also done special courses in Arabic/Chinese interpretations.

Saleemazhiliming says, “I deal with all kinds of cases from civil to the Shariah law. I have to go to various police stations too in order to act as an interpreter for Chinese nationals arrested by the police. I have to go to Naif, Muraqqabat, police headquarters and also immigration and Public Prosecution offices.”

Saleemazhiliming says most Chinese cases involve forged passports. “Some of them attempt to enter the UAE using forged Japanese passports from China because of the similarity in body structure. They do not know that Japanese citizens do not need visas to enter the UAE and arouse suspicions when they produce them,” he says.



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