News headlines

Excerpts from UAE Dailies

Bird flu: Residents told to be careful while travelling

DUBAI — Feb. 28: Health authorities in the UAE have urged the public to take precautionary measures while travelling to countries that have reported outbreak of bird flu cases recently.

Speaking to Khaleej Times yesterday, Dr Nada Al Marzouqi from the Disease Control Department at the Ministry of Health, said that because no effective vaccine was available for the disease as yet, people can only adopt precautionary measures while abroad.

“We suggest that people avoid crowded areas and follow basic rules of hygiene,” she suggested. She also said that the recent reports of 32 cases of the disease in Kuwait had been found in poultry only.

“No human infections have been reported in the neighbouring country as yet, but we still are following up with the authorities concerned,” she added.

Symptoms of the disease in humans range from typical flu-like symptoms (fever, cough, sore throat and muscle aches) to eye infections, pneumonia, severe respiratory diseases, and other life threatening complications.

Talking about the measures taken by the health ministry at the national level, Dr Marzouqi said that a National Emergency Committee for Control of Bird Flu has already been set up. “The committee oversees and coordinates the work of all relevant sectors, and monitors the situation at the international and national levels,” she explained.

She also said that the MoH has developed a national influenza preparedness plan based on the World Health Organisation recommendations and protocol.

“The plan includes stockpiling of antiviral medicines, training of health professionals on case diagnosis and management, reinforcing the surveillance system, monitoring of high risk groups, and undertaking all necessary preventive measures,” she added.


Driver to pay Dh2m in blood money

DUBAI — Feb. 28: The Pakistani driver of the bus that met with an accident on December 26 last on Shaikh Zayed Road, killing 10 workers on the spot and injuring 48 others, has been sentenced to seven years in jail, to be followed by deportation.

The driver was also ordered to pay the heirs of the dead a blood-money (diya) of Dh2 million (Dh200,000 each).

The accident occurred near the Mall of the Emirates as the 25-year-old driver, H.M., lost control of the bus on a rainy day.

The heavy vehicle first hit the central road barrier, overturned, and then crashed into some other vehicles.

Reckless driving

The Dubai Traffic Court has found him guilty of reckless driving.

The driver was also slapped with a fine of Dh10,000, and a fine of Dh100 was imposed on him for refusing to show his licence upon request.


Rashid Colony buildings will be demolished soon

DUBAI — Feb. 28: The 350 families of the Shaikh Rashid Colony in Ghusais who continue to occupy their apartments despite being served eviction notices last year were finally informed yesterday that the demolition of the buildings 1, 2 and 3 was imminent.

However, the exact date for demolition is yet to be announced.

A team of officials of the Dubai Municipality,  Development Board and the Municipal Council who met the residents in their office yesterday informed that a final meeting would take place on March 20 — which would decide whether an alternative accommodation would be provided to the affected residents.

Saeed Mohammed Al Ghuindi, the Chairman of the Dubai Rent Committee, who headed the team, told Khaleej Times that they would try their best to provide alternative accommodation to the affected residents.

“However, the buildings will be demolished soon,” he said, adding, “we will also be referring the issue to the Ruler’s Office, Dubai Real Estate Department as well as the Properties Department at the Dubai Development Board to find alternative homes for reasonable rents. The tenants have been called again on March 20 for a final decision in this matter.”

The Dubai Development Board had earlier asked the residents to shift into some apartments developed by Nakheel. But, the residents had rejected the ‘offer’ stating that they could not afford the rents.

Around 500 residents, including families and children that marched up to the Development Board office for the meeting yesterday, expressed disappointment over the board’s decision. They repeatedly requested the officials to either extend the demolition date by three years, or find them alternative accommodation.

Costly flats

Complaining against the Development Board’s attitude, Wahid Mohammed Osmad, a resident and UAE national, said, “We come from low income groups and cannot afford costly flats. Still they were forcing us to move to some new buildings that have been developed by Nakheel. How can we afford it?”

“I have been living in this place since 25 years now. In fact I  grew up here. If they want to demolish they should atleast give us an alternative home. Otherwise we would have to return to our home country,” complained Farhana Naimuddin, another resident.

The Board had in August 2006 asked the residents of the three buildings - 1, 2 and 3 to move out before October 31, 2006 explaining that the buildings were very old and in bad shape and therefore needed to be demolished. This triggered a series of protests by residents demanding an extension of one year or even more. 

Although no official notice granting extension was communicated to the residents, people continued to live in the hope that the authorities would empathise with their situation.


Man jumps naked from building in suicide attempt

SHARJAH — Feb. 28: A 25-year-old Bangladeshi national tried to commit suicide from the third floor of Souq Al Mutawa building located in Rolla area of Sharjah yesterday morning, police officials said.

The man, identified as Rasel Muhammed Khadir, was admitted to Al Qassimi Hospital in Sharjah with critical injuries. He had reportedly jumped naked from the building. The incident occurred at around 9.30am.

Said an eyewitness: “I was on my way to the shop when I saw the man lying in a pool of blood.”

The police officials said they had received a call from a shopkeeper in the area, informing them about the incident.

Rasel had been living in a shared bachelor’s accommodation with 13 others ever since he arrived to the UAE 45 days ago on a visit visa, the police officials added. He was working in a company as a labourer.

According to the police officials, his roommates were not present when the person jumped from the building.

The motive of the reported suicide bid is still to be ascertained, police officials said, adding that investigations will begin once the man is discharged from the hospital.


MF Husain show in Dubai

DUBAI — Feb. 28: MF Husain, one of the world’s most recognised contemporary artists, will be holding a special exhibition of limited edition graphics, titled ‘Imprints of India’, at 1x1 Art Space located on Al Wasl Road from February 28 to March 29.

This will be the first of a series of worldwide releases by the renowned painter.

The 125 works of art on display will be accessible to art lovers at affordable prices and will offer them the opportunity to own a work of art by Husain.

The artist says that they are not reprints or reproductions, but recreations. A new technique has been used to recreate the original works. Each print will come with a certificate of guarantee and will be hologrammed, numbered and signed by the artist. Once the edition is out, there will be no more reprints.

These limited edition graphics, if looked after properly, have a lifespan of over 80 years, according to the Wilhelm Imaging Research Institute in Germany.

There will also be a selection of books and DVDs on and by MF Husain on sale at the gallery. Dr PM Bhargava, a scientist, writer and adviser to the government of India, will be present at the preview.

Husain, who will be at the exhibition in person, says he is using this novel method to create a new bond between art lovers and art. “My idea is to give people these sets which are being released in groups of 10 each quarter and give that many more people a chance to enjoy the sense of ownership.

Said 1x1 Art Space Gallery owner and managing director Malini Gulrajani, “We are delighted to host MF Husain in Dubai. Having such an eminent artist in our midst for the past few months has been an enriching experience, something we can share with the people of Dubai.”

A global icon, the prolific painter will be at 1x1 Gallery during the exhibition to interact with Dubai art lovers.


Stricter screening at border check post

ABU DHABI — Feb. 28: No food consignment coming in from countries affected by the bird flu virus will be allowed entry at the Ghuweifat border check post unless accompanied by valid health clearance certificates issued by accredited government laboratories.

This was announced by Sayah Sultan Al Mansouri, Director of Customs at the border check post.

The measure is being taken to prevent any incidence of bird flu in the emirates.

“The certificate should be issued 15 days before the date of forwarding of the consignment to the UAE. This measure will ensure that the shipment is free of the avian flu disease,” Sayah Sultan stressed.

As for the consignment coming in from bird flu-free countries, he said random samples would still be collected for tests to ensure that they are free of the disease.

“All shipments that have recently entered through the check post have been subjected to these measures,” Sayah Sultan added.



Roaming service for prepaid subscribers

ABU DHABI - Feb. 28: Thuraya Satellite Telecommunications Co has added prepaid subscribers to its rapidly growing roaming service portfolio.

Only post-paid subscribers were able to use this facility until now.

The service will allow Thuraya prepaid subscribers to make calls and send SMS while roaming on GSM networks. Prepaid roaming is initially available through Ettihad Etisalat (Mobily) of Saudi Arabia, but will gradually expand to cover several GSM networks.


Some du subscribers may have to wait for SIM cards

DUBAI — Feb. 28: Some du subscribers, despite having already paid for their SIM cards online, may still have to wait for a couple of weeks or more to receive them — given the huge public response and the large number of both online and across-the-counter du subscribers.

Some customers, in fact, have received a brief SMS from du saying “Your SIM Pack with your number will be delivered by courier to you between April 16 and April 21, 2007.”

However, the du CEO Othman Sultan told Khaleej Times quite categorically last night: “It’s true some customers would have received such an SMS. These are automatically generated by our computer system. But let me assure you with full confidence that we will clear our (SIM Pack) courier delivery backlog within the next two to three weeks.”

Sultan also asserted: “We would also like to assure that nobody will have to actually wait till April. And I am saying this with full confidence that we will be able to tackle this situation effectively — without anyone having to wait till mid-April for their SIM cards, despite the computerised du SMSs.”

du sources, commenting on the logistics involved, said the new telecommunication company has already received an approximate 750,000 bookings from about 500,000 individual and corporate customers. As far as the free courier delivery of SIM cards for du online subscribers is concerned, the source added, “A couple of weeks is all that they may have to wait. The bulk courier delivery is staggered and many of our customers will start receiving their SIM cards much earlier.”

Due to the large volume of subscribers, the source said, “the courier company appointed by du to deliver our SIM cards to our online subscribers will take just a couple of weeks to do so — not more.”

Moreover, customers who purchase their SIM cards across the counter from du’s various outlets can avail of the service instantly.

But some customers still concerned about a long wait, told Khaleej Times on condition of anonymity, “If I knew there would be such a long delay — till mid-April — I would have chosen to purchase my du SIM card across the counter from any of their outlets.”

Meanwhile, a du Press release yesterday said the opening of its Dubai service centre has been postponed till tomorrow — instead of today as announced earlier. The opening date of the second service centre in the capital, Abu Dhabi, will also be announced shortly.


Dubai - Knife attack pair jailed

Dubai - Feb. 28: A couple were sentenced to 37 months in prison each after launching a knife attack on a man and a woman. The 32-year-old UAE soldier and his Uzbek girlfriend attacked their victims outside a hotel in the Naif area of Dubai in April last year following an argument at a party earlier in the evening.

The victims, a member of the UAE armed forces and his girlfriend, were stabbed in the face, chest and hands. The pair denied the charges against them but were convicted at the Court of First Instance. They were ordered to pay dhs20,010 compensation and the woman will be deported after serving her sentence.


etisalat to provide Hindi channels on cellphones 

This is in addition to the channels already being provided to prepaid and postpaid subscribers.

Dubai - Feb. 28: Following the launch of its mobile TV services, etisalat has decided to provide Hindi channels to its GSM postpaid and Wasel prepaid subscribers, who have 3G phones. This decision will be welcomed by expatriates from the subcontinent, who make up a large proportion of the UAE population.

Khalifa Al Shamsi, Vice-President, etisalat, says, “Hindi content and programmes are very important and we will introduce these and other exciting channels in Tamil in the near future.”

etisalat already provides ten news channels on mobile phones. Most of these, apart from BBC World and Al Jazeera International, are Arabic.

On the mobile TV subscription in the UAE, Al Shamsi says, “The researchers’ team puts the number of people having 3G mobiles in UAE at around 8,500. So we expect to attract a large number to the service.”



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