NEWS FROM THE UAE
Excerpts from UAE Dailies
Unified domestic workers contract from April 1
DUBAI — March 05: The UAE yesterday announced that it would introduce new standard contracts to regulate relations between domestic workers and their employers with effect from April 1.
Minister of Interior Lt-General Shaikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan yesterday announced details of the new unified domestic worker contract to be implemented throughout the UAE starting next month.
The unified contract is designed to regulate the rights and responsibilities of domestic workers, confirming to the best global practices.
Quality of life
Lt-Gen. Shaikh Saif said the new contract would play a significant role in improving the quality of life of the UAE’s expatriate residents, particularly domestic workers, who constitute a large segment of the workforce in the emirates. He added that the departments of naturalisation and residency, throughout the UAE, would enforce the new contract when issuing new work visas for domestic workers.
“The core of the new contract is transparency in the relationship between the employer and the worker, while ensuring that the rights of both parties are protected,” said Mohammed Al Marri, Director of the Department of Naturalization and Residency in Dubai, and Chairman of the department’s committee responsible for drafting of the new unified contract.
“The contract stresses the importance of regulating work, the nature of work involved, and the need for clearly defined rest periods. It also states the importance of providing proper health care, in line with the government rules, and states that salaries should also be agreed upon by both parties,” Al Marri added.
The domestic workers contract will be valid for two years from the start of actual work and can be extended by mutual consent. It includes conditions governing vacation, air tickets and medical care. It also details the procedures to be taken, should either party wish to break the contract before the end of the contract period, or if an employee chooses to be reimbursed instead of taking his/her vacation or flight tickets.
The Department of Naturalization and Residency continuously seeks to curb the violation of workers’ rights and other illegal activity, including taking fees or commissions from workers, Al Marri said.
“They are also coordinating with the consulates of the countries where the majority of workers come from,” he added.
As per the new procedures, three original copies of the contract -in Arabic and English- must be signed by both parties. Each party will receive one copy and the third will be filed with the Department of Naturalization to refer to if needed.
In the event of the death of the domestic worker, the new legislation plainly states that it is the employer’s responsibility to repatriate the body of the deceased to the home country and repatriate his/her personal effects as soon as possible, in coordination with the authorities concerned in the worker’s home country.
A specialised unit, within the department of Naturalization, has been established to arbitrate conflicts. In the event of disputes not settled within two weeks, cases will be referred to the courts. A worker’s legal rights will be disregarded if he or she absconds.
On the expiry of the contract, the employer will have to provide the worker with a one-way ticket to his/her home country. If the contract is renewed by mutual agreement, the employer must provide a return ticket to the worker so that he/she can resume their employment.
40 cases of scabies in Ajman area reported
DUBAI — March 05: An outbreak of scabies, a contagious skin disease, has been reported among more than 40 people, most of them being children, in Al Manama area of Ajman, Ministry of Health officials confirmed yesterday.
The Director of Preventive Medicine at the Ministry of Health, Dr Afra Ahmed bin Zaal, said, “The first case was brought to our notice on February 3 in which a secondary school girl was reported to be infected. The numbers gradually increased to 35 in three different schools. By March 1, three more cases were reported and yesterday we received five more cases.”
Dr Afra also said the number of cases was expected to increase because the incubation period of the disease was from two to six weeks. “The cause of the spread is basically the unhygienic conditions in which these people stay. Most of these children stay in crowded houses while their families do not maintain proper hygiene standards.”
Allaying fears of further spread of the disease, Dr Afra said the Ajman Municipality had fumigated the schools and the houses of the infected people. “All the infected children have been isolated and the situation is under control. The infected people are being given oral treatment using Benzoate which will cure 95 per cent of the disease on first application,” she added. She also said the school health clinic of the MoH carried out tests on all the school children and families concerned. “All animals have also been checked for infections,” she added.
Personal hygiene best preventive measure
ACCORDING to the World Health Organisation, scabies is a contagious skin infection that spreads rapidly in crowded conditions. Personal hygiene is an important preventive measure and access to adequate water supply is important.
The principal symptom of the disease is a pimple-like rash that is most commonly found on the hands, especially in the webbing between the fingers, the skin folds of the wrist, elbow or knee.
Infestation often causes intense itching all over the body, especially at night. Scratching of itchy areas results in sores that may become infected by bacteria. Scabies infestation is caused by the microscopic mite, Sarcoptes scabei, that burrows into the skin, depositing eggs in the tunnel. The characteristic itchy rash of scabies is an allergic response to the mite. Scabies spreads principally by direct skin-to-skin contact and to a lesser extent, through contact with infested garments and bed clothes. About 300 million cases of scabies are reported worldwide each year.
Building fire put out
ABU DHABI — March 05: Timely action by the Quick Intervention Unit (QIU) of the Emergency and Safety Directorate General at the Abu Dhabi Police saved many precious lives as they managed to extinguish a big fire and extricate all people of the building.
The fire started in a corridor on the second floor of the building, and spread to the seventh floor. Firefighters first vacated the whole building, rescuing the choked residents and shifting them to the Khalifa Hospital for treatment. Fire was extinguished quickly.
Two new gardens to open in capital
ABU DHABI — March 05:A new garden will be opened in Al Rahba today while another will be inaugurated tomorrow in Al Bahia as part of the country’s celebrations for the 27th Plantation Week.
The 40,000 square metre Al Rahba garden and the 36,000 square metre Al Bahia garden boast of various recreational facilities.
Dr Juwan Salim Al Dhahiri, Chairman of the Department of Municipalities and Agriculture, launched the celebrations for the week yesterday at the Corniche garden.
“The Afforestation Week is a tribute to the country’s successful efforts to spread greenery across the country,” he said.
Accompanied by top municipal officials, a number of Arab and foreign ambassadors and Federal National Council members, Dr Al Dhahiri planted a palm tree at the celebration site.
He also opened an exhibition where various companies working in the field of horticulture and agriculture are taking part.
MoH has stocks of 1m bird flu tablets
ABU DHABI — March 05: The Ministry of Health (MoH) has stockpiled more than a million tablets of ‘Tamiflu’, the most prescribed medicine that attacks influenza virus that easily spreads among humans, a top health official has revealed.
“The MoH in collaboration with other health authorities in the country have managed to store more than one million pills of the drug to avert looming hazards bird flu virus poses,” Dr Ali Shukur, Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Health, told Khaleej Times yesterday.
He said that the stockpiled medicine is part of the MoH target to reserve more quantities. He said the ministry is working to provide hospitals and medical institutions with adequate precautionary items such as masks and gloves to ensure safety of people working at these facilities.
“We have set a plan about proper methods that should be adopted in isolating patients in case of discovering incidents. Ways of protecting residents of the area and the nearby areas where the virus might be detected has also been studied,” confirmed the official.
Dr Shukur said that his ministry’s efforts to put in place efficient safety measures were in line with the directives of the National Emergency Committee on bird flu headed by Shaikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Head of the Committee.
He said that the ministry had notified private medical sector to immediately report to the MoH any suspected case of the contagious disease.
About other steps undertaken by the MoH in the same respect, the under-secretary unveiled formation of an official team to monitor events regarding the virus in the neighbouring countries. “A team from the ministry has been formed under the chairmanship of Dr Afra Zaal, Director of the Preventive Medicine Department, to follow up closely any developments concerning outbreak of the flu in the neighbouring countries and evaluate impact they might have on the UAE,” Dr Shukur added.
DM urges public to take precautionary measures
DUBAI — March 05: Dubai Municipality has come up with a list of dos and don’ts for people in the wake of avian influenza (bird flu) hitting the Middle East in Kuwait.
Senior municipality officials said people need not panic as the UAE has so far not been affected by the virus, but they should take precautionary measures.
The municipality asked all those with pet birds to visit the clinic at Mushref and get their birds examined.
Hisham Fahmi, Head of the Veterinary Section of the Dubai Municipality, said it was important for people to stay alert and avoid birds like water fowls that hover around the beaches and other water bodies as well as unknown birds.
He said the municipality is on a high alert. “Though we are doing whatever is possible to avoid any chances of Avian Influenza occurring in any part of the country, people too need to take precautionary steps.”
The first thing they should take care of is hygiene.
“We request people not to buy any new birds or unknown birds from anywhere at the moment. If they have got pet birds, they should be locked up in cages. Moreover, they should also temporarily cover the areas where they are kept so that no wild birds can come near them.”
“The food should not be placed in the open for pet birds. We don’t want people to let wild birds come near their pets in any way,” he said.
In addition to these, if there is more than one pet bird, they must be immediately separated.
“The birds should not be kept in one cage. Everyone having pet birds should go to our clinic and have them thoroughly checked.”
“Moreover, while giving food or washing the cages, people should wear masks and gloves,” he added.
Fahmi pointed out that people, especially children, should stay away from water fowls.
“There are lots of such birds near sea shores and other water bodies. People should stay away from them.”
“Children, in particular, always try to catch them. The elders must keep a watch on them. We urge people to strictly follow these instructions for the time being.”
SMS service for Dubai Taxi staff
DUBAI — March 05: Dubai Taxi has activated the Short Message Service (SMS) to cell phones of all employees to keep in touch with them at all times.
Employees will be informed of different issues related to them; including a one-month notification prior to expiry of their passports and reminding them two weeks after the expiry dates if no action has been taken.
Another notification is also sent out one month before the employees’ residence visas expire, and a reminder two weeks after the expiry dates, if no action has been taken.
The SMS is activated to inform the drivers to collect their vehicles after undergoing the required maintenance, as well as the coordination about the remarks and feedback the public may propose over a number of issues such as the lost and found.
Ammar bin Tamim, Director of the Dubai Taxi, Public Transport of RTA, assured the importance of activating this service, which would cover 5,500 employees.
DUBAI - No stop for skeletons
Dubai - March 05: keletons discovered during excavation work for Dubai Metro will be buried in Al Qusais in compliance with Islamic Shariah, the Road and Transport Authority (RTA) said yesterday. The authorities confirmed that the remains of two people were found in the Baniyas Street area of Deira where the RTA is currently working on the Green line of the train system.
Last year 7DAYS revealed that five skeletons were found in an area close to the latest discoveries by contractors laying cables. Aysha Al Busmait, Director of Marketing and Corporate Communications, RTA, said: “On many occasions in Dubai during construction, remains have been discovered. According to the Shariah law, the work can proceed if it is for the development of the emirate.”
The RTA said that the contractors did seek the consent from the Health Department at Dubai Municipality to carry out excavations near the graveyard boundaries so as to avoid encroaching on graveyard property. The authorities pointed out that the area of Baniyas is one of the oldest burial sites in Dubai.
Police authorities collected the remains discovered on Friday and issued a ‘No Objection’ order stating that the work can continue. “In the early days, the graves were not marked or identified as there was no system in place then. But now, according to Islamic Shariaa the authorities have marked the graves and fenced them off. However, the recent findings were outside the boundary,” said Aysha Al Busmait.
Cost factor drives old vehicles to the dumps
Abandoning vehicles may be attributed to personal, financial condition of the owner, says official
DUBAI - March 05: It is the personal and financial circumstances that lead people to abandon their vehicles taking unnecessary space in public parking lots, a senior Dubai Municipality official says.
Concerns were raised over the nuisance created by these vehicles, which add to the parking woes of residents, especially of those in heavily-populated commercial and residential districts in Dubai, such as Bur Dubai, Naif and Karama.
“Though the occurrence of the problem is not confined to any specific area, this is a matter concerning owners and users of these cars,” said Eng. Hassan Makki, Assistant Director of Environment Department and Head of Waste Services Section.
He cited that reasons for deserting vehicles may include the decrease in the value of the vehicle, high costs of maintaining old vehicles, or vehicles that may have been used in criminal activities and other personal circumstances of the owner.
The Waste and Services section at Dubai Municipality had earlier intensified its drive to remove these neglected vehicles out of the streets that may pose health hazards, reduce the aesthetic value of the community, and consume allotted parking space.
Out of 1,500 impounded vehicles in 2006, only about 700 were claimed by their owners, Makki told Evening Post.
The unclaimed vehicles are turned over to the municipality warehouse at Al Qusais and will be auctioned off. “The municipality does not hold the records of the owners of these impounded vehicles,” Makki said, but added that they are coordinating with the Crime Research Department of Dubai Police to know whether the vehicle in question is involved in any crime. He said some of the claimants stay outside the country for a long time and only claim the confiscated vehicles when they return.
Triggered by increase in new vehicles
There were 1,588 abandoned vehicles in 2006 and 1,530 vehicles in 2005 while only a 1,056 combined for 2003 and 2004. The increase of abandoned vehicles may be attributed to the growing users of brand new vehicles.
According to a recent study by Dubai Statistics Centre, the rate of new vehicles has increased up to thirty per cent since last year. Most of the registered vehicles were renewed. A total of 212,867 vehicles were registered in Dubai during last year. Out of them 170,951 were light vehicles, 5,256 buses, 16,304 light trucks, 8,287 heavy trucks, 312 heavy mechanical vehicles and 3,498 bicycles, according to report ‘Dubai in Figures’ said.
The Waste and Services Section of the Environment Department ensures that these vehicles do not hinder routine waste collection and cleaning operations. It oversees the quality of living and the public safety of the community.
From dream visa to shattered hopes
UMM AL QUWAIN — March 05: He was on cloud nine when he procured his “visa of dreams”.
Muhammad Ahmed Abdullah, a native of Mahal Al Ziyat village in Al Gharbia province, Egypt, had sold off his house furniture and borrowed more money to buy this visit visa for 5,000 L.E (Egyptian pound), which he thought would rid his family’s struggle for a decent life.
Unfortunately, Abdullah is a paralysed man today. He met with an accident while working illegally at a factory in the emirate.
The 33-year-old Egyptian, a father of two who came to the UAE on the visit visa, was told by his friends back home of the plethora of job opportunities here. Abdullah owned a welding workshop in his homeland, where he used to eke out nearly 300 L.E (around Dh200) per month. But it was too less to sustain his family.
As he reached the UAE, Abdullah thought his days of struggle were over. But his dreams soon came crashing down as he found no job opportunity coming his way. So he took up temporary construction jobs, moving from work to work. While he managed to find work on some days, he went workless on others. It boiled down to a point when he thought he must go back to Egypt. But he did not have the money to buy an air ticket.
While working illegally like this, Abdullah took up a job with an Umm Al Quwain-based steel structure company owned by an Egyptian. He worked there for two months when he was advised by a friend to take up a job with a welding workshop owned by an Iraqi.
On February 5 this year, Abdullah approached the workshop office to request his employer to have a proper job arrangement for him, as he still was an illegal worker. As fate would have it, he was waiting to meet the employer when he was asked for help by some workers at the workshop. They wanted him to help lift the 300-kg steel cover of a huge container. While it was being lifted, the steel cover fell on Abdullah, fracturing his backbone.
Abdullah underwent a major surgery on February 7 to fix the fracture, but half of his body was paralysed. The medical report says any improvement in his condition is unlikely.
When contacted, the Egyptian owner of the steel structure factory who had earlier employed him illegally, said he was only trying to help him by offering the part-time assignment.
Talking about the case, Hamid bin Demas, Assistant Under-secretary of the Ministry of Labour, said, “Strong action should be taken against the errant employers who agree to employing people on visit visas.”
Abdullhamid Al Kemeiti, a legal counselor, said, “The employee is entitled to get compensation because of the injury he has sustained even if there was no employment contract signed between the two parties. Moreover, they had entered into an initial agreement, which could be easily substantiated through investigations and testimonies.”
Al Kemeiti added: “If the workshop’s owner is proved to be careless, and guilty of not providing the required safety equipment and safety guidance boards, the injured worker will have the right to be compensated as such injury will affect him for the whole his life.”