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Excerpts from UAE Dailies

Thermo scanners at Dubai airport to detect body temperatures 

Airport to also have quarantine areas to treat any kind of infectious diseases

Dubai - March 06: DUBAI Airport security procedures may soon include more than body frisks and metal detectors at the airport. In light of the recent bird flu scare, the Dubai International Airport’s clinic is all prepped and ready to introduce thermo scanners in the airport that will record body temperatures as you walk through.

The move is part of the disaster management plan at the clinic which is currently being updated.
“All we’re waiting for now is approval from the higher levels,” said Dr. Ibtesam Bastaki, head of the Department of Health and Medical Services Clinic at the Dubai Airport.

She, however, stressed that this was no reason to panic as no cases were detected in the Emirates so far.

“We will have no reason to hide it once it’s here. We want the public, however, to be well aware of the potential threat and practice caution. As with the airport, our disaster management always existed though it needed revision. The plans that we had in place during the South East Asian SARS outbreak will come into place if avian flu reaches the Emirates.”

The thermo scanners will play a vital role in this. “Every passenger will be made to walk through the scanner and if the passenger’s temperature is over 38 degrees, the airport will take care of him. However, it should be noted that a fever alone is not indicative of bird flu,” said Bastaki.

She further added that the airport planned to introduce quarantine areas in the airport to treat any kind of infectious cases that they may encounter.

“Our disaster plan will be inclusive of not only disasters such as fires or bombing but of bioterrorism threats. Also, we have to be wary of the region’s political situation and adequately prepare ourselves for it, as the airport sees thousands of passengers pass through every day,” she said.

The DOHMS staff will be working in close co-operation with civil authorities and staff at the airport to ensure timely detection and prevention of any infectious diseases.


No Dubai ban on PIA flights

DUBAI/KARACHI — March 06: Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) will be allowed to continue its operations into Dubai, the emirate’s Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) confirmed yesterday. The clarification comes in the wake of the European Union (EU) banning most of PIA’s fleet from flying to the 27-nation bloc.

An official of the DCA also denied an earlier local media report which said Pakistan’s national carrier could be banned from flying into the emirate.

“Dubai International Airport (DIA) follows international regulations on safety and airworthiness of aircraft, rules which also govern PIA’s safety standards. As such, Dubai DCA has no safety concerns about PIA aircraft. The Pakistani national carrier will therefore continue its Dubai operations unhindered,” the official said.

The DCA official also confirmed that all airlines operating at DIA comply with the regulations earmarked by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

However, when contacted by Khaleej Times, the office of Mohamed R.M. Khonji, Regional Director of the ICAO Middle East Office in Cairo, Egypt, refused to comment on their policies in evaluating the air-worthiness of aircraft flying into the region.

Meanwhile, speaking from the PIA’s headquarters in Karachi, Nasir Jamal, General Manager for Public Affairs, claimed that an international media report which said PIA had been banned from operating in the EU, was “unfounded”.

“PIA’s operations in EU countries are not banned. However, operating restrictions are being temporarily applied, which are aircraft-specific (Boeing 747s and Airbus 310s only) to enable PIA to carry out certain further measures,” a statement sent to Dubai by PIA’s headquarters read.

Some 34 of the airline’s 43 commercial aircraft have reportedly been affected by the restrictions. They include six B747-300s, two B747-200s, seven B737-300s, one B727-200, 13 A310s, two A321s, and three ATR-500s. A majority of these Boeing aircraft are more than 25 years old. The Airbus 310s and 300s are almost 20 years old.

Aviation industry sources in Dubai told Khaleej Times that as per the norm, most internationally-recognised carriers operate their passenger fleet for 18 to 20 years. If an aircraft is well maintained, it can even last for 25 years. After this, the aircraft is considered for freighter conversions, especially the wide-body types, for example the one-aisle aircraft like Airbus 320s, and can be used for another 20 years.

PIA had been informed last year itself by the EU Air Safety Committee (ASC) in Brussels, Belgium, that a majority of its ageing B-747s and A-310s required immediate attention to meet the stringent air safety criteria for using EU airspace.

The Pakistan airline claims it immediately began work to remove the deficiencies by establishing an Action Plan with “clear milestones duly endorsed by Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority.”

The airline’s top management, they point out, has also met with the EU-ASC on March 2 to discuss the additional measures they are taking to comply with the EU norms, including  aircraft safety, fleet modernisation, maintenance, repair, overhaul and engineering.

In a statement, the airline added that it was only in December 2005 that the EU introduced some more stringent air safety criteria for aircraft using the airspace of its member countries. “EU’s regulations in this context (air safety), are still evolving and its procedures and precedents for evaluating airlines are not widely known, with resultant potential for miscommunication and misperceptions, which has substantially contributed to PIA’s current situation,” the statement read.

Jamal, however, failed to provide further information on the “operational restrictions” put forth by EU or how this may eventually affect their operations in the Middle East. He disclosed that Tariq Kirmani, PIA’s President, would meet the Press today (March 6) in Karachi to discuss the matter at length.


Police probe Briton’s death

DUBAI — March 06: Dubai Police have interrogated some residents of a building in Bur Dubai in connection with the death of a British national.

Aslam Sultan, a British national, had died in mysterious circumstances after falling from the fifth floor of a building in Bur Dubai area in the wee hours on Thursday.

The investigations, according to police sources, are going on, and it is still not clear if he had committed suicide or there was some other factor behind his death.

The police sources have refused to disclose any further details. The body of the man is lying in Dubai Police morgue.

Sultan had been living in Dubai for three years. According to his friends, he had been to Dubai airport to drop his girlfriend on Wednesday midnight.

When contacted, the British Consulate in Dubai refused to comment on the incident, saying, “it is against the policy to comment on an incident involving a British national”.


Man injured as water heater bursts in Al Ain

Al Ain — March 06: An expatriate man sustained serious injuries when a water heater burst, bringing down blocks of cement and stones on him while he was sleeping in his one-room flat in Al Ain City.

The man, Mohammed Husain Al Jiraisy, was also badly burnt in the blast. He was rushed to the Al Ain Government Hospital for treatment.

The sound of the explosion that occurred at 5am, rocked the neighbourhood.

Such was the impact of the blast that the flat’s door got pulled out and smashed against the wall of the building where the flat is located.

Soon, an ambulance and rescue team rushed to the site where they found the man in a critical condition, with skull fracture, and serious injuries in his legs and back.

The expatriate man had only recently furnished his flat, and had purchased the water heater as well.

The victim said that cheap and broken down spare parts of the heater might have caused the blast.


NCC demands switch over to eco-friendly fuel

ABU DHABI — March 06: The National Consultative Council (NCC) has urged the government to set a deadline for all vehicles in Abu Dhabi to switch over to eco-friendly fuel.

At the NCC session presided over by Speaker Abdullah Al Masood yesterday, the members underlined the need for using the environment-friendly fuel in line with international standards to protect the environment.

In its second session of the 16th Legislation Chapter, the NCC also recommended to halt the import of vehicles whose specifications do not comply with the environmental criteria.

The House engaged in a lengthy debate on major causes of pollution in the emirate of Abu Dhabi.

The members called on the authorities concerned  to relocate industries to remove hazards of pollution. “Existence of chemical industries near food and pharmaceutical factories in some areas of the capital poses danger,” the House argued.

Regarding medical and industrial wastes, the NCC proposed to set up waste management stations equipped with  latest technology to avert any hazards of pollution. The council urged the Abu Dhabi Environment Agency to conduct  research on the oil companies’ impact on environment in the Western Region.

A member, Gaith Al Hamili,  said, “There should be factories for processing and recycling solid waste to protect the environment. Cafes serving shisha must be shifted from residential areas and relocated in remote areas so as to reduce air pollution caused by the hubble-bubble.”

He said the number of cafes in Abu Dhabi had grown from 19 cafes in 1997 to 517 outlets in 2001 according to official statistics.

A group of members urged the house yesterday to recommend strict legal action to curb fraud in the trade of auto spare parts,  food commodities and drug products.


When one cell phone is just not enough  
Businesspersons in the UAE find it very convenient to use two or three cell phones

DUBAI - March 06: In an age when there are people who sail smoothly through everyday business transactions without a mobile phone, there are also those that operate more than one and can’t imagine life without them.

“I personally view my mobile phones as an extension to my office. Having the advantage of Internet, SMS, voice calls, voice recorder, digital camera, video and TV all in one phone makes it impossible to do without it. Now it seems hard to remember a time when we never had them,” says Mel Tyler, General Manager, Group Operations and Director for Midas Promotions in Dubai.

Call it crazy, hectic or just plain unnecessary, but people who engage in the use of dual or triple cell phones, swear by its convenience. In fact they have valid reasons to justify the ‘indulgence.’  “In my case, I have to operate different types of businesses which include trading, real estate and sorts. Therefore, I have different sets of clients as well. It really helps in organising the business flow,” says Mahmoud bin Saleh, an Emirati businessman, adding that fellow Emiratis are usually fond of keeping more than one phone, especially those in business.

Keeping more than one phone has become a normal practice in the UAE, owing to its multi-linguistic and cultural diversities. So, for a businessperson, operating a Singapore, Malaysia, Dubai and a UK number all at one time seems second nature.

It also helps that acquiring multiple connections is not really difficult in this part of the world. With multiple connections offered in the form of prepaid and postpaid facilities via etisalat and the introduction of alternatives via du, owning multiple connections is literally a dial away. Temptation is manifold with interesting features like MMS, video conferencing, etc. and also different tariffs provided by the telecom companies.

However, the practicalities involved, though invisible, are not far from obvious. “I'm afraid it comes with the job, with offices in Asia, Middle East and UK, working in so many time zones can get quite difficult, and so I have found the most practical method of operation is to have a mobile for each territory. That way I do not have to carry all three phones with me all the time, as most people whom I’m dealing with usually email or SMS me first,” says Tyler.

While the reasons vary from individual, professional and practical reasons, some owe it to being fashionable too. “I think carrying two phones has become quite a fashion statement over the past few years, especially amongst the 16-30 year old age bracket. I don't think that they have such a hectic life style that they actually need 2 phones,” says Tyler.

Most state that they are eagerly awaiting the release of a mobile that can hold three sim cards, as remembering to charge all three is a full time job in its own right.

However, ask those who pose as examples as to whether they would encourage the practice of dual connections and the answer is a unanimous no. “I would never encourage people to do the same as it is hectic. For business purposes it’s fine but nevertheless difficult to manage,” concludes Saleh.


Parking Fine for mere 32 Seconds.......

Dubai - March 06: A Dubai motorist has issued a complaint against the Roads and Transport Authority(RTA) after he was issued a parking fine just 32 seconds after his ticket expired. Mohammed Anwar was fined dhs150 while his van was parked on Maktoum Road in Deira.

Anwar’s parking ticket was valid up to 4.20pm but he was fined just 32 seconds past the ticket’s expiry time. “Just walking to the machine and back to get a ticket takes two minutes. This is not right, how many more people are being caught out like this? I cannot believe I have to pay so much money for so little time.”

A spokesman for the RTA denied claims that their inspectors were paid commission based on the number of fines they issue. The Parking Department announced the collection of dhs117 million in fines in 2005.





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