News headlines

Excerpts from UAE Dailies

UAE mulling minimum wages for workers

DUBAI — March 07: The UAE government is studying the possibility of introducing a minimum wage system for the labour force, Labour Minister Dr Ali bin Abdullah Al Kaabi told Khaleej Times, in an exclusive interview yesterday.

The Labour Ministry is conducting a study in all the emirates to analyse the various factors influencing labourers’ lives to determine the minimum wage system, he said.

The cost of living and other economic factors which influence their lives vary from emirate to emirate, he noted.

Commenting on the recent demonstrations staged by labourers in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, Dr Al Kaabi said workers had no legal grounds to demand increase in salaries after signing their contracts and agreeing to specific packages offered at the time of employment.

“They can demand a higher salary only after the contract period ends,” he said.

The recent protests, according to Dr Al Kaabi, were instigated by a few labourers. He said strict action would be taken against those involved in any such act.

“No company can delay payment of salaries now as workers have the option to approach the Labour Ministry and change their jobs. However, at the same time, labourers are not allowed to demand higher salaries than what they agreed to in their labour contracts, and stage any protests,” he made it clear.

Acknowledging that some problems did persist in the labour market, the minister added: “Stringent laws are in place to deal with the issues effectively and amicably.”

On problems facing the Emiratisation process, Dr Al Kaabi said educational institutions were unable to produce skilled workers who were able to meet the job requirements of the private sector.

However, he said, under the umbrella of Tanmia, the National Human Resource Development and Employment Authority, more training programmes would be conducted for UAE nationals.

Stressing the need for enhanced interaction between UAE nationals and expatriates, he said both should do away with the mindsets that curtail interaction between them.

He also urged the media not to highlight only the negative issues facing the labour market in the UAE.


MoL to study implementing ILO standards

ABU DHABI — March 07: The Ministry of Labour (MoL) is studying the new international standards recommended by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) last year to implement them in the country, Yousef Jaafar, Advisor on International Relations at the MoL, told Khaleej Times yesterday.

“The UAE signed the international labour convention last year. So we should implement these recommendations and regulations that would be added to the policies and programmes of each country that had ratified the convention,” said Jaafar.

The Report of the Committee of Experts 2007 that was issued by the ILO last year contains several guidelines on labourers’ rights, work environment and occupational health and safety.

“The MoL will prepare a report after the study and then Labour Minister Dr Ali bin Abdullah Al Kaabi will present the report to the Cabinet for ratification,” said Jaafar.

He added that by the end of this December, the ministry is expected to implement the new standards according to the grace period of 18 months given by the ILO to every country to apply these international standards.


Concerted effort must to prevent type 2 diabetes

DUBAI — March 07: A concerted effort made by government and private sectors will help in preventing the occurrence of type 2 diabetes among young UAE nationals and expatriates, a health expert said during the Arab Children Health Congress yesterday.

Dr Elham Mohammad Al Amiri, paediatric consultant at the Al Qassimi Hospital Sharjah-Ministry of Health, has expressed concern over the lack of awareness within the UAE society of the number of children afflicted with type 2 diabetes, an incurable metabolic disorder that is rapidly increasing in developed countries.

“Although there are several studies conducted worldwide on type 2 diabetes in adults, not much has been done to really assess the magnitude of the same problem in children,” she told Khaleej Times.

The unavailability of statistics on type 2 diabetes has hampered the creation of an awareness campaign to prevent the disease, Dr Al Amiri said, adding that it’s a problem that is experienced not just in the UAE, but also elsewhere in the world.

She said according to a survey conducted by the Dubai Department of Health and Medical Services among children of school age in 2005, 75 per cent of the children diagnosed with diabetes were UAE nationals.

Furthermore, about nine per cent of them were confirmed to be suffering from type 2 diabetes. Apart from this survey, Dr Al Amiri said there had been no other national-based research conducted along this line.

“One of the challenges that we face is that we don’t have relevant data to evaluate the number of children affected with type 2 diabetes. Secondly, we have various health authorities across the Emirates who are working separately on their own. What we need is to have a teamwork among all the local health authorities and the Ministry of Education,” she proposed.

The physician explained that combating the disease is not a difficult task. “Currently, there are already a number of schools that screen students’ health conditions every year. If nurses, for instance, have been given instructions to notify resident doctors or health authorities of children who are overweight or may have the symptoms associated with diabetes, the country can start developing its own database and work on related health programmes.”

Dr Al Amiri said today’s lifestyle has greatly influenced people’s health. “In the UAE, most people drive cars. We have been used to eating at fast food joints. Even children have developed a fondness for junk foods. There’s not much option.”

Apart from the health authorities, Dr Al Amiri has also called on the Ministry of Education to set regulations that promote more physical activities and healthy diet in schools.

“We have to have some kind of a legislation that will stop famous brands and small eateries from serving foods that are high in fat and carbohydrates and low in fibre. Junk foods should be made less attractive so as to re-orient the children’s food preference,” she said.


UAE will switch to green fuel soon

ABU DHABI — March 07: The UAE will soon introduce low polluting fuels like unleaded petrol and low-sulphur diesel in transport vehicles, Minister of Environment and Water Dr Mohammed Saeed Al Kindi announced on Monday.

“Mass transport vehicles will be encouraged to reduce harmful gas emissions,” the minister said, while addressing a function at the Emirates Palace Hotel on Monday to mark the tenth Environment Day.

The minister said a number of initiatives were launched last year in association with the private sector to set up integrated facilities for treating, recycling and reusing green wastes.

On air quality control, Dr Al Kindi said more air monitoring stations had been commissioned and a national network connecting all these centres would be set up to give accurate measurements of air pollution.

On the occasion, the Minister also signed the UAE environmental charter which brings forth strict commitment to protection and development of the environment under the national slogan, “UAE and Environment: Permanent Commitment and Continuous Work.”

Bread price increase is unauthorised: SMC

SHARJAH— March 07:The Sharjah Municipal Council discussed the increase in the prices of daily consumer products, including the bread price hike by bakeries.

The meeting was headed by Salem bin Mohammed Al Owais, head of the Sharjah Municipal Council. It was also attended by Chairmen and Director from various Sharjah councils and institutions.

The meeting also discussed the best possible approach to deal with existing challenges.

Among the topics discussed were the nine clauses dealing with the general safety of Sharjah residents. Participants expressed concern over the unwarranted increase in prices of essential food items such as bread. Such increase in food prices have been made by bakeries without reason or any authorisation from the municipality, they said.

The meeting called for firm action from the Food Control Department in order to prevent such incidents in the future. Al Owais also announced that the Municipality will further its efforts in combating the bird flu virus by coordinating with the National Committee of Emergency Response to Bird Flu, an organisation chaired by Shaikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

In order to better coordinate with other Municipality officials, attendees discussed the necessity of implementing Municipality rules and regulations that deal with public safety and the health of the environment.

Participants also called for more efficient and effective means of communication, especially when dealing with highly sensitive information. Topics discussed included the need for easier interaction between municipality directors and General Director of the Municipality, in order to find effective solutions quickly and efficiently.


Round-the-clock watch for bird flu 

Officials discuss plans on bird flu - 
Officials leave no stone unturned to block avian flu from entering UAE

DUBAI - March 07: The dreaded H5N1 virus is not upon Emirati shores yet, but all across the Emirates, health and municipal authorities are gearing up to face the worse. The recent cases in Kuwait have raised the alarm here too, though authorities are confident that risk levels are low and if cases are detected, chances of an epidemic are slim.

In its most recent attempts to create awareness about the virus, the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority will be launching an educational campaign in Arabic, English and Urdu. “We understand that the concern is not among one section of the public but will affect all, and therefore we’ve planned to incorporate information in Urdu as well to benefit the large population here that speaks the language.”

Dr. Hisham Ahmad Fahmi, head of the veterinary section at the Dubai Municipality said that the public and business houses needed to practice personal prevention and control plans in addition to what the government facilities were offering. “Every business organisation needs to have a prevention plan and the veterinary section is more than happy to help them devise a procedure for their establishment. In addition to this, the public needs to practice good hygiene procedures not only for this period alone, but on a long term basis.”

Dedicated Team

The Dubai Municipality Veterinary Section has been working round-the-clock with the DOHMS Infectious Diseases Department and federal authorities to make sure that you don’t catch this deadly flu. Dr. Hisham Ahmad Fahmi, head of the veterinary section at Dubai Municipality is currently heading a core team of around 37 people who are respectively the heads of sub teams consisting of nearly a hundred people each. “It’s been a busy year so far. We’ve had three meetings to discuss the avian virus so far and are still constantly updating and revising our plan,” said

Dr. G.Y. Naroo, specialist ER physician at Rashid Hospital who recently treated the housemaid with pneumonia who was initially thought to be infected with bird flu was all praises for the team. “The patient was brought in and we tested negative on the maid for bird flu. After the procedures were done, protocol made it necessary to inform the team though they were already aware of the matter and had taken the necessary procedures to test for the virus in the birds she had been handling,” said the doctor.

The team is on the lookout 24/7 for dead or infected birds. To lend a helping hand yourself, call the toll free number 8009990 or 04 2232323 if you spot dead or infected birds.

Bird flu rules

Dr. Fahmi lays down the rules for the Dubai resident to follow to stay ‘flu free:
* Don’t have birds in your backyard and if you must, separate them from each others, especially in the case of water fowls.
* Don’t introduce a new bird to the already existing birds before taking it to the vet for a checkup.
* Keep your bird’s living space clean. Follow a stringent hygiene procedure; put on gloves, clean out bird droppings frequently and properly dispose it, preferably by incinerating them. Clean the cage out with disinfectant at least once a week.
* Do not purchase poultry illegally and when buying a bird, ensure that you first inspect the bird properly. If the bird if losing feathers, has purple eyelids, sores or cuts do not buy the bird.
n Do not allow your bird to interact with other wild birds that could most likely be carrying the virus.
* If your bird appears sick, take it to the vet immediately and inform the municipality services. Also inform authorities if you spot a dead bird.


Dubai - Cop jailed for killer smash

Dubai - March 07: A UAE policeman has been sentenced to two years in jail after his vehicle collided at high speed with another car killing a couple and their two children. The 21-year-old officer was convicted of driving his Suzuki 4×4 recklessly and causing the death of the Indian family during the accident in Dubai.

He was ordered to also pay dhs400,000 blood money to relatives of the family. The Court of First Instance was told the officer was driving at 130kph when his vehicle smashed into the side of the Patel’s car on October 24 last year as they made a U-turn on the Al Khawaneej Road.  The family was burnt to death in their car.

The defendant, identified as KH, suffered severe burns in the accident and is still being treated at the Rashid Hospital. The court ruled that Dastagir Patel, 40, who was killed along with his wife Salha and children Mohammad Ali, 12 and Sana, 9, was partially to blame for the accident by not paying enough attention while driving.

In the past three years 12 people have been killed and 84 injured on the same road.


Trapped in Dubai

Dubai - March 07: A Czech national gravely ill with lymphatic cancer is missing life-saving treatment in his home country after becoming  embroiled in a friend’s telephone scam. Roman Michna, who was diagnosed with cancer in December at a Dubai hospital, had moved home to the Czech Republic for treatment. But on a trip back to the emirate to close his business, on January 22, the 39-year-old was taken in for questioning by police after it emerged his friend had allegedly been using Roman’s flat to make illegal communications overseas.

Now the ambassador for the Czech Republic Embassy in the UAE, Mrs Jerabkova, is making a desperate plea to the UAE authorities to speed up any prosecution on humanitarian grounds, so Roman may return to his home country and continue his chemotherapy – which has fallen eight weeks behind.  “I am not condoning the actions of either man. Roman is indirectly involved in this matter and of course I want any citizen of the Czech Republic to follow the rules of his host country”, she said. “I am not complaining about the way things have been handled but Roman is in a very bad condition.”

Roman says he had allowed a Czech friend to occasionally stay at his flat while he visited Dubai and was aware of some sort of communications box in the flat but he had no idea it was illegal. He said: “I have spoken with my friend, who is in the Czech Republic, and he has called the police himself about the matter, but he is too afraid to come here in person.

“No-one seems to know how long the process will take. I have money – the one thing I don’t have is time.”  He added: “I don’t feel very good at all”, he said. “I spend all day in the apartment. I am in a great deal of pain and I don’t know how long I have left.” An official at Bur Dubai police station said they were not aware of this particular case but told 7DAYS a passport is only removed from a person who is believed to have committed a crime here.



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