NEWS FROM THE UAE
Excerpts from UAE Dailies
Sponsors should pay fines for expired labour cards
ABU DHABI — March 13: Hamid bin Deamas, Under-Secretary of the Minitry of Labour (MoL), has said UAE national sponsors rather than expatriate investors are responsible for paying the fines charged for invalid labour cards.
He was speaking during the weekly open day attended by 35 PROs, workers and employers to settle their problems regarding fines imposed for labour cards that are past their expiry dates. The MoL cancelled the labour card of an Indian worker after he was issued a five-year prison sentence. The ministry banned him for a year and the company will pay a Dh10,000 fine for his invalid labour card.
Attending the open day were Ahmed Kajour, MoL Under-Seretary, Saleh Al Jaberi, Assistant Under-Secretary, and Hatem Al Genebi, Director of the Disputes Department at the MoL.
MoL inspection campaign against cafes in Abu Dhabi
ABU DHABI — March 13: The Ministry of Labour (MoL) yesterday launched an inspection campaign against several cafés in the capital for recruiting workers illegally, according to Qaseem Jameel, Head of the ministry's Inspection Department.
He said the ministry recently received a number of complaints from the public against the cafés. "We paid inspection visits to 30 cafés and cafeterias. We found that 15 of them violated the labour law by recruiting workers illegally."
According to some complaints lodged with the authorities, workers are given poor accommodation facilities and they are ill-treated by their employers.
He added that as per the labour law, the firms will face penalties such as suspension of their codes in the ministry's system for six months in addition to fines amounting to Dh10,000.
The MoL will also ban the labourers from working in the UAE.
"We will present a report to the Assistant Under-Secretary of the MoL, Obaid Rashid Al Zahmi, to follow up on the matter," said Jameel.
Jameel warned labourers against working illegally in the country. "This situation is too dangerous for them because they work without any contracts, labour cards or even health insurance. So illegal workers live and work here without any rights."
New norms to streamline foreigners' entry planned
DUBAI — March 13: The Defence and Interior Committee of the Federal National Council (FNC) yesterday discussed the general policy of the Ministry of Interior with regard to naturalisation, residency affairs, and granting of visas.
The meeting was held at the Secretariat General branch of the FNC in Dubai.
Ali Majid Al Matroushi, the Committee's Chairman said the meeting, called on the request of the Council, "aims at setting new regulations to streamline the process of entry of foreigners into the country".
The committee is studying some of the relevant laws and orders and will present its report to the Council within three weeks.
Al Matroushi said the committee would draw its recommendations based on the information and data provided by the Ministry of Interior.
The meeting was attended by Dr Mohammed Salem Al Mazrouhi, Secretary-General of the FNC, Salem Al Naqabi, the committee's rapporteur, members Sultan Al Mouazen, Saeed Ali Al Hafri, Sultan Khalfan bin Hussain, Khalid Hamad Bou Shahab, and Ahmed Bin Mishar Al Muheiri from the Secretariat General.
Dubai - Buried in the sand
Dubai - March 13: A 22-year-old Filipina housemaid has been jailed for allegedly aborting her twin babies and burying them in the sand under a tree at a villa in Satwa in December last year. The woman, who is married to a Filipino, had been three months pregnant at the time of the incident. The crime was reported to police by another Filipina who was staying in the same villa as the mother.
“The police were able to recover the dead babies (twins), and the Filipina was subsequently arrested. Her husband was also remanded to police custody for illegally staying in the country,” said an officer at the Philippine Consulate in Dubai. Both are currently detained at the Bur Dubai police station pending trial.
The consulate officer added: “The police informed us that the woman denied aborting the babies. She claimed that after drinking tea, she noticed that she was bleeding and the babies came out.” In an exclusive interview from the women’s detention centre in Bur Dubai police station, the woman, identified as HA, told 7DAYS that the whole thing was an accident, but admitted to burying them.
“At 4.30pm on December 21, my stomach was aching and I asked my husband to prepare some tea for me. When I drank it, I noticed that I was bleeding profusely. I went to the toilet and I lost my babies. I buried the babies a week after I suffered a miscarriage,” she said. She said that she did not have any money with her to go to the hospital for treatment.
“I put them inside a glass jar with alcohol and buried them.” The couple already has a two-year-old son. Police are currently investigating the incident.
Robbers' gang held
DUBAI — March 13: The Dubai Police have arrested a gang of five people for robbing goods worth Dh1.6 million from various warehouses in the city.
Brigadier Khamis Mattar Al Mazina, Director of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID), yesterday said a number of warehouses had been robbed recently.
The gangsters, who are all Indians, used a steel saw to cut locks and then loaded goods, including perfumes and textiles, onto vehicles, he added.
He said the Rashidya police station received information on February 17 that a company warehouse located in the Ramoul area had been robbed. The stolen goods included large consignments of perfumes of international brands valued at Dh1.2 million.
A few days later, the Bur Dubai Police Centre was alerted that another warehouse in the Al Aweer Industrial Area owned by a trading company had been looted.
According to Brigadier Al Mazina, the gang stole goods worth Dh 250,000. Again, he added, the Bur Dubai Police Station was informed on March 1 that a gang had broken into another warehouse in the Al Aweer Industrial Area and seized foodstuff the value of which was estimated at Dh150,000.
He said following the thefts, the CID formed a team to investigate the series of robberies and arrest the gangsters. “The team was tipped off that an Asian light truck driver, identified as NZ, had connections with the gang. Detectives arrested him. He told investigators about the gang’s whereabouts in Ajman.”
The gang was later arrested.
Cricket feast on K.T. Online
DUBAI — March 13: Cricket lovers across the UAE and Middle East would be treated to a special cricket feast on Khaleej Times Online — www.khaleejtimes.com.
In store is a live ball-to-ball cricket feed, supported with match statistics and records, both from the current and previous world cups. Cricket lovers would be able to savor not only the live cricket feeds on KT Online but would also be treated to a special cricket section bringing in the match highlights, Points Table, and top stories from the centre stage of the World Cricket — West Indies.
Khaleej Times Online in association with Nikai is offering special prizes. All it requires is to be logged on to www.khaleejtimes.com and be part of the excitement.
KhaleejTimes Online is part of KhaleejTimes and is rated as one of the leading news web sites of the Middle East which gives a daily update on the world news, UAE top stories and provides interesting insight into the world of entertainment and glamour through its tabloid City Times on the Net.
From today onwards for a direct live feed log on to www.khaleejtimes.com
And if you are the lucky one you may be in for a prize too.
Biman Incident _ It smelt of petrol in fuselage
DUBAI — March 13: "It smelt of like petrol and I told a stewardess about it, but she just ignored me," recounts one of the passengers on board Biman Bangladesh Airlines' BG006 flight, which had to abort its take-off yesterday at the Dubai International Airport (DIA) because of a suspected technical snag.
Cabin crew and ground staff of the airline have been strongly criticised by passengers for allegedly mishandling the disembarkment procedures after the aircraft apparently lost its front wheel while on the DIA runway.
Passengers also said the fuselage had been filled with smoke, which originated from the Economy class or the rear section of the aircraft.
"There were two other passengers who could smell petrol inside the airplane. They informed another flight attendant, but they were similarly ignored. When the smoke became thicker, the cabin crew even asked us to sit still despite the fact that we were coughing heavily," said Nimar Ahmed, who is based in the UK.
"There were babies on the flight and they could have died of smoke inhalation. We couldn't see a thing because the smoke was so thick!" said Ahmed, himself suffering from asthma.
Ali Belal Amin, a UK-based businessman who was on his way to Sylhet, Bangladesh, to visit his family and friends, said he was "utterly disappointed" with the Biman airline and its crew.
"It's a total disgrace. When the emergency door was opened, it was the cabin crew who first left the aircraft. They didn't attend to us and we were left to fend for ourselves. There was an elderly woman who was the last to be brought out of the plane by the passengers themselves," he said.
Amin, who was seated in the aircraft's Business class section, said he felt a jolt when the aircraft suddenly came to a stop. He hurt his back in the process.
Mariam Begum, 54, was the only passenger to be taken to Rashid Hospital's Emergency and Trauma Centre. She received treatment for an injury to her forehead. "She had a gash on the forehead which needed a few stitches and she is suffering from a backache," said her husband, Abdul Rehman, 70.
Doctors at the Trauma Centre said 27 passengers were given immediate treatment for minor injuries at the Dubai Airport Clinic and discharged soon afterwards. "She (Mariam) will be discharged as soon as we are certain that there are no internal injuries," explained the doctor on duty.
Abdul Quadir had to wear a collar brace after sliding from the emergency ramp and hurting his neck. "I can't describe the experience. We're just lucky to be alive," he said.
Quadir, who was travelling from London with his daughter and son-in-law, said he was given first aid treatment and pain reliever, but might have to opt for an X-ray.
About 50 of the passengers have been given accommodation at the Phoenicia Hotel in Nasr Square while the other travellers are staying in other Dubai hotels.
Most of the passengers lauded the Dubai Airport's emergency team for their immediate response to the situation.
Defending the cabin crew's actions, Ali Ahsan, Biman Airlines' Regional Manager for Dubai and the Northern Emirates, said, "They had to follow proper disembarkment procedures."
"The crew did an excellent job because they were able to guide the passengers to vacate the aircraft a few minutes after the accident," Ahsan refuted.
Ahsan said the passengers on board the aircraft will be covered by an international travel insurance policy, which their head office in Bangladesh is currently working on.
Meanwhile, passengers like Amin, Quadir and Ahmed have expressed their desire to file a collective lawsuit against Biman Bangladesh Airlines once they return to the UK.
Biman Incident - Passengers frustrated at airport chaos
DUBAI — March 13: Frustration and confusion prevailed among passengers at the Dubai International Airport Terminal 1 yesterday morning following the suspension of the air traffic for eight hours because of an accident involving a Biman Bangladesh Airlines aircraft.
Hundreds of passengers were stranded at the airport as inbound and departing flights were halted. Several complained that they were left without no information as to when they could resume their journey.
Friends and relatives of passengers expected to land at the airport had a hard time. They said hardly any information regarding where the flights were diverted to was available.
Several inbound passengers, especially those on visit visas, also faced a number of problems. "My visa was deposited at the Dubai airport and my flight was diverted to Abu Dhabi. So I could not come out from the airport and I did not have any means to communicate with my friends," said a passenger.
Muhammed Aslam, a tourist scheduled to fly to Tanzania, was visibly impatient and irritated. "My flight has been cancelled and the airline has failed to give me a new schedule. I hope it would not be an indefinite wait," he said.
The scene at the airport was that of a complete chaos as passengers were desperately trying to get some information about new flight schedules. Many were taken to hotels by airlines.
Stephan Miller, a British tourist, grumbled that no information was given to him about when he could resume his journey. "The airline," he added, "just told us that the airport was closed and new schedules would be announced soon."
However, he said, they had been served breakfast and hotel accommodation was arranged for them in Dubai.
Muhammad Aslam, an Indian national, was clueless about the flight which was to arrive from India with his family on board. “I have been waiting for them since morning. I was informed that the flights were diverted to various airports within and outside the UAE following the temporary closure of the Dubai airport due to an accident. I was worried until I finally received a call from my wife saying that they had landed in Abu Dhabi."
Cathay freighter loses tyre
DUBAI — March 13: Minutes before the Biman Bangladesh Airlines runway mishap, an incoming Cathay Pacific cargo freighter suffered a similar fate at Dubai International Airport when one of its tyres burst while landing, airline sources confirmed.
A top Cathay Pacific Airways official said the incident occurred just before the Biman Airlines jet lost its nose wheel while attempting to take off.
The shredded bits of the tyre were spread on the runway after the Cathay cargo flight from Frankfurt completed its landing, the carrier’s country manager James Evans told Khaleej Times.
The crew of the cargo freighter, he added, were safe and the aircraft was taxied to the bay at the airport.
“We are in touch with Dubai Civil Aviation (DCA) authorities. An investigation into the incident will be carried out,” Evans said.
However, he said, the Boeing 747-300 will fly to Hong Kong soon after they get permission from the DCA.
“But the tyre burst of an aircraft is a serious matter,” Evans added.
Schedule US visa interview online
DUBAI — March 13: The US Embassy in Abu Dhabi and the Consulate-General in Dubai have announced a new online Non-immigrant Visa Appointment System, enabling applicants to schedule visa interview appointments online.
Applicants are encouraged to avail of the system immediately. On May 1, this will be a requirement for all visa applicants.
This is the latest in a number of steps the US mission in the UAE has taken to further expedite visa processing for travel to the US with a more streamlined and user-friendly visa process and it follows the implementation of the Electronic Visa Application Form and the Empost Courier Service last October.
Hilary Olsin-Windecker, Press and Public Affairs Officer at the American Embassy in Abu Dhabi, said, “In the past, there have been numerous issues with travel agents booking multiple appointment times on behalf of their clients, making it take longer for individuals applying for their visas. Now that each person is required to apply for his/her own appointment time, we hope that this will free up spaces and speed up the process.”
“Previously, waiting for an appointment time in Dubai would have taken up to a few weeks. We now expect it to take a week or less,” she added.
Scheduling visa appointment
The Non-immigrant Visa Appointment System is an Internet site allowing visa applicants to schedule a visa interview appointment directly online.
The system allows easy viewing of available appointments, and scheduling, changing, and cancelling of interview dates.
For visa application instructions and access to the Non-immigrant Visa Appointment System for Abu Dhabi and Dubai, visit http://uae.usembassy.gov and http://dubai.usconsulate.gov respectively and click on “Visas to the US”
Completing your application
To make an appointment using the online Non-immigrant Visa Appointment System, applicants first will be required to fill in the Electronic Visa Application Form (EVAF).
Upon completion and printing of the EVAF, applicants will receive an automatically generated BARCODE NUMBER, which needs to be entered for an appointment time.
Filling out the EVAF and making an interview appointment online does NOT mean the visa application has been transmitted to the Embassy or Consulate.
For further queries, contact the Embassy in Abu Dhabi and the Consulate General in Dubai by email, firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Diabetes prevention strategies highlighted
ABU DHABI — March 13: The General Authority for Health Services for the Emirate of Abu Dhabi (GAHS) organised a symposium yesterday to highlight the recent approaches in management and prevention of diabetes and associated health complications.
International and local experts took part in the programme where they discussed therapeutic gaps that impede safe and effective prevention and treatment of this widespread chronic disease.
Diabetes is usually associated with other complications such as heart disease, impaired vision, amputation, impotence and kidney disease. In the UAE, these disorders are rapidly increasing. A major part of the adult population suffers from diabetes.
Professor Dr Sudesh Kumar, Consultant Endocrinologist from the University of Warwick in the UK, spoke about Medical Management of Obesity-related Diabetes during the symposium while Dr Laila Abdel Wareth from Laboratory Medicine at Shaikh Khalifa Medical City presented a paper on the 'Recent Advances in Diabetes Diagnosis'.
Dubai - Expat says he will die in Dubai
Dubai - March 13: Roman Michna, the Czech national missing life-saving cancer treatment after becoming embroiled in a telephone scam, says he will die in Dubai after being issued with a dhs1.8 million fine. The 39-year-old, who is gravely ill with lymphatic cancer, says there is no way he will be able to find the money owed to communications provider Etisalat in time to return home and receive treatment.
He said. “I earn only around dhs13,000 a month. I am not a rich man.” Roman, 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, he was taken in for questioning by police.
He claims he had no idea the communications box found in his flat, allegedly set up by his friend, was illegal. He says his friend has since moved back to the Czech Republic and refuses to return to the UAE for fear of prosecution. Etisalat moved quickly to file the necessary reports needed to issue Roman’s fine after discovering he was ill.
Labour Ministry takes giant step in e-governance
Starting next week, firms can make visa and work permit requests online
DUBAI - March 13: The Ministry of Labour is all geared up to launch an electronic establishment service next week. The service will provide companies with facilities like electronic work permit that will be processed within 24 hours.
The service will enable firms that choose to become an e-establishment to get their requests processed electronically instead of going to the Ministry of Labour.
Humaid bin Deemas, Assistant undersecretary, Ministry of Labour, said, “The purpose of e-establishment is to enable firms to communicate with the ministry online and process all requests like visa requests electronically.”
At the moment firms with more than 50 employees can apply for this service. However, Humaid said that in future this will be made applicable to all the firms. E-establishments will get benefits, such as a quota that allows them to recruit a certain number of employees every year.
Bin Deemas said, “Based on the category of the company, the company will be allowed to recruit employees every year and the procedure will be much simpler because the firm owner will already have the approval to recruit workers based on his quota. It can be done through the Internet and the approval will be given online.”
The quota for ‘A’ category companies is 20 per cent and for ‘A’ category firms following the 2 per cent Emiratisation requirement, the quota is 25 per cent. For B category firms, the quota is 15 per cent and C category is 10 per cent.
Bin Deemas said, “The quota can also be increased upon the employers request and it will depend on the track record of the company.” A firm in ‘C’ category can move to ‘A’ category if it fulfils the Emiratisation quota.
Saif Al Suweidi, Manager of the Ajman office, Ministry of Labour said, “This service is not available to firms that are not e-establishment but it is a very beneficial service because companies can directly get an approval to recruit a certain number of employees annually.”