News headlines

Excerpts from UAE Dailies

Pre-marital check-up introduced for expats

ABU DHABI — March 25: Expatriates wishing to get married in the UAE are now required to undergo a pre-marital medical check-up to detect certain ailments, including acquired immuno deficiency syndrom (HIV/AIDS), said a senior health official.

“Now it has become mandatory for expatriate couples who wish to tie the knot to conduct pre-marital screening for three diseases, HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis B and Syphilis (a sexually transmitted disease)”, said Dr Zainab Khazal, Director of the Preventive Medicine Department in Abu Dhabi.

The prenuptial medical tests have become compulsory under a federal law passed by the Ministry of Health (MoH) to ensure fitness of couples and avert spread of fatal postnatal diseases and crippling genetic disorders in the country.

All health authorities in the country will coordinate to implement the new rule. Earlier, it was obligatory for national couples only to conduct tests for HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B and sexually transmitted diseases as a prerequisite to the marriage while it was optional for expatriates to undergo these tests.

“Now all marriage applicants must carry out these medical check ups to consummate the marriage,” stressed Dr Khazal. Under the law, if one of the expatriate marriage applicants tested positive for HIV/AIDS, marriage procedures will not be consummated in the country and the applicant will be repatriated to his/her home country. However, in the event of detecting other mentioned ailments,the person will be subject to a medical intervention by genetic clinics and an early detection programme for predicted postnatal diseases while the choice for consummating the marriage will be left for the couples to take.


2 pedestrians run over by four-wheeler

DUBAI — March 25: Two pedestrians were run over and killed by a four-wheeler while they were crossing the road in the Manama area yesterday afternoon.

The victims were identified as Marakkar, 63, and Abu Baker Siddique, 35, from Kerala.

According to witnesses, the accident occurred around 2pm on the Sharjah-Ras Al Khaimah Road. “Both the victims were crossing the road when the vehicle hit them,” said a witness.

“Abu Baker was working as a barber in Al Ain. He came to visit Marakkar yesterday,” said one of their friends. “Marakkar had been living in the UAE for the past 45 years.”

Their bodies are being kept in Dhaid Hospital. Marakkar died after he was taken to the hospital, said his friend. Abu Baker died on the spot, witnesses said. 

Police said an investigation would be carried out.


Groceries need approval to sell five-gallon water bottle

SHARJAH — March 25: Groceries in Sharjah can sell five-gallon bottles of drinking water only after receiving approval from the Sharjah Municipality, Khaleej Times has learnt.

The civic body earlier sent circulars to all groceries asking them to stop selling five-gallon water bottles with effect from March 28. But for the convenience of residents who depend on these groceries to supply them with bottled water at any given time of the day,  the municipality has agreed to allow groceries to sell five-gallon water bottles of reputed companies in the interest of public health. 

After March 28, all groceries should approach the civic body to seek permission to sell five-gallon water bottles  and make necessary arrangements with major water distribution companies to receive bottled water consignments at their outlets.

An official from the municipality’s health section said this decision will help inspectors to monitor groceries and prevent any fake products from being sold.

“Inspectors in the past have found that some of the groceries refilled the bottles with tap water and sold them to people as desalinated water from various companies  in the emirate,” he pointed out.

Abdullah Al Shuwaikh, spokesperson of the Sharjah Municipality, said the decision requiring groceries to seek approval from the civic body to sell bottled water followed a  study which highlighted the difficulties faced in monitoring and controlling the packaging processes in companies based in other emirates. “Protecting public health is one of the municipality’s top priorities,” Al Shuwaikh added.

A senior official at Zulal Water Factory told Khaleej Times that a committee was recently formed to ensure that drinking water companies were abiding by the health standards and specifications.



Cricket fans upset over exit of favourites from World Cup

DUBAI — March 25: Following the murder of Bob Woolmer and emerging betting and match fixing allegations along with the poor performance of the sub continent favourites in the ICC world cup, cricket fans in the UAE seem to be upset and losing interest in the gentlemen’s game.

A number of cricket lovers largely from India and Pakistan are still reeling under shock after their national team’s pathetic performance and ouster from the tournament. Many complained that cricket has turned into a money-making industry rather than a sports event. The murder of Woolmer, they say, has added ‘blood’ into the game.

Fans disappointed 

Khaleej Times spoke to few cricket fans who expressed disappointment in the sport specially after the latest development in the game and ouster of both India and Pakistan from the tournament.

Muhammed Razak, a Pakistani national, said,  “I was disappointed when the Pakistan team got out from the tournament. But as I love this game, I was still interested in watching the performance of other teams. But the murder of Woolmer and match fixing allegations killed my enthusiasm.”

Jismon, an Indian cricket fan, expressing the same sentiments, said, “I love cricket and I think the external involvement in the game is ruining all the passion. I used to watch every game, even if India did not play, but the commercialisation of the game has made me lose all the interest in the game.

Dismal performance 

Says, Manish Sinha, Field Investigating Officer, Mashreq Bank, “The performance of India in the ICC World Cup has been a dismal one. In my view, it is high time for the so-called greats like Sachin Tendulkar to pave way for good players waiting in queue. Sachin, Sehwag and other Master batsman have been wonderful all through their career, but they have failed to deliver when India needed them the most. India has showed absolutely no aggression in the field. Moreover, the World Cup this time has been tainted by the ‘murder’ of Pakistan Coach Bob Woolmer.  The zeal is lost and there is no interest due to lack of sportsmanship.”

Sinha added that people from the subcontinent are passionate about the game, but now there have been so many instances of match fixing and bookings that it is time for the people to stop taking cricket seriously. “We are not going to be fooled anymore. I took a day off to watch the India-Sri Lanka match. Now, I am regretting it as I lost one day at work.”

Over confidence 

For Akram Shaikh, a System Analyst in Dubai, “India, is now just capable of making records against the new teams like Bermuda. The over confidence of our players is also responsible for taking cricket to its lowest in India, he said, blaming cricketers like Dhoni for showing no character on the field. Besides,  Captain Rahul Dravid and Greg Chappel should be sacked, he voiced complaining, the love for the game seems to be lost. And it is showing in the event.”

Captaincy bad 

Amit Kumar Sinha, Bio Informatician, Central Vetinerary Research Laboratory (MGB lab), said, “The performance has been very disappointing.

The BCCI provides them so much money and so many facilities hoping that they would perform.

But they just don’t do their job. The captaincy of Rahul Dravid has been bad.

He showed absolutely no aggression, something which we would find in Saurav Ganguly. Sachin disappointed and so did Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh. The entire team should be asked to resign or retire from the game.

And the same should happen to the team management and the selection committee as well.


Mohammed begins historic India visit today

NEW DELHI — March 25: As His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, begins his historic two-day state visit to India today, expectations about its long-term positive impact on the bilateral relations on all fronts are building up in India and among the Indian diaspora in the Gulf.

Through this visit, Shaikh Mohammed, accompanied by a high-level official and business delegation, including seven Cabinet colleagues, seeks to bolster business and investment ties as well as build on the strong bonds that exist between the two countries.

According to India’s External Affairs Ministry, Shaikh Mohammed’s visit is expected to substantially strengthen bilateral ties and enhance the multi-faceted cooperation between the two countries. Describing it as “historic and a landmark event”, diplomatic sources in New Delhi said the visit of the visionary leader from the UAE, which boasts of the most vibrant economy in the Arab world, will give a vital boost to India’s age-old ties with the Gulf, home to more than four million Indian expatriates. It is the beginning of a new era of economic cooperation, they said.

Sources said with the Middle East countries increasingly looking at India as a knowledge power and a rising economic giant,  the UAE Vice-President’s visit — three days after the visit of Bahrain Crown Prince Shaikh Sulman bin Hamad Al Khalifa — underscores the keenness from both sides to take the existing strong relations to higher levels.

While the focus of both visits is being seen as predominantly economic and aimed at exploring investments in India in various areas, security issues, including the fight against global terrorism, will figure in Shaikh Mohammed’s discussions with Indian President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and senior ministers.

Diplomatic sources said India will also raise issues relating to work conditions of hundreds of thousands of Indians living in the UAE. 

Shaikh Mohammed, who is arriving in the afternoon today, will tomorrow attend a reception hosted by Dr Manmohan Singh, visit Mahatma Gandhi’s shrine and meet President Kalam. He is also expected to interact with top business leaders of India and invite them to invest in his country.

Leaders of the Indian business community in New Delhi stated, “As we welcome His Highness to India, for the nearly 1.5 million Indians who live in Dubai and their dependants in India, it is a time to rejoice and pay their tribute and respect to a great visionary and statesman par excellence.

And for the rest of India, it is a time to greet a great leader who has been largely instrumental in changing the destiny of the whole region and its people with a pragmatic and innovative style of governance that has few parallels elsewhere.

A prominent member of India’s apex trade body, FICCI, said, “As the architect of Dubai’s spectacular transformation into one of the fastest growing business,  commercial, travel and leisure destinations on this planet, Shaikh Mohammed has become not only an Arab icon, but also a leader with a universal appeal and charisma. His visit to India will be a landmark opportunity for further cementing the centuries-old ties between India and the Arab world.”

As Abdulla Ebrahim Alzoy Al Shehhi, the UAE Ambassador to India, put it, the growing UAE-India relations symbolise not just mutual trust and dedication to each other, but also a relationship that goes much beyond remittances from the UAE. “How can some 1.4 million Indians living in the UAE not be our family? They have done so much for the UAE that we are indebted to their support for ever. We are grateful to India for being our friend.”

As the UAE envoy has pointed out, time has come for both India and the UAE to take a decisive leap to higher levels, to “move forward to forge an alliance that will help build our future as well as assist India in its phenomenal economic growth”.

According to C.M. Bhandari, India’s Ambassador to the UAE, the prime ministers of both the countries will sign agreements on an amendment to the double taxation avoidance treaty and on abolishing visas for diplomatic and official passport holders. “The relationship between India and the UAE has been traditionally close and friendly and rests on firm foundations of political, economic and cultural links. It is natural that on this memorable occasion, India and the UAE will rejoice in their respective successes and reaffirm their resolve to promote mutually beneficial joint venture projects and development programmes.”

Venu Rajamony, the Indian Consul-General in Dubai, said Dubai has become a focal point for Indian companies and businesses. Dubai is also an important trans-shipment point and logistics hub for Indian goods. More than 80 per cent of the trade between India and the UAE, which was close to $13 billion last year, is routed through Dubai. “Therefore, acceleration of trade and investment in Dubai is a priority for New Delhi.”

Diplomatic sources in New Delhi said during the visit, the stalled Free Trade Agreement talks between India and the GCC could be revived and the possibilities of signing an agreement of investment promotion and protection — a treaty seen by both sides as vital to further foster economic ties — will be reviewed.

In July 2003, India signed an agreement on defence cooperation with the UAE. The wide-ranging agreement was aimed at providing for military training, cooperation in military medical services and jointly combating pollution caused by the military at sea. The agreement provides for cooperation and security, defence policy, development of defence cooperation and import and export of arms. It also provides for military training, military medical services, military cultural and sports activities, environmental issues and pollution caused by military, particularly at sea.


Evacuation after car park blaze

Dubai - March 25: Dubai firefighters were called to Sheikh Zayed Road again yesterday after a fire broke out in the car park of a  building still under construction. The fire broke out at around 11.19am when a wooden container on the ground floor, which was being used by workers as a temporary kitchen, caught alight. Eye witness Christina, who lives nearby, said she saw workers escaping from windows on the first and second floor using ladders. “There was thick black smoke coming from the building and workers were evacuating the building,” she said. Brigadier Rashid Thani Al Matrooshi, director of Dubai Civil Defence, said crews arrived within minutes and the fire was put out in around half-an-hour.

“The fire was put out in time to prevent it from reaching the first and second floors, which contained flammable paints and plastic material.” Doctors at Rashid Hospital said four workers were treated for smoke inhalation.



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