NEWS FROM THE UAE
Excerpts from UAE Dailies
Fake medicines worth Dh5m confiscated
DUBAI — JUL 04: Dubai Customs have seized fake medicines worth Dh5 million during an operation carried out at Cargo Village recently, a Customs official said yesterday.
The shipment of counterfeit Plavix, pills used for treatment of cardiac ailments, were shipped to Dubai from Mauritius, Dubai Customs Director-General Ahmed Butti Ahmed, said.
The confiscated shipment, Ahmed said, contained 556,000 Plavix pills packed in 20,000 boxes. “This is region’s one of the biggest counterfeit confiscation,” he pointed out.
The design of the medicine box, Ahmed added, was perfectly counterfeited. “We sent the pills to a laboratory and tests proved that all were fake. The importers of the shipment were arrested. The case has been referred to Public Prosecution,” Ahmed said. However, he denied divulging the number of people arrested in this regard. Plavix tablets, manufactured by French Company Sanofi-Aventis, are sold in Dubai for Dh292 per box.
Ahmed continued: “The composition of fake products seized was totally different from the original medicine manufactured by the French Company. It had cement powder content. It would have been a disaster if we had not traced it.”
Ahmed urged consumers to be careful while buying medicines and stressed that Dubai Customs was keen to protect the society from these kinds of dangers.
“Dubai Customs is keen on protecting the interests of companies and investors. We are committed to implementing the international agreements and federal laws of the UAE. Dubai is turning out to be an international centre for combating counterfeits,” Ahmed added.
Ruling out the allegations that Dubai has been used to transport counterfeit currencies and arms, Ahmed said, “This is a baseless allegation. Some people want to hide their limitations and they are forging such allegations.”
French Ambassador to the UAE Patrice Paoli, who was also present on the occasion, said, “We are appreciating the efforts of Dubai Customs and other authorities. It shows that Dubai is committed to protect intellectual property rights.”
“Confiscation of counterfeits of French products will enhance the cooperation between Dubai and French authorities,” he added. Meanwhile, statistics shows that Dubai Customs confiscated 23,643 pieces of fake products valued at over Dh7 million, and issued 81 confiscation reports in the first quarter of this year. During the same period in 2006, Dubai Customs had seized 353,711 pieces of fake products and issued 65 confiscation reports.
Ministry, police help firm, workers reach settlement
DUBAI — JUL 04: Officials of the Ministry of Labour (MoL), the Permanent Committee of Labour Affairs (PCLA) and Dubai Police successfully negotiated a compromise between hundreds of agitating construction workers and their company management yesterday. The workers, demanding better living and working conditions as well as a wage hike, had blocked Shaikh Zayed Road yesterday afternoon for several hours to press for their demands.
Police and PCLA officials rushed to the scene and managed to pacify the large group of workers gathered near the Ibn Battuta Mall. The police also immediately disbursed the crowd of curious onlookers in order to ease the growing traffic snarl in the area.
The workers of the Dubai-based construction company, who had also publicly voiced these demands on Sunday, were also eventually dispersed after senior PCLA, Dubai Police and MoL officials intervened and the company management agreed on the spot to consider a salary raise for their workers within the next few weeks.
Brigadier Mohammed Ahmed Al Marri, Director of Dubai Naturalisation and Residency Department and Head of the Permanent Committee of Labour Affairs, pointed out: “The contracting company is one of the oldest in Dubai. It gives the labourers their wages on time and provides them with proper living accommodation, in addition to providing health insurance, transportation, and home travel air tickets. Also, it has now promised to consider a salary hike for its workers in view of the high costs of living in the emirate.”
But after the negotiated settlement was reached between the manager of the construction company and four representatives of the agitating workers, he advised that all such issues should be raised and routed through “proper channels”.
Brig. Al Marri emphasised, “Instead of taking to the streets, the workers should have addressed their grievances first to the director of the construction company or the Ministry of Labour.”
Mohammed Khan, one of the workers, showed his monthly salary slip for a mere Dh355 and said: “The fact is we were left with little choice. We have repeatedly been asking our company management to increase our wages and to give us enough rest during the mid-day break. But we are told to stay on the worksite so that we can work quicker and faster.
Meanwhile, an official from the construction company conceded that the temporary shelters at their worksites were not air conditioned and that “they could become unbearably hot during the summer months.”
However, he refused to comment on whether this problem would be resolved immediately — as was also been demanded by the construction workers.
Draft laws on Tourism Council, Fertility Centre, expat bodies
ABU DHABI — JUL 04: The Federal National Council (FNC) has approved a federal draft law on the establishment of the Federal Council for Tourism and Antiquities.
The nod for promulgating the law was given yesterday at a meeting which was presided over by the Speaker Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair.
Dr Anwar Gargash, Minister of State for FNC Affairs, and Bilal Al Bidoor, Assistant Under Secretary of the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Society Welfare, also attended the session.
According to the draft law, antiquity is any fixed or movable thing such as a building, sculpture or anything written, drawn or an image.
Antiquity also means anything that was formed naturally in the UAE at least one hundred years ago, or had been unearthed and discovered within the borders of the country. Such object are precious and unique as long as they are of historical, artistic, scientific, literary or religious value.
The law has identified antiquity as any object that has natural, architectural, constructional value or any other characteristic of positive benefits for mankind.
It is also identified as any thing that constitutes a feature of civilised progress for the country.
Under the law, human remains, animal and plant fossils whose history is prior to 600 BC is regarded as of rare and unique value.
A prolonged debate took place during the session among the members on specifying antiquity between 50 and 100 years. Eventually antiquity was defined as anything not less than 100 years.
The newly-established council will be liable for revival, promoting and boosting tourism inside and outside the country, the law said.
The FNC also approved the draft federal law on licensing of fertility centres in the country.
The law stipulates that any person who establishes fertilisation centre in the state without obtaining a licence from the Ministry of Health or runs it without complying with the conditions and terms of the ministry would be sentenced to jail and fined.
Another federal law was approved by FNC on expatriate community associations. Under the law, these associations have been asked to adhere to the laws and never deviate from their charter of activities. Dr Mariam Mohammed Khalfan Al Roumi, Minister of Social Affairs, addressing the session said foreign community associations should not meddle in issues that violate the state security or foment sectarian, communal, racial or religious disputes. “Two community associations that cater to major expatriates population in the country have been ordered to be shut down for breaching their by-laws, Dr Al Roumi said without disclosing the names of the two organisations.
The FNC session, which started at 10am continued until 8.10pm yesterday. Dr Gargash
expressed his reservation over such a long session of the the FNC. This approach, he said, will not help concentrate on important draft laws. It needs a clear mind to take appropriate decisions. Dr Maryiam Al Roumi agreed with Dr Ghargash’s opinion to resume the session on Wednesday morning.
Car rental agencies face Salik dilemma
DUBAI — JUL 04: Three days after the launch of Salik, car rental agencies and their customers were in a dilemma yesterday as Salik tags had still not been provided to them.
Rental agencies said they had not even been given an assurance that their customers would not be fined or allowed time to have the tags fitted.
Autobahn General Manager Bibin Thomas said the company, with a fleet of 1,200 cars, had inquired about tags at the end of June and was told yesterday they would receive the tags in the evening.
“They’ve been saying everyday that we’ll get them in a day,” he said. “Obviously, they’re processing too many requests at the same time.”
He said customers had been telephoning the company continuously to get updates on the situation.
Hertz Operations Manager Sunil Kumar said the rental car agency had been working hard to fit Salik tags on its 6,000-odd fleet of cars.
However, despite applying for the tags on June 18, they received about 3,000 tags on Saturday for only short-term rentals and the RTA allowed Sunday for fixing the tags with the assurance of no fines.
Since then the two-day grace period has expired and the agency received an additional 3,000 tags for long-term leases yesterday.
“We’ve fitted about 75 to 80 per cent of the short-term leases,” he said. “We’ve done all our efforts to contact customers to have the tags fitted. (If they don’t do so) they will have to pay the fine.”
Kumar said the RTA should have allowed more time for fixing of tags.
“We haven’t received anything in writing to say they won’t be fined and I can’t log on to the web site to see if the accounts have any fines,” he said.
A Budget Rent-a-Car spokesperson described a “logistic nightmare” trying to fit the company’s 3,000 cars with Salik tags, which was completed by yesterday.
Their tags arrived on Thursday and employees worked through the weekend delivering tags and having customers bring their cars in.
Direct Rent-a-Car Manager Regie Farnandos said the company had been trying to organise tags for the 62-car fleet for two weeks but could get the tags only on Sunday.
The agency purchased the tags for 62 cars at a petrol station at about 10.30pm on Sunday and it was only yesterday morning that the agency was contacted by the RTA to say the tags were available.
Concord group chief appointee Mohammed Razwan said that till midday Sunday the company had not received tags for its fleet of 500 cars, adding that “they were expected soon.”
Rental agencies spoken to said cars would be charged a service fee for managing the accounts, usually Dh1 for short-term rentals and for long-term leases, it will be 10 per cent of the toll fees.
Emirates to expand India operations
DUBAI — JUL 04: Dubai-based carrier Emirates has announced yesterday a major expansion campaign that will launch additional seat capacity for key Indian destinations like Mumbai, Chennai, Cochin and Hyderabad.
The airline will also use modern, wide-bodied Airbus A330-200 and Boeing 777 aircraft in two and three-class configurations as part of this expansion programme.
Emirates Airline’s strengthened Indian operations will introduce a third-daily service to Mumbai and a double-daily service to Chennai from October 28. It will also add three additional flights each to Cochin and Hyderabad over the summer and winter seasons this year.
In all, the Dubai carrier will hike its capacity from the current 71 to 85 commercial flights per week to eight Indian gateways.
Nabil Sultan, Emirates’ Senior Vice-President Commercial Operations, West Asia and Indian Ocean, said: “Asia’s fastest growing free market economy, India, is expanding its links with the Gulf and forging ahead with joint, multi-billion dollar projects in tourism, commerce and infrastructure. Having fuelled strong economic and trade ties between the Middle East and India since the start of its services in 1985, Emirates is well-poised to support India’s rapid growth in the 21st century with its efficient, reliable and increased air links.”
He added that the airline has noticed a steadily growing market demand, prompting them to provide greater capacity through frequency increases and aircraft upgrades.
“With the introduction of the third and second daily services to Mumbai and Chennai respectively, our schedules will be more consistent and our passengers will have greater flexibility in planning their journeys,” Sultan said.
Flight schedules have likewise been planned to maximise morning arrivals in Dubai and seamless onward connections to Emirates’ rapidly-expanding 92-gateway global network.
HIV patient missing from hospital
SHARJAH — JUL 04: An HIV-positive patient has gone missing from Al Kuwaiti Hospital for the past two days ago. The patient, who is also suffering from tuberculosis, allegedly sneaked out while the policemen on escort duty were reportedly sleeping.
According to an official source at Al Kuwaiti Hospital in Sharjah, the 40-year-old Indian, D.D., was taken to the hospital by policemen from Al Hira police station in Sharjah on June 27.
After he tested positive for both HIV and TB, he was sent to the observation room, pending completion of deportation procedures.
He, however, escaped through the window after the policemen on guard dozed off.
A cruel trade
UAE - JUL 04: Environmentalists have called on the UAE not to allow the import of dolphins into the country. A coalition of international pressure groups attempting to halt the trade said it has asked the government to deny granting import permits for 20 wild dolphins trapped off the Solomon Islands. It claims that allowing them into the country would violate the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
The Save Japan Dolphins Coalition and Earth Island Institute said the capture of the dolphins in the Solomon Islands was done in a “most cruel manner” with the mammals driven into shallow waters and either captured or killed. The pressure groups identified five sites in Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah that have been earmarked to receive the mammals in the near future, according to their sources in the Pacific nation's government.
Christopher Richardson, a spokes-man for Dubai's controversial dolphinarium, which was due to open in January at Dubai Creek Park, told 7DAYS the dolphins were not headed for his facility: “I don't know what they are talking about. We have three dolphins and they are third generation captive dolphins. They are not coming from the wild and are with us already.”
He added that the dolphinarium had no plans to import more dolphins and that transporting its original three from the Ukraine had been a long and protracted process. The under-construction Atlantis resort on Palm Jumeirah has previously announced that it will include a dolphin-encounter programme where children and adults can swim and touch the mammals as part of its 60-acre water theme park. But there was no confirmation if any of the 20 wild dolphins in question would be headed there.
Speaking to 7DAYS from Miami yesterday, marine mammal specialist Richard O'Barry from Earth Island Institute, said: “Dolphins are wild animals even if they are born into captivity. This is an abusive industry that is based purely on the supply and demand of tourists wishing to see or swim with the dolphins. Our message is don't support this trade.”
O'Barry, who trained the five dolphin stars of the US series ‘Flipper’, before turning against the industry, added: “We are urging the UAE and the Solomon Islands to block the export and import of the dolphins and release them back into the wild. We ask them to join the world in denouncing the cruel capture and exportation of these intelligent marine mammals.”
The UAE has been a member of CITES since 1990.
Dubai - Labourers’ life savers
Dubai - JUL 04: Located in the heart of Jebel Ali free zone, the Cedars-Jebel Ali International Hospital is a God-send for the thousands of workers that toil in the area. Labourers describe it as essential to their well-being and the hospital works round-the-clock to provide them with medical relief, catering for around 25,000 people a year.
“We receive at least a dozen serious cases every day related to accidents at work sites. A majority, around 80 per cent, of the cases we receive are emergency cases that require immediate life saving action,” said Dr Gunther Kieninger, Medical Director and Head of the Department of Surgery of Cedars Hospital.With a team of around 35 specialised doctors, the hospital works all day to help injured workers rushing to them for immediate help.
“We are truly able to save lives due to our closeness to all these work sites. Being the only one in the area puts more responsibility on us. We work hard to deal with a large number of trauma cases and ensure that all patients get timely and correct treatment,” added Dr Kieninger.
One of the hospital's former patients, Mohammed Abid Mohammed, now lives with just one kidney after being involved in a horrific accident at his Jebel Ali work site that nearly resulted in his death. Abid claims he is alive only because the Cedars Hospital was so close at hand after he fell into a pit of steel rods and one of the rods penetrated his abdominal wall.
“I knew I was bleeding but I could not feel my legs. The labourers picked me up and put me into a car and rushed me to the hospital. They say I was unconscious for two days,” Abid said. Dr Kieninger said Abid was brought in suffering from shock because of profuse internal bleeding and so was immediately taken to the operating theatre.
“The steel rod had completely destroyed the vena cava, the largest vein of the body. The right kidney vein was destroyed and this looked like a case that would have certainly caused death. But an immediate operation saved his life,” said Dr Kieninger. Two weeks after the surgery, Abid left the hospital after staging a remarkable recovery. “It's a new life for me and I have only the doctors to thank,” said the 30-year-old.
In another gruesome case, Shemda Ahmed accidentally fell down into a steel rod which went through the bladder and punctured his abdomen. “I was in excruciating pain for many days. I did not expect to be normal again,” said the moist-eyed Ahmed, who couldn’t talk further about the horrific accident. Dr Kieninger said Ahmed was brought to the hospital in a very unstable condition. The team had to establish an artificial anus in order to prevent infection, which could have proved fatal. The operation was successful, the artificial anus was taken out and after six weeks he has fully recovered.
However, the hospital is struggling to cope with the growing number of labourers working in the area as it has just 20 beds. It’s now building a new complex that will house more than 120 beds. “We started as a clinic in 2000 and we had no beds at all. We then moved our HR and administration to portable cabins to accommodate the workers. Now, with more people coming in the new project is greatly needed,” Dr Kieninger said.
Dubai - Gang captured
Dubai - JUL 04: Dubai Police have swooped to arrest a criminal gang who posed as police officers in order to burgle bachelors’ accommodation. Police became aware of the gang after receiving a number of complaints from Asian bachelors about one man dressed in uniform and two others, who claimed to be from CID, taking their money and mobile phones from their homes.
The trio also used knives to threaten their victims when it was discovered they were not police officers. After hearing of this, CID put together a team and acting on a tip-off moved to arrest one of the gang members. The man was driving his 4x4 near his house in Al Quoz with another of the suspects when police pulled them over and found a large knife hidden in the vehicle.
After being interviewed the pair confessed to the crimes and told officers about their accomplice who always wore the police uniform during their raids. After the arrest of the third man, police put them into a line up where a number of the victims picked them out as the robbers.
The case has been referred to Dubai Public Prosecution, which has now charged the men with stealing and impersonating police officers. The gang will be held in custody until they appear in court.
Maid jailed for two years for stealing from family
DUBAI - JUL 04: A maid has been jailed for two years for stealing from the family who employed her after being caught on a security camera. The UAE family had left BF, 40, from Sri Lanka, at home with their daughter when they went out, Dubai Criminal Court was told.
The husband called home several times but received no answer. He then came home and found the maid was missing.
He realised she had taken a mobile phone and Dh5,000 in cash. The maid was arrested when she returned home.
She told the court that she took the phone and cash to a friend’s house, who agreed to hide them. The woman accomplice is at large.
A maid has been jailed for two years for stealing from the family who employed her after being caught on a security camera. The UAE family had left BF, 40, from Sri Lanka, at home with their daughter when they went out, Dubai Criminal Court was told. The husband called home several times but received no answer. He then came home and found the maid was miss- ing. He realised she had taken a mobile phone and Dh5,000 in cash. The maid was arrest- ed when she returned home. She told the court that she took the phone and cash to a friend’s house, who agreed to hide them. The woman accomplice is at large.
Secretary flees with boss’s cash
DUBAI - JUL 04: A woman working for a Dubai law firm is alleged to have cashed a Dh360,000 cheque drawn on her boss’s account and fled the country with the cash. The 41-year-old executive secretary had been employed by the company for three years and was authorised to sign cheques. She made one out to herself then cashed it at a bank last Thursday before flying to Egypt, said a source.
A police source said the woman phoned her boss, a UAE national lawyer, to tell him she had left the country when she arrived in Cairo. “The lawyer called us and reported the incident to us on Saturday,” the officer added.
Meanwhile, three construction workers have been jailed for three months each for stealing equipment from Dubai International Airport’s Terminal Three site. NM, AB and ST – all 40 and from India – were seen taking electric cables worth Dh12,000 and loading them on to a truck.
They then drove off but were caught by police. All three confessed to the charges.
Firms may start work early
ABU DHABI — JUL 04: Construction companies can start work two hours early in the morning in order to make up for the time loss during extended midday break, according to Obaid Rashid Al Zahmi, assistant under-secretary in the Ministry of Labour (MoL).
During the weekly open session at the ministry, Al Zahmi said the labour law doesn’t put any binding on the employers to start work two hours earlier before the scheduled work hours. “If the work starts at 8.00am normally, the companies can start at 6.00am to avoid the afternoon heat,” said Al Zahmi.