NEWS FROM THE UAE
Excerpts from UAE Dailies
India allows amnesty seekers to land at any international airport
UAE - JUL 05: Authorities in India have withdrawn a recently issued regulation that barred Indian citizens returning home on amnesty from landing at most airports in the country. Velu Rajamony, the Consul General in Dubai, said the decision to lift the restriction was made following requests made by the embassy and consulates in the UAE.
“As of Monday the restriction, which was earlier imposed, has been lifted. Now every Indian issued with an out pass can travel to any destination in the country.
“We have assured officials in India that necessary crosschecks will be carried out before issuing out passes.” He added imposing restrictions would have created a lot of problems.
The regulation, if it had not been lifted, would have allowed amnesty seekers to land only at Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, New Delhi, Hyderabad and Trivandrum international airports.
Earlier, announcing the new measure, Rajamony had said: “The restriction was imposed for security reasons because large numbers of people are returning from the UAE using emergency certificates.
“Advanced security checks will be put in place at these metropolitan airports because they are arriving without passports. After much persuasion, the Ministry of External Affairs and the Ministry of Overseas Affairs have added Trivandrum and Hyderabad airports to the list.” However, according to the latest revised regulation, Indians flying back on amnesty can land at any international airport in the country. There are a total of 12 international airports in India.
More than 12,000 illegal Indians residing in the UAE, who have already applied for emergency certificates, and thousands more who are yet to apply for out passes, were worried about the new security restriction announced by the Indian Home Ministry.
Emergency certificates are issued after thorough checking of applicants’ personal details to verify their nationality. The Home Ministry wants to make sure no nonIndian nationals enter the country misusing the amnesty scheme. In the application for out passes, the candidate has to give details of the passports held earlier, the recruitment agent and even details of his arrest, prosecution and court details.
In addition, the applicant gives an undertaking that he is an Indian citizen and has not voluntarily accepted nationality of any other country. He also provides his contact details in India, signature and thumb impression.
The advanced security set up at Indian airports may verify such information before allowing the amnesty-seeker to enter the country.
The Indian mission in the UAE and a number of Indian community associations had approached the government to relax the entry restrictions, which forced the government to review the number of airports through which passengers can land.
Many amnesty seekers who had booked their tickets in advance on budget airlines to the airports nearest to their hometowns were in a dilemma as these airlines fly only to a few cities, most of which the decision excluded.
“I live in Calicut, Kerala, and booked my ticket to the Cochin International Airport. If I fly to another international airport, I would have to travel several hours to reach my hometown,” said Ibrahim Khalid, 42, an amnesty-seeker. “If I fly to Cochin, I can save a lot of money and time,” he added.
A social worker said: “People who have applied for out passes hail from different places. If the restrictions had stayed they would have caused difficulties for poor passengers, who have booked advance tickets on the budget airlines – Air Arabia, Air India Express, Al Jazeera Airlines and Mihil Airways – that do not fly to the airports mentioned in the decision.”
Indian embassy move to get cheap airfare for the amnesty-seekers
ABU DHABI — JUL 05: The Indian embassy in the capital is negotiating with various airlines for a highly discounted one-way fare for the benefit of amnesty-seekers, an embassy official said here yesterday.
First Secretary Shrinivas Babu said the embassy has set up a travel agent counter in the embassy premises.
The rush of amnesty-seekers at the embassy is increasing and the embassy is mounting efforts to handle the additional pressure which is expected in August.
The embassy has collected 9,600 more passports of Indian workers, which were lying with the Abu Dhabi Naturalization and Residency Department for various reasons such as absconding, lost, sponsors’ complaints, etc.
According to an embassy source, the mission has received 560 applications from illegals and 250 outpasses have been issued in the capital. In the past three days, 265 workers approached the embassy while in June only 300 had contacted them for consultations.
“We have started issuing outpasses in order to avoid the huge pressure, which is mounting day by day. In case of huge crowd we will seek the help of associations and social centres and we will also increase our arrangements accordingly,” said Babu.
“Now we are preparing a computerised list of abandoned passports and making CDs of them to distribute among various Indian social and cultural centres in the capital to make their work easy in regularising the procedures,” he added.
People who are residing illegally in the country are expected to seek amnesty at the last moment since they want to work for one more month to manage another month’s salary before going home.
“So we expect more crowd in August as we experienced in the previous amnesty plan,” an embassy source said.
Delighted and hoping for better
ABU DHABI — JUL 05: A 41-year-old Indian, Sugunan Nambiattil, who fled from his sponsor 10 months ago is delighted to be going home under the amnesty plan of the UAE government.
Nambiattil felt compelled to run away after the sponsor allegedly started using him as a slave giving only Dh100 per month. According to Nambiattil, “Whenever I went to him asking for the salary he used to compel me for work alluring to pay me better next month. If I started arguing with him about the matter he began to abuse me and sometimes he roughed me up, too.”
Nambiattil has applied for amnesty with the help of the Kerala Social Centre in Abu Dhabi and submitted all relevant documents to the Indian embassy. Right now, he is staying with a friend in Musaffah who supported him a lot in his gloomy days.
“Now, I am elated to get an opportunity to go back but I am also pursuing my case with another company in Abu Dhabi to obtain a visa. If I succeed, I will happily go for a change in my status with the help of the Indian Embassy,” Nambiattil said.
“I have been working in Abu Dhabi for the last 10 years but I could never imagine the treatment I got over the past one year. I was on my sponsor’s visa and he used to pay me Dh900 per month. But as the work got finished in the company over a year ago, he did not need me. When I pleaded with the sponsor for renewing my visa when it expired then he demanded for Dh2,000 for visa and Dh500 for medical which I gave him but he did not apply,” alleged Nambiattil.
Nambiattil doesn’t have a passport and a valid visa for the last 10 months. His passport is with his sponsor who supplies manpower to the companies and factories in Abu Dhabi.
DNRD Jumeirah office allocates days for different nationalities
DUBAI — JUL 05: The rush at the Follow-up and Investigation Section (FIS) of Dubai Naturalisation and Residency Department (DNRD) in Jumeirah is expected to abate following the decision reached on Tuesday to dedicate different days to different nationalities.
According to an official from DNRD, Sunday and Monday are earmarked for Indian amnesty-seekers, Tuesday for Pakistanis, Afghans, Sri Lankans and Filipinos, Wednesday for Bangladeshis, nationals of Arab and African countries, Russia and other Eastern European countries. Thursday, however, is only for women amnesty-seekers of all nationalities.
The move comes in the wake of huge rush everyday outside the DNRD’s Jumeirah office , the official said. Amnesty seekers of all nationalities begin to queue up outside the section office after midnight for their turn on the following day for completion of visa cancellation formalities.
The DNRD official noted that on Sundays and Mondays the rush is expected to be greater considering that the Indian amnesty-seekers represent the highest percentage of the labour manpower in UAE.
He added that the FIS is beefing up its workforce for smooth processing of applications.
“We have staff working for 12 hours to meet the flow of illegals coming to benefit from the amnesty. The shifts were extended from 7.30am until 8.00pm for processing as many applications as possible.”
Commenting on the big rush outside FIS office, he explained that the ignorance of the amnesty-seekers about the procedures often leads to many coming to the FIS and hanging out all night in the hope that their application will be processed early next day. Others come without their passports or any other substitute documents issued by their country’s embassy or consulate.
He pointed out that many amnesty-seekers who arrive at the FIS with their passports and other necessary documents and have completed the fingerprinting and eye scan formalities at the Dubai headquarters, have to wait for cancellation of the visa until a police clearance is received. Only after the police report states that the amnesty-seeker has no criminal record, the FIS can cancel the visa and issue an exit pass, following which the amnesty-seeker is permitted to leave the country, the official added.
He further noted that amnesty-seekers should approach the Naturalisation and Residency Department of the emirate which had issued the visa when he first entered the country. “Some approach us for cancellation of residency or visit visas which were issued in another emirate. Each emirate has its own jurisdiction. If an infiltrator has sneaked into UAE from Fujairah, for example, then his exit pass must be issued from the Naturalization and Residency Department of Fujairah,” the official pointed out.
“Another reason that may delay the departure of the amnesty-seekers is when they come without confirmed tickets,” he said.
Mohammed Ismail, a Sri Lankan who worked for an aluminium company in Dubai, and arrived at the Follow-up and Investigation Section without his passport, said, “I have been in Dubai for a year and a half. I escaped from my sponsor four months ago and have no clue whether my passport was lost or still held by my sponsor. Now, I have been told that I should go to my country’s consulate for issuance of an emergency passport or a travel document.”
Mohammed’s work permit has already been cancelled and his absconding report was also cancelled at the Ministry of Labour.
Fares Jamal, also a Sri Lankan, was reported absconding from the domestic sanitary installations company. He came to the DNRD special hall to get his residence visa cancelled but his application was dismissed because he did not produce his passport.
News to make you smile
DUBAI - JUL 05: Plans to transform dental health will focus on improving oral hygiene by making looking after teeth an important part of people’s lives. Dubai Health Authority has linked up with Procter and Gamble, maker of Oral B and Crest toothpastes.
An awareness programme will be launched at all government-run hospitals and clinics focusing on preventative oral care practices.
A change in the way patients perceive clinics will play a part in encouraging people to visit their dentist more regularly.
“We have a problem with oral health in this region,” said Ihab El Labban, manager of Procter and Gamble Professional Oral Health Middle East.
“We have experience in product awareness and eventually we can change people’s minds about oral care.” One of the initiatives in the dental clinics will be the distribution of leaflets giving a step-by-step guide to basic preventive oral care.
Leaflets in Arabic will be distributed in hospitals and clinics.They will deal with oral care for pregnant women, for up to five-year-olds and people with diabetes. And there will be advice on basic oral care such as how to brush your teeth properly.
It is hoped the leaflets will enhance parental awareness. Parents will be encouraged to head for the dental clinic for check-ups when they take their children for vaccination.
Youngsters will be rewarded with a gift after receiving treatment and clinics will be more child-friendly, with toys and cartoon characters brightening up the centres.
Dr Navjot Singh, an orthodontist at Zulekha Hospital in Sharjah, said the project was needed not just in Dubai but across the country.
“If you look at dental decay in the UAE it has reached epidemic proportions,” he said. “In fact 99 per cent of the population is suffering from one or another form of decay.” Dr Navjot said he believed the cause was inefficient or poor oral hygiene.
Orkut fans upset as site is blocked
DUBAI — JUL 05: Internet users in the UAE have expressed anger over the decision of Telecom Regulatory Authority (TRA) to block the popular social network web site www.orkut.com.
TRA decided to block the site yesterday after discovering that obscene material was being posted by members of the network.
“We have received complaints from a newspaper and some individuals saying that objectionable material, including pornographic content, were posted on the site. We checked the site and found out that there were a few things which cannot be allowed in the UAE,” TRA spokesperson said.
“Our technical affairs department has issued an official letter to Etisalat to block the site,” he added.
An Etisalat official said, “Orkut was blocked following instructions from TRA.”
Meanwhile, many Internet users have branded the decision as “burning the house to kill a rat.”
“It is a childish decision to block www.orkut.com. I managed to keep contact with all my friends across the world through Orkut.
After I began using Orkut, I got connected with my old friends whom I had lost contact with,” said Arif Zain, a resident in Dubai.
“I understand that some people misused the site. But it is a common phenomenon for any social network. In this case, I would suggest TRA should ban Internet,” he added.
Delphin Vinod, a resident in Abu Dhabi, said the decision was unfortunate. “Technology has always been misused. But that does not mean that we should stop using technology. Instead of blocking the site, they should streamline it,” she said.
Wilson Joseph, a media professional, said, “It was an immature decision. I agree that some people posted some pornographic pictures and video on the site. But the users can choose what they want. Blocking the site was not the solution.”
“All the social networks and chat rooms on the Internet have been misused. Orkut was very helpful in reuniting old friends and meeting new friends,” he added.
No licensure exam for high school pass nurses
ABU DHABI — JUL 05: A senior health official at the Health Authority, Abu Dhabi (HAAD) has stated that nurses who possess high school certificates will not be asked to undergo licensure examination.
Engineer Zaid Siksek, Director of Health Policy and Regulations Department at HAAD, said the authority will not take into account years of experience. It will “try to find out who is in need of training to ensure quality care for patients.”
The official’s statement came in response to a complaint by a group of 35 Asian nurses from Mafraq Hospital who obtained high school certificates in their home countries and feared demotion in case they didn’t appear for the exams.
“Our policy is quite clear. We want to make sure that nurses who provide services to patients are well-qualified. Each country has its own system of education.
Recently, HAAD had made it mandatory for nurses who do not have secondary school certificate to sit for evaluation exams.
Under HAAD’s new policy, a 12-month grace period has been given to nurses during which they must sit for the licensure exams and each applicant will get three opportunities.
Examinations are scheduled for September. “We are holders of 10th grade certificate. The Plus-2 requirement of nursing was not introduced in our home countries when we joined the profession of nursing in the UAE,” said C.A., a senior nurse at Mafraq Hospital.
Campaign to rein in motorcyclists
DUBAI — JUL 05: A campaign against reckless motorcyclists will be launched by the Dubai Police Traffic Department, Deira branch, during the summer months.
Action will be taken against the offenders and their motorbikes will be confiscated, according to a senior police official.
The drive will be organised in pursuance with the instructions of Brigadier Mohammed Saif Al Zafeen, Director of the General Traffic Department of Dubai Police. Squads authorised to arrest the offenders would not hesitate in taking action against the offenders, Lt Colonel Mohammed Yousouf Majid Al Mohiri, Director of the Traffic Department at Deira branch, said.
He called on parents to advise their children against reckless behaviour on the roads, explaining the risks of riding motorcycles by children. Major Hamood Saeed Al Amiri, Sectional head of Freeways Security, who will supervise the campaign, said the department had prepared a well-knit campaign to control the traffic of motorbikes.
Dubai - Alert watchman saves suicidal professor
Dubai - Jul 05: A university lecturer who tried to commit suicide by letting exhaust fumes into his car was saved after a vigilant watchman noticed what was going on and pulled him from the vehicle. The Dubai Court of First Instance heard yesterday that in March the man, who suffers with psychological problems, decided to end his life.
He put a hose pipe in the exhaust of his car, putting the other end of it through the window. Then, after grabbing a bottle of whiskey, he got into his car, pulled a dust sheet out to cover it and turned on the engine. He then sat there swigging whiskey and inhaling the fumes until he passed out.
However, the Indian watchman then went past on his rounds and became suspicious when he saw the car was covered but the engine was running. After peeking in the car he saw the man slumped in the driver’s seat. “I saw him unconscious on the passenger seat. I opened the door and he fell on the ground and I could smell alcohol on him,” he said.
He immediately called the police who transported the lecturer to the American Hospital where he received treatment and eventually made a full recovery. Yesterday the man was given one-month suspended sentence for attempting to commit suicide and consuming alcohol.