News headlines

Excerpts from UAE Dailies

Beggars target people withdrawing money from ATM

DUBAI — JUL 08: Beggars in Deira streets have devised a new trick to con people. They now prey upon unsuspecting people, especially those who’ve just drawn money from an ATM, by narrating ‘tragic’ tales.

The trend is rampant even when the authorities are cracking down on the menace all over the country. In the recent months, Dubai Police has rounded up hundreds of beggars.

“No one can make out that they are beggars. They dress smartly and when approaching a ‘potential prey’ pretend as if they are former colleagues or acquaintances,” said one victim.    Mogesh Salim, an Ethiopian national, claims to have fallen victim to this trickery not once, but twice.

Narrating one of the encounters, Salim says it happened one evening when he had just withdrawn money from the ATM at ADCB on Naif Road. A woman in a ‘hijab’ approached him.

“At first, I thought she wanted to inquire about something. I had seen her waiting near the ATM. I never could imagine that she was a beggar,” said Salim. “She claimed her husband died a month ago and was unable to look after the children without help from Muslim brothers.”

He said, “It is very had to ignore such a person, especially if she is projecting an Islamic image and telling a tragic tale.” He, nevertheless, did give her some cash only to be told by some people in the area that he had been taken for a ride by the woman.

Haleem Mahdi, a Yemen businessman, had a different story to tell. He narrated how an old man conned him into believing that he had a chronic disease and was in dire need of money to buy some medicines. This incident, too, happened after Mahdi had drawn cash from an ATM at Baniyas Road in Deira.

“The man approached me when I was still counting the money I had withdrawn. I was shocked to see him in front of me, something I did not expect at that time. I had not noticed him standing in the vicinity when I entered the booth,” says Salim.

Salim said he gave the man some money out of fear because he was caught offguard.

When he told his friends about the incident, Salim discovered that some of his friends, too, had fallen victim to a similar ploy.

“Some of the ATMs don’t have security guards and if such incidents continue, they could pose a security risk,” says a worried Salim.


Dubai - RTA reassures motorists over Salik fines

Dubai - JUL 08: The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has assured motorists who have not yet received text messages confirming their Salik accounts that they they will not be fined if they run out of credit. “The moment you stick on the Salik tag, it is already activated even if you don’t get a message from RTA. Motorists can use Salik without fear of fines until they receive a message from us giving information of the balance,” a spokes-person for the RTA said.

The organisation put the delay down to the fact that 200,000 tags were sold in the last three days before Salik began, causing a backlog of registrations. “This rush caused a delay in the confirmation SMS containing the subscriber’s account number and pin.  Even if motorists did not receive an SMS, the tag is automatically activated and operational,” said Maitha Bin Adai, CEO of the RTA.

Over the last week, motorists across the city have written to 7DAYS worrying about the fines they may be facing. “I am dangerously close to completing the dhs50 credit on my tag. How am I supposed to add credit if I don't have the account details? All I am asking for is one SMS giving me my account details,” said one reader.
Another said: “Today my plan was to put dhs2,000 on my Salik account so that I do not have to worry for a whole year. But I realised you cannot charge up your Salik account on their web site. Emirates Bank and Dubai Islamic Bank do not seem to have the facilities to process Salik payments.”

The RTA admitted that banks still did not have the right facilities, but added that recharge is now available and that drivers can already top up their accounts at participating petrol stations.


Dubai - Hamour danger

Dubai - Jul 08: Fans of UAE diet staple the Hamour fish could be left feeling hungry if action is not taken to protect it from over-fishing, according to Dubai environmentalists. EWS-WWF has categorised the popular white coral-bed fish as a ‘flagship species’, and has made it the subject of a comprehensive campaign to conserve its home in the UAE’s the coral beds.

A WWF spokesperson said: “The Hamour is the most commercial fish in the UAE but due to their slow reproductive rate they are particularly vulnerable to over-fishing.” The strictly reef-dependent fish are some of the oldest fish on the coral reef, some being more than 50 years old, and are born females.

The fish, which can reach up to three metres and weigh more than 400kg, only change to males as they become much older - meaning their reproduction rate is far slower than other fish. And that, say the WWF, is where the problem lies. “Hamours in the Arabian Gulf are exported up to seven times beyond sustainable levels, mainly because they are caught before they can reproduce,” said the spokesperson.

“Destruction of their coral reef habitat is adding stress to the rapid decline of the species. The Hamour is largely dependent on the coral reefs for bedding, foraging and shelter.” The organisation says the facts are “worrying” and have led to the urgent need for fisheries management and more effective marine protected areas.

The EWS-WWF added: “Because of its particular biology and economic impact in the UAE, the Hamour has been chosen as a flagship species, due a comprehensive awareness campaign for the conservation and sustainable management of coral reef resources for biodiversity and tourism in the UAE.”


85pc of commuters satisfied with abra

DUBAI — JUL 08: A public opinion poll conducted for the Marine Agency of the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has revealed that 85 per cent of abra commuters are satisfied with the facility’s services.

The survey, which was carried out by Ethos Consultancies Company on behalf of the Marine Agency, aimed at assessing the rate of customer satisfaction from abra performance and the quality of services provided in the domestic marine transport. It covered 520 abra commuters spread over six stations on the Dubai Creek.

Eng. Eisa Abdul Rahman Al Dosari, chief executive officer of the Marine Agency, said that the aim of the poll was to identify the categories of customers and their reason for using the abras.

“It also helps us in gauging the satisfaction of domestic marine transport customers whose number is expected to hit 21 million by the end of this year. They use 149 abras owned by 149 UAE nationals of limited income group and operated by 300 operators. The ultimate goal of the survey was to encourage commuters to submit their proposals and feedback in a bid to improve and upgrade the services provided,” he further explained.

The survey focused on a number of aspects that included personal details of abra users, security, safety, communication with RTA officials, attitude of abra operators, the reason for using abras, impact of abras on the environment, integration of abras with other modes of transport, the educational level and employment category of abra commuters, Al Dosari added.

The poll findings also concluded that 32 per cent of abra users are Asians, 11 per cent are from the UAE, 4 per cent from the GCC, 28 per cent from Western countries and 16 per cent from other Arab countries.

A total of 231 commuters (43 per cent) said that they mainly used the abras to go to their respective workplaces. Reasons mentioned by others included: 87 passengers (17 per cent)  private business, 65 passengers (13 per cent)  shopping, 57 passengers (11 per cent) return home, 45 passengers (11 per cent) for  tourism, 30 passengers (6 per cent) miscellaneous purposes, and 5 passengers (1 per cent) to go to schools.


Hero Cop Stabbed in Swoop on Gang 
A courageous Dubai policeman was stabbed by a gangster when a team of officers launched a raid on a criminal hideout.  He was seriously injured as he confronted the Asian knifeman, said to be a member of a five-strong gang engaged in a range of criminal activities.

The stricken officer, a UAE national, was last night out of danger and recovering in hospital. His condition was said to be stable.

His assailant was overpowered and arrested during the raid by plain-clothes officers in the Fareej Al Marar area of Deira. The other suspects were also seized.

“Five members of the Asian gang were arrested following the stabbing,” said an official spokesman for Dubai Police.

“They resisted arrest during the raid and tried to prevent the officers from carrying out their duty.

“One gangster took out a sharp knife and stabbed a policeman, injuring him, in the fight. However, the officer’s condition is stable now.” A manhunt was later launched by police to track down accomplices of the suspects in Sharjah and Dubai.

Another police source said: “Ashraf, the knifeman, is notorious for bullying people.

“The gang extracted protection money from illegal agents who sold illicit liquor and fake CDs, and were engaged in a number of other illegal activities.  “They impersonated police officers as they carried out some of their crimes, and had a reputation for bullying and threatening victims.

“The team in the raid were not in uniform and the gang members thought they were trying to dupe them by acting as CID officers.” “Ashraf took out a knife to scare them away – but when the officers went ahead with the raid, he stabbed one of the policemen.” Police swooped in after they received complaints about the gang’s criminal activities from a member of the public.



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