NEWS FROM THE UAE
Excerpts from UAE Dailies
Speed limits may be reduced
DUBAI - JUL 09: Speed limits on all major roads in Dubai could be cut following a review currently being carried out, a senior Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) official said yesterday. The study will be completed within two months and a decision on revised limits will be taken based on its findings and proposals, said Bader Al Siri, director of RTA’s Traffic Department.
Speed limits are currently set at between 80kph and 100kph on most major roads and at 120kph on highways in the emirate.
Earlier this year, the limit on Beirut Road was reduced from 100kph to 80kph and the limit on Jumeirah Beach Road was cut to 70kph.
The review covers all areas of Dubai and the recommendations will consider traffic volume and road safety.
“The two main issues on which our decision will be based are the volume of traf- fic on Dubai’s roads and the increasing number of accidents,” said Al Siri.
“The study will be complet- ed in two months and the new speed limits will come into force based on the results.” But he declined to say what the new limits will be 1:01:32 or which .ai 6/28/07 roads are targeted.
Earlier, following a survey carried out by Emirates Today as part of the You Decide Campaign, readers requested a review of speed limits on major roads.
They said the limit on Shiekh Zayed Road should be cut to 100kph.
Around 57 per cent of the participants said reducing speed limits on majority of the roads would drastically bring down the number of accidents.
In 2005, a total of 245 acci dents were caused by speed ing – resulting in 53 deaths and 376 injuries, plus six pedestrian deaths.
Engineer Khalfan Al Barwani, director of traffic safety at the Traffic Department, had said the limits on Sheikh Zayed Road and various other routes had to be reviewed.
“Speeding is a problem as it results in a number of accidents,” he said. “There are way too many people violating speed limits and there is a need for a crackdown.
“The higher the speed the greater will be the impact of an accident. Almost 80 per cent of people killed in road accidents are due to speeding.” The limit on Sheikh Zayed Road between the Trade Centre and the third interchange is 100kph, but motorists are allowed to drive at 120kph on the remaining part of the road.
The RTA recently announced a minimum speed limit of 60kph on a number of major highways in Dubai.
The minimum speed limit will apply on routes where the existing speed limit is 100kph or more.
Airlines come up with special fares for amnesty seekers
DUBAI — JUL 09: Some airlines operating flights to India and Bangladesh have made certain arrangements for amnesty seekers who are required to leave the UAE after completing the clemency procedures.
Mohammad Ali Ahsan, regional manager for Dubai and the Northern Emirates of Biman Bangladesh Airlines, said that they had reduced the cost of air fare for three of their major sectors, which are homes to most of the Bangladeshi nationals working in the UAE.
“ We have reduced the fare by Dh50 to all our flights to Dhaka, Sylhet, and Chittagong, where a large population of UAE-based Bangladeshi nationals are residing. This special fare has been made available not only to amnesty seekers but also to regular passengers,” he said.
Ahsan said Dnata, Biman Air’s general sales agent in the UAE, has set up a counter at the Bangladesh Consulate General where amnesty seekers can immediately book their tickets or inquire about fares.
“ We are constantly in touch with both the Bangladesh Embassy in Abu Dhabi and the Bangladesh Consulate General in Dubai for concerns related to the amnesty programme. If there would be a need for extra flights due to the rush, we will inform our head office accordingly,” Ahsan mentioned.
Arrangements for wheelchair-bound passengers, Ahsan added, have also been made through Dnata, which facilitates ground handling requests at the Dubai International Airport (DIA).
Jaishree Ramachandran, Air India’s regional manager-Dubai and Northern Emirates, revealed that a ticketing counter will also be set up at the Indian Consulate General for amnesty seekers.
The carrier has not so far offered any special fares to those who have availed of the amnesty but Ramachandran said they are discussing this matter with the concerned authorities.
Likewise, she pointed out that ìthe decision to increase our flights for amnesty seekers will only be determined once the number of bookings pick up, which would probably be sometime in August, the last month for the amnesty.
Abhay Pathak, Indian Airlines’ regional manager for the Gulf, agreed that the need for additional flights has not been felt yet but their airline will react accordingly depending on the market demand.
Low water pressure to hit parts of Dubai today
DUBAI — JUL 09: A low pressure in water supply to several homes located in Bur Dubai, Al Karama, Mankhool, Al Hamriya, Al Satwa, Al Raffa and Umm Hurair will be experienced today.
A Dewa senior official denied reports of interruptions in water supply due to work carried out by the Roads and Transport Authority on the Metro Project which requires diversion of a major water pipeline on the second interchange on Shaikh Zayed Road. He ruled out a complete disruption of water supply in some parts of Dubai. “Instead, the water supply to several homes located in the area where Metro project is under way, will face low pressure,” he stressed.
Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, the Managing Director and CEO, Dewa underplayed the consequences of the pipeline diversion saying it would hardly be felt by the residents. “Due to the deep excavations carried out by RTA, a 2-km pipeline will be diverted to another corridor. The relocation of the pipeline, which has a diameter of 1200 millimetres, won’t take more than few hours. For further reassurance of our customers there are four substitute pipelines of 1200mm, 300mm, 300mm and 600ml each”. The 1200 mm pipeline has a productive capacity of 25 million gallons of water a day”.
Al Tayer said, “Dewa’s first requirements for new connections of its services of water supplies is to have a ground water tank and an overhead tank. The storing capacity of these tanks, which are available in every villa or building, is sufficient and will meet the needs of customers for 24 hours at least. As to the old buildings and homes, they usually have one water tank and consumption differs between one family and another depending on the number of the family members. So the people in various areas which are supplied by this particular pipeline will hardly feel the reduction in water pressure. The areas are namely Bur Dubai, Al Karama, Mankhool, Al Hamriya, Al Satwa, Al Raffa and Umm Hurair.”
“Dewa produces nearly 236 million gallons of water a day in Dubai and the authority is constantly undertaking new projects to meet the needs of the growing population in Dubai. Some minor problems occur sometimes because of new construction and contracting projects,” he concluded.
Cervical cancer on the rise due to low screening
UAE- JUL 09: A cervical cancer problem is growing in the UAE because of a lack of screening and apathy towards possible preventative measures. Cervical cancer affects one in every 123 women worldwide. And in the UAE the Cancer Incidence Report listed it as the fifth most common form of disease among national women and the second most common among non-Emirati women.
“The risk in the UAE is very, very high,” said Dr Gregg Sylvester, a public health expert at pharmaceutical firm Merck.
“The biggest cause is the lack of smear testing among women in this region.” “Maybe this is due to cultural issues, but the fact remains that even married women do not seem to visit their gynaecologist for regular screening. The majority of visits are for pregnancy-related purposes.” Regular screening can detect mutations in the cells of the cervix before they turn into cancer. And 70 per cent of cases could be prevented by a vaccination against the sexually transmitted virus that triggers mutation.
Many women are able to fight off the human papilloma virus, which can cause the cancer. But in some it stays active in the body for a long period of time, altering the cervical cells and turning them cancerous. Last year Merck launched a vaccine against the virus called Gardasil, which it recommended for all women of childbearing age – and particularly younger girls.
But observers say the vaccine has not received a particularly favourable response in the UAE.
“The virus is widespread around the world and this vaccine will benefit women in the UAE as much as it would benefit them elsewhere,” said Dr Sylvester.
He delivered this message at a symposium on cervical cancer in Abu Dhabi to which gynaecologists, paediatricians, physicians and nurses were invited to learn more about the disease.
Taxi owners get a week more to apply for compensation plan
Abu Dhabi - Jul 09: Abu Dhabi taxi owners have one more week to apply for compensation and surrender their permits to authorities. The Taxi and Hire Car Regulation Centre (THCRC) yesterday advised the owners of existing taxis registered in the emirate of Abu Dhabi that they must submit their papers for the compensation scheme within a week.
The centre, after receiving the documents for compensation, will phase out all the taxis and replace them with modern fleets of 7,000 vehicles which will be operated by private companies.
Abu Dhabi, including Al Ain and other parts of the Western Region of the emirate, currently has more than 8,000 taxis operating.
The centre warned that those owners failing to register before the deadline of July 15 will not benefit from the scheme, under which each owner will receive a monthly compensation of Dh1,000 for surrendering their licences to the centre.
The licences will be used by the private companies to operate new taxis.
“We are pleased with the response received so far from taxi owners,” said Khaled Saleh Al Rashedi, general manager of the centre.
“However, we want to give a fair and firm reminder to all taxi owners who have not complied with the request to register by July 15,” he said .
“We encourage all taxi owners in the emirate to act early to take advantage of the extended branch network and avoid last-minute submissions or the risk of missing deadlines,” he added.
As mandated by Law number 19 of 2006, Abu Dhabi’s Taxi and Hire Car Regulation Centre is working on its plan to build the new taxi system in Abu Dhabi.
Owners of licensed taxis in Abu Dhabi are requested to submit proof of ownership between July 1 and July 15, 2007.
“This process allows us as a regulator to manage and monitor the new taxi scheme efficiently and ensure a smooth transition from the existing structure to the new state-of-the-art system,” Al Rashedi said.
He also advised taxi owners to call the centre hotline (600560006) for further information.
Absconders’ eyes scanned; entry banned for lifetime
ABU DHABI — JUL 09: A total of 3,689 illegal workers and 863 absconders have left the country till yesterday since the three-month amnesty period started, Colonel Nasir Al Awadi Al Menhali, director of Abu Dhabi Naturalisation and Residency Department (ADNRD) told Khaleej Times yesterday.
He said that the ADNRD is ready to meet the rush and work load during the amnesty period that ends on September 2 this year. “We work from 7 am to 10 pm to receive the applications from the illegal workers who want to leave the country,” added Colonel Al Menhali.
The ADNRD receives about 500 applications a day. Hence, all the offices of the concerned departments at the ADNRD work with full staff to meet the rush in the capital.
The ADNRD have taken the eye scan for a total of 863 absconders who came to the department to leave the country during the amnesty period. However, the ADNRD copied their eye scan at the airport to give them a life ban because they had violated the county’s laws for many years and ran away from their employers.
“ADNRD will facilitate all the formalities for the illegals who have had no work permit or have expired visas, and for the absconders they will not enter the UAE again,” said Colonel Al Menhali.
The ADNRD gave the life ban to the absconders in case of the absconding was correct.
Meanwhile, the under secretary of the Ministry of Labour (MoL) Humaid bin Deemas told Khaleej Times that the officials at the MoL call the illegal labourers, employers and companies to come to the ministry and the concerned authorities to regularise the status of the illegal or deporting them.
Left in the lurch without a passport
DUBAI — JUL 09: Filipina national Julieta Dispo’s concern may have been one of the rare cases of amnesty seekers that the Philippine Consulate General (PCG) in Dubai has encountered so far.
Recruited directly from the Philippines as a housemaid in July 2005, Dispo’s contract mentioned that she will work for a family in Lebanon. But her employers brought her to Dubai when they relocated to the UAE in September of the same year. Since then, she has not seen her passport or even a copy of her UAE visa as her travel documents were kept by her employers.
“I worked for my employers for almost a year until I decided to run away in May 2006 because they weren’t paying my monthly wages. I worked as part-time housekeeper for various homes to help me earn a living and send money home to my five children,” she disclosed.
For more than a year, Dispo had been an undocumented alien in the UAE. “When the news of the amnesty came out, I immediately went to the Department of Immigration to apply. But I was told that my passport had not been surrendered by my former employers. I also tried to get in touch with my former sponsors but I learned that they have left their apartment and changed their mobile phone numbers,” a desperate Dispo mentioned.
As a further proof to Dispo’s missing travel document, she was informed by the Assistance to Nationals (ATN) Section of the PCG that her name was also not included in the list of hundreds of passports turned over to the consulate by the Dubai Naturalisation and Residency Department (DNRD).
A senior officer at the ATN Section has advised Dispo to contact her recruitment agency in Manila and request for a faxed copy of her passport so that an exit pass may be issued on her behalf by the PCG in place of her missing travel document.
Dispo refused to have her hopes dampened by this latest discovery. “It may take me a few days to complete the amnesty requirements but I will do whatever is necessary. It has been two years since I last saw my kids and I sincerely want to go home. I’m just waiting for the amnesty procedures to be completed before I finally purchase my air ticket,” she said.
Licensed taxi owners try best not to miss the bus
ABU DHABI — JUL 09: Owners of licensed taxis in the emirate of Abu Dhabi have seven days before they miss the July 15 deadline to submit their proof of ownership at selected branches of National Bank of Abu Dhabi, which now includes the Baniyas branch in Abu Dhabi. Taxi owners registering within the given time-frame will benefit from the new compensation scheme.
“We are pleased with the response received so far from taxi owners in the emirate. However, we want to give a fair and firm reminder to all taxi owners who have not complied with this important request to register by July 15,” Khaled Saleh Al Rashedi, general manager, Taxi and Hire Car Regulation Centre, said yesterday.
“We encourage all taxi owners to act early to take advantage of the extended branch network and avoid last minute submissions or the risk of missing deadlines,” added Al Rashedi.
As mandated by Law number 19 of 2006, Abu Dhabi’s Taxi and Hire Car Regulation Centre is working on its plan to bring the new taxi system in Abu Dhabi.
Earlier, owners of licensed taxis in Abu Dhabi emirate were requested to submit proof of ownership between July 1 and July 15.
“This process allows us as a regulator to manage and monitor the new taxi scheme efficiently and ensures a smooth transition from the existing structure to the new state-of-the-art system,” Al Rashedi explained.
Owners of licensed taxis need to submit thefollowing documents:
Copy of the owner’s passport
Copy of the family book
Copy of the power of attorney (in the event of inheritance)
Original and copy of owner’s registration card (valid)
Copy of driver’s passport
Copy of driver’s driving licence (valid)
Original and copy of the driver’s Labour Card
New medical norms for expats from next year
ABU DHABI — JUL 09: An amended federal law on medical check-ups for expatriate labour force that ensures authenticity of medical fitness certificate, will be enacted from January next year, according to a senior health official.
“The Ministry of Health (MoH) has revised and introduced changes to the existing federal law on foreign labour force medical check-ups to further control the process and ensure its efficacy, “ Dr Ali bin Shukur, Under-Secretary of the MoH, yesterday told Khaleej Times.
He said the amended law, which would be enforced in January 2008 would mention authorities entitled to conduct the medical tests, and specify needed technical and administrative conditions health facilities must obtain to carry out the required health examinations.
“This law has been revised and amended because it deals with a sensitive issue of examining expat labour force for infectious diseases. If all measures and procedures were not well put in place, this will open a gate for importing epidemics inside the country,” said Dr Shukur.
At present, expat labour force undergos medical tests for HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, tuberculosis and infectious diseases. The medical fitness certificate is a prerequisite for expats to get a visa.
Delineating areas covered by the amended law, the official said: “The law stipulates setting up a committee inside the MoH to oversee rules and regulations pertaining to medical check-ups with the aim of imposing stricter control on the whole process”. “The law involves local health authorities in the country to join hands in monitoring and regulating tests procedures across the country, and issuing authenticated medical fitness certificate, “ explained Dr Shukur.
Electronic system used in collecting fees levied for medical tests, is also revised under the amended law, he said. About whether the MoH will introduce new tests, the official replied: “We are not thinking for now to introducing new tests. Our aim is to develop the existing law in a way that better avert transmission of contagious diseases into the country.”
Taj Mahal inclusion in new list of seven wonders delights Indian expats in UAE
DUBAI — JUL 09: The inclusion of Taj Mahal in the new list of seven wonders polled by people around the globe has delighted the Indian expatriates in the UAE.
New 7 Wonders Foundation, a Swiss non-profit group, launched the contest in January, allowing Internet and telephone voters to choose between 21 sites short-listed from 77 selected by a jury. Reports said, it had gathered nearly 100 million votes by the end of polling by midnight on Friday.
Taj Mahal accompanied by The Great Wall of China, Petra in Jordan, Statue of Christ Redeemer in Brazil, Machu Picchu in Peru, Pyramid of Chichen Itza in Mexico and the Roman Collosseum in the list announced at a gala ceremony in the Portuguese capital Lisbon to coincide with the date 07.07.07.
C. Gangadhar, Assistant Director of India Tourism Dubai, said, “ This announcement will boost the tourism sector in India to a further level. Taj Mahal was always a pride of India and this announcement will attract more tourists from all over the world to India.”
He said, “Taj Mahal was always admired as one of the best man-made marvels by the global community. This poll result adds more attention which can boost India’s growing tourism sector,” he added.
“ When people visit India to See Taj, they will also go to other places. This will help other Indian destinations to attract more tourists,” he pointed out.
Dr Ram Buxani, prominent Indian businessman, said, “Taj Mahal is monument of Love. This announcement is a pride for India and Indians. It will boost the image of the country and help more people to visit India.”
“ I congratulate Indians as well as global community for recognising Taj Mahal once again. This is a historic moments for India,” he added.
Faisal Ahmed, a media professional, said, “ I think Taj Mahal does not need any more recognition especially from a private agency. Taj Mahal is a pride of India and it is a clean example of the India’s rich cultural heritage.”
“However, this announcement brought Taj Mahal once again to limelight. It will help to attract more people to India,” he added.
Bob Mathew a shipping agent in Dubai said, “ I am happy to hear the news. But still Iam not convinced about the private agency running a show and selecting Taj Mahal as new seven wonders.”
“ As the organisers claim, if 100 million people were voted in the poll it is definitely an achievement,” he added.
Dubai - I think I’m stuck
Dubai - Jul 09: A taxi driver who tried to check how much fuel was left in his car by sticking his hand into the petrol tank was left trapped for three hours, needing a team of 17 rescue workers to save him from his predicament. The rescue operation follows a 7DAYS story carried last week detailing the plight of a young boy stuck in an Arabic-styled toilet who needed 20 members of the rescue services to help free his leg that had plunged into the opening and stuck there.
In the latest incident, the Pakistani taxi driver was unsure how much fuel he had left due to a faulty gauge, so he removed the petrol cap and stuck his arm into the fuel tank hoping to wiggle his fingers in the petrol and guess the level. Unfortunately he was unable to remove his arm and remained completely stuck.
After two hours of tugging and pulling on his arm by concerned motorists and residents in Satwa, police were alerted to the scene. The police force’s Difficult Missions Squad arrived at the scene along with a team of police officers, six paramedics and a squad of men from Civil Defence.
Hussain Al-Mansouri, a specialist with the Difficult Missions Squad, said: “We tried to calm the man down as he was afraid and very tired. He had been stuck for a number of hours and there were crowds of people watching. Our job was not easy as any sparks from machinery used to extricate him could have ignited the fuel.”
After a further hour, the embarrassed motorist was freed and taken to hospital. He suffered minor injuries and was released from Rashid Hospital following treatment. His car was a complete write-off after being cut into pieces. during the rescue.