NEWS FROM THE UAE
Excerpts from UAE Dailies
120kmph highway rule for taxis
DUBAI — JUL 29: The Dubai Taxi Agency of the Roads and Transport Agency (RTA) has fixed a speed limit of 120kmph for its taxis on highways.
The implementation of the new rule follows the ‘Safe and Smooth Transport for All’ campaign being run by RTA since March.
Abdul Aziz Malik, CEO of Dubai Taxi Agency of the RTA, stated that besides satellite monitoring, a system to set maximum speed limit is now in place in all taxis operating in Dubai.
“It has been coordinated with car-manufacturing companies that the speed limit of new vehicles to be supplied will be set in advance. “Dubai Taxi Agency followed up this matter with the companies and launched several awareness campaigns for implementing this decision among drivers. It was made clear that action will be taken against violating drivers as per the applicable rules and regulations,” said Malik.
“Implementation of this decision started on March 1 following installation of the required systems in all taxi. Dubai Taxi Agency aims to ensure the highest level of safety for all users of Dubai roads,” he said.
Etisalat sop for fixed-line customers
ABU DHABI — JUL 29: Etisalat has extended the benefits of its popular ‘Favourite Country Plan’ to its fixed line subscribers around the UAE. With no rental or subscription fees, Etisalat fixed line customers will be able to enjoy 30 per cent discounts on all calls made to one international destination 24 hours a day.
This discount will apply to both peak and off-peak call rates, and will translate to significant savings on calls to most-called international destinations.
The Favourite Country Plan was introduced in June this year for Etisalat mobile customers, with which Wasel prepaid customers enjoy 24-hour discounts of 20 per cent to their favourite country, and post-paid mobile customers enjoy discounts of 25 per cent.
Essa Al Haddad, Chief Marketing Officer, Etisalat, said: “Our customers tend to call one country more than any other. With the Favourite Country Plan, Etisalat actually makes it easier to reach out to loved ones.”
Customers who subscribe to the Favourite Country Plan have the option of changing their favourite country, and each change or cancellation of subscription will attract a charge of Dh10.
Apart from the Favourite Country Plan, Etisalat also offers the Global Friends and Family plan to its fixed line and mobile customers. With this plan, customers will enjoy 24-hour discounts of 20 per cent on peak and off-peak call rates to any three international numbers anywhere in the world. This service is provided with a monthly rental of Dh20, and Dh5 for each change to the selected numbers.
Fixed line customers can simply dial 125 from their phones, while mobile customers — both prepaid and postpaid — can call 125, or sign up by SMS to 1010.
Insurance firms push car owners to install trackers
DUBAI AND SHARJAH — JUL 29: In a move to encourage motorists to install trackers in their vehicles, a number of insurance companies have begun to give percentage subsidy to clients who have car trackers, sources in car rentals and insurance companies said here. The move is a sequel to the recent rise in the number of car thefts.
A spokesperson of a popular insurance company told Khaleej Times that the company was granting subsidies to its customers because vehicles with car trackers were helping them to save huge amounts which otherwise would have to be paid to car owners in cases of car thefts.
“We have on a number of occasions received cases of stolen cars and efforts to trace them have been in vain. The insurance company had to pay out huge amounts. However, if a car tracker is installed in the car, the risks involved are minimised,” added the spokesperson.
The rent-a-car business seems to be the leading target with several cases of car thefts having been reported over the past few months.
Sharjah Police had in the recent months reported a number of car thefts involving luxury cars costing up to Dh10 million.
Among the car theft cases was one which was reported to Al Ghareb police station in Sharjah. It involved a suspected Pakistani, identified as AA, and some Russian gangsters. They were alleged to have stolen cars and exported them, or sent them out of the country after dismantling.
Some car rental companies, when contacted by Khaleej Times, reported having been victim to car-snatchings.
Sharjah-based rent-a-car owners said their cars had been grabbed by thieves and till date they remain untraced.
Car rental companies are, however, very happy with the percentage subsidy that the insurance companies are giving to their clients with car trackers.
“We have started installing car trackers in most of our luxury cars since that is one way we could guarantee safety of our cars, and the fact that insurance companies are now giving out a subsidy for this, we are giving it much more value,” said a car rental owner in Dubai.
Some car rental owners said in cases of car theft, most of the time insurance companies were reluctant to compensate them by dubbing the cars thefts as “breach of trust.”
They have urged competent authorities to take tough measures against the export of cars, because some of them may be stolen cars and hidden inside containers.
In a recent case, a container full of stolen cars was discovered in Jebeli Ali, a few months ago. Rental car owners had earlier tracked the container at Sharjah Port, but it was cleverly transferred to Jebeli Ali port. However, the container was finally tracked down and the cars confiscated.
Similar cases of stolen cars being shipped in containers had been recently uncovered at Al Qusais and Sharjah ports.
Ban mars prospects of amnesty seeker
DUBAI — JUL 29: For Egyptian national Ahmed Al Shareef, amnesty is anything but a blessing. Ahmed, who has been working in Dubai illegally for more than six months, regrets having approached the Follow-up and Investigation Section in Jumeirah.
“I came on a visit visa to Dubai in October last year searching for a job in decoration and equipment installation. I came full with hopes and aspirations thinking that this big city would make my dreams come true. I wanted to secure a good life for my family back home.
“However, I spent a long time searching for a job,” narrates Ahmed. In his search for the job, Ahmed’s visit visa expired and he decided to stay on as an illegal resident. “I did not renew my visit visa because I had run out of money. I was desperately looking for a sponsor.
“In January, I got the job of a foreman. However, my illegal status made me live in a constant state of worry,” says Ahmed.
The amnesty made Ahmed hope that everything would be all right, eventually. “When I heard about the amnesty, I felt happy. I regained my hope of earning a good living for my kids and wife.
“Besides, I was feeling doubly lucky as my job application for a private assignment had been recently approved. I was honest with the manager and told him everything about my illegal status in UAE. He advised me to benefit from the amnesty and regularise my status. He promised me that he would give me the job after I corrected my documents,” he stated.
But Ahmed’s hopes were shattered. “I thought that through the amnesty, my problems would end. It never occurred to me that a ban of one year would be stamped on my passport.
“I heard that the ban would only be imposed on people who had infiltrated into the UAE, or on those reported absconding.
“But now I have to go back to Egypt and I will be denied entry to UAE for one year. I lost the job which took me almost nine months to find. It is a pity and I don’t know what to do!” he sighed.
DNRD staff puts in long hours to meet demand
DUBAI — JUL 29: To cope with the rush of Indian amnesty-seekers, the Dubai Naturalisation and Residency Department (DNRD) officials are working overtime to issue exit passes at the temporary centre in Our Own English High School, Dubai. So far, DNRD has processed about 75,000 applications concerning exit passes and regularisation of residency status.
To speed up the process, DNRD officials at the Follow-up and Investigation Section (FIS) in Jumeirah and at the temporary centre will now be working six days a week.
DNRD Director Brig. Mohammed Ahmed Al Marri, who visited Our Own English High School to supervise his staff, told Khaleej Times, “We have mobilised our staff at the centres to handle the rush of people seeking to benefit from the amnesty. About 75,000 applications have been processed, including exit passes and regularisation of status.”
Around eight DNRD officials have been working since mid-July from 7am until late evening at the new centre. On an average, they process about 1,800 applications every day, said the official.
Sergeant Mooza Mohammed Ali of DNRD said, “People throng the centre everyday and some of them sleep here overnight to get their exit passes made early the next day. All of them had come to the UAE with the hope of making money and endured a lot of hardships on the way. We feel sorry for them and try to process as many applications as possible in a day, so that they can go back to their families as early as possible.”
The sergeant insists that despite the extended hours they put in throughout the week, they enjoy their work.
Another DNRD official, Sergeant Taher Akbar Suleiman, says, “Many people hold an air ticket for the next day and are desperate to get all the formalities completed quickly. We help facilitate the process.”
Interestingly, many of the officials can speak Hindi and that helps bridge the communication gap. In less than a minute, the exit passes are issued and other necessary formalities completed, assures DNRD official Fahad Obeid, who is in-charge of the centre.
“We are processing about 1,700-1,800 applications a day. I believe the rush will increase in the coming weeks as the September first week deadline is drawing closer. My staff is enjoying doing this and they are handling the work very efficiently. They know their job well. I am very proud of their competence and their team work,” added Brig Al Marri with pride.
Preparations under way to mark Abu Dhabi Police golden jubilee
ABU DHABI — JUL 29: The Abu Dhabi Police has played a pivotal role in enhancing the security of the society along with other agencies in the country, Major General Khalil Dawoud Badran, Director-General of finance and services at Abu Dhabi Police, has emphasised.
He added that the preparations are under way to mark the golden jubilee in the month of November.
Maj-Gen. Badran, who is also the head of the organising committee for Abu Dhabi Police golden jubilee celebrations, said: “The completion of 50 years of service since the inception of the police force in 1957 is worth great celebration.”
The celebrations will be held under the auspices of Lt-Gen. Shaikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Interior.
Maj-Gen. Badran said that the police force has achieved great heights due to the constant support of the President, His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and the close follow-up of General Shaikh Mohammad bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.
Beachgoers warned against swimming in prohibited areas
DUBAI — JUL 29: Beachgoers have been warned against swimming in the prohibited areas, particularly the areas marked with red flags. Swimming at night is also prohibited.
Officials at Dubai Ports Police paid field visits to Jumeirah and Al Mamzar beaches to spread the awareness of the hazards of swimming in the prohibited areas and at night.
Pamphlets have been distributed in Arabic and English, carrying guidelines for beachgoers and beach buggy drivers.
WALK OF HOPE
DUBAI - JUL 29: A mother has taken the first step in a walk-a-thon campaign designed to raise awareness of the reading and writing disorder, dyslexia. Varsha Katara, 33, walked 15 kilometres, from City Mart in Bur Dubai to Mall of the Emirates. She plans to repeat the feat every Friday until teaching standards and practices, for dealing with students who suffer from the condition, are improved.
She was inspired by Terry Fox, the Canadian cancer treatment campaigner who raised cash for research with her Marathon of Hope.
Varsha, whose seven-yearold son, Kunal, is dyslexic, wants to spread awareness of the condition among parents and teachers.
She believes this will encourage positive changes in the educational system that will allow students with special needs to be catered for.
“I am going to walk every week until I reach my aim,” said Varsha, a marketing professional from India. “I am taking up the cause for all [dyslexic children].” Government-run schools in the UAE already provide teaching for children with the disorder. And a law passed last year will result in private schools also opening their doors to children with special needs – including dyslexics.
Federal law 29 facilitates the inclusion of children with learning difficulties in both government and private schools. The Ministry of Education began admitting such youngsters to public schools this year and a few private schools followed suit.
Varsha said she had to send her son back to India last year because of what she sees as a lack of facilities in Dubai’s private schools for dealing with the education of children with dyslexia.
“I would love to bring him back [to Dubai], but I am hesitant because I do not want him to get frustrated by failing to cope with his lessons in a regular school,” she said.
“In India he gets assistance from his teachers at the regular school in addition to therapy sessions to improve multisensory co-ordination.
“There is even an open board examination system where he can have a helper or a writer when he sits exams. He also gets extended time due to the condition.
“My son is very intelligent. He can tell you how the digestive system works or how clouds are formed and how they produce rain. But he cannot express it in writing. All these children need is the right tools and assistance to learn like any normal child.” Varsha began her first walk at 6am. She was accompanied by a supporter, company director Mehtab Ali Shahban. Ashok Kumar, a businessman, followed the pair in his car and provided them with refreshments. Now Varsha is preparing for the next walk – and is hoping she will be joined by more supporters.
Law seeks better treatment of youngsters with dyslexia
DUBAI - JUL 29: Medical professionals and academics yesterday welcomed the walk-a-thon campaign by Varsha Katara to raise awareness of dyslexia. Those affected with the condition have difficulties in coping with written language.
The experts said the disorder had to be dealt with as early as possible – otherwise children could face a traumatic time in lessons. Unfortunately, many parents remain in the dark about the condition. And if it is detected they find that only a few educational institutions are willing to accept children with learning disabilities.
Varsha, 33, walked 15km from City Mart in Bur Dubai towards the Mall of the Emirates on Friday.
She plans to repeat the feat every week until teaching for pupils with dyslexia improve.
The government last year announced a new law requiring inclusion of youngsters with special needs in regular schools following pressure from campaign groups.
Federal Law 29 says special needs children can gain admission to government and private educational institutions. Aisha Al Jalahama, Director of Disabilities and Special Abilities at the Ministry of Education, said a pilot project was already in place. One school in every educational zone had been assigned for each kind of special need.
“The ministry has also implemented strategies to train a number of government-employed teachers who will be able cater to the new set of students who have enrolled this year,” she said.
“The policy of inclusion will be gradually extended to all educational institutions in the country.” The ministry is working closely with Takamul, Sharjah Humanitarian City, the Ministry of Social Affairs and the Zayed Higher Institution for the Training of Teachers and other organisations to ensure the smooth implementation of the new law.
Mariam Othman, Director of Rashid Paediatric Therapy Centre in Dubai, said some private schools had already opened their doors to children with such learning difficulties.
She said: “We do have some students who are going to regular schools in Dubai. They come to us for therapy in the evening and are showing great improvement.” And Safia Bari, who runs a special needs family support group, said many children who had undergone therapy had been able to gain admission to normal schools.
As walk-a-thon campaigner Varsha said: “Children with dyslexia are not mentally challenged – it is a condition that has to be addressed by the right tools.”
Dubai - Makeover for hospital
Dubai - JUL 29: Government hospitals are set to receive a makeover, courtesy of the Ministry of Health - and first on the list is Al Baraha Hospital in Dubai.
The consulting team at Dubai Healthcare City (DHCC) has been tasked with revamping services at the hospital – starting with a market research survey before moving onto site plans – in a bid to create a more people-friendly environment for staff, patients and visitors using the premises.