NEWS FROM UAE
Excerpts from UAE Dailies
Five Indian labourers die in Sharjah road crash
SHARJAH — JUL 30: Five Indian labourers were killed and 15 sustained injuries when a trailer collided with a minibus on the Sharjah-Dhaid Road near the Sajja Industrial area yesterday at around 6am, hospital and police sources said. The labourers were all travelling in the minibus.
The deceased were identified as K. Ajith (37), Manikandan (30), M Thomas (45), all from Kerala, Ranga Raj Perumal (25) from Tamil Nadu and Prakash Ram (50) from Punjab. They were all employed with Shaharco Contracting Company.
While four of the labourers died before reaching the hospital, one died in Al Qasimi Hospital later in the afternoon, sources in Al Qasimi and Kuwaiti hospitals said. The condition of two labourers admitted in Al Qasimi Hospital and of two others in Kuwaiti Hospital is reported to be critical. A source in Al Qasimi Hospital said: “The deceased had all suffered head injuries.”
Meanwhile, police sources said the mishap occurred as the trailer tried to overtake another trailer and hit the minibus coming from the opposite direction. “There was a tussle between the trailer drivers after one changed the lane without giving signal. This provoked the driver of the other trailer to overtake the latter, causing the accident,” said a police source.
Jiju Mathew, supervisor of Shaharco Contracting Company, said: “The labourers lived in a camp near Old Skyline College in Sharjah. They were on their way to worksite in Sajja Industrial area when the tragedy struck.”
Shocked survivors recount road tragedy in Sharjah
SHARJAH — Shock and horror gripped the survivors of the Sharjah road accident yesterday in which five Indian labourers were killed and 15 were injured, including some critically. Most of the survivors are still in a state of trauma.
When the labourers, who work with Shaharco Contracting Company, left for work in the wee hours on Sunday, little did they know the fate that awaited them.
Lying on the hospital bed in Al Qassimi Hospital, 23-year-old Mahesh could not believe that he was still alive. “It was the worst experience of my life. Most of us were sleeping when the accident occurred. The trailer hit us badly. I do not know what happened after that. I lost my consciousness. When I woke up I was here in the hospital.”
Sandeep Kumar, who survived the accident with minor injuries, said, “Our bus was going slowly when the mishap happened. Before I could understand anything the trailer hit our bus. All the labourers sitting in front died.”
“I cannot believe that my colleagues are dead. I knew all of them for long time. It’s a big tragedy for us and their families,” the visibly shaken man said.
Paranjith Lal, another survivor, shared the same traumatic experience. “Thank God for saving my life. It was a usual morning for us when we left our camp. We were chatting with each other. I was sitting on the back side. After the mishap, somebody took me out from the vehicle and shifted me to the hospital. It was shocking to hear that five of my colleagues are not any more,” he lamented.
‘Green Diesel’ to check pollution in Abu Dhabi
ABU DHABI — JUL 30: The Introduction of Ultra Low Sulphur Diesel (ULSD) as fuel for vehicles and industry in the capital has been approved by the Abu Dhabi Executive Council.
The plan has been prepared by the Higher Steering Committee, part of the Environment Agency–Abu Dhabi. It has Adnoc, the Emirates Standardisation and Metrology Agency, Abu Dhabi Police, Department of Transportation and Takreer as its members. The committee expects to replace the highly polluting diesel fuel with ULSD during the next five years.
The ULSD, or the ‘Green Diesel’, is considered to be a cleaner alternative, with less exhaust emissions, but similar in power and efficiency with the ordinary diesel.
The plan will be fully implemented in three phases. By the end of this month, a diesel of 500 parts per million (ppm) will be introduced, instead of the currently used 2500 ppm. In the second phase, to be implemented in 2010, the 500ppm fuel will be replaced with a 50ppm variety and, in 2012, the 10ppm ULSD will be used by all vehicles here.
According to the committee, billions of dirhams have been already invested to upgrade the refineries and install the required infrastructure to produce, deliver and distribute the new fuel. The aim of this move is to improve the air quality and, subsequently, to increase the health standard of the population. Poor air quality is related to approximately three million deaths globally each year and contributes to the plight of millions of people who suffer from asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cardiovascular disease and lung cancer.
Since 1970, fuel consumption for transportation has more than doubled, reaching 18 million barrels of oil per day, and projections are that it will grow by another 77 per cent (to 27 million barrels per day) by 2020.
The type and quantity of pollutants emitted from transport vehicle depend on vehicle type, age, maintenance profile, mileage, driving style and, of course, fuel characteristics.
Among the most polluting vehicles are the heavy-duty diesel ones, which contain a significant source of sulphur oxides, particulate and nitrogen oxide emissions, contributing an average of 60 to 90 percent of all urban air pollutants in the Middle East. As mounting evidence that diesel exhaust has a highly adverse impact on health, interest in controlling diesel emissions has greatly increased in recent years.
According to EAD statistics, school-children are believed to be the primary target of air pollution as they are by far the most exposed to diesel fuel emissions from school buses, used by a majority of students for 12 consecutive years.
MoL issues warning to passport-grabbers
ABU DHABI — JUL 30: The Ministry of Labour will slap stiff penalties on companies if they fail to return the passports of illegal workers within 24 hours of receiving the ministry’s notice in this regard, Ahmed Al Besher, legal advisor and supervisor of the Amnesty Seekers Section at the Ministry of Labour, told Khaleej Times.
Al Besher said that the Ministry of Labour had so far issued warnings to some 47 companies in the capital after they refused to give back the passports to amnesty-seekers who need the same to complete the legal formalities to leave the country or to regularise their status.
Workers demand more wages
DUBAI — JUL 30: Even as police and Ministry of Labour (MoL) officials intervened successfully to diffuse the situation, hundreds of workers of a Dubai-based contracting company initially refused to work yesterday demanding an immediate increase in their monthly wages.
The workers, who stayed back in their labour camp, were insisting on an a Dh300 salary hike to offset what they said were “spiralling living costs,” according to police and MoL officials who rushed to the labour camp after being informed of the situation. Their monthly salaries range from Dh550 to Dh800.
One of the workers, R.S, told Khaleej Times, “We want an increment in our basic salary by Dh300. We spend at least Dh 250 every month on food alone. Now that the price of all (even essential) commodities has gone up we want some increase in our salaries. We had even appealed to our company management earlier this month, but to no avail.”
Another worker, B.J., told Khaleej Times: “We have been working overtime for the past eight months and haven’t been compensated for that. Only now the company agreed to increase our monthly allowances by Dh50.” Humeid bin Demas, MoL Assistant Undersecretary, made it clear that such “illegal” action was unacceptable.
Pre-paid parking to cover more areas in Capital
ABU DHABI — JUL 30: Abu Dhabi Traffic Police will join hands with the Abu Dhabi Municipality to implement the pre-paid parking project in the capital, a senior police official has said. Col. Ghaith Hassan Al Za’abi, director of the Traffic and Patrols Department at the Abu Dhabi Police, told Khaleej Times that the project would cover main areas that experience acute parking crisis.
“The project start will be started from the downtown (financial) district which houses the stock market, a number of banks and ministries,” he said, adding that from September, motorists will be charged Dh2 for an hour and a maximum Dh15 for the whole day for parking services.
“The project will put an end to the arbitrary occupation of parking spaces. Motorists who have parked their cars in the congested areas will be forced to move them out of,” he explained. “The prime objective goal of the pre-paid parking project is not to collect money, but to reduce traffic congestion,” he affirmed.
ADNRD has handed 15,000 passports to Indian mission
ABU DHABI — JUL 30: The Indian Embassy has collected nearly 15,000 passports from the Abu Dhabi Naturalisation and Residency Department (ADNRD) in the capital and handed over 2,300 of them to the amnesty-seekers, an embassy official said.
Shrinivas Babu, first secretary at the embassy, said, “approximately 2,500 travel documents are ready with the mission and are being distributed among the amnesty-seekers.”
“Amnesty-seekers who are on Abu Dhabi visa should collect their passports from the embassy on any working day. If their passports are not available with the embassy, they should apply for outpasses or emergency certificates (ECs) before August 2,” said Babu.
The Indian Embassy plans to initially provide accommodation to nearly 300 amnesty-seekers at Musaffah labour camp and is looking for a suitable place for them.
This accommodation will be for those who come here from Dubai and Northern Emirates, seeking amnesty at the Al Wathba immigration office in the capital.
Amnesty-seekers have to come here because their passports are with the embassy as they are on Abu Dhabi visa.
Everyday around 1,000 people visit Al Wathba immigration office and many of them come from Northern Emirates.
“They do not have any place to stay as the procedures to issue ECs take some time. That is why, the mission wants to accommodate them so that they do not have to stay in parks and gardens,” an official said.
Indian community and social centres are providing the amnesty-seekers with food and water as well as assistance at Al Wathba.
“Anybody who wants to offer any kind of services to the amnesty-seekers can approach the mission,” Babu said.
Meanwhile, there are over 1,000 jobs available for amnesty-seekers. These jobs are for electricians, fitters and other technical and non-technical people.
“The mission invites them to apply for these jobs and regularise their stay in the UAE. For the purpose, they need to contact the companies offering these jobs. The details for the jobs offered are available at the embassy,” Babu added.
DNRD to keep doors open on Saturdays
DUBAI - JUL 30: Dubai’s residency department has extended its working hours to include Saturdays, to cope with the flood of amnesty applications from illegal workers. The six-days-a-week opening was welcomed by social workers and expatriates.
The Dubai Naturalisation and Residency Department (DNRD) centre in Jumeirah and the temporary office at Our Own English High School in Oud Mehta Road will open from 7.30am until 5pm even on Saturday.
DNRD Director Brigadier Mohammed Al Marri said the Saturday service will continue until the end of the amnesty period.
He said it was introduced to enable as many people as possible to take up the opportunity to regularise their immigration status or return to their home countries.
The decision was taken after he inspected the two centres, which are witnessing heavy turn-outs daily.
“Our people are working in shifts in order to cater to as many people as possible,” Al Marri said.
“There are no fixed times and we are being flexible. We want to facilitate a hassle-free amnesty for all applicants.” The Jumeirah centre remained open until 10pm one night because of the huge queues, he said.
Al Marri said between 3,000 and 4,000 out passes were being issued daily by the department. A total of 57,000 workers have either amended their visa status or received out-passes to return home, since the amnesty period began on June 1.
The extra working day was welcomed by Shavab KM, of the Indian Islamic Centre in Dubai, which is helping expatriates to take advantage of the amnesty programme.
He said: “Even if they extended the working day by an hour, it would have helped to process the papers of a few dozen more people.
“So having one more working day means that many people can finish their immigration formalities.” And many illegal workers said they will find it convenient to queue up on a Saturday, as their normal working routine will not be disrupted.
“Sometimes we have to stand in the queue for two to three hours to finish the procedures,” said Rajamani, a worker from India.
“I am a daily wage worker and will lose money if I went go to the department on a week day. On Saturday, there is not much work so it is a more convenient for people like me.”
A victim of physical violence
DUBAI — JUL 30: She came to the UAE to work as a housemaid two months ago, leaving behind her two children in Sri Lanka. But when 34-year-old Meenavodhai landed herself a job in Dubai, through an agent, little did she know her sponsor would beat her everyday.
The young Sri Lankan Tamil Muslim came to this country as she was unable to support her two young kids, after her husband divorced her.
“The owner of the house used to beat me everyday for no reason at all. After working for her for two months, I ran away as I was unable to bear it any more,” she says while sobbing.
Meenavodhai then sought refuge with some Sri Lankan women she knew, also housemaids. She had been staying with them for the last 10 days, but they have all left for Sri Lanka. “These women took pity on me and let me stay with them. I bought myself a return ticket for August 8,” she says.
Now, with them gone back, she has no place to go, though she has got her outpass and her immigration clearances. She was at the Sri Lankan Consulate on Sunday with all her bags, hoping to find some shelter.
“I don’t know where to go till I catch the flight to Sri Lanka. I do not know anyone in this country. I have only Dh100 left with me,” she weeps.
The Sri Lankan Consulate usually houses stranded, migrant female labourers in safe houses till they can go back. However, they do so only if they approach them immediately after they run away, instead of seeking interim shelter elsewhere, according to the consulate.
Meenavodhai is now waiting with all her belongings and is looking for a temporary place before she can return to her two young children.
Etisalat launches Greetune for corporate customers
ABU DHABI — JUL 30: Etisalat yesterday introduced the Greetune service for its corporate customers, enabling them to have their own tones and promotional messages as a ring back tone on the companies mobile phones.
The tones can be played for particular groups at different days or time using the new features of Grouping and Scheduling.
A business tone can be assigned to a manager’s phone for clients to hear when calling, and a promotional message can be played for customers information when calling sales personnel.
The company can know the requirements and procedures to load their ring back tones either by contacting their Etisalat account manager or calling Etisalat business customers contact centre 8005800.
Among the other new Greetune features, corporate customers can schedule tunes to be played at different times of the day for different callers. For instance, corporate Greetune can be used during working hours while a more personal tone can be set automatically after working hours. Individual tones can also be allocated for specific callers such as family, friends or colleagues.
Khalifa Al Shamsi, VP Marketing Consumer, Etisalat, said, “Etisalat’s corporate Greetune service will be a new business tool for corporate entities to promote their businesses and ensure maximum return on investment. This is aligned with Etisalat’s vision of providing business solutions for corporate customers to grow and achieve maximum profitability.”
He added: “Corporate Greetune will be a new dynamic and effective tool for corporations to include in their advertising mix to promote and enhance their business.”
Customers can subscribe to Greetune service by dialling the IVR number 125 and following the instructions or by sending ‘r greetune’ as SMS to 1010 or via Wap by logging on to mobile.weyak.ae from an Etisalat mobile phone. An SMS will then be sent confirming subscription and a PIN number with instructions to log on to www.greetune.weyak.ae. The customer can enter his/her mobile number as user ID on the website and preview, buy and customize the features of the service.
There are no subscription fees for this service except a monthly fee of Dh5. Purchasing a corporate Greetune will also be charged at Dh5. All customers can store up to 20 different Greetune tones in their albums, including corporate personalised messages which could be changed at any time.
First guidebook for classification of capital’s hotels
ABU DHABI – JUL 30: The first “Guidebook for Hotel Classification” will be launched in August by the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA).
Nasser Al Reyami, director of Licensing and Classification Division at ADTA, said the guidebook had been designed to confirm to the international norms and standards, while taking into consideration the local and regional realities of the hotel industry.
“The new system will enable us develop the hotel industry further and update the services provided to customers in order to enable it to keep pace with Abu Dhabi’s tourism growth – both in terms of the number of incoming tourists as well as the increasing demand for hotel services,” said Al Reyami.
The initiative for the Hotel Classification Guidebook came as a result of a workshop organised recently by ADTA, attended by 46 managers of hotels in Abu Dhabi. The participants discussed several tourism-related issues, including the conditions and criteria for classifying hotels in the capital.
ADTA has also decided to organise another such meeting in the near future, which will be attended by key personnel from the hospitality sector in the Abu Dhabi Emirate. The meet aims at preparing the ground for an electronic linking of hotels and ADTA to provide an exchange of information, data and digital pictures.
An easy-to-use and highly accurate e-link will not only save time and efforts, but will also boost transparency of operations and foster the concept of paperless management, which is beneficial for the environment.
NEW START FOR EX-ADDICTS
DUBAI - JUL 30: Fifteen reformed drug addicts are to be given a second chance in life thanks to a rehabilitation project. The recovering users will be able to put their past behind them and find decent jobs to support themselves and their families.
The Emirates National Development Programme (ENDP) has handpicked the 15 nationals for career assessment and training to find employment in both the public and private sectors.
All the candidates have successfully overcome their addiction and are keen to pursue normal lives.
They are receiving training in various types of work according to their educational levels and skills, and are being given assistance to find suitable jobs.
The first-of-its-kind initiative was set up following an agreement between Dubai Police and the development programme.
CID Director Brigadier Khamis Mattar Al Mazeina said the force was keen to rehabilitate and train former drug addicts. He said the initiative will offer a social and economic mechanism, that will support them and their families.
ENDP Director Azzah Al Sharhan said the project was intended to give reformed addicts, who did not have criminal records, a chance to rebuild their lives and become productive individuals.
Al Sharhan signed the agreement setting up the serv ice in April along with Brig Al Mazeina.
Medical professionals said it was important to keep track of reformed addicts and give them continuing support, as many would easily fall prey to temptations.
But Dubai Police confirmed they will carry out periodic check-ups on the candidates in the form of surprise inspections to make sure they were keeping away from all kinds of addictions.
Ex-addict MA, who received help at Dubai’s Drug Rehabilitation Centre, said: “We made a mistake in the past and we have paid for it. We do not want our families to hang their heads in shame because of us. Initiatives to find jobs for people like me will go a long way towards helping us rebuild our lives.”
Incoming calls to remain free, says etisalat
UAE - JUL 30: Etisalat has said it will not charge customers for receiving international calls on their mobile phones, but it has introduced a minimum balance to make an international call. Some customers had complained credit was deducted from their Wasel mobile account was deducted from after they received an international call, while others said they heard etisalat was planning to charge for such calls.
Mini Raj, 29, said: “I received a call from India. When I picked up the call, there was a message ‘you don’t have enough credit’ and the line was disconnected.
“This was the first time I have seen such a message while receiving an international call. When I checked with my friends, they too said there was talk about charges for receiving calls,” she said.
Suja Pratheep, a 25-yearold office worker in Ajman, had also heard rumours.
“We were told etisalat would charge Dh4 to receive international calls. Many people are talking about it and I don’t know if it is true or not.
An etisalat spokesperson said the rumour about charges for incoming international calls is baseless. However, he said the company has introduced a minimum balance to call outside of the UAE.
“There is no charge for incoming international or local calls. It is free of charge,” said the spokesman.
“However, to make an international call, a minimum balance equivalent to the value of the first pulse is to be maintained.” He said if any customer had been charged for receiving a call, they should contact etisalat so the matter could be investigated.
This new requirement will impact callers in the UAE who carry low balances in their mobile account and were able to place calls internationally and hang up before the call was picked up – in order to alert the person they wished to speak with to call them back without having to pay the full charge of a call connection.
While a customer with a balance of 30 fils could previously make such a “missed call” to India, etisalat said customers must now have Dh2.30 in their account to make the same call. “To make a ‘missed call’ to India, the minimum balance required at peak time is Dh2.30 and in off peak time Dh1.89,” said the spokesman.
“This minimum balance varies from country to country,” he said.
“The revised rate was introduced recently to ensure that etisalat is not losing money in case the international call gets connected,” he added.
Cooling vest has hot topic become hot topic
UAE - JUL 30: Now here is a vest that is really cool. It is designed to stop the body over-heating in extreme temperatures. And with thermometers regularly topping 40C it should get a warm reception in Dubai.
The Australian-made Arctic Heat Cooling Vest is being marketed by a company based in the emirate.
“It is designed to combat the harmful effects of heatrelated illness and hence is suitable for people in the Middle East,” said Keith Rainford, general manager of Acecranes.
The vest must be submerged in water for 10 minutes before use, to allow the crystals in its pockets to form a gel.
“After activating the vest one has to let it dry completely before placing it in the refrigerator or freezer,” added Rainford.
If soaked in ice water for 10 minutes it will stay cold for up to an hour. And if frozen for two hours it will stay cold for up to two hours.
One thing’s for sure – if you want to be a cool customer then this vest is for you.
Dubai - Drunken motorist locked up
Dubai - JUL 30: A UAE national was jailed for one year and fined dhs5,000 for hitting a motorcyclist and killing him while driving his car drunk. The man was also ordered to pay the victim’s relatives dhs200,000 in blood money and banned from driving for two years.
According to court records, the defendant was driving recklessly along Baghdad Road in the Qusais area of Dubai on June 15 when he drove into the biker. The victim was thrown from his motorbike and died at the scene from massive injuries. Police arrested the defendant at the scene of the accident.