News headlines

Excerpts from UAE Dailies

No amnesty extension

ABU DHABI — AUG 29: Minister of Interior Lt-Gen. Shaikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan yesterday reiterated that the amnesty period will end on September 2 and there would be no extension.

In a statement, however, the minister clarified that amnesty seekers, who have completed the formalities before September 2 but are unable to leave the country because of non-availability of air bookings or any other valid reason, would be allowed to leave the country any day until November 3. Lt-Gen. Shaikh Saif pointed out that the government will provide all assistance to them for leaving the country before November 4.

Meanwhile, Brigadier Mohammad Salim bin Awaida Al Khaili, Director-General of the Naturalisation and Residency Department in the Ministry of Interior, has said an intensive campaign will be launched from September 4 to nab the illegals who ignored the amnesty programme.

It is learnt that the number of people, who have come forward to take advantage of the amnesty, has crossed the 250,000 mark.


Amnesty seekers faint due to heat

DUBAI — AUG 29: As many as five amnesty seekers fainted yesterday while waiting under the blazing sun for their turn at the Dubai Naturalisation and Residency Department’s Follow-up and Investigation Section (FIS) in Jumeirah.

Police and ambulance were called to the FIS after some of the amnesty seekers suffered from sunstroke.

“We have set up big air-conditioned tents. However, the amnesty seekers prefer not to sit inside those tents,” said an official at the counter, adding “they prefer to stand in long queues under the sun waiting impatiently for their turns.”

The official noted, “The hall accommodates a limited number of people. We are trying our best to keep things under control. But the ‘illegals’ refuse to stay in the tents and most of the times they try and barge into the hall. Then we are left with no option but to force them out.”

Meanwhile, an unusual rush was witnessed at the FIS Jumeirah yesterday, the day earmarked for Pakistanis, Filipinos, Sri Lankans and Afghans.

The number is expected to increase as the amnesty deadline draws near, according to DNRD officials.

“With the 24-hour shifts, we were processing an average of 4,000 to 5,000 applications a day. But this number has been obviously increasing now as the September 2 deadline is looming,” they added.


Departure grace period welcomed

DUBAI — AUG 29: Airline companies, social workers and amnesty seekers have hailed the decision of the Interior Ministry to allow grace period until November 3 for amnesty seekers who have been unable to leave the country due to non-availability of air tickets.

Although the Interior Ministry yesterday confirmed that the September 2 deadline for amnesty seekers will not be extended, the government has nevertheless decided to allow the illegals who have obtained the exit pass before September 2 to make their travel arrangements any day before November 4.

The move is aimed at easing the pressure as many amnesty seekers were still reportedly struggling to get the airline bookings confirmed.

Air India Regional Manager Jaishree Ramachandran said, “Since August 19 we have been operating 13 flights to different destinations to India for meeting the amnesty seekers’ rush. All the flights were operated with full capacity and all the tickets to India sector are sold out until September 2.”

The ‘grace period’ decision, she said, would ease the pressure on operators as well as the amnesty seekers. “We will give special rates to all amnesty seekers until the grace period ends,” she added.

Anand Pande, Country Manager of Indian, said, “I welcome the move of the UAE Government to declare a grace period for the amnesty seekers to leave the country. This will ease the pressure on all the airlines and will be able to meet the demand of the amnesty seekers.”

“We will extend special amnesty rates until November 4,” he added.

Raj Bali, an amnesty seeker, said, “I have been trying to book an air ticket to Hyderabad for two weeks now. But all the flights are fully booked.  I feel relaxed now as the government has announced the grace period.”

Joseph Bobby, a volunteer of Valley of Love, said, “There is a large number of people still waiting for air tickets after obtaining the exit pass. This decision will help a lot of them.”


Two Indian naval ships dock at Abu Dhabi port

ABU DHABI — AUG 29: Two Indian naval warships, ‘INS Rajput’ and ‘INS Betwa’ were on Monday welcomed by the Indian Ambassador to the UAE, Talmiz Ahmad, at the Abu Dhabi Port Mina Zayed. The ships will stay in the country until August 30.

‘INS Rajput’ is commanded by Captain A.K. Jain and ‘INS Betwa’ by Captain Sanjay Bhutani.

The visit of the two ships is aimed at fostering maritime goodwill between India and the UAE as both countries share a rich cultural and maritime heritage.

‘INS Rajput’ will head for Djibouti and ‘INS Betwa’ for Oman after the “joint passage exercise” with the UAE naval forces on August 30.

Rear Admiral Shekhar Sinha of ‘INS Rajput’ delivered the opening address and expressed the hope for better relationship in the field of maritime with the UAE.

Speaking on the occasion, Ahmad said, “I am very delighted with the visit of the two Indian naval ships. They are part of historic maritime linkages that India has had with the Gulf for several centuries. Our mission is a mission of goodwill and friendship. We want to exchange ideas with the personnel of the UAE Navy about the development, technology, its strategy and tactics.”

“No relationship can be nourished on the basis of nostalgia alone but it needs to be refreshed with new ideas and new realities and we are committed to that purpose. The UAE Government welcomes our visit and we exchange ideas to benefit from each other. We hear them very carefully, we benefit from their inputs, that is why our cooperation and friendship is progressing all the time,” the ambassador added.

Captain Jain of ‘INS Rajput’ said, “Our relations with the UAE are progressing, not only in the defence sector but in other areas too. Basically, we have come here to reaffirm our relationship. In fact, lots of cooperation is going on between the UAE and Indian government  in the field of maritime.”

He added, “The naval chiefs of both countries have exchanged ideas in the recent past and it is a healthy sign of progress. We are here to do some exercise with the UAE naval forces. We precisely got very positive signs from them.”

These Indian naval warships are a part of the Western and Eastern Naval Commands based at Mumbai and Visakhapatnam, respectively.

‘INS Rajput’ is the first Kashin II class guided missile destroyer. It is fitted with an array of weapons and sensors and is designed for multi-dimensional combat operations.

The guided missile frigate, ‘INS Betwa’, is a modern warship with capabilities to carry out maritime operations.


1,600kg of fake Viagra seized

DUBAI — AUG 29: Authorities have foiled an attempt to smuggle 1,600 kg of fake Viagra tablets into the country through Dubai International Airport. This was stated by Humaid Mohammed Obaid Al Qutami, Minister of Health, on the sidelines of a meeting of the board of directors of Al Qasimi Hospital in Sharjah yesterday.

The consignment, reportedly brought from India in a bid to resmuggle it abroad, was seized at the Dubai Cargo Village by the drug control officials in cooperation with the Dubai Customs. The consignment will be destroyed, he said.


Roadside eateries will not be permitted in Ramadan

ABU DHABI — AUG 29: No roadside eateries or stalls outside the cafeterias and restaurants will be allowed in the holy month of Ramadan, a senior official has said.

Mohammed Jalal Al Reyaysa, manager of Communications and Information at the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA), told Khaleej Times yesterday that anyone found operating roadside eateries or stalls would be penalised.

It may be noted that many cafeterias and restaurants reportedly put up stalls in front of their establishments in Ramadan last year, selling fried foodstuff like hot and spicy snacks, pakoras, samosas, boiled grams, jelebis etc.

In the evenings, a large number of fasting people thronged these outlets to break their fast. As the foodstuff is kept in the open, it becomes a cause of health concern.

Al Reyaysa said: “This year we’ll carry out intensive inspections and inspectors will work till late in the night to ensure that there are no health-related violations in the holy month of Ramadan.

However, Al Reyaysa clarified: “We are not going to launch any new campaign as we always focus to ensure food safety. We are only extending the working hours of our field inspectors in Ramadan.”

Speaking about the issue of expired products, Al Reyaysa said people must abide by the community awareness campaigns, which are run by the department from time to time, providing information on how to distinguish between fake and genuine products.


Team set up for probe into Jebel Ali port fire

DUBAI — AUG 29: A team has been set up to investigate the cause of the fire which erupted in a chemical storage facility in Jebel Ali port on Monday.

Dubai Police Deputy Commander-in-Chief Dr Jamal Mohammed Al Merri told Khaleej Times that the team would assess the loss and investigate the cause of fire.

The team includes fire experts from General Department of Forensic Science and Civil Defence experts and officials from the Safety and Security Department in the Dubai Municipality.

After completion of investigation, the team would submit a report to the authorities concerned.

An internal committee has also been set up by Dubai Ports World to investigate the cause of the fire, said Ahmed Abdul Hussein, Executive Director of Dubai Ports World. The committee is headed by the fire division of EHS, the Environment, Health and Safety Regulatory Authority of DP World.

Meanwhile, senior officials of the Environment Protection and Safety Section in the Dubai Municipality have said that they were taking all possible measures to prevent any environmental hazard resulting from the blaze.

They said that one of their primary aims was to ensure that the water used by the Dubai Civil Defence to extinguish the flames do not enter the sea as that could pose a threat to the marine life. Rashid Mohammed Karkin, Head of Environmental Planning Unit, said, “There was a lot of water used to douse the flames. And all that water got mixed with the chemicals and is contaminated. We have not allowed the contaminated water to run into the sea as it could pose a threat to the marine life. The water is being collected and taken to the treatment plant at Jebel Ali.”



UAE - AUG 29:
Front-line paramedics will be able to save the lives of more men, women and children following the introduction of hitech health ID cards.  Each card will carry its owner’s full medical records and history, which emergency teams will be able to access instantly.

At present medics can struggle to treat a patient after answering a 999 call – records that show existing medical conditions and allergies are hard to obtain and language can be a barrier.

But that will change when the health ID cards are introduced. The scheme is part of a raft of new Ministry of Health measures revealed to Emirates Today in an interview with Dr Mariam Mohammed Matar, Assistant Undersecretary for Public Health and Primary Healthcare at the Ministry of Health.

“We are [determined] to have a health service that will be of the highest standard and that means changing the way we work at the moment,” said Dr Matar.

“An ID card will cut administrative paperwork, leading to a more efficiently run system. We are still finalising the exact details of how they will work and the most effective way of distributing them. But we believe it will lead to better patient care in the long run.” The ID card will help medics learn about a patient’s medical history quickly and effectively without the need for time-consuming research.

It is not yet known if the cards will be mandatory, but the first steps towards setting up the scheme will take place in 2008 and eventually everyone living in the UAE could have one.

In her most open and detailed interview yet, Dr Matar outlined the future of healthcare in the country – and identity cards were one element of the plans.

A paperless system of administration, unified emergency services, a national cancer register and a medical research centre will also be introduced.

The ministry will also be increasing the amount of medical tests new residents will receive, such as tests for genetic disorders dominant in specific nationalities.

“We will test hearing, sight and fitness levels, as well as for blood disorders that run in families,” says Dr Matar.

The plans will be launched at the beginning of next year and should be in place by the end of 2012.

Speaking on the eve of the Government-supported Arab Health Congress in Abu Dhabi, Dr Matar said: “The new system is designed to make ours one of the best in the world.”


Residents battle to park with used car dealers 
In Sharjah’s Abu Shagara area there is a constant struggle between residents and secondhand car dealers over parking space. Residents of Abdullah bin Tareq, Amer bin Fuhayrah and Harethah bin Al Nua’man streets said even last month’s introduction of paid car park has not solved the crisis.

“I thought we would finally settle the problem of parking after metres were introduced, but nothing has changed,” Ridwan Ahmad, who has been living in Abu Shagara for three years, said.

He added many residents do not like the presence of a car market in the middle of a residential area.

He said vehicles belonging to car dealers occupy about 80 per cent of the space, with some vehicles parked on roads, blocking the way of other motorists.

Zoharab Parson, a resident of the area, wrote to Emirates Today to complain that vehicles belonging to dealers often occupy all the space, even when they do not have parking receipts. “We are unable to find place to park our cars because paid car park is illegally occupied by car dealers, which forces residents to park in no-parking areas.” Some residents said it takes them about an hour to find a place to park, while those who cannot find it have to park their cars at some distance.

Hassan Malik, a parking inspector, admitted it is a big problem to find a car park, especially in the evenings.

He said he has seen people physically clash over space, adding he has often intervened to stop the fights.

Abu Shagara is one of the most densely populated areas in Sharjah. The problem is aggravated by the presence of one of the biggest car markets in the GCC right in the middle of the residential area.

A municipality official said a used car market was being built at Riqqa Al Hamara near the airport

Are you at risk of pre-diabetes?
A screening service to help people at risk of developing diabetes avoid the disease is to be launched in Dubai.  The programme is already running in Abu Dhabi – where 17 per cent of those tested were found to be in danger.

Patients with higher blood glucose levels than normal can develop the disease within five to 10 years – and there is no cure once it has appeared.  This condition, dubbed pre-diabetes by doctors, can be detected only by medical tests. If no action is taken, type two diabetes can follow.

But if lifestyle changes are implemented, with the patient losing weight and taking up exercise, the onset of the disease can be prevented, said consultant endocrinologist Dr Maha Taysir Barakat.  “However, as pre-diabetes has no symptoms it is very difficult to identify and the window of opportunity is often missed,” she added.

More than 20,000 people have been screened in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain since February. But while 17 per cent were found to be in the at-risk category only one per cent reported for treatment.

The screening booth is now at the Corniche Hospital in Abu Dhabi where mothers-tobe are being screened for gestational diabetes – a form of the disease that develops during pregnancy.

The campaign is expected to move to Dubai in October.   The service is being offered by the Imperial College London Diabetes Centre in Abu Dhabi, where Dr Barakat is the medical and research director. “The risk factors for developing type two diabetes are being overweight and having a family history of the disease,” she said.

“Emiratis seem to have a higher genetic predisposition towards the disease.” Nearly a quarter of UAE nationals suffer from diabetes – and experts fear the percentage could rise to 50 within 15 to 20 years.   Among expatriates, 17 per cent have the disease.

Salem Al Sulaimani, a 23year-old Emirates Foundation volunteer who worked on the screening campaign in Abu Dhabi, said most people who were told they are at risk were not surprised.

“Most people know they are not healthy,” said the Emirati chemical engineer.


Dubai - Who’s laughing now?

Dubai - Aug 29:  A controversial British comedian due to perform in Dubai this weekend has had his show cancelled after a complaint was filed against him with local police for alleged offensive comments made about Arabic culture in past shows.

Award-winning Sean Meo was scheduled to speak at the Courtyard Marriott Hotel in Dubai on Friday as part of the regular monthly The Laughter Factory shows held in the emirate. But the former 'Time Out comedian of the year's appearance was pulled by event organisers here who felt forced to “do the right thing” after being alerted to a complaint regarding several web sites featuring comments made by the comedian in past shows which pertained to the Arabic language, culture and Islam.

The complainant said: “A report has been filed with Dubai Police to prevent Meo from entering the country for the event on August 30, due to his offensive comments.” Citing quotes listed as spoken by Meo on a Canadian web site, they added: “Meo makes fun of the Arabic language, culture and Dubai's heritage. He also denigrates the status of the Qu'ran, the Muslim holy book.”

The former full-time amateur snooker player has been a stand up comic since 1989. One of the most established names on the comedy circuit and a regular headliner at The Comedy Store in London, he was named best stand-up by Time Out in 1997, has appeared at the Kilkenny, Cork and Montreal Comedy Festivals, starred in four TV adverts and has performed in Dubai in the past.

A spokesperson for The Laughter Factory in Dubai told 7DAYS: “We can confirm we have pulled Sean from Friday's show - we felt it was the right thing to do after this was brought to our attention. In ten years of running this event we have never had a complaint before, so when we do we take it very seriously.  In Sean's defence, he has no control over what is posted about him online and sometimes, taken out of context or misrepresented, words and sentences can take on different meanings. But that is beside the point. We live in an Islamic country and we must respect that.”

Meo's manager told 7DAYS: “Sean meant no offence in any way. It was a joke. The comments have been taken out of context and I am surprised that one person complaining can cause such a massive reaction. I find it very sad but understand why the club felt pressure to cancel.”


Dubai - Cleaner stabbed friend and set light to body

Dubai - Aug 29: A cleaner stabbed his friend to death, and stole his mobile phone and wallet before setting fire to the scene of the crime, a court heard yesterday. The accused was watching a pornographic film with his watchman friend at the work site he patrolled.

After they had watched the film for a while, the victim is alleged to have asked the cleaner to have sex with him. The accused is believed to have angrily refused,  at which point the watchman allegedly pulled a knife on him.
As the pair grappled with each other the accused grabbed hold of the knife and stabbed the watchman in the neck, hand and chest. He is then alleged to have stolen the victim’s personal belongings before setting fire to the room containing the body and escaping.

Civil Defence officers found the body after putting out the blaze. The accused denies murder and the trial has now been adjourned until next month.


Dubai - Cops’ mall crackdown

Dubai - Aug 29: Traffic Police gave tickets to 921 drivers for offences committed at shopping mall car parks in the past month. “We aimed to control the traffic in the malls, especially during weekends, because many offences occur then, such as parking in disabled spaces and parking on the pavement,” Captain Mohammad Khalfan said.

“These sorts of offences disrupts mall users and can endangers peoples lives.” The fine for parking on the pavement is dhs150, while parking illegally in a disabled parking space costs dhs1,500.



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