NEWS FROM THE UAE
Excerpts from UAE Dailies
Sharing accommodation on rise
UAE: AUG 31: SHARING apartments is the way of life among some expatriates to beat the cost of housing.
Some middle-class residents in the capital to beat the high cost of living and to save money are renting out their flats and sharing with housemates.
The disadvantages of sharing apartments with families outnumber the benefits according to some tenants and house owners.
They say cleanliness is the number one cause of fights between tenants as every person has his or her preference over how often the dishes should be washed or how cluttered a place can be, and tension and conflict are bound to arise.
As a result, these expatriate residents with modest salaries have to adjust and cope to the different moods and actions of their mates as well as tending to extra work like cleaning up with the mess the neighbour tenants create.
Sharing their views with The Gulf Today, on their gruelling and frustrating lifestyle at times, they say that the only benefit it brings is the extra buck for expenses for owners and small savings for the tenants.
Preeta, a housewife and owner of a three bedroom flat in Abu Dhabi said due to the high rent and increase in the cost of living, the family decided to give their rooms on rent. "Due to rent which has increased from Dh45,000 to Dh65,000 within two years, we decided to sacrifice our comfort," she said.
"Since then, I have become restless and have no peace because tenants come in and go out at different times. And our tenants are reserved and expect a lot of calm and quiet, which is not possible when children are around" she explained.
"As a result, I have become a social service member of the Social Centre for the sake of my daughter and lead a free and normal life, instead of being restricted at home denying free movements," Preeta opined.
Janita Jacob, an assistant nurse in a private medical clinic in Abu Dhabi and whose husband is an accountant decided to give two rooms on rent to manage the expenses of her five member family, including three school going children.
"Sharing is difficult because I am a very neat and tidy person. The main problem I face with my housemates is their untidiness in the kitchen. They leave unwashed cutlery at night and not regular with washing the cooker or the stoves leaving room for pests," she said.
"Compelling them to tidy up after every cooking falls on deaf ears. Returning from work, I have to clean up everything before going to sleep," she lamented.
"My children's movements are restricted in their own house due to the comfort owed to the tenants. Some want it quiet and some go to sleep very early. So my children remain in their rooms," she added.
"The other disadvantages are that my children cannot bring in their friends nor have a party as they please. But if we need comfort, then there's no survival," Janita quipped.
She added that as tenants or house owners, as long as there are shortages of housing and rent hikes as in Abu Dhabi, one has to be prepared to compromise.
According to her, sharing an apartment or house with someone else usually requires some adjustment, and chances are you cannot have your friends over for tea or dinner, nor let the dishes sit even for a night on the kitchen sink or table.
"Though life is hard, it has helped us to save some money to meet other living expenses, and sharing has its pros and cons, in that in terms of a difficult situation, there's extra help around," Janita noted.
Shyja Manu, a housewife and mother of two children also face problems in the kitchen, having to share with two families in the same house.
"Ours is a very small kitchen and in spite of lack of room for another stove, my tenant brought in hers because she said she couldn't cook in any other than her own," she said. "Let alone taking extra space in the kitchen, she doesn't bother to clean up before she retires from her cooking."
"I have no spare time because I clean the mess my tenant makes. Finally, unable to cope with her untidiness, I asked her to leave. Since they cannot afford to pay more for a new room, they are not leaving either," she added.
According to Shyja life is hard when you live with different families in the same house but she is managing somehow with a lot of stress of course.
They lack a decent living, with no privacy and there's always the potential for disputes for trivial things.
Some families tend to face the cultural differences in the kitchen like being vegetarian and non-vegetarian.
Landlords in the capital are running the show and continue to increase rents. Moreover, more families are sharing flats to beat the rent costs.
Expatriates hope the authorities will intervene in the matter of housing rents and implement strict rules on rent increases.
And also, come up with solutions for low-cost housing in the capital for middle level income families and bachelors and to ease their burdens of sharing and wearing out.
Rent in the capital
Abu Dhabi apartment rents have soared in recent years.
"The owner of my two bedroom flat in an old building increased my rent from Dhs24,000 to 36,000 per annum. There is no justification", said Suzy Joseph from India.
Zaman Mohamed, a bachelor from Pakistan said, "For an average salaried person who earns between Dh25,000 and Dh40,000 per annum, low-cost housing is essential as rents have increased sharply," he added.
Tessa from Goa, India said that Abu Dhabi lack low cost housing for low and middle level income bachelors and families.
"As people need low cost housing, the authorities should look at this issue as an immediate priority," she added. "We are truly struggling to maintain a good life with rent and basic needs skyrocketing."
"Rents in Abu Dhabi and other emirates are spiraling out of control," Tessa added.
Used furniture market gets new suppliers
SHARJAH - AUG 31: The used furniture market has got a new group of suppliers in form of expatriates who are sending back their families to home countries in view of rising cost of living.
Several shops lined up at Immigration Road in Sharjah, are usually abuzz with lot of activities but the business is witnessing a new trend as several expatriates sell their furniture to these shops before sending back their families to their home countries.
"It is true that many expatriates sell their furniture to these shops before sending back their families," informed a dealer in the used furniture, Ahmed Abdul Hameed adding that the trend is catching up.
Many owners of around 100 used furniture shops at Immigration Road said that a lot of expatriates approach them for selling their furniture.
But these used furniture shops are not getting a good supply from the expatriates alone but the construction boom has also helped the used furniture market grow.
Before shifting to new houses, people generally sell their old furniture and majority of these items get their way into one of these used furniture shops.
And some house ambience conscious people sell their furniture even after one month of the purchase if any part of the furniture suffered some very minor damage, informed a Dubai based commercial manager, Richard D' Silva.
Many shop owners selling new furniture, have a mixed opinion on the impact the used furniture market could have on their business.
Abdul Lathif of Al Amanah Furniture said that the used furniture market is not at all affecting the new furniture market.
"The customers of used furniture belong to a different category as many of them would not compromise on quality of the product and would not buy old goods," he remarked.
But one of his colleagues whose size of business is not as big that of Lathif, said that the used furniture market has surely an impact on the new furniture market.
"The new furniture shops have no access to market dominated by not very rich people," he said adding that many customers simply do not visit new furniture shops despite some items are being sold at quite competitive price if one compares the quality of products.
Interestingly, sometimes very good items with a high price tag could be found at used furniture shops.
"Many local people sell very old furniture and other items, sometimes fetching a good price also," a dealer of used furniture added.
"Furniture is generally disposed off after few years of use, particularly by Arab families," he informed.
Families from European countries and even Indian sub-continent are also selling their old furniture but not necessarily in a similar way.
"Used furniture shop owners buy items from the households and generally fix their selling price 30-40 per cent more than their purchase price," another dealer said.
Several people, however, sell their furniture by inviting prospective buyers through newspaper advertisements as they believe that it would fetch them good money.
Combined with easily available consumer loans from banks and also new models of furniture hitting the market every few months, the stocks of used furniture market are brimming to full and at the same time keeping the cash boxes of shop owners ringing continuously.
Cafeterias lose business as illegals take flight
ABU DHABI — AUG 31: A great number of amnesty-seekers will be leaving the capital as the amnesty period ends on September 2.
Though exact figures are not available, it is speculated that nearly 60,000 illegals might have regularised their status in the capital. "As of now, 11,587 amnesty seekers have left the country from the Abu Dhabi International Airport," an official at the airport told Khaleej Times yesterday.
As an offshoot of the amnesty programme, business at many cafeterias in the capital has dipped, while the sale at supermarkets has gone up as illegals leaving the country under the amnesty are making purchases for their families and relatives.
A cafeteria owner at Elektra Street, Hayder said, "The departure of amnesty seekers has affected our business as many of them used to come to our cafeteria for breakfast and snacks. But these days the number of customers has dramatically gone down."
Allauddin, incharge of the Alam Supermarket said, "As many illegals are leaving the country, our sale has gone up as they are buying the goods for their home and relatives. However, the exact situation of the sale can be assessed after all the amnesty seekers have left the capital."
However, the departure of amnesty beneficiaries has not affected the real estate business in the capital.
"As far as the rent and availability of space is concerned, it will remain the same as many bachelors are lined up for vacant spaces. If one vacates, 10 are ready to occupy it. Some bachelors vacated their apartments not because of amnesty but because of the rent hike," a real estate agent said, who preferred not to be named.
"Most of the illegals reside outside the main city, only few live here. They always prefer to live in remote places," he explained.
RTA to fine reckless waterbus operators
DUBAI — AUG 31: To prevent waterbus operators from acting recklessly or driving carelessly, the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) will soon start implementing fines ranging between Dh100 and Dh1,000 for any such violations.
If the waterbus operators continue to flout the safety norms, the violator's waterbus might even be grounded, Eng Eisa Abdul Rahman Al Dosari, CEO of the Marine Agency of the RTA, has said.
The RTA has recently introduced the waterbus service in the Dubai Creek.
Al Dosari said the fines were intended to prevent potential risks to operators as well as passengers.
The Operation and Performance Department under the Marine Agency of the RTA is the competent authority to issue these fines and offences, the official added.
"They are competent, well-trained individuals who are capable of measuring performance, monitoring operators and maintaining security and safety for passengers," he noted.
He added: "A fine of Dh500 will be slapped for offences like absence of night vision lights fitted in the waterbus, lack of safety tools such as lifejackets, fire extinguishers and first aid kits, or loading the waterbus with dangerous or inflammable materials."
Dh500 will also be fined for violations including operating non-licensed or non-registered waterbus, operating waterbus without ownership or licensing documents, driving of the waterbus by an operator who is not holding an approved driving license, driving waterbus without number plates, using the waterbus for purposes contradicting with the approved licensing purposes, non-compliance with the direction of routes between stations, loading and unloading passengers at locations other than the approved stations, emission of black smoke from the engine or exhaust of the waterbus, non-compliance with the instructions and directives of the inspector or individual in charge, non-compliance with the official uniform on the part of the operators of the waterbus or their assistants and making any changes to the specifications of the waterbus without a written permission from the RTA.
The RTA may also ground a waterbus if it is running without a number plate or if it's being operated without ownership or licensing documents.
A fine of Dh1,000 will be slapped for offences like operating the waterbus with a driving license or ownership document that has expired more than a month ago, and obstructing marine navigation in Dubai Creek.
A fine of Dh200 will be imposed for violations like ambiguity of the number plate of the waterbus, failure to present the original driving licence or ownership document on demand, neglecting maintenance of the waterbus, fishing from the waterbus and failure to present the ID card by operators and their assistants.
Amnesty hope for Indian mom, Pakistani daughter
DUBAI — AUG 31: Among the amnesty-seekers, the case of Alia Begum may well be a unique one. The 35-year-old widow from Hyderabad in India has a six-year-old daughter who has a Pakistani passport.
Alia’s husband, Mohammed Sadiq, a Pakistani national, died in Dubai in 2004 at the age of 49 following a cardiac arrest. At the time of their marriage in Hyderabad in 1999, she didn’t know Sadiq was a Pakistani, claims Alia.
“He had proposed marriage through an agent, who had told my family that Sadiq was a UAE national. I realised he was from Pakistan only after moving to Dubai with him on a housemaid visa,” she says. “My husband used to work in Dubai as a driver. After his death in 2004, I could not return to India as my UAE visa had expired and my daughter, Shama Sadiq, had a Pakistani passport. When she (Shama) was born, my husband had decided to take a Pakistani passport for her,” Alia narrates.
That’s how Alia became an illegal in the UAE. “For the past few years, I had been doing odd jobs to make both ends meet. No school was ready to give admission to my daughter as she didn’t have a valid visa. Neither could I afford to pay her school fees.”
After her husband’s death, Alia had all along been looking for an opportunity to return home. “When the amnesty was announced I was very happy as I could return to India with my child.” Talking of her husband, she says: “He was a nice person. However, two years after our marriage I found that he had a wife and children in Pakistan also. Still I decided to live with him.”
Her daughter’s Pakistani passport, however, has put Alia in a somewhat peculiar situation. “I approached the Indian mission and they said they would be providing a visa for my child to travel to India with me and I can apply for her nationality later after reaching India,” she adds. “I have already applied for an outpass. I’ll return to India as soon as I get my daughter’s visa from the Indian authorities,” she says.
Meanwhile, talking about Alia, B.S. Mubarak, spokesperson of the Indian Consulate, said: “We are looking into the matter. We have already offered a visa for her child. We are exploring other alternatives too.”