NEWS FROM THE UAE
Excerpts from UAE Dailies
Housing eats away half of Dubai residents' income
DUBAI — SEP 04: More than two-thirds of Dubai's population are spending up to half their salaries on house rents and children's education, according to a cost-of-living survey released yesterday.
The DSL Exhibitions survey of more than 400 Dubai residents earning more than Dh200,000 annually, analysed the increase in the cost of living to gauge the impact of the inflation on the growth of the property market and the quality of lifestyle.
DSL Exhibitions Marketing Director Tessa Morris said the UAE has been witnessing rising prices across the board for the last three years, which had benefited the property market, but also meant dramatic impacts on expenses and lifestyle choices.
Two-thirds of residents spent between one quarter and one half of their income on housing and most said this was an increase of up to one quarter over the last three years.
Education costs had also skyrocketed with an increase of up to 50 per cent recorded for two-thirds of the population, while one in six people noted an increase of more than 50 per cent.
Eight out of 10 residents said they spend between 10 to 20 per cent on groceries while transport costs had not seen significant increases.
Morris said the survey found that the residents' income was predominantly taken up with essential costs, including housing, education, transport and groceries and cutbacks had been made on non-essential goods.
“The city is showing signs of quickly moving into a mature growth phase and while cost-of-living issues present a complex problem for a number of residents at present — as is normal in periods of growth and change — Dubaiites are demonstrating remarkable resilience and confidence in the future of UAE's economy."
Morris said despite the high living costs, residents still had confidence in the market and had a desire to invest in property.
Eight out of 10 who had not bought property in Dubai said they wanted to invest less than Dh2 million if they buy.
Three quarters said their purchases would be to live in rather than investments.
Borrowings remained strong but the survey indicated the city ran the risk of becoming an increasingly indebted society because of banks aggressively selling loans.
The majority (three quarters) of residents said they could only save less than 25 per cent of their income. However about two-thirds said they paid less than 10 per cent interest.
Morris concluded that the survey showed that residents were optimistic about the UAE's economy and its sustainability and this would be demonstrated with continued investment in the property market.
No work visa for visitors
ABU DHABI – SEP.04: The Ministry of Labour (MoL) will not approve work visa applications for workers who have entered the UAE on visit visas, according to Saleh Al Jabri, head of the Firms Department in the MoL. “It is a clear violation of the Labour law as visitors are not allowed to work on visit visas,” he pointed out.
Al Jabri told Khaleej Times that any company desirous of employing an expatriate should obtain a temporary work permit or employment visa, not visit visa.
In case of violation, the employers would risk Dh10,000 fine and suspension of transactions for six months.
Sources at MoL said that the ministry had recently rejected an application that had been initially approved by the Abu Dhabi Naturalisation and Residency Department (ADNRD) because the company had sought to hire employees on visit visas.
Motorists go over the bend on Garhoud chaos
DUBAI — SEP. 04: New diversions on Dubai's roads seem to be driving commuters around the bend. Even Salik, which was expected to reduce traffic congestion, is seen to have made little difference.
The condition is getting from bad to worse on the Garhoud Road, particularly during the evening hours. Motorists complain that the new diversions have actually made the people move through the Salik gate and spend Dh4 rather than getting stuck for hours together.
“When Salik was launched, we had expected that it would be controlling the traffic situation along the Garhoud area. And the situation was good for a month or so. But now with the new diversions, it has become very confusing. People who don’t want to use Salik are getting stuck for hours together on the Dubai-Sharjah Road. The people coming from Deira have to endure an ordeal everyday. So I have now decided to use Salik. But then there are so many others like me who think the same. Nowadays you are bound to get stuck in a jam whether or not you are using Salik," said an angry Nidhi Jacob, who works in Dubai and lives in Sharjah.
Some other motorists, too, feel the same. “They have now barricaded one lane at the Garhoud Bridge, too, for those moving towards Deira. This has further worsened the situation. The toll gates are not solving any problems for now. And the main cause is the new diversions. People want to stick on to the old route in order to avoid getting confused. Earlier, they had put up barricades in between the four lanes on the Ittihad Road which had worsened the situation for the ones coming from Deira, the Floating Bridge and the Maktoum Bridge. Now with the Garhoud Bridge clogged and Salik being of no use, we are falling short of options," added some of the daily commuters.
The alternative route like the Emirates Road is presently seeing major traffic. The RTA had recently opened all the six new lanes in order to facilitate the traffic movement.
“The Emirates Road is the only saving grace for the non-Salik users now. But the traffic situation there is also the same and people are getting stuck despite the new lanes. The Salik gate near the Mall of the Emirates at the fourth Interchange is also seeing traffic as very few want to get stuck in the alternative routes like Jumeirah Road etc,” added the commuters.
Meanwhile, RTA officials said Salik has been successful in reducing traffic considerably. “The introduction of Salik has been useful for the motorists. There has been a considerable control over traffic on Shaikh Zayed Road and the Garhoud Bridge. The situation was bad before the Salik was introduced. The new diversions that have been made near Garhoud are for the project involving the expansion of the Ittihad Road. Once completed, the road will cater to the needs of many and the traffic problem will be solved,” said an RTA official.
RTA's new bus route map is user-friendly
DUBAI — SEP. 04: The Public Transport Agency at the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has released a new map of public bus routes in Dubai, incorporating several changes in the old map to match the demographic and urban growth witnessed by Dubai in all key sectors.
The new map will make passenger mobility much easier and it is viewed as an integral part of the Master Bus Plan covering most of the urban areas in Dubai.
The map contains a list of various services on offer at the Public Transport Agency, which have been highlighted in distinctive colour codes.
The green line represents Express Bus Service, that is, buses which only stop at certain stations and not all of them. The blue line represents Airport Bus Service, and the black line indicates ordinary bus routes which cover most areas of the emirate of Dubai.
The golden line symbolises Emirates Express Buses, which link the emirate of Dubai with other emirates.
Mohammed Obaid Al Mulla, CEO of Public Transport Agency, stressed that the new map had been appreciated by the public as revealed from the opinion poll conducted by the Public Buses Department and Business Planning and Development Department which covered a wide spectrum of nationalities residing in Dubai. Bus drivers and bus station controllers were also covered in the poll.
All of them praised the design of the new maps and commended the user-friendliness in tracking and identifying various locations and areas in Dubai such as commercial centres, tourist destinations, public departments, companies, establishments and other key units.
Girl who had a fall still unconscious
ABU DHABI — SEP. 04: The 15-year-old girl who reportedly fell from her third floor apartment in Musaffah on Sunday was said to be in a stable condition. She is responding to the treatment, though still in the ICU at Al Mafraq Hospital in the capital.
The girl's father told Khaleej Times yesterday that she had still not regained consciousness. The doctors on duty, however, declined to comment.
The Grade XI student of Model School in Abu Dhabi had suffered three fractures in her left leg.
Ramadan starts on 13th
UAE - SEP 04: Scholars are yet to decide about the start of Ramadan this year.
But astronomical calculations announced yesterday by the Emirates Astronomical Society (EAS) say the fasting month will start on Thursday, September 13, in the UAE. Islamic scholars say this is dependant on the sighting of the crescent moon.
A clear image of the crescent moon is essential for announcing the start of Ramadan, said Dr Ahmad Al Haddad, Grand Mufti at Dubai Islamic Affairs and Charity Works Department.
However, astronomical calculations were recognisable and reliable for ensuring whether the crescent can be sighted or not, he added.
“If astronomers announce the inability to see the new month’s crescent, then scholars will not accept any testimony about its sighting.
“In compliance with the saying of Prophet Mohammed [PBUH]: ‘Fast for sighting it [the crescent] and break the fast for sighting it. Should you be unable to sight it, then you should observe completing the month of Shaaban in full – 30 days’.” Collaboration between sci entists and observers of the crescent was needed to help start Ramadan correctly, said the scholar.
But Mohammed Ouda, Chairman of Islamic Crescents’ Observation Project and member of EAS, said all the Islamic countries may not begin the month of Ramadan on the same day.
He said: “Astronomical calculations show September 13 would be the first day of the fasting month in most Muslim countries such as Oman, Morocco and Iran where the month of Shaaban started on Tuesday, August 14.” For these countries, he said, Tuesday, September 11, will correspond with the 29th day of Shaaban and on this spe cific day it will be impossible to sight the crescent moon in all parts of the Islamic world.
“This is because the moon will set before the sun in many nations,” Ouda explained.
Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) is organising the Sixth Ramadan Forum from the eighth to the 20th day of Ramadan with the theme of Hamel Al Mesk, which means ‘holder of the perfume of the heavens’.
Mohammed Khamis bin Hareb Al Muhairi, Executive Director of Operations and Marketing of DTCM and chairman of the forum’s organising committee, said for Muslims Al Mesk is the perfumed scent of the heavens.
Missing maid found in Sharjah
SHARJAH - SEP 04: A UAE national family heaved a sigh of relief when their missing maid was finally traced and deported. Abdullah Al Mansoori, a central government employee, and his wife Nada, both 33, said their Sri Lankan maid, Madhushika Rajakaruna, left their Abu Dhabi home in December last year.
Following her disappearance, the maid’s relatives in Sri Lanka took up the matter with their government, alleging that Madhushika had been killed by her sponsor.
There were also media reports speculating she had been murdered, and the Sri Lankan Government instructed the embassy to conduct a full enquiry.
Emirates Today had earlier published Madhushika’s photo with the Sri Lankan embassy appealing for public help to find her.
The embassy subsequently traced her to Sharjah, and sent her home to Sri Lanka late last month.
Speaking to Emirates Today, Nada Al Mansoori, a housewife, said her family was traumatised and had suffered harassment and humiliation at the hands of Madhushika’s relatives after she vanished from their house.
“We had a terrible time explaining to her parents that we knew nothing about her [whereabouts], and that she had gone without telling us,” said Nada, a mother of three.
She said they would get innumerable calls from Sri Lanka with people screaming and swearing at them.
“She worked with us for a year and five months.
“She was nice, and good with the kids. But I don’t know why she decided to leave without even informing us,” said Nada.
However, she said that a few months before Madhushika absconded, she had discovered the maid had bought a mobile phone without her knowledge.
“I did not get angry. But I did warn her not to befriend unknown men, as that would bring her trouble. I was later told by my other maids that she was in touch with some men,” said the sponsor.
Nada added that one morning she found Madhushika had climbed through the window and run away.
“We handed over her passport to the immigration [authorities], and also kept all her belongings safely so she could come and take them at anytime,” Nada said.
Nada’s husband Abdullah said he never spoke to Madhushika, and so he barely knew her.
“The maid was hired for my wife and kids. So they were the only ones to deal with her. I never even asked her for a glass of water. But in the end, we became the victims,” com plained Al Mansoori.Yasantha Wijesekara, Labour Attaché at the Sri Lankan embassy, said they approached the authorities and the media to help trace Madhushika.
“When we found her living in Sharjah, we summoned her to the embassy and took her statement before sending her back home,” said Wijesekara.
He said the Al Mansooris had been exceptionally understanding and co-operative, and paid the maid a month’s salary before she was repatriated
Dubai - Family left in the dark over mysterious death
Dubai - Sep 04: A death certificate issued for a Filipina maid who was found in a decomposed state outside a villa in Jumeirah last month does not detail a cause of death.
Anariza Tangan, 35, the sister of the victim, 38-year-old housemaid Mary Ann Carbellido, said she received the Ministry of Health death certificate on Sunday morning. “I could not imagine that I'm holding the death certificate several weeks after we reported her missing in the police station. Her husband in the Philippines is always calling me to ask how she had died.
“The entire family is anxious to know what happened to her and we still don’t know,” Anariza told 7DAYS. She is scheduled to leave for the Philippines on Friday to accompany the remains of her sister back home.
Rafael Palencia, a Philippine Consulate officer, told 7DAYS that the death certificate which they received on Sunday did not indicate if Mary Ann had been murdered. Based on the death certificate issued by the UAE Ministry of Health Department of Preventive Medicine, she died on August 20.
The direct cause of death, the leading cause of death, and the actual cause of death of Mary Ann were all unknown, according to the death certificate. A police source told 7DAYS yesterday that Mary Ann had died of natural causes.
Anariza searched for her sister after she disappeared en route to a driving lesson on August 12. One week later, she received a call from the police to identify her sister’s body disovered in Jumeirah.