NEWS FROM THE UAE
Excerpts from UAE Dailies
Grocery sales soar as families stockpile goods for Ramadan
UAE - Sep 10: While supermarkets and retail outlets are telling consumers there is no need to stockpile in advance of Ramadan, residents have responded that price hikes force them to plan and buy early. Grocery stores across the UAE have reported a surge in sales attributed to bulk shopping by families gearing up for the holy month. However, the supermarkets refute allegations of price manipulation, saying prices are determined by the market.
“It is a universal demand and supply chain phenomenon that prices go up as the demand increases. But more specifically, price variations happen more on imported items,” said a spokesperson for EMKE Group, which run the largest number of supermarkets in the country.
Speaking to Emirates Today, many families said they have started storing stockpiles of rice, oil, wheat and other durable commodities to avoid Ramadan-driven inflation.
“Ramadan is around the corner, and I can see prices are already going up. Supermarkets will definitely increase the prices further once Ramadan starts,” said Khamees Ahmed Al Mutawa, a UAE national in Dubai.
A government employee and a father of four, Al Mutawa said last year he saved at least a thousand dirhams because he planned his shopping well in advance.
“You can cut corners by stocking long-life products before Ramadan starts. But there is nothing much one can do about the prices of fruit, meat and sweets as you cannot stock them for long,” said Al Mutawa.
Shehnaz Mohammed Hussain, a housewife from Pakistan residing in Dubai, said she fears having to pay at least 20 per cent more if she shops during the last two days before Ramadan. “It is really sinful for these people [retailers] to hike the prices during Ramadan. They are actually going against the spirit of the holy month,” she said.
According to Fathima Benhur, a housewife from India, the grocery budget of her family goes up not only because of price hikes but also because of increased expenses.
“My monthly grocery expenses shoot up from Dh1,500 to Dh3,000.We buy more during Ramadan because there are more friends and family visiting during Iftar,” she said.
Both the government and some co-operatives say they are aware of the price trend and watching out for consumers’ interests.
Government authorities have also said that they will not allow retailers to arbitrarily increase the price of essential commodities.
Etisalat rewards customers with Skywards points
DUBAI — Sep 10: Etisalat customers can now avail themselves of one skywards point from Emirates Airline and Sri Lankan Airlines for each dirham they spend on Etisalat services.
Etisalat yesterday unveiled Emirates Airline’s Skywards, an innovative frequent flyer programme, as its first “reward point partner” at a joint Press conference with Emirates Airlines officials at the Etisalat stand in Gitex. This offer is part of Etisalat’s recently announced reward programme ‘More’.
As per the new partnership between Emirates and Etisalat, the points earned by customers on an Etisalat scheme can be converted to skywards miles to redeem air tickets, upgrades and a whole range of retail and travel rewards.
All Etisalat customers can now register for their ‘More’ account at www.etisalat.ae/more. Apart from a welcome bonus of 500 points and a special introductory bonus of an additional 500 points for all who register, there is also an additional 200 bonus points for all customers registering online.
Essa Al Haddad, chief marketing officer, Etisalat, said ‘More’ was a ground-breaking way of rewarding the telecom operator’s customers.
“We are constantly creating new and exciting additions to the programme, bringing immense value to all our customers. ‘More’ members earn points by simply using Etisalat products and services.”
Ghait Al Ghait, executive vice-president, Commercial Operations, Emirates said: “We are excited to be a part of the ‘More’ programme from its inception. We believe this partnership will be embraced by Etisalat customers and will expose more people in the UAE to reap the rewards of skyward programme.”
Etisalat customers will be able to merge three mobile accounts in one ‘More’ account, and earn the usage of each mobile. This programme is open to all individual subscribers of Etisalat services.
‘More’ members can use the reward points that they accumulate to pay for Etisalat services, including paying the bills on their service usage, or recharging their prepaid accounts.
Traffic fine payment via mobile
DUBAI — Sep 10: The General Department of Electronic Services of Dubai Police, in cooperation with Etisalat, has launched a new service whereby consumers can enquire about and pay their traffic fines through mobile phones.
Colonel Ahmed Hamdan bin Talmud, director of the General Department of Electronic Services at Dubai Police, said: “Subscribers need to press *123# to enquire the details and pay traffic fines”. Col. Ahmed said that people can start utilising the enquiry service, adding that they’ll also be able to pay their traffic fines soon. The service is free of charge but later Dh1 will be charged for the service.
Andhra minister, DNRD official discuss problem of illegal immigrants
DUBAI — Sep 10: The Minister for Energy, Coal, and Minorities Welfare of Andhra Pradesh state in India, Mohammed Ali Shabber, met Brigadier Mohamed Ahmed Rashid Al Marri, Director of Dubai Naturalisation and Residency Department (DNRD), here yesterday to discuss long-term solutions to the problem of illegal immigrants from Andhra Pradesh.
Shabber accompanied by a four- member delegation thanked the UAE leadership for announcing the three -month Amnesty for illegal workers and for the additional two-month grace period until November 3 for departure.
He thanked the UAE government for the excellent arrangements made for speedy processing of exit permits for illegal Indian workers.
He said that the Andhra Pradesh government was keen on cracking down on recruiting agents who were involved in illegal practices to check the flow of labour to UAE without proper employment visas.
He expressed the willingness of government authorities in India to work with the UAE government in finding long-term solutions.
Brig. Marri assured that the UAE government was adopting a humanitarian approach to the amnesty seekers and providing all possible facilities to them. He personally took the delegation to Jumeriah Immigration Centre and showed the arrangements made for amnesty seekers, including an air-conditioned tent and provisions for water, refreshments, etc.
Ambassador to the UAE Talmiz Ahamad, and Consul-General in Dubai, Venu Rajamony, who accompanied the minister, briefed the delegation in detail on the arrangements made by the Consulate with regard to the amnesty over the past three months. The minister and his delegation will be visiting Abu Dhabi today.
The minister’s delegation included Ravi Shankar Aisola, Head of the Branch Secretariat of the Ministry of External Affairs, Hyderabad, Ramana Reddy, Additional Secretary, Government of Andhra Pradesh. Joint Commissioner of Police of Hyderabad, Amit Garg and Shri D. Ashok, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Hyderabad.
Infant denied boarding pass
Ajman - Sep. 10: AN INDIAN expatriate businessman has accused an employee of Emirates airlines of harassing him and his family by not allowing them to board a flight at Thiruvananthapuram, India.
Abdul Khadar Sabeer, managing director of Al Manama Group based in Ajman, which runs a chain of supermarkets and a school, told The Gulf Today that he and his family of four had to endure anxious hours as his infant child was disallowed entry on the grounds that the ticket PNR was incorrect.
He was booked on business class with his wife and three children, one being an infant. The family was returning from Kerala on Aug.27.
A Silver card holder of the Dubai-based airline's frequent flyer programme Skywards, Sabeer said the airline supervisor whom he identified as Mathew went to the extent of using indecent language. "His language was straight from the streets," Sabeer said describing Mathew's utterances in full view of his family members and co-passengers.
Emirates is yet to reply to his formal complaint.
However, a brief statement from Emirates Airlines procured by this newspaper said, "On check-in at Thiruvananthapuram airport, names of two of the passengers as indicated at the time of booking did not match the official names as indicated in the passport. The ticket of a third passenger was also discovered to be invalid."
Disputing the airline's statement, Sabeer said he was told only about the incorrect PNR of his infant child. He said after initial hesitation the airline official denied boarding pass to the baby and said all others can travel. "But tell me how could anyone travel leaving an infant behind?" Sabeer sought to know the logic behind Mathew's insistence that the baby would not be allowed to travel.
"I sought the help of the Emirates official to get another booking, which I assume is not a difficult thing since they don't have to allocate a separate seat for an infant," Sabeer said. With Mathew refusing to co-operate, Sabeer said he had to purchase another ticket.
"Since the flight is scheduled for 9:45pm and it was Onam (the local harvest festival) day it was a stupendous task to get another ticket," he said.
He said personnel from other airlines including SriLankan, a partner of Emirates, intervened to diffuse the situation. "They even told Mathew he could be in for trouble for unnecessarily preventing a passenger from boarding the flight," Sabeer said.
After insisting on a fresh ticket, a boarding pass was issued for baby even before the newly purchased ticket could be delivered. "What I don't understand is how could the airline that refused a boarding pass issue a boarding pass all of a sudden even before they received the fresh ticket," said Sabeer wondering about the "dramatic" change of mind of the official who till then refused to co-operate.
In the statement sent to The Gulf Today, Emirates however expressed regrets at the inconvenience caused but states that, "As per procedure, the Emirates supervisor requested the affected passengers to wait while the ticket details were being cross-checked. After obtaining all necessary verifications, the passengers were accepted for check-in."
Dubai - Cross-dressing male gets two years in jail
Dubai - Sep. 10: A man who dressed as a woman to parade around Dubai while working as a male prostitute has been jailed for two years. The 25-year-old UAE national was convicted of the offences following a trial at the Court of First Instance.
A teenage boy accused of similar crimes was referred to the Juvenile Court in Dubai to face proceedings. According to police records, both males were arrested in a public place in Dubai after being spotted wearing female clothing. During interviews with officers they both confessed to having sex with other men for money - normally between dhs700 to dhs1000 a time.
A 31-year-old officer said that during questioning following their arrests, they admitted being homosexual and charging other men to have sexual relations with them. They both confirmed that they were not forced into having sex with other men.
The police officer told the court that one of the accused had worn female clothes since he was a child as he had grown up surrounded by women. He carried on acting like a woman through his teenage years and adult life, the court was told.