News headlines

Excerpts from UAE Dailies

Regulation to curb hiring of workers on visit visas soon

ABU DHABI — SEP 12: The Ministry of Labour (MoL) will shortly introduce a new regulation to impose stricter penalties on companies hiring workers on visit visas, a senior official has revealed.

Obaid Rashid Al Zahmi, assistant under-secretary of the MoL, told Khaleej Times yesterday that the new regulation, which would entail cancellation of the licences of the erring companies, may come as early as within a week. “The punishments will include a two-year suspension of the companies recruiting workers on visit visa, as well as downgrading the companies to the ‘C’ category, and even closure of the company depending on the violations,” said Al Zahmi.

The official pointed out that the new regulation aimed at streamlining the labour market, protecting the workers’ rights, and curbing the phenomenon of illegal workers.

“These penalties will protect the workers’ rights because they have to come and work according to the law as the companies must issue either temporary work permits or employment visas to them. Suppose someone is working on a visit visa and the employer delays their wages. Then what can the worker do?” asked Al Zahmi.


Ramadan begins tomorrow

ABU DHABI — SEP 12: The holy month of Ramadan begins tomorrow and Thursday, September 13, will be the first day of the month of fasting, the moon sighting committee announced yesterday.

The committee said in a statement following its meeting held under the chairmanship of Mohammed bin Nakhira Al Dhahiri, Minister of Justice, that Wednesday, September 12, will be the 30th day of Shaaban.


New diversion leads motorists to Salik tollgate
A new diversion put in place on Dubai’s Sheikh Zayed Road World Trade Centre underpass has caught many motorists unawares – sending some drivers straight towards the Salik tollgate at Al Garhoud Bridge.

There was confusion on Sheikh Zayed Road on Monday evening, as motorists avoiding Al Garhoud Bridge due to Salik found themselves with limited options.

The four lanes on Sheikh Zayed Road that normally go through the Trade Centre underpass have now been separated by dividers.

Motorists heading to Al Maktoum Bridge have to drive on two right side lanes before entering the underpass, while those headed to Al Garhoud Bridge have to take the two lanes on the left side.

However, for the past two days, motorists driving towards Al Maktoum Bridge have complained about the confusion caused by new diversion.

“The traffic boards do not give clear directions as to which lanes motorists should take to get to Al Maktoum Bridge,” said Charles Mbaire, 39, an accountant who works in Al Barsha and lives in Bur Dubai.

Mbaire said on Monday evening he got confused when he saw separators on the road, as he drove towards the Trade Centre tunnel.

He said the side of the separator he took led him towards Al Garhoud Bridge and he was not prepared to go through the tollgate since his Salik account was low.

There were also traffic delays on Sheikh Zayed Road during the rush hour as motorists made last minute decisions on which side of the separator they should drive.

Motorists who accidentally ended up on the road towards Al Garhoud Bridge also caused more congestion as they attempted to divert to other routes to avoid Salik.

“What is the point of paying Salik now with all this congestion?,” said Uthman Ali, 38, a car dealer who was caught up in the congestion on Al Garhoud Bridge.

Motorists avoiding Salik caused congestion around Dubai Police Club and Al Wasl Hospital as they attempted to get to Oud Metha Road as an alternative route to Deira and Bur Dubai.

Motorists have called for clear signs on Sheikh Zayed Road to avoid the confusion. The Executive Director of the Roads and Transport Authority Mattar Al Tayer, said new diversions have already been put up to pro vide a safe and smooth ride for motorists despite the road construction. “Since this month, we have put up diversions to help smooth traffic flow,” he said


New law to regulate private education

ABU DHABI —  SEP 12: The President, His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, yesterday issued a new law by decree on the regulation of country’s private education sector.

The new law abolishes Federal Law No. 28 for 1999 but it provides for its executive regulations to remain in effect until the cabinet issues new executive regulations.

The law stipulates that the cabinet will be in charge of regulating private education in the UAE according to regulations to be issued by the Minister of Education. The law also stipulates that it will be put into effect and published in the official gazette as from the date of issuance. “The new law is part of the eagerness of our wise leadership to ensure that the role and goals of private education are fully in line with, and complementary to, the efforts to promote the public education system, including projects launched to optimise education,” Minister of Education Dr Hanif Hassan said in a statement. “It also highlights the role that private education is expected to play in accordance with the ministry’s vision and strategy which, in turn, is in line with the UAE government strategy announced by His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai,” he said.    This strategy, which was announced earlier this year, “has education as its top priority,” the minister noted, saying that it provides for the preservation of the UAE’s achievements and for the promotion of sustainable development.

“Regulating private education is also in line with the drive for decentralisation and the setting up of partnerships with governmental and private departments, in accordance with the role of the education councils,” the minister said.


Alert DNRD officers seize 299 forged passports

DUBAI — SEP. 12: As many as 299 forged passports were seized by the Dubai Naturalisation and Residency Department (DNRD) during the first six months of 2007.

This was announced yesterday by DNRD Director Brigadier Mohammed Ahmed Al Marri at a ceremony held to honour 74 civilian and military officers from the Ministry of Interior who work in the Passports Control Section at Dubai International Airport.

While presenting certificates of merit to the officers, Brig Al Marri praised the Passport Control Officers for their continued and effective efforts in detecting forgery of travel documents.

“Our administration relies on the dedication and efforts of its staff in all its departments to achieve the desired success. We have always been promoting a performance-based atmosphere in which our staff will give their best duty potential,” said Brig Al Marri.

“We deem our cooperation with the different agencies and bodies at the airport as essential as it enables our passport control staff to effectively play their role on both services and security levels,” he added.

Among the female officers whose excellent performance drew special praise included Sergeant Aisha Ali Salimin, who detected 16 fake documents.

Six of the officers were also honoured by the Department of Civil Aviation which regularly assesses the performance of all personnel and security officers at Dubai International Airport.


Traffic chaos at Zayed Road

DUBAI — SEP 12: The Shaikh Zayed Road witnessed a heavy traffic jam yesterday morning.

The condition was worse near the Trade Centre Roundabout and the Emirates Towers and many people reached late at their work places as a result.

Very difficult

According to the commuters, the ongoing Gitex exhibition at the Trade Centre was the reason for the problem. “The conditions were very difficult near the Trade Centre Roundabout. All the vehicles were stuck and it took me more than an hour to get out of that spot. This resulted in very slow moving traffic in the entire Shaikh Zayed Road,” said Neena Sinha, a daily commuter along the Shaikh Zayed Road. The officials of the Dubai World Trade Centre said that the rush was evident as people were anxious to attend the exhibition.

Trade visitors

“The new measures in place for traffic control and parking provision have been extremely effective in ensuring access to the venue for the high volume of trade visitors we have received. While today has seen heavy traffic and a very high volume of visitors —particularly as people have rushed to attend for the last two days of the show — ongoing cooperation with the RTA, Dubai Police and the local taxi companies is keeping the traffic moving,” said Trixee Loh, the DWTC General Manager — Exhibitions.

The Roads and Transport Authority asked officials to follow the diversions carefully. They added that the RTA was also planning concrete steps to ensure that the roads are cleared off in a matter of minutes after each accident in order to ensure a free flow of traffic.

Towing vehicle

Engineer Salah Mohammed Al Marzouki, Director of the Intelligent Traffic Systems Manager at the RTA, said that they were trying to evolve a system under which a towing vehicle of the RTA reaches an accident spot in 5 minutes and clears the road.

“We are trying to set up this system. Right now, it takes a maximum of 10 minutes for any RTA towing vehicle to reach an accident spot. The tow-bikes have been launched early this year. There are many accident spots which are overcrowded and the big pick up vehicles takes a lot of time reaching those spots because of the rush. In this case, these bikes are of great help as they can zoom in very fast and carry away the damaged vehicle. We want that the time frame should be reduced to 5 minutes,” he said.

Talks on

Mattar Al Tayer, the Chairman and the Board and Executive Director of the RTA, said that talks were going on with the Dubai Police too in this connection. “Talks are on between the RTA and the Dubai police in this connection. Both the departments are working closely to ensure that the roads are cleared in record time after any mishap. Though the conditions have improved to a large extent, more needs to be done,” he added.


14-yr-old boy attacked by schoolmates

SHARJAH — SEP. 12: A 14-year-old student of a Sharjah-based private school was physically assaulted on Sunday (September 9) allegedly by two siblings who are secondary grade students in the same school.

The IX grade victim, H.A.H, sustained injuries in his left eye and bruises on left side of forehead and shoulder. He was shifted to Al Qasimi Hospital where he received medical treatment. The victim’s mother has lodged a report at the Al Gharb (Western) police station in Sharjah.

The victim’s mother said: “The two brothers persuaded my son after the end of school hours to come with them to the school bus waiting yard. They took my son by surprise by suddenly attacking him.”

She said the two boys grabbed her son’s head and pressed it on the ground until he fainted. “Nobody dared to intervene to save my son from the brutal attack,” she alleged.

However, the students who were witnessing the incident started yelling for help which drew the attention of the supervisor of the school buses who moved to the scene. But by then the two attackers had fled, she added.

“The two brothers had earlier threatened my son following a verbal exchange in the school bus a few days before the incident,” the mother alleged.


RDSC can ask landlord to reduce rent

ABU DHABI — SEP. 12: Tenants shall have the right to lodge a complaint against the landlord even after signing the tenancy contract, Counsellor Sultan Al Housani, Deputy Chairman of the Rent Disputes Settlement Committee (RDSC) told Khaleej Times.

Signing the contract does not mean that the tenant has agreed on the rent charges, he said, adding that many lessees accept sky-rocketing rents and do not complain to the committee. If a tenant complains and if the complaint is genuine, the committee would ensure that the tenant’s right is protected.


Dubai - Police arrest drug-den gang

Dubai - Sep 12: Dubai Police arrested a group of men after catching them taking drugs at a farm on the Dubai-Hatta Road. Police received a tip-off that an Asian man, who works on the farm, was using the location to host drug parties.

After investigation, police made the raid on the den and arrested ten Asian suspects and another Arab national, all residents of the UAE. According to police, the man who ran the ‘den’ was offering the drugs and a place to take them for money. Brigadier Khamis Al-Muzaina head of CID in Dubai Police said that the operation was the first of its kind.

“It's the first time we made a raid in a farm outside of the city. We will keep this in mind in the future and not only focus on the city” Al-Muzaina added. The suspects have all been charged with possession, trading and taking of drugs, while the first suspect was also charged with running a drug den


Shopkeepers allay price hike fears

Sharjah - Sep. 12: SUPERMARKETS and grocery shops in Sharjah on Monday sought to allay fears of the consumers that the prices of various products would increase during the month of Ramadan.

Managers of a host of supermarkets in Sharjah said that prices would remain "stable" during the month of Ramadan.

Manager of Giant Supermarket at Jamal Abdul Nasser street said that his group will not enhance the prices of any commodity during the month of Ramadan.

He said that number of people visiting his supermarket has increased significantly as they are apprehensive of a major hike in prices of different commodities.

"We can not speak about other groups but our group will not increase the prices during Ramadan", he remarked.

Nandkumar of Emke Group said that in absence of a fixed trend, it is very difficult to say whether the prices would increase during the month of Ramadan.

He said that prices might go up if the demands grow substantially.

Demands of several items including mutton go up during the holy month but much would depend on the supply side also.

"It will be old economics of demand and supply which would govern the market during the month of Ramadan", he reasoned.

The manager of another supermarket in Sharjah said that he also did not see any big reason for a rise in the prices of commodities during the month of Ramadan.

Prices are increasing but it is very difficult to predict whether they would soar during the month, he added.

He said that prices of certain items like vegetables are more prone to fluctuations but it would be premature to say the month of Ramadan would see a steep hike in prices.

Despite all the assurance, people are not taking any chances and are thronging supermarkets to purchase various commodities to pre-empt any effect of price hike on their pockets.

"I will not take any chance", a house wife in Al Khan area remarked and suspected that prices would definitely rise during the month of Ramadan.

People are purchasing rice, oil, wheat and other commodities in advance in belief that the month of Ramadan would have a bearing on the prices.

"We have been feeling the inflationary pressures which sometimes go beyond our financial capacity and hence we can not take any chance when the month of Ramadan would commence in the next few days", remarked a Dubai based civil engineer, Bahauddin Khan.

A Sharjah based supervisor, A. Sidiqqui said that the prices of commodities are bound to increase during the month of Ramadan so he was busy in completing his pre Ramadan shopping.


HR agency, employer under scanner

Dubai - Sep 12: THREE victims of illegal recruitment in the Philippines have sought the help of authorities in Dubai and have filed complaints against their recruitment agency based in Makati City, Metro Manila as well as their company in the UAE.

The complaints were filed a week after The Gulf Today published an article about a facility opened up to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) wherein they can now formally sue their illegal recruiters in the Philippines without having to go home instead just go to the nearest Philippine Overseas Labour Office (Polo).

"We already went to see Labour Attache (for Dubai and the Northern Emirates) Virginia Calves Sept.3 and through one of our Polo public relations officers, we were able to file a complaint against our company. A schedule has been set at the Ministry of Labour (MoL) on Sept.19," one of the three complainants told The Gulf Today.

Last Thursday, Calves said she sent a notification to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) headquarters in Mandaluyong City, Metro Manila about the plight of the three OFWs.

The three became contract substitution victims. They also complained of non-payment of their salaries for the month of August, non-payment of overtime pay, and of having been barred to enter their accommodations after they went to the Polo.

"It's not true that there is a curfew. That we have to be inside our accommodations at a specific time because there had been instances when we had to go home at 11 pm and 12 midnight from work and they allowed us entry," said the Filipino who, according to his contract signed in the Philippines was a production supervisor in his Jebel Ali-based company but after a month of work became an all-around worker with his basic salary altered and was among those who were allegedly forced to work for more than eight hours a day.

The three were among 14 Filipinos hired to work as technicians, electronic engineer, production supervisor, human resource staff, accounting staff, graphic artist, sales and marketing staff and office receptionist.

On Saturday, it was learnt that the Filipina who complained of the non-provision of their evening meal contrary to stipulations in their respective employment contracts had been sent home.

Calves said that she had recommended the preventive suspension of the group's recruitment agency in Makati City "since there is available evidence" of contract substitution and misrepresentation (false information provided for in the recruitment procedures) under Philippine overseas employment laws.

She said: "Contract substitution was committed because there were changes in the nature of their jobs and in their salaries that they applied for in the Philippines based on their contracts submitted to the POEA and on what their employer submitted to the MoL."

Aside from the affidavits of the three complainants executed at the Polo last week, all documents pertinent to the case were submitted to Calves who sent the materials to the POEA on Sept.5.

Calves said all the three will have to wait now for possible interrogation from the POEA Adjudication Office. That is, if the officer-on-case deems it necessary that additional information must be needed from them.

The on-site filing of illegal recruitment cases against alleged violators in the Philippines was made possible through the Aug.9, resolution of the POEA which is an attached agency of the Philippines' Department of Labour and Employment.

It was a resolution reached to give justice to illegal recruitment victims from their job sites who normally leave it to fate or charge it to experience, and therefore let the racketeers go scot-free.



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