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Excerpts from UAE Dailies

Tremors felt in RAK, Fujairah

FUJAIRAH/RAS AL KHAIMAH — SEP 14: Panic gripped the residents of Fujairah and Ras Al Khaimah yesterday evening after two ‘strong’ tremors hit the emirates, officials and residents said. However, no loss of life or property was reported.

While the first tremor, which was reported at around 7.47pm, was more powerful, the second followed some 20 minutes later.

Many residents in Dibba, Al Hesn, Masafi, Al Tubein, Al Abadelah and Al Teba and in Ras Al Khaimah reportedly rushed out of their apartments and houses.

The magnitude of the tremor was not known at the time of going to press. Experts said the tremor could be an after-effect of the earthquake reported in Indonesia yesterday. "The tremor lasted about five seconds. It was accompanied by a trembling noise," said an expert.

Abdul Rauf, a resident of Dibba told Khaleej Times: "I was returning from the mosque when the quake was first felt. Initially, I could not figure out what was happening. People were panicking and rushing out of their houses. Things returned to normal after an hour."

Faisal Bava, a resident of Ras Al Khaimah, said there was panic in the emirate following the first tremor itself. "Most of the people were in mosques at the time," he said.


Sharjah commuters stuck as cabbies stay off Dubai

SHARJAH — SEP 14: Commuters from Sharjah to Dubai were stranded for hours on the first day of Ramadan yesterday after taxi drivers refused to drive to Dubai citing several reasons, including Salik and traffic chaos.

Cummuters said the drivers came up with all kinds of excuses to give the Dubai trip a go by. Commuters also alleged that taxi drivers were forcing them to take the Al Garhoud Bridge route so as to avoid traffic congestion and at the same time, charging Dh8, instead of Dh4 for Salik, even if the person travelled one way.

"Several drivers refused to take me to Dubai unless I agreed to pay for Salik, and that too, for both ways," said Amina S. She said at least four drivers cooked up excuses to prevent travelling to Dubai yesterday.

"The first one told me that he had some personal work, the second said he had school children to pick up, while two others made similar excuses," she said, adding that finally she was so late for work that she decided to take a day off.

Mustafa Karim, another commuter said he had tried booking a taxi over the phone because no driver was willing to take him to Dubai. "I was told that if I wanted to go to Dubai, I needed to make a booking at least two hours before and at least an hour and half for travelling within Sharjah," he explained.

An official from Advantage Taxi said that most drivers wanted to stay back in Sharjah till they could break the fast in the evening and it would be easier for people to travel to Dubai after six.

"But people should be aware of their rights. If a driver refuses to carry a passenger, they should call up the company and report the matter. The driver can be fined for this offence," he explained.  Drivers can be slapped with a minimum fine of Dh300 if they outrightly refuse to carry passengers.

Abdullah Sultan Al-Sabbagh, general manager of Cars Taxi Services Company in Dubai that also operates City Taxi service in Sharjah said: "No driver can ask for payment of Salik for both ways because this means they are pocketing the money. This issue should be reported to the taxi company immediately."

Meanwhile, an official from Sharjah Transport Corporation said the Salik issue had been cleared earlier. "Passengers have to bear the cost if they travel through the gate. But they should not pay Salik charge if they have not used the toll gate," he added.


Deadline for safe labour housing

ABU DHABI — SEP 14: Many companies that were found providing unsuitable accommodation to workers have been given between one and two months time to provide suitable, clean and safe accommodation to them.

The Ministry of Labour (MoL) had found these firms flouting the prescribed housing standards for workers.

A source at the MoL said:  "In case the companies fail to take the necessary steps, they will face penalties, suspension, their downgrading to the 'C' category, in addition to a Dh10,000 fine."

The MoL source said that the workers had every right to file complaints if the companies were not providing them with proper accommodation.


Amnesty-seekers invest savings in gold jewellery 
UAE - SEP 14:
Gold sales have shot up in the UAE despite an increase in the price of the precious metal, thanks to thousands of amnesty-seekers buying before they return home.

More than 190,000 illegal expatriates have either left the country or plan to do so before the end of November, and according to estimates, 60 to 70 per cent have invested their savings in gold.

According to the Dubai Gold and Jewellery Group (DGJG) the metal’s price has been increasing and the trend is likely to continue during the next few months.

The price of a gram of 24 karat gold yesterday stood at Dh85 and 22 karat gold cost Dh79 per gram, the most expensive so far this year.

“The price rise is a result of a combination of factors including the depreciation of the dollar. We cannot attribute any particular reason for it,” said KP Baiju, general manager, DGJG.

Baiju said he thought those travelling on amnesty had made a clever decision to invest in gold as the prices are expected to rise. “Most of them have very little savings and the best they can do is to invest in gold. It also adds to their value as they carry them [jewellery] as gifts to their dear ones back home,” he said.

Emirates Today spoke to several amnesty-seekers who have invested some of their savings in gold before they return home.

Siddique P, a 28-year-old from Kerala, India, who worked as a driver, said: “After working here for more than four years, I cannot afford to return home empty-handed.” “I had saved about Dh5,000 and decided to buy gold for Dh3,500. I have bought two bangles and also a small chain for my wife. I have not seen her for all these years and this is all that I can afford,” he said.

Despite the buying frenzy, some amnesty-seekers said they felt the pressure to spend even more on gold.

Abdul Kader, 34, from Kozhikode in Kerala, said: “When we return home we are still Gulf returnees. They do not realise that we have been working hard here as illegals and have returned on amnesty. On most occasions we have to carry expensive gifts as it becomes a necessity.” In particular, Dubai’s gold and jewellery is known for its high quality and the emirate’s designs are much sought after.

With the free trade environment, the price of gold here, while expensive, is still the cheapest in the world.


Dubai - Burj Dubai breaks through final height barrier

Dubai - Sep 14: The world's tallest building, still under construction in Dubai, has become the world's tallest free-standing structure, its developers said yesterday.

The Burj Dubai tower is now 555 metres tall and has surpassed the 553-metre-  CN Tower in Toronto, Canada, which had held the record for the world's tallest free-standing structure since 1976, developers Emaar Properties said.

The skyscraper, being built by South Korea's Samsung and set for completion at the end of next year, is one of several mega projects taking shape in Dubai, The statement did not reveal the tower's final projected height or its final number of storeys, which Emaar has kept secret since launching the project in January 2004.

The developer announced in July that Burj Dubai had exceeded Taiwan's Taipei 101 which is 508 metres  tall, to become the tallest building in the world.

More than 320,800 cubic metres of reinforced concrete and 63,300 tonnes of reinforcing steel have been used in the tower's construction so far.


Labour camp occupants go without water for 20 days


SHARJAH - Sep 14: WATER scarcity has badly hit a labour camp in Sharjah where more than 200 security personnel belonging to two prominent security companies live.

Inmates allege that there is no water supply in the labour camp for over 20 days.

"Ramadan has begun and there is no water supply in the camp. Most of the in-mates are Muslims and are struggling to complete their rituals during the Holy Month," said an in-mate who did not wished to be identified. "Water supply to the camp has been disconnected by the municipality as the company failed to clear the dues. There was also a strike in the camp asking the company to restore the water supply," he said.

The camp located near National Paints Round about is in a mess with sewerage flowing all over the place. Nearly 100 personnel from Bentley Security and Safety services live in the camp.

Some of the security personnel have stopped going to the office due to lack of water supply. "How can we go to our duties when there is no water? Some of us are disgusted and are planning to quit the job because of the situation," said another person. Most of the inmates are from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal.

When contacted, a senior representative of the Bentley Security and Safety denied that there is any problem in the camp. "Everything is normal in the camp. People living in the camp are exaggerating things," he said.


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