SOURCE : THE NATIONAL
Beach couple charged with public indecency
The couple were caught on Jumeirah beach by a police patrol officer
DUBAI - JUL 10:A British sales manager caught having intercourse with a man on a public beach faces a jail term of up to six years.
Michelle Palmer, who is in her 30s, and the British tourist face charges of public indecency after a police officer who had previously warned the pair about their behaviour found them having intercourse on Jumeirah beach.
Ms Palmer, a sales manager for the publishing firm ITP, will face the Dubai Court of First Instance at a date yet to be set. She faces a possible prison term of up to six years and deportation.
Last night, ITP said following an internal review of the incident, Ms Palmer had been dismissed from the company.
The incident is said to have happened following a brunch last Friday at Le Meridien Hotel. Ms Palmer and the man – known only as “Vince” – met for the first time that day and had been drinking alcohol.
Ms Palmer, who moved to Dubai three years ago, later went with the man to the beach, where they were spotted kissing by a police officer and cautioned. Later, the same officer caught the couple having intercourse.
Friends said Ms Palmer, who lives in Jumeirah, allegedly shouted abuse at the officer and was arrested, taken to a police cell and charged. She has since been released on bail.
The friend said reports the couple had married to get a more lenient sentence were untrue.
“It is something they considered, but it did not go any further than that,” said the friend. “It was just desperation, but marriage was not feasible.
“She knows she has made one very big, silly mistake.”
Ms Palmer was quoted by the British tabloid newspaper The Sun as saying: “They’re going to make an example of us and we’re going to get a higher sentence. We are in so much trouble and my family and everybody are affected. Until someone is in this situation they could never know what it’s like. It’s bad – it’s so, so bad.”
A British Foreign Office spokesman said: “Two British nationals were arrested in Dubai. The case is currently under investigation.” The spokesman said the pair were arrested on July 5.
Yesterday, the acting chief of Dubai police, Major Gen Khamis al Mazina, said public indecency among foreigners was not generally a problem. “Most Western residents and tourists who visit Dubai understand and respect the culture and this is an isolated case that does not represent the attitude or behaviour of all Westerners,” he said.
Simon Goldsmith, from the British Embassy in Dubai, said the embassy was offering Ms Palmer legal support.
Mr Goldsmith said the embassy had no plans to modify the advice on its website. “We have got our travel advice, which is explicit,” he said.
A spokesman for ITP confirmed that Ms Palmer, a member of its staff, had been arrested by Dubai police for “a number of serious public order offences”.
Charm school plan for rude bus drivers
Commuters wait at the bus station in Al Satwa, Dubai. An undisclosed number of inspectors will discreetly monitor the service.
DUBAI - JUL 10:A new squad of undercover inspectors will be boarding buses throughout Dubai to weed out drivers who are rude or threaten the safety of passengers by driving badly or failing to obey the road rules.
The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has launched its “mystery rider” initiative, which will see inspectors monitor the behaviour of drivers towards passengers as well as their driving discipline.
Drivers found to be falling short of certain standards would be sent for retraining in various aspects of the job including communication skills and courtesy, a senior official from the RTA’s Public Transport Agency said.
“This mystery rider scheme is aimed ultimately at improving our service and making bus travel easier and a more pleasant experience for customers by seeing how our drivers perform,” said Mohammed bin Fahad, the director of planning and business development.
“The inspectors will be making sure the drivers are performing to the best of their ability, and this will include factors such as politeness and attitude towards passengers. They will also make sure he is following the rules and regulations of the road and driving in a safe manner.”
Mr Fahad, who is overseeing the project, said an undisclosed number of inspectors would not only try to find fault with bus drivers, but would also keep look for examples of good practice that could be rewarded.
“It’s not just about finding examples of drivers with a poor attitude, but also looking for ones who behave and drive well, who set an example of what all drivers should be aiming for,” said Mr Fahad. “We will be looking to reward such drivers for their excellence and this, too, will help improve our service.”
Mr Fahad said the RTA received about 60 to 70 customer comments – not all of them complaints – a week relating to buses.
Asked if the scheme was a result of customer complaints, Mr Fahad said: “Of course, we receive some complaints – sometimes about the driver’s attitude and sometimes about the manner of driving – but the initiative is about improving our service for everybody.
“Not all passengers will ever be satisfied, but at least through initiatives like this we can try to reach a level of service where most people are happy.”
Residents of Dubai who regularly travel by bus said they had often witnessed substandard driving and occasionally rudeness from drivers.
Dahab Bhatnagar, 46, uses the bus three times a week to travel from Jumeirah to the Mall of Emirates with her two young children, and is frequently appalled by the quality of driving. “The drivers do not seem to care for using signals when changing lanes, and often pull out in front of other motorists very suddenly, which can be a bit scary,” she said. “On one or two occasions, when I have not had the exact change for my fare, the driver has been very annoyed and quite rude.”
Agneya Chauhan, 30, said he found the drivers generally polite, but once experienced disrespect when catching a bus from Al Wasl Road to Bur Dubai. “Pulling in to Satwa bus station, I asked the driver why he had stopped and was told only then that the bus terminated there and another bus would be taking passengers to Bur Dubai 40 minutes later,” he said. “When I complained about this, the driver was very dismissive and hostile towards me. I think it would be good for a driver like that to learn how to treat passengers properly.”
Essa al Dosari, the Public Transport Agency’s chief executive, said it was critical for bus drivers to display high levels of courtesy and politeness.
“The Public Transport Agency considers bus drivers as ambassadors of the RTA, as they are in daily contact with riders such as residents, visitors and tourists. The mystery rider initiative is a qualitative performance measure characterised by being objective and based on a number of specific standards against which the effectiveness of drivers’ performance and daily attitudes towards passengers are benchmarked.
“Nevertheless, the mystery rider initiative is not only restricted to monitoring poor performance and malpractices of drivers, but also aims to detect the excellent performance of assiduous drivers, who are keen to deliver super services to passengers. Such drivers ought to be rewarded, praised and urged to further improve the level of service offered.”
On a typical day, buses in Dubai collectively cover a distance of about 168,000km. Comments about bus journeys can be made through the “feedback and suggestions” section of the RTA’s website (www.rta.ae) or by calling 04 800 9090.
Hypnotism soothes workforce
David Crane, a British hypnotist, has found a niche among companies in Dubai.
DUBAI - JUL 10:Hypnotism might not seem like the first thing a world-class company would consider when faced with an increasingly stressed workforce and a high staff turnover, but big firms including HSBC, Panasonic, Visa and Mashreq Bank are investing millions of dirhams in a therapy aimed at cheering up their staff.
David Crane, a hypnotherapist, spotted the niche in the market when he began corporate sessions five years ago.
“It’s all about motivating people to make the best out of themselves. It’s about making more of yourself within an employment framework,” he said.
His philosophy for helping professionals was to teach them that they must “treat yourself like a business”. At sessions for anywhere between 20 and 500 people, Mr Crane aims to get across the message that life is of our own making.
“Most spiritual leaders teach you to find your own path within a framework,” he said. “I have to teach people to work within their own paradigms.”
There were, he said, two problems facing employers in the emirate: disillusionment and getting to the root of the high levels of employee turnover, which can be as high as a third of a company’s employees each year.
“With the visa situation here, people tend to stay in jobs which they would otherwise leave,” he said. “Many people feel very disillusioned, much more than in other countries.”
His sessions, he said, “make the workforce more motivated and increase the financial productivity of the companies”.
During the sessions, Mr Crane attempts to hypnotise the entire room into a “dream experience” in which they imagine themselves in a successful, happy situation such as the “perfect day at work”.
“It’s about showing people that these positive things can be a reality. It’s all about attracting positivity. If you imagine positive situations, you attract them in your life,” he said.
Each session is tailor-made according to the group but there are certain key elements to his “self-improvement” training.
Groups have focussed on a range of issues, such as stress management, sales techniques and presentation and communication skills.
Some events include team-building games and problem-solving, designed to challenge conventional ways of thinking and working.
He has a set of 10 rules that include teaching people that, ultimately, life is their own responsibility.“Many people are scared of doing anything for the fear of making mistakes or failing,” he said. “The person who knows you and cares more about you than anyone, is you.
“I try to teach people that failure doesn’t in fact exist as a concept. It’s about how you deal with it and react to these situations. The hope is that eventually you get it right.”
He feels that, for the workforce in Dubai, this kind of life support and coaching is more vital than in other parts of the world.
“Many people come here alone, without their friends or family, so with no real support network like you’d have back home,” he said.
One British expatriate, Helen Rogerson, a PR executive, went to see Mr Crane in a one-on-one session after the break-up of her engagement. She had lost her confidence and it was affecting all areas of her life, including her work.
“David stopped me crying which was the biggest hindrance in my day-to-day life,” she said. “It was such an upheaval and was really unexpected so it knocked me back. We did the dream experience, whereby David put me into a relaxed state and I was able to think more clearly. I didn’t have any preconceptions about it before I went, I was just desperate to find some help.”
After three sessions, each an hour long, she began to feel better about her life, she said.
“David showed me that there is always another way to look at things. It helped to focus my emotions, rationalise the situation and generally relax me and get me back to normal.” Next for Mr Crane are a series of group sessions for people who want to stop smoking, control road rage and lose weight.
“I’ll be arranging some big group events to tackle some of the issues which are prevalent here in Dubai,” he said.
“Most of my focus is now on the corporate sessions so I don’t get much time to work with people in these more recreational areas any more.”