NEWS FROM THE UAE
SOURCE : THE NATIONAL/GULF TODAY
New visa rules go into effect today
Travel for pleasure or work may become more complicated for people depending on their countries of origin under the new visa laws.
ABU DHABI - JUL 29: Officials and members of the public are bracing for widespread changes to visa rules being launched today, although immigration officials admit they will only be able to implement them gradually.
While 33 nationalities, including people from the UK, the US and much of Western Europe, are exempted from the new rules, those from countries such as India, Pakistan and the Philippines – key sources of labour for the UAE – will be affected. Leading companies have also warned that the laws could lead to staff shortages, delays in visa processing and losses in revenues.
Immigration authorities have said the new system will take months to implement as “glitches” are ironed out. Airport authorities also say it is unlikely the laws will be put into practice today, despite the deadline laid down by the Government.
Abu Dhabi International Airport yesterday said it was not clear when immigration staff at the airport would be implementing the rules because uncertainty about the intended start date.
“We are currently seeking clarification about the official date of implementation from immigration officials,” said Andrew Chupeau, the spokesman for the airport company, adding that the airport would update the public as more information became available.
The new laws make it harder for many nationalities to enter the country repeatedly on visit visas by stopping them from exiting and re-entering immediately – a process often referred to as a visa run.
People from countries not exempted from the new rules, including those looking for work, must return to their home countries once their visit or residency visa expires. New fees will also significantly increase the cost of entry for many people.
While acknowledging the need for national security, human resources executives at several leading firms say the new rules are confusing and a blow to key industries such as tourism and hospitality, which are already facing staff shortages.
Senior officials from the Dubai Naturalisation and Residency Department (DNRD) yesterday briefed public relations officers, business owners, travel agencies and hospitals to clear up confusion surrounding the new regulations. They also pleaded for patience.
“This is not the revamp we wanted,” Hannah al Kishari, a deputy manager at a subsidiary of Al Futtaim Group, said at the meeting.
Ms Kishari said the new laws made it difficult for her company to hire people and said the restrictions should be eased.
“I can see the long-term positives of getting rid of a lot of undesirables, but one could only hope the DNRD would sit down and review their policies to make it simpler for companies to hire people for work,” she said.
The revamp was designed to allow the Government to keep better track of visitors, halt bogus applications and clear the UAE of illegal workers and those engaged in prostitution.
“This new law has positives and negatives,” said Suhail al Majid, 27, a public relations officer for the Prince’s Oasis Tourism Group.
“On one side, it clears out streets of unwanted vagrants, and on the other hand, it is a severe blow to the hospitality and tourism industry who depend on hiring people who are on visit and tourist visas.”
Mr Majid said both the tourism and hospitality industries required more flexible laws because of the nature of their business, while he believed new procedures meant it would take longer to process applicants.
“These two industries have a high turnover in staff, and companies need to be bringing people in all the time as the sectors grow. There is already a problem in finding the right people to come here and work; now it would be impossible to take anyone unless we pay the extra money to bring them from their home country,” he said.
A public relations officer for Skyworld Holding Group said the new visa fees would make companies rethink their hiring policies.
“For a big group like us, it won’t be a problem as such, but for smaller companies the added visa fees will see some look at reducing their employees instead of looking to expand,” said Sabo, who is from India.
He said the confusion surrounding the new laws would last at least a few months as companies, employees and DNRD officials grappled with the changes.
“No one seems to know what is actually going on. We are here to get the final statement, and it is one that will severely put a dent into our pockets and make it harder for us to bring people on board at a time the industry is expanding at an accelerated rate,” he added.
Bino, a public relations officer with Whitesands Holding Group, said the new regulations had “no clever ideas”.
“Some of the new visa announcements just don’t make any sense,” said Bino, who is also from India.
Hani, a public relations officer for Danata Tourism, said it was “unfair” and “cruel” to expect people who were between jobs to fly back to their country of origin.
“Flying back to a home country before coming back on a new working or visit visa would be just too expensive for people who are out of work or between jobs,” he said.
He urged the DNRD to reconsider some of the laws to distinguish between those who were a benefit to the economy and those who remained here illegally.
Emirates buying spree goes on with Airbus order
Emirates' new A-380 super jumbo jet is handed over today at a ceremony in Hamburg, Germany. At the same time the airline announced it had bought 60 new Airbus planes
ABU DHABI - JUL 29: Emirates continued a voracious buying spree of large aircraft today when it ordered another 60 wide-bodied aeroplanes from Airbus – worth US$11.8 billion (Dh43.31bn) at list prices – at a ceremony in Hamburg where it took delivery of its first A380 Superjumbo jetliner.
The airline said it would buy 30 Airbus A330-300s and 30 Airbus A350 XWBs, two mid-sized aircraft that can be used on flights throughout the Gulf as well as on long-haul, transcontinental routes. Once a firm contract is signed for the aeroplanes, Emirates will have an order book of roughly 300 aircraft worth nearly $70bn, representing one of the most aggressive airline expansion campaigns in history.
“We remain ambitious and every bit as determined to achieve our long-term goals,” said Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the chairman and chief executive of Emirates Group. “The A330-300s and A350 XWBs will enable Emirates to continue its growth using modern fuel-efficient aircraft.”
The A380 handover ceremony came on a day when Ryanair, one of Europe’s biggest and most stable airlines, posted an 85 per cent drop in profits due to increased fuel costs, representing what many observers say is a slow and gradual redistribution of capacity into the Middle East, as European carriers struggle to cope with slowing economic growth.
“All of these carriers want to poach traffic from the legacy airlines,” said Richard Aboulafia, an analyst with the Teal Group.
Emirates is the largest customer of the A380, and plans to use the aircraft for flights as long as 15 hours to Sydney, London, New York and India. Tim Clark, the chief executive of Emirates, said this week the A380, while still over its original weight specifications, had just come in one tonne lighter than previously thought, giving Emirates hope that it may be able to commercially fly the aeroplane as far as the US West Coast by 2012.
With 2,000 Airbus workers in attendance at the Hamburg facility, Emirates officials took the keys to its first of 58 A380s and revealed its interior cabins, which have until now been a closely guarded secret.
The airline yesterday trumpeted its “Shower Spa” for first class passengers with two fully equipped bathrooms that include shower facilities. It also revealed a lounge for premium passengers complete with social area and bar, located at the front of the upper deck. The new aircraft also features mood lighting and more vertical side walls, which give the impression of more space.
Emirates’s growth has bucked international trends, with many airlines in Europe, the US and Asia going bankrupt or posting huge losses this year due to record oil prices and a slowing global economy. By contrast, Emirates has strengthened its position by taking market share from European and Asian long-haul carriers.
Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways have also ordered hundreds of aircraft in a bid to make the Gulf into an aviation hub for travel between Asia and Europe.
Earlier this month, Etihad Airways made a firm order of 100 aircraft from Boeing and Airbus and took options on another 105 in a deal worth up to $43bn, while Emirates and Qatar Airways both made multibillion-dollar orders at the Dubai Air Show last November.
The immense orders have been crucial to the world’s two largest airline manufacturers, Airbus and Boeing, as well as engine makers GE and Rolls-Royce at a time when a traditional mainstay of new orders – American carriers – has subsided greatly.
Motorist mauled by minibus
DUBAI - JUL 29: AN Asian man who got involved in an accident and moved out to see the impact of damage made on his car was instantly knocked dead by a speeding minibus on Emirates Road on Sunday morning.
GH, 35, was speeding in his saloon car when and he lost control, swerving off to the road barricade and then he regained control, stopping in the middle of the road in the third lane.
According to the Director of Traffic at Dubai Police, Engineer Brigadier Mohammed Saif Al Zafeen; "As the victim moved out to see the impact of damage, there emerged a speeding minibus and the driver, MB, 45, failed to control it thus knocking GH."
The victim was thrown 128 metres away and died instantly. The police blamed the victim for exposing his life to danger.
Zafeen warned motorists against moving out "anyhow" from their vehicles after having crash.
Secret cameras never fail to net criminals: Police chief
DUBAI - JUL 29: THE Acting Head of Dubai Police, Major General Khamis Mattar Al Mazeina has said that the secret cameras hanging on roads, in malls and other busy and posh places have played a great role in netting criminals.
He exclusively said that over 85 per cent of cases have been successfully apprehended, "and the mere 15 per cent have been committed by persons who have left the country." He added that the police shall go international to bring them to book.
Mazeina, who has been solely heading the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) until two months ago when he was made the Acting Head of the entire police command, said that the force has bought "a lot of the latest cameras and technological devices."
On traffic radars he said that the latest equipment are capable of following up the direction taken by the violating vehicle.
"We're also able to know within a fraction of time whether the vehicle monitored on the radar was stolen, has been booked before. It is a new system to us, but it has been successfully tested in Europe."
"It cost us a fortune, but it is worth it," he said of the cameras, some of them shoot video. "We're more hopeful that even hit-and-run cars shall be identified."
Mazeina added; "We shall make only some slight adjustments to suit our terrain and weather such as the high temperature."
On the strength of the police force to the population, Mazeina said that there is some disproportion of policemen to the fastest rising population of the Emirate of Dubai. "Therefore the latest gadgets shall help us a great deal in closing the gap since the new system is bound to serve the role of 40 to 50 policemen on patrol."
He also talked about money laundering saying that "many people are fond of talking about this vice in Dubai, but there is no one coming up with evidence of the same."
"To our knowledge, there is no country that has ever lodged of the request to get any fugitive of money laundering having haven here."
Sharjah police find decomposed body
SHARJAH - JUL 29:A decomposed body of unidentified person who seems to be in his early twenties was found in Malaiha area near the wall of Sharjah University City.
The body was found on Friday at 10am by the Anajad patrol who rushed to the place after receiving a report from a cleaning worker who first discovered the dead body.
The body was completely decomposed. It seems that body had been lying at the same place for almost a month. When it was found on Friday, it was too decomposed to identify.
Sharjah Police are making great efforts to identify the person. They are going through the files of the missing persons lodged in all police stations to discover the identity of the body.
The body is currently in the forensic laboratory for DNA test and other investigations, including the main cause of the death.
Sharjah Police also found on Saturday the body of a 19-year-old national in an open area near Sharjah Airport.
The youth died after consuming an overdose of narcotic drugs. The body was handed over to the family. Further investigations are being conducted by the police.
One of the deceased family members said, "They suspect criminal act behind the death of their son, who has bruises in his chin."