NEWS FROM THE UAE
SOURCE : THE NATIONAL & OTHER SOURCES
ID card staff get anger training
UAE - NOV. 26:Staff processing national identity card applications have been given anger management training to help them deal with the rush of frustrated people trying to register.
During a radio interview, Thamer al Qasemi, the planning director at the Emirates Identity Authority (EIDA), pleaded for people to be patient with staff.
“We have very young locals working at the registration centres, their experience varies and we need your support and patience and to understand that they get frustrated.
“Every employee at our registration centres has received four different kinds of training on how to deal with people, including customer service and anger management. But when there is a big rush ... with everyone trying to scream, I don’t think it helps anybody.”
Mohamed Abdel Nabi, an Egyptian manager who has been living in the UAE for six years, said there were about 30 people waiting at the registration office at the Abu Dhabi Exhibition Centre early yesterday, where he had gone after failing to get an appointment online.
“I showed up at 6.30am only to learn that some have been waiting since midnight. They say there is a man who sits out here at night and hands out numbers. People appeared tired and frustrated.”
An hour later, a member of the EIDA staff came out to address the crowd, which by that time had swollen to around 50.
“She said that the office would not be able to see everyone, including those who have already had a number and that priority was given to those with an appointment.
“She told us they were overloaded and that they only have three staff members processing applications. The lady then said they can only take 17 people from the group standing in line and advised others to not waste their time waiting around.
“People started to rage and I decided to leave. I figured if those with a number won’t be seen then I would not stand a chance. I am not going back. I heard that registering is much quicker in Ras al Khaimah – I have a brother who lives there and I think that’s where I’ll be heading to register soon.”
However, a reporter from The National found there were few queues at the main registration centre on Airport Road in Abu Dhabi on Monday afternoon although staff, who said they were getting through about 400 registrations a day, said there were frequently long queues in the mornings.
“This is just one office – there are a few other offices which do the process who also see many people daily,” said a supervisor, who asked not to be named.
“The queue begins at 7am daily. The lines extends from outside and around the building every morning. The peak hours are between 7am and 9am.”
She added that in some cases it took people 10 hours to get to the front of the line.
“People who make an appointment are seen right on time. If you don’t have an appointment, you can also be seen but you will have to take a number and wait and that can take time.
“Applicants come in and take a number and we will advise them to leave for a few hours and come back. This helps people get back to work or finish their business outside instead of waiting around.”
Mr Qasemi confirmed yesterday that there were no appointments available before the end of this year.
Emiratis will face fines of Dh1,000 if they do not have an ID card by Jan 1. Expatriates will not be fined until the end of 2010 but professionals, including anyone with a degree, may find they cannot access services, including health care and the banking system, if they do not have a card by that date.
Mr Qasemi said he wanted people to get a card not through fear of a fine, but out of a sense of duty to the country.
“If you decide not to participate and support the Government in this beautiful initiative then there are consequences,” he said.
“There is a lot that this Government has given us, and in return we just supply certain information and get an ID card. The Government is planning for you and your children in the future.”
Frustration as pressure on roads intensifies
DUBAI - NOV. 26: Getting stuck in long traffic jams has become a fact of life for people in Dubai.
But efforts to improve the situation, such as building new routes and the metro, have led to lanes being closed and more disruption. Congestion will get worse before it will get better.
This week the chairman of the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) said the effects of traffic congestion cost the Emirate about Dh4.6 billion each year.
Health practitioners say frustration caused by traffic jams could have health implications.
Dr Shereen Habib, a family medicine and women’s health specialist at Dubai’s Well Woman Clinic, said: “I’m sure it has a significant impact. Patients are always coming to me a bit flustered, late for their appointment because they have been stuck in traffic.
“I myself feel that pressure every morning worrying that my patients will turn up before me.”
“For some people who have a tendency towards high blood pressure being stuck in traffic can make it worse,” she said. “We see that. I think it has sadly become part of the lifestyle here.”
Symptoms of stress, she said, include dry mouth, palpitations, tightness of the chest and headaches.
Dr Habib, who has been practising in Dubai for six years, is alarmed at how early people wake to beat the congestion and get to work on time.
“I have heard stories about children waking at 4am to get off to school by 5.30am,” she said. “Everybody is exhausted. I speak to people and they have had enough.”
All the early mornings and late evenings out on the road mean diet also suffers, she said.
“If you’re getting home late, and it happens to my husband, you don’t feel like cooking. It’s easier to go out or order in, especially single people who tend to have less motivation to cook alone anyway.”
One of Dubai’s current congestion hot spots is The Greens. Resident Dan Brown, 29, a British-born auditor, says he spends up to an hour each morning trying to leave the development.
“It’s a nightmare,” Mr Brown said. “I live on street five and if I leave home between 8am and 9.30am it can take about an hour to leave The Greens. It’s not just resident traffic causing the problems, it’s people coming through there who don’t live there, and also roadworks.
“It’s even bad at weekends now. I worry I may have a heart attack. I can feel my blood pressure rising. It makes me a lot less tolerant of people, quite angry and very jumpy.
“It’s a good job they don’t let people carry guns or there would be a lot of problems.”
Riad Sandakli, 45, a media relations officer raised in Dubai, spends three hours on the road between Ajman and Dubai every day and spent weeks perfecting a route that allows him to avoid the scores of queues awaiting commuters most days.
“It’s an extra 30km but it’s worth it because at least you don’t have to keep stopping. I’m getting high blood pressure because of the congestion.”
Mr Sandakli, who is married with four children, eats his breakfast in the car to pass the time but says that despite his route, Thursday nights are still “killers”.
“Whichever roads you take to Ajman on a Thursday it’s a killer 21⁄2-hour journey on Thursday,” he said. “I don’t get home before 9pm. My family find it hard. I get frustrated that I’m spending 13 hours a day outside of my home. I try and make it up to them on the weekend but it’s not the same.”
A British expatriate teacher, Austin Britland, 27, spends around 30 minutes each morning trying to leave his apartment in Discovery Gardens.
“Traffic from The Gardens meets traffic from Discovery Gardens and it becomes chaotic, although a new route has been introduced which takes you down to the Marina exit, and that isn’t bad once you can get to it,” he said.
For him the biggest frustration is queue-jumpers.
“People pushing in at junctions, speeding and flashing their lights at you to bully their way past. When I leave the UAE there are many things I will miss but not the driving.”
It is not just individual drivers who suffer as a result of the endless jams and snail-pace traffic. Ben Munroe, logistics manager for BRM Construction, in Dubai, said transporting labourers to site is a daily problem he hopes RTA road-development plans will help solve.
“Clients expect us to be on site as early as possible – usually around 7am – to get as much done as possible,” he said. “Some days it can be fine but other days traffic means we suffer a two-hour delay getting started. The delay costs us in time, which we pay for in labour, and we lose two hours in production.”
Material transport also suffers.
“The big trucks are only allowed on certain roads at certain times and these can often be peak times. By car the journey they have to make takes about 10 minutes but by truck we only manage to get three deliveries a day out. I have had to take on more vehicles to get the materials out.
“I certainly welcome everything the RTA is doing to solve the problems.”
Beach couple avoid prison
DUBAI - NOV. 26:The British pair convicted of having illicit relations on a public beach have been shown a “small measure of mercy” by the Dubai Appeal Court, their defence counsel said yesterday. The court suspended their three-month jail sentence for a period of three years.
While the three years is technically a probationary period, neither Michelle Palmer, 36, and Vince Acors, 34, will be in the UAE to risk violating their probations. Their lawyer, Hassan Mattar, is working to complete procedures for their deportation.
“They are ecstatic – they could not believe it, they are so happy,” Mr Mattar said. “This shows that the judiciary in the UAE is fair and impartial, and if the court showed a small measure of mercy towards my clients it proves that the court is not swayed by the media or any other consideration.”
The court upheld the couple’s convictions for having sexual relations out of wedlock, committing a scandalous public act and being intoxicated in public.
It upheld the Dh1,000 (US$270) fines imposed on each defendant as well as their deportation orders, which are mandatory for those convicted of committing a scandalous public act.
Deportation is a lifetime exile, which means neither defendant can return to the country without obtaining special permission.
Prosecutors said the judgment was disappointing.
The defence team has consistently denied that their clients had intercourse. Mr Mattar, in an earlier summation to the Dubai Court of First Instance, held the forensic doctor’s report as proof of his clients’ innocence.
“The medical report said there was no evidence of intercourse,” Mr Mattar had said. “The witnesses interviewed by the prosecution were too far away to be able to say for sure what they saw exactly. That coupled with the findings of the medical examiner is the main thrust in our defence.”
Prosecutors interviewed five witnesses in the case, mostly passers-by who saw the couple on the beach on July 5.
They had met 12 hours earlier, at a brunch. When the meal ended the pair went for a walk on the beach, where they were arrested in the early hours.
The arresting officer failed to turn up to testify throughout the trial. In his statement, however, the officer said he was passing near a beach in Jumeirah close to Burj al Arab when two men stopped his patrol car and told him a man was having sex with a woman on the beach.
“I took a torch and went down to the beach and saw them,” his statement read.
The case put the spotlight on all-inclusive Friday brunches that are served with unlimited amounts of alcohol, but authorities have said it is the responsibility of the establishments to make sure customers do not drink to excess.
Col Khalil Ibrahim al Mansouri, the deputy director of Dubai CID, said yesterday: “If a person appears too drunk then it would be responsible of staff members not to encourage further drinking.”
Mohammed Khalifa Ali, director of the inspection and permission section at the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, said the department did not regulate product promotions offered by hotels. “We do not set, monitor or control any promotions that are given at licensed hotels and that is an internal decision made by the hotel management.
“We co-operate with police to ensure that alcohol is not being sold to the under-aged [below 21] and that they are sold at the times permitted.”
The foreign media have followed the case of Palmer and Acors closely throughout and were out in force for yesterday’s appeal hearing. The verdict brought the case to a close, as the prosecution will not be appealing against the conviction to the Dubai Cassation Court, the highest court in the emirate.
ICLDC would like to invite you, your families and friends for ‘Walk UAE 2008’. This walkathon is held to commemorate the World Diabetes Day which was on the 14th of November.
ICLDC to Organize "Walk UAE 2008" on Friday - November 28
Abu Dhabi - Nov. 26: The Imperial College London Diabetic Centre will organize Walk UAE 2008 to create awareness and fight against diabetes which affects 20% of the population. The walkathon will be held on Friday, 28th November from 3 pm near Marina Mall.
You need to pick up tickets priced at a Dhs 10.00 which entitles you to get a cap, a t-shirt and a band supporting the fight against Diabetes. Tickets are available at Imperial College London Diabetes Centre or next to the start point of the Walkathon.
The walkathon is open to people of all ages and will cover a stretch a distance of 5 K.M. from Marina Mall along Abu Dhabi Corniche.
For Further information and details log on to - www.diabetesuae.ae