NEW FROM THE UAE
Source : THE NATIONAL/ARABIAN BUSINESS/WAM
UAE President Sh. Khalifa postpones banning of old cars
Abu Dhabi - DEC. 01: Owners of cars more than 20 years old will be able to keep their vehicles following a decree by Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, President of the UAE, postponing a law banning them.
Authorities had been scheduled to enforce the new regulation from today.
The indefinite postponement is likely to be a relief to thousands of car owners, many on low incomes.
Some of these owners would have been forced to surrender their cars to scrap shops today if they had been scheduled for re-registration.
Sheikh Saif bin Zayed, the Interior Minister, said yesterday that the President’s order gave people with low incomes time to find alternative means of transport.
The National Transport Authority said more than 140,000 vehicles across the country would have been affected by the ban, which was announced earlier this year. Sheikh Saif said the President’s instructions came “in the right time so that concerned authorities undertake more studies”, and that it would give more time to come up with a unified set of regulations.
“This would guarantee more effectiveness when the regulations are implemented,” he said.
The presidential decree did not touch on other regulations that will take effect as of Jan 2009, including a ban on transferring the ownership of cars older than 10 years. At least 420,000 cars fall under this category.
This regulation has proved just as controversial as owners of vehicles older than 10 years would not be able to sell their cars should they want to leave the country. The only option they would be left with is either to export the car to another country with less stringent regulations or to dispose of it.
As of Jan 2010, more than 320,000 cars older than 15 years were also due to be taken off the road. However, it was unclear if that deadline will now change as well. The Government says the aim of such regulations is to reduce worsening environment pollution.
To this end, the Interior Ministry plans to cut the levels of allowable carbon monoxide and other fuel emissions over the next few years.
Official figures show there are currently about 1.8 million cars throughout the Emirates, suggesting the country has one of the highest rates of car ownership per head of population in the world.
Labourer crushed to death in Abu Dhabi accident
ABU DHABI - DEC. 01: WORKER KILLED: One labourer died and two were injured after scaffolding collapsed on an Abu Dhabi construction site. (Getty Images)One labourer died and two were injured when scaffolding collapsed at a construction site in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.
The construction worker from Pakistan was killed in the incident in Abu Dhabi's Al Nahyan Camp area, police said.
Major Saeed Obaid Al Suwaidi, head of the Rapid Intervention and Rescue Operations at Abu Dhabi Police told news agency WAM that officers rushed to the scene and pulled out injured workers from the rubble.
One worker died due to massive injuries after a slab of concrete fell on him, he added.
The death comes as Epoc Messe Frankfurt, organisers of Intersec trade fair and conference to be held in Dubai next month, announced the event will feature Construction Safety as its key theme this year.
Due to take place from January 18-20 2009, Intersec is the largest event for commercial security, safety and health, fire and rescue, and homeland security and policing in the Middle East.
"The rapid increase in the number of construction projects in the UAE and other Gulf countries has caused an alarming number of accidents at construction sites," said Eckhard Pruy, CEO of Epoc Messe Frankfurt.
"A variety of minimum safety standards has been implemented by the government, but the biggest challenge is to make companies adhere to these regulations by imposing fines and sanctions against those who break the rules," he added.
10-day holiday announced for government sector
Abu Dhabi- DEC. 01: Government sector employees will get a 10-day holiday starting December 2 on the occasions of the National Day and Eid Al Adha.
"National Day and Eid Al Adha for Ministries and federal departments starts from Tuesday, December 2, until Thursday, December 11," according to a statement by the Civil Service Council.
Self-service petrol pump experiment gets the chop
DUBAI - DEC. 01: Emirates National Oil Company (Enoc) said yesterday that its self-service experiment at 10 petrol stations would not be continued and all its stations would revert to full service today.
The company said the three-month pilot scheme showed that self-service was not widely accepted by customers and would not be successful.
Some Dubai residents criticised the system introduced by Enoc and said they would prefer self-service stations if the system were well organised.
The critics said the Enoc procedure was too complicated. Motorists were required to pay a cashier for what they expected to pump before filling their tanks. If they did not pump the correct amount they had to return to the cashier for change or to pay the extra.
“I don’t mind having self-service, but the way they were doing it here was wrong and wasted a lot of time,” said Robert Babekuhl, an Australian who has lived in Dubai for a year. “You should be able to fill up and then pay, which is pretty straightforward, and the self-service way is what I am used to.
“For me full service is a novelty, which is great, and it was a bit of a shock when I first came over. Either way is acceptable to me now.”
Ronak Chaudhary, an Indian accountant who has lived in Dubai for four years, said: “There is no need for pampering at a petrol station. It just adds to the time. Self-service can get it done quicker, and you feel satisfied that you’re doing it yourself, provided they give you proper instructions. The idea is to make it simple and easier for everyone to do it. If it’s complicated, then no one is going to bother doing it. We live in a pampered society, so such initiatives should be encouraged.”
Rana Helou, a Lebanese woman who has lived in Dubai for more than two years, said she thought that full service at petrol stations was faster than self-service. “Some people are so slow when they fill their own cars,” she said. “At least with full service you don’t have to wait; it is much quicker.”
For some the main concern was the weather. A resident pointed out that drivers did not want to have to stand in the sweltering summer heat filling up their own cars and then have to attend a business meeting drenched in sweat.
Saeed Abdullah Khoory, Enoc Group chief executive, said in a written statement that the experiment provided the company with data that would help if it decides to introduce self-service in the future.
“In general, the multinational and cosmopolitan UAE community understands self-service fuel retailing as it is common in many countries abroad,” Mr Khoory said. “Enoc will continue to look for ways to win wider acceptance for self-service retailing, and all customer feedback we have gathered in this project will be evaluated and considered in all our future activities.”
In Abu Dhabi, Adnoc launched a self-service pilot programme at 15 stations in March. Unlike Enoc’s scheme, Adnoc customers have the option of using self-service or full-service pumps. However, most of the time motorists pulling up at a pump labelled self-service can still have their tanks filled by an attendant.
George Michael show to be biggest yet
ABU DHABI - DEC. 01: It is an unlikely place to wrap up a 25-year musical career that has had little to do with the Middle East.
When George Michael takes the stage at Zayed Sports City Stadium tonight to mark National Day, making his Middle East debut before a crowd that will include a circle of his family and friends flown in from the UK, the concert is supposed to be his last.
Abu Dhabi was a last-minute addition to his “25 Live” farewell tour that has stretched to 105 shows. Reports in the British press have indicated it was an offer of £1 million (Dh6m) that persuaded Michael to extend his tour by one date.
The 45-year-old singer, a Grammy Award winner who has sold 100 million records and had a dozen number one hits in the UK, including Faith and Father Figure, loves the hot weather.
The concert is the first to be held at the stadium since it opened in 1974 as the capital’s premier football stadium, with Michael performing for an audience that is expected to be bigger than any other that has gathered to see an artist in the UAE.
“When this stadium was built, it was never going to be for an event like this,” said Lee Charteris, operations manager for Flash, the organisers. “There were certainly never meant to be 12,000 people on the pitch like this.”
It is “an amazing achievement” to have organised something on this scale in such a short time, said Mr Charteris, who has worked in the UK music industry for 30 years. The concert’s size and scale, bringing fans from around the world including the UK and Sweden, reflects how far the capital has come since it staged the first such concert for Justin Timberlake one year ago. Mr Charteris said Timberlake was expected to be a “one-off”.
“One year ago, nobody would have believed that we’d be into our fifth show and that we’d be doing this on a month by month basis,” he said. “The guys here in Abu Dhabi have been great. It’s going to be an amazing show and something for Abu Dhabi to be proud of.”
Security is tight for the show, but no more so than in any other country that Michael has visited, including Ukraine and Russia.
“Being in the Middle East has made no difference to our procedure,” said Andy Frost, the singer’s head of security. “We haven’t done anything here which we wouldn’t do in any other country, regardless of the fact it’s the Middle East. Before we come we assess it to ensure that it’s safe and we feel like this is no more risky than anywhere else that we’ve been since the tour began.”
Michael will have at least two costume changes. On hand backstage he has two wardrobe assistants, two hair and make-up artists and a masseur.
At midnight a fireworks display will mark the 37th UAE National Day.
Michael will do a sound check today with his 12-member band and backing singers, shortly before the opening artist, Alicia Keys, will perform.
Keys, a Grammy Award-winning artist from the US who has sold more than 30 million records, also has a worldwide following.
Preparations for the concert have been going on for 10 days, with staff brought in from Australia, the US, Canada and the UK. Personnel include 100 people for production, 60 who came with George’s tour team, and 300 for security.
Five screens will display a multimillion-dollar video backdrop to the show, the content of which Michael has been part of from start to finish, editing right down to the very end.
There will be double the amount of equipment than at any previous large-scale concert in the capital, such as Christina Aguilera or Bon Jovi. In addition to a 100-metre stage, four companies have contributed the video equipment as Flash could not find one company to provide for the show’s visual needs.
Some of the show’s lighting was shipped in from the UK; 60 tonnes of air freight for the concert has been shipped in three air carriers.
Police have been involved in helping co-ordinate traffic and security at the event, while three ambulance crews will be on site in case of emergency at the stadium, which has never seen crowds on this scale.
Player tunnels are being used as access routes for fans while new stairways have been erected.
Tickets start at Dh195 and will be available at the venue.