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Parents 'need to be told how to prevent accidents'


Not enough is being done to warn  parents about basic safety hazards in the home. And the few safety programmes that do exist are far too small, according to Dr Yasser Isa Al Nuaimi, the director of Ras Al Khaimah's Ministry of Health.

Dr Al Nuaimi's views follow the death on Friday of a 13-month-old girl in RAK. She drowned after crawling into the bathroom of her family home, and falling into a partially filled bucket of water. She had been left unattended.

Part of the problem, said Dr Al Nuaimi, is deciding who the advice should be aimed at. "While there are ongoing efforts there to educate people, here in the UAE many of us depend on domestic help," he said. "Sometimes we focus on the education of the parents and we forget to educate the caregivers.

"They may come from a background where they are much less educated, so now it's the right time to focus not only on the parents, but on those people who  help the parents. We need to do something on a bigger scale. Right now, we are not doing enough."

Water safety in particular needs immediate, and constant, attention. A study at UAE University identified drowning as the third leading unintentional-?injury death among under-14s. Between 2000 and 2006, 76 children drowned.

However, that was dwarfed by injuries, which were identified as having caused the deaths of 746 children.

Worldwide, drowning is the third biggest cause of accidental death among children and adults, accounting for 7 per cent of all trauma-related deaths, according to the World Health Organisation.

The UAEU study, presented at last year's world conference on drowning prevention, concluded that poor record-keeping by the Ministry of Health had a detrimental effect on the validity of the death records and on future prevention policies.

However, Dr Taisser Atrak, the  chairman of paediatrics and chief of neonatology at Mafraq Hospital, said the UAE was on the right path. "The UAE is doing probably more than anywhere I have seen in the region, with regards to informing people about safety at home," he said. "But while there is a lot of awareness in, for example, Abu Dhabi, it's not enough. We need more people to get involved and do more public education."

More evidence-based data would help, he added.

Over the past year, there has been a spate of drownings and other preventable fatalities among children. In April 2011, the eight-year-old daughter of Indian singer K S Chitra drowned after falling into a swimming pool at a villa in Dubai.

In December, four children fell to their deaths in Sharjah in the space of just two weeks, prompting calls to educate parents on safety in high-rise homes.

Other cases included children being scalded in overheated baths, and swallowing deflated balloons.

The number one rule for parents is to watch their children, said Carmen Benton, a parenting educator at Lifeworks Counselling, in Dubai.

"No child under the age of six should ever be left unattended," she said. "Young children need constant supervision – not so much with regards to interfering in their play, but for the reason that no young child should be left in a room alone."

Leaving young children unattended is the main reason behind their resulting injuries, said Dr Fikri Abu-Zidan, the head of trauma at UAE University's medicine department.

"Children at this age have less co-operation," he said. "Their co-ordination is different and they are not aware of the environment around them, so they explore by touching. This is their normal method of gathering knowledge."

Parents should make sure bathtubs are always drained and toilet seats kept closed, added Dr Atrak.

However, the number of young patients with preventable injuries is dropping, he said. "I think we should continue what we are doing and keep it sustainable. We cannot just do one project then move on and do it again in one or two years. It is the responsibility of every single caregiver in society to continue working as a team to make a difference."

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Drive to raise awareness on causes of hypertension


Dubai: The Emirates Cardiac Society (ECS) has launched a programme to raise awareness on the factors contributing to high blood pressure and encourage members of the public to undergo screenings to diagnose hypertension early on.

The launch coincides with World Hypertension Day today. It is the first interactive module-based approach to target cardiovascular disease management in the UAE titled ‘Love Your Heart Healthy'.

It will target 3,000 patients through 300 primary health care physicians and has three key pillars: patient-physician interface; continuous education to improve patient outcomes; and targeted screening and certified training. These will be implemented over the course of the year.

Major concern

Cardiovascular disease is a major concern countrywide. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 41 per cent of the UAE population aged 30 years and older have high blood pressure significantly higher than the global average of 25 to 30 per cent. This is expected to double to 50 to 60 per cent by 2025.

UAE-based experts have found that more than 80 per cent of patients with hypertension do not achieve the target blood pressure (140/90), despite taking prescribed medication. The findings indicate that patients require more regular review and medication adjustment.

Along with industry partner Novartis, the ECS aims to reduce the staggeringly low rate of blood pressure control across the country.

"This is a unique programme, developed to enhance the patient/physician risk-based interface, and help uncontrolled and high-risk patients to visualise the risk, understand risk factors, and call for action on lifestyle modification and adherence levels," said Dr Fahd Omar Baslaib, president of the ECS, in a statement.

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ZonesCorp contributes with Statistics Centre Abu Dhabi in completing "Economic Survey" project

WAM Abu Dhabi, May 21st, 2012 (WAM) -- The Higher Corporation for Specialized Economic Zones (ZonesCorp) has joined efforts with the Statistics Centre - Abu Dhabi (SCAD) in the latter's recently launched economic survey project and is set to cover the entire Emirate, including Al Ain and the Western Region.

ZonesCorp confirmed its support for the initiative, which aimed at accumulating latest figures and data for years 2010-2011 pertaining to seven key sectors: construction and building materials, retail and wholesale trade and maintenance of vehicles and motorcycles, transport and storage, Information and Communications, Finance and Insurance (banks, insurance companies, etc.), Services (hotels, restaurants, and companies providing services in property, healthcare, education, law, personal accounting, social initiatives, sports, etc.), and Mining and Manufacturing Industries- including the production and distribution of water, electricity and sewage systems.

Commenting on the recent joint initiative, Mohamed Hasan Al Qamzi, CEO of ZonesCorp said: "ZonesCorp is always working towards establishing itself as a key player in achieving the Emirate's 2030 vision, and we understand the importance of compiling a comprehensive, accurate statistical database in supporting decision making processes for the leaders of Abu Dhabi. This has led us to welcome this project with SCAD to facilitate communication channels with the largest number of factories working within our different zones, since we have extensive experience in organizing, licensing and overseeing economic and industrial operations within our areas and also within the Emirate of Abu Dhabi." As part of its cooperation, ZonesCorp will be providing a list of factories operating within its zones (ICAD I, II, '&' III and Al Ain Industrial Cities I '&' II) to SCAD, in addition to spreading awareness to factories and investors regarding the Economic Survey project and communicating the importance of providing accurate numerical data and figures. ZonesCorp will also be providing all the information related to this project to factory representatives and to clients, while encouraging them to cooperate with SCAD researchers in filling out necessary forms, in order to support this effort that is meant to enhance the Emirate's economy and achieve the Vision 2030.

Butti Ahmed Mohammed Bin Butti Al Qubaisi, SCAD's Director General, stated: "The Statistics Center Abu Dhabi is committed to supporting decision and policy makers in developing all areas in the Emirate, including the seven sectors found within this project, by providing them with the most accurate and updated information. Our aim is to actively contribute to the development of these industries and to ensure that they meet the best, professional global standards, due to their important role in developing our economy." ZonesCorp had signed a service level agreement with SCAD in 2011, to exchange information, data and figures, where it understood the positive effects of this cooperation on other sectors and on Abu Dhabi's economy.


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Cancer patient seeks help to return home to Sri Lanka


Dubai:  A Sri Lankan woman with stage 3 ovarian cancer has appealed to the public for help to settle her debt so she could fly back home to be with her dying mom.

“My mother said, ‘Before I die, come see me.’ And I told my mother, ‘I will come before you die. And before I die, you will see me,” Hathiba Bee, 52, a former driving instructor, tearfully told Gulf News.

Bee’s mother, 90, was severely injured recently when they were evacuating from their home in Colombo due to a tsunami warning. Bee could not go home as a travel ban had been imposed on her since she defaulted on credit card and personal loan payments in 2010. This was the same year she was diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian carcinoma.

“I was vomiting and [suffering] loose motion; I had dizziness and all. My stomach became big and swollen. Then, I didn’t know why I couldn’t get up from the bed one early morning. So I went to NMC; they admitted me immediately,” Bee said.

Bee was hospitalised for one month. Her condition made it impossible for her to report to work regularly.

“Then they [employer] said, ‘If you are going like this, we will lose our students. The students want you and they have been waiting for a long time. Take some rest’,” she said.

Bee, who has been in Dubai for 30 years, said she rested for more than six months. By the time she reported to work again, it was too late. She had been laid off.

During that period, her bank loan and credit card loans had ballooned to more than Dh100,000. She said she could not get another job as a driving instructor as companies refused to hire her because of her outstanding debt.

Bee has been living off on the charity of other people ever since. Dubai Charity handled her six-month chemotherapy and sometimes, food expenses too.

A widow, Bee said her only hope was her son. But even he was a victim of circumstances when he was allegedly framed for stealing by a co-worker at the airport. Besides losing his job, he will also serve a prison term of three months.

Bee, whose visa expired in March this year, is currently staying at the accommodation provided by her son’s former company. But once he stops work in July, she will be evicted from the house along with her son’s wife and three kids.

“I feel bad. But what to do?” Bee said, in tears. She said: “The situation is like this now. If I have to work, I don’t mind. Because first thing I have to do is to clear my bank [loan] then only can I work in some other institute.”

But the vomiting and the dizziness recurred recently.

“They say it will spread maybe after one year and I have to come for check-up. When I went for another scanning, they said ‘You have problems in the breast also’,” Bee said.

Doctors said her cancer has spread as they have found black lumps in her breasts. But since she does not have money, Bee cannot go for final scanning as yet.

Due to her medical condition, the bank’s recovery agent told Gulf News that they had agreed with Bee to cut down her balance to Dh35,000 as final settlement.

This, Bee said, is something she would like to appeal for help from the public.

“I need help to clear this thing and to go home so I can stay with my mother for some time,” Bee said. “I just want to ask [help] from the nation that if I’m dying, please, I want to die without debt.”

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'My wife insisted she would give me her kidney'


Azhari El Nour endured kidney problems for years - until a transplant from his devoted wife transformed his life.

The 58-year-old knew it was only a matter of time before he suffered renal failure and faced the pain of dialysis and, eventually, surgery.

Mr El Nour said: "My appendix burst, and while doctors were examining me after the surgery, they found out that my kidneys were not functioning properly and that my toxicity levels were too high."

Doctors gave him medication and monitored his progress.

"My kidneys continued to deteriorate and in May 2007, they completely failed," said Mr El Nour. "From that moment, I started dialysis at Dubai Hospital." The procedure, which involves removing waste and unwanted water from the blood, saw Mr El Nour hooked up to a dialysis machine three times a week for five-hour sessions.

"Sometimes I'd feel nauseated and weak, and my haemoglobin levels would suddenly drop, resulting in extreme fatigue," he said. "I was the breadwinner but I found it very difficult to fulfil my daily job requirements. It was a very stressful period in my life."

While Mr El Nour, who is Sudanese, was receiving treatment, his immunity decreased. He developed a bacterial infection in his right eye and began losing his vision. He saw an ophthalmologist at Welcare Hospital and had specialised surgery. But before the procedure, a nephrologist, a kidney specialist, had to review his condition.

"The doctor told me continuous dialysis wouldn't last, that my life would always be very difficult," said Mr El Nour. "He told me I must look for a kidney transplant and advised me to look for close relatives."

Mr El Nour's wife, Amani, who is also his first cousin, did not think twice about donating her kidney.

After giving a blood sample, the doctor found she was a match.

"My wife told the doctor, 'This is my husband, I love him dearly and will donate my kidney to him'," said Mr El Nour. "I told my wife that this is my own problem and that I didn't want her to become a part of it. But she wouldn't accept it - she insisted that she'd donate her kidney to me."

With no transplant programme in the UAE at the time, the couple planned to go to Jordan.

But then a team of German kidney transplant surgeons came to Abu Dhabi and Mr El Nour underwent a transplant at Zayed Military Hospital, just four months after he began dialysis.

The operation, in September 2007, was successful and Mr El Nour has fully recovered. He has check-ups at Dubai Hospital every three months.

"My wife lives normally, without any medication or changes to her life," he said. "Even the family ties at home are stronger, especially as husband and wife. That your partner has volunteered to give you a part of her body and change your life for the better is truly beautiful."

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Youths in normal families commit 65% of juvenile crimes in region


Abu Dhabi: Some 65 per cent of juvenile crimes in the Arab world are committed by youths in normal, balanced families, where parents are not divorced, participants at the Family Role in Modern Society conference heard on Wednesday.

Dr Ahmad Al Amoush, Dean of the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at Sharjah University, said this indicated that even balanced households needed attention.

The two-day conference aims to shed light on the challenges Emirati families are currently facing. The main contributing factors were attributed to globalisation and the opening up of households to numerous imported cultures from across the globe.

Dr Ahmad Wahdan, head of the Assisting Sciences Department and member of the Scientific Council of Policing Sciences at the Sharjah Academy, said the family offered "the first communication experience" a person has in life. He added that this experience would definitely affect a person's entire life.

"Communication between parents and children in Emirati families is cumulatively less than an hour per day," he added.

Leading causes

In a study on the leading causes behind juvenile crime in the Arab word, Al Amoush listed the absence of a father and the absence parental supervision and leadership.

"Divorce in the Arab world has reached 60-65 per cent. Peer pressure, [the] lack of positive role models, children copying their friends, a multitude of TV series that portray values which do not match those of Arab societies and [an] opening [up] to new technologies are all contributing factors to the problem," he explained.

According to Al Amoush, 85 per cent of young people in Arab societies prefer to communicate through chat rooms and social networks rather than face to face.

Dr Jasem Al Marzouqi, director of the Research and Studies Department at the Family Development Foundation, attributed the imbalance of values in the UAE society to the sudden opening up to the outside world, the significant decline in the Emirati population and an increasing expatriate workforce.

"Forty-five per cent of the UAE population is [made up of] youngsters, who will be the future generation. Therefore it is important to instil in them good behaviour and positive values to avoid future problems and divorce, which, according to a study by the Family Development Foundation in 2009, cost the UAE Dh800 million," Al Marzouqi said.

Al Marzouqi pointed to an alarming problem where parents are passing over the responsibility of raising their children to their housemaids.

He added that a drastic increase in the numbers of housemaids, who are reported to number 5 per cent of the UAE's population, reflected an ever-increasing dependence by most families on maids and neglect for their children.

According to a 2007 study conducted by the Ministry of Interior and involving 3,000 families in Abu Dhabi, 19 per cent had four housemaids, 14 per cent had three, 15 per cent had two and 35 per cent had one. In Al Ain alone, 25 per cent of the families had four housemaids.

Al Marzouqi stressed on the importance of fostering awareness among families, instilling positive values, monitoring programmes that address youth and nurturing good behaviour amongst them.

The following emerged from another study led by Dr Ahmad Al Amoush, from Sharjah University, involving 190 children in the UAE:

73.8 per cent said they don't see their father except during meals.70.8 per cent said they see their father for very limited periods of time.63.1 per cent said their fathers help them in their studies (homework).51.2 per cent are terrified of their fathers.36.3 per cent don't share their private lives with their fathers.14.3 per cent said their mothers care to know about their private lives.60.1 per cent said their mothers do not ask them about their private lives.69.6 per cent said their parents are constantly fighting.30.6 per cent of the children constantly feel embarrassed for frequently being put down by their parents.20.7 per cent feel angry when put down.42 per cent feel neglected by their parents.

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Special needs girl in sling after 4-hour written test in Dubai


Dubai: An award-winning special needs girl ended up with her arm in a sling after her school allegedly forced her to write a test for four hours.

Emirati Fatma Al Jassmi, 17, suffers from cerebral palsy and moves around in a wheelchair. In view of her physical condition, she claimed she was promised a shadow writer, but on the day of her exam, the school reneged on its promise.

"At one point, my hand hurt so badly I began to cry. I begged for a shadow writer but my pleas remained unheard," said Fatma.

Left with no choice, the seventh grader braved the test herself.

The consequences were disastrous. Fatma came home writhing in pain. She was taken to a health centre where she was diagnosed with a sprain in her shoulder joint. A specialist neurosurgeon at another clinic later said it was a case of "shoulder rotator cuff tendonitis". Five months on, she has yet to recover. She now studies from home and undergoes physio-therapy daily.

Doctor's comment

The health centre that treated her soon after the January incident wrote in the medical report: "The pain started after participating in a written examination which lasted for four hours. When I saw her in my clinic, she complained of severe pain and difficulty in moving the hand above arm level."

Fatma was a student of the Al Salam School for Secondary and Elementary Education located in Al Barsha. She said she agreed to appear for the UAE Ministry of Education's National Assessment Programme (NAP) assessment on the condition that the school would provide her a shadow writer.

"Although the test was not mandatory, I took it up on the understanding that a shadow writer would pitch in if I felt tired," said Fatma, who received the Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Award for Distinguished Academic Performance last month.

"We trusted them. But on the first day itself, I did not get any help despite repeated requests. They kept telling me I could do it on my own. I felt so helpless," she said.

Her mother Khawla Al Sumaiti said she was shocked when she saw Fatma's condition as she came out of school. "Her left hand was shaking badly. She was in acute pain and crying."

"I took up the matter with the school and was assured it would not happen again. I believed them and sent Fatma for the English test on the following day. But when I went to school to check if she was okay, I found her in deep pain. Unable to write, she left the exam mid-way."

"We did not send her to school for 10 days and the school did not enquire about her once. When a family member went to get her maths book, they sent all her belongings back," alleged Khawla, who approached the Dubai Education Zone and the Ministry of Education with her complaint.

However, an enquiry (see box) ruled out any wrongdoing on the part of the school.

‘No link between injury and exam'

The Dubai Education Zone said an inquiry conducted into the alleged incident revealed no link between the injury and the examination.

Dr Ahmad Eid Al Mansouri, Dubai Education Zone Director General, told XPRESS: "The school has denied any responsibility for Fatma Al Jassmi's injury." He said he had ordered an inquiry into the incident after Fatma's mother, Khawla Al Sumaiti, lodged a complaint with the zone. The school's director and staff were also summoned following the submission of the inquiry report.

He said as per the inquiry, the school had complied with Fatma's request to allow her more time to complete her exam. But the school has denied that she asked for a shadow writer to complete the exam or that it had not inquired about her during her absence.

Even so, Dr Al Mansoori said he had apologised on behalf of the zone and the school to the girl's mother for any misunderstanding that may have arisen over the issue when she recently aired her views on a radio programme. He said Fatma's mother did not want to continue with the school and had opted for home study for her.

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Dubai Police foil plan to get drugs into jail


Dubai: The Anti-Narcotics Department foiled an attempt to smuggle drugs to two detainees on April 30, in cooperation with the Department of Punitive and Reformative Establishments.

The department received a confirmed tip that an Asian man in Al Quoz was going to smuggle drugs to the two detained men, who have criminal records and are detained on narcotics-related charges, Major General Abdul Jalil Mahdi, Director of the Anti-Narcotics Department of Dubai Police, said.

The suspect, identified as 37-year-old B.F.S, was arrested, and police raided his apartment in Al Quoz.

He confessed he was expecting marijuana and psychotropic drugs from two persons he met, for delivery to the detainees, police said.

A team from the department set a trap to catch the two suppliers when they arrived to deliver the drugs to the first suspect. All three suspects are charged with various offences.

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New rules to cut down construction site casualties


Abu Dhabi: Companies in the capital's construction sector that are found to be violating health, safety and environment (HSE) regulations will now have their transactions suspended, the Municipality of Abu Dhabi city announced in a statement sent yesterday.

The suspension, which will apply to all construction project activities, will be lifted from the relevant contractor or consultant only when all workplace hazards and wrongful practices are rectified and the relevant fines have been paid, the statement added.

"The new system mandates all consultants and contractors to meet the requisites of the municipal HSE requirements. [It also] applies a periodic monitoring policy [so] that neither contractors nor consultants can clear a [construction] phase unless they meet all HSE standards and…eliminate all forms of risk," said Salah Awad Al Sarraj, acting executive director of town planning at the municipality.

Prior to this mandate, companies in violation of the municipal HSE standards were issued fines based on the level and type of wrongful practice by municipal inspectors, who undertook periodic checks at worksites.

However, the large number of construction projects undertaken in the capital meant that inspectors were not always able to check if the hazards had been removed before project activities were resumed, Abdul Aziz Zurub, director of HSE at the municipality, told Gulf News.

"This new system, however, means that municipal inspectors will not only impose fines for a violation but also suspend all transactions. To avoid a delay in delivering the project, companies will have to rectify the violation as soon as possible and submit proof to the municipality," he explained.

There are currently 7,427 worksites in the capital, including construction sites, sites where maintenance work is ongoing, and demolition sites. Zurub said that 40 per cent of small construction sector companies in the capital had been found in violation of municipal HSE regulations.

"The new initiative will have the greatest impact on reducing injuries and fatalities caused by falling from a height," the official added.

According to statistics revealed recently by the Health Authority Abu Dhabi (HAAD), 53 lives were lost to falls from heights and falling objects in 2011 in the emirate of Abu Dhabi.

A set of municipal codes on the safe use of scaffolding equipment is also in the works, and is expected to be available after a month.

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Police hold gambling ring suspects in UAE


Dubai: Police have arrested three men accused of running a gambling arcade in The Walk area of Dubai, the Criminal Investigation Department said on Wednesday.

Police received a report in April about the three, who were allegedly operating 30 gambling machines and tricking Arab and foreign clients into believing they could win up to Dh100,000 a day, Brigadier Khalil Ebrahim Al Mansouri, Director of CID, said.

The police raided the area after a sting operation. Colonel Salem Al Rumaithi, Deputy CID Director for Investigation and Search, said there were 18 people, other than the policemen, using the machines.

All 18 clients, as well as the three Asian and European operators of the ring, were arrested and referred to the prosecution service.

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Dubai mulls more alternative clinics


The National

Dubai Healthcare City aims to boost the number of licences for integrative and alternative-medicine clinics, although experts warn that the sector faces a number of emerging business challenges.

The free-zone authority houses 12 clinics licensed to operate in certain integrative and alternative practices, including homeopathy, acupuncture, yoga and traditional Chinese medicine. Dubai Healthcare City (DHCC) is looking into additional specialities in which clinics could be licensed.

A Korean acupuncture clinic and a herbal clinic are set to open this year in the free zone.

Three weeks ago, Ayucare Ayurveda opened its first slimming unit and spa, called Slim Zero, in DHCC. The company is a pharmaceutical concern from southern India that has two medicine manufacturing facilities and runs 11 hospitals. This marks the first time Ayucare has expanded outside of India.

The number of insurance companies covering alternative-medicine treatment has increased since 2008, in a sign of growing acceptance of non-conventional medicine, said Ayesha Abdullah, the managing director of DHCC. She was speaking on the sidelines of a health conference in Dubai.

But Ms Abdullah warned that DHCC should be "very conservative" when licensing new specialities. Her concerns about the market are echoed in nearby countries such as Saudi Arabia, which has stricter licensing regulations for non-conventional medicine.

The kingdom has issued licences in only four areas of alternative-medicine, including acupuncture, chiropractic and naturopathy, compared with licences for 14 areas of specialisation at the DHCC, said Dr Abdullah Al Bedah, who attended the conference and is executive director of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, which falls under the Saudi health ministry's auspices.

"It's a growing market, but we need not to be [in] a hurry before we have the evidence in front of us," said DrAl Bedah.

"There is resistance from practitioners [of conventional medicine], resistance from pharmaceutical industries [and] lack of enough evidence-based research," Dr Al Bedah said, referring to the industry in the GCC region.

One survey conducted by DHCC in 2005 found that 28 per cent of Dubai residents used alternative medicine that year. DHCC plans to update the survey next year.

Dr Rasheed Hamza, an employee at the Dubai unit of Slim Zero, said he was in favour of the strict regulations imposed by the DHCC. That approach helps to ensure that "there is no misuse or exploitation in this field", he said.

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Man acquitted of molesting student in her bedroom


Dubai: A jobless man was acquitted Sunday of luring a girl with deception and molesting her in her bedroom.

The Dubai Court of First Instance cleared the 27-year-old Emirati man, A.J., citing uncorroborated evidence.

According to the charges sheet, prosecutors charged A.J. of molesting his compatriot in her bedroom after he threatened to show her indecent pictures to her mother if she did not allow him inside the villa. He was also accused of trying to kill himself inside police detention centre by drinking a detergent.

His trial started back in 2009. In January 2010, the court sentenced him in absentia to three years for molesting the girl and threatening to dishonor her using deception. He was also granted an additional month for attempted suicide.

A.J. appealed verdict in absentia. However, the appellate court cancelled his appeal because it was impermissible to appeal a verdict in absentia. The case was referred back to the Court of First Instance that acquitted him on Sunday.

The suspect strongly refuted his three charges.

Prosecutors said paramedics foiled the attempt of A.J. to kill himself when he drank detergent inside the police station after he was detained.

"I didn't have any intention of killing myself. What happened is that after a number of policemen beat me hard, the officer refused to send me to a hospital. I drank the detergent because I needed to be taken to hospital to obtain a medical report," A.J. contended in court.

The defendant denied trespassing into the girl's bedroom and molesting her. Prosecutors claimed he kissed the girl's neck and groped her.

The Emirati girl testified that the suspect phoned her at college and asked to meet her because he wanted to return her photo.

"He forwarded the picture to my mobile phone. When I called him back, he said he liked me and wanted to talk to me. Dubai Police's Al Ameen service asked me to lodge a complaint at the police station. I didn't do so out of shame. He repeatedly stalked me wanting to see me."

The girl alleged that one day A.J. told her over the phone that he would show the picture to her mother if she did not let him in.

She allowed him into her bedroom through the window because he was standing outside the door of the family's house. She said he molested her on her bed.
The primary verdict remains subject to appeal within 15 days.

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Man jailed 2 years for escaping from police detention


Dubai: A man was jailed for two years for destroying a steel-netted door on the rooftop of Al Muraqabat Police Station and escaping from detention.

The Dubai Court of First Instance jailed the 29-year-old Iraqi man, J.Q., for two years because he broke away from the detention centre where he was being detained.

“The accused will have to pay Dh2000 [the cost of the repairs of the steel-netted door] to Dubai Police. He will be deported following the completion of his punishment,” said the presiding judge in courtroom four on Sunday.

In February, the Court of First Instance sentenced in absentia J.Q. and his 46-year-old Iranian accomplice, E.A., to three years in jail.

J.Q. contested against the judgment in absentia and was handed two years in jail during yesterday’s retrial.

Prosecutors charged the defendants of damaging the steel-netted door, climbing down a makeshift rope from the roof of the police station and absconding. They were charged with breaking out of the station and wrecking police property.

The two defendants pleaded not guilty.

According to the charge sheet, E.A. and J.Q. were detained at Al Muraqabat Police Station over theft cases. One of the men broke his bed and used a piece of iron to damage a door to the rooftop to escape. They tied a number of bed sheets together as a makeshift rope and climbed down from the rooftop to the backyard. Then they jumped over the wall and ran away.

A policeman said E.A, J.Q. and two others escaped.

Police detained E.A. and J.Q., who were caught hiding in a deserted villa in Al Hamriya.

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Gulf states ask citizens to avoid Lebanon travel


Abu Dhabi: The UAE, Qatar and Bahrain, citing security concerns, yesterday urged their citizens to avoid travel to Lebanon, where clashes linked to the conflict in neighbouring Syria have left several people dead.

An official from the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs told Gulf News that a communiqué also asked Emiratis who are in Lebanon whether as tourists, businessmen or even students to leave the country.

"Those who have to be in Lebanon should be in contact with the UAE Embassy and they are urged to exit the country as soon as possible," the official said. "They should avoid checkpoints and all places with military presence. We have requested universities and institutes to coordinate with the Emirati students who are there for summer courses," he added.

Heavy fighting which rocked Lebanon's northern port city of Tripoli in the past week left 10 people dead.

In Syria yesterday a suicide bomber detonated an explosives-laden car outside security headquarters in the eastern city of Deir Al Zor, killing nine people and wounding 100.

Another 10 people were killed elsewhere in the country.

Several countries, including the US and UK, have issued Lebanon travel warnings.

Saudi Arabia last month warned Saudis to stay away from Lebanon's border areas, after two Saudi citizens were kidnapped and tortured for eight days, before being freed in a joint Saudi-Lebanese operation.

A Qatari national is also reported to have been kidnapped in Lebanon recently.


"The situation in Lebanon is not encouraging to travel. I would love to visit my parents but I can't expose my wife and children to the risks and dangers of being in Lebanon," Elias Yousuf, Lebanese, 34, told Gulf News.

"I was planning to spend a holiday in Lebanon, but this warning is of great concern. I will abide by the recommendations of the government which has people on the ground who are astute in assessing safety conditions in general," said Aisha Al Mutawa, a 26-year-old Emirati.

Ambassador Eisa Abdullah Masoud Al Kalbani, director of the department of Nationals' Affairs at the UAE Foreign Affairs Ministry, said it was important that citizens register on the ministry's online Tawajudi programme when leaving the Emirates.

Qatari nationals needing to stay in Lebanon should inform their embassy in Beirut and provide their names, addresses and means of contact.

Meanwhile, Lebanese Foreign Affairs Minister Adnan Mansour urged the Gulf countries to review their decision because the security situation in Lebanon does not require such steps.

— With inputs from AFP

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Woman conned into paying Dh3m to acquire citizenship


Abu Dhabi: The Abu Dhabi Public Prosecution ordered the detention of two people for conning an Arab woman.

An Emirati woman, F.A.G., and an Iraqi man, A.M.S., promised the victim that they would get her UAE citizenship in exchange for an amount close to Dh3 million and got Dh2,846,000 from her.

In 2011, the victim met F.A.G., a former work colleague who had been living with her family in the UAE for a long time.

Having applied earlier for UAE citizenship without success, the victim asked her friend whether she knew someone who could help her obtain citizenship.

F.A.G. told the victim that she was working with the government authority responsible for issuing citizenship. She also told the victim that she was a member in a top confidential committee tasked with issuing citizenship and would follow up her case personally.

F.A.G. asked the victim to submit passport photographs, passport copies and a citizenship fee of Dh600,000.

Application process

The victim submitted the required documents and made the payment in full. However, F.A.G. continued asking for more money to finalise the application process.

Subsequently, the second defendant ,A.M.S., engaged the victim. He called the victim claiming he was a security officer who worked for the authority responsible for granting citizenship. He told the victim that her application was reviewed and under process. He assured her that he would use his connections with influential people to secure her citizenship.

Both suspects asked the victim for further amounts of money until the total sum paid by the victim reached Dh2,846,000.

The suspects started to pressure the victim to pay additional amounts of money, threatening to deport her and her family if she did not comply.

The victim had used up all her savings, and could no longer afford to pay the requested sums so she decided to file a complaint against the defendants.

Both the accused were arrested and referred to the public prosecution who ordered their detention for seven days pending investigation.

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Airline first-aid training facility 'best in the UAE'


ABU DHABI // A private airline in the capital has obtained federal approval for its emergency training programme thanks largely to the hard work of one man.

Hank Jacobs has been the safety training instructor at Abu Dhabi Aviation, which flies plans and helicopters to oilfields and islands in the UAE and abroad, for six years.

The South African has worked as a safety trainer for two decades, and still loves it enough that he studies it in his spare time.

But 16 months ago, when Abu Dhabi Aviation underwent an initial attempt at federal training accreditation, the results were not good.

Nabeela Al Awadhi, head of the aeromedical section at the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), said her initial visit was "not impressive at all."

The airline did not have the required safety instruction and operation manuals, and its request would have been rejected outright if not for the "passion and dedication" of Mr Jacobs, she said.

In Mr Jacobs's own words: "I love everything about safety training. If you ask what I like to do in the weekends, it's studying stuff like this. It's my passion. I've been doing this for almost 20 years now, and love my job. I stick to what I know and what I'm good at. If you put me in a food and beverage job I would be lost."

In Ms Al Awadhi's words: "He would call and ask me every day what he could do to improve his application. I said it would be too difficult, but he persisted."

Persistence paid off as, on its latest review, Abu Dhabi Aviation's training programme wowed the inspectors and received their final approval.

"When they reapplied, I was very surprised with the high level of the new application. I am proud of what we have reached together - this is now the best facility in the UAE," Ms Al Awadhi said.

The accreditation means Abu Dhabi Aviation is now one of the five airline operators in the UAE - out of a field of 55 operators - to have GCAA approval to adopt the internationally recognised Medic First Aid training programme. The others include Emirates Airline and flydubai; an application by Etihad Airways is pending.

Medic First Aid teaches an extensive array of first-aid techniques, including CPR, handling births and miscarriages on a flight, as well as treating heart attacks, controlling bleeding, dousing fires and more.

The company's training facility at Abu Dhabi International Airport features life-sized mannequins that simulate bleeding and choking. It also has a manual defibrillator machine that allows students to practise what to do in the event a passenger has a heart attack.

Mr Jacobs said the discipline required by the Medic First Aid programme filters out "bogus safety training centres".

He said, "It blows the rest out of the water."

The GCAA will audit the airline's training programme annually.

Abu Dhabi Aviation, which has operated since 1976, employs about 200 pilots, 14 cabin crew and 50 workers on the ground who deal with passengers.

Both helicopter and aeroplane pilots will be required to take a one-day, seven-hour course in order to be certified. The airline's ground staff will also be required to receive the training.

To learn how to deal with conditions in a pressurised cabin environment - which causes changes in blood flow, blood pressure and body temperature - cabin crew are expected to take an advanced, five-day course.

The quality of training is vital to saving lives, as there is "no time to lose", Mr Jacobs said.

"If there is a loss of blood for more than three minutes, you're going to start becoming unconscious," Mr Jacobs said. "That's the same time it takes to walk to the kitchen, put the kettle on for a cup of tea ... and then someone's dead."

The general manager of Abu Dhabi Aviation, Mohammed Ibrahim M Al Mazrouei, said Medic First Aid is the right programme for the company.

"We worked hard to get it," he said, "so we are very happy."

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UAE residents risk losing passports in ID rush


Dubai: Residents are risking loss of passports and identity theft at busy typing centres in the rush to meet the May 31 deadline for Emirates ID registration.

"In all events, don't leave your passport at the typing centre to avoid possible loss," warns Emirates Identity Authority (Eida) on its website. However, many private centres authorised by the UAE government to fill in ID applications, refuse service unless residents hand in their passports, which have to be digitally scanned.

Receiving passports in advance of processing applications allows typing centres to add more clients to their list and work at their own pace later on - besides making more money as they charge Dh30 per application.

However, holding on to passports - for several days in many cases - means longer waiting lines for applicants already pressed for time under the looming deadline. The practice is also against the rules of Eida, which issues the ID card.

Residents complained virtually all typing centres in crowded neighbourhoods of Dubai and Sharjah demand they part with their passports.

During a random sweep this week, XPRESS found dozens of passports lying around haphazardly at typing centres in Safa, Satwa and Karama.

A worker at a typist near Mazaya Centre said on Sunday: "We've run out of space to keep passports so we're not taking any more for now. There's no place left to hide them if [Eida] inspectors drop in."

He suggested applicants make a ‘booking' the following day by submitting their passports before noon, which they would not see again for three days - the time it would take for the application to be completed. "Of course I cannot give you a receipt for the passport, that's illegal."

Another typist in Karama who had no applicants present in person at his office, scoffed when asked to process an application on the spot. "Get in line - you want to see the line?" he laughed as he pulled out a drawer crammed with passports.

"I'm getting non-stop calls from applicants asking ‘Is it done yet? Is it done yet?' The best I can do for you is take your passport now and call you tonight to let you know how long it'll take."

In Sharjah, a Russian applicant who ran out of patience while waiting for his application to go through was seen quarrelling with a typist who refused to return his passport in Al Taawun area.

"I cannot give back your passport now, Just wait, I'm busy," the typist said. One applicant said on condition of anonymity: "I had to give my passport to the typing centre, what else can I do? They say, ‘if you don't like it, you can find another place.' I give up, there's no time left."

Dubai expatriates whose visas expire after 2012 will be fined Dh20 per day (up to Dh1,000 maximum) if they fail to register for their Emirates ID card by May 31.

Eida adds on its website that "residents of Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah, with residencies expiring in 2012, will be required to enrol for the ID card along with renewing their residencies".

Earlier deadlines, which were eventually extended, had seen tempers fray at overrun typing centres. No grace period has been announced for current deadlines in place.

Details of the ID procedures are available online at

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Official: Labour ministry contract supersedes all other documents


Dubai: The Ministry of Labour contract takes precedence over all agreements between employer and employee and is the only document that is recognised by the authorities, the ministry has warned.

A senior labour ministry official told Gulf News any contract between the employer and the employee other than the labour contract will not be taken into consideration.

The warning comes after some employees have complained that they are being deprived of their rights as laid down in the labour ministry's contract.

A group of insurance specialists have alleged that their company is cheating employees by forcing them to sign a letter of intent and depriving them of rights guaranteed by the labour ministry's contract, including basic pay and gratuity.

Paying back commission

The employees who work for Nexus Insurance Brokers told Gulf News that the company was unwilling to accept resignation letters unless the staff hand over all commissions they earned last year.

Documents obtained by Gulf News show the employees have a limited labour contract under which they are given a basic salary of Dh0.001 and Dh6,000 for accommodation, transportation and other allowances.

The letter of intent, which the insurance specialists were forced to sign, says employees were issued a labour contract because it is a requirement of the UAE law. The principal purpose of the labour contract will be to "sponsor employees' activities in the UAE and does not constitute in part or full their contract with Nexus".

"All benefits mentioned in the labour contract issued by the labour department and any other benefit such as accommodation, transportation, leave, air ticket, leave salary, entertainment, gratuity and other benefits are in fact included in commission, and may be stated separately in the labour contract only for the purpose of enabling you to sponsor your family and domestic help in the UAE," the letter of intent says.

R.J., an employee, said they were forced to sign an undertaking that if the company was required by law and the labour contract to pay a certain amount to them, the employees must repay the company commission and collection fees. He alleged that the company does not accept resignations till employees pay back what they have earned in the form of commissions in their last year at work.

"Unless we give them the last year's earnings, they will not cancel our visas," B.F., a former employee, said. "When I resigned, the company handed me a letter that said my resignation would be accepted, but I must first pay a cheque amounting to my last year's earnings. Only then would they give me a release letter."

Employer reaction

Hussain Ayyash, legal and human resources director at Nexus Insurance Brokers, told Gulf News that all the letters of intent are legal and issued to protect the company's rights. "Our employees work on commissions and they earn a huge amount of money. As the employees work on commissions, they have no labour rights. We issue employees a labour contract as a formality as we have to issue it. The labour contract contains certain allowances, which helps employees sponsor their families. But we do not work according to the labour contract. For us, it does not exist."

He said he had filed a complaint at the labour ministry against some employees who had recently resigned and joined competing firms. "We also have to take back commissions they earned in the last year of work with us," Ayyash said.

Gulf News has learnt that the labour court recently ordered Nexus Insurance Brokers to pay Dh20,000 as end of service benefits to a British consultant who resigned and complained against the company to the labour ministry.

Mohammad Bin Dakhin, Director of Governmental Communication at the labour ministry, told Gulf News that any agreement between the employer and the employee other than the labour contract would not be taken into consideration. "In case of dispute between the employer and the employee, the ministry will only consider the ministry's contract," he said.

Bin Dakhin said a letter of intent or internal contracts between the employer and employee are not accepted. "It is illegal to consider that the labour contract has been issued only to allow employees to sponsor their families. Denying workers the rights mentioned in the labour contract is illegal," he said. Bin Dakhin said that any contract between the employer and employee not signed and approved by the labour ministry is not a legal document.

Residents must call the toll-free helpline 800665 for any labour-related issues, including contracts, work conditions, labour cards and work permits, Mohammad Bin Dakhin, Director of Governmental Communication at the Ministry of Labour, said.

"If workers are asked to sign agreements other than the labour contract, they must contact the ministry to enquire about the legality of the documents," he said. The ministry's helpline caters to 14 languages. Residents can also visit labour care units if they need help.

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Dubai court upholds engineer's jail term


Dubai: An aviation engineer failed to be acquitted for indecently gesturing in public at two plainclothes policemen.

The Dubai Court of Appeal upheld a six-month suspended jail term against the 59-year-old French engineer, D.M., and convicted him of flashing his middle finger in the faces of two Emirati policemen while driving on Business Bay Bridge.

When D.M. appeared before the appellate court, he pleaded innocent. The accused sought to be acquitted. The court rejected his appeal and confirmed the primary judgement. The defendant also faces a deportation order.

His lawyer contended that his client did not have any criminal intention. "In the West, it's an Anglo-Saxon habit that someone flashes his middle finger unlike in our culture…where it is an act punishable by law. The two cultures differ," his lawyer argued before the appeal court.

The appellate judgement remains subject to appeal before the Cassation Court within 27 days.

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Cleaner gets 3 years jail and Dh50,000 fine for using counterfeit notes


Dubai: A cleaner was jailed for three years and ordered to pay a hefty fine of Dh50,000 for possessing 200,000 Euros in counterfeited banknotes for trading purposes.

The Dubai Court of First Instance incriminated the 35-year-old Bangladeshi cleaner, M.K., of possessing counterfeited currency and using 12 counterfeited banknotes of the 200 Euro bill that he submitted to a local bank to convert it to Dirhams.

“The defendant has been sentenced in absentia. He will pay a Dh50,000 fine and be deported following the completion of his jail term,” said the presiding judge in courtroom four yesterday.

Prosecutors accused M.K. of possessing counterfeited banknotes and using them.

A Filipina bank teller testified that she was on duty when the cleaner visited her counter wanting to convert Euros to Dirhams.

“The defendant arrived at my counter at Dubai International Airport. He seemed confident, was not confused, and didn’t seem scared. He handed me 2200 euros and asked to convert them to dirhams. When I saw the banknotes, I realized that they were obviously counterfeited. I told my colleague, who immediately confirmed that it was counterfeited. Our supervisor reported the matter to the police that came and arrested the accused,” the Filipina claimed.

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Dubai to have its 15th museum


Dubai: The emirate will open its 15th museum in about two weeks and will have two more by next year, a senior Dubai Municipality official told Gulf News.

The museum will be dedicated to Emirati poet Al Aqaili and has been built in the poet's old house in Deira. It will have the poet's works and memorabilia on display.

"We will have the 15th museum this year. There are many more on the way. Museums provide a window into the tradition and heritage of a place and we will continue to develop more museums in future," Abdullah Rafee, Assistant Director General of Dubai Municipality, told said.

The emirate will have two more museums by the end of next year, said Rashad Bukhash, Director of the Architectural Heritage Department of the Municipality.


Rafee, who inaugurated the International Museums Day celebrations at the Falcon Centre in Nad Al Sheba, said the municipality is making many efforts to promote the culture and tradition toward which it is involving people from all segments.

"This time there is an encouraging participation from other departments and we also have school children. By involving children we want them to know about their heritage right from the start."

Among the several activities that were organised to mark the day was an exhibition by artist Abdul Rauf. "I have been inspired by our rules right from my childhood. Through these works displayed here, I have tried to portray them and their lives and feel that knowing about them is a great inspiration."

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Seven held for fighting with swords in Umm Al Quwain


Umm Al Quwain: The Umm Al Quwain Police have arrested seven Emiratis on charge of forming two gangs and fighting using swords in Umm Al Quwain yesterday, an official from the police told Gulf News.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity said the fight between the two groups was the latest in a series of clashes between men in the age group of 20 to 30 years.

Badly injured

Four of the suspects were badly injured and were admitted in Umm Al Quwain Hospital.

One them had a spinal wound, the second had serious wounds in his leg which might result in amputation. The third had head injuries and the fourth a neck injury. The remaining men were taken to the police station for further investigation, the official said.

The police are hunting for another group which had managed to flee from the scene to the desert in four-wheel drive vehicles.

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Qualified tutors in short supply


Dubai: The struggle to secure enough qualified teachers to deliver quality technical education is the biggest challenge vocational institutions in the UAE are currently facing, experts said last week.

On a panel to discuss the future of the region's vocational education experts once again highlighted the importance of technical education as a crucial driver of the UAE's economy to diversify future manpower. The panel discussion was organised by Dubai Knowledge Village.

"One of our greatest challenges is to find qualified teachers in vocational education which is why we always look at industrial experience and not academic qualifications," said Dr Naji Al Mahdi, Executive Director of the National Institute of Vocational Education (Nive). "What we try to do is match skills with background so it's now more about suitability rather than paper qualifications."

He added what Nive does with Emiratis with industrial experience interested in teaching is put them on a year-long teacher training fundamental skills course.

"The most important aspect of teaching is to have the passion for it so what we are trying to do is identify skilled Emiratis who are interested in teaching to get the training." Dr Al Mahdi added Nive and other technical and vocational training institutes in the country struggle to find qualified teachers because of the nature of education degrees.

High school system

"A majority of teachers go through the traditional schooling and university paths to become teachers and therefore don't have the technical or experiential background to teach vocational education," he said. "Vocational education should be the norm and not the exception, every schoolchild should be exposed to experiential learning; yet trying to implement this at the school level is always met with the obstacle of finding the right teachers."

Dr Abdul Latif Al Shamsi, Director of the Institute of Applied Technology (IAT), said the UAE community's perceptions about vocational education were undergoing change.

"IAT was founded in 2005 as a high school system when it took over the old industrial schools that used to be for dropouts," he said. "Last week we had an admission exam for students in Dubai who wanted to join grade 9 and we had 2,000 Emirati students sitting those exams; while our intake capacity for this year is 1,000… so something serious has changed."

He added the acceptance of new vocational education systems among Emiratis is reflective of the public schooling system's failing pedagogy of rote learning.

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Ministry plea for parents to provide sweet-free packed lunches


The National

Parents with children at government schools will be urged to follow strict nutritional rules when packing lunches from September, under guidelines being drawn up by the Ministry of Education.

If they include soft drinks, crisps and certain sweets, they will be sent a letter telling them to replace them with fruit and vegetables.

The guidelines are part of a bid to tackle the growing childhood obesity problem and will match new requirements for school canteens.

Schools will also increase the time spent on physical education (PE).

The rules, which have yet to be finalised, replace a patchwork system where each school district writes its own regulations.

"Some will allow a bag of chips and others will not," said Aisha Al Siri, director of the ministry's school health department. "This made it difficult to monitor and regulate students' food intake."

Each district will be monitored by municipal and ministry officials. Last year, the ministry ordered schools to devote more time to PE - from twice a week to three times for primaries, and from once a week to twice for secondaries.

Mohamed Ali Mohamed, senior physical-education supervisor at the ministry, said it wanted to increase the requirement to three times a week across the board, but was stymied by a lack of time and staff.

Schools say more support from parents would help. "Parents who don't want their daughter to practise PE will often get a note excusing her from the class," said Mr Mohamed. "This is wrong. They do not realise the harm this could have on their child's health."

Dr Qazi Ahmed, a practitioner at Sheikh Khalifa Medical City, said this was very common. "Parents, especially those of children who have asthma, often come in looking for an excuse certificate," he said. "But we usually don't provide them - we advise them of the activities their children can safely participate in. In the case of asthma, for example, they can participate in almost all sports."

* Manal Ismail

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Getting Dubai's warriors to the doctor


Dubai: Physiotherapy centres can act as a point of entry into the medical system for me who think they are invincible, it was said at the opening of a conference yesterday.

Physio Dubai 2012 is the fourth Biennial Emirates Physiotherapy Conference.

Held under the patronage of Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and UAE Finance Minister, and organised by the Emirates Physiotherapy Society and Emirates Medical Association, the two-day conference brings together medical professionals including physiotherapists, sports physicians and orthopaedic surgeons.

Craig Allingham, conference speaker and leading sports physiotherapist with qualifications in physiotherapy, sports science and men’s health spoke about the long-standing belief among men who refuse to visit a doctor because they think they are invincible, and that they can live long no matter how poorly they look after themselves.

‘Warrior injuries’

Speaking to Gulf News, Allingham explained that men’s behaviour and attitude to health could be changed when they visit a physiotherapy clinic. He said men tend to think that a visit to a doctor is a sign of weakness, but a visit to a physiotherapist isn’t. “They will arrive at the physiotherapy centre for back pain or sport injury from playing football or riding. These are considered warrior injuries or badges of merit.”

He said that physiotherapists should understand that this “visit by a male patient” is an opportunity to change their thinking from reacting to an injury to a more holistic introduction of issues related to men’s health.

“At a micro level this is an effective approach, If a man comes in with an ankle sprain or back, I may tell him that it is severe due to his weight gain. In this community, there is a high incidence of diabetes and cardiovascular disease — both related to obesity,” he said.

Abdul Adheem Kamkar, President of the Conference and Head of Physiotherapy Section at the Department of Medical Services, Dubai Police, told Gulf News that the number of people taking up sport was on the rise, increasing the priority for rehabilitation and physiotherapy. He said: “With sport there are injuries and these need to be managed appropriately. At the conference, we have the latest evidence in sport and hamstring injuries helping us to better diagnose and treat. Our focus is on prevention and management [of sport injuries].”

Amal Shamlan, head of the organising committee at the conference and head of the rehabilitation section at Latifa Hospital spoke to Gulf News about the need for statistics in relation to sport injuries. She said: “We have data on diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and we need to have data on sport injuries. This can be done through a national project involving all health authorities to establish prevalence of different kinds of injuries.”

The conference is supported by th Ministry of Health (MoH), the Dubai Health Authority (DHA), the Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Award for Medical Sciences, Dubai Convention Bureau, Dubai Equine Hospital and the World Federation for Physical Therapy

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Ten believed to be poisoned by pesticide have left hospital


DUBAI // Nearly all of the 10 men who were admitted to hospital this week with suspected pesticide poisoning have returned to work.

The men, who work in the same jewellery store in Deira and live together in a flat provided by their company, returned only a few days after suffering from dizziness and vomiting reportedly brought on by a neighbour's use of banned chemicals for fumigation.

The neighbours, who sources said were from China, were questioned by police but an investigation is continuing.

It was not clear if any charges had been filed.

The jewellery shop's manager said the men were all at home and doing well after the Wednesday morning scare.

The workers, all from Kerala, began to experience symptoms of poisoning about 3am. Many vomited and some fainted.

"Everyone is doing much better now," said T Soman, the manager. "Most of them only missed a day or day and a half of work."

Authorities initially suspected the men were suffering from food poisoning, but municipality officials have determined that chemical poisoning from banned pest control products are to blame for the bout of sickness.

In November 2009, the Ministry of Environment and Water banned 167 chemicals because they posed a danger to people and the environment.

Another 32 substances were allowed, but only for use by licensed operators.

According to the state news agency Wam, the list was updated last year to include 401 types of pesticides, in accordance with international practices.

Dinesh Ramachandran, technical director at National Pest Control, said only licensed and certified companies are permitted to use fumigants in Dubai, and the municipality must approve each professional.

"Fumigants should not be used in apartments at all," Mr Ramachandran said.

"This is an education issue. People have to know what to do before and after treatment."

Mr Ramachandran said residents should always ensure companies were registered before allowing them into their homes.

If using home products, residents should also make sure to read the label carefully.

"Controlling pests is really the job of experts," he said. "Sometimes people don't read, and that is when things can be dangerous."

The men are suspected to have been poisoned by aluminium phosphide, a highly toxic chemical pesticide that is used to kill insects and rodents.

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Khalifa orders Dh568m loan waiver for Emiratis


Abu Dhabi: President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan has ordered the settlement of defaults on personal loans of 368 Emiratis, amounting to about Dh568 million, a Wam report said yesterday.

Shaikh Khalifa's gesture covers loan defaults of citizens whose debt burdens are less than Dh5 million, "be they in detention, pending trial, convicted, or [are] settling their debts through instalment schedules set by the courts".

The waiver follows a recommendation submitted by the Supreme Committee of the Debts Settlement Fund for Citizens with limited income, chaired by Ahmad Juma Al Za'abi, Deputy Minister for Presidential Affairs.

A senior official told Gulf News this is the second group of defaulters after the January waiver which covered 6,830 Emiratis each with debts of less than Dh1 million.

"Any Emirati defaulter in detention, being tried or convicted can apply to benefit from the Settlement Fund for low-income citizens by applying in person to the Ministry of Presidential Affairs or online at"

Under the latest amnesty move, those in prison will be released and have their loans settled in accordance with the settlement mechanism, which includes deduction of 25 per cent of their monthly salaries and an undertaking that they will not take any further loans until the current liabilities are settled.

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UAE urges citizens to stay away from Lebanon


Abu Dhabi: The UAE Foreign Ministry has urged citizens not to travel to Lebanon until the tense security situation there is cleared.

Eisa Abdullah Al Kalbani, the Director of UAE Nationals Affairs Department in the ministry, said that the measure is part of the government's keenness to guarantee the safety of its citizens.
Al Kalbani also appealed to UAE citizens already in Lebanon to leave, and told those who needed to stay due to unavoidable circumstances reasons to contact the UAE embassy in Beirut on the hotline 009611857000 to give information about their whereabouts and contact details.

Al Kalbani also stressed the importance of registering with the "Tawajudi" service through the web portal at the time of travelling abroad.

Fighting prompted by sectarian tensions in neighbouring Syria has unsettled areas near Lebanon's northern port of Tripoli in the past week.

Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Lebanon last month warned Saudis to stay away from Lebanon's border areas, after two Saudi citizens were kidnapped and tortured for eight days, before being freed in a joint Saudi-Lebanese operation.

With input from Reuters

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Obese UAE children at risk of early heart disease


High rates of obesity among schoolchildren are putting them at risk of developing heart disease and diabetes at a younger age, a study has found.

Researchers at UAE University studied 1,018 students age 12 to 18, measuring their cholesterol levels and blood pressure as well as height and weight. Just over half of the sample were Emirati.

They were categorised by their body mass index (BMI) - weight in kilograms divided by the square of height in metres - as normal/underweight (BMI under 24.9), overweight (25-29.9) or obese (over 30).

While a similar number of Emiratis and expatriates were overweight (22 per cent and 20 per cent respectively), far more Emiratis were obese - 18 per cent against 8 per cent of expatriates.

The problem was acute among Emirati boys, 45 per cent of whom were obese or overweight.

That, said Dr Syed Shah, author of the study and associate professor of community medicine at UAE University, was partly down to lifestyle. "Boys make more frequent trips to fast-food restaurants and have longer spans of physical inactivity," he said, adding that research was needed into why obesity was more prevalent in particular groups.

He found a connection with some of the most important "risk factors" for heart disease, the various measures of blood cholesterol.

More than half those tested had low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), a "good" type of cholesterol that provides immunity against heart disease, and nearly a quarter had high levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL).

Only six per cent of students had high levels of triglyceride (TG) however, with 11 per cent borderline. And while only 7 per cent had a high total cholesterol level, a further quarter were borderline.

Those risk factors were strongly linked with weight. Twenty-nine per cent of students who were obese had at least two of the four abnormal cholesterol levels.

Dr Shah said the results were alarming. "Youth are in harm's way with rising obesity," he said. "Heart disease, hypertension and diabetes … these used to be problems only seen in the higher age groups and now they're even appearing in children."

The study also found that nearly 30 per cent of obese children had elevated blood pressure, compared with 20 per cent of overweight children and 8 per cent of those with normal weight.

What was most striking, Dr Shah said, was that 42 per cent of obese children had metabolic syndrome - a precursor to diabetes and a risk factor for coronary artery disease and stroke.

He described cholesterol as the "main culprit" behind most health dangers associated with obesity.

"Cholesterol deposits in the blood increase over a period of time until the arteries are clogged," the doctor said. "Most people wait until the symptoms appear, but at that point it's too late."

The findings indicate the need for a "national intervention," Dr Shah said. "We need changes at a policy level and to bring attention to this from an early age.

"Social perceptions need to change. If people see a person working out outside, they start asking questions and view it as something strange. Exercise should be seen as a part of daily life."

Doctors have warned that a killer combination of smoking, stress, junk food and a lack of exercise are leading to heart disease problems in the UAE 15 years younger than in people in the West.

The average age of heart disease patients in the US and the UK is between 55 and 60; in the UAE it is between 40 and 45, with doctors often seeing patients as young as 20.

"Most patients we see have elevated LDL levels as a result of the food they eat and low activity levels, it's very common here," said Dr Qazi Ahmed, a medical practitioner at Sheikh Khalifa Medical City.

Hala Abu Taha, a nutritionist at Right-Bite, said that while cholesterol problems were linked to genetics, that should not be used as an excuse.

The result of the next phase of the study, looking at the link between obesity in parents and their children, will be released next month.

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Three accused of gang-raping woman


Dubai: Three men have been charged with gang-raping a waitress after pretending to be police officers to lure her to a hotel in Ajman.

A 26-year-old Bangladeshi carpenter, M.K, and his two compatriots, who remain at large, are charged with posing as CID men then kidnapping the Filipina waitress and driving her to a flat in Ajman where they gang-raped her. The defendants were also accused of stealing the 33-year-old Filipina's mobile phone and Dh200.

M.K. failed to appear before the Dubai Court of First Instance yesterday where he was scheduled to stand trial.

Presiding Judge Jasem Al Beloushi adjourned the case until M.K. was legally notified about the next hearing on June 21.

Chief prosecutor Ahmad Mohammad Al Hammadi asked for the implementation of a death punishment against the defendant.

According to the charge sheet, M.K. and the two runaways, L.S. and M.A., claimed to be police officers and forced the waitress into their car. Then they threatened to throw her in jail or kill her if she refused to have sex with them.

When she refused and asked them to take her to the police station, one of the defendants punched her on the face.

Bus station

The trio then took her to a hotel apartment where they raped her one at a time.

Records said the defendants stole her money and mobile phone then they handed her Dh50 and left her at the bus station in Sharjah.

The waitress, identified as J.M., testified that she had finished work around 2am when the suspects, posing as policemen, stopped her near a supermarket.

"One of them showed me a police ID. They pushed me into the car and they drove off. On the way, one of them said they will throw me in prison or kill me if I refused to have sex with the three of them… I rejected and asked to be taken to police detention. They beat me on my face and I bled. They blindfolded me and continued driving around 30 minutes. They stopped in front of two furnished apartment buildings before they forced me into a flat.

"They said I will be killed if I cried for help or tried to escape… then beat me again and removed my clothes by force. The trio raped and molested me one by one," J.M. claimed to prosecutors.


Prosecution records said the defendants took her back in their car and dropped her in Sharjah. When they dropped her in the bus station, according to her statement, she recorded the car plate number before she reported to the police.

An Emirati lieutenant testified that the airport police at Dubai International Airport arrested M.K. when he returned from abroad. "M.K. claimed during questioning that they had consensual sex with the Filipina… he denied the rape and kidnap charges," the lieutenant claimed.

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Studying nature's balancing act


Al Ain: Experts at UAE University (UAEU) are now studying an endangered seabird species endemic to the Arabian Gulf and Omani coast.

Declining population trends of Socotra cormorants have prompted researchers at UAEU to study the unique seabirds whose biology, habits and diet have never been documented. The research is being conducted in collaboration with the Environment Agency- Abu Dhabi (EAD).

"The largest known population was found in Bahrain circa 1995 and recorded at 39,000 breeding pairs," said Dr Sabir Bin Muzaffar, head of the research project at UAEU. "To put that figure into perspective, earlier estimates from the 1980s were 120,000 breeding pairs."

Known colonies

The Socotra cormorants, unique to this region with 14 known colonies, are one species of the 30 breeds of cormorants found worldwide. They are listed on the red list of threatened species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

The UAE is home to an estimated 38,000 breeding colonies, 15,000 of which are found on Siniya Island in Umm Al Quwain. The UAEU research project, in its second year, has so far received Dh448,000 from the university's research grant and is set to conclude in its third year.

"The fact there is almost nothing on this bird is really good for us because we went in wanting to figure out anything general," said Sonya Benjamin, 23, research associate at UAEU. "It's a very broad project because we are looking for dietary habits and foraging behaviour patterns, exact populations and all the things about them never covered before."

Main threats

Sonya added that the data collected through research will help conserve the seabirds that are dying due to fishing waste as well as predators introduced by humans such as the Arabian fox. "We witnessed at least 300 birds of the total population in Siniya being killed by the foxes who were recently introduced," she said.

"The introduction of the foxes wreaks havoc in the breeding season because the birds nest on the ground which makes them vulnerable because they are not preyed on naturally."

Other habitats

Other colonies of Socotra cormorants in the UAE are found on some of Abu Dhabi's islands such as Umm Qasar, Yasat Island and Dina Island, said Dr Salim Javed, ecologist at EAD.

"There is a misconception that the birds are not very nice and smelly as well as competing with fisherman by feeding on fish," said Dr Javed. "Due to that reason and others the species has suffered quite a bit."

Dr Bin Muzaffar added that seabirds generally have a large impact on the entire ecosystem as they are part of the marine environment and help balance fish species and other invertebrates. "To remove all the seabirds from the Arabian Gulf could cause large fluctuations in certain types of fish which could affect the entire web, including fish we eat," he said. "The fact the Socotra cormorants are a regional endemic in itself makes them an extremely important species and we are trying to understand what it does in relation to the ecosystem."

The UAE needs more graduates of ecology in order to help protect its natural environment, says Dr Salim Javed at the Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi.

The UAE University (UAEU) is one of the only institutions in the country to offer ecology degrees at the undergraduate and postgraduate level. The current undergraduate ecology class in the department of biology consists of 50 students but, according to Dr Javed, an ecologist himself, that is not enough.

"There are not many ecologists in the UAE," he said. "Given what's happening around us and the way the environment is being impacted it is imperative to have more trained ecologists to study our surrounding environment."

He added it is the joint responsibility of many sectors and universities to protect the UAE's ecological sector.

"The general perception is that the UAE is a desert and arid land with not much in terms of wildlife but the UAE is in fact very rich in terms of biodiversity," he said. "There are more than 440 bird species alone as well as many mammals, reptiles, plants and marine life."

Dr Javed added that public education about the important role ecologists play in the bigger picture is fundamental in encouraging youths in the field. "Society, ecology and economics cannot be separated; look at the recent tsunamis," he said.

"A good environment is at the core of any sound economy the world over and if we don't protect it we will ultimately see the cost in one form or another."

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Kidney patients given fresh hope


The National

ABU DHABI // A law that would help hundreds of patients on dialysis move a step closer to receiving a kidney transplant was submitted to the Executive Council last month and is awaiting final approval.

The law would allow organ transplants from patients who are declared brain-dead, and will require the Emirates identification card to indicate whether or not an individual is an organ donor.

Dr Ammar Abdulbaki, a transplant nephrologist at Sheikh Khalifa Medical City (SKMC), said applicants for an Emirates ID would have to tick off a box regarding organ donation that would indicate whether "you're willing, not willing or not sure".

"Everyone will be asked that question," Dr Abdulbaki said.

The news comes two years after an amendment signed by the former minister of health made it legal to take an organ from a deceased donor if they had allowed it in their will, or if a majority of their closest relatives agreed to it. The amendment updated a 1993 law that provided the medical parameters for doctors to perform transplants. Doctors, however, said the law did not provide specific guidelines needed to set up and regulate the infrastructure for such a programme. They also said the law did not define death.

The new law calls for forming official bodies that will regulate organ transplants, including the National Transplant Centre, which will allocate the organs, and the National Transplant Committee. The National Transplant Centre will also be responsible for integrating the transplant programme with the Emirates ID card. The National Transplant Committee, which was formed in 2010, will develop into a full-fledged organisation.

Dr Abdulbaki, who is also the medical director of SKMC's transplant programme, helped revise the law. He said it had been endorsed by various authorities, including the Health Authority - Abu Dhabi, the Ministry of Justice and the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments.

Across the country, there are nearly 1,500 people on dialysis, of whom nearly half are considered candidates for a kidney transplant. The SKMC programme is the only one in the country. Since its launch in 2008, its team has performed 57 kidney transplants, with a 95 per cent success rate. The team is trying to increase the number of transplants to one a week.

Dr Abdulbaki said the number of people with kidney failure was rising by about 9 per cent annually, which he attributed to the high rate of diabetes in the UAE. Diabetes affects nearly a quarter of the population, of whom one third are at risk of kidney failure.

The main challenge, Dr Abdulbaki said, is finding a donor organ. For several years, organ transplants from the dead have been available everywhere in the GCC except the UAE.

"In this region, 70 per cent of kidney transplants come from living donors, and the remaining 30 per cent from brain-dead donors," Dr Abdulbaki said. "But we're not seeing this here, so the public needs to be aware and encouraged to donate during life and after death. They need to know that donating a kidney does not affect their health or life at all."

Liver transplants are next in demand, with an estimated 100 to 200 patients in the country at some stage of liver failure. This is where the new law will also have a significant impact, Dr Abdulbaki said.

"You don't necessarily die from kidney failure because you can go on dialysis until you get a transplant, whereas when your liver shuts down you either die or get a transplant immediately."

In the UAE, a kidney transplant costs Dh100,000 to Dh150,000.

After the procedure, patients are put on immunosuppressive drugs to prevent rejection. The government provides the funds, which are managed by insurance companies.

The UAE does not permit transplants from unrelated living donors. This is to protect donors and patients from abuse, doctors said.

"Because of the social fabric in the Gulf countries, you may open the door for abuse," Dr Abdulbaki said. "There will be monetary compensation, people buying organs from disadvantaged people, like their drivers and maids."

Restoring faith in the country's health system is another challenge, Dr Abdulbaki said.

"As a small example, we are still working on building the trust of Emiratis in this programme," he said. "Out of 57 cases we transplanted here, only five were Emiratis, because there is a belief that when you need a transplant the government should send you abroad."

This often comes at a price.

"When you buy a kidney from outside, you can pick up an infection, or get a bad kidney because someone sold it to you and you never know the quality of the organ," Dr Abdulbaki said. "It costs double or triple the cost in the UAE, and little quality. That is the third challenge - raising awareness that the government offers these services at high quality in this country."

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Treacherous bend at Al Quoz


Ever since I moved to a new office at Al Quoz, Dubai, I frequently travel in this area and have noticed that one of its roads requires maintenance.

This road is located near the Al Quoz bus stand. There is hardly space for vehicles of any size to travel on this stretch, and when heading towards the main road, there are chances that vehicles might get hit.

Motorists have a very bumpy ride on this road which needs to be repaired.

I don't see any maintenance taking place and this condition has been there for a long time. There is an open pothole on the road and those who take a right turn have to slow down as the road is cracked and needs to be repaved.

Pedestrians can also be seen crossing the road from undesignated areas, putting their own lives at stake as well as the lives of motorists.

This is a road that seems to be waiting for an accident to take place and it needs proper maintenance work so that we can all enjoy a smooth drive.

— The reader is based in Dubai

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Ajman Ruler issues Emiri decree restructuring "Ajman Land and Property Department"

2012-05-21 14:03:52
WAM Ajman, May 21st, 2012 (WAM) -- H. H. Sheikh Humaid bin Rashid Al Nuaimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Ajman has issued an Emiri decree reorganizing the Ajman Land and Property Department to meet the requirements of the emirate's laws issued during the past seven years pertaining to Civil Service Law, the Financial Law and its regulations.

The Decree No. 12 of 2012 stipulates that the department shall continue to work as a local government department under the same name " Land and Property Department " and will enjoy legal personality and full legal capacity enabling it to take all the necessary actions to carry out its terms of reference assigned to it under the provisions of the decree.

The decree stressed that the Department shall establish a regular record for the registration of real estate offices operating in the emirate and control their works to ensure meeting its commitment to the requirements of the laws of the Emirate.

According to the decree, the director general of the department shall set up the draft organizational structure of the department and to issue the organizational structure after the approval of the chairman of the department and the Executive council in accordance with the concerned legal systems in the emirate.


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Travel papers depict a nation's journey


Dubai: History has a way of locking away the secrets of statecraft, but officials at the Naturalisation Department at the General Directorate for Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) in Dubai are not letting it detract from their mission.

The department founded the Dana Historical Documents Museum late last year, looking to preserve the pre-confederation history of the emirate with the aid of travel documents from that era.

"Dana is a name that refers to Dubai. Dana is an Arabic name for the pearl," said Major General Mohammad Ahmad Al Merri, Director General of GDRFA.

The Dana Museum opened in December.

According to Colonel Ali Ganem Al Merri, adviser to GDRFA for naturalisation-related issues, the Dana Museum contains the "Dana documents", a group of historic documents related to ID cards, outpasses and passports.

"We want to show our young generation some features of our past which contributed to the formation of our present and it will definitely contribute to the future of our country," he said.

Colonel Al Merri said the Dana museum mainly exhibits Emirati travel documents and passports issued at the time of the former Trucial States.

"We have at the Dana museum a document as old as 53 years," he said. "This document is called the Trucial States Treaty and it is considered one of the oldest documents chronicling this phase. This treaty shows the close relationship between rulers and people of the UAE at the time even before the federation."

Story of the people

Colonel Al Merri said the Dana Museum is a critical repository because it tells the story of the people. "We are looking to collect more and more of such important documents from the citizens to enrich the museum. We want to show people the history of their homeland," he said.

"We want the new generation to know the important phases through which the country passed," he said highlighting the fact that awareness among the people is critical to fostering a sense of national identity.

He said the museum's collection includes a free out-pass issued in 1966 for travel outside the country. There is also a passport issued in 1973 and a family book.

"We can see from one of the historic passports that the holder of that passport did not put in the photo because she wore a hijab," Al Merri said.

In those times, people had the choice not to affix their photos on their identity or travel documents.

Al Merri said the museum's exhibits included passports and documents from all other emirates.

"Before the Federation, each one of the emirates used to have its own passports the same way they used to have their own flags, too. But after the Federation, the passports of all Emiratis all over the country became the same and they used to be black in colour," he recalled.

"People used to travel to the Gulf states, or to East Asia and some African coast to trade, and these travel [passes] used to be issued by the Customs Office in the Office of the Ruler at the time," Colonel Al Merri said.

Colonel Al Merri said that in the early 1980s authorities used to issue to citizens a family book which was separate from passports that had to be renewed every two years. The black passports were later given blue covers with their renewal due every five years.

Colonel Al Merri said the museum is open throughout the year and will welcome any authentic documents from the public that will boost its collection.

According to Colonel Ahmad Mohammad Al Muhairi, director of the Nationality Department, it is vital to document the country's history amid its rapid development. "We are giving the new generation the opportunity to be part of their history and know about production of documents and data in the past," he said.

Sweeping change

Al Muhairi said there was a passport in Dubai at the beginning of the early 1950s which was of a single page and listed the name, facial features, date of birth, purpose of travel ranging from business to study and the period of validity. Most passports were issued for six months or up to a year.

In Dubai, passports were once signed by the late Shaikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum.

According to Lieutenant Rashid Al Falasi, who is in charge of the museum, a single-sheet passport issued in 1956 in Dubai was converted to a passport and went from one sheet to a small red book, the colour of the Dubai flag at that time. The passport carried on its cover the slogan ‘The Government of Dubai and its area' and it mentioned the passport number, passport holder's name, profession, eye colour, hair colour and special features.

Passports of women at the time simply used the word ‘veiled' with no explanation of their features at all.

From 1972 to 1994, UAE passports had a black cover which has since become blue. Last Dec-ember, the UAE issued the new e-passport which carries an electronic chip on the last page that enables the holder to enter and exit via land and airports.

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