Top Menu

RCA accelerates relief operations to aid Syrian refugees in Jordan

WAM Abu Dhabi, 12th Feb. 2012 (WAM) -- The UAE Red Crescent Authority (RCA) is intensifying its field efforts to deliver emergency humanitarian assistance to Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon. A high-level RCA team is in Jordan now to assess the actual conditions and requirements of Syrian refugees on the ground so as to launch relief operations.

The UAE aid workers have visited the areas of Mafraq and Ramtha refugee camps, at the Jordanian-Syrian borders and met with a group of Jordanian relief agencies to discuss ways of boosting efforts being arranged to provide relief and shelter to them.

Fahad Abdul Rahman bin Sultan, head of RCA delegation in Jordan, said events inside Syrian were forcing more influx of Syrians, mostly women, children and elderly, to pour into Jordan.

''Refugees need food and medicines but priority should be given to shelter needs at present due to the cold weather in these mountainous regions where temperature is below zero at night and 8 Celsius at day,''he added.

He unveiled that the Jordanian authorities were preparing to build a camp in Mafraq, nine kilometres away the Syrian borders, that can shelter up to 1200 refugees in the first phase.

He affirmed the RCA's readiness to support relief capacities of the camp.

The UAE major aid agency has boosted its partnerships with UN agencies including UNICEF and UNHCR and other humanitarian agencies to improve the living conditions in refugee camps.

The RCA yesterday launched a three-day media fund-raising campaign to help Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries.

The humanitarian drive has been well-received from local, regional and international relief and aid organisations as well as philanthropists within the UAE.


View the original article here

Dubai civic body trims costs to achieve surplus


Dubai: Dubai Municipality achieved a budget surplus of Dh2.1 billion in 2011, said Mohammad Abdul Karim Julfar, Assistant Director General of Dubai Municipality.

The civic body took numerous initiatives in rationalisation of expenses, which helped it reduce costs in the general budget by 19 per cent (compared to 2010), operating expenses by 10 per cent and projects by 25 per cent.

In the procurement process, the team studied the needs of organisational units, purchased bulk and supplied according to the demand, thereby reducing the cost of purchasing and storage.

Corrective maintenance

In maintenance of public property such as buildings, equipment, vehicles, machinery, furniture and infrastructure, it focused on corrective maintenance. In the field of electronic services, it converted 81 services into e-services, saving Dh76 million a year," he said.

The municipality applied nine programmes for the rationalisation of expenses in operational activities, which helped it save Dh245 million and applied four programmes in the field of income development, saving Dh328 million.

Saif Al Shamsi, Director of the Finance Department, said that its zero visit initiative reflected positively on reducing expenses. In training, the civic body studied the actual needs of the training courses for employees.

In the area of revenue, it updated the services, introduced new activities in line with the needs of dealers and established specific markets with funding from the private sector in addition to an efficient collection of revenues, fees, rents and follow-up of government funds considering the priorities.


He said 87 initiatives were recorded in rationalisation programmes, resulting in the saving of Dh884 million, representing 14 per cent of the budget of operating expenses and 6 per cent of the projects budget.

In the area of revenue development, 29 initiatives were recorded, leading to a saving of Dh328 million, representing 7 per cent of total budget revenues. Dh76m: was saved in the field of electronic servicesDh245m: the amount saved in operational activitiesDh328m: saved in the field of income development

View the original article here

Three men held for robbery in Sharjah


Sharjah: Police on Wednesday  arrested three Afghan suspects who allegedly broke into homes while residents were asleep.

The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) at Sharjah Police revealed that the gang stole laptop computers, mobile phones and cash, in addition to electronic equipment and jewellery.

The crimes took place across various residential neighbourhoods in the city.

"We received numerous complaints from residents about thieves breaking into their homes. A security team was formed and, during the investigation, we found that most of the victims had left their doors unlocked," said a CID official.

During the investigation, police were able to locate the whereabouts of the Afghan suspects, who were identified as W.A.K., 35; S.A.S., 20; and Gh.J., 30.

The first two suspects were illegal residents while the third had entered the country illegally.

When the suspects' home was raided, Sharjah Police discovered a large quantity of stolen items and cash.

During interrogation, all three suspects confessed to the crimes and the case has been referred to the Sharjah Public Prosecution.

Jamal Nour Al Deen, an American resident living on King Faisal Road, was one of the victims who had watches, two mobile phones, more than Dh1,500 in cash and jewellery stolen from his apartment.

"The incident happened at about 7am on January 30. My wife woke up and was sure that she had locked the door and was surprised to see that it was open. When she walked out of the room, the thieves ran away leaving behind my son's laptop," explained the father of three.

Police are urging residents to take precautions to secure their family's safety and belongings.

"More often we are faced with cases of theft as a result of tenants not locking their door properly or letting strangers into their homes. Everybody can become a victim and it is important that valuables are always kept in a safe place," said an official at Sharjah Police.

"Residents should also be vigilant with their housemaids and ensure that valuables are kept safe. Even though the housemaids might not steal, they may encourage their friends to break into the home and steal them instead."

View the original article here

Dubai hospitals move to reduce paper use


Dubai: Hospitals in Dubai are expected to become completely paperless in three to five years.

Dubai has became the first city in the Middle East to complete the Electronic Medial Record Adoption Model (Emram) survey, which found 70 per cent of the hospitals are in stages 1 and 2 of Emram.

Following that, the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) continues to encourage private and public healthcare facilities to attain higher IT levels.

"Making the hospitals paperless means a higher quality care and improvement in patient safety. We still have a lot of work to do in the direction and are expecting that within three to five years, all the hospitals will be able to reach stage 7 of Emram, which is an international benchmark," Dr Mohammad Al Reda, acting director of DHA's health data and information analysis department, health policy and strategy sector, told Gulf News.

The Emram model uses a zero-to-7 stage scale to rate hospitals based on the extent they have adopted a paperless, digital system. Stage 7 means that the hospital is paperless and digital.

The survey of 21 private and four public hospitals showed that 23 hospitals (39.1 per cent) were in Stage 1 and another 30.4 per cent were at Stage 2. A few hospitals have attained stages 3 and 4 and more than one-fifth of hospitals are not on Emram track.

Long-term plans

Dr Reda said the survey will help the DHA in its long-term plans to develop the necessary standards for implementing and managing the health information systems in the emirate.

"The ultimate aim of DHA's eHealth goal is to improve the quality, efficiency and safety of clinical care by making relevant health information conveniently accessible to patients and authorised care providers within the Emirate of Dubai.

With the completion of the survey, hospitals in Dubai are now in a better position to compare themselves with other hospitals in terms of how paperless they are, said John Hoyt, executive vice-president, HIMSS Analytics of the US.

"Adopting a paperless environment leads to a reduction in medication errors, reduction in process time, increases patient and family satisfaction and enhances nursing satisfaction," he said.

View the original article here

Experts back cover for circumcision


Experts would support a move to have insurance companies cover male circumcision because of the procedure's medical benefits.

Those include reduced incidence of urinary tract infections and decreased risk of penile cancer, said Dr Amin El Gohary, the professor of paediatric surgery at Al Noor Hospital and president of the UAE Paediatric Surgery Society.

"There is no doubt that the incidents of urinary tract infections is far lower in circumcised men," Dr El Gohary said. "There have also been studies where there were no reported cases of penile cancer in circumcised men."

Research also demonstrates a reduced likelihood of developing sexually transmitted diseases and HIV in circumcised men, he said.

"Those who oppose the procedure are looking at it from a purely sentimental point of view and not recognising the positive impact it has on health," Dr El Gohary said.

A series of three studies on 5,000 circumcised adults in Africa have proven the efficacy of the procedure in preventing the formation and spread of sexually transmitted diseased, mainly HIV and the human papillomavirus (HPV).

The studies were conducted by internationally acclaimed medical institutions, including Johns Hopkins and the Rakai Health Science Programme, and were carried out in Kenya, Uganda and South Africa.

The 2007 findings showed male circumcision can reduce the chances of contracting HIV by 60 per cent, HPV by 35 per cent and herpes by 30 per cent.

Results reported last year from the same trial group showed female partners of circumcised men also had a far lower chance of contracting diseases and infections.

Those women are about 30 per cent less likely to contract HPV, the main cause of cervical cancer, and up to 50 per cent less likely to contract bacterial infections.

Dr Aaron Tobian, an associate professor of pathology at Johns Hopkins University and a physician at its hospital, explained why circumcision reduced HIV risks.

"The foreskin contains a high number of T cells and dendritic cells [both involved in the immune system], which HIV targets," Dr Tobian said. "Therefore, by removing it we are significantly reducing the risk of infection."

The results of the study prompted the World Health Organisation to add circumcision to its list of recommendations as an important extra intervention method against HIV.

Despite the findings, medical insurance companies in the UAE and worldwide are reluctant to cover male circumcision unless the procedure is "medically necessary".

In the United States, the procedure is covered by Medicaid, the country's free public health insurance, in only 18 states.

Dr Nabil Mitry, a urologist at Manchester Clinic in Dubai, said some cases that warranted "medical necessity" were those in which the foreskin prevented the individual from passing urine, or where it was inflamed, tight and causing great discomfort.

"However, the procedure should not be taken lightly," Dr Mitry said. "It should be done by a professional doctor to avoid any complications including damaging any of the sensitive glands."

Dr Tobian said: "To come up with similar results across all trials is quite phenomenal. Insurance companies should provide coverage for parents who are educated about the risks and benefits and choose to circumcise their sons."

Given those benefits and the religious demands of the country, doctors in the UAE agree.

"I'm very disheartened by the fact the procedure is not covered by insurance companies, especially in a country where it is seen as a right," Dr El Gohary said.

"Before we look to others, we must value our own identity and the needs that come along with it."

View the original article here

Clean-up campaign set to raise awareness


Abu Dhabi: A countrywide desert clean-up campaign held yesterday at the behest of Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Minister of Foreign Affairs has given a strong message to the public against littering the deserts.

"The volunteers have cleaned up a small part of the desert today but the relevance of the campaign goes beyond this," said Mohammad Al Maskary, 30, an Emirati manager.

The campaign attained wide publicity and attention which will help create awareness against littering in the desert, he said.

He spoke to Gulf News on the sidelines of the clean-up activities as part of the campaign in a desert location at Al Khatem on Abu Dhabi-Dubai highway, about 100km away from Abu Dhabi city.

About 500 volunteers, Emiratis and expatriates, attended the campaign at Al Khateb, said Saud Al Hattali of Takatof, which organised the campaign.

Takatof is a voluntary social programme, designed by the Emirates Foundation to create a culture of volunteering throughout the UAE. Most of the volunteers drove from Abu Dhabi city in the afternoon with their family members.

They said they usually spent their Fridays being entertained but participating in the campaign was worth it. "I used to drive to Dubai Mall for any entertainment activities on Friday but I found this more important," Ali Habeeb, 20, an Emirati student at the UAE University said. Adnan Abdul Rahman, 16, an Emirati student said he and his my family members and friends used to visit the deserts in Al Khatem to camp during the winter.

"I am sure people who participated in or heard of this campaign will think twice before throwing their waste into the desert while camping," he said.

The members of Sanid, the national emergency response voluntary organisation which reports to Takatof, made the arrangements for the safety of the volunteers at the site.

"Everything was smooth and people did the clean-up in a disciplined manner," said Dr Humaid Al Kendi, a team leader at Sanid.

Mohammad Tyseer, 50, a Syrian engineer and Mohammad Radwan, 35 an Egyptian accountant who came with their wives and children said they were happy to spend their time and efforts for a good cause. It is something for this country, they said.

View the original article here

Is Egypt biting the hand that feeds it?


Pro-democracy activists on criminal charges of fomenting unrest. Warnings of conspiracies to "topple the state". The American University in Cairo labelled a tool of the United States to weaken Egypt. These are part of the explosive mix of policies and rhetoric in Egypt a year after the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak.

Egypt appears to be fast abandoning decades of friendship with the US and the West and returning to the radicalism of the early years of military rule in the 1950s and 1960s.

The generals who replaced Mubarak are spearheading the campaign, particularly against the US.

Many view it as counterproductive, given that the military has benefited greatly from Cairo's strategic relationship with Washington, with $1.3 billion (Dh4.77bn) a year in aid.

The anti-West campaign has now prompted Washington to threaten to cut off aid to Egypt altogether.

Last week, Egypt referred 43 people, including at least 16 Americans, to a criminal court for trial on charges of illegally receiving foreign funds and using the money to foment unrest.

The son of the US transport secretary, Ray LaHood, is among those referred to court. Sam LaHood, head of the Egyptian office of the US-funded International Republican Institute, a non-profit that promotes democratisation efforts, has taken refuge in the US Embassy in Cairo. Mr LaHood, 36, and others referred to court are banned from travelling abroad.

Secular groups credited with engineering the removal of Mubarak want the generals to step down immediately, and not wait until the planned July 1 handover to an elected civilian government. They accuse the generals of bungling the transition, committing gross human-rights violations, of being beholden to Mubarak and not doing enough to dismantle the legacy of his 29-year rule.

Playing the patriotism card resonates in Egypt, where many people are suspicious of foreigners and see a hidden agenda in any move by the West. The generals realise that and are using these sentiments against their domestic opponents.

The generals have used the state media to discredit the pro-reform groups, exploited popular discontent with the continuing unrest since Mubarak's was toppled to demonise activists and built an image of themselves as the nation's only true patriots.

Many Egyptians, longing for stability after a year of turmoil, are buying into the military-inspired propaganda but the activists remain hopeful that what they see as the military's many political missteps and blunders will be enough to turn the people against them.

But manufacturing a quarrel with the US to serve domestic goals is a risky business. Washington could freeze the $1.3bn in military aid and $250 million in economic assistance if the crisis with the non-profit groups is not resolved. A move like that would hurt the military, even if the freeze is temporary, but it is by no means something it cannot survive. It is a small price to pay if the ploy works and the military is able to preserve 60 years of domination, privileges and near complete immunity from civilian oversight while its critics are discredited, isolated and unable to mount a serious challenge.

After all, missing the $1.3bn for a year or even longer would not pose immediate problems. Egypt is not at war with anyone.

The crisis is no small matter, especially since it now involves criminal charges against the son of a member of Barack Obama's cabinet. It could also harm Egypt's negotiations with the International Monetary Fund to secure a loan.

The two investigating judges in charge of the case held a news conference last Wednesday to reveal the details of the case against the non-profit organisations. It is a weak one. They said a map of Egypt found in one of the group's offices was evidence against it. They said the map had Egypt divided into four sections and that it was marked by letters in English. The state media, now as pro-military as it was under Mubarak, took that to mean a plan to break up Egypt. The judges also said cash had been found in the NGO offices and casually mentioned photos of churches and military facilities taken by their employees.

They said workers for the NGOs conducted opinion polls that involved questions about religion, presenting this as breaking the law or sowing divisions among the nation's majority Muslims and its Christian minority. In fact, Egypt lists the religion of its citizens on official ID cards.

In a statement on the eve of the anniversary of Mubarak's downfall, the generals warned against conspiracies that seek to topple the state and spread chaos.

The statement did not say who might be behind the plots and what motive they might have.

View the original article here

Sharjah Media Centre Announces Two-Day Agenda for First Government Communication Forum


The first Government Communication Forum to be held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qassimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, will seek to benchmark the emirate’s government communication standards against global best practices and examine ways for infusing fresh methodologies into the communication mechanism among government departments in Sharjah.

The forum’s objective is in line with the overarching mandate of Sharjah Media Centre, the communications arm of the Sharjah government and the organisers of the two-day event.

Scheduled to be held from 26-27 February at Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, theGovernment Communication Forumwill witness dignitaries and experts in government communication as well as top-tier regional and international media headlining the workshops and panel discussions.Dato Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, former Prime Minister of Malaysia, will deliver thekeynote speech during the opening session of the forum.

The first ‘Government Communication Forum’ will include eight sessions and two workshops. Globally accredited certificates will be given away to participants of the workshopscomprising mid-managerial executives from the Sharjah government departments.

Osama Samra, Director, Sharjah Media Centre, said: “The first edition of theforum willdeliberate upon a series of topics that focus on best practices for upgrading intra-departmental as well as external communication among government entities in Sharjah. Towards this purpose, the forum will highlight the latest tools, skills and applications topractitioners and professionals, besidesofferinggovernment institutions in Sharjahwith a guideline for improving its standards."

Day-1 of the Government Communication Forum will open with a sessionon ‘Management of Risks and Crisis in Government Media Communications’ that will include panelistsDr. Nabil Al Khatib, Executive News Director at Al Arabiya, and Brad Staples, President of APCO International, Chair of Global Development. In addition to outlining the strategies and mechanisms for risk analysis and crisis, the two industry thought-leaders will analyse best ways to build an integrated risk management system as a proactive approach to managing risks. The session will also tackle participants’ professional skills in crisis management and throw light on how to transform potential crises into real opportunities.

Dr Nabil Al-Sharif, Member of the Jordanian Senate, and Dr. RaficChlala, former Press Advisor to Presidential Office, Government of Lebanon, will lead the second session on ‘Spokespersons in Government Institutions – Fundamentals and Skills’. Substantiating their viewpoints with case studies and real-time experiences,the experts will underline the competencies required for communication practitioners and reiterate the importance of continuous training for the purpose ofstepping up the quality of government services.

Dr. Ahmad Al Dbeiban, Plenipotentiary Minister of the Secretariat General for the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, and Firas Al-Khatib, Media, PR and Information Officer, UNESCO, Beirut Office, will headline the third session on the opening day of the forum. Titled ‘Coordination Strategies of Communication Efforts among Government Institutions’, the distinguished speakerswill address decision makers in governmental departments and reviewinternational communication models that meet the gap forspeed, quantity and accuracy, as well as ensure seamless coordination between organizational units.

Samir Al-Baha’i, Policy and Government Affairs Manager of MENA at Google, will talk about the future of ‘Digital Media in the Government Sector’during the fourth session. The session comes at a time whenindustry experts are expecting digital content to be responsible for 17 per cent of the total media spending (around US$1.4 billion) in the UAE. Digital commercial ads are expected to increase by 3per cent to 5 per cent and reach 22 per cent of total commercials by early next year. Against such projections, the session will highlight the use of social media outlets and e-commerce practices as well as analyse emerging trends in the sector.

The first day of the forum will conclude with a workshop led by international trainer Arwell Owen. The segment will focus on ‘Skills of Dealing with Media for Senior Officials and Heads of Institutions’. It will primarily examine how public sector employees can develop their media-relationship skills. It will also look at best practices for building synergy with regional and global business leaders for the purpose of enhancing the government’s image and manage its reputation.

The second day of the Government Communication Forum will also host four sessions. The agendawill kick-off with a segment on ‘Case Study of the Governmental Awareness Campaigns in the US and UK’. Sue Wolstenholme, elected president of 2013 for CIPR, UK, and Gerard Francis, CEO of the Public Relations Society of America, will lead this session.

IlkerAyci, President of Investment Support and Promotion Agency of Turkey (ISPAT), and His Excellency Abdul Qadir AlSheikh, Minister of Information, Malaysia, will take the podium in the second session. Both speakers will share Turkey and Malaysia’s experience in developing the government media sector.

Turki Al-Dakhil, founder and owner of Dubai-based Al Mesbar research and study centre, along with ZavenKouyoumdjian, Lebanese TV celebrity, talk show host and producer of acclaimedprogramme ‘SiréeWenfatahet’, will highlight the ‘Role of Broadcast Media in Supporting Government Institutions’ Vision of Social Development’ during the third session on day-two of the event.

‘The Role of Caricatures in Correcting Misconceptions and Raising Levels of Awareness’ will be discussed during the fourth session that will draw out the perspectives of OmayaJuha, Chairman of Juhatoon, Rasha Mahdi, Egypt’s first female cartoonist, and EmadHajjaj,well-known cartoonist in Jordan and the Middle East.

Nicolas Georges, Founder of Reputation Institute, will host aworkshop on ‘Organizing the Government’s Image and Managing its Reputation’. This session will conclude the forum’s agenda on the second day and bring the two-day event to a close.

View the original article here

Green idea: Tinted solution


DUBAI: Use of solar control window films in homes and offices can help residents save energy and bring down electricity bills by 15-30 per cent, a Dubai-based "green thinker" claims.

Gavin Bannerman, from the UK, who has installed solar control window films in 109 homes and offices in the last one year, said: "Air-conditioning in our homes accounts for 70 per cent of energy bills. Outside temperatures here crossed 40 degrees Celsius and put a huge load on our air-cooling units which we normally turn on 24 hours a day. This in turn has a huge effect on our energy bills."

He said window films help reduce the amount of solar energy transmitted into a room through glass windows and doors by rejecting both visible and infrared light. The majority of window films also block 99 per cent of ultra-violet light believed to be the main cause of skin cancer.

"With the reduced amount of solar energy comes a reduced load of work for the air-conditioning unit. The film reduces temperatures by 2-3 degrees and the air-conditioning unit doesn't have to work as hard. It not only keeps the heat out but retains the cool air, making the air-conditioner's job easier," said Bannerman.

"In terms of savings, the reduced workload means less power (kW/h) required to run the air-conditioning unit which, in turn, impacts the electricity bill and carbon footprint," he said.

He said villa and apartment owners in new Dubai areas are successfully controlling hot spots and sun-drenched areas in their homes by installing window films. The cost of installing the films is Dh160 to Dh180 per square metre, depending on the type of the film.

"The films are durable and can last for 30-40 years. In fact, they come with a lifetime warranty," said Bannerman of Laminas who supplies and installs the films.

Use of window films helps:

Reduce heat

Save energy

Reject glare

Block UV rays

View the original article here

Sharjah Media Centre Launches Government Communication Forum to Benchmark Media Best Practices against Global Standards


369 truckers fined for traffic violations


Sharjah: Police have fined as many as 369 truckers during the last month for violating traffic rules along highways and other roads in Sharjah.

Sharjah Police issued the traffic fines during a campaign that was held from January 19 to February 2 against heavy vehicles and trucks that violated traffic rules.

"The drivers were fined because their trucks did not have tyres fit for the roads and whose tail lights were not working properly," said an official at Sharjah Police.


Trucks found flouting federal traffic rules were fined. Other offences include driving in foggy conditions without using dim lights and not renewing the vehicle's registration after it has expired, in addition to overloading their vehicle and not renewing their driver's licence.

Sharjah Police will carry out the traffic campaign throughout the year and will target several areas of the city where trucks and heavy vehicles frequently pass through, including Emirates Road and Bypass Road.

View the original article here

Greek MPs debate austerity measures as police battle anarchists in Athens


The National Associated Press


ATHENS // Anarchists and police fought running battles in central Athens yesterday as Greek politicians debated legislation to introduce severe austerity measures and stave off bankruptcy.

The clashes broke out in the early evening as tens of thousands of people, responding to calls from unions to protest against the measures, streamed into Syntagma Square facing Parliament.

Peaceful protesters fled to adjacent streets as anarchists threw bottles, rocks, pieces of marble and Molotov cocktails at police, who responded with tear gas and stun grenades.

Among those affected by the tear gas were the well-known composer Mikis Theodorakis, 86, and the veteran leftist politician Manolis Glezos, 89.

The two have been actively campaigning against Greece accepting a €130 billion (Dh629.7bn) bailout from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund that would help Greece to avoid bankruptcy, which could occur as early as next month when a €14.5bn bond matures.

The legislation will also approve a bond-swap deal with private creditors allowing Greece to shave off at least €100bn of its €360bn debt.

An ambulance picked up two injured people from the square. At least two more injuries have been reported, including a photographer who was hit by a firebomb and flare.

The debate started a few hours before the protests began and was expected to go long into the night. At the start of the meeting, opponents of the legislation made frequent, loud interruptions, but they calmed down by mid-evening.

Tens of thousands of protesters gathered in the square outside Parliament as the debate began, with more arriving constantly.

At the same time, communist-affiliated unions held a separate meeting and started marching to Parliament before halting as the clashes broke out.

Police feared more violence would break out if the communists and anarchists met, and tried to keep them apart. Authorities have deployed 6,000 policemen in the city centre.

Pro-communist unionists had earlier driven through the neighbourhoods of Athens, calling for people to join the demonstration. Protesters were expected to remain outside the building throughout the vote.

The two parties backing the coalition government have 236 deputies in the 300-member Parliament, but at least 13 conservative and seven Socialist politicians have declared they will vote against the legislation, defying their leaders' threats of sanctions.

Early yesterday, a conservative politician resigned after three Socialists did the same this week.

Greece does not have the money to cover the €14.5bn bond repayment due on March 20, and must reach a debt-relief deal with private bond investors before then.

Greece's woes have threatened its future in the 17-country zone that uses the euro currency. The Europeans are waiting to see if Greece finally acts on its commitments.

The German finance minister, Wolfgang Schaeuble, was quoted as telling the Welt am Sonntag newspaper yesterday that Greece "cannot be a bottomless pit".

"That's why the Greeks must finally put a bottom in," Mr Schaeuble said. "Then we can put something in too."

View the original article here

Even More Shopping Choices And Value-Added Discounts At Sharjah City Centre


Known for smart shopping optionswith a year-round calendar of innovative campaigns and value-added discounts and deals, Sharjah City Centre is set to launch its first Sidewalk sale of the year – a popular event with shoppers and retailers – in addition to welcoming a number of new, accessible brands and convenient services.

Set to take place from February 10th – February 14th, shoppers visiting the mall will be treated with discounts up to 75% from over 40 trusted brands by creating an exciting ‘market-type’ atmosphere. From the latest fashion and beauty brands, to state-of-the-art homewares and electronic gadgets, customers can easily choose their (discounted) item of choice from this year’s first ‘sidewalk sale style’ displays outside each store. Fittingly named ‘Love Affair with Shopping’, shoppers can be smart by taking advantage of deals, seasonal products and packaged deals ranging from 25 to up to 75% off.

Moreover, in addition to the highly anticipatedsidewalk sale, Sharjah City Centre is expanding its retail offer and welcoming a number oftrust brands for shoppers. Chillaxxy, a frozen yoghurt specialist and Mom & Me – the specialty store providing products for mothers-to-be and essential day-to-day merchandisefor infants and toddlers have already opened its doors, with kids’ favourite:Lilliputand nuts and snacks specialist, Al Rifaidue to open soon. The UAE’s leading bank, Dubai Islamic Bank is also scheduled to open – providing customers with convenient banking services, seven days a week.

“Due to our community’s on-going support, we are privileged to be in a position where we can evolve with our customers”, said Anna Mansour, Senior Mall Manager for Sharjah City Centre. “At Sharjah City Centre we strive to meet the individual needs of our growing customer base, while ensuring we continuously provide convenient, value-orientated brands and services, as well as significant discounts and deals – the true essence of ‘Smart Shopping’.

View the original article here

Dubai is the first city in the Middle-East to complete the EMRAM survey

WAM Dubai, 12th Feb. 2012 (WAM): The Dubai Health Authority and HIMSS (Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) announced today the results of the survey which determines the electronic efficiency of hospitals in the Emirate of Dubai.

The in-depth survey, which was carried out for the first time in the Middle East region, involved surveying 21 private and four public hospitals in Dubai to determine to what extent hospitals use digital technology and whether they have a paperless environment.

The survey is the first step in the DHA's long term aim to ensure all hospitals in the Emirate of Dubai eventually adopt the electronic model which will facilitate the provision of better healthcare services to the community.

Laila Al Jassmi, CEO of Health Policy and Strategy at the DHA said, "The e-Health Section at the Health Policy and Strategy Sector spearheaded the deployment of the survey in association with the HIMSS Analytics Office in Singapore. The DHA intends to deploy the survey annually to guide Dubai Health Authority on how to best assess the health IT landscape in the Emirate of Dubai." The eventual aim for the Emirate of Dubai is to ensure all hospitals follow the electronic model, said Al Jassmi.

The survey was carried out using the EMRAM (Electronic Medical Record Adoption Model) system for the Middle-East region. EMRAM stands for: Electronic Medical Record Adoption Model and is accepted today world-wide as an international benchmark to stage hospital's electronic efforts.

John Hoyt, Executive Vice President, HIMSS Analytics, USA said, "Due to the completion of this survey, hospitals in Dubai are now in a better position to compare themselves to other hospitals in terms of how paperless they are. The survey also helps hospitals get a complete picture of their current spending and highlights the cost-efficiency if they were to adopt a paperless environment.

"There are several advantages of being a paperless hospital. Today, information systems in hospitals have a tremendous capability to help improve quality, safety and efficiency. Adopting a paperless environment leads to a reduction in medication errors, reduction in process time, increases patient and family satisfaction and increases nursing satisfaction." Dr Mohammad Al Redha, Acting Director, Health Data and Information Analysis Department, Health Policy and Strategy Sector, Dubai Health Authority said, "Introducing electronic information systems in hospitals helps doctors respond to investigation results immediately, which effectively means patients are treated sooner and that in itself is a significant benefit." Dr Redha highlighted the results of the survey and said, "We adopted the EMRAM model which uses a 0-7 stage scale to rate hospitals based on the extent to which they have adopted a paperless, digital system. Stage 7 means the hospital is a paperless and digital hospital.

"Our results showed that, 23 hospitals in Dubai (39.1%) are at the beginning of their EMR journey at stage 1. Another 30.4% are at stage 2. Few hospitals are at stages 3 and 4. However, no hospital was awarded stage 5, 6 or 7.

More than a fifth of the hospitals in Dubai (21.7%) are not on an Electronic Medical Records track. " Dr Redha concluded the results of the survey and said, "This means that almost 70% of the hospitals in Dubai are at the early stages of EMRAM (Stages 1 '&' 2) and therefore more efforts are required to encourage public and private healthcare facilities to attain desirable, higher levels of IT adoption to improve patient safety and provide quality care." Dr Redha said that this survey will help the DHA in its long terms plans for developing the necessary standards for implementing and managing the health information systems in the Emirate. "The ultimate aim of DHA's eHealth goal is to improve the quality, efficiency and safety of clinical care by making relevant health information conveniently accessible to patients and authorized care providers within the Emirate of Dubai. We will use the EMR Adoption Model Score(s) to identify the gaps in Dubai's health care system's health information technology development and determine the most appropriate initiatives including budgeting, policies and strategies to assist hospitals develop health IT systems and achieve a paperless environment." WAM/TF

View the original article here

Sharjah Museums Department Receives Fr�d�ric Mitterrand At Sharjah Museum Of Islamic Civilization


Sharjah Museums Department (SMD) on Saturday received French Minister of Culture His Excellency Frédéric Mitterrand, who was accompanied by a high-level delegation, at the Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization (SMIC).

The French minister of culture is the cabinet member in charge of the national museums, monuments and promoting and protecting the arts. He was accompanied by a large delegation that included HE French Consul General Jerald Telm and a number of French dignitaries. He was received by His Excellency Abdul Rahman Al Owais, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development, Abdullah Al Owais, president of the Department of Culture and Information and Ms. Manal Ataya, Director General of Sharjah Museums Department and the curator of Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization.

The visit is an important step for the French minister to familiarize himself with all the cultural institutions in the UAE and the visit to Sharjah recognizes the longstanding reputation of Sharjah as the cultural capital. As per the vision of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Ruler of Sharjah, the emirate has cultivated the culture and arts scene for over 20 years, including the more recent establishment of SMD that manages over 16 museums in Sharjah that cover a variety of disciplines including, contemporary art, heritage, archeology, Islamic art and history, children’s learning, science, calligraphy to name a few. Lead by Ms. Manal Ataya, the DG of SMD, the museums sector has flourished, opening new museums, supporting educational institutions, initiating innovative outreach and community programs and developing new projects as part of its 5 year strategic plan. SMD will organize in 2 years time with other cultural entities exciting programming as the emirate proudly celebrates Sharjah as “Capital of Islamic Culture for 2014”.

The minister and his delegation were taken on a tour of the museums numerous galleries which feature more than 5,000 precious artifacts & collections from all over the Islamic World that date back to various Islamic ages spanning 1,400 years. The collection was gifted by His Highness Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah when the museum opened in 2008. He was also given a brief on the educational programs and workshops organized by the Museum with the aim of enhancing learning for all as part of their accessibility initiative. Moreover, he was briefed on the upcoming exhibtion program for the museum which includes the “Owen Jones: Islamic Design, Discovery and Vision” exhibition from the Victoria & Albert Museum, UK opening mid March 2012 at Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization.

Highlighting the importance of the visit, Manal Ataya, SMD Director General, said:" We are honored to welcome the French cultural minister to the Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization as it reflects the cultural value and the status the museum occupies on an international level, as well as the importance we place on dialogue and cultural exchange we strive for to raise greater awareness on the richness of islamic thought, art and culture."

The French minister and his delegation expressed their gratitude after the visit as it contributed significantly to enhancing their knowledge about cultural activities in Sharjah and the UAE in general. His Excellency Frédéric Mitterrand, said on the occasion that he specifically asked to visit this museum for the reputation it holds as one of the 3 most important Islamic museum collections in the Gulf Region. He praised the museum and thanked His Highness Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi for his generous hospitality and visionary dedication to supporting cultural heritage and the arts.

View the original article here

Reader’s issue resolved


Payment excess
I have been holding an Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB) credit card since 2009. In June 2011, I lost my card when my wallet was stolen while travelling. At the time, instead of requesting a duplicate card, I decided to cancel the card itself as the bank charges had been too high.
When I called the call centre, they informed me that I had to pay a certain amount to clear the balance on the card. I informed them that this amount was higher than my last credit card statement, but they assured me that this was because of interest rates that may have come in. Accordingly, I paid the due amount to the bank and cancelled my ADCB card.
Since July 2011, when I cancelled my card, I have received two statements. Both statements have shown an excess amount of Dh16.91 on my card. When I called the call centre to resolve this matter and to enquire how I could get the extra amount back, their solution was I should pay an amount of Dh75, and then they would prepare a draft for the said amount and mail it to me.
I explained to them repeatedly that the amount due to me is Dh16.91, so by that logic why would I pay Dh75 to get this amount back, which, by the way, rightfully belongs to me and was paid to them because they asked me to? To this, the explanation I got from the customer service agent was that the bank usually informs the customers to pay a higher amount to close their cards as they have “no idea” how much the interest charges would be. And if there is any excess amount left, then this is the only way to get it. I even offered to go to the branch in Al Rigga to collect the money in cash as I had cleared my balance in cash, but they did not accept that.
So, now the only way I can get my money back is if I pay a higher amount. Logically I will not do it, so the only other option in front of me is to forget about the Dh17 and give it to the bank. If it was the other way round, if I owed the bank Dh17, they would keep putting interest upon interest until I paid up both the interest and the initial amount. I would much appreciate any help I can get in resolving this matter, as there is no other way of getting through to the credit card division of ADCB.
From Ms Kavita D’silva

The management of ADCB responds:
Please be advised that our customers are important to us and to enable problem solving for them, we have devoted a Service Quality Unit that handles all customers’ issues and complaints. Our customers are free to contact us on the Toll Free number at 800 2030; or call collect +97126210090 from outside UAE; or they can visit our website ( from where they will be able to log their complaints, commendation or suggestions. Please advise readers/complainants to contact us through these available channels.
Please note that the issue has been investigated and resolved. The customer has been contacted and informed of our feedback and the case is now closed.

Ms D’silva responds:
I would like to thank Gulf News for their help in resolving this matter. It was amazing to get an immediate response to my mail from Gulf News and then to receive a resolution of matters from ADCB. Earlier, despite several attempts, I had been unable to get a satisfactory response from the ADCB customer service number as listed by them. But after Gulf News’ intervention and help the matter was resolved and ADCB transferred the money owed to me to my account. This is indeed a much-needed service that Gulf News is providing to us readers.

Editor’s note: If you have similar consumer complaints and wish to raise them with
the newspaper, write to us via email at

View the original article here

RECEPTIONIST cum TYPIST - Bukhatir Group - Sharjah

Our Interior Design and Furniture Fit-outs company is looking for a promising candidate to fill the vacancy:

- Incumbent will directly report to the General Manager.

- Qualification Required: Bachelor / Diploma in any discipline

- Minimum Experience Required: 2 years

- Main responsibilities include telephone operation, basic administration and letter typing.

- Fluency in English and Hindi is a must.

View the original article here

The 17 Indians may return home soon


Sharjah: The Sharjah Appeals Court on Wednesday sentenced 17 Indian men involved in the bootlegging-and-murder case to six months in jail, paving the way for their deportation soon, their lawyer said.

The sentence comes in the wake of fresh charges of bootlegging that were slapped against the men in January, although the death sentence imposed on them for the murder of a Pakistani man, Misri Khan, was commuted in September.

Bindu Chettur, Defence Lawyer, Mohammad Salman Advocates & Legal Consultants, told XPRESS that the 17 men have already served their six-month terms.

The men have been in jail since 2009 for the murder of Khan and for assaulting three others during a bootlegging fight in the Al Sajja labour camp off the Sharjah-Dhaid Road.

"They have been in jail for more than two years and six months for bootlegging and murder. The judgement was pronounced in the judge's chamber today and we are waiting for the details of the verdict," she said.

The civil case against the 17 Indians, in which two men have sought compensation for injuries sustained in the bootlegging brawl, is scheduled for February 15.

The court is expected to examine the degree of disability of the injured and decide the future course of action.

Total tally

Of the 61 Indians accused in cases of bootlegging-murder in Dubai, Sharjah and Ajman, all but three have escaped the death penalty or life imprisonment, with 25 having returned home in the last few months and the remainder serving commuted terms.

A tally of the cases shows that the three Indians still facing the death sentence are Sandeep Singh for the murder of Mandeep Singh in Sharjah in 2007 and Major Singh and Amarjit Singh for the murder of three South Indians in Dubai in 2010.

The 17 Indians who were sentenced to six months in jail on Wednesday by the Sharjah Appeals Court were earlier sentenced to death but the sentence was commuted after the family of murder victim Khan was paid Dh3.4 million in blood money.

Once the civil case in which two of the injured are seeking compensation is settled, this group, who are now cleared of criminal charges, will be able to return to India as they have served their term in prison.

"We are only waiting for the court's orders," said S.P. Singh Oberoi, the Dubai-based businessman who paid their diya money and will provide their air tickets back to India.

He said compromise settlements with victims' families in other cases have already enabled 25 Indians to return to their homes in Punjab.

While two Indians, whose case is in Ajman, are still under trial, the remaining lot are in Dubai jail, serving 15 to 40 years.

View the original article here

Farmers to be taught techniques to improve yield


Abu Dhabi: Farmers are being taught new techniques to increase productivity, which will help reduce the price of vegetables, the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA) said.

The techniques include grafting methods for a wide range of vegetables and controlling various diseases and pests, said Saeed Jasem Mohammad, acting director of communication at ADFCA.

About 20 officials in various agricultural institutions have been trained in these techniques and they will train farmers on the field.

The Research and Development Division of ADFCA, in cooperation with the World Vegetable Centre, organised a training workshop on grafting methods at the authority's research station located in Al Ain.

The workshop provided important instructions on the advantages of grafting, technical details for implementing the technology, and hands-on training on how to graft tomatoes, eggplant, pepper, cucumber, pumpkin, watermelon, bitter gourd, bottle gourd and some other vegetables.


Grafting specialist Wu Deng-lin and technology dissemination specialist of the World Vegetable Centre Dr Gregory C. Luther also demonstrated the different techniques.

Following the training course, ADFCA's Research and Development Division is planning to conduct studies on using local plants as rootstock for higher vegetable production.

These plants may be able to resist drought and high temperatures on the one hand and diseases on the other.

Rootstock is the root or part of a root used for plant propagation.

Source of support

The Research and Development Division conducts research into food and agriculture and serves as a principal source of support to develop technical work in ADFCA's various sectors.

The division conducts and oversees applied scientific research for improving productivity and guaranteeing food safety, and improving agriculture and animal wealth.

It also contributes to technology transfer in line with the requirements of the emirate to raise the bar on food safety and agriculture.

There are four research stations — two in Al Ain (Al Salamat and Al Kuwaitat), one in Bani Yas and another one in the Western Region.

View the original article here

School's educators put their money where their belief is


SHARJAH // Nasra Saif continues with the day's lesson at Al Andulus School, despite the noise of drilling and hammering coming from outside her classroom.

The children are learning the Arabic phonetic letter 'waw', which is not unlike the English letter W.

Ms Saif points to a computer presentation and asks the girls to come to the front of the class and identify the images and words that use the letter.

"Who can come and circle 'waw' in this sentence?" the teacher asks.

Ghalia Maher, 6, reluctantly points out the right letter.

"Aiwa [yes]," Ms Saif applauds.

The pupils will have to tolerate the noise for a few more months before they can fully appreciate the modern environment their principal, Mariam Abdulla, is trying to create.

Ms Abdulla is sparing no effort to ensure the children have the best to enable them to follow the Madares Al Ghad (Mag) curriculum, which was introduced in 2007.

"This year I need to change all the classroom desks, replace the unsafe toilets and improve the play areas," she says.

But with the limited annual operational budget provided by the Government, such changes were not possible.

Ms Abdulla has already pitched in Dh10,000 from her own pocket for this: "It's fine. After all, it is my school."

The Mag curriculum, which focuses on bilingual education, uses technology and resources to enhance the learning experience.

But without support to implement the necessary changes, many principals say the programme will not improve performance.

At Al Andalus, however, teachers are determined to make the best use of what they have and are encouraged by the steady results.

Eman Salim, the Islamic-studies teacher, has decorated her classroom to look like a mosque.

"This way the children understand the lesson better," Ms Salim says.

Her personal expense for the fixtures, carpets, furniture and books for the room was Dh5,000.

"I know the children like studying Islamic here because it feels like a mosque," Ms Salim says.

Her colleague Najla Ibrahim, a Grade 3 teacher, says it is more fun teaching the children now.

"We take them to the garden, do puppet shows, presentations … it keeps them interested," Ms Ibrahim says.

Amna Abdul Razzaq, the supervisor of school facilities, says more needs to be done but what they had already achieved was yielding great results.

"If I compare, before there was no discipline in the school and it wasn't so neat either," Ms Abdul Razzaq says. "We weren't using the computer and teachers were not using internet resources like Google for lessons. The real results show in the pupils' performance."

View the original article here

Restaurateur in Abu Dhabi found dead in flat


Abu Dhabi: A restaurant owner in Abu Dhabi committed suicide by hanging himself from the ceiling fan in his bedroom, Abu Dhabi Police told Gulf News on Thursday.

K.A. Abdul Gafour, 59, the owner of Mughal Restaurant in the Madinat Zayed area in the capital was found dead in his flat directly above the restaurant on Wednesday evening. He hailed from India's southern state of Kerala.

My brother looked pleasant as usual when I last met him Tuesday night. I still can't believe that he took such a drastic step

K.A Basheer, victim's younger brother

"My brother looked pleasant as usual when I last met him Tuesday night. I still can't believe that he took such a drastic step," K.A Basheer, 47, Gafour's younger brother, who also worked in the same restaurant, told Gulf News on Thursday.

Unanswered calls

Basheer said Gafour neither came to the restaurant nor answered phone calls on Wednesday. "We thought he would be busy as he has a wide social network and always visits friends and acquaintances," he said.

Gafour's bedroom was found locked. Basheer said he opened the room with a spare key and was shocked to find his brother hanging from the ceiling fan.

"I immediately called up colleagues and friends who called up the police," he said.

Abu Dhabi Police added that the reasons behind the suicide are not yet known but did not report anything suspicious about the incident. Investigations are continuing to get to the bottom of the incident, Colonel Ebrahim Al Za'abi of Abu Dhabi Police said in a statement issued to Gulf News.

Gafour's body has been moved to the Preventive Medicine Department at Shaikh Khalifa Medical City for further procedures, Col. Al Za'abi said.

Call to community

The official called on troubled members of the community to approach relevant institutions in the UAE which could help solve their problems. "There are mechanisms to protect the UAE community from drastic incidents that are against the ethics and traditions of the community, Islamic teachings and social values that we hold dear."

Basheer said Gafour had not left a suicide note or any other hint about the circumstances that made him take the extreme step. "He was the one who extended courage and support to all around him whenever they were in a crisis," he said.

Gafour came to the UAE about 40 years ago by a boat and worked as an ordinary worker before starting his own restaurant in 1981, Basheer said. "He was a self-built man."

Gafour is survived by his wife and three children — two boys and a daughter who are studying in India.

View the original article here

Rules call for Abu Dhabi buildings to be clutter-free


Abu Dhabi: Building facades across the emirate of Abu Dhabi will soon become free of clutter following a set of guidelines that call for improved store signs and tidier shopfronts.

The guidelines, which were announced by the Urban Planning Council (UPC) in association with the Department of Economic Development (DED), specify details such as where commercial signs can be placed on buildings, and also prohibit commercial mechanical equipment from being stored in public spaces.

"Interesting architectural elements of a building will no longer be overshadowed by signage and equipment when these regulations are implemented," said Amer Al Hammadi, director of planning and infrastructure at the UPC.

"The standards and consistency of all permanent commercial signs in the emirate will also be improved," he added.

The sign regulations are part of the UPC's Urban Street Design Manual. They will be implemented in the emirate by the DED and the Municipality of Abu Dhabi City, although officials have not yet revealed the time frame for their implementation.


Explaining some of the elements of the directive, Al Hammadi said store owners would be prevented from covering up shopfront windows with any kind of signs or advertisements.

"This will not only help improve the appearance of buildings and the public spaces in front of them, but also enhance store security by allowing for easier surveillance from inside the shop," he said.

In addition, restaurants will be required to store equipment like gas cylinders inside their premises. "This will ‘declutter' public spaces, making them more pleasing to the eye," said Doug Giles, senior associate planner at the UPC.

A manual detailing these guidelines will soon be made available, he added.

Other actions prohibited in the regulations include displaying signs above mezzanine floor level.

In addition, commercial establishments will also be prevented from advertising third-party brands or products.

"This means that a grocery store, for instance, cannot advertise a soft drink on its store sign," Giles said.

View the original article here

AC does it: Cooling bill raises heat


DUBAI: Air conditioning bills are usually directly proportional to the weather. As the mercury comes down, one would expect the cooling bills to come down too. But in The Gardens the opposite happened.

From Dh662 in November 2011, Briton Nahraan Suzy Dillon's bills jumped to Dh1,449 in nippy December when temperatures in Dubai were hovering around 16 degrees Celsius.

Horrified by the 118 per cent increase, Dillon has joined a chorus of Dubai residents fuming over the ‘obscure calculation' of the cooling charges.

Dillon, who lives in a three-bedroom apartment in The Gardens, also owns a one-bedroom unit in Discovery Gardens.

Here too the cooling charges spiked sharply. She was billed a total of Dh3,771.68 for nine months from January 1, 2010 to September 30, 2010 - an average of Dh419 per month. But for the same period the following year, she was billed Dh6,379 - or about Dh530 per month.

"The pro-rata hike in charges is around 70 per cent. These bills are for the winter months when practically there has been no use of air-conditioners. I live alone and have a full-time job, there is absolutely no reason for such high increase in bills," she said.

Residents in other communities are also losing their cool over steep district cooling rates.

Mohammad Metwally, Chairman, Interim Owners Association (IOA) at Al Seef Tower 2 in Jumeirah Lakes Towers (JLT), said: "For our building, we have seen a 50 per cent increase in cooling charges in 2011 compared to 2010. We are still finalising the audit for last year, but I can say that we have incurred an operating loss due to this massive hike."

He said additional capacity charges have increased the burden for district cooling consumers.

He called for the government to regulate the industry to protect consumers. "We need a regulatory body to monitor rates [charged] on customers. The body must review and approve contracts to ensure a balance between utility companies and consumers' interests."

View the original article here

Blacklist seeks to deter Emirati job aspirants from being fussy


Dubai: More than 800 unemployed Emiratis are currently on the Emirates National Development Programme (ENDP) database blacklist and will therefore not receive job search assistance for six months.

These numbers indicate a drastic increase in recent years in the number of unemployed nationals placed on the government organisation's blacklist. In 2009, Gulf News reported that the ENDP's new initiative saw more than 500 nationals placed on its blacklist in an attempt to deter job aspirant from being too choosy.

We didn't work heavily and continuously on changing the mentality of people about the importance of working in different sectors — specifically the private sector

Eisa Al Mulla, Executive Director of the ENDP

Eisa Al Mulla, Executive Director of the ENDP, said the increase is primarily due to a lack of awareness among nationals about the importance of employment. He also cited the increase as a consequence of the global recession due to the volume of UAE private sector cutbacks between 2008 and 2010.

"We [the government] didn't invest much into changing the mindset and promoting the different employment sectors to the market of job seekers," he said.

"We didn't work heavily and continuously on changing the mentality of people about the importance of working in different sectors — specifically the private sector."

He added, changing the mentality of nationals is often faced with cultural barriers that directly contribute to the unemployment among Emirati women who make up more than 500 of blacklisted candidates.

The ENDP essentially works to reduce Emirati unemployment by matching candidates to jobs either in the public or private sector. However, no show and unserious candidates, as well as those who reject job offers, after having been contacted by the ENDP six times, are then blacklisted for six months.

"The candidates are told very clearly that their name will be transferred to our blacklist and will no longer receive employment opportunities from us," said Al Mulla.

ENDP database figure show there are nearly 18,200 unemployed UAE nationals seeking employment through the Dubai government organisation — essentially a department of the Knowledge and Human Development Authority. However, Al Mulla said there are approximately 33,000 unemployed registered nationals across the country.

"The global recession somehow affected our market, which affected the number of Emiratis actively seeking work in the different sectors," he said. "There were lots of stories we heard about the private sector firing nationals and that made Emiratis think twice before joining the private sector."

He added, however, 2011 saw a downturn trend as figures showed a drastic drop in the number of people added to the blacklist last year. Between 2008 and 2010 more than 750 nationals were blacklisted, with the highest number recorded in 2009 at the peak of the global recession. However, last year just 26 nationals were added to the blacklist — signifying a substantial drop.

"Nationals have started to realise they are losing chances to get employed because we at ENDP and other places are serious," he said. "Although, previously organisations like the Abu Dhabi Emiratisation Council may have had a more relaxed approach, they are following the same procedure we do." ENDP's main mandate is to reduce Emirati unemployment numbers across the country, with a focus on Dubai. The organisation is also working to increase the number of nationals employed in the private sector.

"The blacklist has had a positive impact on nationals," he said. "Although, percentage-wise they only make up 1 per cent of our job-seekers, these 853 nationals are important to us."

He added private and public sector partnerships are critical to tackling unemployment in the UAE.

"The private and public sectors need to work together for the benefit of the country, the city and the people, because whenever there is a problem or issue with unemployment it means an Arab Spring," he said.  853: Emiratis blacklisted by the Emirates National Development Programme752: Nationals blacklisted by ENDP between 2008 and 201033,000: unemployed Emiratis registered nationwide

View the original article here

Bahrain king dismisses opposition as disunited


MANAMA // Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa dismissed the country's opposition movement as disunited and said the threat of Iran had compelled him to call in foreign troops to halt last year's protests.

"In a sense there is no 'opposition' in Bahrain, as the phrase implies one unified block with the same views," the king said in extracts from an interview with Der Spiegel.

"Such a phrase is not in our constitution, unlike say the United Kingdom. We only have people with different views and that's OK," he said in the article to be published today.

Bahrainis took to the streets in February last year, inspired by the Arab Spring, and the government imposed martial law, stamping out the demonstrations the following month.

Demonstrations began again after emergency law was lifted in June and are escalating before the anniversary of the protests.

Mainly Shiite opposition parties are demanding Bahrain's elected parliament have the power to form governments. Shiites complain of political and economic marginalisation by an entrenched elite who do not want to share power. The government denies this and says it is open to reforms.

Washington says the government should enter a new dialogue with the opposition.

The king said he brought in emergency law to protect women and expatriates. "Also our women were very scared and it is the duty of a gentleman to protect women, so I had to protect them," he said.

Thirty-five people died by the time martial law ended, including protesters, police, Shiite detainees and foreigners.

The king told Der Spiegel he had called in Gulf Cooperation Council military help, mainly Saudi troops, to protect Bahrain's "strategic installations ... in case Iran would be more aggressive".

The government instituted reforms giving the elected chamber more powers of scrutiny over ministers and budgets.

View the original article here

Fujairah college students attend traffic court hearings


Dubai: Fujairah Men's College students are attending traffic court hearings as part of a special legal education course tailored to enhance their driving skills, knowledge and behaviour through acquainting them with the UAE's traffic law.

Dubai Public Prosecution and the Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT) launched this joint initiative, named ‘Legal Driving Course', in 2007 with the purpose of educating students about traffic laws and regulations and helping them develop their road behaviour and attitude in a serious effort to increase traffic awareness amongst youth, especially students.

"This course will educate 950 students. As part of the Legal Driving Course, students have been attending court hearings for suspects involved in traffic case. They also attend sessions along with traffic prosecutors while conducting investigations or taking witnesses' statements," said Senior Chief Traffic Prosecutor Salah Bu Farousha, Head of DubaiTraffic Public Prosecution.

The course is an educational, informative and legal project that is being conducted under the directives of Dubai's Attorney General Essam Eisa Al Humaidan and the acknowledgment of HCT's professors, said Bu Farousha.

"Through such a course, we intend to enlighten students and create more awareness ,especially acquainting them about the traffic law… the course is also meant to develop students' traffic behaviour and skills in an attempt to reduce accidents and road fatalities. HCT students are also constantly being familiarised with recent amendments in traffic laws and regulations. Students are being offered unique opportunities through familiarising them with case studies… in a way that they attend investigations and court hearings to be familiarized with the causes of dangerous accidents and learn how to avoid it," he said.

College students' age group is a ‘very sensitive and dangerous phase' that requires continuous awareness and education in terms of familiarizing them with traffic legal education and laws, he said.

"We exert tremendous efforts to acquaint students to traffic laws as it helps them increase their level of responsibility and attentiveness while driving. Persons tend to become better and safer drivers once they learn more about their obligations and rights of other road users. Hence they become more law-abiding drivers and avoid legal liability," said Bu Farousha.

Nearly 3770 HCT students in Dubai and Fujairah have benefited from the ‘Legal Driving Course' since 2007.

View the original article here

Sharjah Light Festival to enlighten heritage lovers

Feestival will shine spotlight on emirate's celebrated landmarks

By Mariam M. Al Serkal, Staff ReporterPublished: 00:00 February 10, 2012Gulf News
Image Credit: ATIQ-UR-REHMAN/Gulf NewsImage 1 of 9123456789

Sharjah: His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, on Thursday launched the second annual Sharjah Light Festival in Al Qasba.

Held at 12 locations across the emirate for nine days — running unitil next Friday — the festival will once again see international artists and European experts create the magic of lights and colours, while celebrating the cultural and architectural landmarks of Sharjah.

Hosted by the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority, the Light Festival brings together some of the best European artists and technical experts who combine the ancient art of storytelling with the modern technology of lighting and sound to enthral audiences.

All shows are free at the 12 locations across Sharjah.

Shows will be held from 7pm to midnight. The festival is the first of its kind in the Middle East.

The festival will once again turn the spotlight on Sharjah's celebrated landmarks, tourist attractions and Arab and Islamic heritage, as well as entertain both young and old UAE residents and international visitors.

All shows at the 12 locations across Sharjah will be free.Shows will be held from 7pm to midnight.The new locations that will host this year's festival include Al Qasba (Internal façade and External façade), Al Hisn Fort, Palm Oasis Front, Cultural Square, Al Majaz Waterfront, Al Majaz Mosque, the Courthouse, the Central Souq, Sharjah Consultative Council, Kuwait Square and Sharjah International Airport.

View the original article here

UAE is the cleanest country in the GCC


Dubai: The UAE has the cleanest environment in the GCC and it achieved this status within a short period of time, according to the World Environmental Performance Index (EPI) released recently.

The biennial survey, carried out by the prestigious Yale University in collaboration with Columbia University, ranks countries from across the world based on 22 performance indicators in ten policy categories.

This year, only 132 countries made the cut, with Switzerland topping the chart, followed by Latvia, Norway, Luxembourg and Costa Rica in the top five.

Though ranked 77, the UAE is the top-ranked GCC country, followed closely by Saudi Arabia, which is ranked 82. Among the Arab countries the UAE is number two, only behind Egypt, which is ranked 60. Other GCC countries that feature in the list are: Qatar (100), Oman (110) and Kuwait (126).

Not surprisingly, this is the best ranking for the UAE, which was ranked 152 — the poorest rating — and 112 in 2010 and 2008 respectively.

‘Fantastic result'

The journey from the worst to one of the most improved countries in just a couple of years seems surprising, but for those who have dedicated their lives to environmental causes in the country, it has been a hard-earned and much deserved achievement.

"The ranking is a fantastic result and great news for the country, but it hasn't happened overnight. It's been due for a long time as the groundwork has been going on for years.

"This is more like the way bamboo shoots work, once planted they remain underground for months together, but suddenly in four weeks it grows several metres," said Habiba Al Marashi, Chairperson of Emirates Environmental Group (EEG), who is excited by the country's environmental achievement.

Though still far behind the more clean nations of the world, the UAE features impressively at 27 in the EPI Trend ranking, a new tool launched this year to measure the environmental trends in different countries.

According to Habiba, the trend ranking is an indicator of the way things are shaping up in the country.

Playing a big role

"This reflects well on the kind of foundation we have built, the UAE leadership is really serious about its environmental credentials. The society is aware and participating now, the private sector is playing a big role, the education sector is giving a lot of space to environment in its curriculum and slowly things are getting better, and I believe we will continue to improve our performance in the future," added Habiba, highlighting the key factors behind the UAE's improved performance.

The rankings take into account performances of countries in 10 major categories including: Environmental Burden of Disease, Water (Effects on Human Health), Air Pollution (Effects on Human Health), Air Pollution (Ecosystem Effects), Biodiversity and Habitat, Forestry, Fisheries, Agriculture, Climate Change and Water Resources (Ecosystem Effects).

View the original article here

Dubai Police crack murder committed in 2007


Dubai: The Dubai Police have cracked a murder committed in 2007 thanks to a tip-off from a source based overseas.

Based on the new information, the police formed a team to investigate the case leading to the arrest of three men, who confessed to the crime and led the team to the Omani border where the victim's body was buried.

A team of investigators with sniffer dogs went to Al Rawda to search for the body on Wednesday. Since considerable time had lapsed since the incident, it is nearly impossible to find the place where the body was buried, but police are still looking.

A DNA sample was taken from the victim's children.

According to Brigadier Khalil Ebrahim Al Mansouri, Director-General of the Criminal Investigation Department at the Dubai Police, the three Pakistani men, along with a fourth suspect, who is still on the run, were living in Sharjah when the crime was committed almost five years ago.

In July 2007, the four suspects and the victim had an argument over money while consuming alcohol leading to the murder. The next day, the suspects took the body to the Al Rawda area on the Omani border and buried it there, Brig Al Mansouri said.

With the cooperation of the Sharjah Police, the investigating team identified the residence of the four suspects and arrested three of them. The fourth had left the country a while ago.

Brig Al Mansouri said the suspects initially denied the charges, but later confessed.

Police also released the picture of the victim, but did not reveal his identity.

The murder was neither reported nor was a missing person case filed about the victim, who was a divorcee with two children aged 17 and 11 from an Arab wife.The wife said that she had lost contact with her ex-husband as a result of the divorce.

The police found out that the victim's brothers had come looking for him many times in the UAE. However, they never reported him missing.

Brig Al Mansourie thanked the Oman Police for assisting in the search. He urged all residents to file a report immediately in case anyone goes missing as swift police action can save a life or help solve a crime promptly. The suspects have been referred to the Sharjah Police.

View the original article here

Driver accused of molesting pupil claims it was just a ‘vampire' game


Dubai: A driver claimed that he bit a 6-year-old schoolgirl's cheeks and neck while playing a vampire game with her while denying molestation charges in court on Thursday.

"I acted as a vampire and we were playing a game when I bit her neck, cheeks and thighs … but I did not kiss or molest her," the 21-year-old Sri Lankan driver said before the Dubai Court of First Instance yesterday.

Prosecutors accused 21-year-old D.W. of sexually molesting the British schoolgirl by kissing her neck, cheeks and thighs.

Chief Prosecutor Khalid Al Zarouni has asked for the implementation of the toughest punishment applicable, and which is three to 15 years in jail.

When the defendant appeared in court, he defended himself before Presiding Judge Jasem Al Beloushi: "I did not molest her it was just a vampire game … and she is the one who came to me and asked me to play with her."

According to the charge sheet, the suspect is said to have taken advantage the child's innocence and offered to play a vampire game with her.

He then took advantage of the fact that she was alone so he kissed her and molested her.

The schoolgirl was quoted claiming to prosecutors that she asked the defendant to play with her. Then he offered to play a vampire with her and bit and sucked her neck and cheeks and thighs.

Meanwhile, the girl's mother said she went to work on that day and left her daughter with the housemaid.

"When I returned home, I spotted some signs and marks on my girl's body. She told me that the housemaid's friend [the suspect] left those marks on her body. My daughter claimed that the defendant offered to play with her like vampires and he kissed and bit her body.

"When I contacted my husband, he claimed he was not aware of the marks. Then I reported the case to the police," claimed the mother.

Prosecution records said the mother took her daughter to a general practitioner for a medical check up.

The practitioner testified that after examining the girl he discovered redness and bruising on the skin substantiating the fact that she was kissed, bitten and sucked in the areas around her neck, cheek and thighs.

The court reconvenes on March 8.

View the original article here

Hamas rift shows vulnerability of interim unity government


The National Associated Press


RAMALLAH // A rare public rift broke open yesterday in the usually tightly disciplined Islamic movement Hamas over a reconciliation deal that would require it to relinquish key areas of control in the Gaza Strip.

The deal, brokered by Qatar, was signed last week in Doha by Hamas's top leader in exile, Khaled Mashaal, and the chief of the rival Fatah party, the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas. The agreement is to end nearly five years of separate governments - Hamas in Gaza and Mr Abbas in the West Bank - by establishing an interim unity government headed by Mr Abbas that would prepare for Palestinian elections.

Senior Hamas figures in Gaza, who stand to lose most from the deal, said it was unacceptable, while top Hamas loyalists in the West Bank defended the agreement. The argument raised new questions about the ability of Mr Abbas and Mr Mashaal to implement the deal, seen as their best chance yet of healing the rift following Hamas's violent takeover of Gaza in 2007.

Mr Mashaal might be able to put down the unprecedented rebellion against him, but would need the goodwill and cooperation of Hamas leaders in Gaza to make the agreement work.

Mahmoud Zahar, one of the masterminds of the Gaza takeover in 2007, said Mr Mashaal did not consult with others before signing the deal. Giving Mr Abbas the post of interim prime minister is "wrong" and "strategically unacceptable", Mr Zahar was quoted as telling the Egyptian news agency Mena on Saturday.

The criticism of the Hamas leaders in Gaza highlights the vulnerability of the Doha agreement.

Mr Abbas needs to satisfy international demands that the interim government - to consist of politically independent technocrats - is not a front for Hamas. If it is seen as too close to Hamas, the Palestinians would likely lose hundreds of millions of dollars in western aid.

View the original article here

Iran's warning to Gulf states


The National Agence France-Presse


TEHRAN // Iran's parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani warned that Iran will not forgive Gulf Arab nations if they continue backing US "plots" against Tehran, local media reported yesterday.

"We recommend to some of the countries in the region who were siding with [Iraq dictator] Saddam [Hussein] and now are siding with the US plots against the Iranian nation to give it up," he was quoted as saying.

Mr Larijani was referring to the financial aid and political support given by Gulf Arab states, namely Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, to the Iraqi regime during the 1980-1988 war against Iran.

View the original article here

Viber still working in the UAE


Dubai: Free calls are still possible between users of iPhones and Android-based handsets that have the Viber app installed, despite conflicting reports that it is being blocked in the UAE, users said.

Viber allows free calls and texts between iPhones and Android-platform mobile sets worldwide. It's a free app downloadable from the online App Store for iPhone and Google's Android Market.

Viber uses Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology instead of the usual phone network to connect users.

Some VoIP-based options like net-to-phone services for making cheap international phone calls from computers are banned in the UAE.

And though some Viber users have reported connection failures, others say it continues to work in the UAE. "You can use Viber even if you have no data plan on your iPhone by using any WiFi connection. I have been using it since March 2011, and only had occasional problems connecting," an Indian resident said.

Once installed, Viber shows which contacts on your phone also use Viber. There is no need to sign in; there are no user names or passwords. Users simply call or text other Viber users for free using its interface, which looks virtually identical to the screen display when making calls on the iPhone.

A version for Blackberry devices is in the works, Viber says on its website. The company states the sound quality of calls made through Viber is "much better" than regular calls. Viber had 20 million registered users within its first seven months.

View the original article here

New zoo in the offing in Dubai

WAM Dubai, Feb 12th, 2012 (WAM) -- Dubai municipality is studying a project to build a new world-class zoo in the emirate.

The survey of the proposed project is expected to be finished in two months and according to the municipality the old animals will be shifted once the new zoo is ready.

Eng. Hussian Nasser Lootah, Director General of Dubai Municipality said the municipality has appointed a consultant and action team to come up with the final concept of the project, including the selection of suitable site, required area and distribution of animals in line with the international standards.

Lootah said, the consultant initially submitted two concepts. One is ?Safari', which is adopted in developed countries like Singapore and Thailand. The second one is ?Cages', which are common in the majority of countries. We are going to adopt the Cages system considering the area constrains in the emirate.

He said we would make the traditional cages system in its best form in line with the characteristics of the emirate and the best zoos in the world providing all types of facilities and services for the public.

"The cages will be arranged and distributed in accordance with each category and type of animals, birds and other species in a comfortable way and adequate space without affecting the neighbourhoods. A full-fledged team of specialists, veterinarians, animal curators and entire qualified cadres for animal welfare according to the global systems and frame lines will be available," "Actually, the current zoo should be improved, as it is very old and small after the huge development around it and increasing number of animals and visitors. It was established by the late Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum in 1967," Lootah added.


View the original article here

Huge quantity of fake beauty products seized


Abu Dhabi: Two tonnes of fake cosmetics and herbal products, which were found to be counterfeit, expired or hazardous to public health, were confiscated by Abu Dhabi Municipality last year.

Some products did not have proper labels or were written in a foreign language without being translated into Arabic or English. The products were seized during inspection campaigns last year which targeted hair-cutting salons, beauty parlours and outlets selling cosmetics.

A total of 1,489 judicial offences and 10,793 other offences were recorded by inspectors. The municipality also confiscated a number of laser devices and equipment used for activities such as tattooing, skin-peeling and tanning.

Shops shifted

A statement by the municipality noted that 1,008 commercial outlets were moved to Musaffah, in accordance with the decision to relocate businesses such as carpentry shops and auto repair and spare parts outlets to the outskirts of the capital.

View the original article here

Telling stories with sand


Dubai: Sand fills the desert and in a country such as the UAE it is available in abundance. Yet, not many people stop to think how this natural property is used in manufacturing glass or silicon computer chips, for example.

However, Shayma Al Mughairy, 18, has found another way to use sand to spread awareness about issues dear to her. The Omani national, who lives in Umm Al Quwain, is one of the few GCC nationals known for performing sand art.

"Sand art is a different kind of art and it's special to me because here in the Gulf there aren't many girls who draw with sand," she said. "I wanted to learn this art to be one of the first Gulf girls to draw with the sand."

Drawing her plans

Shayma's talent took her all the way to the finals of the reality talent competition, Arabs Got Talent, where she acquired the nickname ‘Queen of the Sand' from her fans.

An artist throughout her childhood, Shayma was introduced to sand art by her teacher when she was 12-years-old and quickly developed a knack for it.

She has now been commissioned across the GCC region and some parts of Europe to perform at events — most recently at the American University in the Emirates' (AUE) inaugural graduation ceremony.

"For the AUE performance I told the story of a student and their journey through university," she said. "I usually draw to raise awareness about certain issues like drug abuse or the trafficking of humans and their organs."

Just like a painter only needs his pallete and brush, all Shayma needs is her light box and a few handfuls of sands. Her fingers then get to work telling a story through a series of slides set to music.

Music most important

"For a performance I first find out how long they want the show say five or seven minutes and then I storyboard a scenario and start to practise," she said. "The music is the most important part of the whole performance to me because it sets my speed."

Only in her last year of secondary school, Shayma hopes to go on to take up an undergraduate degree in architecture.

However, her sand art will by no means be thrown on the back burner.

"I plan to open the first school to teach sand art."

View the original article here

Sharjah Museums Department Hosts First Health Education Exhibition At Sharjah Science Museum


The Health Education Department of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs in cooperation with Sharjah Museums Department (SMD) yesterday opened the first Health Education Exhibition at the Sharjah Science Museum.

The health event, which runs from 7-9 February from 9am to 2pm, was opened under the patronage of and in the presence of Mariam Al Roumi, Minister of Social Affairs.

The three-day health exhibition is aimed at identifying the Health Education Department and its affiliated bodies as well as at spreading health awareness about healthy behaviors and healthy lifestyles among the public.

A number of events and workshops targeting both adults and minors are held as part of the health exhibition with the participation of a large number of government bodies from various emirates.

Commenting on the event, Manal Ataya, SMD Director General, said, hosting the health exhibition at the Sharjah Science Museum comes as part of the initiative "Because We Care" with the aim of raising health awareness in the community.

She underlined the need to hold such exhibitions in order to educate the public about medical topics and raise their awareness about causes of diseases and preventive measures particularly among young age groups and families.

Sharjah Aquarium is participating in the event with two small aquariums, the first of which contains various marine species, offering the opportunity for the visiting students to experience and learn about marine environment and biodiversity in the UAE.

The second aquarium does not contain marine species, but contains water polluted by harmful substances called pollutants to educate school children about the need to preserve marine environment and its biodiversity.

A wide range of events are held as part of the health exhibition, including workshops for children, such as school lunch bang, a journey into the human body, dangers of plastic bags, teeth cleaning, agricultural methods at home, dangers of child obesity and diabetes check up, among others. A workshop on paper recycling is also organized by the Sharjah Science Museum, while the Sharjah Environment and Natural Reserves Authority is organizing a workshop titled "What the Nature Gives US", and another workshop on how to grow a plant.

The Health Education Department at Sharjah Municipality is organizing activities for educating children about types of dangerous toys, while Dubai Municipality will distribute a booklet on food chain, and pamphlets on osteoporosis. The World of Edutainment will distribute storybooks, booklets and games for children, while Desert Group will offer saplings for planting. The House of Fun is participating in the event through entertaining games and sand drawing, while Kalimat Publishing House is participating by distribution of leaflets and educational storybooks. A show on the importance of water will be performed Sharjah Scouts.

Workshops and activities organized by the Health Education Department also include nutritional counseling and measurement of body mass and body fat. Friends of Cancer Patients also participate effectively in the event by spreading awareness about breast cancer and distribution leaflets and the Pink Caravan’s products. Meanwhile, Friends of Arthritis Patient’s participating is represented in offering free examination of osteoporosis and distribution of the society’s publications. Society of Kidney Patients Friends offers free blood pressure Measurement for visitor, while Breastfeeding Association offers advices on breastfeeding.

The Sharjah Medical Zone is organizing awareness activities awareness on human heart health. There are other events organized by the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority , Ajman Department of Public Health and Environment and Abu Dhabi Municipality which organizes lectures on the importance of slaughter in slaughterhouses and dangers of slaughtering outside slaughterhouses, dangers of black henna, dangers of prohibited consumer goods on human health, and dangers of cosmetics violating health rules, in addition to educational events on the importance of not throwing waste and cigarette butts.

The Nutrition Department of the Dubai Health Authority will offer examination of osteoporosis and Sharjah Municipality will distribute educational brochures on the hazards of cosmetics and dangerous children’s toys. The motherhood and childhood Centre is organizing awareness events on breastfeeding and breast cancer.

View the original article here