Feb 11, 2009

Sharjah Municipality to launch English portal to pay parking fines

Sharjah: The Sharjah Municipality online portal for paying parking fines will be launched in English from Sunday, officials have said.

Abdul Rahman Al Mahmoud, director, transport and freightage department, Sharjah Municipality, announced the launch on Wednesday.

The service is currently available in Arabic: www.tfd.ae

Dubai 'a preferred destination for residency and jobs'

Dubai: Major General Mohammad Ahmad Al Merri, Director of the Dubai Naturalisation and Residency Department (DNRD), stressed that Dubai still is a favourable location for residency and work as it is an international destination for business, services and tourism (shopping, exhibitions and conferences).

Al Merri said Dubai's experience of the past has proved its great ability to adapt with regional and global developments.

Al Merri said this while reviewing statistics concerning exit and entry at the department's land, sea and air ports during the last quarter of 2008. Al Merri said all figures were ordinary in comparison to previous years.

Al Merri said DNRD, during the period, registered 6.6 million passenger entries compared to 5.8 million passengers the corresponding period in the previous year.

Al Merri said the passenger movement through Dubai's different entry ports in January 2009 registered an insignificant decrease in comparison to the same period last year.

The number of passengers who entered Dubai through different ports this January was 1.20 million, while the number was 1.26 million last year.

Al Merri said the department issued 294,000 visas during January 2009, while cancelling only 119,000 visas for various reasons for the same period of time.

Smoking rule stipulates stiff fines

Abu Dhabi: Stiff penalties including prison and fines of up to Dh1 million will be imposed on individuals or companies for the violation of a new federal anti-smoking law passed by the Federal National Council (FNC) on Tuesday.

The draft law includes a ban on the sale of cigarettes to youngsters under 18 years and smoking in a private car while a child aged below 12 is on board.

As a signatory to the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, the UAE is required to adhere to international standards on tobacco control measures, such as reducing exposure to second-hand cigarette smoke. The convention also includes measures to restrict advertising and sponsorship, increase tobacco prices and taxation and cut down smuggling.

The fines will be doubled if the offence is repeated. The law bans smoking in closed public places, on public transport, in shopping malls, schools, universities, hospitals, care homes, sports associations and social and cultural clubs.

In other places, special rooms can be designated for smokers.

Humaid Mohammad Obaid Al Qutami, Minister of Health, said the law not only aims at protecting the health of all segments of society but also at reducing the country's financial burden from treating patients suffering from smoking-related diseases.

The law also prohibits growing and manufacturing of tobacco for commercial purposes. Existing factories and farms have to adjust their status in keeping with the law. No cigarette consignment will be allowed into the country unless it complies with the conditions set by authorities.

The law bans licensing of cafes and similar shops which offer tobacco or its products inside buildings or in villas occupied by Emirati families.

The law will fix the highest permitted level of nicotine and tar as well as other harmful substances in cigarettes. Details of the cigarettes' ingredients as well as warnings and instructions.

Dubai Continues to Attract Expats

DUBAI - Global recession or not, Dubai continues to be a favourite destination with expatriates, a top official said. M

Major General Mohammed Ahmed Al Marri, Director of the Dubai Naturalization and Residency Department (DNRD), said that Dubai was still experiencing a healthy number of incoming residents in 2009, after years of boom inflows.

“It is true there are residence visas that were cancelled but at the same time there are hundreds of thousands of new ones that were issued. There is still a sort of balanced situation as far as the labour market goes,” Al Marri said.

“This has to do with the supply and demand in the labour market.”

According to figures available with DNRD, 1,088 visas were issued per day in January this year. This is just under 1,000 fewer than in the same period of 2008.

However, the DNRD chief did not deny that the global financial crisis has had some negative impact on the labour market in Dubai. .

“Like all cities in the world, Dubai has had its share of the global meltdown. Lots of major private companies in the US, considered to be one of the strongest economies in the world, have had to cut some jobs. Likewise, companies here have had to take that difficult option at that particular stage to slash their manpower.”Major General Al Marri added: “Still, one should not just see the bad side of the coin. Even under the financial crisis, we are still issuing new residence visas, which means that there are new job opportunities.”

The DNRD official praised the strong resilience of Dubai. “Our economy has always been dynamic. This is proven by the influx of people to Dubai in the middle of the financial crisis.”