Mar 31, 2010

Windy, dusty conditions to hit UAE

Al Ain: A spell of windy and dusty conditions will hit the country from Wednesday night due to low atmospheric pressure. The national weather bureau has warned people to be alert of low horizontal visibility in different parts of the emirates.

The conditions are expected to continue for the next few days during which light rain is also expected in some coastal areas and over the sea, said an official of the National Centre of Meteorology and Seismology (NCMS).

He said a low pressure has centred over northern Iran with an extension of high air pressure over northern and central Saudi Arabia. The phenomenon would accelerate the surface winds gradually from Wednesday night. Winds are expected to be severe at times and would be dust laden in the interior and open areas. “This would result in low horizontal visibility on Thursday,” he noted.

The sea is also expected to be rough to very rough with eight to 10 feet high waves offshore on Thursday night and Friday. The conditions will also push medium to high clouds from over the Saudi Arabia to the emirates. This is expected to start from Wednesday night, turning weather cloudy with chances of light rain, said the NCMS official.

The NCMS have been asked drivers to be caution while driving when visibilty is compromised. People planning sea trips at the weekend should should delay their plans as sea will be very rough at least up to Friday

Mar 25, 2010

UAE | Traffic and Transport heavy penality for motorists using dedicate bus lanes Motorists driving on bus and taxi lanes will be fined Dubai Motori

Dubai Motorists will be slapped with a Dh600 fine if they drive on the dedicated road lanes for buses and taxis, to be introduced in Dubai from May 1 this year.

"Private motorists will not be allowed to drive on the dedicated bus and taxi lanes round-the-clock and the police will start issuing fines from May 15 after a comprehensive education campaign for the first two weeks," Major General Khamis Mattar Al Mazeina, deputy commander-in-chief of Dubai Police said.

He was speaking at a press conference held yesterday by Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) to announce the introduction of dedicated bus and taxi lanes on selected roads in Dubai.

He said there would be a complete ban for motorists to drive in dedicated lanes, but the police would monitor the situation for at least three months to consider any amendments in the road usage. Nevertheless, police, ambulances and civil defence vehicles are allowed to use the dedicated lanes. Private motorists are, however, allowed to use the dedicated lanes to access and exit from side roads or to take U-turns.

The dedicated bus lanes will be introduced on parts of Mankhool Road, Khalid Bin Waleed Road, Al Ghubaiba Road and Al Khaleej Road. The total length of the dedicated lanes will be around 5.6 kilometres.

"The roads have been selected after comprehensive survey of the public transport system and the congested areas. Similar lanes will be introduced in other areas in the next phases," said Mattar Al Tayer, Chairman of the Board and Executive Director of the RTA. He said the RTA and the police would jointly implement the new project.

caution

Reserved roads

n Mankhool Road between Satwa Roundabout and Shaikh Rashid Road.

n Al Khaleej Road between intersection with Khalid Bin Waleed Road and Al Musallah Road near Hyatt Regency Hotel.

n Khalid Bin Waleed Road from intersection with Al Mina Road to Road 16.

n Al Ghubaiba Road from the intersection with Al Mina to Road 12 near Al Ghubaiba Bus Station.

Next phase

n Naif Road n Al Ittihad Road (under study) n All roads linking the Metro stations n Omar Bin Khitab Road.

Streamlining services: Indian consulate steps up

Dubai : Procedural formalities in the case of death or other emergencies are being streamlined by the Indian consulate to make them more prompt and efficient, a top diplomat said.

In his first interview on taking over as the Consul General of India in Dubai, Sanjay Verma said while these emergency services were already in place, they would be "tweaked" to ease the burden of those in distress with clearances for repatriation of bodies and other formalities being attended to on an urgent basis, even on holidays. He said the consulate had fully cleared the backlog where passport services were concerned with the processing time having been expedited.

Verma said his effort would be to continue the excellent relations between the UAE and India, while giving a boost to trade and investment, particularly in areas of infrastructure, health care and alternative forms of energy.

"We would also like to reach out to the invisible part of the Indian population, the workers who are seen only on a Friday afternoon," Verma said, adding that issues like illegal recruitment and non-payment of wages would also be addressed.

Five weeks into the job, Verma, who came from New Delhi where he was Joint Secretary (Energy Security) in the Ministry of External Affairs, said he was "satisfied" with the progress made so far, the consular role being distinct from his earlier postings. He added that the Indian Consulate building would also be refurbished.

Mar 22, 2010

Temperature expected to drop slightly in some UAE coastal areas

Al Ain: After rising to 40 degree Celsius in some areas in the last several days, the temperature is expected to fall slightly in the coastal areas over the next couple of days.

The conditions will remain almost unchanged in the interior areas with hot daytime temperatures, a forecaster said. "We expect fair and hazy weather in general, but a slight decrease in temperature," he added.

According to the National Centre of Meteorology and Seismology (NCMS), winds are expected over the sea and internal areas.

They may kick up dust and sand, affecting visibility. The sea is expected to be rough with seven to nine foot waves.

The level of humidity is also expected to rise at night and early in the morning in the coastal and interior areas with a chance of fog.

The temperature is expected to remain between 18 and 23 degrees Celsius in the coastal areas, 15 to 38 in the interior areas, and 16 to 28 in the mountainous areas.

Experts to meet

Meanwhile, experts from across the world will meet today in Abu Dhabi for weather modification research as part of the World Meteorological Day which falls tomorrow.

The day also marks the celebration by 188 countries of the 60th anniversary of cooperation in sharing information related to weather, climate, water and the environment through the UN World Meteorological Organisation (WMO).

"On behalf of the UAE, we are proud to host a meeting of experts on weather modification research in Abu Dhabi from 22 to 24 March, highlighting the role of research in weather and climate", said Abdullah Ahmad Al Mandoos, Executive Director of the National Centre for Meteorology and Seismology and Permanent Representative for the UAE to the WMO, headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.

Mar 18, 2010

Drivers with clean records to get car insurance discounts

Abu Dhabi: Safe drivers in the UAE will soon enjoy discounts from car insurers and could earn up to a year's free insurance if clean traffic records are maintained, officials have disclosed.

Drivers who do not cause any accidents and avoid collecting black points for at least one year will benefit from the scheme designed by authorities to promote traffic safety.

The Ministry of Interior signed a Memorandum of Understanding yesterday with the Emirates Insurance Association (EIA) to make sure safe driving translates into savings for motorists.

This is the first time a reward scheme has been charted rather than relying on traditional methods of penalising drivers for traffic offences.

One year without traffic accidents and black points would mean a 20 per cent reduction in the premium for insurance policies against loss, damage and civil liability. Drivers with a two-year, clean traffic record would receive 25 per cent discount, while the discount will be 30 per cent for a three-year clean record and 35 per cent for four years.

For exemplary drivers who hold clean traffic records for five years, the insurance companies will provide a year's free insurance policy against civil liability, according to the memorandum.

Drivers will need to produce a document from the Interior Ministry certifying that their traffic records are clean in order to avail the discounts.

The move, based on the directives of Lieutenant General Shaikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, is in line with the federal government's traffic strategy.

Be safe and save is the message authorities hope to communicate. Giving incentives to drivers who abide by traffic rules and regulations will help reduce accidents and road-related deaths by promoting safety, the ministry said in a statement yesterday.

"Drivers who get involved in an accident but do not cause it need not be worried. They will still hold a clean traffic record," an official explained.

The memorandum was signed between Lieutenant General Saif Abdullah Al Shafa'ar, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Interior, and Engineer Saleh Bin Rashid Al Daheri, Chairman of the EIA.

Concerned departments will work on a mechanism to link traffic records of motorists to a federal system of insurance companies to facilitate the smooth flow of information.

Incentives available

  • 20 per cent discount for one year without traffic accidents and black points
  • 25 per cent discount for two years without traffic accidents and black points
  • 30 per cent discount for three years without traffic accidents and black points
  • 35 per cent discount for four years without traffic accidents and black points
  • One years' free insurance against civil liability for five years without traffic accidents and black points

RTA plans to build 50 parking facilities

Dubai: The Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has plans to build at least 50 multi-storey parking plazas in Dubai to cope with the increasing parking problems, said a senior official.

"We have identified at least 50 plots of land to build parking plazas in different parts of Dubai to meet the increasing parking needs in the city," said Engineer Adel Al Marzouqi, Director of the Parking Departments at the RTA.


He told that at least nine of the 50 parking plazas will soon be constructed in the Central Business Districts of Deira and Bur Dubai while the rest would be built gradually in future.


"The RTA is planning to build these parking plazas in cooperation with the private sector in line with its policy of Public-Private Partnership (PPP)," he added.

Currently, there are only six multi-storey parking plazas controlled by the RTA. These are located at Riqqat Al Butine (behind Al Khaleej Hotel), Bani Yas area (near Deira Tower), Bani Yas Square, Bani Yas Street (near Dubai Municipality Museum), Naif Street (opposite Naif Police Station), and Al Ghubaiba (near Ministry of Finance building).

Meanwhile, motorists complain that they are unable to park their cars in the existing RTA's multi-storey car parking complexes in Dubai because they are mostly reserved.

They told that shopkeepers, companies or businessmen in the area get the parking spaces reserved on a yearly basis in these multi-storey parking plazas in the Central Business Districts (CBD) areas in Deira and Bur Dubai..

"They keep their ‘reserved parking' signs blocking the spaces even when the spaces are empty and the parking attendants do not let other motorists park their cars in these spaces," said Akmal Majee, a Pakistani businessman.

During a visit to least two multi-storey parking facilities in Deira and Bur Dubai, it was found out that more than 60 per cent of the spaces were reserved whereas visitors to these congested areas are left with very few spaces in which to park.

"We keep going in circles up and down the parking building and don't find a parking space even on the top floor because most of the spaces are reserved," said Parsad K, an Indian salesman.

Rate increase

The increased parking fee from Dh1 to Dh2 for the first hour will not have any impact on motorists who are using seasonal parking cards, said a senior official.

Engineer Adel Al Marzouki, Director of the Parking Department at the RTA said that the parking fee has been changed only for the first hour whereas the fee remains the same for the second, third and the fourth hour. Parking for two hours cost Dh5 where fee for three hours is Dh8 and Dh 11 for four hours in all the paid parking zones controlled by the RTA


Mar 14, 2010

Citizens of 34 nations exempt from UAE visit visa waiting period

Dubai: Citizens of 34 countries do not have to wait one month before applying for a visit visa after leaving the UAE, a senior Interior Ministry official said.

Currently visitors who leave the UAE even after a day's stay have to wait for a month before they can apply for a visit visa again.

"Citizens of nations who need to obtain an entry permit into the country through any one of the residency departments will not be able to apply for another visa immediately after they leave the country," Major General Nasser Al Awadi Al Menhali, acting Assistant Undersecretary at the Ministry of Interior for Naturalisation, Residency and Borders, told.

Law

"Even if they stay here for two days and leave the country, they can come back after one month," he said. There is no multiple entry visit visa, Maj. Gen. Al Menhali stressed.

"If a visitor comes here, then goes on vacation to a nearby country and wants to come back, he should wait for one month before returning here," he said.

Maj. Gen. Al Menhali said these rules apply to people who need to apply for a visa prior entering the UAE.

"There are citizens of 34 countries who do not need a visa in advance. These citizens can get a visa upon arrival in the UAE," he said.

He said since the visa is issued upon arrival, these citizens can come back here any time they like.

"Citizens of these 34 countries need to show their passport to the immigration officer at any of the country's borders and they will have a new visa stamped. They can come and go as much as they want and at any time they want," he said.

Rules not new

"These rules are not new. But some people believe that they can come to the country and stay a couple of days and leave. They want to come back gain on the same visa believing that the visa has not expired yet, but they cannot. They have to wait for one month," he said.

Maj. Gen. Al Menhali said if a person stays for a day and leaves, the visa will be deemed expired even if the expiration date is later.

He said the one month waiting period is counted from the day the person leaves the country and not from the date of the visa expiration.

Multiple entry

Businessmen who need to enter and leave the country several times can apply for a multiple entry visa which is valid for six months, a senior Interior Ministry official said.

Major General Nasser Al Awadi Al Menhali, acting Assistant Undersecretary at the Ministry of Interior for Naturalisation, Residency and Borders, said once this multiple entry visa expires, businessmen have to wait for a month before applying for another visa.

This waiting period does not apply to citizens of 34 countries.

Maj. Gen. Al Menhali said the residency department deals with issuing visas on a case-by-case basis.

"We study each visa application and if it needs to be issued before the end of the one-month period, we can do it but it will depend on the circumstances of the visa applicant," the interior ministry official said.

The citizens of these 34 countries also do not have to wait a month before applying for a visit visa.

List of 34 countries

Andorra
Australia
Austria
Belgium
Brunei
Canada
Denmark
Finland
France
Germany
Greece
Hong Kong
Iceland
Ireland
Italy
Japan
Liechtenstein
Luxembourg
Malaysia
Monaco
Netherlands (Holland)
New Zealand
Norway
Paraguay
Portugal
San Marino
Singapore
South Korea
Spain
Sweden
Switzerland
United Kingdom
United States
Vatican City

Swiss visa application centre in Dubai to be outsourced

Dubai: The Consulate General of Switzerland has announced it will temporarily outsource its visa application centre from January 24 to March 31.

The section's temporary residence will be the Schengen Visa Application Centre managed by VFS Global at the Jumeirah Palms Residence on Al Hudaiba Road in Dubai. The move is due to scheduled renovation work at the Consulate General of Switzerland. The temporary centre will continue to accept visa applications for Switzerland from January 24 to March 31.

Nationality

The procedures and time taken to process the Schengen Visa will remain the same - 24 hours to three weeks - depending on the type of visa and nationality of the applicant. The centre will open from 9am to 12pm and 1pm to 5pm from Sunday to Thursday.

Online transfer of medical test data in Dubai proves efficient

Dubai: Data of medical fitness tests for the purpose of issuing residence visas is now transferred electronically between the health and residency departments, said a Ministry of Interior official.

Lieutenant Colonel Khalid Nasser Al Razouqi, Assistant of the Director General for Information Technology at the General Department for Residency and Foreigners Affairs in Dubai told that data of medical fitness tests done at any of the health department's clinics is now sent only online without issuing anything on paper.

"There is no need for a customer to hand in the medical fitness test result personally to us," he said.

Lt Col Al Razouqi said the transaction is done electronically, online, between the health department and the General Department for Residency and Foreigners Affairs in Dubai.

"This service is giving clear, accurate and quick information about the medical tests for the purpose of residency," he said.

He said such services offer accurate results and will help in avoiding any forgery or changes in the medical test result if handed in by the public.

Process

"Previously the customer used to pay several visits to the health department and to the residency to submit the fitness test. Now there is no need for that as we receive the result online," he said.

"We decided to start this service electronically in 2008 and teams from residency and from the health department worked on launching the service," Lt Col Al Razouqi said.

"The service came alive three months ago," he said.

He said that after a customer does his or her medical fitness test for the purpose of residency the result will be sent electronically while the customer will be informed about that through an SMS.

"As a start we began the online service with only the health department and we are going to cooperate with Dubai Municipality clinics, Dubai Police clinic and the Ministry of Health in this regard," he said.

"After the issuance of residency permit, the applicant must go for medical fitness test. The details of the applicant will be needed in the health department system," he said.

Lt Col Al Razouqi said the medical fitness result sent online is valid for three months. "If the person comes to us after that period the application will be rejected," he said.

"In case the person is not fit such information will be sent to us and the department will take the needed steps to deport that person.

High security

"Such services offer very high security information and protect all parties — the residency department, the health department and the residents. The service also saves efforts and time," he said.

"The public do not need to go back and forth between the two departments to hand the medical test results," he said. "When we receive the complete medical fitness test result about the person, the system will automatically block the residency transactions of those who are not fit," he said. Since the launch of the service, some 168,736 transactions have been carried out.

"This is part of Takamul Electronic Integration project. This service started three months ago and it offers services to all residents in Dubai," he said.

Engineer Khalid Sulaiman, Project Manager, said the required documents for medical tests are residence permit copy, two recent passport photos, coloured copy of the passport and also the original passport and all these must be presented at the health department clinic.

List of centres: Online service

- Al Muhaisna Fitness Centren Occupational Health Centre in Al Satwa

- Al Mankhoul Health Centre near Eid Mussala

- Al Twar Healthy Centre in Al Qusaisn Al Khawaneej Health Centre

- Al Bada'a Health Centre on Shaikh Zayed Road

- Al Lessily Health Centre on Dubai-Al Ain Roadn Airport Clinic

- Al Safa Health Centre for executives located in Jumeirah

- Dubai International Financial Centre for the centre's employees at the Emirates Tower on Shaikh Zayed Road

- Dubai Airport Free Zone Authority for Dafza clients and staff

- Jebel Ali Free Zone Authority for Jafza clients at Jebel Ali

- Knowledge Village for Tecom Investment executives at Dubai Internet City