Day: July 15, 2008

RTA to launch webpage for car pooling

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RTA to launch webpage for car pooling
By Joy Sengupta (KHALEEJ TIMES staff reporter)15 July 2008

DUBAI — A dedicated webpage to register private car pooling service, part of the government’s efforts to reduce traffic congestion, is set for launch next week, a senior Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) official told Khaleej Times recently.

The service is expected to also help eliminate the illegal taxis plying on Dubai roads, the official said on condition of anonymity.

He said: “The new car pool webpage on the RTA web site — http://www.rta.ae — will allow interested motorists to register themselves online after which the authority would conduct investigations about the applicants and grant them the permit.”

A decision on allowing six- and eight-seater vans to start similar car pooling services will be taken in the near future. But, currently, only light vehicles are approved to offer this service in Dubai, he said.

He clarified that family members travelling together in the same vehicle need not register for the permit.

Once the car pool service is formalised by the RTA, the motorists have the permits will not have to worry about fines and penalties.

Explaining the procedure to register, the official said, “Motorists can log on to the RTA web site and view the car pool registration page. Personal details and the details and identity of three others who will be travelling in the vehicle, who should be employed in the same organisation, should be furnished in the application form, besides the details of the vehicle, he said.

Several motorists reacted positively to the new car pooling initiative.

“Around three months back, I was in the Al Baraha area. I had given my friend a lift in my vehicle but as was fined Dh4,000 by an RTA inspector. He just issued the ticket without enquiring about or listening to my pleading. This move sounds good as people would not be fined unnecessarily. The question remains whether the RTA inspectors would listen to motorists when they are taking their family or friends on a trip?” said Pragyan Ganesh, a motorist.

“Not many people would be interested in the car pooling service. In Dubai, almost everyone has got own car and car pooling in general has not caught up with the people. The reason behind this is the lack of interaction among the people. Moreover, the RTA norm says that people wishing to register should be working in the same organisation. This is yet again a disadvantage,” said Aarti Mathur Sinha, who works with ABN Amro Bank in Dubai.

“Though the RTA should be congratulated on this new initiative, it must also train its inspectors in a better way. The inspectors must give a proper chance to the motorist to explain his problem,” said Kundan Singh, who works with another bank.

joy@khaleejtimes.com

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Abu Dhabi outpaces Dubai in housing costs and rentals

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Abu Dhabi outpaces Dubai in housing costs and rentals
By Suzanne Fenton, Staff Reporter GULF NEWS Published: July 15, 2008, 00:08

Dubai: The housing prices and rental prices in Abu Dhabi have overtaken prices in Dubai for the first time, according to the latest industry report.

Figures from the latest HSBC report show that the average rent per square metre in Abu Dhabi was $272 per square metre in the last quarter 2007 and $430 per square metre in the second quarter 2008, representing a 58 per cent growth.

In the same time period, Dubai’s average rent was $343 per square metre in the last quarter 2007 and $420 per square metre in the second quarter of 2008, representing only a 22 per cent growth.

Similarly, for buying a house, Abu Dhabi witnessed a 61 per cent growth in house prices between the last quarter 2007 and the second quarter 2008, while Dubai saw a 37 per cent growth in the same period.

HSBC analyst, Majid Azam told Gulf News, “The main reason prices in Abu Dhabi are outpacing Dubai is because the market is much tighter and delivery delays are more apparent. Ultimately, we believe that Abu Dhabi should be at a premium because affordability is higher.”

Basic infrastructure

The report concluded that there are delays in both Dubai and Abu Dhabi and Dubai is experiencing such rapid growth, that basic infrastructure, such as water, electricity and sewerage systems cannot keep up with the pace of development.

Around 160,000 units were expected to reach the housing market in Abu Dhabi by 2010, but Colliers International now estimates that only 31,000 units will be available, due to the problem with delays.

A recent Fitch report had warned of a dangerous oversupply situation in Dubai with the massive glut of housing units set to hit the market in 2009.

However, HSBC note in their report that they expect most deliveries of units will be made in 2011.

The lack of housing in Abu Dhabi has led people to move to Dubai and commute to Abu Dhabi, similar to Sharjah and Ajman residents. This will prevent a possible oversupply situation in Dubai.

“We believe that the housing shortage in Dubai is here to stay at least until 2010, when the bulk of deliveries are expected to hit the market. However, with continuous delays, even an oversupply in 2010 seems unlikely,” Azam said.

The report also says while prices in the UAE are increasing, they are still affordable by international standards.

“Based on current plot prices of Dh7,000 per square metre, we estimate a residential property sales price of Dh28,000 per square metre by year end, suggesting price growth is set to slow from the rapid rates, since the start of the year,” said the report.

Temperature shoots up to 52 degree Celsius in Al Ain and other parts of UAE

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Temperature shoots up to 52 degree Celsius in Al Ain and other parts of UAE By Aftab Kazmi, Bureau Chief GULF NEWS Published: July 14, 2008, 15:02

Al Ain: Ground temperatures have shot up beyond 52C in Al Ain and other inland desert cities as south-easterly winds pump in scorching air from the Empty Quarter, said weathermen.

Dry and extremely hot conditions, particularly in the open, are unbearable, said residents as doctors advised people to take precautions to avoid heat related illnesses.

The Dubai Met Office yesterday reported a maximum temperature of 47C in some parts of the city. The conditions are much worse in Al Ain, Jebel Ali, Minhad, and some interior cities where the mercury has jumped to 49C. The dry south-easterly winds have also reduced humidity level.

The National Centre of Meteorology and Seismology (NCMS) has warned of extremely hot weather that may continue up to Friday.

The temperature is above the normal usually during this month and weathermen see no respite in heat for the next few days.

With the difference in the atmospheric and ground temperatures, rumours are rife that the Met Office is deliberately showing a lesser temperature in the official reports.

People also believe that the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends suspension of work once the temperature goes above 50C.

“This is an allegation as we are neither hiding the actual temperature nor have the authorities instructed us to hide it,” said Dr S.K. Gupta, a duty forecaster at Dubai Met Office.

He said the reports are of the atmospheric temperature and that is always different from ground level temperature.

Dr Gupta said ground temperature is always misleading since it depends on the type of the surface. “It varies on wooden, cement, metallic, sandy and rocky surfaces,” he said.

Explaining the phenomenon, Dr Gupta said: “[Yesterday] the general temperature in Dubai is 45C at 12pm but the ground level is showing two to three degree higher reading at two runways of the Dubai airport.”

‘No WHO restrictions’

Dr Jean-Luc Vaillant, a consultant in family medicine at a government hospital in Al Ain, has denied any UN or WHO restriction on work in extremely hot temperatures.

“It is the responsibility of individual countries and local authorities to take occupational safety measures,” he said. The UAE government has already introduced suspension of construction work during the hottest hours of the summer days.

There are, however, recommendations of a WHO scientific group on health factors involved in working under conditions of heat stress.

It said: “It is inadvisable for deep body temperature to exceed 38C [100F] in prolonged daily exposure to heavy work. In closely controlled conditions the deep body temperature may be allowed to rise to 39C [102.2F].”

Dr Vaillant said body temperature increases sharply when a person continuously involves in strenuous work in hot temperature.

“During temperatures as high as 50C, workers should avoid direct sun exposure, especially during warmer period [10:00 to 15:00],” he said.

“Yet all these measures are insufficient if workers are constantly exposed to heat. With a body temperature above 39C the patient is at risk of multiple organ failure and may die if not promptly treated. So regular cooling period [during which workers can also have fluids] is mandatory. This off course must happen in a shaded and if possible ventilated area,” said Dr Vaillant.

How to beat the summer heat

– Drink 3 litres of water or fruit juices every day to avoid dehydration.

– Avoid soft drinks and alcohol.

– Use plenty of sun creams for protection from the sunshine. Check the sun protection factor of the sun block cream.

– Wear a vest inside to absorb the sweat.

– Get a good pair of sunglasses to protect your eyes.

– Get a good chap stick for the cracked and dry lips.

– Cut down on meats and eat salads.

– Weakness, mental confusion, and nausea are signs of heat stress.

First aid

– If someone is unconscious and has very high body temperature, he must be brought to hospital quickly.

– Meanwhile, bring down the body temperature by spraying cold water on the affected person.

Dubai public libraries to conduct free Arabic classes

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Dubai public libraries to conduct free Arabic classes
Staff Report GULF NEWS Published: July 14, 2008, 21:20

Dubai: Public Libraries Department at the Dubai Municipality will offer free introductory Arabic Language classes for non-Arabic speakers from July 19 to August 7.

The classes, which are part of the Arabic Language Protection Campaign, will be held at Al Safa and Al Twar Public Libraries from 8pm to 9.30pm.

Al Twar Public Library will host lectures throughout the week whereas Al Safa Public Library will host lessons on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Exploring careers with a graduation in Animation technology

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Exploring careers with a graduation in Animation technology
Monday July 14 2008 21:14 IST

Graduating with animation Animation is no longer viewed as mere entertainment for children and is now a mainstream educational degree that provides opportunities for thousands of youngsters to carve out a career for themselves. Animation finds application across different for ms of Media – Film, TV, Gaming, Special Effects, Medical Sciences, E-learning and many such streams. Being an inimitable combination of traditional art and modern technology, animation throws up diverse and very fulfilling career options. While masterful creativity and computer proficiency are assets in themselves, the industry today needs professionals who have grasped the different aspects of animation and have a holistic view towards them. And the key differentiator separating the mediocre from excellent is formal education.

A recent NASSCOM report has estimated that the country will need more than 3 lakh skilled professionals by 2008. With a projected growth rate of 24 percent, the Indian animation industry can to grow to $869 million by 2010.

Foreign companies are now outsourcing animation jobs to India because of cheap and efficient manpower available here.

Manipal University aims to fill this need with their fulltime degree program which is a B.Sc in Animation. This Degree in Animation is a 3-year full-time course which equips its graduates with the skills and experience to excel in the industry . The course provides extensive training in traditional classical skills and modern digital technology .

Tradition & Modern technology Today animation combines traditional animation skills with computing power and Hi-end software to give life like effects.

The syllabus of BSc Animation is designed with this in mind. It approaches the modern technology needed in animation with the mind of the traditional art. The syllabus provides extensive training in traditional classical skills and teaches you to exploit the potential of modern digital technology to make your creations come alive like the way you imagined.

The Degree program continues to emphasize on fundamentals like life drawing, perspectives and more specialized skills like character design and development. The syllabus prepares you for the challenges as a digital animator in the animation, film, television, advertisement and computer graphics industries in the following ways:

With a world class lab equipped with Apple work stations and a drawing studio and the class room handled by experienced professionals coupled with career and life skill workshops helps strike a balance between theory and practical training. The campus houses one of the best libraries in the country, with hundreds of books on animation and a Preview Theater for movie studies. All Major Animation studios across India offer placement opportunities.

Campus: 28563865

Email: animation@manipalu.com

Website: http://www.manipal.edu/animation

Price of medicines in UAE to go up from October

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Price of medicines in UAE to go up from October
By Dina El Shammaa, Staff Reporter Published: July 14, 2008, 15:21

Abu Dhabi: The sick will have to pay more for their drugs from October as new prices have been hammered out between the Ministry of Health, distributors and pharmacists.

There will be a total increase of 27.25 per cent on 1,129 drugs priced in euros. However, people with chronic conditions such as diabetes, will only pay a 5.8 per cent increase.

The increase comes into effect on October 15, the Ministry of Health announced on Monday. Humaid Mohammad Obaid Al Qutami, Minister of Health, said the Ministry will revaluate the prices in cooperation with the Central Bank after two years.

“We know the cost of living has gone up. The Ministry has been in talks on the prices with international pharmacies and distributors for the past nine months, until we reached this decision,” he said.

Among the 1,129 drugs that will be sold at new prices, 530 items are for chronic diseases. The other 599 drugs are for non-chronic conditions such as flu which only require short-term use of medication.

The initial hike for chronic disease drugs was 32 per cent, but the Ministry intervened and managed to cut it to a 5.85 per cent increase only, said the Minister.

This was done after reducing the cost of insurance on freight at ports. This helped reduce distributors’ costs by five per cent and pharmacy costs by six per cent.

The increase will affect drugs imported from Europe. When asked about drugs bought in other currencies the minister said: “To date no other prices related to other currencies will be affected except for the euro.” Dr Ameen Al Amiri, CEO for Medical Practice and Licence, Ministry of Health, said drugs sold across the UAE were the cheapest in the region.

When asked why the rise in drugs for non-life threatening conditions was as high as 21.4 per cent, he said there were various types of such drugs sold across the UAE in other currencies, such as the dollar.

There is a rising number of national distributors selling drugs in the UAE and the Ministry’s role is to try to encourage their productivity and promote nationalisation.

Face scan system launched at Abu Dhabi airport

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Face scan system launched at Abu Dhabi airport
WAM Published: July 14, 2008, 22:25

Abu Dhabi: A biometric face scan system to identify wanted people and suspects was launched on Monday.

General Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, inaugurated the scan system at the Abu Dhabi International Airport.

The system, the first of its kind in the world, helps to recognise wanted people or suspects [who are accused of committing crimes in the country or abroad] by identifying their facial features.

The scanner will start functioning at the Abu Dhabi airport before it is installed at all exit points in the country.

Shaikh Mohammad stressed the UAE’s keenness on supporting security services and authorities to enable them to carry out their duties in the best possible way.

The move is in line with the directives of President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Retailing Management

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Retailing Management
Monday July 14 2008 21:29 IST EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE

Loyola Institute of Business Administration (LIBA), one of the leading management institutes in India launches its One Year Diploma in Retail Management. Admission for the programme along with its successful other courses in Banking Management, Financial Management, Human Resource Management, Inter national Business, Marketing Management and Supply Chain Management is currently open.

Specially designed by academic and industry experts the programme will cater to working professionals who want to study and further enhance their management skills.

The course is held three days a week in the evenings from 6:45 pm to 8:30 pm.

There are three courses per semester and two semesters that is six courses in all.

Fr Christie, Director, LIBA said, “Since its launch in 1990 the One-Year Diploma Programmes at LIBA have been received well in the industry. This has further made us introduce new ones. Targeted at working professionals, this programme provides students with the latest pedagogy and convenient class timings.” Any working professional with a graduate in any discipline with 50% marks may apply. The last date for the securing application forms is 10th of July, 2008. Selection will be based on academic qualifications and an interview.

For further information kindly visit http://www.liba.edu or email admissions@liba.edu or contact Ms. Mallika at the admissions office at 9444028418 (please phone between 10 AM and 5 PM only).

You can convert PC to an HDTV

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You can convert PC to an HDTV
Monday July 14 2008 16:36 IST

So you’re sitting around, totally bored with the same old PC, bored with word processing, bored with spreadsheets, bored with Web browsing, bored with music, bored with news, bored with grainy YouTube videos.

Then you realise it’s Sunday night, and it strikes you: What you really want to do is watch Desperate Housewives on your computer. In HD. Well, for a hundred bucks, you can satisfy that high-definition craving with the Pinnacle PCTV HD Pro Stick.

Plug this nifty little gadget into a USB port on your computer, hook up an antenna or cable feed to the other end and you’re in business — HDTV in a window on your desktop, or full-screen if you prefer.

The software bundle includes a digital video recorder(DVR) so you can record your favourite shows while you’re not there. There’s even a tiny remote control so you can watch without getting out of your chair.

The Pro Stick also has an intriguing feature whose existence I was only vaguely aware of before this. It’s a circuit called a QAM tuner, which brings in unscrambled digital broadcasts, including some in high-definition, directly from a cable company feed — without a cable box, high-def or otherwise. QAM is also built into most new digital sets.

You won’t get your cable company’s whole digital menu, most of which is scrambled unless you rent a digital box. But you’ll generally see the same digital channels you’d pick up with an antenna, without the vagaries of digital reception over-the-air. You may even pick up some video-on-demand channels if someone in your neighborhood is watching them.

First things first — there’s only so much TV you can expect from a hundred-dollar PC gadget. The Pro Stick generally delivers what it promises, but there’s no way a picture processed through software by a PC and displayed on a monitor that’s not optimised for television is going to look as good as it would on a stand-alone HDTV set — or on even a monitor driven by an internal PC tuner.

Still, the quality was fine for casual, close-up viewing — better than analog TV tuner cards I’ve tried in the past. For that reason, the Pro Stick is a cheap and efficient way to turn a student’s laptop into a dorm room entertainment centre.

The Pro Stick is a black box about the size of your thumb, and about twice the volume of a flash memory drive. It can plug directly into a USB 2.0 port, but a short, bundled extension cable gives it more flexibility. The other end of the tuner sports a standard coaxial connector for an antenna or cable feed.

Rounding out the package are the small remote control, a monopole antenna for direct, over-the-air tuning, audiovisual cables to pull an analog signal directly from a set-top cable box, and two software CDs. To process HDTV, you’ll need reasonably up-to-date hardware.

The minimum requirement is a Pentium 4 processor running at 2.8 GHz or better, a gigabyte of memory, Windows XP or Vista, and at least 20 gigabytes of free hard drive space if you want to record programmes.

Most new dual-core, Intel or AMD processors should have no trouble with it.Setup was easy. I installed Pinnacle’s TVCenter Pro software, connected the tuner to the antenna and started the programme.

TVCenter displays the picture in a resizable window, changes channels and serves as a front end to the programme guide and DVR. I had TVCenter scan for both analog and digital channels, as well as FM radio stations and Internet radio sites.

The device includes both NTSC (analog) and ATSC (digital) tuners. The TV center displayed a crisp, clear picture on a 17-inch Dell LCD monitor — particularly with digital channels, which is not surprising, since that’s one of their advantages. Like most displays designed for computers, its default settings weren’t jacked up as high as a typical TV set.

When I switched to the Comcast cable feed in my home office, the HDTV Pro Stick took about 20 minutes to search for channels and turned up several hundred of them — most of which turned out to be scrambled digital signals that require a box for decoding.

But unscrambled digital signals from local broadcast outlets were there. The quality of the hard drive playback was good, although it’s hard to compare with the real thing. Just make sure you have plenty of hard drive space if you like to keep recordings for a while.

For more info, visit http://www.pinnaclesys.com