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Notice Board

Expat quotas system to ‘empty’ Kuwait of experienced labor – Govt examining a new system

Expat quotas system to ‘empty’ Kuwait of experienced labor – Govt examining a new system
 
KUWAIT: A quota policy that sets a time limit for foreigners to stay in Kuwait is going to cost the country valuable labor assets and reflect negatively on the private sector as well as on several state departments that rely on their services. This was published yesterday by a local daily, in a report quoting officials from various organizations that have a high number of expatriate workers.
Al-Qabas had reported last week that the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor was examining a new system, as part of its efforts to reduce the country’s expatriate population, which involves setting a cap on the number of years after which a foreign worker’s visa would not be renewed.
 
The system has classified foreign workers and their maximum duration of stay in Kuwait under three categories: marginal workers (five years), medium-skilled technical workers (seven years) and skilled workers (10 years).
 
The proposal has drawn wide criticism from labor, political and social circles ever since it came out in the press. It brought to attention a problem, which had arisen a few years ago, in connection with nurses who used Kuwait as a ‘transit station’ to gain experience before moving to Europe or the United States. As per the proposed system, an expatriate teacher, for example, would be required to leave Kuwait after serving for ten years in public schools-a period which many educationalists describe as the ‘prime of teachers’ careers’. “Educational work is based on gaining experience through years of teaching, and the idea of letting go of teachers after all the knowledge they have gained from teaching for 10 years in Kuwait does not make any sense”, said a Ministry of Education insider who preferred to keep his identity anonymous.
 
The source further told Al-Qabas that the system would add to the teacher shortage problem faced by a ministry that sends delegations to four Arab countries each year to hire teachers for basic subjects such as English language, mathematics, and science. “Does it make sense, after putting a lot of effort in hiring competent teachers and training them to integrate with the Kuwaiti environment, to terminate their services after a few years?” the source questioned. Similar concerns exist in the health sector, where many highly experienced medical personnel working in public hospitals and polyclinics face the risk of repatriation if the government implements its plan. “The proposed system is unacceptable in its current form because it could lead to an acute shortage of expert medical and nursing staff”, said Kuwait Medical Association Secretary General Marzouq Al-Azmi.
 
He further insisted that doctors and nurses must be excluded from such stipulations due to the fact that the health sector suffers labor shortage as a result of competition from neighboring countries. “As a pediatrician, I deal with staff shortage every day and that is because many competent doctors eventually choose to work in nearby countries that pay them more”, Al-Azmi added.
 
Expert diagnosis and treatment comes with years of experience, Al-Azmi stated. “Many doctors gain experience through years of practice, as well as through training courses and interaction with visiting medical consultants,” he said, adding that “it would be illogical to miss on the opportunity to benefit from their experience”. Many believe that the proposed ‘quotas’ system would do little to help address the problem of demographic imbalance when marginal laborers continue to roam Kuwait’s streets. “Instead of jumping to the unknown with decisions that lead to the targeting of experienced workers, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor and other state departments should focus on the large number of marginal laborers, especially those reported missing by their employers”, said former minister Abdulwahab Al-Wazzan. While admitting that the problem with regard to a large expatriate population needs to be addressed (2 million people among an estimated total population of 3.2 million are foreigners), Al- Wazzan said that a solution needs to put in place gradually, starting with deportation of workers who are in Kuwait without having a proper job and, as a result, are mostly found doing manual labor.
 
A senior MSAL official, who requested anonymity, asked why did minister Thekra Al- Rashidi resort to implementing the quotas system instead of fighting visa traffickers “who are identified in the ministry’s system”. “It appears that neither the minister nor officials in the Labor Department have any idea about their jobs”, he said. In addition to firms and state departments, the proposed system would create a problem for employers of domestic workers, who, under the quota policy, would be required to find new housemaids, drivers and chefs every five years. “Sometimes it takes that long to train people to do household work perfectly. Does the government expect us after all that time and effort to simply watch as they leave us and go?”, asked Um Khalid, who has five domestic workers in her house, including a chef who has been working for 27 years, a housemaid who has been around for 25 years, and a relatively new worker who has been serving her for seven years.
 
- Kuwait Times

Landmark verdict gives big boost to cancer patients

Landmark verdict gives big boost to cancer patients
Supreme Court rejects Swiss firm Novartis’s plea for patent; green signal for generic drugs

Swiss pharmaceutical major Novartis AG is not entitled to get the patent in India for the beta crystalline form of its cancer drug marketed as Glivec or Gleevec, the Supreme Court held on Monday.

Glivec is a therapeutic drug for chronic myeloid leukaemia and certain kinds of tumours. The beta crystalline form, Imatinib Mesylate (IM), is the salt form (mesylate) of an older medicine Imatinib. Novartis claimed that this drug deserved a patent because of its 30 per cent increase in the bio-availability — a measure of the absorption of the drug by the body.

A Bench of Justices Aftab Alam and Ranjana Desai said: “We firmly reject the appellant’s case that Imatinib Mesylate is a new product and the outcome of an invention beyond the Zimmermann patent. We hold and find that Imatinib Mesylate is a known substance from the Zimmermann patent itself. Not only is Imatinib Mesylate known as a substance in the Zimmermann patent, but its pharmacological properties are also known in the Zimmermann patent and in the article published in Cancer Research.”

The judgment, keenly watched by pharmaceutical companies worldwide, will clear hurdles to the manufacture of generic cancer drugs in India. While a one-month dose of Glivec costs Rs. 1.2 lakh, the same dose of generic drugs, made by Indian companies, is priced at around Rs. 10,000.

Writing the judgment, Justice Alam said: “The consequential finding, therefore, is that Imatinib Mesylate does not qualify the test of “invention” as laid down in Section 2(1)(j) and Section 2(1)(ja) of the Patents Act, 1970.”

The Bench held that the beta crystalline form of IM, being a pharmaceutical substance and a polymorph of IM, “it directly runs into Section 3(d)…” Section 3(d) requires that patents be granted only for medicines that are truly new and innovative. For new forms and new uses of the existing medicines, patent applicants should prove improved efficacy.

The Bench said, “The beta crystalline form of Imatinib Mesylate is clearly a new form of a known substance, i.e., Imatinib Mesylate, of which efficacy was well known. It, therefore, fully attracts Section 3(d) and must be shown to satisfy the substantive provision and the explanation appended to it.”

The court said: “There is, however, no material in the application or in the supporting affidavits to make any comparison of efficacy, or even solubility, of the beta crystalline form of Imatinib Mesylate and Imatinib Mesylate (non-crystalline). Thus, in whichever way Section 3(d) may be viewed, whether as setting up of the standards of “patentability” or an extension of the definition of ‘invention,’ it must be held that… the product... fails the test of Section 3(d) too…”

After its patent application was rejected by the Patent office, Novartis moved the Intellectual Property Board, Chennai. The Board rejected the claim, but gave certain findings favourable to the company. Instead of filing an appeal before the Madras High Court, Novartis moved the Supreme Court.
 
-The Hindu
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UAE Exchange Transact & Win Contest 2013 “1st Monthly Draw”

UAE Exchange Transact & Win Contest 2013 “1st Monthly Draw”
UAE Exchange, a leading global remittance and foreign exchange brand conducted the 1st monthly electronic draw for the ongoing Transact & Win contest 2013 at UAE Exchange Head Office, in presence of Ministry Officials. Customers who had send money online through www.uaeexchnagekuwait.com will automatically qualify for the monthly draws. Mr. Arun N Nair had won Samsun S3 Mobile & Mr. Abdel Ali Asgar Ali had won Gulf Air Ticket. Prizes for the Winners were distributed by Mr. Pancily Varkey. We believe in adding value to our customers. Most of the promotions we conduct have been the reasons for customers’ dreams to turn real. Customers are the sole reason for the existence and success of our business, and their happiness will be our pursuit. We thank them for their support. Our Online product (Money2Anywhere) will help the customers to transfer their money to their loved once from their Home or Office through their PC/Laptop/Tablets & Smart Phones, where the customer can avoid standing in long queues in Exchange House & the traffic blocks.” said Mr. Pancily Varkey, Country Head – UAE Exchange Kuwait, on the occasion of the 1st Monthly draw for the promotion.

“Gulf Air and UAE Exchange share the same views in adding value for the customers. This is the single driving force which inspires us to come up with innovative promotions which will enable the customers to have an experience of different levels. We look forward to running more such offers which will facilitate frequent flying” said Mr. Ahmed Al Matrook, Gulf Air’s Country Manager, Kuwait.
 



UAE Exchange is well-known for its excellent customer service and widest network among remittance brands with close to 700 branches in 30 countries across five continents serving over 4 million customers. Strong correspondent relationship with over 150 global banks further adds to the might. With 24 branches in Kuwait, customers can walk in to the nearest one to address their multiple financial requirements viz. money transfers, currency exchange, bill payments, salary collection and more, under one roof.

More than 8000 professionals from over 40 nationalities, form a part of team UAE Exchange, and strive to achieve excellence and bring delight to customers, worldwide. Its penchant for quality has won UAE Exchange many awards and earned the trust of customers, partners and regulators alike, thus helping it to get the acclaim of the World’s Trusted Money Transferrer.



Gulf Air is the proud national carrier of the Kingdom of Bahrain since 1950. As a pioneering airline in the Middle East region with over sixty years of experience and expertise in flying people across continents, Gulf Air is today one of the most powerful brands and a name to reckon with within the global aviation industry. The airline’s current network stretches from Europe to Asia, connecting 46 cities in 28 countries, with a fleet of 38 aircraft. In tune with the Kingdom’s economic blueprint, ‘Vision 2030’, Gulf Air’s strategy is to build an efficient, commercially sustainable and dynamic airline that effectively serves the people and the economy of Bahrain and represents the Kingdom on the world stage.

 
 
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’Air Kerala’ unlikely to hit us: Air India Express

’Air Kerala’ unlikely to hit us: Air India Express
Mumbai: The proposed 'Air Kerala' is unlikely to make a dent in the market-share of Air India's international budget arm Air India Express, which hopes to post operating profit next fiscal, airline sources said.

"We are currently competing with 16 players. So addition of one or two players will make hardly any difference," Air India Express sources said here.

Low-cost Air Kerala, to be set up by Kerala government, was planning an April launch, but is yet to get Centre's nod.

Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy's spokesperson said, "The government is very keen on the project and is awaiting the go-ahead from the aviation ministry. Many NRKs have evinced keen interest."

Kerala, with three international airports, is served by ten international carriers apart from domestic players Air India Express, Air India, IndiGo and Jet Airways. AI Express operates to ten destinations in the Gulf from Kerala.

Last September, Chandy revived the state's plan (announced back in 2006) to launch Air Kerala following a massive hike in ticket rates on the Gulf-Kerala sector as well as frequent flight cancellations by AI Express during the period. About 2.5 million Keralites work and live in the West Asia.

Air India Express, which operates 205 flights per week across Southeast Asia and the Gulf with a fleet of 21 Boeing 737-800s, commands 5-6 per cent market share. Of its planes, 17 are own, remaining leased. Majority of the flights are from Kerala, which contributes over 50 per cent of its income.

The carrier is already Ebitda (earnings before interest, taxes depreciation and amortisation) positive and it may post operating profit in FY14, sources said. These expectations are based on continuous improvement in the cash-register.

The airline has not increased capacity in its summer schedule which comes into effect Sunday. Sources also said the process to hire 40 commanders including trainees has started. The exercise would be completed by the Q1 of the next fiscal.

"Currently, we have around 200 pilots and half of them are on deputation from Air India. With the induction of 40 more commanders, we will meet the shortfall. Also, our objective is to have all our pilots in the carrier over the next three years," sources said.

The airline envisages a fleet of 35 by 2015 as a part of its turnaround plan. Once the additional pilots are hired, the airline will consider inducting more planes.

"Besides, we are also eyeing a minimum 2 per cent uptick in load factor in the next fiscal, which currently stands at 75. Once the seat factor goes up, there will be consequential increase in market share," they said.
 
-Manorama
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Governor sends pardon plea for Sanjay to Home Department

Governor sends pardon plea for Sanjay to Home Department
Maharashtra Governor K. Sankaranarayanan sent Samajwadi Party MP Jaya Prada’s letter seeking pardon for actor Sanjay Dutt to the State Home Department on March 28, according to a statement by the Governor’s office on Sunday.

However, the Governor did not make any comments and had “merely” sent the letter.

On March 26, Jaya Prada and Amar Singh met the Governor and submitted the letter asking him to use his discretionary powers of granting amnesty and pardon Mr. Dutt considering his background, contribution to the field of cinema and good conduct over the past 20 years.

They also attached a letter in the actor’s support from the Sevagram Ashram Pratishthan Trust, which was written to then President Pratibha Patil, seeking her intervention for a pardon for the actor since he had spread Mahatma Gandhi’s message through his films.

The Governor’s office, however, said it had also received over 20 representations opposing pardon for Mr. Dutt.
 
-The Hindu
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Municipality continues inspection campaign

Municipality continues inspection campaign
KUWAIT: Field inspection campaigns carried out by Hawally municipality branch and covering restaurants in Hawally and Salmiya areas resulted in the closure of two restaurants, a store belonging to one of these restaurants and 104 kg of fish being destroyed after it was found unfit for human consumption. Four citations were handed out for dealing with food items that had expired or were found damaged. All of these food items were destroyed on the spot.

The campaign was headed by acting emergency department head, Habeeb Fadhel, who told reporters that he ordered shutting down of two restaurants since the 104 kg worth of rotten fish stock could have endangered the life of consumers. The fish were stored in 20 freezers in one of the basements of a building at Salmiya that belonged to one of the restaurants. The other restaurant in Hawally was closed after cockroaches and insects were found there, and cleanliness was found wanting.

The team of inspectors also handed out four citations for using expired food items, lack of cleaning and opening a store without obtaining a license from municipality. Fadhel said similar surprise checks will continue to ensure that outlets selling food items adhered to all norms across the governorate.

By Hanan Al-Saadoun
 
-Kuwait Times
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Christians celebrate Easter in Kuwait

Christians celebrate Easter in Kuwait
KUWAIT: Easter was celebrated in Kuwait in different ways as followers of Christ here belong to various branches of Christian denominations. Before the start of the day, at 4:30am, Baptists and Evangelicals flocked to the National Evangelical Church in Kuwait to celebrate the resurrection of Christ in a ceremony dubbed as Sunrise Service. Various satellite churches all over Kuwait celebrated the occasion. The Catholics celebrated Mass in several dialects including Hindi, Tagalog, Arabic and English. Prominent among these celebrations were those held at the Holy Family Cathedral and churches in Ahmadi and Salmiya. Easter Mass at the Holy Family Cathedral yesterday was led by Papal Nuncio (Ambassador of the Holy See- Vatican-to Kuwait) Archbishop Petar Rajic.

In his message to the faithful, the head of Filipino Language Christian Congregation (FLCC), Pastor Jun Nones, said the resurrection of Christ is a blessed hope for humanity. “Even other religious organizations are waiting for the promise of Christ that he will come again. His death and resurrection is the blessed hope for humanity. That God is true to His promise; that God will rise up from the dead after three days and that he will come again is not a myth, but a blessed truth,” he said. Easter Sunday is celebrated by Christians all over the world every year to commemorate the resurrection of Christ more than 2000 years ago. “It is a tradition in my family to come together and celebrate Easter every year. It is a blessed Sunday and one feels great to be in the house of the Lord celebrating with other brothers. We are thankful in Kuwait because we can celebrate and practice our religious obligations, unlike in some other Muslim countries where these are not allowed.

We are thankful because in Kuwait, we are free,” a Christian family told Kuwait Times outside the Evangelical Church in Kuwait City after attending Sunrise Service. In some countries, Easter is seen as the happiest day of the year. One priest said it is happier than Christmas. “Happier than Christmas because it is basically the fulfillment of his Grace and promise to mankind. Our debt has been paid in full. Christmas was where he was born, but Easter Sunday is where he fulfilled his great promise to buy out our sins in exchange of His death,” the priest mentioned.

Easter is the culmination of the Passion of Christ, preceded by Lent, a 40-day period of fasting, prayer, and penance. The last week of Lent is called Holy Week, and it contains the days of the Easter Triduum, including Maundy Thursday (also known as Holy Thursday), commemorating the Last Supper and its preceding foot washing, as well as Good Friday, commemorating the crucifixion and death of Jesus. Easter is followed by a 50-day period called Eastertide or the Easter Season, ending with Pentecost Sunday. Easter customs vary across the Christian world, but attending sunrise services, exclaiming the Paschal greeting, clipping the church and decorating Easter eggs which is a symbol of the empty tomb, are common motifs. Additional customs include egg hunting, the Easter Bunny, and Easter parades, which are observed by Christians as well as some non-Christians

By Ben Garcia, Kuwait Times Staff
 
-Kuwait Times
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Interpol delegation starts visit to Kuwait

Interpol delegation starts visit to Kuwait
KUWAIT: A delegation from the international police organization, Interpol, started yesterday an official visit to Kuwait. In a statement to KUNA, the Assistant Director of the Interpol’s Middle East and North Africa regional office Abdulaziz Obaidallah said the visit was within the framework of the Interpol General Secretariat’s periodical visits to the national and regional Interpol offices to check their abidance by the organization’s standards. Obaidallah applauded the Kuwaiti Interpol’s professional and effective cooperation with the international organization. He also spoke highly about the impressive performance of police officers working for the Interpol office in Kuwait. For his part, Acting Chief of the Interpol in Kuwait Lieutenant Colonel Ahmad Al-Helal underlined their eagerness to keep a pace with the latest technology and techniques in fighting crimes at the local and international levels.

To achieve this goal, the Kuwait-based Interpol bureau staff participates in all relevant training courses, workshops, conferences and forums, Al-Helal told KUNA. He noted that the Interpol in Kuwait worked under full supervision of the judiciary and in total abidance by Kuwait and international standards. The Interpol is the world’s largest international police organization, with 190 member countries. The Interpol National Central Bureau (NCB) forms the link between national police and Interpol’s international law enforcement community.

It is typically a division of the national police agency or investigation service and serves as the contact point for all Interpol activities in the field. The NCB is the designated contact point for the General Secretariat, Regional Bureaus and any other country requiring assistance with overseas investigations and the location and apprehension of fugitives. Highly trained police officers at the NCB contribute to Interpol’s criminal databases and cooperate with other countries on cross-border investigations, operations and arrests. — KUNA
 
-Kuwait Times
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’Facebook phone’ may ring true April 4

’Facebook phone’ may ring true April 4
San Francisco: Facebook fuelled fresh talk on Friday about its own mobile phone after the leading social network scheduled a press announcement for next week.

Shortly after the Facebook invitation went out for the April 4 event, the technology news site TechCrunch reported the announcement would be a modified version of  the Google Android operating system with "deep native Facebook functionality".

Another report on "9 to 5 Google" said Facebook was designing the software for the new smartphone, which would be made by Taiwan's HTC. Facebook's invitation said only "Come See Our New Home On Android".

The reports, if accurate, could explain the long speculation about a "Facebook phone" to help the social network better monetize its mobile platform by featuring Facebook prominently on the phone. At a TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco in September, Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg said the social network giant is focused on mobile devices.

"It is really clear from the stats and my own personal intuition that a lot of energy in the ecosystem is going to mobile, not desktop (computers)," Zuckerberg said during an on-stage interview. "That is the future," he continued. "We are going to be doing killer stuff there."

Facebook has made a priority of following its more than one billion members on to smartphones and tablet computers, tailoring services and money-making ads for mobile devices. But Facebook has long held firm it has no intention of  building its own smartphone, saying instead it would rather weave access to the social network into software running the gamut of  handsets.

"Apple, Google, everyone builds phones we are going in the opposite direction," Zuckerberg has been quoted as saying. "We want to build a system deeply integrated in every device people want to use."
 
-Manorama Online
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Eiffel Tower evacuated after bomb threat

Eiffel Tower evacuated after bomb threat
 Police say the Eiffel Tower has been evacuated after an anonymous caller phoned in a bomb threat.

A Paris police official says nearly 1,400 people have been evacuated following a request from tower operators after the warning Saturday. Police then searched the monument with sniffer dogs for possible explosives, and set up a broad security perimeter.

French authorities have stepped up counterterrorism measures in recent weeks amid heightened concern about threats to France over its military campaign against al—Qaeda—linked fighters in Mali which began more than two months ago.

The tower is occasionally evacuated because of such warnings at least once last year and twice in 2011. The 324—metre tower is one of the world’s top tourist attractions, with millions of visitors a year.
 
-The Hindu
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Expat reduction ‘not possible’ within current working system – Expert sheds light on ‘realities’

Expat reduction ‘not possible’ within current working system –
 Expert sheds light on ‘realities’
KUWAIT: Earlier this month, the Minister of Social Affairs and Labor, Thikra Al-Rashidi announced that the ministry will implement a strategy to decrease the number of expat employees in Kuwait by 100,000 annually in order to reach the target of reducing their numbers by one million within 10 years. After that announcement, Senyar Capital for financial advisory and research conducted a study on the issue and concluded that it was not possible to execute such a strategy within the current working system involving a sponsor (Kafeel).

According to economic expert and analyst Dr Hajjaj Bukhodor, the ministry’s plan would be impossible to apply even if it was well-intended. “The reality and the actual situation of the Kuwaiti labor market is not as the minister sees it. I think that if the ministry decided to execute this strategy within the present labor laws and regulations, the number of expat laborers will further increase, especially the marginal laborers,” he told the Kuwait Times yesterday. He gave many reasons for his opinion. “The current sponsor system is encouraging some people to practice the illegal visa trade, which is a reason behind the rising number of marginal laborers.


Different laws encourage importing manpower – especially the ‘Tenders Law’, due to which projects go to companies that offer the lowest bid, which is not necessary the best, because such companies usually use more marginal laborers,” explained Bukhodor. Work atmosphere is another reason. “The work environment is not ideal. There is favoritism in some cases, and lack of encouragement for high productivity in others. All of this leads to the use of more marginal workers. The wage system is also leading to an increase in the number of margin laborers, as they are paid for the hours of work they put in and not for their productivity, such as in the case of allowance for Kuwaitis working in the private sector,” he added.

The culture of the Kuwaiti society also plays a role. “People here depend on expats. In their house, they depend on maids and domestic workers for cleaning, maintenance, repairing and other chores. In other areas of life and work, too, they have to depend on expats. Also, some practices at the workplace encourage increasing the number of expat employees,” stressed Bukhodor. “For all these reasons, the proposal of the Minister of Social Affairs is a dream, which will be impossible to realize if the ministry doesn’t consider the things that I just mentioned and tries to solve it through action and not just words,” he further said.

Bukhodor had conducted and proposed a study about changing the sponsor system since more than 20 years ago. “My project was called the ‘laborers bank’, which suggested setting up an institution that would record the personal data of expat workers. So when an employer will need manpower for his project, he will use the laborers from this bank instead of demanding manpower from abroad. This project involves replacing the Kafeel system and eliminating visa trading.

It should also provide qualified manpower of good standards. This center should be also connected with different embassies outside Kuwait and with local authorities inside the country,” concluded Bukhodor.

By Nawara Fattahova, Kuwait Times Staff
 
-Kuwait Times
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Panel rejects labor authority amendment

Panel rejects labor authority amendment
KUWAIT: A parliamentary committee rejected a government proposal as per which a Public Authority was to be established to handle expatriates labor forces’ affairs which are currently handled by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor. A draft law to establish the authority, which would pave the way for scrapping the sponsorship system, was approved by the parliament in its first hearing while the second voting is scheduled to take place next Tuesday.

In their most recent meeting, the parliament’s health, social and labor affairs committee rejected an amendment that requires releasing an emergency decree for the regulations by which the authority would run its affairs. Instead, the committee kept the original article which requires the regulations to be passed in a draft law. According to cabinet sources quoted by Al-Anba yesterday, the government, once the amendment was to be approved, planned to come up with procedures for hiring expatriate labor forces through the authority, including the fees that will be collected from employer.

They added that Parliament Speaker Ali Al-Rashid included the proposed amendment in Tuesday’s schedule for the session after the cabinet requested urgency in this issue. —Al-Jarida & Al-Anba
 
-Kuwait Times
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Health insurance increase & Expats quota system

Health insurance increase & Expats quota system
KUWAIT: MP Abdullah Al-Mayouf recently filed a proposal to increase the health insurance collected for household labor to KD 50 and to KD 100 for private sector employees. He also proposed increasing the health insurance payable by visitors to KD 250, excluding the fees to be collected for surgeries and treatment in public hospitals and clinics.

Expats quota system : Well-informed sources at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor disclosed that the ministry had previously rejected the Expats Quota System suggested by the international Organization for Migration (IOM). The sources explained that the system was suggested four years back during a workshop held by IOM on nationalizing labor force. “At that time, MSAL’s labor affairs department manager, Hadi Al-Enezi, rejected the recommendation on grounds that expatriate laborers in Kuwait and other GCC states come to work for a certain period according to contracts that they sign with their sponsors,” stressed the sources, noting that expats were not in Kuwait as immigrants, or seeking political asylum or as applicants for citizenship the way it happens in Europe and the US.
 
-Kuwait Times
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Youngsters take lead role to solve traffic problems – New transport authority needed

Youngsters take lead role to solve traffic problems –
New transport authority needed
KUWAIT: The continuing problem of traffic in Kuwait, along with delayed and ineffective solutions, led a group of 10 young Kuwaitis to start a campaign called ‘Le Mita Za7ma’ (Till When the Jam) in May 2012. This campaign became popular and officials from different institutions started reacting to it – which was the goal of the campaign. The organizers of the campaign held a press conference at the Kuwait National Library on Wednesday. During this conference, officials from different institutions discussed the reasons behind the traffic problem and the possible solutions to it. The event was held under the auspices of the Ministry of Information. The campaign consisted of three phases. The first phase was aimed at changing the idea of campaigning for personal issues to doing so for a public cause. The second phase involved collecting the opinions and solutions provided by the participants. And in the third phase, the solutions were registered in a file that was presented to H.H the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al- Jaber Al-Sabah. Brig Nasser Al-Enezi from the Roads Engineering department at the Ministry of Interior noted that the ministry has been working on a national strategy for the traffic and transport sector. “This strategy will be executed within five years.

The biggest problem is with the laws and regulations that are delaying our work. The main goal of our strategy is ensure efficient transportation, safety on roads, sustainable development, partnership system, and others,” he said during the conference. He also spoke about the graphs illustrating traffic and transportation performance as being part of the strategy. “There will be a responsible institution for the roads, so that the blame won’t be put on different authorities or persons,” added Enezi. Muhannad Al-Khayaat from the Ministry of Public Works did not agree that replacing traffic signals with roundabouts would solve the traffic problem. “Why should we change the road design because of a few traffic violators who disregard the red signal and cause an accident? We can control the signal lights, but we can’t control the roundabouts, unless we place traffic lights there,” he explained. “The roads were designed to handle traffic until up to the year 2015, considering the expected increase in the number of vehicles. But the population growth since after the liberation in 1991 was abnormal, and the traffic crisis started in 2003.

The expected growth was 1,600,000, but the population increased by more than 3,250,000. Therefore, after the two projects – Jamal Abdul Nasser Road and the Jahra Road – are finished, the drivers will definitely get some relief from traffic congestion,” Khayaat added. Adel Al-Houti, from the Public Transport Company under the Ministry of Communication, stated that some public institutions took wrong decisions in the past and Kuwaiti people were paying for those mistakes now. “One of these decisions was decreasing the number of school buses, which led to an increase in the number of individual vehicles. We strongly support establishing a new transport authority, which will solve much of these problems. This was even one of the recommendations of the GCC conference in 2004 on traffic and transport. And since then, all GCC countries have followed it except Kuwait,” he pointed out.

By Nawara Fattahova, Kuwait Times Staff
 
-Kuwait Times
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Multinational mugging net in Salmiya police custody

Multinational mugging net in Salmiya police custody
 
KUWAIT: Salmiya detectives arrested four suspects responsible for several mugging reported recently in the area. They were arrested from a neighborhood that was under surveillance after several incidents of mugging were reported there. Officers caught four men red-handed just after they attacked a pedestrian. The suspects had Sudanese, Lebanese, Egyptian and Jordanian nationalities, respectively. They were referred to the proper authorities to face charges.
 
- Kuwait Times

Municipality continues inspection campaign

Municipality continues inspection campaign
 
KUWAIT: Field inspection campaigns carried out by Hawally municipality branch and covering restaurants in Hawally and Salmiya areas resulted in the closure of two restaurants, a store belonging to one of these restaurants and 104 kg of fish being destroyed after it was found unfit for human consumption. Four citations were handed out for dealing with food items that had expired or were found damaged. All of these food items were destroyed on the spot.
 
The campaign was headed by acting emergency department head, Habeeb Fadhel, who told reporters that he ordered shutting down of two restaurants since the 104 kg worth of rotten fish stock could have endangered the life of consumers. The fish were stored in 20 freezers in one of the basements of a building at Salmiya that belonged to one of the restaurants. The other restaurant in Hawally was closed after cockroaches and insects were found there, and cleanliness was found wanting.
 
The team of inspectors also handed out four citations for using expired food items, lack of cleaning and opening a store without obtaining a license from municipality. Fadhel said similar surprise checks will continue to ensure that outlets selling food items adhered to all norms across the governorate.
 
- Kuwait Times

Gulfmart Inaugurates Mini-Supermarket in Mahboula

Gulfmart Inaugurates Mini - Supermarket in Mahboula

Gulfmart’s impressive growth as Kuwait’s fastest growing retail chain was given another boost on Friday 29th March, when their 18th branch, and 5th mini-supermarket in the country, opened in Mahboula. The new branch was inaugurated in front of a crowd of customers, well-wishers and top Gulfmart management by prominent entrepreneur and Indian community representative, Mr. Mathunny Mathew.

 

The new mini-supermarket, which is located in Block 3 of Mahboula, at the Mussad Al Saleh Complex on Street 11, sported the brand’s easily visible, refreshingly new two-toned green leaf logo across the façade. The bracing new logo, which the brand adopted since November 2012, epitomizes a reinvigorated and dynamic Gulfmart, and underlines its fresh product offerings.

 

Our new logo projects a fresh, vibrant and youthful image of Gulfmart at a time when we are into the second phase of our expansion drive in Kuwait and the region, ” said Arif Sheikh, Managing Director of Gulfmart Group.  “ We are excited at the opening of fifth mini supermarket in Mahboula and would like to thank our customers for their continued support and cooperation over the years.”

 

Speaking on the sidelines of the Mahboula branch opening, Gulmart’s Country Manager in Kuwait, Dr. T.A. Remesh, said, “ The new branch in Mahboula is our fifth outlet in the mini- supermarket format. We plan on opening several more outlets in different size formats across Kuwait to take the total Gulfmart branches to 25 by end of 2013. Our expansion strategy, which has been labeled 25/25, envisions eventually opening 25 mini-supermarkets in the 800-3000 sq ft range all over Kuwait. ” The country manager added, “In the immediate future, we will be launching a third branch in Fahaheel of 30,000 sq ft, a second branch in Khaitan of similar area and a 10,000 sq ft third outlet in Hawally.”

 

The management team at Gulfmart expressed the view that the new branch in Mahboula was opened in response to clearly defined needs of customers in the area, and that the mini-supermarket format would prove to be as successful as the other four outlets already opened in various locations. They added that the new branch reinforced Gulfmart’s commitment to presenting customers in niche residential areas with enormous value through wide selection, competitive prices and excellent service, along with great offers and superb promotions.


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Mandela making progress in hospital

Mandela making progress in hospital
Nelson Mandela is making "steady progress" while being treated for a recurring lung infection and he had a full breakfast on Friday, South African authorities said.

The office of President Jacob Zuma released a statement in which it said the former president and anti-apartheid leader was in good spirits after being taken late Wednesday to a hospital in the capital, Pretoria.

"The doctors report that he is making steady progress. He remains under treatment and observation in hospital," the statement said.

"We would like to repeat our appeal for the media and the public to respect the privacy of Madiba and his family," it said, using Mandela's clan name, a term of affection.

It is 94-year-old Mandela's third trip to a hospital since December. At that time, he spent three weeks in a hospital in Pretoria, where he was treated for a lung infection and had a procedure to remove gallstones. Earlier this month, he was hospitalized overnight for what authorities said was a successful, scheduled medical test.

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate has been particularly vulnerable to respiratory problems since contracting tuberculosis during his 27-year imprisonment for fighting white racist rule in his country.

President Barack Obama said Thursday he was concerned about Mandela's health, but noted he was as strong physically as he has been in leadership and character. Obama said he was sending his thoughts and prayers to Mandela, and he described him as a hero and an inspiration who gave everything to his people.

Zuma's office said Thursday that doctors were acting with extreme caution because of the advanced age of Mandela, who has become increasingly frail in recent years.

Mandela, who became South Africa's first black president in 1994, is a revered figure in his homeland, which has named buildings and other places after him and uses his image on national bank note
 
-New Indian Express
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Hawally car theft gang in police net

Hawally car theft gang in police net
KUWAIT: Hawally detectives have arrested a two-member criminal gang consisting of a Kuwaiti and a bedoon. Case papers indicate that they had a entered a number of car sales offices at Hawally and Salmiya and stole luxurious cars which were exhibited there. Police started investigations after receing several complaints from the car sales offices of the thefts. The theft gang soon fell into the police trap. The duo pleaded guilty and confessed that some times they even tried to act like police detectives. Value of the cars caught with them was around KD 45,000
 
-Kuwait Times
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Kuwait plans quotas, limits for expats – Bid to regulate labour market

Kuwait plans quotas, limits for expats – Bid to regulate labour market
MANAMA: Kuwait is considering a move to reduce the number of foreigners in the country by imposing a quota based on nationality and a cap on the length of time expatriates can spend in the country. The plan is being worked out by a special committee set up by the social affairs and labour ministry to address the issue of foreigners in Kuwait.

Kuwait, home to around two million foreigners, who make up two thirds of the total population, earlier this month said that it had plans to halve the number of expatriates working in the country within 10 years. “The committee has requested all the ministries and state institutions to comment on its proposal to limit the presence of expatriates,” said Abdul Mohsin Al Mutair, the ministry undersecretary, as quoted by local daily Al-Qabas. “The proposal is based on three major issues and the official institutions have been invited to give their views on the possibility of introducing a quota system based on nationalities, limiting the number of unskilled labour and putting a cap on the number of years foreigners can spend in the country.

The cap would be five years for unskilled labour, seven years for average technical skills and 10 years for advanced skills, he said. “We hope to receive the official comments and remarks within two weeks,” he said. On March 19, Dhikra Al Rasheedi, minister of social affairs and labour, said that she was pushing for new measures to reduce the number of foreigners by 100,000 annually over the next 10 years. “The strategy envisages bringing down the total number of expatriate workers to only one million in 10 years,” she told the Kuwait News Agency. “The move is part of the ministry’s efforts to regulate the labour market, curb the phenomenon of marginal labour and restore the demographic equilibrium of the country.” A major concrete step will be implemented on April 1 when the transfer of all forms of visit visas into work permits will be halted.

However, foreigners whose applications have already been approved would not be affected by the decision, she said. Most of the foreigners in Kuwait are Asians working in the construction and service sectors or are employed as domestic helpers. Indians make up the largest community while Egyptians top the Arab numbers. Kuwait and the other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) – Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – have for years depended on foreign labour, particularly in the booming construction sector, menial work and services.

Millions of expatriates, particularly unskilled workers from Pakistan, India and Bangladesh and Arabs from Egypt and Jordan have moved to the Gulf since the 1970s, lured by lucrative salaries and benefits. Unskilled labourers and domestic helpers constitute around 85 per cent of the 13 million foreigners living in the Gulf states. However, as their numbers surpassed those of the local populations, the situation turned into a challenge to the demographic balance and national identities. Attempts by the GCC labour ministers to cap the presence of expatriates, citing grave security and unemployment-related concerns, were invariably defeated by the powerful business communities that claimed that they would put on hold several major development projects and would cause the collapse of the economy.
 
-Kuwait Times
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