Monday, December 30, 2013

Abu Dhabi Police step up patrols in bid to stop drink driving during New Year celebrations - Letters to the editor

Abu Dhabi Police step up patrols in bid to stop drink driving during New Year celebrations

I am really happy that Abu Dhabi Police has been issuing notifications ahead of the New Year’s Eve, reminding drivers of the dangers of drink driving. Such road-safety campaigns should be sustained throughout the year. The National, along with the traffic police, has played an important role in the past to bring about an awareness on road safety through a series of campaigns. I urge The National to take road safety as one of its campaign themes for 2014. Together with traffic and community police departments in all emirates, a renewed traffic campaign should begin and that should continue with sustained interest throughout the year. Volunteers should also be encouraged to promote road and community safety among people. Thus, an alert group can be formed that can assist the police. Hotel employees, particularly security personnel, should be instructed not to allow a guest to drive away from their premises if they find he or she is under the influence of alcohol. Let “safety first” remain our motto in 2014. Ramesh Menon, Abu Dhabi To read the original article online, please visit The National online. To read this letter online, please visit The National online

Dubai to introduce new app to report food violations - Letters to the editor Khaleej Times

Dubai to introduce new app to report food violations - Letters to the editor Khaleej Times

This will be a very good move as consumers can easily report violations with photo evidence directly. Supermarket chains have to be extra cautious from now on. Many instance I have noticed the ready to use fresh vegetable items in mixed pack have old items concealed at the bottom with fresh products at the top. This will not work as also many other negligence or even over sights. Wish and hope that the new application is used well and prove to be beneficial for consumers to get quality products.

To read the original article, please visit Khaleej Times online

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Reading and writing: Hundred, not out

(Ramesh Menon, Abu Dhabi) / 29 December 2013

This is in response to the article, “One hundred not out” (KT, December 27).

It made an interesting reading and suddenly it brought out several motivational insights within me recapitulating the year 2013 that was.

Cricket is an interesting game with lot of statistics and game loving statisticians keeping track of players and the game happening all over.

In fact when we look at it, numbers fascinate us in many ways. We are all proudly looking forward to Expo 2020. We closely watched the digital clock when it passed to the next second on 11:12:13 at 14:15:16.

Just like any sports, a reader and writer has to have nice platforms to write regularly and read on. We all cry aloud and alert when children don’t get sufficient sports facilities around. The authorities in the UAE are very generous and listen to us appropriately and the results of it are wonderful cityscape with young generation given adequate play opportunities around.

The art of reading and writing also has to be approached in a similar manner. I congratulate the writer for scoring a century with Khaleej Times. That has inspired me to write more.

To read it in original, please visit Khaleej Times online

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Renovation work hurts commuters - Letters to the editor - The National Dt 19 December 2013

Renovation work hurts commuters

Letters to the Editor - The National 19 December 2013
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A series of road and pavement repair work being carried out in sector 73 in Khalidiya is causing major inconvenience to the public.

The entire area is marked for repair by the contracting company responsible for the project. They have also dug up the pavement and removed the bricks that have been stacked up randomly. It’s a posh residential area with a high concentration of high-rises, restaurants, banks and other commercial establishments. In normal times, before the repair work began, availability of parking spaces was limited. So one can imagine the inconvenience it has caused to residents and visitors. The pieces of bricks and concrete also pose a grave danger to children.

Apart from that, the lorries that keep plying in the area cause traffic chaos as there is limited space for vehicle movement.

I humbly request the civic authorities to facilitate convenient passage for residents and vehicles. That could have been done easily by marking smaller segments for renovation, instead of marking an entire sector. It can still be done.

Ramesh Menon, Abu Dhabi

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Humanitarian efforts by UAE should inspire all - The National Dt. 18 December 2013

Humanitarian efforts by UAE should inspire all
The National online 17 December 2013 / in print 18 December 2013

The inspirational moment I witnessed at the screening on Monday of Inside: Mission Kosovo will remain in my memory for a long time.

Although it was taken on video in the presence of several people, the hug received by Lt Col Dr Aysha Sultan Al Dhaheri from a 12-year-old girl whom she delivered in Kosovo while on the UAE’s historical White Hands humanitarian mission, drew a wave of emotions. Similarly, school masters were happy to receive Lt Col Sultan Mohamed Al Katebi and his team after 12 years.

Within these years, the little girl, Fatema, grew taller than the doctor who delivered her, and the makeshift schools in Kosovo had been transformed into full-fledged institutions with all facilities. Apart from that, the UAE also built hospitals and invested in infrastructure in that country.

The emotions projected in the documentary show a job well done. Any nation involved in such magnanimous missions can easily pledge monetary support. However, it is the unsung heroes like Lt Col Al Dhaheri and Lt Col Al Katebi that make it possible for those affected by conflict and turmoil to get their lives back.

The UAE indeed succeeded in giving a new lease of life to so many people in Kosovo by investing its time, money and effort to rebuild educational and health care infrastructure.

Congratulations to the heroes of the UAE Armed Forces who participated in this effort. I also congratulate The National for presenting a wonderful documentary.

I suggest a free copy of this documentary be distributed to all educational institutions and organisations, so as to create a larger awareness of the UAE’s silent efforts to alleviate human suffering.

Ramesh Menon, Abu Dhabi

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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Abu Dhabi’s Volcano Fountain: a fire that never went out

Abu Dhabi’s Volcano Fountain: a fire that never went out

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It could be a test of long-term residency. Ask anyone who has lived in Abu Dhabi for more than a decade whether they remember the Volcano Fountain and you’re likely to ignite an outpouring of memories. Built in the 1980s, elevated on a circular pier on the Corniche near the foot of Muroor, the fountain looked like something from The Flintstones, “a page right out of history”.

Or, as the Doha-based author Sophia Al Maria puts it on her blog: “Back in 1988, the Abu Dhabi Volcano Fountain rose out of the Corniche like Triton’s head. It burst out of the boardwalk like a long-submerged alien ship rising from the sea. Its scented water cascaded down through the prongs of a turret-like crown. That cement halo still floats sovereign over all my childhood memories of Abu Dhabi.”

Also known as Al Shallal (waterfall in Arabic), the stone-paved fountain, surrounded by tiered gardens with flights of stairs leading up to its base, was lit up at night to give the cascading water the appearance of lava. Vendors sold fried peanuts, fresh chips, ice cream, newspapers and balloons, and photographers snapped pictures of people posing in front of it, much as they now do at the Burj Khalifa.

The fountain was called a must-see in guidebooks and featured on Abu Dhabi postcards. More significantly, it was a gathering place for the growing city’s many nationalities, at a time when there were fewer social options and no mobile phones to arrange a spontaneous meeting place.

Meeting at the Volcano Fountain was almost a given. “It was the primary focal point for any visitor to Abu Dhabi during that time,” says Ramesh Menon, who came from Kerala to work in Abu Dhabi in 1987. He remembers it as a place where couples met for the first time, where proud parents brought their newborns from the nearby Corniche Hospital, where fellow Indians returning from home would open parcels and distribute letters. “It holds a special significance,” Menon says. “It created a lot of feelings within people.”

Jasmine Godfrey, who was born in Abu Dhabi 41 years ago, remembers many “joyous” times with her family and young friends at the landmark. “We used to spend most of our time there,” she says. “Wherever you are, you come over there to meet us.”

The fountain was also the site of National Day celebrations, the area surrounding it decorated with thousands of flags and lights. As Christine Nowell and Nick Crawley wrote in their 2001 book Now & Then: Abu Dhabi: “National Day is celebrated throughout the Emirates […] on the Corniche, young ladies in their finest dress dance in the traditional way to the dulcet tunes of the flute and drum. The events take place at the so-called ‘Volcano’ roundabout on the afternoon of the 2nd day of December and continue into the evening.”

Abu Dhabi’s Volcano Fountain wasn’t alone in the world: one was built at Honolulu International Airport in the 1960s and a more grandiose version entertains crowds at the Mirage hotel in Las Vegas. But Abu Dhabi’s still takes a place of honour in online lists of the world’s most beautiful fountains, along with the Trevi Fountain in Rome and the Bellagio Fountains in Las Vegas.

After it was demolished in 2004 as part of a redevelopment of the Corniche, Menon was taking a walk in the area and had a flash. “Why not identify a place and bring it back?” He got in touch with the Abu Dhabi Government about his idea and he believes it’s not a closed case. “They all know the value of it.”

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Remembering Abu Dhabi's Volcano Fountain

Please visit and view the video