Sunday, August 31, 2008

Shake-up call to protect Saudi foreign workers

Hopefully, OFWs may now be free from their worries of labor malpractice and abuse of their employers once the recommendation of Human rights campaigners in Saudi Arabia shall be considered by the Saudi government.
The National Human Rights Society (NHRS) proposed that the powers of the Labour Ministry and Passport Department relating to foreign workers be transferred to the new organisation.

The proposals come as part of a study carried out by the NHRS on improving the working environment of foreign workers in the country.
The society has already handed over the study to the authorities at the Ministries of Interior and Labour.

The study also recommends certain procedures to abolish the rules defining sponsorship.

They include an end to the practice of the employer holding passports of expatriate workers, doing away with no objection letters, allowing a foreign worker to bring his family to the Kingdom, employer’s consent to process Haj permit, marriage and family visits besides all terms restricting the employees’ freedom.

Friday, August 29, 2008

MTV Arabia to drop music videos in Ramadan

MTV Arabia, the Middle East’s youth entertainment and lifestyle channel, has announced it will mark Ramadan by dropping music videos.

The channel, which launched in November, has brought the Arab world cutting-edge international music as well as the best in Arabic pop and hip hop.

But its Ramadan fare will reflect the solemnity of the Holy Month, according to Samr Al Mazouqi, the channel’s manager.
He said: “The Holy Month is a time for introspection, and we would like to offer our viewers a break from the ordinary fare.

"Though part of a global brand, MTV Arabia is conscious of regional sensitivities and we are keen to respond to the needs and desires of viewers in the Middle East, the vast majority of whom will be fasting, spending time with family, and focusing on their spiritual lives.”

The channel will continue to play programmes from MTV’s international roster of reality shows, celebrity news and pop culture documentaries.

As is customary with television channels across the region, MTV Arabia will air the call to prayer during Maghreb.

A free to air channel, MTV Arabia broadcasts from Dubai and is available on the Nilesat and Arabsat platforms.

Source: Arabian Business News

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Travelers Beware!

The Custom authority at the King Khalid International Airport (KKIA) in Riyadh had been very strict checking the baggages, particularly CD’s and DVD’s containing movies, softwares and anything prohibited in the Kingdom. Anyone who happens to bring in these items may take time waiting at the Airport for the authorities to check each and every CDs they found.

That was before, when enticing piece of hardware like flask disks, memory cards and external hard drives were still not found in the market.

But with the emerging of low-priced and convenient flash disks, memory cards, cellphones and external hard drives, anyone can store data, particularly pornographic materials, pirated softwares, etc where he can bring unnoticingly inside the Kingdom.

But be warned! If you think you can get away with the law in the Kingdom, think again!

Recently, my friend informed me that his officemates were caught with pornographic movies and pictures stored in their flask disks and hard drives. The police authorities at the international airport are equipped with gadgets, card readers, etc. to inspect all the electronic devices found in your possessions. They are now detained and maybe end up in jail for this violation.

So if ever you travel back to the Kingdom, its advisable not to bring any device containing prohibited materials which may bring you problem at the immigration.

Monday, August 25, 2008

New security rules for Saudi visitors

All passengers arriving at Saudi Arabia’s King Abdul Airport in Jeddah and Prince Muhammad Bin Abdul Aziz Airport in Madina will be fingerprinted under new security plans.

The fingerprinting will begin this Haj season, and is part of a new package designed to eliminate the problem of overstayers, the Saudi Gazette reported. All foreign residents and visitors will be fingerprinted, said Brigadier General Zaid Al-Turaifi, director of the Passport Institute.

When a foreign national is fingerprinted, all his or her relevant data will be stored in a database, the newspaper reported.

Information includes the person’s full name, employer, religion, and country of origin as well as the validity of his or her residence permit (iqama) or visa. A digital photo of the person will also be saved in the database.

Saudi girl, 8, in plea for divorce

A court in Saudi Arabia is reported to be preparing to hear a plea for divorce from an eight-year-old girl who has been married off to a man in his 50s.

The Saudi newspaper al-Watan said on Sunday the girl had been married off to the man by her father without her knowledge.

The child's mother is thought to be pushing for the marriage to be annulled although the father opposes the move.
In April, a court in neighbouring Yemen annulled the arranged marriage of another eight-year-old girl. She had been married to a 28-year-old man.

Child-protection groups say children are often given away in return for hefty dowries, or as a result of old customs in which a father promises his infant daughters and sons to cousins out of a belief that marriage will protect them from illicit relationships. Activists have called for an end to the practice.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Its Better to be Safe than Sorry!

The Philippine Embassy in Riyadh is once again issuing a reminder in the wake of reports of Filipinos victimized by housebreakers. The most recent case is that of an OFW chemist who forgot to lock the main door of their flat when he arrived from work.

Four unknown persons entered his flat and his huge built was no match when he was assaulted by the group and subsequently hit by an iron in he head. His arms and feet were tied, mouth was taped, upbraided and terribly horrified when his body was sprinkled with alcohol. He was probably burned if not two of the thieves were in a hurry. However, all his important belongings, money and gifts that he bought for his family for his scheduled final exit this month was taken. To make matters worst, he was denied admission in the hospital because he has no identification, medical issuance card and police report.

Although the above was reported via email to the embassy and in the process of verifying its authenticity, the Embassy deems that it may be worthwhile to circulate it to our families, friends and fellow “kababayans” since we have nothing to lose if we remind them to be extra cautious of their everyday’s safety.

Safety and security ate the result of collective consensus and public investment..they do not just happen.


In line with the observance of the Holy Month of Ramadan, the Embassy of the Philippines in Riyadh would like to inform the General Public that effective on Sunday, 31 August 2008 or Monday, 01 September 2008 (depending on the sighting of the new moon), its regular office hours will commence from 10:00 am up to 3:00 pm only from Saturday to Wednesday. This will last until the Eid Al Fitr holidays which will start on 24 or 25 September 2008.
The Thursday schedule from 8:00 am to 12 noon of the Consular Section of the Embassy is suspended for the duration of the Ramadan.
The Embassy will resume its regular working hours after the Eid Al Fitr holidays.
The aforementioned schedule is in accordance with the directives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

1st Miss Earth Design Competition

Riyadh top fashion models showcase collections of Emil Santos (a fashion designer based in Riyadh) during the Ystilo Fashion Show at the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh

I received an email below regarding the forthcoming Miss Earth Design Competition and hopefully more fashion designers from Saudi Arabia will be encouraged to participate.

We in Carousel Productions recognize not only beauty and wit, we also discover and appreciate talents worthy of international acclaim. This year, for the first time in the Miss Earth pageant history, we are launching a project that will showcase the skills and creativity of professional or even budding designers here in the Philippines and even abroad, on fusing fashion and Filipino culture in coming up with timeless designs that are eco-friendly perfect for the Earth's most beautiful.

The 1st Miss Earth Design Competition is open to professional, non-professional and students who have experience, is learning or even just plain enthusiastic about the field of fashion design. You can join solo or form a design and implementation team of no more than 3 members. One important requirement is your ability to translate the sketches into real garments when chosen. Meaning, you will do it yourself or you have the capacity to outsource people to do it for you. The inspiration for the design is the Philippines; our culture, products, people, festivals, resources. Designs made in the past shall be allowed as long as it has not been showcased to the public (i.e. no media coverage, not shown in a national, local event).

Interested parties must complete the entry form which you can get by emailing and submit the all the requirements in a short brown envelope to: 7 Ideal St., Shaw Blvd. Mandaluyong City on or before September 30, 2008. You can send as many sketches as you want.

Contents of the envelope:

1. Completely filled-out application form (please print multiple for teams) You can use additional sheets if the pages are not enough. Please submit comprehensive fashion design CV if you have one.

2. Sketches (back and forth) ideally colored or send pictures if they are already made

Top 90 sketches (or corresponding number of candidates) will be chosen to be worn by the candidates for Miss Earth 2008 to be showcased in the commemorative calendar made each year distributed to sponsors, franchise holders and made available for public purchase. The names of the 90 designers (or corresponding number of candidates) will also be featured. Not only that, the clothes will be worn by the Miss Earth beauties in a fashion show were the top 3 designs will be awarded.

Winners will be chosen based on the following criteria:

40 pts. Relevance to the theme and aptness of design
20 pts. Use of the latest fashion trends in materials, colours and trims
20 pts. Wearability and usefulness for purpose
10 pts. Accuracy of representation (of Philippine culture, products, etc)
10 pts. Over-all impact

With a grand total of 100 points.

Please feel free to pass this on to friends.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

New insurance charge for Dubai visitors

Visitors and tourists coming to Dubai will have to pay about Dh1 for each day of stay in the country, a senior Dubai Naturalization and Residency Department (DNRD) official announced today.

The cost was revealed in a press conference announcing the selection of two local insurers – Amman and Oman Insurance – to provide visa applicants with the mandatory health insurance to complete entry permit procedures.

Brig. Obaid Mehayer Bin Suroor, Acting Director of DNRD, said: “Counters for these insurance companies will be set up at all DNRD branches to offer their services to customers when they apply for entry permits. The system of these companies will soon be linked with DNRD’s online services.”

The two were picked out of several companies who presented proposals to DNRD.
Brig. Bin Suroor, said: “We received several proposals from different companies. We chose the suitable one which offers special services at competitive prices.”
Health insurance for a 30-day visit visa will cost Dh40, and Dh90 for a 90-day visa. A 180-day entry permit costs Dh185.

This clears the initial confusion over health insurance coverage for visitors or tourists, which has been made mandatory under the newly-implemented visa regulations from July 29 following the issuance of Ministerial Decision No. 322/2008. z
Brig. Bin Suroor said people are free to get health insurance coverage from the company they want but the insurance policy should hold the same terms and conditions of the deal DNRD had with the health insurers.

“The coverage of insurance policy should be for a minimum of Dh150,000 for a person per visit to the UAE only and against emergency cases and accidents during the visitor stay in the country. Moreover, the medical coverage will be through a network covered by the insurance companies,” he added.

“The insured person will receive treatment in a shared room and 100% coverage for medication, surgery, and hospital fees in addition to teeth and rehabilitation treatment in accidents cases.

Brig. Bin Suroor said: “The agreement says that insurance companies will bear the cost up to Dh7,000 of repatriating the body back to the country of the visitor in case of death.”

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Goodnews! 1,000 'offensive' websites to be unblocked in Dubai!

Etisalat and du will be told to unblock access to more than 1,000 websites that UAE censors had deemed offensive.

The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) will instruct web service providers to unblock the sites as part of its new “internet access management” policy.

The new policy will require the government-controlled internet provider duopoly of Etisalat and du to unblock the sites before August 29.
While TRA officials were unable to specify the websites that will be unblocked, the paper says they are likely to include internet forums and social networking sites whose administrators have removed material that TRA officials considered questionable or offensive.

Mohamed Nasser Al Ghanim, TRA Board Member and Director General, said: "We have always considered the interests and benefits of consumers throughout the formulation of this policy, which laws are directed to protect Internet users, because we believe in the role of the internet as a primary mean of acquiring knowledge.

"Given the fact of the commercial, economic and media work environment of many governmental bodies and institutions in the country, the TRA has implemented some exceptions on blocking access to certain websites, which contents may be commensurate with the nature of their work, where they might be in dire need to know vital information via the Internet that is at the core of their work. We don't want the blocking system to have a negative impact on their work and activity."

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Flash news: 55 arrests after suspected 'gay party'

At least 55 people have been arrested following a police bust at an alleged homosexual party in eastern Saudi Arabia.

According to police, drugs and alcohol were found at the farm near Qatif, while two young men were allegedly found wearing women’s makeup and dancing on stage.

Many of those arrested were Filipinos and Pakistanis.
A labor attaché at the Embassy is now trying to help them.