All posts by Dubai Desi Volunteer

Prerana – Manthan

“Prerana – Manthan” team welcomes all for an interactive session on “IT Literacy for the Determined Ones” by Ms. Kavita Dawda @ the Indian Consulate on Friday,16th June 2017.


Indian epic ‘Mahabharata’ to be shot in Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi will be transformed into a lush forest to provide the perfect location for the ambitious mythological epic Mahabharata, starring Mohanlal, by May 2018, said its Abu Dhabi-based producer Dr B.R. Shetty on Sunday.

Shetty, the UAE-based businessman who is willing to allocate a budget of Rs10 billion (Dh570 million) into this multi-lingual project, claimed elaborate sets will be erected in the capital to bring alive the sweeping tale of kings, warrior and powerful queens.

Choosing Abu Dhabi as the first filming location was his way to pay it forward to the region that awarded him all the wealth and success. The duration of the shoot in Abu Dhabi — a filming destination for films such as Star Wars and Bollywood action films Tiger Returns and Bang Bang — is yet to be decided but a substantial portion of the film will be shot here, said its makers.

“We will even create a forest and I have already spoken to the film commission about it … I didn’t come here with any money, so every dirham and fils was earned here in Abu Dhabi for the last 43 years. This is my way to pay it back to this country,” said Dr Shetty.

Directed by V A Shrikumar Menon, the ambitious tale will be spearheaded by award-winning actor Mohanlal.



“SWARANJALI” a classical concert by Pandit Raghunandan Panshikar

“SWARANJALI” a classical concert by Pandit Raghunandan Panshikar in memory of Gana Saraswati Padma Vibhushan Smt. Kishori Amonkar at the Indian Consulate on 2nd June 2017 .

All Indian music lovers are welcome!!!

Note: Mobile phones are strictly not allowed inside the Consulate.


Gems proud of UAE’s top pupil

Atharva Pulujkar, 17, set a record for his school when he became the first valedictorian to be named the UAE’s top science pupil.

When the Indian School Certificate Examination (ISCE) results were announced on Monday, the Gems Modern Academy pupil tied with classmate Soumil Banerjee to score the country’s highest mark in the science stream with a near-perfect grade.

“I wasn’t expecting to get 99 overall, but when I saw the results I was very happy,” said Atharva, who was born in India and has lived in the UAE most of his life.

Gems Modern Academy is the UAE’s biggest and oldest Council for the ISCE-curriculum school.

Three schools in Dubai and one in Sharjah offer the ICSE curriculum, which evolved from the Cambridge School Certificate Examination and is said to be more rigorous in English and science than the more popular Central Board of Secondary Education.

Of the 145 Gems Modern Academy pupils in Grade 12 who sat the exam, 55.9 per cent scored 90 per cent or higher.

Atharva was named his school’s valedictorian after scoring the highest grade in the preliminary exams in January. In the school’s 30-year history, this is the first time a valedictorian has also scored the highest grade in the final exams.

“We have never had our valedictorian – that’s our topper in our preliminary exams – top the ISC exam, but this year, our valedictorian is exactly the person who’s topped so he’s broken tradition,” said Nargish Khambatta, principal and chief executive of Gems Modern Academy.

Another 225 pupils sat the Grade 10 examination, with 41.8 per cent of them scoring above 90 per cent.

Adiba Ejaz, 15, led the Grade 10 candidates with a mark of 98.8 per cent.

“The thing is to be consistent,” Adiba said. “What a lot of people tend to do with exams is they don’t pay attention for the whole year and expect that you can cram everything within a month and get that grade. But the thing with exams, you’ve got to spread it out over a period of time.”

Adiba and Atharva said that, while getting high marks were important to them they did not let it overshadow their extracurricular activities.

“Basically, you shouldn’t treat getting marks like the biggest thing in life,” said Atharva, who will study mechanical engineering at Imperial College London this autumn.

“While you’re in school, you should study well, you should study hard, but at the same time you must focus on your other interests, like sports.”

Ms Khambatta said: “The people who’ve topped, they are all-rounders, they find the right balance, they focus on academics as well as pursue their extracurricular passions.

“The teachers have very high expectations of the students. Our students always live up to those high expectations.

“I’m very, very pleased that we are an all-inclusive school, so we have students with disabilities who appear for the exam and they sit the same exam, and we are pleased with their performance.”

Panic as owner of UAE-based money exchange absconds

Unexpected closure of a money exchange has created panic among scores of customers in the UAE, Khaleej Times has learned.

Duped customers alleged that the owner of the money exchange house, which has six branches in the UAE, shut the office and absconded after pocketing hundreds of thousands of dirhams.

Customers who wired money to their home countries through the exchange house said they have been left devastated as their hard-earned savings vanished overnight.

Most of the victims who spoke to Khaleej Times said have registered a case with the Abu Dhabi courts.

“I lost nearly Dh17,500 I had sent home. I am shocked beyond words,” Arun Murugan, one of the victims, told Khaleej Times.

Another victim from Kerala, India, who sent Dh25,000 in to the construction of his house, said he has lost almost a years’ savings. “All their branches are closed and no one is responding to calls for the last four days. I do not know what to do,” said the shattered victim.

The money exchange owned by an Indian national A. S. has six branches in the UAE. The two in Abu Dhabi — one in Mussafah and the other in Madinat Zayed area — remained closed when Khaleej Times visited them on May 28.

In Dubai, the three branches — Burjuman, Al Attar and Karama — and one in Sharjah, are also not operational since May 24. All attempts to reach the office of the exchange did not yield result.

The unexpected closure of the money exchange has left a trail of heartbreaks, as customers lost amounts between Dh1,000 and Dh45,000 in individual transfers.

Murugan, one of the victims, said he wired Dh17,500 to Federal Bank in Salem in Tamil Nadu in South India on May 17, through the Mussafah branch of the exchange house.

“The money was meant to pay some housing loans and other financial commitments I have in India. I got worried when the amount did not reach my family even after two to three days. When I checked with the staff at the exchange, they said the delay was caused by some technical problem in their system,” said Murugan.

Tired of calling their office several times without response, Murugan decided to visit the branch office on May 24. “I had the shock of my life when I saw the closed office. There was no staff and the lights were left on.”

Panic set in soon as scores of customers whose money got wiped off realised they have been duped, and started pouring in to the company’s branch offices.

Sohail (name changed on request) from Mumbai, who sent Dh22,000 through the Madinat Zayed branch to his NRI account in India, said he has been chasing the exchange house for more than a week.

“The staff kept telling me that there is a technical snag, and they were trying to solve the problem. I waited for nearly 10 days and finally decided to come to the office. But there was no one.”

Shajahan, a resident of Dubai, said the Dh3,350 he sent home on May 19 was yet to reach his family. “I have been using the exchange house for more than 10 months, and I never doubted their credibility. Their rates are good and service efficient. This came as a huge shock. Now I have to borrow money to send home to my wife again.”

Owner of a typing centre next to the Madinat Zayed branch of the exchange house said since May 24, dozens of anxious customers have been coming to him to enquire about the closure of the office.

Speaking to Khaleej Times, the Emirati sponsor of the company, who requested not to be named, said he has filed a police complaint against the owner.

“The matter has been reported to the central bank, and the issue will resolved soon and customers will receive their money,” said the sponsor.

He added: “I have his passport, and I have already put a travel ban on him so that he cannot leave the country.”

UAE Consulate-General in Kerala distributes dates to orphans

The UAE Consulate-General in the Indian State of Kerala, in co-operation with the Government of Kerala, has distributed premium Emirati dates to orphans in Trivandrum city.

The gesture, in collaboration with the Emirates Red Crescent, was held on Friday, which coincides with the holy month of Ramadan and the first anniversary celebrations of Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan assuming office.

Jamal Hussain Al Zaabi, the Consul-General of the UAE Consulate General in Kerala, supervised the distribution of dates. Some 40,000 people, including 30 orphans, people with special needs and the Kerala mosque, will benefit from the gesture.

Al Zaabi expressed his pride at the existing strong and historic relations between the UAE and Kerala. He added that the step was in response to the Year of Giving initiative launched by President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and was a result of the hospitality and generosity of Emiratis.

Read More on Khaleej Times

Meghna Savit , CBSE topper who just broke an IHS record

It was great news all around for 17-year-old Dubai student Meghna Savit on Sunday, as she secured the UAE’s highest results in the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) exams. But as if that wasn’t impressive enough, the Indian High School (IHS) Dubai student clinched a record-breaking score among the girls in her school too.

Securing an impressive 98.4 per cent in the Science stream, the bright student has now set a new record among IHS girls by crossing over the 98 per cent mark.

Exam results in 2015 and 2016 saw two female students score 98 per cent in the Science stream, but Savit has now topped that record.

Speaking to Khaleej Times she said she still can’t believe she’s the country’s topper.

“My father actually broke the news to me at about 10am this morning. I was taking a shower but when he told me the score, I thought he was kidding.”

She said the “sense of surprise” continued as she received a call from her school, declaring her the UAE’s highest topper in the CBSE exams.

Coming out on top across the country, Savit beat off competition for the title against approximately 2,000 UAE-based students.

“I just kept checking and checking to make sure it was right. Being called to the principal’s office is always daunting, but this time it was for a very good reason,” her father joked to Khaleej Times.

When asked how she plans to celebrate, Savit said a family dinner was in order, but with her schooling days now coming to an end, she said the next step is to go on and study in India.

“I plan on going to India to get admission to the National Institutes of Technology (NITs) or the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs).”

And for her, the long-term dream is to become the founder of her own start-up.

Which is the perfect NOL card for you?

Many, and we mean many Dubai residents, tourists, and professionals take the Metro at any given moment. In fact, the Metro is part and parcel of modern life in Dubai as it connects major districts in the city. And with riding the Metro comes — of course — paying for it.

To the uninitiated, all Nol cards might look the same. But the RTA has tweeted out a kind reminder to residents about the various differences of every NOL card.

Want to know what’s the best card for you? It depends really: some cards are geared for comfort, others offer extra layers of security, and some are for taking the Metro once.

Gold Card

No, you won’t get a gold-plated chair. But you do get access to the Gold Class Cabin – think flying First Class, but in Metro form. And like First Class, you pay extra.

Silver Card

The ‘regular’ card for every Dubai resident.

Personal Card (Blue Card)

Want your name and photo on either Gold or Silver Card? This is the one. You can also recover your balance if in case you misplace your card. Neat.

Red Card

Despite sharing a name with a sports penalty, this card won’t penalize your wallet since its extremely cheap. You can only use it once though.

Customised Card

Do you want a fancy photo on your card? Maybe you’re bored of the regular colours above? If so, then the card for your need to be unique has arrived, for an additional Dh30.

80-year-old Indian grandma in UAE knits her way into world records

Indian expatriate Sitabai Bhagwandas Vagh, a longtime UAE resident, will turn 80 in July. She is a grandma of five and great grandma of two children. She has artificial knee caps, can only see with her right eye and has undergone surgeries to remove a tumour from her intestine and cataract.

However, the age and the physical challenges did not discourage Sitabai, who has spent most of her life in the GCC countries, from knitting her way into the Guinness World Records.

On May 21, she became one of the oldest participants among 700 Indian women across the world who set a new Guinness World Record in Chennai by making the longest crocheted scarf measuring 14.09km. Once she receives her participation certificate from Guinness, she would probably be the oldest Guinness World Record holder living in the UAE too.

However, this could not be verified because Guinness officials in Dubai said they document the age of the participants only when the attempt is to become the oldest person to break a record.

Sitabai could achieve the feat after she became a member of the Dubai branch of the Facebook group Mother India’s Crochet Queens (MICQ) which set its second world record in two years. In January last year, they broke the record for the largest crochet blanket measuring 111,48 square metres, easily covering the football pitch in Chennai on which it was laid.



Read More on Gulf news

UAE-based artist features in Modi book

Paintings by a UAE-based Indian artist are the only artworks that feature in a new book about a popular radio show hosted by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Entitled Mann Ki Baat (Heart’s Voice), the book, which is named after the show, was unveiled on Friday in New Delhi, in a ceremony attended by Indian President Pranab Mukherjee.

In all, 11 of Dubai-based artist Akbar Saheb’s illustrations on various themes have been published in the book, including the cover illustration.

The book will be widely circulated within the urban and rural Indian community in English and Hindi, and will soon be released in all regional languages and foreign languages.

A big fan of Narendra Modi, Akbar Saheb had earlier painted a series of 12 paintings themed on the Indian prime minister and his achievements over 12 years, which were also exhibited in Baroda in Gujarat, in early 2015.

Read more on Gulf news