Shops given three month deadline to check signs



ABU DHABI // Shop owners have been given a three-month deadline to comply with new commercial signage regulations that will lead to smaller, more standardised signs across the emirate.

The regulations, which went into effect last month, will determine the size and type of sign allowed on the capital's storefronts, as well as the position on buildings. Business owners will have three months from the date of their licence renewal to comply with the law, from today in Al Ain and April 15 in Al Gharbia. When the law was first announced, the Urban Planning Council (UPC) said owners would have one year to comply.

"The main objective of the signage is to make sure the cities are good-looking," said Fahim Al Shehhi, the director of the commercial licence division at the Department of Economic Development (DED), which is overseeing compliance.

"Some signs are too big or the wrong material. All of the buildings must be uniform."

Inspectors will visit businesses to ensure they meet the requirements within three months, but Mr Al Shehhi said the DED did not intend to fine owners who did not comply. Business licences will not be renewed unless the signage meets specifications, however.

"Penalties are the last thing we want to do," Mr Al Shehhi said. "The main thing is to work with the customers and inform them of the new processes and procedures."

The DED and the UPC have conducted workshops with more than 70 signmakers and have plans to distribute 200,000 copies of the guidelines.

Signs will no longer be allowed to cover any integral architectural element of a structure or protrude more than 25 centimetres from a building. Ground-level businesses cannot have signs taller than one metre, and sign location, height and position must be consistent with other signage on the same structure.

The regulations also went into effect in Mussaffah, Shahamah and Al Wathba on April 1.

Signage will be replaced at the owner's expense, a price some shop owners estimated could exceed Dh5,000.

But Mr Al Shehhi said prices will remain competitive, because all signmakers will offer the same materials and designs.

"It will remain within everyone's budget," he said.

The authority issued 2,115 permits last year for signboards, billboards and banners. About 100 businesses have already complied with the new regulations.

Your rights as an employee

The government has taken an increasingly tough line against companies that fail to pay employees on time. Three years ago, the Cabinet passed a decree allowing the government to halt the granting of work permits to companies with wage backlogs.

The new measures passed by the Cabinet in 2016 were an update to the Wage Protection System, which is in place to track whether a company pays its employees on time or not.

If wages are 10 days late, the new measures kick in and the company is alerted it is in breach of labour rules. If wages remain unpaid for a total of 16 days, the authorities can cancel work permits, effectively shutting off operations. Fines of up to Dh5,000 per unpaid employee follow after 60 days.

Despite those measures, late payments remain an issue, particularly in the construction sector. Smaller contractors, such as electrical, plumbing and fit-out businesses, often blame the bigger companies that hire them for wages being late.

The authorities have urged employees to report their companies at the labour ministry or Tawafuq service centres — there are 15 in Abu Dhabi.

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The BIO:

He became the first Emirati to climb Mount Everest in 2011, from the south section in Nepal

He ascended Mount Everest the next year from the more treacherous north Tibetan side

By 2015, he had completed the Explorers Grand Slam

Last year, he conquered K2, the world’s second-highest mountain located on the Pakistan-Chinese border

He carries dried camel meat, dried dates and a wheat mixture for the final summit push

His new goal is to climb 14 peaks that are more than 8,000 metres above sea level

If you go

The flights

There are direct flights from Dubai to Sofia with FlyDubai (www.flydubai.com) and Wizz Air (www.wizzair.com), from Dh1,164 and Dh822 return including taxes, respectively.

The trip

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SPECS

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UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets
COMPANY PROFILE

Company: Eco Way
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Industry: Electric vehicles
Investors: Bootstrapped with undisclosed funding. Looking to raise funds from outside

CABINET OF CURIOSITIES EPISODE 1: LOT 36

Director: Guillermo del Toro
Stars: Tim Blake Nelson, Sebastian Roche, Elpidia Carrillo
Rating: 4/5

What is blockchain?

Blockchain is a form of distributed ledger technology, a digital system in which data is recorded across multiple places at the same time. Unlike traditional databases, DLTs have no central administrator or centralised data storage. They are transparent because the data is visible and, because they are automatically replicated and impossible to be tampered with, they are secure.

The main difference between blockchain and other forms of DLT is the way data is stored as ‘blocks’ – new transactions are added to the existing ‘chain’ of past transactions, hence the name ‘blockchain’. It is impossible to delete or modify information on the chain due to the replication of blocks across various locations.

Blockchain is mostly associated with cryptocurrency Bitcoin. Due to the inability to tamper with transactions, advocates say this makes the currency more secure and safer than traditional systems. It is maintained by a network of people referred to as ‘miners’, who receive rewards for solving complex mathematical equations that enable transactions to go through.

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Other blockchain platforms can offer things like smart contracts, which are automatically implemented when specific conditions from all interested parties are reached, cutting the time involved and the risk of mistakes. Another use could be storing medical records, as patients can be confident their information cannot be changed. The technology can also be used in supply chains, voting and has the potential to used for storing property records.


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