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Driven in the UAE: Aston Martin DBX

The Aston Martin Valkyrie is an out-of-this-world hypercar. It’s a sublime distillation of the storied marque’s heritage into an ethereal looking capsule that’s raring to race into the future at warp speed. Equally otherworldly is the smaller Valhalla, another limited edition hypercar that fans of the Gaydon carmaker have their eyes peeled for. However, remarkable as these two visceral machines are, the British brand has been hitting roadblocks, one after the other, in the path to getting them on the road. This isn’t a predicament without precedent. Porsche has been there long back; so has Jaguar, BMW, Maserati, Lamborghini and many others. The sheer amount of money that’s required for research and development before a supercar or a sportscar is put into production is mindboggling, and the only way these companies could raise such resources is by building and selling less glamorous money-spinners. While all of the above mentioned performance brands have cashed in on the SUV segment, Aston Martin remained a reluctant straggler for many years. But when it actually did come out with an SUV, it forced the motoring world to sit up and take notice. Despite the significantly inflated girth, it manages to look as striking as any other model from the stable. Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque The DBX, Aston Martin’s first ever SUV in its century-long existence, is an absolute stunner. Despite the significantly inflated girth, it manages to look as striking as any other model from the stable. With the legacy DB grille and the seductively flowing lines, the heritage and the DNA are written all over the DBX. Whether you look at it head on, in profile or from the back, this is one handsomely proportioned SUV. Whether you look at it head on, in profile or from the back, the DBX is one handsomely proportioned SUV. Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque Step inside, and you’ll realise the quality of materials and workmanship are ages better in comparison to the interior quality of Aston Martins of yore. The seats are remarkably comfortable, and getting into a comfortable driving position behind the steering is a breeze. While most of the buttons and controls are ergonomically placed, one conspicuous exception is the placement of the D (Drive) button on the centre stack. Rather than keeping it closer to the driver, Aston Martin has chosen to position it closer to the front passenger, making it a potential stretch for anyone with a below average arm length. Another quirk is the bonnet release button, which is placed on the passenger side! I suspect these two oddities are a result of Aston Martin trying to cut some corners while converting the original right hand drive layout to left hand drive for other markets. Materials and workmanship in the cabin are way better than what used to be in Aston Martins of yore. Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque The 12.1-inch digital display behind the steering wheel is easy to read at a glance, even while driving, and the 10-inch multimedia touchscreen offers an intuitive interactive interface. Aston Martin has not skimped on practicality and comfort at the back either with enough room for two adults. The raised transmission tunnel and a rounded centre portion of the rear seat make the DBX a four-seater effectively. However, for the two occupants of the rear quarters, there’s plenty of leg- and headroom with the sense of airiness enhanced by the panoramic sunroof. The 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 is sourced from Mercedes-Benz AMG. Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque While the interior appointments and luxury trimmings could lull you into a sense of being in a tame family car, all you need to wake up into reality is press the engine start button. The 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 sourced from Mercedes-Benz AMG comes to life with a mighty roar, before settling down to an assertive growl on idle. It’s the same block that powers the DB11 and the Vantage, but in the DBX, it spews 550 horsepower and 700Nm of torque to hurtle the SUV from 0-100kph in just 4.5 seconds. The DBX handles with litheness that belies its heft. Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque Acceleration is immediate and the V8 pulls hard abruptly past the 3,000 rpm mark, throwing the floodgates of adrenaline wide open with the intoxicatingly full-throated exhaust note adding to the heady mix. Unless you keep an eye on the speedometer regularly, it’s quite easy to rack up speeding fines in the thousands on highways. This is an SUV that needs to be enjoyed around a race track. It corners flat on fast bends, as planted and composed as a tarmac-hugging sportscar. The DBX handles with a verve that belies its heft, with the car shrinking around you as its telepathic steering lets you carve corners with ease. Aston Martin might have come to the SUV party quite late. However, what they have brought with them is a fabulous showstopper. Quite possibly, the best high end performance SUV in the world.

GulfNews UAE

Indian boy, 12, in UAE develops anti-cheating system for online exams

Education|: Sharjah: A 12-year-old Indian student in Sharjah has created an anti-cheating guard for online exams that alerts the school if a student is straying away from the exam site to access other websites or documents. Aarush Rajani, a Grade 8 student of Delhi Private School Sharjah (DPS Sharjah), has built a JavaScript-based web component that instantly identifies such activity and alerts the invigilator of the class about the incident. It notes the specific time the student was away and then automatically sends an immediate email alerting the invigilator with specific time logs. Many students in the UAE and globally are engaged in full distance learning because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and so taking their exams online this term, which concludes at the end the month. Without proctors walking down aisles in exam halls, keeping an eye on any attempt by students to cheat, educators are taking steps to mitigate cheating during online exams from home. Aarush, who is the head boy of middle school at DPS Sharjah, and known for his computer skills, was recently approached by his middle school science head of department for an opportunity “to enhance the reliability of the online examination process by creating an anti-cheating mechanism to help the invigilators”. Fool-proof system? Aarush Rajani Aarush, who is from India’s business capital Mumbai, soon delivered the anti-cheating system — which his school’s IT team has not been able to hack despite several attempts during testing. All such attempts failed, including shifting windows, opening new tabs, using shortcuts such as ALT+Tab or CTRL+Tab. “They were trying their best to find a loophole in my code, but the web code worked in all scenarios” and blocked cheating attempts, Aarush said. “With this capability, invigilators can now assess larger patterns that can help identify, warn repeat offenders and, in the long-run, reduce the incidence of such events,” he added. Starting young Aarush said he has been “attracted like a magnet” to technology since the early days of his childhood. When his parents had gifted him his first battery-operated car, his “first reaction was not to run it around, but turn it upside-down to open it and check what’s inside”. Aarush has been experimenting and learning new tech skills since then, including coding in several computer languages, including Python for artificial intelligence and machine learning, as well as the Linux terminal for ethical hacking. Going global Earlier this month, Aarush led his school team towards winning the ‘Champions Award’ in First Lego League (FLL) Nationals 2021 contest in the UAE. Next stop is Greece, where Aarush, along with his team, will be representing the UAE in the international round of the contest later this month. FLL presents teams with real-world scientific challenges and judges their innovative concepts based on the research and potential impact. ‘Infinity and Beyond’ Aarush and the team is currently working on enhancing their project, called ‘Infinity and Beyond’, for the international round. He did not divulge details about the project but said it was essentially “a futuristic fitness system which will help a lot in these conditions” of the pandemic. He said it was “a unique combination of VR [Virtual Reality] technology with an omnidirectional treadmill that unlocks infinite possibilities for health, tourism and leisure, amid today’s COVID challenges”. Earlier this month, Aarush led his school team towards winning the ‘Champions Award’ in First Lego League (FLL) Nationals 2021 contest in the UAE. Image Credit: Supplied Apart from the FLL project, Aarush has also developed ‘Foresight’ to help people of determination “commute safely”, using a mobile app and wearable technology, including hardware modules at bus stops to assist the visually impaired. College dream He plans to study computer science in college. His aim is to pursue a master’s degree in science from MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) in the US, specialising in artificial intelligence. “I wish to build a career in Deep Learning and Machine Learning. It’s not just a dream for myself, but also for improving the lives of countless people around me,” he said. Word of thanks Aarush thanked his entire school community and his parents for their support. “My parents have been an absolute rock of inspiration, support, motivation, and facilitation. They have always been there to support me and motivate me, regardless of my success or failures.” Besides his love for technology, Aarush is an avid amateur filmmaker.

GulfNews UAE

Battling grief: A Dubai-based Indian daughter’s journey after losing her father

Health|: Dubai: I remember the day I grew up! The exact moment. It was January 26, 2010, at 12.43pm when the doctor uttered the words no child should ever have to hear: “I think your father has cancer.” What followed was a whirlwind three weeks that saw my childhood fall by the wayside, making room for the responsible adult who needed to bottle up her pain and step up to fight the most important battle in her life. Unfortunately, the cancer was a stronger opponent, spreading its tentacles swiftly and without mercy, with my father’s fight lasting all of three weeks. COVID-19 has served as a constant, and often painful, reminder of the engulfing darkness that befalls when death comes knocking on your door. The grief can be all consuming and rarely shows compassion. Those first few days unravelled with mechanical precision: Waking up to a sense of emptiness, managing uncomfortable silences on those inevitable condolence calls, planning the funeral and battling insomnia until sleep showed some sympathy. It was only after those initial 13 days, when the mourners retreated and life returned to some semblance of normality, that the loneliness gradually crept in in the dead of night, along with a mountain of misery. Today, I can look back clinically and call my situation a textbook case caught in the vicious cycle of grief. First came the denial, which barely gave me a moment’s respite before anger held its hand and kicked down the door to grief with brutal force. I’m not quite sure when those last vestiges of rage were shrugged off, if ever. I was mad, at a higher power, my surviving parent, my sister, friends, family, just about anyone who was unfortunate enough to enter my line of vision. But the grim reality was that I was angry with myself. I had failed. The one time when my father needed me to hold his hand, I had failed him. That guilt stayed with me for a long time. It can still sometimes creep up in the dead of the night when you least suspect it. The only difference is, I know better now. Surviving the cycle The cycle of grief isn’t pretty. I found myself wedged somewhere between anger and depression, often giving in to bouts of weeping and the darkest rage. Somewhere along the way, I had also become a master at compartmentalising while I dug deep into the mountain of paperwork that followed, juggling bank accounts, a business, court dates and my own job. The funny thing about grief is, it can trick you into believing today will be a good day — stealthily sneaking up in a surprise attack that can leave you stunned. I was three months into my solitary battle when actual physical pain reared its ugly head. One morning, I woke up to realise I couldn’t move my left arm. For a few seconds, the initial shock pushed all other thought away. But it wasn’t just my arm; I could barely move my left leg as well. Grief can trick you into believing today will be a good day — stealthily sneaking up in a surprise attack that can leave you stunned. Image Credit: Shutterstock As the hours turned into days, panic started to claw at me. A friend, who happened to be a physiotherapist, dropped by one evening and ended up half carrying me to the nearest hospital in a state of panic. The doctor on call decided I needed a CT scan to rule out a brain tumour, while pumping me with drugs that left me nearly comatose. All that played in my head on a loop were different scenarios where I broke the news to my mother. Till date, she remains blissfully unaware of what went down during that dark time. Today, I can look back and count on a single hand the number of people who saved me from the looming abyss. One of them was Dr Ahmed Kazim, a legend in UAE medical circles. Armed with a CT scan and a sudden urge to talk to a stranger who wouldn’t stand on judgement. Dr Kazim was the first person who realised that it was my grief and not some invisible tumour that had left me in a semi-paralysed state. He gently advised me to discard the meds (I was popping nine pills daily by then) and fit in a massage every week, take up yoga and take the time to speak with someone who could help me heal emotionally. A sympathetic boss, who had been silently witnessing my personal struggles, gave me that final push needed to speak to a counsellor. While I credit a handful of people who didn’t let me fall on this road to recovery, I also give myself the credit I deserve. It was ultimately my choice to seek help and that is perhaps the hardest and most important step in the healing cycle — reaching out. It was a year-long journey with my grief counsellor, taking baby steps with each session and giving me a reason to get out of bed every day. Perhaps one of the most important imparting from my counsellor was a simple one: No timeline would be set for my healing process. I was free to grieve for a day, a week, a year or five and there would be no judgement. That one line liberated me from the chains that had me shackled and within the first few weeks, coupled with my massage therapy, I was able to finally move my arm freely. Within a month, I was able to walk again without support. Counselling is rough I won’t lie. Counselling is emotionally rough. It can be brutal. It can definitely reduce you into a sobbing mess. And it will force you to face your darkest fears. But it can also show you there is light at the end of the tunnel. And it can save your life. I’m not quite sure at what point I moved on from depression towards acceptance, but one fine morning, I woke up and that tight knot that had set up near my heart appeared to free me from its hold. Life gradually returned to normal, but I didn’t stop seeking help. Meditation workshops, mindfulness classes, hitting the gym, anything that could support me mentally became a part of my day and continued until I didn’t feel the need of a crutch to hold me up anymore. Ultimately, I saved myself from the abyss and so can you. All you need to do is take that first step.

GulfNews UAE

Bereaved UAE residents share shock of losing loved ones to COVID-19

Health|: Dubai: In the last one year, the world has witnessed more than 3.32 million deaths due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Wherever we may be, each one of us is likely to have lost either an acquaintance, a friend, a member of the family or a really dear person. Bereavement, that used to be just a part of our lexicon, has now jumped out and is a heartrending reality as people are finding no time to deeply mourn their loss and come to terms with the devastating reality. Even the news of high numbers of COVID-19 deaths of unrelated people has triggered a morbid sense of mourning in people. Jogiraj Sikidar Take the case of Dubai resident Jogiraj Sikidar, founder of the Malhar Centre of Performing Arts, who lost his brother-in-law, a few friends and their parents. He told Gulf News: “Of my 15 school friends, at least six or seven had parents or relatives affected by the virus. I dreaded opening group chats, as not a day passed without knowing of a death of a loved one. I was constantly sending condolences to family and friends. In every family, there were a few COVID-positive cases and some of them were fighting for their lives. My brother-in-law was in his mid-40s and he was running around arranging beds for his mother and sister, when he turned positive. While his mother and sister battled for life in the ICU, sadly, he passed away. I also lost my school friend, sitar maestro Prateek Chaudhary, in Delhi. Prior to that, Prateek’s father, another well-known Indian sitar maestro, Debu Chaudhary, died of COVID complications and within a week, my school friend too succumbed. Imagine the family’s state, losing both men in a span of a week. Prateek left behind a 12-year-old child. I am devastated. Only music helps me destress and cope with the profound agony of losing friends, family members and people of my extended family in Delhi,” said an anguished Sikidar. Isolation makes matters worse Bereavement has become further complicated during the pandemic due to lockdowns and travel bans. While these measures are essential to break the chain of transmission, they do prevent people from being with their loved ones in such trying times. Tanya Dharamshi Tanya Dharamshi, clinical director and counselling psychologist at Priory Wellbeing Centre, Dubai, explained: “When a loved one passes, we often engage in rituals that support the process of grieving and allow us the ability to say goodbye to the departed soul, with friends and family by our side. Coping with the loss of a loved one can be extremely challenging and emotional even at the best of times, but during a pandemic, these feelings can only be exacerbated, particularly with the overwhelming feeling of isolation. “Through the various emotions we may experience during the loss of a loved one, we often seek solace, support, comfort and strength from family and friends. With the current physical-distancing measures, we are not able to connect physically, leaving many feeling extremely isolated and alone.” Seeking the elusive closure Pushpalata Dubey Indian expatriate Neha Singh Dubey was in a similar situation. She lost her 75-year-old mother-in-law, Pushpalata Dubey, on April 27 and could not even attend the funeral in Delhi. A devastated Singh told Gulf News: “My mother-in-law was absolutely healthy and had no co-morbidities. My husband Alok shared a very strong bond with his mother. She tested positive on April 22 and before we could actually help her, she breathed her last,” said Singh who was advised not to visit Delhi for the funeral with her husband owing to the situation there. Neha Singh Dubey and her husband Alok Dubey. Image Credit: Supplied “Although we understand that death is inevitable and one has to expect this final separation from a loved one, we are still trying to find closure as we never got the chance to grieve with our loved ones.” Coping with bereavement Jyoti Karmali Jyoti Karmali, another Dubai resident who lost her first cousin Seema Jalan to COVID-19, still cannot get over the shock. “There is so much sadness that it is overwhelming. My cousin Seema, 55, who had dedicated her life to working for street children in Kolkata, could not be saved despite the best efforts of her family. I was looking forward to meeting her for her daughter’s wedding soon, we were very close. Her husband had arranged all the oxygen cylinders at home, but sadly, those could not be used. She died within ten days of her testing positive. We grew up together. It’s not just her, every day, one hears of friends and acquaintances falling prey to COVID-19 and there is so much helplessness back home in India. For many days, I could not even make sense of my grief or talk about it,” she recounted. This is a feeling echoed by most in this situation. Bereavement and the deep wounds it inflicts are difficult to heal. So, how does one navigate this challenging phase in life? Is there a way for people to pause, take a step back and mourn the deaths that are happening around us? Accepting death as a reality Dr Saliha Afridi, clinical psychologist and managing director of The Light House Arabia, said the first thing for people is to accept death as a reality and learn to go through grief as one would with any other emotion. “People who have lost someone among their friends or family as a result of COVID-19 are most likely experiencing many feelings, including grief, guilt, powerlessness, and anxiety. They need to realise a few things. * This is not a ‘phase’, rather, a normal reaction to losing someone you cared for. * Grief will be experienced by different people in different ways. * You don’t get over grief, rather, go through it and learn to live with it. You don’t get over grief, rather, go through it and learn to live with it. Image Credit: Shutterstock * The first six to eight weeks after the loss of a loved one are the most difficult because psychologically, you are still adjusting to a new reality. You can experience many emotions during this time, including denial, anger and sadness. * “Grief comes in waves and it is a spiral, lifelong journey. Some days, the emotions are too overwhelming and tend to knock you over, while on other days it comes and gently taps your feet,” said Dr Afridi, who has also founded the Raymee Grief Center, an initiative of The Light House Arabia. What is compassion fatigue? Dr Saliha Afridi Dr Afridi said: “Compassion fatigue is a condition characterised by emotional and physical exhaustion leading to a diminished ability to empathise or feel compassion for others, often described as the “negative cost of caring”. It can also be referred to as vicarious trauma or secondary traumatic stress. Managing bereavement-related stress * Although you cannot see pain and grief, treat it like an acute, open wound. Be gentle, nurturing yourself during this time. * Take care of your physical needs. Maintain a sleep routine, gentle movement like yoga or a light walk, and eat right as a way to nourish your body. These things might seem impossible, but when the heart and mind are overwhelmed, it is the body that will help walk us through the valley of grief. * Reach out to a supportive person. Grief was never meant to be carried alone. It will be important to speak about it or at least be around those who you can speak to if the need should arise. * Try to maintain a normal sense of routine and rhythm in your day. The formula for anxiety = uncertainty + powerlessness. Routines create a sense of certainty and containment at a time when everything feels uncertain. * Don’t make any new big changes to your life for at least six weeks. This could include quitting your job, marrying or divorcing, or moving. Better to get some mental and physical space from the traumatic event before taking any more life altering, big decisions. * Give yourself a break from grief. While you have to work through it, you do not need to focus on it all the time, especially at the beginning. Find distractions like working, watching movies, being with friends and other safe people for dinner, going for a walk in the park, reading a book or going to the spa. Do not feel you have to do the ‘work of grief’ right away. If you are feeling numb, don’t force yourself into engaging with the feelings until you are ready. Image Credit: Shutterstock * Avoid mood-altering substances that can further depress you and overwhelm you. * Do not feel you have to do the ‘work of grief’ right away. If you are feeling numb, don’t force yourself into engaging with the feelings until you are ready. The mind has a way of protecting us from difficult and overwhelming emotions by dissociating us from them until we get some distance from it. It would be important to continue to do bodywork like breath-work or yoga, or gentle exercise so you can remain in your body and not totally dissociated from it. * Avoid following the news. You can re-traumatise yourself by watching some of the news images, so it is best to avoid it all together. * Know that guilt is a normal reaction to grief. Feeling like you could have done or said something is a normal reaction to grief. Show yourself self-compassion by treating yourself the way you would a grieving friend. Does bereavement trigger Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)? Most people who lose a loved one prematurely or suddenly are faced with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) that can cause major deterioration in the quality of life and interrupt an individual’s interactions with others and cause serious productivity loss. PTSD was something that soldiers back from war always had to deal with after having been through the shock of violence, aggression and witnessing death and gore. Dr Afridi explained: “When a traumatic event takes place it is very normal for a person to experience an acute stress reaction which is a psychological response one goes through after experiencing some sort of trauma. It is the mind’s way of coping with feelings of intense helplessness. This becomes ‘Acute Stress Disorder’, if the reaction persists for over two days.” Typical symptoms of PTSD include: Feeling numb or dissociated from what is happening around them. De-realisation, which occurs when your environment seems strange or unreal to you. De-personalisation, which occurs when your thoughts or emotions don’t seem real or don’t seem like they belong to you; having recurring images, thoughts, nightmares, illusions, or flashback episodes of the traumatic event. Most people who lose a loved one prematurely or suddenly are faced with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Image Credit: Getty Images Feeling like you’re still reliving the traumatic event. Feeling distressed when something reminds you of the traumatic event, avoiding people or places that remind you of the traumatic event, having symptoms of anxiety such as trouble sleeping, feeling on the edge, unable to concentrate, get easily startled. Dr Afridi added: “These symptoms can last for a few days to a few weeks as an Acute Stress Disorder. If the symptoms last longer than a month, they may be diagnosed with PTSD. Both ASD and PTSD require clinical treatment. This can include psychotherapy and/or medication. How to honour death of a loved one? • Ensure they are not forgotten — therapeutic activities are key. Think and reminisce about the past — happier times, celebrations, holidays etc. Share memories with friends and loved ones, no matter whether it’s over the phone, or via a video call. Collate photos and videos, create a memory box of items that help symbolise your life together. • Write a letter to say goodbye. This allows you the opportunity to communicate what you would have liked to say to your loved one. • Keep a grief journal. Spending 15 minutes on this a day will help you express your emotions in a non-judgemental space. If expressing your emotions with words is challenging for you, try identifying all the positive qualities that your loved one possessed and how they have impacted your life in a positive manner. • Engage in communication with your family and loved ones. Even if you do not feel like it, the need to stay in touch with family and friends is vital. Schedule regular chats via a video call. You may not want to talk about your loss, but simply communicating with others will provide time to connect on other topics and help take your mind off your feelings. In the current situation, many are grieving a loss in some capacity and communicating with friends and loved ones will help to normalise the emotions you may be going through. • Be kind to yourself. Appreciate the unprecedented circumstances we are currently living in and acknowledge how you are managing to get through each day. Allow yourself time to feel the emotions and give yourself permission to go through the journey of grief. Resist the urge to numb or remove the pain. Observe how the grief is manifest in your body, acknowledge the hurt and loss and be compassionate to yourself. • Talk about your loved one: Sharing memories and moments, even if via online platforms, allows connectivity with others and engagement in some of the rituals that may have occurred if you had ‘physically’ attended the funeral. — Source: Tanya Dharamshi

GulfNews UAE

Will all Sharjah private school students return for face-to-face schooling in September?

Education|: Sharjah: Sharjah is considering the possibility of students returning to “normal” schooling in September for the coming academic year after the July-August summer break. SPEA (Sharjah Private Education Authority) on Sunday tweeted: “We miss seeing you on campus! We are in the process of studying the possibility of students returning to normal life in schools”. It invited residents to share their thoughts on their preferences on SPEA’s social media channels. It follows a ‘SPEA Return to School Survey’ sent to parents last week to understand their plans for sending their children to school in September and “to better understand the challenges and concerns parents may have experienced in relation to COVID-19”. What do parents prefer? A snap poll on June 2 on SPEA’s Twitter account showed that out of 44 votes, 59.1 per cent of parents preferred classroom learning for their children, 31.8 per cent favoured distance learning, and 9.1 per cent leant towards hybrid learning (mix of distance and classroom learning). School inspections Meanwhile, SPEA is conducting regular school inspection visits “to ensure the safety of our students and provide a healthy study environment. The Inspection Team and Curricula Section visited a number of Sharjah private schools to oversee the implementation of precautionary measures and ensure their commitment to implement approved curriculum plans”, the authority tweeted on June 2.

GulfNews UAE

Dubai Summer Surprises returns on July 1

Dubai: Dubai Summer Surprises (DSS), the annual celebration of red-hot retail offers, exciting events and fun for the whole family, is set to return for its 24th edition. Taking place from September 1 July to 4 , this year’s DSS is an action-packed extravaganza of shopping and so much more that will thrill residents and visitors every day for 10 weeks of summer fun. Organised by Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE), the 2021 edition of DSS will showcase shopping, hotel, dining and entertainment options at incredible summer rates offering great value. The city will be illuminated with colourful decorations and lighting to help residents and visitors get into the spirit of DSS and spread an atmosphere of fun and happiness around Dubai during the event. This year’s DSS will get underway with spectacular opening day fireworks, projections and fountain shows at Burj Khalifa, The Palm Fountain at The Pointe and the Imagine show at Dubai Festival City Mall on 1 July. Promotions Fans will relish the return of exciting promotions such as DSS Share Millionaire, Daily Surprises and many more. New additions to this year’s line-up include foodie events Summer Restaurant Week, the Big Eid Eat and Dine & Win, while families will enjoy the Movie Magic and the Summer Art Project. As usual, DSS will give residents and visitors plenty of chances to win amazing prizes with raffles and gifts up for grabs as well as super offers in time for Eid Al Adha and the annual Back to School season. This year will also see the return of much-loved entertainers who will delight shoppers with special shows at the city’s malls and landmarks, while some of Dubai’s best hotels, attractions plus fitness and outdoor adventure destinations will also offer great deals throughout DSS. In a collaborative effort to ensure Dubai remains one of the safest cities in the world, all venues participating in DSS will follow all of the important health and safety procedures, including social distancing and the wearing of masks at all times.

GulfNews UAE

Revealed: What UAE pupils read at home during the COVID-19 pandemic

Education|: Dubai: Students in the UAE read more books and improved their reading skills at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, a new study said on Sunday. The international annual ‘What Kids Are Reading Report’ from Renaissance Learning reveals how reading habits for children in the UAE during the pandemic saw both an improvement in their reading skills and “a marked uplift” in their reading enjoyment levels. The study of over 24,000 pupils across the UAE demonstrates how reading skills improved during the stay-at-home period, with many children picking up longer books of greater difficulty. This came in line with the UAE’s efforts to support the pursuit of knowledge, the study said. Better reading According to the study, the number of books read overall increased by 23 per cent compared to the previous year. When opting to read, children were inclined to pick up more challenging books for their age, choosing books that were longer and increasingly more comprehensive. Primary school students, and those up to Year 7 in particular, improved their reading levels by reading more demanding texts. Favourite books and authors During the first movement restrictions, ‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban’ by J.K Rowling topped the leader boards of the favourite books for secondary and primary school pupils, respectively. David Walliams and Jeff Kinney became even more popular. Rowling made “a very substantial reappearance” with more primary school pupils selecting the Harry Potter series again, while Roald Dahl sustained his popularity. From 2020 to 2021 there was little change in favourite authors overall — Jeff Kinney, David Walliams, R.J Palacio and Roald Dahl remained popular. ‘Difficult time’ Todd Brekhus, chief product officer at Renaissance, said: “At Renaissance we took steps to support teachers during the uncertainty of school closures, so it is pleasing to see this year’s report emphasise the importance and benefit of reading on academic achievement and well-being.” From 2020 to 2021 there was little change in favourite authors overall — Jeff Kinney, David Walliams, R.J Palacio and Roald Dahl remained popular. Image Credit: Supplied Brekhus added: “This report highlights how important it is that everyone has access to books and what schools need to do to re-engage children with reading for enjoyment while giving them space and time to read more.” The ‘What Kids Are Reading Report’ was written using Renaissance data analysed by University of Dundee academic Professor Keith Topping. Renaissance is a provider of assessment, reading and maths solutions for primary and secondary schools.

GulfNews UAE

COVID-19: Abu Dhabi’s latest Green List with 28 places leaves out United Kingdom and Tajikistan, adds Malta

UAE|: Abu Dhabi: Abu Dhabi has updated its ‘Green List’ of countries, regions and territories, with the latest list announced on Sunday, June 13, including 28 different places. Compared to the previous Green List effective since May 23, the new list includes Malta and leaves out Tajikistan and the United Kingdom. Quarantine exemption Passengers arriving from these places will be exempt from mandatory quarantine measures after landing in Abu Dhabi Emirate, and will only be required to undergo PCR testing upon arrival at Abu Dhabi Airport. Travellers who are vaccinated need to then undergo a follow-up PCR test on Day 6, whereas those who are not fully vaccinated will have to undergo follow-up PCR tests on Day 6 and Day 12, with Day 1 being the day of arrival. The destinations on the updated Green List include: • Australia • Azerbaijan • Bhutan • Brunei • China • Cuba • Germany • Greenland • Hong Kong (SAR) • Iceland • Israel • Japan • Kyrgyzstan • Malta • Mauritius • Moldova • Morocco • New Zealand • Portugal • Russia • Saudi Arabia • Singapore • South Korea • Spain • Switzerland • Taiwan, Province of China • United States of America • Uzbekistan Applicable for arrivals The new Green List, announced by tourism sector regulator, the Department of Culture and Tourism (DCT) replaces the April 25 list. The DCT has also clarified that the Green List only applies to where passengers have arrived in the UAE from, not their citizenship. Inclusion on the list is subject to strict criteria of health and safety to ensure the well-being of the UAE community, it added.

GulfNews UAE

70% of Emirati men under 30 years suffer from obesity, diabetes, says Abu Dhabi health authority

Health|: Abu Dhabi: A whopping 70 per cent of Emirati men under the age of 30 years are known to suffer from obesity and diabetes, the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (Seha) has said. Abu Dhabi’s public health provider has called upon men aged 20 to 30 years to undergo a full physical work-up every two to three months, with screenings for diabetes, blood pressure, cholesterol and thyroid function. This should increase to an annual check every year once men turn 50. The advice came on the occasion of Men’s Health Month, which is marked across the world every June. Seha also provided a number of other health-related facts across their social media platforms. Top causes of death According to the authority, colorectal cancer, Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases are the leading causes of death among men in the UAE. Before the age of 50 years, men are also more prone to hypertension than women. The health provider also recommended bone mineral density tests for men aged 60 years and older to check for the onset of osteoporosis. Take charge Mindful actions, including regular physical activity can reduce health risks for men. Seha said that there can be a 25 per cent reduction in heart attack risk among men who climb 50 stairs a day, or walk five city blocks. “Your health is in your hands,” Seha said. Tips for a healthy life: Make healthy food choices Quit smoking Seek medical advice Get regular medical checks  Take care of your mental health

GulfNews UAE

Worker arrested in Dubai for sexually assaulting teen in an apartment

Crime|: Dubai: A Dubai-based man, accused of sexually assaulting a teenaged boy, has admitted to the charge, claiming that he was sick and couldn’t stop himself. According to the Dubai Court of First Instance, the 38-year-old Pakistani defendant went to the teenaged boy’s home in Oud Metha to repair a water pipe at the apartment. The boy was alone at home when he opened the door to the defendant last December. “He asked me to fill up a form. I told him I was alone,” said the teen on record. It was then that the accused allegedly touched the boy’s private parts and tried to kiss him. The boy shouted for help and ran to his room, but the man followed him to the bedroom and repeated the assault. After the teenaged boy pushed him and ran out, the defendant followed him and told him not to tell anyone about what had happened, before leaving the apartment. When the teenager’s parents arrived, he told them about the incident and they called the police in. Police officers identified the man from CCTV footage available at the building and arrested him. The boy identified him from amongst a group of suspects. A policeman who arrested the defendant said that the Pakistani man admitted to the offence and said that it wasn’t the first time he was sexually assaulting a child. “He told me that he was sick and whenever he was around children, he can’t help but try touching them. He said it wasn’t his first time,” said the policeman on record.

GulfNews UAE

COVID-19 flight suspensions: Hundreds of health workers stuck in India, UAE groups seek support to bring back employees

UAE|: Dubai: Hundreds of UAE health workers, who have been stuck in India due to the COVID-19-related suspension of inbound passenger flights from India to the UAE, are appealing to authorities to help facilitate their early return. Prominent private health care groups in the UAE confirmed to Gulf News that hundreds of their employees, including existing ones and new recruits in India, have not been able to travel to the UAE ever since the restriction on passengers from India began on April 25. Spokespersons of different private health care groups said they were in discussion with authorities and had sought support to bring back front line warriors to the UAE since the flight suspension has been extended. They also pointed out that health care workers have been fully vaccinated and appealed for their return subject to compliance with COVID-19 travel protocols announced for exempted categories of passengers such as UAE golden visa holders and diplomats. Indian Ambassador to the UAE Pavan Kapoor told Gulf News that the Indian missions had already raised the issue with the UAE authorities and sought their support in allowing the health care workers to return. Pavan Kapoor, Indian Ambassador to the UAE Image Credit: Supplied “We are aware of several UAE resident doctors and health care workers presently stuck in India. We have been raising this issue with relevant UAE authorities for some time, and are hopeful that they will be allowed to return soon,” he said. 325 stuck: VPS Healthcare Sanjai Kumar, chief human resources officer at VPS Healthcare, said 125 employees of the group including five clinicians and 50 nurses, are stuck in India. “We also have more than 200 newly hired employees who are stuck in different parts of India. “Those who are currently there either went on emergency leave or maternity leave. They are eagerly awaiting to return to work. Our HR team is in constant touch with them to check their whereabouts and well-being,” he said. “We are extremely thankful to the UAE government for the extensive support to us through this pandemic period, and VPS Healthcare was in the front line joining the fight against this pandemic. It’s highly recommended to make an exemption for the stranded health care professionals to fly back. We are in constant discussions with the authorities concerned,” Kumar added. 300 stuck: Aster DM Healthcare Fara Siddiqi, group chief human resources officer, Aster DM Healthcare, said more than 300 employees of the group are stuck in India due to the travel ban, with the majority of them being health care staff. Fara Siddiqi “Some of our employees were on vacation in their home country when the UAE announced flight cancellations,” she said. “As an organisation, we are concerned about their well-being and want to bring them back to their home where they can continue to serve our patients. “Since the very beginning of this pandemic, our health care staff have helped both the UAE and India emerge from this crisis by risking their own lives to serve our communities, now it is our responsibility to get our employees back safe and as a responsible health care organisation in the region, we have also made a promise to the community, that ‘We Will Treat Them Well!’.” Siddiqi said the group was in discussions with government institutions for support to bring back the health care staff while keeping safety protocols in mind. Several stuck: Thumbay Group Thumbay Healthcare Division said several of its health care workers are also stuck in India, without specifying the total number of the workforce affected due to the travel restrictions. “We would be glad to help them in any way to return to work and serve the community of the UAE,” said Akbar Moideen Thumbay, vice-president, Healthcare Division, Thumbay Group. Akbar Moideen Thumbay “We fully support the government and wish to play an important role in fighting the pandemic. The UAE has always been in the forefront in adapting to new policies and supporting the local business and health care workers,” he said, hoping for support for the return of health workers from India. Independent facilities also hit Other groups and independent health care establishments like hospitals, medical centres and clinics have also reported absence of several members of their work force due to the travel restrictions from India and urged the authorities to facilitate their return by following strict COVID-19 travel protocol. Gopinath S, chief strategic officer at Canadian Specialist Hospital in Dubai, said the hospital has 16 employees including doctors, nurses and paramedics stuck in India. Gopinath S “Considering the unusual situation, we urge that an exemption be given in terms of a waiver for visa and license renewal periods to health care workers, who are stuck in India. “We have appealed to the authorities to consider our plea, and as always we expect the proactive and compassionate stance of the authorities should help us sail through this situation as well,” he said, adding that the UAE has marked a huge success in dealing with the pandemic. Stranded health workers speak Dr. Mohammed Nisar Ali, specialist anaesthesiologist at Aster Hospital, Qusais, said he went to India on April 16 due to an emergency. “My mother was not doing well and she was hospitalised. I came here to look after her as she was alone in the hospital. With COVID-19 protocols in place, no one else was allowed to visit her and this was a major psychological trauma for her, hindering her recovery. By the time she started improving and I was looking forward to my return, the flight ban came into effect and since then I am stuck in India,” he said. Dr. Mohammed Nisar Ali “I am a front line worker working in critical areas of operation theatre and emergency. Being away from duty for such a long time affects me physically, emotionally, psychologically. Also, in time of this pandemic crisis, I could be of help to the hospital. It does affect my whole family also as I am the bread earner.” He urged the authorities to help facilitate the return of the UAE resident visa holders, especially those like him who have genuine reasons. Steffi Christina, an ICU Nurse at Burjeel Hospital in Abu Dhabi, said she went home for a much-needed vacation after being away from her dear ones for two years. Steffi Christina “It has been two years since I came to my hometown as I was active in the front line service during the pandemic. Since we were handling COVID-19 positive patients and considering the emergency, our duty was essential in the group,” she said. The front line warrior said she had also contracted the virus and was hospitalised for 15 days. “Finally, I felt I needed a break and was missing my family badly. On top of that, I had plans for my family engagement; therefore, I took leave for a month and came to India on April 18. I was supposed to join on May 22. But, unfortunately, flights were closed.” COVID-19 has also claimed the lives of some of her relatives. Concerns about not being able to resume work as planned was adding to the mental trauma, she said. “At present, my unit in Burjeel Hospital requires my service, and unfortunately, I am not able to travel. It would be of great help if authorities concerned would make arrangements to take the health workers back with a special permit. As I reside in Chennai, it will be helpful if permissions are granted for travel from here as travelling interstate will be very unsafe and risky at this moment.” Difficulties explained Deepthi Sambhu, a registered nurse at VPS Health Care, said she had gone home on vacation on March 16, and her return was planned for April last week. Deepthi Sambhu “I am very much concerned that I am not able to meet my work commitments and facing several challenges." “When l informed my management about these challenges, I learnt that they are trying their best to help us and looking for options to facilitate the travel. I am hopeful that the authorities will consider this as a special case and allow us to join back to duty at the earliest,” she added. Soumya Kesava Udayakumar, unit-in-charge at Aster Pharmacy in Muhaisnah, said she also went to India for her annual vacation after two years. “I came on April 7 and my vacation was supposed to resume work on May 12. The suspension of the flight was until May 4 and I was hoping to return on time. But, it has got extended again and again. Soumya Kesava Udayakumar “Last year, due to the pandemic situation, many of our staff could not go on annual vacation. It has become difficult for my colleagues working over there because some of us are stuck even after our annual leave ended. They have to work more time without some staff members. We have pending work also. These are big concerns.” Like several other UAE residents stranded in India, she said it has been difficult for people like her to pay house rent, phone bills etc while they are stranded back home. Online training explored Though the health workers’ jobs require physical presence in their work places, private health care groups are also exploring online opportunities for training. “While we wait for further directives, we launched a three-month skill enhancement training programme for our newly hired nurses stuck in India to get them better prepared when they relocate to the UAE,” said Aster’s Siddiqi. “This programme not only allows our nursing talent to upskill and multi-skill themselves to address organisational skill shortage and enhance productivity, but also expand their own personalities for their career and development while moving across roles,” she added. VPS Healthcare is also exploring the possibilities of remote training and online orientation possibilities where applicable, said Sanjai Kumar. However, Gopinath said the online option is not feasible in many circumstances.

GulfNews UAE

What makes a university hospital unique?

Health|: A university hospital is an innately advanced hospital model. It comes equipped with inherent features like quality healthcare delivery and superior outcomes for patients. Not only this, a university hospital is also involved in research that matches international levels, resulting in state-of-the-art healthcare facilities, treatment and better recovery rates. Fakeeh University Hospital is all this and more. Fakeeh University Hospital has senior health specialists with global qualifications Image Credit: Supplied One of the best attributes of being a university hospital is that this hospital has globally-qualified doctors, involved in teaching and training other doctors at the facility, which evolves the entire care team, thus, bringing the best services for its patients. Fakeeh University Hospital has senior specialists with global qualifications, as a part of its university design. Not only it raises the bar of healthcare delivery, but this design enables the hospital to stay ahead of its times, by indulging in research for the future. “Dubai residents now have access to high-end healthcare right near their homes. Along with upraised teach and train modalities and research facilities, as a university hospital, we also practice evidence-based medicine. Through this, we integrate the patient’s values and preferences, the clinician’s expertise, and the best research-based evidence to carve an appropriate treatment pathway,” says Dr. Fatih Mehmet Gul, CEO, Fakeeh University Hospital. An operating room at Fakeeh University Hospital Image Credit: Supplied A university hospital also adopts international best practices to combine with and bring forth the finest disease management approaches for its valued patients. A training session at Fakeeh University Hospital Image Credit: Supplied By embracing these premier and efficient systems, Fakeeh University Hospital has proved that it is the right candidate to be a custodian of superior health for the residents of Dubai and beyond.

GulfNews UAE

Access cutting-edge healthcare at Mediclinic Deira

UAE|: Being and staying healthy has become everyone’s primary goal now more than ever. Over the course of the global pandemic, residents and families in Dubai have realised the value of excellent healthcare and the importance of choosing a medical provider you can trust. Mediclinic Middle East has been central to the UAE healthcare industry, so the level of trust it enjoys from the national and expat population is not surprising. One of its trusted facilities, Mediclinic Deira offers multispecialty outpatient care. Adjacent to City Centre Deira in the heart of Old Dubai, the-state-of-the-art clinic, which became a part of Mediclinic Middle East in July 2018, provides the same impeccable standard of care as the parent brand. Image Credit: Supplied The clinic has a direct link to Mediclinic Welcare Hospital, one of the most respected hospitals in the UAE, with 23 years’ worth of accomplishments, as a referral point for emergency and tertiary care, situated only five minutes from Mediclinic Deira.Supplied “At Mediclinic Deira we make sure patients are our first priority by making them feel very comfortable and welcomed in a safe environment,” says Anass Moutki, Clinic Manager at Mediclinic Deira. "Our state-of-the-art facility with top-quality doctors put patients first, offering appointments without long waiting times. “Being a part of Mediclinic Middle East and Mediclinic International means always striving for better, more innovative solutions for our patients. One such project that we are excited to be a part of is our mobile application – MyMediclinic24x7, through which patients are able to book their face-to-face appointment or a teleconsultation.” Mediclinic Deira’s multicultural team of expert physicians specialises in a vast range of medical fields including paediatrics, family medicine, obstetrics and gynaecology, orthopaedics, ophthalmology, gastroenterology, dermatology, dentistry and many more. It is supported by a day-care unit for minimally invasive procedures, as well as an on-site diagnostic imaging centre and pharmacy. Located near the Pullman Hotel, the clinic is easily accessible with up to three hours free parking in the adjacent mall parking area. Unique and innovative services What makes this clinic different is its investment in the latest medical equipment available in the market. Its Ophthalmology clinic is equipped with state-of-the-art therapies including Femto-Lasik, a refractive procedure that reshapes the cornea to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism and LipiFlow, an innovative treatment for dry eyes. Image Credit: Supplied It is also a RTA-approved eye-testing centre for obtaining a driving licence permit. Specialists at its Dermatology unit also offer cutting-edge treatments and services. One such is MiraDry, a permanent sweat therapy solution helping thousands of UAE residents with problems related to excessive sweating. Others include FotoFinder, Hydrafacial and laser hair removal services. Dr Umashankar Ramachandran, Specialist Ophthalmologist and Medical Director at Mediclinic Deira, explains the importance of investment in progressive and innovative medical treatments. “We at Mediclinic Deira believe in the continuous update of medical technology and providing new innovative treatments and services to satisfy the growing needs of our patients. We also strongly believe in maintaining the quality of service we deliver to the highest standards possible, which has made us unique among healthcare providers.” Post-Covid recovery clinic In addition to cutting-edge equipment and treatments, the top priority for everyone at Mediclinic Deira has been the safety and well-being of its patients. Stringent infection control protocols have been implemented including adjusting appointments to reduce crowding, performing regular sanitising at the reception, waiting areas, consultation and procedure rooms, and social distance is observed at all times. In order to provide additional support to patients still battling the long-term consequences of Covid-19, it has recently opened a Post-Covid Clinic, a dedicated assessment and recovery clinic for those who have contracted the disease. “We have noticed that following infection, some novel coronavirus patients may experience lingering deficits in pulmonary and cognitive functioning, as well as multifaceted health issues and worsened quality of life,” says Dr Mohammad Shahid Alam, Internal Medicine Specialist leading this project. “In order to address these issues we have created a multidisciplinary assessment package that includes consultation with a family medicine or internal medicine doctor, blood tests, X-ray, ECG and spirometry.” Mediclinic Deira is open seven days a week, and to find out more about its doctors and services, visit www.mediclinic.ae or call 800 1999.

GulfNews UAE

UAE: Hot, dusty and hazy weather in Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman and other emirates, temperatures to reach 45°C

Weather|: Today’s weather condition, according to the National Centre of Meteorology (NCM), will be mostly sunny across the UAE. It will be rather hot and dusty during the day time. There is also a fog alert in Abu Dhabi and motorists have been urged to drive with caution today, as fog covers some parts of the emirate. The National Center of Meteorology (NCM) has warned about reduced visibility on the roads: “A chance of fog formation with deterioration of horizontal visibility over most of the coastal areas and some internal areas until 8.00am,” today. Strong winds are expected to blow dust over exposed areas during the day. The NCM added, residents can expect, “Light to moderate winds, freshening at times causing blowing dust and sand with a speed of 15- 25, reaching 40 km/hr.” Drivers have been warned to be careful on the road as dust might hinder visibility. Those who suffer from allergies should also take precautions when going outside. Temperature highs in internal areas are expected to reach 40 - 45°C. In the coastal areas, temperature highs will be between 36-40°C, and 32-38°C in the mountainous regions. The highest temperature recorded over the country yesterday evening was 47.3°C in Sweihan (Abu Dhabi) at 2.30 pm. The NCM also said that relative humidity is expected to increase by night and Monday morning, especially over coastal and internal areas, causing fog and mist formation over some eastern internal and northern coastal areas. Humidity will be moderate at 65-85 per cent in the internal areas whereas in the mountainous regions it is expected to be 50-70 per cent and 70-90 per cent in the coastal areas. Avoid beach trips as the sea will be rough along the UAE’s coastline. The sea will be very rough to rough by afternoon in the Arabian Gulf and moderate in Oman Sea, NCM added. The NCM warned: “Fresh Northwesterly winds with rough sea, the wave is 7 feet offshore until 7.00pm”, today.