GulfNews UAE

GulfNews UAE

COVID-19: Fujairah Police prepare safety plan for Eid Al Fitr holidays

UAE|: Fujairah: The General Command of Fujairah Police held a virtual meeting to discuss its preparations for the forthcoming Eid Al Fitr holidays. The meeting discussed deployment of traffic and security patrols on all the emirate’s internal and external roads, with a focus on the tourist spots and facilities in the emirate. Major General Mohammad Ahmad bin Ghanem Al Kaabi, Commander-in-Chief of Fujairah Police, discussed the security arrangements for the Eid Al Fitr holidays, with the deputy commander-in-chief, general managers, department managers and heads of comprehensive police stations. He followed-up on the public’s compliance and commitment to the preventive measures being implemented by the state to counter the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Major General Mohammad Ahmad bin Ghanem Al Kaabi Major General Al Kaabi called on members of the community to abide by the all the safety procedures such as maintaining physical distancing, leaving at least two metres of distance between individuals, wearing face masks and staying away from gatherings. The Fujairah Police General Command also urged all drivers and visitors to the emirate to follow all precautionary measures while driving in the emirate during the Eid holidays, particularly while driving in the mountainous areas and wadis. He confirmed that the Operations Room of Fujairah Police will be fully prepared to receive any call for help or inquiries on its dedicated 999 number.

GulfNews UAE

One year of Vande Bharat Mission: Here's what happened to stranded Indian expats repatriated from UAE amid COVID-19

UAE|: Dubai: Friday, May 7, 2021 was a gloomy day for the family of Ramachandran. K, who lives in Kozhikode district of the southern Indian state of Kerala. The sky was overcast and there was a pall of gloom hanging over the family on the day that marked a year after Ramachandran’s his daughter-in-law Athira Geetha Sreedharan reached home from the UAE on the first day of India’s COVID-19 repatriation drive — Vande Bharat Mission (VBM). Dubbed as the largest repatriation drive, VBM saw millions of stranded Indians across the world flying home due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. It also saw the crash of an Air India Express repatriation flight from Dubai to Kozhikode (IX1344), that claimed the lives of 21, people including two pilots, three months after the repatriation mission began. In this past year, VBM facilitated the journey of more than 8.3 million people during the time of crisis, according to India’s Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri. As of January 21, as many as 1.3 million passengers had travelled from the UAE to India, India’s Minister of State for External Affairs and Parliamentary Affairs V. Muraleedharan had said. During his visit to the UAE, the minister added that almost 1.15 million passengers had also returned to the UAE following an air bubble agreement. Inbound travel from India has recently been suspended due to the alarming surge in the COVID-19 cases there. Though not stranded any more, Indians continue to travel home from the UAE. However, the numbers are smaller due to the reversal in the pandemic situation compared to last year. Yet, 1,665 of 3,103 passengers, who flew to India from across the world on Thursday, were from the UAE, according to the figures released by the Civil Aviation Ministry. But what happened to those who went back home during the first phase of VBM — those who had to fight for repatriation flights and wait for their turns after registering with the Indian missions in the UAE? Here is what they shared when Gulf News revisited some of the Indians whose repatriation stories were featured by us. Athira’s tragic story Athira, 27, was one of them. She had, in fact, become the face of the stranded Indian expats, who sought repatriation due to various reasons, after she hit the headlines for filing a writ petition in India’s Supreme Court, seeking help to return home for her delivery. Athira hit the headlines for filing a writ petition in India’s Supreme Court, seeking help to return home for her delivery. Image Credit: Supplied She and her husband Nithin Chandran, who stood by her in her fight to fly home, were finally relieved when she was shortlisted by the Indian Consulate in Dubai and managed to get a ticket on the Air India Express Dubai-Kozhikode flight on the first day of VBM on May 7, 2020. Though the case she had filed had no desired impact, Athira, an electronics and communication engineer who worked with an IT equipment company, had managed to get a ticket on the first repatriation flight from Dubai after the then Consul General of India in Dubai, Vipul, gave a high priority to her case since she would not have been able to travel later due to the advanced stage of pregnancy. However, Athira’s happiness of reaching home was short-lived after Nithin, an engineer who had turned 28 on June 2, died in his sleep due to cardiac arrest, exactly a month after he saw her off from Dubai International Airport. Athira giving birth to a baby girl through a caesarean section without being aware of Nithin’s passing, and then seeing him lying motionless in a coffin in an ambulance at the parking lot of the hospital the next morning, had been widely reported by media in India and the UAE, including Gulf News. “She has not recovered from the tragedy yet,” Nithin’s father Ramachandran told Gulf News on Friday. Though the arrival of her daughter Adithi, who will turn one on June 9, was a relief for her and Nithin’s family, Ramachandran said Athira has not been able to go back to her old self. “She rarely talks to people. She doesn’t attend phone calls at all. Even with her brother, she only chats on WhatsApp.” Dubai memories Friday brought back memories of Nithin bidding goodbye to her at the Dubai Airport and she was more upset, he said. “All of us are really upset today. Even the weather is very gloomy. She has been living with us and goes to her house occasionally. Today she wanted to go to her parents and I dropped her home. She might feel better there,” said Ramachandran. Nithin and Athira on their way to Dubai Airport on May 7 last year. Image Credit: Supplied/Gulf News Archives Memories of Nithin, who was immensely popular back home and among the Keralite expat community due to his selfless volunteering work especially in blood donation and during the pandemic, will be etched in the minds of people who knew him. For the very reason, his father said, Athira finds it difficult to face people in the locality. “I honestly feel that going back to Dubai will help her overcome this depressive state. I hope she can fly after this pandemic situation and she would get some good job over there. I want to see a bright future for her and my granddaughter,” Ramachandran added. Ambily is back with baby Ambily Babu, 27, was another pregnant woman who flew on the first day of VBM from Abu Dhabi to Kochi, which became the first COVID-19 repatriation flight to land in India. Though hers is an entirely different story, Ambily was also feeling low on Friday, thinking about Athira, Nithin and their child, she told Gulf News. “When I think about our repatriation, I can’t forget Athira’s story. Also, I happened to see a Facebook post about Nithin last night. I was restless and couldn’t sleep properly thinking about them,” said Ambily who is now back in Abu Dhabi. Ambily Babu and her daughter Isha Manu at their home in Abu Dhabi. Image Credit: Supplied Athira and Ambily were among thousands of pregnant Indian women who applied for repatriation for delivery back home. On May 16, a record 75 pregnant women in the final stages of their pregnancy were flown on a repatriation flight from Dubai to Kochi. Like Ambily, several of them have flown back with their newborns to the UAE months later. “I delivered on August 7 and came back to the UAE on September 28,” said Ambily. Her daughter Isha Manu is nine months now and also gets the care of Ambily’s mother who also came along with them. Flying with baby amid pandemic Flying with the baby during the pandemic, however, was not a great experience, said Ambily. “Since my mother was on a visit visa, we had to fly to Sharjah and then travel by road to Abu Dhabi. My baby also had to take PCR test on arrival. My husband came to pick us up. At the Ghantoot border, we were tested again and the three of us [passengers] were taken in a bus to the quarantine centre at the [Emirates] Humanitarian City in Mussafah.” During the three-day quarantine period, she said the child developed high temperature. “The facilities there were excellent. Doctors were available for phone consultation. She was cured with paracetamol.” Ambily, a former teacher with a postgraduate degree in IT, is now looking for an employment opportunity as her job with an Abu Dhabi school was made redundant after classes moved online due to the pandemic. One of the first families to fly home Sharjah resident Muneeruddeen K.P, his wife and three of their four children were among the first families who flew home on the first day of VBM. Muneeruddeen had to take the tough call of leaving the UAE, which he called home for 26 years, for good, after he consecutively lost two jobs in one year. However, after spending some months back home, Muneeruddeen realised that his future would still be better back in the UAE. “My visa was not cancelled. December 31 was the deadline [which eventually got extended to March 31] for people who stayed outside for than six months to return. So, I came back on December 29,” said Muneeruddeen, who once again made Sharjah his home. Chasing new dream Around two months back, he started his own business venture in Dubai’s Oud Metha — a luxury laundry service using wet cleaning technology and targeting upper class clientele. “I didn’t look for any jobs in Kerala. I enjoyed the time back home after we finished our 14-day institutional quarantine. It took time to get closer to people, who didn’t know me well, because back then they were all concerned about expats spreading the coronavirus though we had tested negative after the quarantine period.” Muneeruddeen K.P and family in Kerala before he came back to the UAE on December 29, 2020. Image Credit: Supplied “Anyhow, I went out regularly and made people feel comfortable. I enjoyed playing badminton, gardening and reading and had a good break back home after 26 years of expat life.” He wishes to bring his family back here once his business is on track as his young children still want to study here though they are happy with everything else back home. “I still remember the frantic calls that people had to make for flying back to India when we were seeing a spike in COVID-19 cases here. But, the situation is worse over there now. Now people want to bring their families here. I never expected this pandemic to become worse. I thought we would live with it with the new normal in place and would soon overcome it with vaccines and medicines. Anyhow, now I also want my family to be back here soon.” Settling back home In June last year, young fashion designer Jahir Mohammad Harun, who goes by the name Zaheer Mohammed at work, had spoken about his dream getting shattered after his new job in Dubai was affected due to the pandemic. His wife had given birth to their second son in April 2020 while he remained jobless here. With very few repatriation flights to Maharashtra those days, he was one of the thousands of stranded Indians from the state who were begging for more flights home back then. Jahir Mohammad Harun aka Zaheer Mohammed at his boutique in Pune, Maharashtra Image Credit: Supplied After managing to catch a repatriation flight to New Delhi in July, Zaheer is now settled back in his hometown Pune. “I started a new boutique making designer outfits in December. But due to the lockdown, my business has been affected and the workers who were associated with me have also become jobless.” However, Zaheer chose to remain optimistic even amid all the pandemic-related miseries around him. “I’m happy to see a new beginning. It was a nice feeling to work for your own label. This [peak of pandemic] is just a temporary phase. I am sure we will overcome this soon,” he said. We want to return Fazna Ikram, who returned home on a VBM flight on May 26, 2020, said she wanted to return to the UAE soon. “The UAE is my second home. I have done my high schooling there and I lived there for 15 years after my marriage,” said the mother-of-two, who owns a demolition company here. She had to fly home due to some health issues and her husband, who is a banker, also had to follow after losing his job. “My company is still there. One of my partners is handling it now. We are now hoping for the best. I want to come back when the flight suspension ends. My husband will also come along with me,” she said. Stories that went viral A few others, whose stories were published by Gulf News, preferred not to be written about again as their repatriation stories had gone viral last year. They included a stranded visitor, whose family was helped by several Gulf News readers, and a young widow, who had to fly home with her husband’s mortal remains on a repatriation flight. Pregnant woman, who moved India’s apex court to fly home, among first to be repatriated COVID-19: First repatriation flights carrying Indians from UAE land in Kerala Funeral held for Indian expat who died in Dubai a day before his repatriated wife gave birth in Kerala Send more repatriation flights or start commercial service, stranded expats in UAE tell Indian government Kerala mum lost unborn child and a leg in Air India Express Dubai-Kozhikode plane crash. She is still in hospital They were all faces of stranded Indians who rushed home during the pandemic. However, respecting their privacy, Gulf News is refraining from writing from their current details, which they shared off the record. VBM crash that can never be forgotten However, recapturing the VBM repatriation from the UAE cannot be complete without writing about the crash of the VBM flight IX1344 on August 7, 2020. The VBM flight IX1344 crashed on August 7, 2020. Image Credit: Supplied/Gulf News Archives Gulf News had done a series of stories highlighting the agony of the families of the deceased victims and the plight of the severely injured passengers including children. Once again, we spoke to Abdul Rasheed, whose wife Thajina K.P is still undergoing treatment after several surgeries following the crash in which she lost her four-month-old unborn child and a leg and sustained multiple injuries. “We have lost count of the number of surgeries she has undergone. The last one was on March 18 this year. I had gone home and had to fly back on April 3 though she was still in the hospital. She was finally discharged on May 3,” he said. Thajina K.P with her husband Abdul Rasheed her children Muhammed Hisham and daughter Hadiya. Image Credit: Supplied/Gulf News Archives Their 11-year-old son Muhammed Hisham, and seven-year-old daughter Hadiya were also severely injured in the crash with multiple fractures. “My son has slowly started walking. My daughter still has to do a surgery for removing the steel rod in her leg,” said Abdul Rasheed. The scar left behind by the crash has not been healed for the affected families. Many of them, including Thajina’s, have also come together for a legal battle for higher compensation from the airline. Abdul Rasheed said they have pinned their hopes on a UAE court where the families have filed a petition as they were concerned that Air India Express would not allot the compensation that they deserve as per the Montreal Convention. “We are also expecting the airline to come forward for a negotiation,” he added.

GulfNews UAE

Indian girl in UAE launches online platform explaining the world around us

Education|: Dubai: What do political parties and predictive medicine have in common? They are all part of a new online platform created by a Dubai teen to teach children about diverse topics in a simple and visually-led format. Seeing peers stay online longer because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Alisha Ishraque, 13, thought of making students’ screen time more constructive by creating various different types of content — from podcasts and blogs to documentaries and pictures — to learn about a variety of fields. Alisha, a Year 8 student at GEMS Wellington International School, created ‘Eclectic by Alisha’ to also reach out to students who have not had the opportunity to receive “the same quality of education that I’ve been fortunate enough to get”, she says. Another aim is to support disadvantaged pupils by channelling any voluntary donations to the platform towards UAE-based global philanthropic organisation — Dubai Cares, which works to improve education access and quality for children in developing countries. Alisha Ishraque Tackling difficult topics Alisha, from India, will be researching and creating the content herself, while staying on guard against any plagiarism and copyright issues when checking sources such as university papers or news articles. All the sources and links will be shared with the viewers so “it’s reliable and trustworthy”. Her passion — and dozens of online certifications — for computer science will make the task of making diagrams, infographics and other visuals easy, she said. Also, the point is to make “difficult” topics such as predictive medicine or the American political system engaging. Geared towards middle school students, the focus, however, will not be on subjects such as maths or science, in the strict academic sense. Read more Leading Arab authors and artists to grace Sharjah reading festival Abu Dhabi University offers Dh50 million in scholarships and financial aid in 2020-2021 Universities in Dubai to make September intake easier as board exams are delayed, cancelled COVID-19: Dubai private school enrolments ‘resilient’ even during pandemic ‘Find your niche’ “I want this platform to be something for everyone. I want to branch out, so it’s not just about science or technology, but also art and entertainment; and everything kind of links together. I made it a place where you could watch documentaries, read reports or listen to discussions — and all of this will help you find your niche or style when it comes to education. So everything you want to know, you can find it on Eclectic,” Alisha said. Some content, like blogs, will be refreshed daily, while others, like podcasts and e-magazines, will be updated weekly and monthly. Users will be able to access everything on the website for free while feedback will be collected through the site’s online community. There is also a plan for an app version of her platform to be released later this year. The website eclecticbyalisha.wixsite.com/educationequality is up now and Alisha has already been working for months, creating content that is now “ready to go” until March.

GulfNews UAE

More centres now collect samples from Emiratis for Emirati Genome Programme

UAE|: Abu Dhabi: Emiratis keen to participate in a genome mapping and analysis programme can now submit their blood sample at a number of new locations. These new locations include both public and private facilities across Abu Dhabi and any Emirati can choose to participate in this first-of-its kind programme in the UAE. The Emirati Genome Programme aims to sequence the complete genome of as many Emiratis as possible in order to better predict, prevent and treat genetic and chronic illnesses in the community. The data will be used to develop health-care strategies that address the community’s health needs and support the advancement of preventive medicine in the UAE. “The UAE is an ambitious country and over the past five decades, we have witnessed astonishing progress in building a nation that is among the safest, most prosperous and technologically advanced in the world. It is with this passion and determination, and ground-breaking initiatives such as the Emirati Genome Programme, that we embark on one of the largest genomic initiatives ever undertaken, the results of which will advance medical research to the benefit of our citizens of all ages,” said Dr Asmaa Al Mannaei, executive director of research and innovation at the Department of Health, the emirate’s health regulator. G42 Healthcare will analyse data anonymously, generate a comprehensive genomic map and potentially find breakthrough insights to drive large-scale scientific discovery. Image Credit: Supplied “The Emirati Genome Programme uses the most advanced sequencing technologies to propose preventive health-care services and solutions against genetic illnesses. The goal of the Emirati Genome Programme is ultimately to provide a more effective and more personalised health-care system that is tailored to individual Emirati citizens, significantly improving disease prevention, diagnosis and treatment,” said Dr Walid Zaher, chief research officer at G42 Healthcare. Centre of excellence G42 Healthcare will make use of its recently-launched Omics Centre of Excellence, a technologically advanced omics facility, to analyse data anonymously, generate a comprehensive genomic map and potentially find breakthrough insights to drive large-scale scientific discovery. Where to participate Abu Dhabi city: Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, Biogenix Labs at Masdar City, NMC Royal Hospital in Khalifa City, Bareen International Hospital, NMC Specialty Hospital, NMC Royal Medical Centre, NMC Royal Women’s Hospital, Burjeel Medical City in Mohamed Bin Zayed City, Burjeel Medical Centre at Deerfields Mall, Burjeel Medical Centre at Al Shamkha. Al Ain: Al Towayya, Al Ain Convention Centre, CurePlus Medical Centre, NMC Specialty Hospital, Burjeel Royal Hospital. Al Dhafra: Burjeel Oasis Medical Centre in Madinat Zayed.

GulfNews UAE

Responsible Dubai firms to get ‘Excellence Cards’ of benefits valid for two years

UAE|: Dubai: Dubai will soon launch ‘Excellence Cards’ for the labour sector, offering companies more than 35 incentives from government agencies as well as shopping discounts for workers, officials announced on Saturday. The project features two types of cards. The first is a Gold Card that will be awarded to companies with four and five-star ratings in the Taqdeer Award to obtain the incentives provided by government departments. The second is a Blue Card that will enable eligible workers to obtain special discounts from malls and commercial establishments located near their accommodations. The total value of discounts provided by malls, commercial establishments and national and international private companies amounts to millions of dirhams. First phase In its initial phase, the Excellence Cards will be given to 15 major national and international companies that won four and five-star ratings in the fourth edition of the Taqdeer Award in 2020, as well as the 50,000 workers of these companies. The award, held under the patronage of Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Executive Council of Dubai, recognises companies for their care for workers. Award ceremony The announcement for the first Excellence Cards will be made at a gala award ceremony on May 17 at the Rashid Hall of Dubai World Trade Centre. The project offers more than 35 incentives extended by four government agencies: Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa), Dubai Municipality and General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs in Dubai (GDRFA-Dubai). The project also features a wide range of incentives and discounts extended by private institutions for the workers of these companies. Token of appreciation Major General Obaid Muhair Bin Surour, Chairman of Taqdeer Award, Chairman of the Permanent Committee for Labour Affairs (PCLA) in Dubai and Deputy Director of the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs in Dubai (GDRFA-Dubai), said the Excellence Cards is a pioneering project that aims to enhance efforts to establish sustainable policies and standards in labour care and ensure that company owners and workers maintain their responsibilities and obligations towards each other. The initiative is a token of appreciation for the excellence shown by companies and workers in meeting high labour practice standards. Major General Obaid Muhair Bin Surour Maj Gen Bin Surour said: “The project is the result of the tireless efforts and our constructive discussions with the supporting government agencies. This initiative has become a reality thanks to the exceptional incentives they have offered, which stems from their commitment to promote a culture of excellence in labour welfare and their keenness to enhance Dubai’s and the UAE’s benchmarks and global reputation in worker welfare practices.” Government incentives The Blue Card will enable eligible workers to obtain special discounts from malls and commercial establishments located near their accommodations. Image Credit: Supplied The Excellence Cards project features 35 sets of incentives for companies and workers, most notably, discounts ranging from 25 to 50 per cent on fees for the submission of tender documents to several government bodies, additional points for the engineering excellence initiative within the technical evaluation process for contractors and consultants in Dubai Municipality projects under the specific criteria of the Building Permits Department, waiver of renewal fees for professional competence certificates for engineers for a renewable period of a year. Other incentives include membership in GDRFA–Dubai’s Innovation and Creativity Centre that will allow the workers and companies to take advantage of its services; special facilities for registering intellectual property; free virtual training courses at Dewa Academy; free NoL cards for workers; and opportunities for companies to place an advertisement on Dubai Metro Station display boards. Award sponsors The Taqdeer Award is supported by RTA, DEWA, Dubai Municipality, GDRFA-Dubai, wasl Asset Management Group and Dubai TV as Strategic Partners, along with NIA, the Platinium Sponsor, flydubai and emaratech, the Gold Sponsors, and Emirates NBD, ENOC and Al Fardan Exchange, the Silver Sponsors. Read more Abu Dhabi Judicial Department raises awareness on strengthening ties between custody children, their families Dubai hosts Expo’s final International Participants Meeting Dubai issues 6,650 smart search and arrest warrants in 2020 Supporting UAE Armed Forces and defence industries will remain a strategic priority, President Sheikh Khalifa says Biennial Award Major Khaled Ismail Major Khaled Ismail, Secretary-General of the Award, said: “As the award is organised once every two years, the advantages of the Excellence Cards will continue throughout these two years. The benefits and discounts are then given to new winners in the next editions of the award.” The winning companies can register on the award’s website to obtain government incentives, while the award team will coordinate with government agencies and private institutions to ensure eligible workers can take advantage of the incentives. The award team will hold a workshop to brief the winning companies and workers on how they can take advantage of the Excellence Card.

GulfNews UAE

UAE's '100 Million Meals' campaign goes beyond target

UAE|: Dubai: The UAE's '100 Million Meals' campaign has remarkably gone beyond its target with more than 385,000 people contributing to providing over 216 million meals. Organised by the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives (MBRGI), the campaign offers food parcels to families and individuals in 30 countries to enable them to prepare their own meals during Ramadan. On his twitter page, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, said: “Brothers and sisters, with the holy month of Ramadan coming to an end, we also conclude the '100 Million Meals' campaign, which we launched early in Ramadan. “More than 385,000 people contributed to the campaign, and we doubled the target to 216 million meals that will be distributed in 30 countries. This is the UAE, this is the Emirati people, and this is the Ramadan spirit in my beautiful country,” Sheikh Mohammed tweeted. Every Dh1 donated helps provide one meal for beneficiaries in targeted countries, including Sudan, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Pakistan, Egypt, Palestine, Bangladesh, Tanzania and Angola. The initiative is being organised in collaboration with the UN World Food Programme (WFP) as well as the Food Banking Regional Network. The WFP will help provide 20 per cent of the campaign’s food parcels to refugee camps in Palestine, Jordan, and Bangladesh, while the Food Banking Regional Network is securing food parcels across 13 of the targeted 20 countries. Beneficiaries are identified based on accurate, updated and integrated databases, the statement said. The ‘100 Million Meals’ campaign is an expansion of 2020’s locally held ‘10 Million Meals’ campaign that supported communities hit by COVID-19 across the UAE.

GulfNews UAE

Abu Dhabi Judicial Department raises awareness on strengthening ties between custody children, their families

Government|: ABU DHABI: The Abu Dhabi Judicial Department (ADJD) has organised two remote awareness-raising lectures on how to strengthen the ties between custody children and their families, with the participation of about 200 parents. The lectures were part of the Judicial Department’s efforts to promote peaceful methods of divorce, to protect children in fragmented families as much as possible from the negative effects of divorce and to safeguard their psychological well-being. The Judicial Department explained that the two lectures were given in partnership between the Child Visitation Centre and the Family Guidance Section, in order to achieve the vision of Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Presidential Affairs and President of the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department, to support the family’s stability as the foundation of the community’s stability, and to foster human and social conditions that allow for a healthy environment for the families and children. The first lecture, “Positive Communication Skills”, was delivered by Dr. Turki Al Qahtani, while the family counsellor, Sultan Alshuwaihi, gave the second lecture under the title of “Appropriate Parental Relationship”. Strengthening the bonds Both lectures addressed the most important issues related to strengthening the bonds between children subject to custody and their parents, how to understand the psychology of this group of children living in conditions marked by permanent back and forth between separated parents, and how to meet their emotional and material needs in order to build balanced and flexible personalities capable of coping with various real-life challenges. The two speakers also provided the children’s families with a number of positive messages that can help them strengthen their relationship with their children, build a positive relationship with the other party in the best interests of the children, promote positive and flexible thinking in dealing with family conflicts, and thus enable the exemplary enforcement of access orders for the children, both inside and outside the centre.

GulfNews UAE

Sheikh Saif bin Zayed honours winners of seventh edition of ‘Holy Quran Tahbeer and its Sciences Award’

Government|: Abu Dhabi: Lt General Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, has honoured the winners of the seventh edition of the ‘Holy Quran Tahbeer and its Sciences Award 2021’, in a virtual ceremony. Held on Thursday evening via video-conferencing, the session was attended by 5,407 participants from 81 countries. Sheikh Saif expressed his gratitude and congratulated the winners of this session for the efforts they made to enhance the true image of Islam, which is mainly focused on human compassion and sympathy. He thanked all the participants from different countries of the world and all the partners, sponsors and scholars who contributed to the success of the international award, which aims to achieve the wellbeing of mankind and humanity. Sheikh Saif then stressed that the UAE, with the vision of its judicious leadership, opens its doors to the world and welcomes everyone who seeks the wellbeing of mankind and the world. The ceremony, moderated by the Emirati journalist Ahmed Al Yamahi, started with the playing of the UAE national anthem and the recitation of verses from the Holy Quran by reciter Zayed Sultan Al Mansouri, the winner in the Holy Quran recitation competition (Emirati male category) for the 2021 session. The ceremony was attended by Sheikh Abdullah bin Beyeh, Chairman of the UAE Fatwa Council, Dr Hamdan Messalam Al Mazrouei, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Mohamed bin Zayed University for Human Sciences, Dr Mohamed Matar Al Kaabi, President of the General Authority for Islamic Affairs and Endowments, and the Secretary-General of the Award, Dr Farouk Mahmoud Hamadeh, Religious Adviser at the Crown Prince’s Court in Abu Dhabi, Ahmed Ibrahim Al Tenaiji, Director-General and Chairman of the Supreme Committee of the Award, representatives of sponsoring and supporting companies and a number of other attendees. Read more Leading Arab authors and artists to grace Sharjah reading festival Abu Dhabi University offers Dh50 million in scholarships and financial aid in 2020-2021 Universities in Dubai to make September intake easier as board exams are delayed, cancelled COVID-19: Dubai private school enrolments ‘resilient’ even during pandemic A video presentation on the synopsis of the award was screened, introducing the values and some statistics about the seventh edition of the event.

GulfNews UAE

Dubai Police treat 8,885 patients via telemedicine

Health|: Dubai: A total of 8,885 patients were attended to by Dubai Police Heath Centre through its ‘Telemedicine Service’. The Centre has also delivered free medicines to 2,162 patients in Dubai, Sharjah and Ajman — including 1,412 deliveries made by Dubai Police’s courier partner, Emirates Post. “The ‘Telemedicine Service’ is in line with the objective of Dubai Police and the UAE to curb the spread of coronavirus [COVID-19],” said consultant Lieutenant Colonel Dr Badr Sultan Bin Qaba, Head of Dubai Police Health Centre. Lieutenant Colonel Dr Badr Sultan Bin Qaba Virtual health services He noted, the initiative, launched last year, has “succeeded in achieving its objectives through implementing precautionary measures of social distancing, providing highest levels of virtual health services, ensuring the safety of patients and medical and administrative staff.” Read more How a morbidly obese COVID-19 patient fought back to reclaim his life — helped by Dubai doctors COVID-19: Indian doctor, a philanthropist in UAE, supplies free oxygen cylinders back home COVID-19: UAE reports 1,724 new coronavirus cases, 3 deaths COVID-19: UAE administers almost 11 million doses of vaccine Sultan Bin Qaba explained medical consultations were conducted via phone or video calls, after making an appointment through the Dubai Police 901 Call Centre. “Patients visited the centre only if their health conditions required conducting some medical tests,” he added.

GulfNews UAE

Abu Dhabi University offers Dh50 million in scholarships and financial aid in 2020-2021

Education|: Abu Dhabi: Abu Dhabi University (ADU) has given more than Dh50 million to scholarships and financial aid for the academic year 2020-2021, including additional financial support to students whose lives and education have been negatively impacted by COVID-19. The university’s scholarship and financial aid programmes have eased the financial burden of nearly 14,000 students since ADU’s inception in 2003, according to a university statement issued on Wednesday. When COVID-19 emerged during the spring semester 2019-2020, it profoundly changed the lives of university students across the world. It impacted enrolment and students’ ability to pay tuition fees, so ADU allowed its students with overdue fees to continue attending classes through the difficult months. In addition, ADU responded to COVID-19 and the difficulties it presented through several initiatives. In collaboration with First Abu Dhabi Bank, it introduced a new payment facility, ‘Easy Payment Plan’, for students who wanted to pay their tuition fees in instalments with 0 per cent interest. ADU also implemented and enhanced its online offerings, demonstrating a high level of awareness of the required precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the virus. It also put in place counselling services to support students. Twenty per cent discount In recognition of their tireless efforts and devotion to safeguarding the health and safety of our community during the COVID-19 outbreak, ADU offered a 20 per cent discount to the UAE’s frontline workers in the health care sector who wished to enrol in undergraduate or postgraduate degrees at ADU. “ADU is determined to overcome all challenges that ADU and our students might face as a result of the pandemic. We continue to be dedicated to empowering and inspiring outstanding students to pursue their goals. Our scholarships and financial aid programs are available to all students who want to fund their academic programmes. We consider it our duty to provide equal opportunities to students interested in pursuing higher education, enabling them to contribute to society regardless of their financial situation,” said Professor Waqar Ahmad, ADU chancellor. ‘Attracting the brightest students’ In additional to financial aid, ADU scholarships are being provided to outstanding students, through seven main categories, including the Sheikh Hamdan Bin Zayed Scholarship, the President’s Scholarship, the University Scholarship, the Academic Scholarship, the Athletic Scholarship, the Alumni Scholarship, and the Family Tuition Waiver. “We take pride in attracting the brightest students in the UAE and offer them generous support, to excel in their studies. Our Scholarship and Financial Aid programmes are part of ADU’s corporate social responsibility and are influenced by the UAE’s great leadership. ADU is constantly finding pioneering and innovative ways to support and facilitate the needs of our students to help them achieve their academic degree,” the chancellor said. Read more Leading Arab authors and artists to grace Sharjah reading festival Universities in Dubai to make September intake easier as board exams are delayed, cancelled UAE Ministry of Education curriculum schools to start final exams from June 8 COVID-19: Dubai private school enrolments ‘resilient’ even during pandemic Professor Ahmad also thanked donors for generously contributing to our scholarship and financial aid funds. ADU, which currently has 8,000 registered students across its four UAE campuses, offers financial support ranging from 10 per cent to 40 per cent waiver on tuition fees for high achieving financially challenged students. Interested students can apply through the University’s Scholarship Office.

GulfNews UAE

Indian expat spends $55,000 to fly with family on private jet from Kerala to UAE

UAE|: Dubai: An Indian businessman has spent around $55,000 (Dh202,290) to fly with his family, including his newly married daughter and her husband, from India to the UAE on a private jet due to the suspension of commercial passenger flights from India. The 13 passengers, including four employees of P.D. Syamalan, managing director of Sharjah-headquartered Al Ras Group, flew in from Cochin International Airport in Kochi, Kerala, to Al Maktoum International Airport in Dubai on Friday. A UAE resident for more than four decades, Syamalan had flown down to his hometown for the marriage of his daughter, Anju Syam, along with his family members and some employees, on March 15. Anju’s wedding with Siva Prasad, a Keralite residing in France, took place on April 25, just hours after the suspension of travel came into effect for passengers from India to the UAE. Though he did not fall in the category of businessmen with the golden residency visa, Syamalan found solace that the UAE government had also announced travel exemption for those on flights chartered by businessmen. UAE citizens, officials of diplomatic missions appointed by the two countries and official delegations are also exempted from flying in from India during the travel suspension. P.D. Syamalan (fourth from left) and his newly-wed daughter Anju Syam and husband Siva Prasad receive bouquets from Afi Ahmed upon the arrival of the family in Dubai on Friday. Image Credit: Supplied “We did not anticipate this travel suspension, but I had the trust in the UAE government and I knew there would be some solution for us to get back to our second home soon,” Syamalan told Gulf News on his arrival. He said he and his son Ajit Syam, the CEO of the group, began efforts to fly back soon after the announcement about further extension of travel suspension. “Since we are a family-run business, all of us in the family, including my mother, sister and my wife, are senior executives and it would affect the business if we are not in town for long. That is why we wanted to rush back,” said Ajit. Repeated tests, quarantine mandatory Initially, he said, there was some confusion about passengers who were exempted to fly. However, he said he was finally able to get the necessary approvals to fly in his parents, his wife, daughter, parents-in-law (who are also UAE residents), his newly-wed sister and her husband (who is on a visit visa) and four employees who work at the family’s two villas. Apart from the other documents needed for the journey, all of them had to produce RT-PCR negative test reports taken within 48 hours prior to departure. They are also required to be tested on arrival and again on the fourth and eighth days after arrival and be in home quarantine for ten days, according to the conditions set by the authorities. P.D. Syamalan, his family members and employees of the company. Image Credit: Supplied “It shows the government has not completely shut travel and people with exemptions can afford to return soon by following the precautionary measures in place,” said Syamalan, whose group has businesses in three Gulf Cooperation Council countries, mainly dealing with auto air-conditioning accessories. “I hope the COVID situation in India becomes better at the earliest and all those who are stuck back home will also be able to fly back to the UAE soon,” he added. People rushing to fly back Afi Ahmed, managing director of Smart Travel, who facilitated the family’s journey, said many Indian businessmen have been rushing to return or bring back their family members and employees from India to the UAE. “We are getting many enquiries from people stuck in India, trying to fly back to the UAE. Many people here also want to bring their aged parents and other family members because they feel it is safe to be in the UAE now.” Afi, who was among 13 Indian expats who spent Dh225,000 in total to charter a private jet from Kochi to Dubai during the travel suspension in July 2020, said there are hundreds of expats, including health-care workers, who are worried about their jobs getting affected due to the indefinite travel suspension. “We hope the government will consider giving exemption to those who have urgent requirements to fly on commercial flights with all the extra precautionary measures announced for the already exempted categories. Since the flights from the UAE to India are not affected, they can fly on those flights returning to the UAE if they are exempted.” Demand soars for private jets While it would cost anywhere between Dh14,000 to Dh17,000 for individual passengers, chartering private jets would cost around $55,000 for a 13-seater and up to $62,000 for a 19-seater aircraft, according to operators and agents. “There is a heavy demand [for private jets] now. At the same time, authorities have been strict about issuing approvals,” said Ahmed Shajeer, director of commercial at JetzHub. He said private jets with up to 35 seating capacity are allowed to carry a maximum of 19 passengers. Read more Pleas for help in India as COVID-19 leaves children without carers COVID-19 patient in Kerala taken to hospital on bike, probe ordered India records 1.5 million new COVID-19 cases in a week India issues new guidelines for COVID-19 testing “Authorities are not encouraging pooling of [unrelated] passengers. We have also been told that visit visa holders can fly only if they are from the same family [of businessmen chartering the jets].” He said a request seeking approval to operate 50-seat private jets has been submitted to the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) to help companies fly back their employees on vacation.

GulfNews UAE

Leading Arab authors and artists to grace Sharjah reading festival

Education|: Sharjah: Eleven Arab artists and authors, known for their outstanding contribution to children’s arts and literature, will headline the 12th edition of the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival (SCRF) taking place at Sharjah Expo Centre from May 19 — 29. The 11-day educational event, organised by Sharjah Book Authority (SBA), will carry the theme ‘For Your Imagination. There will be a total of 537 interactive sessions, including workshops and plays — some of which will be held on the ground, while others will be organised via virtual platforms. Leading names Renowned Egyptian actor and comedian Ahmed Amin, a popular writer and show presenter in the region, famous for his 30-second YouTube videos, will be presenting the Plateau show. Children’s author Nisreen Jaafar Al Noor, from Bahrain, will also participate in the upcoming SCRF edition. Her body of work includes stories and articles in prominent magazines for children, including Al Arabi Al Sagheer. She has also written several books, including Qisat Fanan. Omani poet Dr. Wafa Al Shamsi, one of the most distinguished female authors in the Arab literary world, will share her poetry and other literary pieces, including fiction and plays, which have won many prestigious awards. UAE artist The festival will also host UAE artist and illustrator Aysha Al Hemrani, whose digital art takes inspiration from Emirati pop culture while drawing strong aesthetic cues from her childhood. Read More Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival returns, promises secure and enriching event UAE and Italy explore ways to boost cultural bond The list of other prominent figures to attend SCRF will include renowned Egyptian children’s author Tayeb Adib; Jordanian Fida Al Zumar, winner of the ISESCO award for her work Ahlam Al Tfoolah; Egyptian children’s author Amro Samir Atef and Iraqi critic Hussein Ali Harf, a renowned expert in child and youth affairs, puppetry and school theatre. They will also be joined by Kuwaiti author Huda Al Shawwa Qadoumi, winner of Sheikh Zayed Book Award for her children’s story Rehlat Al Tair Ela Jabal Qaf. Saudi author, media personality and researcher in children’s literature and culture, Faraj Al Dhafeeri, will also be present, as well as Kuwaiti children’s author Heba Ismail Mandani, who is well-known for her collection of stories titled Ahla Ayami

GulfNews UAE

COVID-19: Dubai private school enrolments ‘resilient’ even during pandemic

Education|: Dubai: Enrolment in Dubai private schools showed “resilience” even amid the COVID-19 pandemic, dipping less than three per cent in one academic year, a new report has said. Across Dubai’s 208 schools, the slight fall in enrolments was primarily in Early Year grades as parents were concerned about health-safety issues, according to the latest report by L.E.K. Consulting. The number of Early Years enrolments slid from about 28,000 to around 23,000 students in 2021. Overall, between academic year 2020 and 2021, enrolment declined by 8,000 students, from around 295,000 to about 287,000 students in Dubai private schools, L.E.K. said. For the report, it conducted its own primary research with UAE schools as well as obtained data from Dubai’s Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) and the United Kingdom-based Oxford Economics. The nominal decline is “a testament to how well UAE authorities have managed the COVID period”, Ashwin Assomull, head of L.E.K. Consulting’s Global Education Practice, told Gulf News. Hardest hit The slight fall was also mainly seen in the budget segment (below Dh18,000 annual fees), the report shows. Assomull said many parents with children in the budget segment, which has many Indian schools, relocated to their home countries or elsewhere, he added, causing a decline in enrolment in the segment. Over the last academic year, the budget segment lost 9,000 students, stabilising at 130,000. Bucking the trend By comparison, the smallest fall was in the premium segment (above Dh75,000 annual fees), loosing just 1,000 students to register at 27,000. “In the premium segment, parents tend to have more financial resilience and savings. We’ve also seen some anecdotal kind of evidence that some of the parents are focused on a flight to quality from sort of mid-priced schools to premium schools. In the super premium segment, we have actually seen growth between last year and this year, although it is a small growth of just under one per cent,” Assomull said. The Jumeirah area, which dominates demand for premium schools, saw the highest growth in terms of private K-12 enrolment over the past four years and recorded a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of four per cent even in the pandemic year. Return to growth? Enrolment is expected to pick up in the upcoming academic year, the report said. More parents in the Early Years segment are expected to send their children to school within the next year “with the return of positive market sentiment following the successful vaccination drive and the nation’s strong results in managing the pandemic”. The report also indicates that the economy is “expected to bounce back strongly over the next few years, resulting in a growth in population and a corresponding increase in demand for K-12 schools”. Read more Connecting classrooms to the real word Universities in Dubai to make September intake easier as board exams are delayed, cancelled Student in Dubai creates pillow that helps alert people with hearing impairment while asleep UAE Ministry of Education curriculum schools to start final exams from June 8 New preference Assomull said that there is also a shift in parent preferences to opt for larger school groups. “The response of larger schools to the pandemic made it apparent that they are better suited to deal with a shift to online learning. Larger schools pivoted almost overnight and brought in the best of global talent to stay on top of the situation. As students have returned to their classrooms, the larger school groups have been able to invest in developing safe back-to-school strategies, which many of their single site competitors have been less adept at doing,” he added.