Golden Visa for doctors: Here’s how you can apply for a professional licence
Dubai: If you are a doctor living in the UAE, there is good news. The UAE government made an announcement on July 28, stating that all doctors licensed to work in the UAE will be allowed to apply for a Golden Visa. What are the details of the announcement and what do you need to do to fulfil the eligibility criteria? Here is all you need to know. Who is eligible to get a Golden Visa? All doctors licensed by a UAE health regulatory body can apply for the 10-year Golden Visa between July 2021 to September 2022. Apart from doctors, investors, entrepreneurs, doctorate degree holders, engineers in the fields of computer engineering, electronics, coding, electricity and biotechnology, as well as outstanding students can also apply for five- or 10-year visas. Also read UAE allows all doctors residing in the country to apply for golden visa How can licensed doctors apply for a Golden Visa? According to the announcement, if you are already a licensed doctor, you can start your application procedure through the website of the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA), here - smartservices.ica.gov.ae. However, for doctors licensed to work in Dubai, they would need to apply through the website of the General Directorate for Residency and Foreigners Affairs – Dubai (GDRFA-D) here: smart.gdrfad.gov.ae. The concerned government departments will receive and review the applications to issue the golden visa for those who qualify. What happens if I am not yet licensed to work in the UAE? If you are a qualified medical doctor, who does not hold a licence from a UAE health authority, you can apply for a medical licence as long as you fulfil the criteria stipulated in the Unified Healthcare Professional Qualification Requirements (PQR), which is a standardised licensing document developed by UAE health authorities. The document sets out the necessary requirements for licensure of healthcare professionals opting to practise in the UAE in accordance with the federal laws and international best practices and standards. If you wish to apply for a medical professional licence in the UAE, these are the steps you would need to follow. Abu Dhabi To be able to work in Abu Dhabi, you would need a licence issued by the Department of Health (DOH). Step 1: Set up DOH account To begin the process, you would first need to set up an account with the official Abu Dhabi government services website here: https://www.tamm.abudhabi/en/aspects-of-life/healthsafety/healthcareprofessionals/LicensingandCertificates/requestregistrationofnewlicenceforahealthcareprofessional You need to enter your basic information and create the account. Step 2: Complete document verification through Dataflow After completion of the profile, you will be asked to proceed with the document verification process through a Dataflow service, which ensures your medical qualifications and experience are verified. Step 3: Apply for the DOH exam You would then need to book an exam appointment, through the same DOH account. Once you have paid the fees your exam date will be finalised. After taking the exam, you will be notified of the results through your account online. Step 4: Complete the final procedures You will be required to complete the uploading of your documents and also fill certain forms to ensure the authorities can complete a background check. Once you have completed the steps listed above you will receive the licence online. Documents required These are the documents that you would need to upload on your account during the licence application process: • Passport copy (Both Side) • Passport size photograph (White Background) • Emirates ID • Attested Certificate / Academic Qualification / Record by issuing entity • Experience certificates • Staff data form • E-tarasol barcode • Good conduct certificate • Health licence copy from your home country or the country you have worked in previously • Official log book for the past two years - for surgeons only Fees Application Fees Dh100 Physician Licence Issuance Dh2,600 The licence is valid for two years. Dubai In order to work in Dubai, you would need a licence issued by the Dubai Health Authority (DHA). These are the steps you would need to follow Step 1: Check if you are eligible DHA offers a self-assessment tool that physicians can use to find out if they fulfil the requirements laid out by the Unified healthcare PQR. You can complete the self-assessment online, here: https://services.dha.gov.ae/sheryan/wps/portal/home/services-professional/verify-pqr?locale=en If you meet the requirements, a primary source verification will be done by Dataflow. Step 2: Get registered online You would then need to register for the licence by setting up an account online through the DHA website. You may be required to schedule an oral assessment. Step 3: Book an exam While the primary source verification is being completed, which can take a few days, you can also book a date for the DHA exam. When you begin the process, you will be asked which country you are currently in. As DHA has examination centres in the UAE as well as in other countries in the world, you will be given the option of booking an exam at a centre nearest to you. The results for the exam come in within a few days. Step 4: Receive your licence online In case of approval and passing oral assessment (if required), the registration will be issued and the professional will automatically become part of the Dubai Medical Registry. Sharjah, Ajman, Ras Al Khaimah, Umm al Quwain, Fujairah To register as a physician in any other emirate in the UAE, you would need to register with the Ministry of Health and Prevention (MOHAP). Conditions and requirements These are the conditions that need to be fulfilled by applicants according to the Ministry’s website: • At least two years of experience is required. • There should be no more than a two-year gap in the work record. • Assessment certificates are valid for five years only, provided that there is no more than a two-year gap in work. • The facility must have a registered nurse for every two doctors it employs. • A certificate of functional fitness from the Department of Preventive Medicine is required if the applicant is 60 or older. • DataFlow report should be ‘positive’ or ‘not verified’. Required documents • Application letter from the institution • Assessment certificate • Experience certificate • Certificate of good conduct • Proposal to add a doctor • Job offer • Copy of passport • Physical and mental status report Step 1: Register online You would first need to create an account on mohap.gov.ae by creating a username and password. Step 2: Your company needs to add you on their online system The licensed medical service provider that is hiring you needs to then access the website service to license professionals through their account and provide the required information and documents. Step 3: Check application Once the transaction has been referred to MOHAP after the previous step is completed, you would need to check the application from your end. If the application meets requirements, it will be approved and the transaction will be sent to the facility for online fee payment. Step 4: Make the payment The organisation hiring you is required to then make the necessary payment of fees, after which a Ministry official will conduct a final review. If the conditions are met, the licence will be issued. Service Fees Application fee: Dh100 Doctor's license: Dh3,000
Steroids, antivirals, antibodies and other treatments for COVID-19: What you need to know
[Note: This article is for information purposes only, and not meant as a medical prescription. If you have any symptoms, consult your doctor] Dubai: Doctors take two major routes to deal with COVID-19. The first is to curb the virus; the second is to modulate our body’s response to it. At the initial onset of the disease, SARS-CoV-2 infection does trigger direct symptoms — coughing, a loss of smell. Then, as the disease progresses, it triggers reaction from body’s immune system. Sometimes, the immune response goes on an overdrive. This causes problems like inflammation and, later, organ damage, or even failure. Getting a grip on this deadly disease has been a tricky job. In an ideal world, researchers conduct double-blind, randomised controlled trials — the so-called “gold standard” of drug efficacy and safety testing. Most of the approved COVID-19 vaccines used this standard. Drug repurposing The medical fraternity sometimes prescribe drugs for COVID-19 approved earlier for other uses, with established safety profile. This drug "repurposing" amounts to teaching news trick to old medications. One advantage is that it helps cut the years of study needed to ensure these drugs are safe. Given the pandemic’s overwhelming effect, recruiting an adequate number of people for such studies and getting results in time pose a big challenge. So much of the evidence for repurposed drugs to treat COVID-19 comes from less-than-ideal “observational studies”. Based on trial results, such therapies are given emergency-use authorisation. The antiviral drug remdesivir and the steroid dexamethasone are examples of drugs repurposed to treat COVID-19. Their efficacy hinges on one important condition: Getting patients PCR-tested for the virus at the earliest and getting results as soon as possible hold the key, especially for high-risk groups who need to be treated right away. especially if they begin to notice breathing issues. We now know that vaccines do work — and are safe — against COVID-19. The vaccine research pipeline is long, which is good news. Scientists are still investigating better treatment options, and more therapies, from repurposed existing drugs to novel drugs. Other than vaccines, the following are approved treatments against COVID: Image Credit: Seyyed dela Llata / Gulf News 1. Convalescent plasma therapy (CPT) Plasma is the liquid part of blood, including the proteins used for clotting. They’re harvested from patients who survived COVID-19. The immune system generates proteins called “antibodies” during an infection. They latch onto a part of the virus or to an infected cell. That attachment (or binding) can then block the virus from further invading hosts, preventing them from further replicating. They can also flag the virus or infected cells for destruction by “killer” T cells. Convalescent plasma therapy (CPT) uses these proteins from recovered patients. Doctors transfer the plasma (through transfusion) with the desired antibodies to a patient with an active infection. Convalescent plasma (also known as immunoglobulins) is the yellowish liquid part of the blood taken from someone who has recovered from an illness, like COVID-19. The Lancet has cited several studies that showed a shorter hospital stay and lower mortality in patients treated with convalescent plasma than those who were not treated with it. Image Credit: Reuters / The Lancet https://bit.ly/2YKDQHT Does this technique work? At least three studies show it does, i.e. that blood from recovered patients has proven to be one of the weapons of choice in treating severe COVID-19 cases. Its efficacy depends on the patient’s age. A Dubai study shows a critical factor is giving it early enough. Meanwnile, a three-month research (between April 4-July 4, 2020) conducted by Mayo Clinic on hospitalised patients revealed that plasma transfusions in a cohort of 35,322 patients led to lower risk of death. It has worked particularly on moderate-to-severe COVID cases. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an emergency-use authorisation (EUA) for CPT on August 23, 2020, to treat moderate-to-severe cases of coronavirus. The evidence of how well it works against SARS-CoV-2 is mixed. While the FDA gave EUA to CPT, the National Institutes of Health reported at the time that the evidence for its effectiveness was “weak”. Other studies show it helps slow the disease when administered early, particularly in older adults. FDA revised its guidelines allowing CPT to be used to treat hospitalised COVID-19 patients. There’s one challenge: availability of convalescent plasma. It is limited by the number of patients who donate. Administration: It’s infused intravenously. It must be administered by a professional. Side effects: There are also side effects, such as allergic reactions and circulation problems associated with transfusion. 2. Monoclonal antibodies The use of monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) takes the idea behind convalescent plasma a notch higher. Some antibodies are more effective than others at ringfencing a given pathogen. Cloning the best antibodies, therefore, makes CPT even more efficient. mAbs are emerging as an important weapon against SARS-CoV-2. Sotrovimab, developed by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Vir Biotechnology, works against known variants. Bamlanivimab, developed by the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly and the two-in-one cocktail of mAbs — casirivimab and imdevimab — created by Regeneron, were authorised by the FDA. President Trump famously received a course of the Regeneron therapy when he fell ill with COVID-19 last year. File photo: A COVID-19 ward at a hospital in the UAE. According to its developer, GSK, Sotrovimab can be used to treat mild-to-moderate COVID-19 in adults, and in children aged at least 12 years or weighing at least 40kg. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News The UAE health authorities approved Sotrovimab on June 30, 2021. In general, monoclonal antibodies are most effective in the early stages of the illness, rather than in patients who are already hospitalised. The treatment reduced the likelihood of a high-risk patients needing hospitalisation. Administration: Like convalescent plasma, it requires transfusion for patients — aged 12 years or more — with severe case COVID-19. Side effects: They are similar to those of convalescent plasma, with allergic reactions being the main concern. Image Credit: Gulf News / Seyyed dela Llata 3. Antivirals Antiviral drugs are aimed to disrupt the reproductive cycle of a virus. Viruses such as SARS-CoV-2 hijack our cells to reproduce. In October 2020, the US FDA approved Remdesivir for hospital use against COVID-19. It is the only antiviral drug approved by FDA for treating COVID-19. How does it work? Remdesivir is given by injection into a vein – with or without corticosteroids such as Dexamethasone. It can be administered to adults and children over the age of 12 who weigh more than 40 kilos. The drug was first developed to treat Ebola, a viral haemorrhagic fever. Other medicines considered for treatment of COVID-19 included Ivermectin and Nitazoxanide but they failed to get approval following insufficient data. An ampule of remdesivir. Image Credit: REUTERS It imitates one of the molecules the virus uses to encode the instructions for making copies of itself. The impostor molecule stalls the viral replication process — but it doesn’t fool human cells, giving it a targeted effect. There are concerns about how well it works with COVID-19. On November 20, 2020, the WHO advised against remdesivir to treat COVID-19. Other medicines considered for treatment of COVID-19 included Ivermectin and Nitazoxanide but they failed to get approval following insufficient data. Administration: Intravenous transfusion, so it must be administered professionally, under medical supervision. Side effects: Remdesivir is seen to trigger elevated liver enzymes, which could indicate liver damage, as well as allergic reactions leading to fever, shortness of breath, wheezing, swelling, low blood oxygen, and changes in blood pressure. 4. Corticosteroids COVID-19 can, in some cases, nudge our immune system to go berserk. Immune cells can start attacking healthy cells. The strain of being on constant high alert can trigger dangerous immunological conditions like "cytokine storms", even if the virus has been cleared from the body. Enter steroids, in use for more than half a century. They help reduce inflammation and treat a range of conditions, including arthritis, asthma, immune system disorders, allergic reactions, cancer and some skin conditions. Steroids that modulate the immune system help patients in more advanced stages of COVID. This seems to be the case with dexamethasone, a generic corticosteroid. It’s one of the few drugs that has been shown to actually reduce the mortality rate of COVID-19, and it costs as little as $1 per dose. Dexamethasone is a corticosteroid used in a wide range of conditions for its anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressant effects. It is similar to a natural hormone produced by the adrenal glands and used as a replacement when the body doesn't produce enough of it. Dexamethasone is quite versatile: it's used to treat/prevent organ dysfunction and lung injury, as well as to treat arthritis and some disorders affecting the skin, blood, kidney, eye, thyroid, and intestine. When Dexamethasone was tested in patients on ventilators, the treatment was found to reduce mortality by about one-third, and for patients requiring only oxygen, mortality was cut by about one-fifth. Dexa has now become one of the most common drugs used to treat hospitalized COVID-19 patients who are ill enough to need oxygen support. Administration: Oral (usually available as a tablet) Side effects: Because it can slow the immune system, it could actually backfire in early stages of COVID-19 when the virus itself is the main concern. Dexamethasone can also leave patients vulnerable to other infections and may cause dizziness, an irregular heartbeat, and psychiatric problems like anxiety. Packages of dexamethasone are displayed in a pharmacy in Omaha, Nebraska, US, on June 16, 2020. Image Credit: AP A UAE doctor's take on monoclonal antibody (mAb) therapy: Dr Vikas Bhagat, Head of Department, Critical Care Medicine , Aster Hospital What are monoclonal antibodies? A monoclonal antibody is a molecule developed in a laboratory that is designed to mimic or enhance the body’s natural immune system response against an invader. They have an advantage over other types of treatment for infection because they are created to specifically target an essential part of the infectious process. A monoclo- nal antibody is created by exposing a white blood cell to a particular viral protein, which is then cloned to mass produce antibodies to tar- get that virus. Do they really work against COVID-19? Monoclonal antibodies are effective, as evidenced from studies conducted against COVID-19, as post-exposure prophylaxis to prevent severe diseases or complications. However, some mutations may cause changes in the spike protein that could interfere with the effectiveness of currently available monoclonal antibodies. Although researchers are still learning which patients with COVID-19 are most likely to benefit from monoclonal antibody therapy, early data suggest greater benefit in high risk patients. Monoclonal antibodies are intended for patients recently diagnosed as having COVID-19 who are not sick enough to be in the hospital but who have some risk factors for severe infection. Giving the infusion as early as possible in the course of infection is important Image Credit: Supplied / Jay Hilotin Which monoclonal antibody drugs against COVID-19 are used today? Three monoclonal antibody therapies targeting SARS-CoV-2 (bamlanivimab-etesevimab [B-E], casirivimab-imdevimab [C-I], and sotrovimab are available and approved for the treatment of outpatients with early, mild to moderate COVID-19 and risk factors for severe disease. In preliminary reports of randomised trials, they reduced the combined rates of hospitalisation and death compared with placebo. Indication: Mild to moderate COVID-19 who are at high risk of clinical progression. Those who are not on oxygen therapy. Treatment to be ASAP must be within 10 days of onset. High risk of progression: Body mass index (BMI) ≥35, Chronic kidney disease, Diabetes mellitus, Immunocompromising condition, Currently receiving immunosuppressive treatment, Aged ≥65 years, Aged ≥55 years and have:Cardiovascular disease, or Hypertension, or Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or another chronic respiratory. What is the typical dosage for complete treatment? • Casirivimab-imdevimab (600-600 mg, /1200-1200 mg, administered as a single IV dose [preferred], although may be given subcutaneously if IV not feasible or would delay treatment). • Sotrovimab (500 mg, administered as a single IV dose). • Bamlanivimab-etesevimab (700-1400 mg, administered as a single intravenous [IV] dose; distribution paused in the United States in June 2021 due to variants of concern with likely resistance to this agent). What’s been your experience with it: Are they combined with other therapies (i.e. dexamethasone)? Though here in our practice we have not used any of this, literature states that monoclonal antibodies also can be used in combination with corticosteroids, such as dexamethasone, to dampen the immune response in very ill hospitalised patients. Some COVID patients get sicker because of an overreaction of the body’s immune response (a cytokine storm) to the viral infection. When this happens, the body overproduces interleukin-6 (IL-6) — a protein involved in inflammation — in lung cells. The FDA has granted EUA for tocilizumab (Actemra), a monoclonal antibody that blocks the action of IL-6, and thereby dampens the exaggerated immune system response. Do you see more extensive mAb use going forward in the fight against COVID, as treatment? Although vaccines have been approved for mass vaccination, questions about their long-term effectiveness and any vaccine-related side effects are still to be answered. As a result, monoclonal antibodies will remain a viable alternative to the COVID-19 vaccine for the foreseeable future. Can you use mAbs against COVID-19 alongside vaccines. What’s the difference?u mAbs would provide viable therapeutic options for immune compromised and vaccine refractory individuals ( who cannot develop or maintain an adequate immune response after vaccination, such as older adults) In people who had not produced their own antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 virus, monoclonal antibody treatment reduced the chances of dying by 20%. Monoclonal antibodies did not benefit people whose immune systems had already created antibodies in response to the virus. Monoclonal antibodies may be able to provide immediate protection or treatment for those who are exposed and not yet vaccinated. After vaccination our bodies respond to the vaccine by making antibodies against the virus. While, in case of mAb antibody, we skip that step and antibodies are directly injected in our bodies. Another key difference: antibodies produced naturally by your body in response to a vaccine can last for a long time, but these laboratory-made monoclonal antibodies usually only last for a few months.
How much an Indian couple spent during a high-risk pregnancy in the UAE
Dubai: The financial costs associated with a pregnancy can sometimes be riddled with challenges. There are several expenses to be accounted for, starting with purchasing a pregnancy test kit to delivery packages and the cost of pre- and post-delivery care. In case of normal pregnancy, the expenses are straightforward but vary based on the choice of public versus private hospital. It is also vital to understand what costs will be covered by the medical insurance. ALSO READ Everything you need to know about UAE maternity insurance Help: I bought maternity insurance cover, but now my claims are being rejected Picture used for illustrative purposes Image Credit: Shutterstock A look at the total cost for a Dubai-based Indian couple Three years ago, at the age of 40 when UAE-based Indian national Basavdatta Halder went through a high-risk pregnancy and gave birth to her first child in a top rung private hospital in Dubai she incurred a total bill of approximately Dh100,000. Of this, Halder had to pay over Dh75,000 from her own pocket. The obvious question is how did she manage to shell out such a huge amount? “My husband and I diligently saved roughly Dh9,000 per month since the beginning of 2017. By the time of delivery in June 2018, we were fortunate to have saved a substantial amount that helped us to cover the medical expenses,” Halder shared. After thorough research Halder decided to consult an obstetrician-gynaecologist in a leading private hospital in the UAE, given her pre-existing health conditions. The decision required financial preparation since the hospital was outside the network offered by her company-sponsored medical insurance. While different co-payment terms applied for consultations, scans, tests and medicines, overall, the insurance covered only 40 to 60 per cent of the bills. In the absence of direct billing facility, Halder had to make full payments and applied for reimbursements later, subject to terms and conditions. “Although I did not purchase one, there is an option to buy additional maternity insurance cover. The premium tends to be high starting at Dh18,000 and can go up to over Dh25,000. That’s because in case of an active pregnancy, the insurance company will account for the cost of delivery and complications, if any,” Halder explained. Basavdatta Halder incurred a total bill of roughly Dh100,000 on a high risk pregnancy and childbirth. Image Credit: Supplied Consultations, scans and medicines: many costs to consider The cost of consultations and scans also tend to widely vary based on the choice of hospital. While the consultation fee at a UAE-based public hospital is approximately Dh265, it can go up to even Dh700 at a private hospital. Halder had to pay a total of Dh1,000 for consultation and ultrasound scan every time she met the doctor. Since it was a high-risk pregnancy, she had to meet the doctor at least twice a month during the first trimester (first three months of pregnancy), incurring a total cost of minimum Dh2,000. Add to this, the milestone ultrasound scans at twentieth and thirty second weeks that cost Halder a total of Dh2,000. “In addition, there are certain tests done to check genetic abnormalities that are not covered by the insurance. I had to pay Dh5,000 for the Harmony test, which is a non-invasive prenatal test to screen for abnormalities such as Down syndrome and two other fetal chromosomal abnormalities,” Halder shared. Further, there are certain prescribed medicines that women must take during the entire pregnancy such as Pregnacare that are also not covered by the insurance. Halder had to spend a total of Dh900 on this medicine. She also had to also take a blood thinner and progesterone medication. “The pharmacy bills would often range from as low as Dh35 to even Dh450, which were covered by my insurance but with co-payment and penalty.” Picture used for illustrative purposes Image Credit: Shutterstock What does it mean by co-payment and penalty or out-of-network fee? Under a health insurance policy, co-payment refers to the percentage of the claim amount that an insured person must pay while the remaining amount is paid by the insurer. Penalty or an out-of-network fee applies on the insured person if s/he decides to get medical care from hospitals falling outside of the network of the insurance policy. Cost of delivery and more Due to hyperthyroidism Halder had to do thyroid tests at least eight to nine times during the entire pregnancy spending Dh975 each time. Towards the end of her pregnancy, she also suffered from hypertension-related complications necessitating a two-day hospitalisation that cost her Dh7,950 along with laboratory tests. Moreover, Halder voluntarily underwent an optional genetic test that cost Dh7,000. Finally, she incurred a total bill of Dh37,000 for a Cesarean delivery (C-section) delivery. “Back in 2018, the hospital where I delivered used to charge slightly over Dh25,000 for a C-section delivery with a four-day stay. But due to several complications at the time of delivery I had to stay in the hospital for almost nine days, adding on to the initial package amount,” Halder explained. “We also opted for cord blood banking (process of collecting potentially life-saving stem cells from the umbilical cord and storing them for future use) that cost Dh14,000,” she added. Basavdatta Halder with her then five months old daughter Image Credit: Supplied photo Always plan for unforeseen The last three months leading to the delivery were physically and financially challenging for Halder. “Suddenly there was a change in our financial situation as ours became a single income household. We were fortunate enough to manage all the medical expenses from our savings. But for many that may not even be an option. So, I strongly suggest expecting parents to put aside at least Dh15,000-20,000 for pregnancy related expenses,” Halder said. “It is also important to read the fine print of the medical insurance to get the maximum benefits. I had to pay a premium since I opted for a private hospital outside the insurance network. Between March and June 2018 alone, I had pay Dh52,000 in total. Falling under the high-risk category, my case could be looked upon as uncommon. While this may not be the case for most pregnant women, it is important to do some research to opt for the best hospital within the insurance network and therein have access to direct billing. “For those who are compelled to step outside the network of hospitals covered by the insurance provider, my advice would be to meticulously plan and submit all the required paperwork in time to get the bills reimbursed. Post-delivery, I could not get the huge amount of paperwork sorted within the set deadline to get a portion of the hospital bills reimbursed by my insurance provider and lost out on a substantial amount,” Halder concluded. Costs at a glance: expenses related to a high-risk pregnancy in a private hospital
COVID-19: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain and Qatar tightening travel curbs
Saudi|: Dubai: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain and Qatar have tightened travel curbs to contain the spread of COVID-19 variants. Kuwait has become the latest GCC country to tighten travel restrictions, banning unvaccinated citizens from travelling abroad as of August 1. The decision comes just a few hours after Saudi Arabia announced a three-year travel ban on citizens who travel to countries on the red list. Saudi red list countries The Saudi move follows reports about citizens travelling to the banned countries in violation of COVID-19 related travel restrictions and instructions issued by official authorities. The kingdom’s red-list countries include the UAE, Libya, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Iran, Turkey, Armenia, Ethiopia, Somalia, Congo, Afghanistan, Venezuela, Belarus, India and Vietnam. Kuwait, however, exempted from the travel ban slapped on unvaccinated citizens children under 16 years and those with a health ministry certificate, saying they cannot be vaccinated, as well as pregnant women, who get a pregnancy proof certificate from authorities. Oman to unveil new rules on Thursday Meanwhile, Oman is expected to announce new travel restrictions tomorrow (Thursday) when the Supreme Committee tackling COVID-19 meets to decide on the future course of action for preventing the spread of the pandemic in the Sultanate. Oman has already barred travellers from 23 countries from entering the Sultanate until further notice. The red-list countries include Sudan, Brazil, Nigeria, Tanzania, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, the United Kingdom, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Indonesia, Iraq, Iran, Tunisia, Libya, Argentina, Colombia, and Brunei. Passengers who passed through the red list countries in the past 14 days are banned from entering the Sultanate. Bahrain curbs remain Bahrain updated its travel curbs on July 13 by adding more countries on its red list, banning the entry of travellers from these countries from entering the Kingdom. The decision was taken by the Civil Aviation Authority and the National Taskforce for combating coronavirus. The red list countries include Dominican, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Malaysia, Mexico, Mongolia, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Panama, the Philippines’, South Africa, Tunisia, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Vietnam. Passengers who passed through the banned countries need to have a 14-day quarantine in non-prohibited countries, except for Bahrain’s citizens and residents. Qatar rules in place In Qatar, travellers, who have been inoculated approved by health authorities, will not be quarantined as part of the country’s updated travel policy. However, the vaccinated passengers still need to take a PCR test before arriving in Qatar. The new policy classifies countries into three categories — green, yellow and red. A quarantine policy for each category will be applied to unvaccinated travellers arriving in Qatar. All passengers coming to Qatar will also have to pre-register on the “Ehteraz” website and attach all the required documents no less than 12 hours before arrival.
Emirates suspends flights from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka until August 7
Aviation|: Dubai: Emirates will be suspending the carriage of passengers from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka to Dubai until August 7. Furthermore, passengers who have connected through India, Pakistan, Bangladesh or Sri Lanka in the last 14 days will not be accepted to travel from any other point to the UAE. UAE Nationals, holders of UAE Golden Visas and members of diplomatic missions who comply with updated COVID‑19 protocols, are exempt and may be accepted for travel. This is the latest extension of a ban on inbound flights from India. Starting from April 24, GCAA and the National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Emergency Management Authority (NCEMA) suspended all inbound flights for national and international carriers coming from India. The flight ban was initially blamed on a surge in the ‘Delta’ variant of the COVID-19 virus. The date for the resumption of travel has been postponed several times. Thousands of Indians who flew home from the UAE when travel restrictions were eased are stuck at their homes in India owing to new protocols having kicked in. India is UAE's largest source market and represents about a third of its passenger traffic. In 2019, there were about 3.42 million Indians living in UAE.
Four-year-old girl severely injured in the eye in Abu Dhabi after unintentional exposure to hand sanitiser
UAE|: Abu Dhabi: A four-year-old girl in Abu Dhabi sustained a severe eye injury after unintentional exposure of her eyes to a hand sanitiser from a self-dispensing unit. The accident occurred when the child activated a foot-operated hand sanitiser station while visiting a public venue with her family. The girl required immediate treatment, including a follow-up procedure to enable healing in the affected eye. Parental supervision must Following the incident, experts who treated her at the Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi have urged parents to closely supervise hand sanitiser use among children. Their calls follow similar advice on parental supervision during sanitiser use from ophthalmology experts in France, Spain and India, where similar eye injuries have been reported. Sudden exposure The girl’s mother, who wished to remain anonymous, added that many people are unaware about the risks of the chemicals used in hand sanitisers, especially for children. “For purposes of hygiene, we’ve taught our daughter to use soap and water for washing her hands and to only use sanitisers if soap and water are not available. But because she saw everyone around her use it, she ran up ahead from us to use it too. When she pressed the pedal of the dispenser, the hand sanitiser didn’t fall downwards but instead a large quantity went straight into her eye and she began screaming in pain,” said the girl’s mother. Her parents immediately rinsed the girl’s eyes with water and took her home, while continuing to wash the affected eyes. Clear injury “We were somehow able to open her eye and could see the corneal injury clearly. That is when we decided to rush her to hospital,” the mother said. In a statement, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi said the child was brought to the Emergency Department complaining of extreme pain and she was unable to open her eye. Doctors immediately washed the solution off, administered antibiotics to prevent infection and gave the young patient pain-healing eye drops. Doctors diagnosed her with a near total corneal abrasion caused by the alcohol and alkaline chemical additives in the hand gel. Follow-up procedure When the pain continued to escalate despite close follow-up over the following days, the child was taken to the operating room where doctors evaluated her eye under anaesthesia and placed a self-retaining amniotic membrane, or biological bandage used to heal large non-healing corneal abrasions and scrapes. The membrane was removed a week after it was placed. While the abrasion had healed, the cornea was still dry and hazy. So the doctors prescribed a course of medicated and lubricant eye drops. Her care team at the hospital will now continue to follow-up on her for the next few months. The pervasiveness of hand sanitisers has racked up the number of injuries caused by these substances. Image Credit: Supplied Children’s eye injuries Dr Brian Armstrong, staff physician at the hospital’s Eye Institute, and part of the little girl’s care team, said this was the first case of this nature treated at the hospital that required amniotic membrane placement. However, paediatric eye injuries from alcohol-based hand sanitisers have been on the rise all around the world since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Health authorities have recommended the use of alcohol-based hand sanitisers containing at least 60 per cent alcohol, which disrupt the COVID-19 virus’ surrounding lipid membrane in a manner similar to soap and help inactivate it. However, the pervasiveness of hand sanitisers has also racked up the number of injuries caused by these substances. Earlier this year, the French Poison Control Centres reported seven times more cases of ocular exposure among children to hand sanitisers between April and August in 2020, compared to the same period in 2019. High alcohol concentration “Hand sanitiser dispensers installed in public spaces are often at waist-level for adults, but this means that they are at eye-level for many children. So, the chances of a child getting splashed in the eye are quite high. Most hand sanitisers have a high concentration of alcohol, which starts to break down the surface of the cornea immediately,” Dr Armstrong said. Read more Peanuts, shellfish or dairy can kill you: know the allergies, triggers, treatments and preventive measures Video: Two-year-old Yemeni girl treated in Abu Dhabi hospital for rare congenital anomaly Gulf Medical University offers scholarships and discounts for Emirati students COVID-19: UAE infections falling, says disaster management authority Supervise children during use Doctors have advised parents to use soap and water for hand hygiene whenever possible and opt for hand sanitisers only when an alternative is not available. “When this is not possible, parents should use neutral and natural hand sanitising solutions under strict supervision and teach children to use only a small quantity that dries completely before children touch their eyes. If they happen to rub their eyes with sanitiser, immediately wash them out with water and visit a hospital if there is blurred vision or pain,” Dr Armstrong advised.
UAE: 5 vegetarian and vegan recipes for all to try
Food|: There’s very few things that are more 2021 than embracing a vegetarian – or vegan – lifestyle. Numerous health benefits? Check. Better for the environment? Check. Spares the lives of animals? Check. The twin terms vegan (a diet free of all animal products, including meat, dairy, eggs and even honey) or vegetarian (a diet free of any animal flesh, including meat, poultry and fish) no longer evoke images of flavourless plates of vegetables and joyless salads – and these recipes of full-of-flavour starters, mains and dessert prove exactly that. Christopher Kinsley, Head chef at Flow From Christopher Kinsley, Head chef at Flow (Jumeirah Emirates Towers and Dubai Internet City), for starters we have a vegan, vinegary, farro and heirloom tomato salad and a vegetarian puy lentil salad with zucchini and eggplant (just change up the cheese-yoghurt dressing to make this vegan). For a spicy main, there's the delicious, protein-packed vegan Indian-style turmeric chickpea and tomato pilaf. New Chaklang, head chef and co-owner of Café Isan Meanwhile, New Chaklang, head chef and co-owner of Café Isan at JLT gives us recipes to a delish vegan Thai basil stir-fry with long beans, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage and carrots. For dessert, there's the classic Thai dish mango sticky rice – all vegan because it uses coconut milk. Dig right in for a guilt-free week. Farro and heirloom tomato salad Farro and heirloom tomato salad Image Credit: Supplied/Flow Makes 5 portions Ingredients 500 gms farro 300 gms heirloom tomato 1 orange 50 gms cucumber 20 gms mint 20 gms basil 20 gms zaatar 50 gms pomegranate seeds 15 gms parsley For dressing 20 gms Dijon mustard 25 mls balsamic vinegar 15 mls apple cider vinegar 20 gms pomegranate molasses 50 ml olive oil Method 1. Cook farro in salted water until smooth. 2. Chop heirloom tomatoes into halves. 3. Zest orange and cut into slices. 4. Peel cucumber and dice. 5. Mix with all the other ingredients in a bowl. 6. For the dressing, mix Dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar and pomegranate molasses in a bowl and whisk while slowly, adding in olive oil. Lentil salad Serves 4 Lentil salad Image Credit: Suuplied/Flow Ingredients 500 gms puy lentils 1 tbsp cumin powder 1 tbsp curry powder (store bought or mix equal ratios of coriander and cumin powder, with a dash of ginger powder and mustard powder, along with some turmeric powder) 1 tbsp coriander powder 1 medium green zucchini 1 medium yellow zucchini 1 medium eggplant 50 gms cucumber 50 gms pomegranate seeds 10 gms dry oregano 15 gms fresh mint julienne 15 gms fresh parsley julienne 1 lemon For the dressing 50 gms feta cheese 5 gms crushed cumin 50 ml olive oil 50 gms low fat yoghurt Method 1. Cook the lentils in salted water for 15 minutes. 2. Once cooked, drain the lentils and add the spices listed, mix well and cook for 2-3 more minutes. 3. Dice both the zucchini and eggplant and sauté on high heat, add the spices, salt, and black pepper and cook well. 4. Remove the vegetables from heat once cooked to cool down. 5. Peel and dice cucumbers. 6. Add the rest of the ingredients except lemon and mix together. 7. For the dressing, add all the ingredients into a mixing bowl and whisk. Slowly pour olive oil while whisking. 8. Add the zest of one lemon to the salad and add dressing on top. 9. Serve immediately! Turmeric chickpea and tomato pilaf Serves 4 Turmeric chickpea and tomato pilaf Image Credit: Supplied/Flow Ingredients For the tomato pilaf 500 gms green freekeh 250 gms fresh plum tomato 40 ml olive oil 80 gms chopped red onion 25 gms chopped garlic 3 gms chilli powder 6 gm garam masala (one 2-inch piece of cinnamon, 2 to 3 green cardamom, 2 to 3 cloves, 1/2 tspn black pepper, 1 bay leaf, 1 star anise - slightly dry roasted and powdered fine in a cofee grinder) 3 gms coriander powder 3 gms turmeric powder 4 gms fine salt 2 gms cracked black pepper For the turmeric chickpea 25 ml olive oil 400 gms cooked chickpea 20 gms turmeric powder 50 gms brown raisins 120 gms fresh plum tomato 20 gms chopped mint 20 gms chopped coriander Method Tomato pilaf 1. Wash the fresh freekeh in cold water and rinse. 2. Bring a pot of water to a boil and add in the freekeh. Cook for 10 minutes. 3. Once cooked, drain the freekeh and set aside. 4. Add olive oil to a saucepan. 5. Once hot, add the garlic, onions, spices, and salt to the pan and cook until golden brown. 6. Add in the cooked freekeh to the pan. 7. Cook the freekeh for 2 more minutes. 8. Add tomatoes and water and cook until the water evaporates (10-15 minutes on medium heat) 9. Remove from the heat and let it cool down. Turmeric chickpea 1. In a hot pan, add the olive oil, chickpeas, and turmeric powder. 2. Cook until golden brown then set aside to cool down. 3. In a mixing bowl add in the turmeric chickpeas, raisins, chopped herbs, tomato, and tomato pilaf and mix all together. 4. Serve and enjoy! Thai basil stir-fry Serves 2 Thai basil Stir-fry Image Credit: Supplied/Café Isan Ingredients Hard tofu (x10 1cm cubes) 1 tbsp vegetable oil 2 pieces chopped garlic Chopped chillies (red or green) to your spice requirements 1 piece long green bean 5 gms red onion 5 florets cauliflower 5 florets broccoli 1-inch squares x 5 pieces white cabbage 1 carrot, chopped 10 pieces Thai hot basil leaves 1 tsp sugar ¼ tsp salt 2 tsp soy sauce 1 tbsp vegan oyster sauce (mushroom) ¼ tsp black pepper powder Jasmine rice, to serve Method 1. Fry (pan or deep fry) tofu cubes, removing any excess oil. Place in a bowl and leave to cool down slightly. 2. In another pan or preferably wok put the oil and heat to a medium level, add in the garlic and chillies and stir until almost browned. 3. Add the tofu, long green bean, red onion and all remaining vegetables and keep stirring on a medium heat until 80 per cent cooked. 4. Add the sugar, salt, soy sauce, vegan oyster sauce, black pepper and a little water (about 2 tbsp) on a high heat and when the vegetables are cooked add in the Thai basil leaves and stir for 5 seconds before removing from the heat. 5. Serve immediately with steamed jasmine rice. Mango sticky rice Serves 2 Ingredients 200 gms glutinous rice 150 ml coconut milk 2 tbsp sugar Pinch of salt Half a piece sweet Thai mango ½ tsp roasted sesame seeds Method 1. Wash the glutinous rice and soak in water for at least 5 hours (preferably overnight). Drain and steam. 2. Heat the coconut milk, sugar and salt in a pan until it boils, then add the glutinous rice and keep stirring until your desired thickness (coconut milk has reduced). Place into a serving bowl. 3. Slice the mango and put it alongside or on top of the sticky rice and sprinkle with roasted sesame seeds. Tip: A side sauce can be added and made by mixing coconut milk, sugar and a pinch of salt in a pan (keeps in the refrigerator for up to 2 days). Tell us about your favourite dishes or recipes at firstname.lastname@example.org
UAE parents: Watch out for these developmental milestones in your four year old
For your child, it is a whole new universe – an ever-changing range of lessons, from arts, languages, science to sports in classrooms with scores of other students, learning to face exciting challenges away from home. In the UAE, this is the age of school entry, beginning a journey of 14 years that will instil a love for lifelong learning and teach your child about friendship, independence and so much more. Your child can seem like a little adult at this age – solemnly (or dreamily) setting out at dawn for a long day of study and fun. Their vocabulary will have expanded to over a 1,000 words, and they will hold lively conversations about their day, the latest stories they’ve read and their own interests, with their writing, drawing and counting skills developing rapidly as well. ALSO READ All the milestones your baby should be reaching up to six months old Developmental milestones for an 18-month-old baby All the developmental milestones your two-year-old should be reaching Mum to a one-year-old? This is what your baby should be doing at this age Parent to a three-year-old? Here’s the developmental milestones they should be reaching Gulf News spoke to Dr Afra Jamal Ahli, Specialist in Family Medicine and Fellow in Maternal and Child Health at Dubai Health Authority, with the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as an additional source, to find out more about developmental milestones for your four-year-old that you should keep track of. Social and emotional development milestones for a four-year-old 1. Enjoying new things With a dynamic kindergarten environment offering novel experiences on a daily basis, your four-year old is expected to be interested in trying these new games and activities, as well as going to new places. 2. More creative pretend play Pretending that they are a mother or father themselves, imitating their parents, is a specific example of pretend play to look for. They can construct other complex make-believe worlds as well, for example, playing at being a firefighter or a doctor with friends and family members is important for development. A 2012 study by US-based researcher Michele Root-Bernstein, published in the 'Oxford Handbook of the Development of Imagination', indicated that for the studied creative individuals such as MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant awardees and Nobel Prize winners, playing make-believe worlds or ‘world-play’ during early childhood years were more frequent than other control participants in their fields. A famously interesting example of such imaginative play is the literary Bronte siblings’ construction of a fantasy worlds called the Glass Town and Angria around their new toy soldiers, writing dozens of books of prose and poetry together. The four siblings were aged between six and ten when they started, with Charlotte being the eldest, and wrote these for many years following, going on to become famed writers. 3. Preferring interactive play They will prefer playing with friends and family rather than by themselves at this age. Your child will also be more cooperative, and encouraging a range of group activities such as tending to shared houseplants, building Lego towers and cities, or solving puzzles together are beneficial. However, Dr Afra says, “If they don’t respond to people outside the family, for example, with a teacher, that is a concern to bring up with your paediatrician.” At four years old, your child is expected to vocally express their likes and interests - including which dino is their favourite. Image Credit: Pixabay 4. Being vocal about likes and interests “What is your favourite dinosaur?” As I reply that my favourite one was the brachiosaurus, my little nephew says that his is the tyrannosaurus rex, proceeding to then give an awe-inspiring demonstration of the extinct animal itself, complete with growls and agile scampering. The conversation quickly progressed to favourite pokemons, and Paw Patrol, the popular animated show. At four years old, your child is expected to vocally express their likes and interests, and this can make for similarly delightful conversation. 5. Often not distinguishing between fiction and reality Whether your little girl might want to visit Princess Tiana’s restaurant, from The Frog Prince or fly on a magic carpet with Princess Jasmine from Aladdin, a characteristic of this age is finding it hard to distinguish between make-believe they might learn from movies or books and reality. Language and communication milestones for a four-year-old 1. Knowing some basic grammar Dr Afra says, “They will try to use grammar correctly by this age.” This includes correct usage of ‘he’ and ‘she’ and some basic sentence structures. 2. Singing a song or poem from memory “Do you want to build a snowman? / Come on let’s go and play….” With the animated movie ‘Frozen’ being a universal favourite for children worldwide, this is one of the songs or poems that your child might enjoy singing. 3. Storytelling After at least a year of preschool and kindergarten, your child will be used to telling you about their day. However, encourage them further to build fictional stories by giving various prompts, for example, “Once upon a time….” You can take turns with your child to tell the story and at this age, they are expected to actively participate. 4. Saying first and last name, identify family and friends Your child is expected to begin to knowing last names of people as well, and easily identify familiar people. Cognitive milestones for a four year old 1. Knowing some colours and some numbers Babies can start to understand the concept of colour from around 18 months and by now your child should be able to name a few primary colours and also know the names of some numbers. 2. Understanding counting They are also expected to have started counting, matching numbers to their quantities on cards with repeated colourful objects, for example. 3. Remembering parts of a story Dr Afra says, “If you tell them a story today, after 2 to 3 days, they remember it and try to tell it by themselves.” She adds that if they can’t retell a favourite story, parents should be concerned and discuss this with their paediatrician. You can also ask your child to recall parts after you tell them their bedtime stories. 4. Beginning to understand time Concepts like morning, evening and night become clear to your child, especially as bedtime and school routines are established. Asking your child about their morning and evening activities separately can support their development in this area. 5. Understanding the idea of ‘same’ and ‘different’ If you show your child various patterns and ask them whether a couple of chosen ones are same or different, at four years old, your child will be able to answer. If not, visit your paediatrician to discuss any concerns. 6. Playing card or board games There is a huge and colourful range of board and card games for four year olds to choose from, from story cards that let your little one create a small fable of their own to even Uno that focuses at connecting colours and numbers quickly. Engaging in informal numerical activities can be critical in a child’s early numerical development and can have long-term benefits in the area. Image Credit: Pexels Numerical board games can be particularly helpful. A 2011 study by US-based researchers Geetha Ramani and Robert Siegler published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, by American Psychological Association, found that engaging in informal numerical activities like board games can be critical in a child’s early numerical development and can have long-term benefits in the area. 7. Starting to copy some capital letters At this age, they should be able to start their alphabetical journey by copying capital letters. 8. What happens next in a story “And so it was almost midnight, and Cinderella had to run away from the ball before her dress and riches disappeared. In the hurry, she left her glass slipper behind and the prince found it. What do you think happened then?” Your child will be able to offer some ideas for how the story could pan out. 9. Using scissors Whether during lessons of basic origami or simple tasks like cutting off tags, your child is expected to be using scissors at this age. 10. Drawing basic human figures According to Ireland’s National Childcare Directory, at four years old, they begin the representational stage of scribbling that progresses into drawing. The era of stick figure drawing is expected to begin and your child should be able to draw a person with two to four body parts. Dr Afra says, “If your child is having trouble with scribbling, that is a concern.” Physical development milestones for a four year old 1. Hopping and standing on one foot for up to 2 seconds Dr Afra emphasises, “This is very important.” It can be for a classic game of outdoor hopscotch, for example. 2. Catching a bounced ball They should be able to catch a bouncing ball most of the time. 3. Pouring, cutting and mashing own food Dr Afra says, “For example, - pouring juice, milk or water in a cup, trying to use a knife to cut with supervision and mashing their own food during meals, should be possible.” Signs of autism to watch out for An estimated 1 in 160 children worldwide has an autism spectrum disorder, according to the World Health Organization. According to Dr Afra, although autism is usually detected at 18 months but sometimes it may be hard to notice, especially for first-time parents. By two years, it should be a bit more obvious. 1 in 160 children worldwide has an autism disorder. Some of the signs, she says, are if the child is not able to make direct eye contact with the parents and if they are not able to say “mama or baba”. “If the child gets annoyed with listening – if there is a noise in a place and a child cannot bear it, they will close their ears and they will try to shout. If they have a speech delay as well, these are the main signs that identify autism in the MCHAT (The M-CHAT or Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers),” says Dr Afra. She adds that if they are not able to play “pretend”, like holding a phone and trying to speak with it or talking to a doll, those could also be alarming signs for autism. Signs that can mean your child has ADHD According to Dr Afra, ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is usually diagnosed after 5 years and the symptoms include less sleeping hours, eating less and when the child is hyperactive in more than one place – with the parent at home and the teacher at school. She says, “With ADHD, the child cannot stay still in one place - they will tend to jump from one place to another.” How can a parent support baby development to ensure these milestones are reached? Dr Afra says, ”To develop their personality, I suggest your child to pretend play, do playdates with others especially with friends and we can also give them various toys such as kitchen sets and dress-up clothes to build up their imagination.” She also says that explaining some of your daily actions step-by-step, so that they begin to understand the sequence of events, is also very beneficial. She adds, “It’ll be good if the parent takes that opportunity to read with them, and after reading, you can ask them to tell you about what they understood from that story.” - The writer is an intern with Gulf News
Raj Kundra pornography case: New complaint by actress names company run by Shilpa Shetty’s husband and TV star Gehana Vasisth
BollyWood|: A new First Instance Report or FIR has been filed in connection to the pornography scandal shaking up Bollywood, with Shilpa Shetty Kundra’s husband Raj Kundra at the centre of the storm. The Mumbai Crime Branch lodged a fresh complaint against producers of Kundra’s company, as well as actress Gehana Vasisth, who were late booked. According to media reports, the case was registered by the crime branch’s property cell after an actress approached the police and alleged she was forced to shoot for a pornographic film for the HotShots app. Gehana Vasisth. Image Credit: Supplied The FIR was registered under Indian Penal Code (IPC) section 420 (cheating), 392 (punishment for robbery), 393 (attempt to commit robbery), and provisions of the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act and the Information Technology Act, the official stated. Kundra, 45, was arrested on July 19 by Mumbai Crime Branch for a case related to the alleged filming and distribution of pornographic films through mobile apps. The 45-year-old has been sentenced to remain in judicial custody until August 10, with his lawyer moving the High Court to get Kundra out on bail. According to the police statement at a magistrate’s court, Kundra earned close to Rs11.7 million between August and December last year, at a time when India was grappling with a coronavirus lockdown and entertainment arenas and theatres were shut across the country. Kundra and his wife Shetty Kundra have claimed he is innocent, adding that the films are not pornography but erotica and don’t engage in explicit sexual acts. Vasisth, who has also been named in the new FIR, has also repeated the same argument. Read more Raj Kundra arrest: Actress Sofia Hayat says Bollywood hopefuls are tricked into porn industry Raj Kundra arrest: Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty’s husband sent to judicial custody for 14 days Raj Kundra arrest: A look at Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty’s husband, the pornography racket and whether this is his first brush with the law Vasisth, who was arrested in February this year and later granted bail, and two others were recently summoned by the crime branch’s property cell. The Mumbai Crime Branch had started investigation into the case in February 2021 following complaints that small-time artistes who were eager on breaking into Bollywood were being lured by promises for a break in a web series. It was alleged that Vasisth, who starred in the Ekta Kapoor-backed ‘Gandii Baat’ was a part of this operation and had even shot some videos. A total of 11 people have been arrested in the scandal so far, which includes producer Roma Khan, her husband, actress Vasisth, director Tanveer Hashmi and Umesh Kamath (who used to look after India operations of Kundra’s firm), according to The Hindu.
Abu Dhabi court sentences nine people to ten years in jail and fines each Dh10 million for money laundering, cryptocurrency trading
Crime|: Abu Dhabi: Abu Dhabi Criminal Court has convicted nine individuals, and indicted six companies, for money laundering and cryptocurrency trading after they stole Dh18 million in funds from unwitting victims. The defendants have each been sentenced to ten years in jail, followed by deportation for all but the second defendant. Each defendant must also pay a Dh10 million fine. The verdicts were announced in the presence of four defendants, with the rest in absentia. The companies were also each fined Dh50 million and all funds and assets obtained through the laundering operations have been seized. Shell company According to a statement issued by the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department (ADJD), the defendants had encouraged their victims to invest in a shell company that they claimed was specialised in trading digital currencies and global stocks. A defendant living outside the UAE had initially contacted the victims, claiming that his work for foreign investment companies enabled him to invest in cryptocurrencies at highly profitable rates. The victims were asked to transfer their money to a UAE-based shell company, from where a major portion of the funds were transferred by the defendants to bank accounts held outside the UAE. Read more Woman sentenced to 10 years in jail and fined Dh50,000 for drug smuggling in Dubai Gang jailed for stealing iPhones from Dubai shop UAE joins hands with Interpol’s Operation Liberterra Abu Dhabi: Attorney General bans media coverage of murder case UAE measures The criminal activity was reported by one of the victims, who became suspicious of the high profit rate promised, and the tax that allegedly needed to be paid before collecting the profits. The discovery of this criminal activity, and the arrest and conviction of the accused, is a result of the effective measures taken in the UAE to combat money laundering.
UAE allows all doctors residing in the country to apply for golden visa
UAE|: DUBAI: In executing the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, to grant golden visas to those with scientific competencies and distinguished expertise, the UAE Government invited doctors to apply for the golden visa in recognition of their efforts and sacrifices, and being the frontline heroes. This golden visa will grant doctors and their families a 10-year residency, enhancing their job and living stability, and driving the development and innovation of various sectors, especially healthcare. This initiative promotes a motivational work environment and high-quality living standards by attracting and retaining the top talents in the medical field, and providing opportunities for medical staff to work and reside in the UAE. This will strengthen the national healthcare sector and makes it a global model in terms of efficiency and quality of medical services. All doctors licensed by the UAE health regulatory bodies can apply for the golden visa between July 2021 to September 2022 through the website (smartservices.ica.gov.ae). Dubai-licensed doctors may apply through (smart.gdrfad.gov.ae). The concerned government departments will receive and review the applications to issue the golden visa for those who qualify. Moreover, seven offices, affiliated with the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA), will be established across the Emirates for doctors who wish to apply for the golden visa in person. The UAE Government recently announced the start of the golden visa application process for coders through the National Programme for Coders, launched by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum to grant golden visas to 100,000 coders, available for both residents and non-residents of the UAE. The UAE has applied the conditionally-renewable long-term residence visa for 5 or 10 years for certain categories, including investors, entrepreneurs and specialised talents. The system allows UAE residents and foreigners with their families who wish to work, live and study in the country, to have a long-term residence visa without the need of an Emirati sponsor. Last November, the Cabinet headed by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed announced the approval of major procedural changes for residents to obtain the golden visa, as well as the inclusion of new categories eligible for the 10-year golden visa, including all doctorate degree holders, doctors, engineers in the fields of computer engineering, electronics, coding, electricity and biotechnology, as well as outstanding students with a GPA of 3.8 or higher in accredited universities across the country. According to Cabinet Resolution No. 56 of 2018 on Regulating the Residence Permits for Investors, Entrepreneurs and Specialised Talents, the Resolution organised the granting of residence permits for investors, entrepreneurs, specialised talents, researchers in the various fields of science and knowledge, and brilliant students. The qualified talent categories for the 10-year golden visa include specialised talents and researchers in the fields of science and knowledge, such as doctors, professionals, scientists, inventors, and innovators.
Tokyo Olympics 2020: Simone Biles, Naomi Osaka - it’s okay to be not okay
olympics|Tennis|: Only a few days earlier, Simone Biles - considered the greatest ever women’s gymnast - was honoured with her own GOAT emoji on twitter. Tom Daggett, the gymnastics analyst for US broadcasters NBC, said he would put Biles on his ‘Mount Rushmore’ of gymnasts because with her ‘‘athleticism, she does things people typically wouldn’t dream of.’’ Such pressure of expectations can be scary for a 24-year-old, even if you are a Simone Biles. Or a Naomi Osaka. It’s a sheer coincidence but on Tuesday, Osaka - the face of Tokyo Olympics who lit the Olympics flame at the opening ceremony - suffered an early shock exit in tennis while Biles pulled out midway of the women’s team final a few hours later. It was within a few months of each other that two of the young super achievers in the world of sport came out in the open - speaking about their mental health issues. While Osaka stayed away from tennis for nearly two months and timed her comeback in the Olympics, Biles has now pulled out of the individual allround teams event on Wednesday while her participation in the other individual events look extremely unrealistic as of now. Her target of adding six more Olympic medals - to the four which she won in Rio in 2016 to confirm her status as the greatest ever in her sport in Olympics may remain unrealised. MORE ON TOKYO OLYMPICS Tokyo Olympics 2020: Simone Biles confirms mental health issues after withdrawal from team final Tokyo Olympics 2020: For South Korea golfers, medal is only way out of military Tokyo Olympics 2020 at a glance: Day 5 — major moments and updates Ledecky and Titmus strike gold Tokyo Olympics 2020: No doubting Justin Thomas and top golfers’ Olympic passion “I truly do feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders at times, ” said Biles on Instagram - a state of mind which resonated with some of the biggest achievers in sport as sympathy poured in from all quarters for the troubled superstar. Michael Phelps, the most successful Olympian ever with 23 gold medals (28 overall), who in 2018 revealed his own struggles with depression and suicidal thoughts following the 2012 Olympics, said watching Biles struggle on Tuesday “broke my heart.” Now in Tokyo as a TV pundit for NBC, Phelps said the Olympics could be overwhelming for athletes and that he had often struggled to find support during his own career. “The biggest thing is we all need to ask for help sometimes too when we go through those times,” Phelps said. “For me, I can say personally it was something very challenging. It was hard for me to ask for help. Phelps may have singled out the pressure of Olympics, but the modern professional sport - where a successful sportsperson is likened to a cottage industry with her entourage of support staff, managers and commercial commitments - brings it’s own quota of pressure. And one doesn’t have to always a superstar to feel the heat. At Wimbledon earlier this month, 18-year-old Briton Emma Raducanu came out of nowhere to reach the fourth round, only to retire from the match with what was first described as “breathing difficulties”. The teenager subsequently explained that “whole experience caught up with me”. The biggest thing is we all need to ask for help sometimes too when we go through those times. For me, I can say personally it was something very challenging. It was hard for me to ask for help Michael Phelps, US swimming legend After Raducanu’s explanation, England and Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford said that he too had suffered something similar when he was a teenager. In 2018, NBA star Kevin Love said that he had suffered a panic attack during a match, while there are well-documented cases of mental health in often the placid environment of cricket - where performance anxiety is most often attributed for such attacks. Add to that is the pressure of the Bio Bubble, which has seen a significant rise of admissions over last one and-a-half years. Pressures of the bubble In an interview with AFP, Julie-Ann Tullberg, an expert in sports psychology and sports journalism at Monash University in Australia, said that “mental health has long been swept under the carpet as a reason of underperformance in high-pressure sporting events such as the Olympic Games”. “However, athletes are now willing to talk about their pressures openly,” she said. People deal with “performance anxiety” in all walks of life, said Tullberg, and that has been exacerbated by people across the world living in intermittent lockdowns in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. “But people are now more willing to talk about it (their mental health),” she said. “There are support networks offered to us all the time, we’re encouraged to seek support, and people are now taking those options because they’re not so fearful of the repercussions if it’s known in their workplace that they’re struggling.” Simone Biles (right) talks strategy with her US teammates after pulling out of the team final on Tuesday. Image Credit: AFP Biles, a crusader for mental health It’s the ability to absorb the pressure which makes the likes of a Biles or Osaka so special - but the fact remains that there can be a tipping point as well. “I have to focus on my mental health,” Biles told the media on Tuesday. “I didn’t want to go out and do something stupid and get hurt... At the end of the day we don’t want to be carried out of there on a stretcher.” Strong words from someone, who had been a known crusader of mental health issues and spoken on it in TV interview. On Tuesday, she admitted to feeling lost during one of her exercises in mid-air - leading to a rarest of rare sight of her knees buckling during the landing. Biles has worked with a therapist since she came forward in 2018 as a survivor of sexual abuse by former national gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar. Before the Tokyo Olympics, she said that the postponement of the Games also weighed heavily on her as it meant not only another year of training, but also another year of working with USA Gymnastics, which she and her fellow survivors feel failed to protect them and take accountability for the Nassar scandal. Katy Kamkar, a clinical psychologist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, said that Biles’ admission would help “normalise the conversation”. “There has always been, within the athletic world, the emphasis on appearing physically fit and appearing mentally fit,” she told CBC/Radio-Canada. “And that can further perpetuate a kind of silent suffering and self-isolation.” Aly Raisman, a three-time Olympic gold medallist and a former teammate of Biles, said that Biles had been under immense pressure for months leading up to Tokyo because of the weight of expectation. “There’s only so much someone can take, she’s human,” Raisman told US television. Now what for Biles? Where does Biles go from here? The difference between her sport and someone like Osaka’s is - truth be told - gymnastics is far more dangerous a sport where the benchmark of excellence lies in the complexities of the routine one performs - calling for the highest level of focus and risk of injuries. After years of putting her body on the line, Biles has decided to put herself first but for all the right reasons. That’s the lesson that not just elite athletes, but everyone should learn from Biles’ choice, however shocking the call may have been. It’s something that Biles, who has punched through all kinds of barriers with the physical feats she’s achieved, is now likely to do for biases and stigma against mental health issues as well. If she doesn’t participate in Tokyo anymore, it’s her choice. For, as Filipino boxing legend Manny Pacquiao put it in a tweet: “Once a champion, always a champion. God Bless @Simone_Biles.”
After documenting travels to over 130 countries on Earth, Santhosh George Kulangara from Kerala heads to space
India|UAE|: Dubai: It has been a long wait, of over 14 years, for traveller, media personality and entrepreneur Santhosh George Kulangara. But he feels that that the interactions and experiences during the waiting period was as good as the promise of being one of the first to be on a flight to the edge of space. Kulangara is one of the 600 people who signed up for the space tourism project by Virgin Galactic. On July 11, the founder of Virgin Group and Virgin Galactic, 71-year-old Richard Branson successfully completed the company’s first ever space flight with a 5-member crew on board. After this success, the first commercial flights carrying the early ticket holders, including Kulangara, are expected to start in early 2022. And if a common man can fly to space, I should be the first person from India to go to space because I have taken travel as a profession Santhosh George Kulangara Kulangara is best known for his detailed video travelogues from his trips to over 130 countries. Initially screened as episodes as part of the show Sanchaaram (translates to journey in Malayalam) on Asianet, Kulangara now has his own channel called Safari TV. It was on one of his trips, in 2006, that Kulangara signed up to be a space tourist.In the 90s, when travel vlogs were not a thing, Kulangara started travelling solo to shoot and edit travelogues for television viewers. A train trip and a $250,000 ticket to space Talking about how he first came to know about space tourism with Virgin, Kulangara said “I was on a train from London to Glasgow, on a private train of Virgin Group itself…” “On the train some passenger left behind a newspaper, which I picked up and started reading. I found a curious news that Richard Branson, the owner of that very train, was planning a new venture that could take the common man to space. He had named it space tourism.” “It was exciting news for me. This would mean anyone can travel [to space], he need not be a scientist or a technician or a fighter pilot… And [I thought] if a common man can fly to space, I should be the first person from India to go to space because I have taken travel as a profession. I thought I should be travelling for all Indians, to show, and share with them the experience.” Santhosh Kulangara with Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Group Image Credit: Supplied When he returned from the UK, Kulangara emailed the Virgin office in London informing them of his interest and explaining his background. In two days, he got a call from senior Virgin executives in London, and they had two to three long conversations. “They explained what it is, what are the risk elements, and about how passionate I am… That was their first question, and I said it is not myself alone travelling… over one billion people would be travelling with me, Virgin will become a household name in India by the time I travel. So [I said], I will show them the experience of space travel, and they will enjoy space travel from their living room.” In 2007, Kulangara was officially on the list and had included in his contract that he would take his own video equipment on the flight to document the one-of-a-kind trip. The ticket cost was US$250,000, over Dh918,248. The first 600 tickets sold by Virgin Galactic went for between $200,000 and $250,000 each, but the company has warned that the cost for future sales will go up. In 2007, Kulangara was officially on the list of ticket holders for Virgin's commercial space flight Image Credit: Supplied Training and experience Even though being a space tourist doesn’t have physical or training requirements as rigorous as astronauts, there is still some training involved. Kulangara did two training so far and this isn’t included in the ticket price. He said, “I had my first training of zero gravity training at the Kennedy Space Centre, Florida…Me and 12 other trainees flew in aircraft designed to give the zero gravity experience.” Santhosh Kulangara during his zero gravity training; the trainings are not included in the ticket price of US$250,000 Image Credit: Supplied “It is a parabolic flight, it will take off and drop repeatedly, and every drop it creates a zero-gravity inside the aircraft. We had 40-50 drops and by the end of it we were all exhausted but it was a great experience, because we never knew what it would feel like. It was as if we were flying like a piece of cotton…” “It was a wonderful experience but after it everyone also had a wonderful vomiting session…,” he laughed. The second training was at the NASA centre in Philadelphia for G-tolerance or gravity tolerance which was tougher, Kulangara explained. “It’s not just the space travel that’s exciting. Every moment of training, every get-together was special. Every time we would meet up, we would interact with great people like Richard Branson, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and other Hollywood celebrities – in all our get-togethers, we would meet these celebrities. And we were a small group – we were just maybe a maximum of 200 people, we knew each other. So we would get enough time to interact.” Kulangara said he cherished the community interactions he had during his trainings and meet-ups while waiting for the space flight to become a reality. Image Credit: Supplied “Interacting with these kind of people is also an opportunity. That is also a profit or a benefit of this ticket, not just the space travel, but to have an interaction and association with these people and learn from them. These are the highlights of this space travel,” Kulangara added. As of now the date of his flight to space has not been announced yet, but Kulangara expects it will not be far now. The journey of ‘Sanchaaram’ It wasn’t easy for Kulangara to sell the idea of his video travelogues, especially during a time where there were no travel influencers and social media vloggers yet. After a degree in media, he wanted to be in the television industry and he started his career there. Kulangara said, “But soon I realised that the conventional TV serials, documentaries, telefilms and all couldn’t excite me. That is not what I wanted. Then I thought what else I could do… I am always looking for something new…” “Then I thought of my childhood days when we would have frequents tours across South India. My parents were teachers and they would travel with their students to different destinations in South India. So that passion was in me and I thought of starting a television show based on travel. A lot of travel shows were there but they all picturised places with words and letters.” “The present medium was television. So with a camera I could share the views, the experience, the food, the culture with the viewers and they could enjoy the experiences from their living room,” he added. “At that time it was a difficult task, we would have to carry huge cameras, we would need to take a lot of technicians with us. But I found a solution for that by acquiring all the technology which a television crew required so that I could do all the work of different technicians alone, myself.” Planning this out, Kulangara said he found a way to travel solo, and bring back videos from the places he visited for viewers. A still from Kulangara's first trip for Sanchaaram, to Nepal in 1997 Image Credit: Supplied Family support and money to start When he pitched the idea, Kulangara’s parents were clear about one thing. He said, “My parents had already stated that if you’re going on your own ways you have to find the fund for that yourself and we wouldn’t give you money.” “So I made my own money from other activities, small businesses, and of course programs produced for Doordarshan, borrowed some money from my friends, that’s how I started the program.” “They were definitely anxious about my future in this industry and as a television program maker…”, he added. However, his family never disapproved of Kulangara’s interest in travel because the family had a love for travelling. Kulangara, on one of his training trips to the US for the space flight Image Credit: Supplied Lack of opportunities His first trip for Sanchaaram was in 1997, to Nepal. But it would take another four years for Kulangara to get a TV show slot on Asianet because most channels at the time refused to believe that weekly travel videos were doable, especially by a single person. “When I said I would travel around the world and bring you a video every week they couldn’t believe it, they didn’t trust me – they thought even international channels weren’t doing those [solo traveller] kind of videos, so how could a man like me do it?“ Kulangara said. Kulangara said he didn’t even get many opportunities to pitch the idea because of this attitude from many channels and he added, “I was not so confident to talk to them after this.” In 2001, Asianet agreed to take his videos when they launched Asianet Global. Kulangara added, “Even then, they never thought would continue with it. But I continued with it, for 12 years on Asianet with Sanchaaram. By that time it was a hit, everyone accepted the program. Asianet also didn’t want me to leave, but I had already decided to start my own channel.” In 2013, Kulangara started his own channel called Safari– a channel dedicated to exploration and travel and to this day, free from any advertisements. Family business Kulangara and his family is best known for the Labour India group of establishments. Started by his father, George Kulangara, in 1983 the group started out as a publisher of educational journals and magazines ranging from the primary level to the higher secondary level courses. The group also has a school in Kottayam, Kerala called the Labour India Gurukulam International Residential School and Junior College. Now, Santhosh George Kulangara is the Managing Director of the Labour India group and under his leadership, Labour India Publications Ltd. was transformed into Labour India Educational Research Centre which produces 30 educational journals. The company website says these journals have over 1.6 million readers. Unique heritage resort, production studio On an island that he owns on the Vembanadu lake near Cochin, Kulangara has successfully built a unique ‘heritage village’. He chose historically significant buildings between 100 and 250 years old from across Kerala, then uprooted the structures and rebuilt them on the island. It was briefly managed as a resort but Kulangara said in a recent interview that he would no longer be continuing that and was instead focusing on making it a place people could come visit for free or hold events for payment to cover the upkeep of the village. Kulangara chose historically significant buildings and homes that were over 100 to 250 years old from across Kerala. He then uprooted the structures and rebuilt them on the island. Image Credit: Screengrab/YouTube @somakeralapalace The other project that is in the final stages is his 50,000 sq. feet production studio named the Safari Imagination Studio. Kulangara said, “The entire visual media industry is my playground. So I am thinking bigger now. Now augmented reality and virtual reality are emerging. So television will grow that way and will merge with film, multimedia etc. For that we need better studios to create beautiful visual effects, and technology has to lead that.” He added, “Construction is over and I am handling the final stages of the studio… It is ready for operations now. Just after the COVID-19 lockdown, we think we can inaugurate the studio.”
Actor-model Milind Soman’s wife slams racism against people from North East India in light of Mirabai Chanu’s win at Olympics
BollyWood|: Even as all of India celebrates Mirabai Chanu’s silver win at the Tokyo Olympics, actor-model Milind Soman’s wife Ankita Konwar has used the attention on the weightlifter to highlight the racism people of North East Indian are subjected to; Chanu hails from the Indian state of Manipur. In an Instagram post, Konwar wrote about the bias they are often subjected to. “If you’re from Northeast India, you can become an Indian ONLY when you win a medal for the country. Otherwise we are known as “chinky” “Chinese” “Nepali” or a new addition “corona”. India is not just infested with casteism but racism too. Speaking from my experience,” posted Konwar in a scathing comment, captioning her post with: “Every. Single. Time! .#hypocrites.” The comments to her post brought out similar stories from people who spoke about their own experiences of racial abuse. “Totally agree, thanks for sharing this much needed post as your voice can be easily heard. I too am labelled and is still called names or past comments being from northeast,” wrote one user on Instagram. “It’s really sad and depressing, that despite of having such a diverse culture, we lack basic humanitarian things!” wrote another. “Absolutely Ma’am even I am an Assamese know this things very well,” wrote a third. Konwar followed up the post with a video. “Your disagreement to my lived experience is not going to change the truth. If it makes you uncomfortable look the other way like you always have been,” she posted with Big Deal’s ‘Are You Indian’ playing on loop. In 2018, Soman, then 52, took everyone by surprise when he announced he was married to Konwar, who was 26. The couple faced much negativity about their relationship and the age gap, prompting Konwar to address it on social media. When Instagram user asked Konwar: “How did you tackle/ manage this Indian stereotype of “I don’t marry an older man?” Konwar shared the post on her Instagram story, answering, “Anything that’s not common in a society, people usually like to talk about it. It’s not just limited to India. We as a species have the tendency to get weird about the unknown, the unexpected, AKA fear. A survival skill. Sometimes, we are not conscious enough to distinguish between the utility and waste of that skill. I have always done what makes me happy.”
16-year-old Filipino boy in UAE to compete against Europe’s best junior cyclists
Education|: Dubai: A 16-year-old Filipino boy in Dubai will be competing against Europe’s top junior cyclists after recently signing a contract with Bathco Cycling Team in Spain. Lance Lumanlan, a student of GEMS Winchester School in Dubai, said: “My plans are to go to Europe and race with some of the best juniors in the world, hoping that this will open some doors that could help me pursue my dreams of turning pro.” Lance began cycling at the age of four and started competing at 14 when UAE’s Al Nasr Cycling Club offered him to be part of the team. Lance will also be representing Philippines in the ‘UCI Men’s Junior World Championships’ in both ‘Road’ and ‘Individual Time Trial’ segments in September. He has his eyes set on the Irish racing scene as well. He will be heading over to Ireland after Spain. Young winner Lance is one of the youngest cyclists to win the amateur ‘Spinneys Dubai 92 Men’s Elite Race’ in April. Lance went solo on the last 50km to the finish line, racing against elite cyclists in the UAE. As a first-year junior this makes him “the youngest ever winner of this famous race”. Lance has 26 races under his belt and has been on the podium 40 times overall, with most of his wins coming from solo breakaways. His father, who is a road cyclist and has been in the cycling industry for 15 years, inspired him to delve into the sport.