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A medical professional’s love for Abu Dhabi turned out to be shot in the arm for imaging diagnosis in UAE

UAE|: Abu Dhabi: Way back in 1976, Dr Essam Eldin Mohamed El Shammaa was invited by the Abu Dhabi Government to review the medical imaging services in Abu Dhabi. After spending as little as two weeks in Abu Dhabi, he fell in love with the city’s simplicity, its people and instantly detected a potential for medical growth. That was when he decided to take up medical imaging detection as a career option. He went back to London, which is where he worked as a consultant radiologist, and in 1977, he decided to pack his bags and return to what he now refers to as his own home -- Abu Dhabi -- with his wife and two children. From there, Dr El Shammaa worked selflessly at the Corniche Hospital for more than four decades, witnessing over two million ultrasound examinations, some of them complicated. Dr El Shammaa still lives in Abu Dhabi with his wife, daughter and grandchildren and is glad he took the decision to return to Abu Dhabi 44 years ago. “I clearly recall how sceptical people were at the time. It was hard for them to believe that a machine was able to determine a baby’s gender and study the development of a foetus inside the womb. By the grace of God and with the leadership’s continuous support, the resilience grew into confidence,” he said. Dr El Shammaa was the first doctor in Abu Dhabi to use an ultrasound machine, which was the start of a long journey of changing a society’s outlook regarding fetal and gender detection, which at first was not conceivable. Alongside, he also trained doctors at Zayed Hospital, Abu Dhabi Central Hospital (now Sheikh Khalifa Medical City) and Mafraq Hospital. Later, private hospitals also approached him for assistance. He was also keen on transferring his knowledge to the young generation of medical professionals and decided to develop a training centre for young graduate doctors. Commitment to imaging diagnosis Despite the initial resistance that Dr El Shammaa faced, his ethical and professional commitment to imaging diagnoses earned him the respect and confidence of pregnant women and families. He successfully managed to change the overall culture of medicine in a short time span. “With the introduction of fetal medicine and advanced ultrasound, we started to update various medical techniques to save patients’ lives, while offering relevant treatment to various complicated pregnancies,” he added. His commitment to the profession led to the renaming of the Radiology Department at the Corniche Hospital to ‘Dr El Shammaa Imaging Department’, leaving Dr El Shammaa’s legacy of ‘Patients First’ at the hospital to this day. Dr El Shammaa recalls many memorable and honourable moments throughout his career, but the ultimate moment was when he received the Abu Dhabi Award from His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces. The ‘amazing’ people of Abu Dhabi “After 56 years of my career, including 43 years in Abu Dhabi, I was honoured by His Highness Sheikh Mohamed. This has made my career and my life worthwhile. Abu Dhabi has always been my home, and not for one second did I feel otherwise. I cannot ask for a more honourable recognition. The most important factor and reason for me to return to beloved Abu Dhabi in August 1977 was its amazing people. No words can describe how warm, kind, loving and generous Emiratis are. I simply love them,” Dr El Shammaa added. Dr Essam Eldin Mohamed El Shammaa with the Abu Dhabi Award. Image Credit: Supplied Despite his age, Dr El Shammaa’s passion for his profession and service to community remains intact. He is currently a Senior Medical Adviser to the Board at United Eastern Medical Services. He hopes to establish a world-class medical research institute that will provide latest medical consultancy to the UAE community and beyond. Role of husbands – the game changer When asked how the current generation of pregnant patients react during medical consultations, in comparison to those in the past, Dr El Shammaa said: “Now, mothers constantly follow up with the doctors and are much more aware. Medicine is constantly evolving and fetal behaviour can be detected. There’s much more interest to learn and understand these aspects. The number of working mothers has also increased -- thanks to the wise, encouraging and futuristic outlook of Her Highness Sheikha Fatima. God grant her health,” he said. Read more Mohamed bin Zayed honours 12 personalities at 10th Abu Dhabi Awards UAE announces 1,931 new coronavirus cases, 1,833 recoveries and 3 deaths Mubadala Health’s obesity management centre earns European accreditation for its Abu Dhabi unit UAE: 33,972 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine administered during past 24 hours: MoHAP He added that a huge factor behind the improvement in the overall health and wellbeing of expectant mothers is the role played by their husbands and their support. “I constantly advise and encourage husbands to help their pregnant wives by joining them during their visits to the doctors and take good care of them during the entire pregnancy.”

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Digital banking: Now, open an account — in just 4 minutes?

Dubai: Is it possible now to open a bank account — in just four minutes flat? And that, too, without leaving your home? Quick answer: Yes. This greatly simplified process will be the “new normal”. Picture this in your mind: a bank you never have to visit, queues you never have to wait in, and paperwork that’s no longer necessary. The world has changed, and people know it. This trend is accelerating. Given the speed and convenience of social media, people now expect that same experience with their banks — to transact in ways akin to a WhatsApp chat. “The movement to, and now emphasis on, digital banking was already happening prior to the pandemic,” said Abdul Rahman Jaroudi, a UAE banker, told Gulf News. “But once the world entered the reality of extended periods of social distancing, stay-at-home orders and all that goes with them, digital banking was no longer a nicety. It’s a necessity”, said Jaroudi, Head Digital Transformation and Innovation, at Dubai-based Aafaq Islamic Finance (AIF), established in 2006 with a heavy push for digital. The movement to, and now emphasis on, digital banking was already happening prior to the pandemic. But once the world entered the reality of extended periods of social distancing, stay-at-home orders and all that goes with them, digital banking was no longer a nicety. It’s a necessity. Abdul Rahman Jaroudi, Head Digital Transformation and Innovation, at Dubai-based Aafaq Islamic Finance (AIF) Bank employees, too, know this fully well. Junie, 42, is one of them. After the banking back ops executive recovered from COVID in January, he returned to work with his team — all working from home — a gig he’s been doing since March 2020. “We ourselves are bank customers,” said Junie. “Going to a branch or even an ATM machine for a simple transaction is a challenge these days. Why go there, when you can bank on your smartphone?” Q: What is digital-only banking? It is banking simplified, from your smartphone. No paperwork. It’s integrating digital technology into all areas of the money chain. More importantly, it also means an overhaul of the culture and behaviour in managing value — how it’s stored, shared and regulated. In general, it’s changing the industry’s ways, from the sign up process to branch operations. In short, it’s challenging the Medici model of banking — the idea that a bank is a place where you go. Today, banks live in the “cloud”. Amid the global “fintech” scramble, it’s only bound to increase in velocity. Q: How are banks adapting? Experts say “fintech” is doing to banks what YouTube has done for TV. Faced with disruption, the industry must take the new reality in earnest. Result: the banking tech stack is getting overhauled— $297 billion in bank IT budgets are seen this 2021, a 14% jump from 2018, according to Celent. Teams are getting restructured, with everyone now centred around “customer experience” — keeping clients happy. But in banking, “happy” is a big word, a moving target to constantly chase. Image Credit: Gulf News Q: What’s the digital banking experience like? From experience, it starts with a simple-and-easy sign up. The user interface, with much bolder easy-to-read instructions on the smartphone walks you through the process — in just a few steps: Download the app. Submit your details and ID scan (or picture). Take a snap of yourself, submit and you’re good to go. Fintech firm YAP launches digital banking platform in UAE Invest in Dubai: The new platform that helps entrepreneurs Islamic banking is getting its perfect storm moment Q: How soon can I use my digital bank facility? After a quick sign-up, you get an SMS stating your debit card is on the way. At this point, the account remains pending. But only for a day, or less. The new account kicks or as soon as you get your card (usually next-day deliver, that’s how your identity gets verified, via ID and fingerprint scans using a device brought by the delivery guy). And since it’s app-driven, you can use the account after your at-your-door physical sign-up. So now, instead of spending hours at a branch where a bank staff or manager sits down to establish a “relationship” with you (a process that may take hours), a face-to-face trip to the branch has been completely “truncated”. Q: What are examples of UAE digital banks? Some of UAE's mega-banks already have gone live with their digital banking spinoffs. For example, EmiratesNBD has launched Liv., its digital-only bank in 2017. These are the leading banking apps in the UAE. Liv., though operated and managed by Emirates NBD, is a mobile-only bank. It is also dubbed as the “fastest-growing bank” in the UAE, acquiring more customers monthly than any other bank. In 2018, Asian Banker named it as the Best Digital Bank in the Middle East. Competition is intense. Digital banks offer customers “richer” experiences, via increased banking privileges and exclusive lifestyle treats. Some digital bank sweeteners: Full access to the banking platform Instant digital account opening Money transfers based on social media Customisable goal-based savings accounts and games Better interest rates on balances Bill splitting Curated and personalised content Zero account maintenance fees Free international transfers Waiver of bank charges on international debit card spends Priority customer support Some also offer other perks: two-for-one cinema tickets, cashback on spends, free deliveries, free music subscription, double loyalty points, etc. Q: Does the UAE have a strictly digital-only bank? Yes. On Tuesday (April 13, 202), the UAE Central Bank granted the first license for Al Maryah Community Bank, thus becoming the country’s first licensed digital-only bank. The new entity targets “gaps” — underserved individuals and small businesses as an all-digital bank, according to Tarek Ahmed Al Masoud, Chairman of Al Maryah Community Bank. Q: Are there other applicants to form a digital-only bank in the country? Yes. On Monday (April 12, 2021) Mohammed Alabbar said he’s chairing Zand, a new all-digital bank is awaiting “final regulatory approvals”. Another digital-only bank is expected to be launched by Abu Dhabi's ADQ, with initial capitalisation of Dh2 billion. It was reported in October 2020, that in the latter’s case, First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB), the UAE’s largest bank, will transfer the licence it holds for FGB (First Gulf Bank) to ADQ, the Abu-Dhabi based investment holding company for Kizad free zone, AD Ports and other basiness entities. 
This license will be used to create a digital-only bank headquartered in Abu Dhabi. FACT FILE: KEY BANKING TRENDS 25 % of consumers plan will make less use of bank branches — or stop using them altogether — post pandemic, according to Boston Consulting Group’s report “COVID-19 Set to Radically Accelerate Digital Transformation in the Retail Banking Industry" Q: How are other countries doing it? Various countries have embraced digital-only banks. For example, China gave WeBank a private bank license in 2014. In the UK, Starling Bank received its banking licence in 2016. Elsewhere in Asia, digital banking licences had been issued in Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Taiwan. In 2018, Financial IT ranked the top 50 digital banks. In 2020, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) reportedly received 21 digital banking applications. In the US and Europe, traditional banks have taken forays into digital-only set. At the same time, new entrants have sprung up — from phone companies partnering with retailers and ride-share companies, to gaming companies joining forces with supermarkets. Such solutions have greatly improved the life of people, but has caused disruption in the money trail. Image Credit: Gulf News Q: How many people are using digital payments? Recent years have witnessed a surge in the number of people handling digital payments, with the figure growing from 2.7 billion in 2017 to over 4.6 billion in 2020. In the next four years, the number of users in the digital payment segment is set to touch 6.4 billion. For example, Gcash (owned by the telco Globe), recorded 1 trillion pesos ($20 billion) worth of transactions in the Philippines in 2020 — most of which addressed “unmet” demand, such as goods or taxi payments. People also use it to donate money. It runs on a crypto platform operated by the Ant Group, controlled by Alibaba’s Jack Ma. UAE's affluent middle class embrace banking apps Central Bank of UAE issues SME Market Conduct Regulation Q: What are the two top digital-only banks? In China, WeBank (Tencent) and MYBank (Alibaba) are the Top 2 two digital banks. In the US, there’a Moven Bank, Simple Bank, GoBank, MoneyLion, BankMobile and Chime. They also known as “neobanks”. In terms of digital banks with the best (free) fees, there’s Ally Bank, Charles Schwab, Capital One, USAA and TD Bank. Q: Where is the digital-only banking industry going? It’s only set to grow. Its biggest draw is simplicity. Benefits include: Easy sign-up Quick balance check features through mobile platforms Photo-bill payments, snap a pic and the app pays your bill from your account. Access accounts exclusively through app, reset pins, order cards, etc. Easy expense management, through different hashtags like #expenses, #utilities and other spendings. Real-time data analytics But to pull that simplicity, an inordinate amount of complexity runs behind-the-scenes. CHINA: LION’S SHARE IN DIGITAL PAYMENTS • Statista data show that a lion’s share digital payment users are in China. The number of those using online payments has soared from 840 million to 1.3 billion in the mainland over the last three years — or about 30% of all users in the world. • The US reached 305.7 million users in the digital payments segment in 2020, four times less than leading China. Statista 2020 FinTech Survey shows this number will rise to 353 million by 2024. • Among Europeans, the use of digital payments is forecast to grow by 24% in the next few years, reaching 721.7 million by 2024. 305.7 m users of digital payments in the US in 2020 Leading US digital banks Image Credit: Gulf News Q: What are the biggest challenges for digital-only banks? While digital-only banks offer numerous benefits, there are potential pitfalls. There are three basic challenges for the sector: security, customer satisfaction and scale. • Security: Securing digital-only bank is of utmost concern, with risks from hackers, fraudsters and rogue actors faced by both bankers and clients. Moreover, there’s also the challenge of curbing malpractices and adhering to regulatory requirements. Financial fraud accounts for the biggest chunk of Internet crime. • Customer satisfaction: This is a concern. Digital-banking’s biggest attraction is no physical locations. Without a physical location, there is nowhere for the customer to turn to for help — other than the apps, a phone call. For many, that’s one downside. Making connections with clients so that is a top priority. • Scaling: A key challenge for digital banking is scalability, say experts. Alibaba’s Jack Ma once said that to manage 10,000 online sign-ups, he only needs to computer servers (not branches). SH Capital selects FinIQ as digital trading platform Fintech firm YAP launches digital banking platform in UAE Invest in Dubai: The new platform that helps entrepreneurs Q: While lots of things have changed, what remained the same for banking? Trust It never changes. So the entity with the most reliable, trustworthy digital service takes the pole position in terms of standing, quickly overtaking established or traditional brands. “It means that users already get the overall impression of a financial brand directly from the interaction with its digital service. If the experience of the digital solution isn't satisfactory, the user’s trust is affected,” said Jaroudi of Aafaq Islamic Finance (AIF), which is pushing its own digital platform. BANKING DATA ANALYTICS • A key area digital-only banks focus on is real-time data analytics. If harnessed well, this offers a mountain of benefits. For one, it allows banking apps to warn users when purchases or spending habits are outside their budget. For two, customers can be notified them when geo-targeted discount deals, for example, are available. • Millennials are driven to digital-only banks due to convenience and such added layers of customer experience, along with the faster velocity of transactions and cheaper fees, which make them want to stay. • For existing banks, the new-age of digital-only banks are more agile. As virtually 100% cloud-based business, they leverage the expertise of remote workers, powered by leading edge digital networks, instead of stand-alone or quick-to-become obsolete on-premise technology. Q: Will switching brands become the “new normal”, too? People constantly look for solutions to ease their lives and provide positive emotions. Going forward, industry officials say “experiential banking” can only grow from here. “One of the reasons why the tech giants have the support of so many customers is their ability to provide value and form an emotional connection. This could become a blind spot that financial companies aren't aware of,” AIF’s Jaroudi. “Open banking, makes switching easier than ever before, as the number of user-centered alternatives rises in the market. In the digital age, customers are harder to impress and are less forgiving. Only one case of bad product experience is enough to damage the way a brand is viewed in the eyes of the customers — and switch to another one.” UP IN THE CLOUDS • “Cloud banking” (no physical presence means less cost) is the new name of the game, which benefits both banker and clients. • As a result, banks may now charge lower fees, and make more money per client. There’s a downside to this, for both clients and banks: Services are limited to simple banking like checking/debit and savings accounts. Q: What do digital banks and blockchain have in common? A crypto-powered global economy seems inevitable. Blockchain, the technological wizardry behind cryptocurrencies, is now the main engine of the biggest digital finance brands. Digital-only banks are, by definition, “crypto-natives”, listing the tokens that underlie the block-chains. Most of the leading digital banks are partnering with block-chain technology like Ripple, Ethereum, Bitcoin, and other “alt-coins”. Blockchain Image Credit: Shutterstock Q: Is digital banking the “new normal”? In this day and age, yes. Keeping customers happy has been and will always be, the name of the game. With digital, the source of happy hormones serotonin has moved to the cloud, instead of buildings. This is easier said than done, though. One study shows 77% of bank customers feel that their bank's performance falls short on their expectations. Today, most banks are left with no other choice — adapt, or turn into a Dodo. “The new normal of banking,” states a Financial Brand report, “is quickly moving from branch-heavy, product-centric organisations with legacy technologies and cultures — to consumer-centric organisations, with more personalised solutions…” SH Capital selects FinIQ as digital trading platform UAE to get new digital-only bank with Zand, with Mohammed Alabbar as Chairman A BIT OF BANKING HISTORY The first prototype banks were ran by the merchants of the world, The concept of banking is thought to have begun in ancient Assyria and Babylonia with merchants offering loans of grain as collateral — within a barter system. In the history of banking, a number of banking dynasties — notably, the Medicis, the Fuggers, the Welsers, the Berenbergs, and the Rothschilds — have played a central role over many centuries. The oldest existing retail bank is Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena (founded in 1472), while the oldest existing merchant bank is Berenberg Bank (founded in 1590). Q: What is the future of digital-only? Digital banks, especially digital-only, must blaze their own path to stay relevant and grow. As competition intensifies, the technology behind it presents increasing complexity. “We are already used to desktop, mobile and wearable (Apple Watch) products. But these are nothing compared to what the future holds,” says Jaroudi. “Conversational services, IoT (Internet of Things), VR / AR services (virtual and augmented reality, e.g. Oculus), robots and neuro services are expected to become a part of our daily routines in the near future.” In the digital banking space, each entity will no bout jostle for their place. Q: What happens to me as a consumer? As a kid, I remember spending almost an ENTIRE DAY with my mom at a bank. That’s one day — for one bank transaction at a Philippine bank branch in my province some years ago. Today, people, especially millennials, won’t put up with that, knowing they have other options. Whatever form digital banking may eventually take, there seems to be no turning back the hands of time.

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Price and speed start to matter for UAE's online grocery apps and shoppers

Retail|: Dubai: The price battles are now being fought on and by UAE’s e-grocery apps. A new one – Yeepeey – has launched promising shoppers they can get the same prices offered at stores… and even the same promotions. “Yeepeey’s objective is to eliminate mark-ups and reduce service fees to a minimum or even free to give users the ability to stay home and order their essentials more frequently at in-store prices,” said a statement issued by it. And delivery? Between 30-45 minutes. Read More Half of UAE online shoppers will not go back to portals hit by data breaches Photos: Let robots sort out your online orders… with help from humans Focus on speed Prices and delivery times are being all important for online grocery apps now that more shoppers in the UAE are quite comfortable with ordering in their daily/weekly needs. Just recently, Carrefour confirmed launch of its quick service delivery, with the average time set at 60 minutes. As part of the launch, Carrefour Now will deliver free of charge until May 15 for a product range of up to 31,000 everyday items. Carrefour isn’t the only one – other delivery-focussed apps such as Talabat have ventured out with their own ‘q-commerce’ – for quick – feature. It's all about speed now - from the moment the order gets done to delivering it at the doorstep. Carrefour NOW is setting a hot pace with its 60-minute delivery. Image Credit: Supplied Yeepeey’s formula By “reducing” service fees, Yeepeey’s promoters expect to get backing from cost-conscious shoppers. “Ordering basic essentials via an e-grocery app was way more expensive than buying it from the store itself,” said Monish Chandiramani, co-founder. “Even though the convenience plays a major role, consumers still don’t like to pay extra mark-ups over and above the prices displayed in the grocery stores in additional to the exorbitant delivery fee. “With the ease in movement restrictions, consumers would simply prefer walking down to their nearby stores for small purchases.” Yeepeey, was conceptualized after Chandiramani noticed he was spending more on the same amount of groceries when shopping through the e-grocery apps available then. 'Q-commerce' is the next big thing. All of the leading names in the grocery and F&B space have launched 'q' versions, with the promise of delivery in or around 60 minutes. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News Happening on food deliveries too It’s more or less a similar situation with food delivery apps, with Careem and noon recently coming out with changes in the way they bill their restaurant clients on orders placed. What this means for the consumer is lower cost of ordering in a meal. “Even in online, the same strategies used in physical retail will apply – more entrants will mean there will be pressure on what apps can charge,” said a restaurant operator. We did observe that customers were having to pay a heavy price for the convenience and that’s the problem we’re trying to solve by subsidizing the cost of convenience without compromising on quality Monish Chandiramani of Yeepeey

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Ramadan 2021: How to quit smoking for good

Dubai: We all know Ramadan does not only mean fasting without food or water, but also stopping smoking and drinking coffee or tea for as long as 14 hours daily. This can become really hard for people who have gotten used to their morning cigarette or for those of us who need a strong espresso shot before the day begins. Here's what happens when someone suddenly stops smoking or consuming caffeine, and how to cope with the issues that come with such drastic changes. What is 'withdrawal'? Often associated with illegal drugs and other addictive substances, withdrawal or withdrawal symptoms refer to the body’s reaction to a sudden and drastic reduction in intake of the substances. While some of these reactions are manageable, others can affect daily life, mobility and mental health. Don't think you can have withdrawal symptoms? Try stopping your daily dose of sugar in coffee - headaches, slight dizziness, cravings - unless you have other medical conditions, your body is going through withdrawal. Smoking or caffeine addiction Smoking is something people can get easily addicted to and affected by even though the dangers are advertised on the product itself. While chain smoking might be considered more of an addiction than one cigarette a day – even that single smoke counts as addiction if you cannot do without it. Another addiction people have, without thinking of it as such, is of caffeine. Tea, coffee, carbonated drinks, energy drinks – all of these fluids have various levels of caffeine. In small amounts caffeine is harmless and even boosts health and metabolism. However, addiction is usually the case for many people who regularly consume caffeine, and weaning off usually brings on withdrawal symptoms. Nicotine withdrawal during Ramadan The substance in cigarettes that people get addicted to is nicotine. Smokers who stop during Ramadan may experience withdrawal symptoms 3 to 5 days within stopping, including irritability, anger and difficulty in concentrating. They might also crave smoking so much that they chain smoke after ending their fast, inhaling a lot of smoke in a very short time, and right after a possibly heavy iftar meal. The urge to binge on carb-heavy foods to avoid smoking is another side effect – leading to weight gain. Apart from the physical withdrawal symptoms that may last for many days, the psychological aspect of the urge to smoke may last longer, leading to relapses. There is also the myth that traditional shisha is a healthier option. Ramadan is a time when people smoke shisha for hours socialising after ending their fast in iftar tents or restaurants. This can be more dangerous than regular smoking. Quitting smoking for Ramadan and then forever Ramadan could be just the best time to quit smoking for good. “In addition to the fasting aspect, the fact that most people do control smoking for over 14 hours is proof of the fact that they can try, and quit for good. Long hours of fasting lead to a drop in the nicotine level in the blood making it much easier for smokers to quit”, Dr Mustafa Saif, a specialist in internal medicine practising in the UAE, told Gulf News in an earlier interview. Here are the tips he had for smokers: - Use nicotine patches if you need to during the month of Ramadan as these can control the withdrawal symptoms and help quit the unhealthy habit in time. - Supplement unhealthy food at the end of the fast with healthier options like carrots, cucumber and other fibrous food to avoid over indulging on the carb-heavy iftar favourites. - Start the iftar meal with soup to help feel fuller and avoid carbohydrate-rich food. - Take a resolution to quit as nothing is stronger than the will to quit smoking. Caffeine withdrawal during Ramadan A lot of people rely on coffee to start their day, they feel alert and fresh once they sip their morning coffee. Caffeine is the most commonly abused drug which is consumable only in certain amounts. Dr. Mustafa Saif Caffeine addicts complain of severe headaches during the initial days of Ramadan until they get used to the routine. They experience withdrawal symptoms like tiredness, lethargy, irritability, lack of concentration, insomnia, anxiety and dizziness. Coping mechanism - Start practicing early; caffeine addicts must reduce their caffeine intake at night during the first days of Ramadan. - A strong cup of coffee or tea during Suhoor can help avoid headaches during the day. - Try and avoid coffee altogether for Ramadan, during or after iftar as well, as the excess intake of caffeine leads to dehydration and increases thirst. 4 Perks of a “Smoke-free” Life E-cigarettes and other smoke-free product alternatives have become a growing consideration among cigarette smokers who want to enjoy their lifestyle but with a reduction in risk. Here are four lifestyle perks if you have given up cigarettes for a smoke-free product, or have given up smoking altogether: 1. A positive lifestyle choice The best thing a smoker can do for their health is to discontinue all use of tobacco. However, for those that want to continue to use tobacco or nicotine, smoke-free tobacco products and e-cigarettes could be a viable option. Because these innovative tobacco and nicotine products do not burn, there are significantly lower levels of toxicants produced in the vapour making these products potentially less harmful than cigarettes. 2. Second-hand smoke is a thing of the past Since tobacco vapour and e-cigarettes don’t produce ‘smoke,’ the lingering smell of smoke and the smoke all together is a consideration of the past. They also do not have a negative impact on the quality of the air around the user. Therefore, users of smoke-free products will feel more comfortable around their colleagues and friends and vice-versa. 3. No more 'smoker's house' or 'smoker's car' Close your eyes and imagine that your house actually smells like your house and your car doesn’t lose that sought-after ‘new car’ scent. You may wish to indulge in tobacco but you don’t have to smell it with every step you take. 4. No ash, no fire One of the most important environmental benefits of switching to e-cigarettes is that there is no ash. E-cigarettes don’t use fire to heat the tobacco, so no ash is produced whatsoever. When it comes to discarding them, you don’t have to worry about stubbing out the embers or if you’re in a safe enough location to do so without accidentally causing a fire. This will help reduce litter and increase cleanliness in your surroundings. Even with other smoke-free tobacco products, the waste is minimal and what’s better is when it is done, you can walk away with a clean conscience as the odds are reduced.

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UAE: Renting a car? Know what insurance works for you and reaps you better benefits

Dubai: If you drive a car in the UAE then, just like almost every other country in the world, having car insurance is mandatory. While you should ensure that insurance covers your needs completely when you rent a car, you also need to avoid duplication of coverage – when opting for them through multiple avenues. You will either be required to have third party or fully comprehensive insurance, and out of the two, fully comprehensive - is preferable, matter experts evaluate. Two types of basic car insurance in the UAE Third-party liability insurance: If involved in an accident with another vehicle, this type of insurance covers the other car and its passengers, but not your own automotive. This is the cheapest insurance and made mandatory by authorities. However, the downside of this plan is that you will spend more on repairing your damaged car, than what the higher insurance would have cost you. Comprehensive cover: This covers both cars and their passengers in a car accident. It also takes care of other car-related accidents like theft, fire, and other accidental damages. The comprehensive insurance is more expensive and has many more benefits. Do you have the right level of coverage? While renting a car in the UAE usually includes insurance as part of your standard agreement, it’s important to make sure you’ve got the right level of cover. When you book your rental car, it’s also important to find out exactly what kind of insurance is included, and how extensive your cover is. You can also opt for any missing covers directly from the rental desk if you choose to hire the car straight from the location. Rental companies that are charging you for repairs, can also charge you for loss-of-use to their vehicle, like diminishing value, towing, and administrative fee tor claims. A comprehensive policy can guard you against excessive charges so make sure you get full coverage. What should be included and excluded in your rental insurance coverage? Hiring a car can sometimes be a confusing experience, especially when there is a lack of clarity on the inclusion and exclusions of services and coverage. Collision Damage Waiver (CDW): This is a mandatory insurance. CDW limits a renter's financial liability to the ‘excess amount’ stated on the rental agreement. The renter will be responsible for an excess between Dh1,500 and Dh5,000. Super Collision Damage Waiver (SCDW): This is an optional coverage, offered in addition to the Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) insurance. By accepting this, the renter is reducing the liability for damages to the vehicle to zero, meaning you won’t have to pay anything from your pocket. Personal Accident Insurance (PAI): This is an optional coverage for the driver and the passengers. PAI insures drivers of a rental car and their passengers for accidental medical costs, emergency care and accidental death during your rental trip, up to a certain limit. Claims are subject to UAE court verdict. Miscellaneous coverage options: This is a coverage option that covers damages caused to the windscreen glass of the rental company’s vehicle, any non-mechanical breakdown during the rental period. ‘Roadside safety net’ is a coverage that is meant to assist the customer for services while they are on the road or during the time of the rental. There is also a coverage option that covers flat or damaged tire. This cover waives off customers’ additional charges relating to tire repair or replacement. How much does rental car insurance cost in Dubai? Car insurance is low cost and affordable since it is compulsory. There are comprehensive plans that are more expensive than others. There are extra benefits that they offer depending on the type of car. All the plans are for a 12-month period, after which you may renew your plan. Insuring a car in Dubai costs between Dh300 and Dh600 per month depending on car or plan type. How much does rental car insurance cost in Dubai? What is price of premium for rental car insurance? Premium is simply the amount of money that you pay to fund your car insurance account with your company. Not every subscriber pays same rates, as premium is either high or low depending on certain factors. Premium is high when there is 'off-road coverage’, the car owner or driver is inexperienced, or younger than 25 years old, or if it is an expensive vehicle. Premium is low when the vehicle is new and has good safety features. Some car rentals in Dubai include cost in their insurance for people who want to go off-road. As mentioned above, those who are younger than 21 years old, and have not actively driven in a while, get a higher premium. Does your credit card offer auto rental collision damage waiver insurance? Many credit cards offer some insurance for car rentals. This coverage is secondary if you have an existing personal auto insurance policy. Note: Call your card issuer, or review your card benefits guide, to find out about the specific terms, conditions and exclusions. For example, certain kinds of vehicles may not be covered. Credit cards with this benefit typically cover physical damage to, or theft of, the rented vehicle, with no deductibles. If you get into an accident, any damage to the rental car is covered, as long as the rental agency verifies the losses and coordinates with the benefit provider. However, most cards do not cover damage to other cars or property, or any liability that arises, including injuries to people. To be eligible for your credit card’s coverage, you must generally make and pay for the rental car reservation with the card. You must also decline the rental agency’s collision damage waiver – as well as any offers for coverage, which you might get from third parties when you book the car. Some rental agencies request a letter of eligibility when you use your credit card for coverage. Check with your card issuer to determine how you can get one if it’s needed. Also confirm how the coverage works if someone else is driving the car. Most coverage through a credit card extends to all drivers authorised by the car rental company, but you should check to be sure. When does it make sense to purchase insurance from the rental company? If you do have coverage through your credit card or personal auto insurance, consider whether you want any additional insurance offered by the rental car company. You might opt for supplemental liability insurance if you aren’t protected by a personal policy. Or you might purchase personal effects insurance if you are worried about having items stolen from the rental car (although homeowner’s and renter’s insurance often covers this kind of theft). Key takeaway: If your credit card or personal insurance policies provide adequate coverage, the additional expenses are probably not worthwhile. However, if you do decide to purchase insurance from the rental company, be sure to ask about its terms and conditions. What is covered? Which drivers? What’s excluded? Whatever your decision, it’s crucial to understand what you pay for and what you’re ultimately responsible for when renting a car.

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Sharjah offers relief to consumers for electricity, water bill payments

UAE|: Sharjah: Sharjah Electricity, Water and Gas Authority (Sewa) has announced a breather for consumers who are unable to pay their bills on time during the COVID-19 pandemic. Sewa on Wednesday announced an extension to the deadline for utility bill payment without penalties for one month for bills not exceeding Dh1,000 and 15 days for bills above Dh1,000. Earlier, there was only a seven-day grace period for making payments without incurring penalties. Hamed Taher Al Hajj, director of the Subscriber Service Department, said this decision comes in response to the demands of consumers so that they can pay their utility bills without fines. He said the bills are issued through four reading cycles and each cycle covers a group of areas in the emirate of Sharjah to ensure accuracy in the readings. Billing cycles The bills for the first cycle are issued on the seventh of each month, and payment can be made without a penalty until the 21st of the same month. The second cycle of bills is issued on the 14th of each month and the payment can be made up to the first of the following month, while the third cycle is issued on the 21st of each month and payment can be made up to the seventh of the next month. Bills for the fourth cycle are issued on the 28th of each month and payment can be made without any penalty until the 14th of the following month. Late payment fine Hussein Al-Askar, deputy director of the Customer Service Department, explained that in the event that the bill value does not exceed Dh1,000, payment is allowed without any penalty for a month from the date of issuing the invoice. In the event of non-payment even after that, a late payment fine of Dh25 will be levied. However, if the remaining amount does not exceed Dh300, no fine will be imposed. Read more Ramadan 2021: Distribute Iftar meals in Dubai through approved charity organisations only Sheikh Mohammed: The UAE is all set to host Expo 2020 Dubai Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed inaugurates the new building of Dubai Fertility Centre Ramadan 2021: Mohamed bin Zayed shares greetings with rulers of Saudi Arabia, Oman and Jordan The official pointed out that consumers can get to know the full details and history of the reading sessions they are affiliated with through the authority’s website or the smart application, or its customer service centres, or by contacting the call centre number 991.

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Why the UAE will observe two Ramadans in one year

Ramadan|: Dubai: Residents in the UAE will be able to observe the blessed month of Ramadan twice in one year – a phenomenon that had last occurred in 1997. Ibrahim Al Jarwan, Member of the Arab Federation of Space and Astronomy Sciences, told Gulf News on Thursday that the Islamic calendar is a lunar one, and consistently moves around 11 days short of the solar year. For each year that passes, Ramadan is then also moved back by 10 or 11 days, depending on the moon sighting. UAE Ramadan prayer timings “The year 2030 will witness the blessed month of Ramadan twice. The first one will take place when Ramadan will start on January 5, 2030 for the Hijri year 1451, and then again, the month of Ramadan will start on December 26, 2030 for the Hijri year 1452,” explained Al Jarwan. “And the total days of fasting will be approximately 36 days, inshallah.” He also pointed out that as the Hijri calendar contains 354 days, which is 11 days fewer than the Gregorian, the two calendar systems will eventually come full circle and repeat themselves. “It takes 33 years until the Hijri year has cycled through a full Gregorian year. It was repeated previously in 1997, and after 2030, it will repeat again later in 2063,” said Al Jarwan. Traditional Islamic calendar The Islamic calendar is difficult to predict, as it requires an authorized person or committee to make an actual sighting of the crescent moon to determine the start of each month. Adverse atmospheric conditions can also obstruct the sighting of the crescent moon, leading the upcoming month to be delayed by an extra day. Modern Modified Versions Some countries and Muslim communities now use modified versions of the traditional calendar that are designed to make the timing of Islamic months and observances easier to predict, according to the website timeanddate.com. A new month may also begin on different days in different countries. Because the time of the moonset at a location depends on its longitude, a new month and key religious rituals like the Ramadan fast may begin a day earlier in, for example, West African Muslim countries than in Indonesia or Malaysia.

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First they fight you, then you win: Rahul Gandhi as India green lights foreign-approved Covid-19 vaccines

“First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you Then you win” tweeted Rahul Gandhi quoting an American labour union advocate Nicholas Klein. The quote is often misattributed to Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi was tweeting about India opening up to all vaccines which he had demanded. Gandhi long reviled and dismissed as a “Pappu” by the BJP’s insidious campaign against him has proved more right than wrong about the Covid-19 pandemic which has caught the BJP government napping. As the fierce and vicious second wave of Covid laid waste, forcing a lockdown in Maharashtra, the government of India had only allowed two vaccines which were centrally controlled and not allowed for mass vaccination. The attack Gandhi asked for the government to allow all vaccines. In return the government which seems obsessed with Gandhi got three ministers including Smriti Irani, Ravishankar Prasad and Prakash Javdekar to troll and attack him as a “part time politician” who was “lobbying for foreign vaccines”. B L Santosh, the most powerful general secretary (organisation), chimed in also to attack Gandhi. Even Dr Harshvardhan, the union health minister, attacked Gandhi. Prasad went to the extent of launching a personal attack and asking why Gandhi had not got the jab. The backtrack As the Covid crisis escalated two days later, the government did a volte face and allowed all foreign vaccines, which is exactly what Gandhi had demanded. Four days ago, Gandhi tweeted “what India needs is jabs & jobs. What the BJP govt gives jumlas (statements) and jibes”. Gandhi has long been stressing and demanding mass vaccination from the government. Gandhi and his sister, Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi, seeking the stark public health emergency, asked the government to cancel board exams for class 10th and 12th. B L Santosh then attacked on Twitter saying this would not happen”. Barely ten minutes later, the government cancelled the exam. The point is that Gandhi is no sage but, he has been sharply perceptive on the public health emergency which clearly is the crisis that defines our age. Even before Covid-19 hit Indian shores, Gandhi had regularly been warning of the consequences. The government mocked and ignored him. An IT cell to malign Gandhi The growth industry of Gandhi critics helpfully aided by the infamous IT cell as I revealed in my investigative book “I am a troll” inside the secret digital army of the BJP has huge focus on Gandhi. “Pappu” memes and jokes are created on an industrial scale by the IT cell for disseminating on social media and WhatsApp to systematically wreck Gandhi’s reputation. The truth is that Gandhi sees no reason to reinvent himself. He is clear that India and the Congress party will have to accept him just as he is. Gandhi is the only politician in India who has consistently been attacking Narendra Modi and the only leader who will not do a quiet deal with the hegemonic BJP. The party’s obsession with Gandhi is huge. Every time he tweets or attacks the government on a policy, senior ministers come out to trash him. Ironically they call him a “part time politician”, yet ministers like Irani devote all there time to attacking him. J P Nadda, BJP president, held a press conference to say that the BJP does not take Gandhi seriously. The reason for this is apparent the BJP knows that the Congress party, even in its current enfeebled state, is the only pan Indian party which can take on the BJP. Hence they try to go after the Congress and the Gandhi family. A cerebral, sensible leader Gandhi is a cerebral, thoughtful politician who is inarticulate. That in India these days is a sign that you are not a good leader as opposed to the benchmark oratory of Modi. The truth is that leadership is not merely oratory. And, whether you like Gandhi or dislike him, the fact that he has taken all the mockery directed at him and not let it affect him is huge. So what next for Gandhi, post the results of the state polls? Gandhi has campaigned extensively in Kerala where he even did an impromptu dive in to the ocean, danced with students and did a display of martial arts. Conventional wisdom is that Gandhi’s return as Congress president will depend on the results. That is not true. Gandhi is not going away from politics. Time the BJP, Congress party and the media, which is always giving him tutorials, learnt that. Swati Chaturvedi @bainjal Swati Chaturvedi is an award-winning journalist and author of 'I Am a Troll: Inside the Secret World of the BJP's Digital Army'.

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Indian rupee could slip to 76 to $1 if current pressure persists

Markets|: Mumbai: The Indian rupee has turned into Asia's worst-performing currency from being the best in the previous quarter. It's poised for more losses as a resurgence in coronavirus cases to a record threatens to hamstring the economy. The rupee weakened past 75 per dollar for the first time in eight months this week. Federal Bank Ltd. expects it to fall further to 76 by year-end. The currency's slide may be exacerbated by unwinding of short dollar positions against the rupee, which ICICI Bank Ltd. estimates has grown to $50 billion. The mayhem is also weighing on dollar bonds from India's issuers, which have under-performed Asian peers this month, as India overtook Brazil as the second-worst-hit COVID-19 nation in the world. Stricter restrictions on movement across the country are reviving memories of last year when extended lockdowns squeezed demand and pushed the economy into its worst contraction in nearly seven decades. "Economic growth is going to get more impacted than what we are expecting," said V. Lakshmanan, head of treasury at Federal Bank Ltd. in Mumbai. "We are underplaying the impact of COVID-19." Quite a drop The rupee slumped 2.6 per cent against the dollar so far in April after falling 0.1 per cent in the quarter ended March. It fared better than other Asian currencies in withstanding rising US yields in the last three months thanks to a rare current-account surplus, economic recovery and heavy foreign inflows. Traders are concerned that the rupee's tailwinds could start fading. Rising commodity prices may push the current-account into a deficit in the fiscal year that started in April, while the central bank's quantitative easing announced last week is seen adding to the liquidity glut, worsening the rupee's woes. However, Barclays Plc expects the Reserve Bank of India to defend the rupee using its massive foreign reserves. "The RBI will likely sell USD into this bid as this move is relatively outsized," said Ashish Agrawal, head of FX and emerging markets macro strategy research. He expects the rupee to climb to 73 per dollar by year-end and sees the latest bout of weakness as a catchup to losses suffered by other emerging market currencies in March.

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Ramadan 2021: UAE hotel rates at lowest point with staycation offers

Tourism|: Dubai: Hotel rates in the UAE are dropping to their lowest point of the year, as operators come up with staycation packages for Ramadan and ahead of the crucial Eid holidays demand spike. Current occupancy/booking levels during the Ramadan weeks are at 30-40 per cent and could yet inch up towards the 50 per cent mark as UAE residents try to cash in on the offers available. “Shorter booking times have been a trend that developed due to the pandemic,” said Philip Wooller, Director for the Middle East and Africa at STR, the hospitality industry focused consultancy. “So, there is the potential for last-minute bookings to pull these numbers further upward.” For hotels, any percentage gains will be welcomed, as they work on their staycation packages. Based on industry feedback, Eid-related occupancy levels could be in the 60-65 per cent range. “The UAE is showing signs that occupancy will strengthen over the Ramadan period and will be very close to historical performances,” said Wooller. And it’s not just on the stays that hotels are rolling out sweet deals. What’s on offer At the W Abu Dhabi on Yas Island, there is a special group rate, where customers can book Iftar with their colleagues, friends or family before April 2 to receive a 15 per cent discount. The hotel is also offering a Ramadan staycation experience, with average rates at Dh300 to Dh1,000. Guests can do Suhoor either in their own room or head over to the Wet Deck restaurant and savor with a Dh110 credit. For those who just want to indulge in the culinary options, the Garage at W Abu Dhabi is offering a selection at Dh195 per person. For those who prefer breaking their fast from the comfort of their rooms, there is the ‘Iftar2Go’. Guests can choose between a set menu or create their own combinations. Rates range from Dh125 to Dh165. Extend the deal Ritz-Carlton in Dubai said it will continue promoting its existing staycation offer all the way through the Eid break. The package includes overnight accommodations, breakfast and a la carte lunch, or dinner at one of the hotel’s outlets and all-day access to swimming pools, spa, and beach facilities. (Children under 12 years can dine and stay for free.) A deluxe suite can be booked for Dh2,750, while a family room is around Dh5,700. At the Five, there is a ‘pay 3 stay 4/pay 6 stay 8’ package, where guests can get access to a private beach, swimming pools, restaurants and spa. The hotel also gives the option for an express PCR test for Dh200. “Not only can you do the test from the comfort from your own luxury room, results come back within 24 hours meaning you can travel safe,” says Five on its website. Fares ranges from Dh700-Dh1,000 per night. “UAE hotels are taking the proactive approach on special offers during Ramadan, which should have a positive impact, especially on the F&B (food & beverage) front,” said Wooller. Hotels on the Palm are getting into the action, whether it's on F&B promotions or the full stay over. Some are even throwing in special rates on PCR tests. Image Credit: Gulf News Second-highest Despite everything they had to contend with, the UAE tourism sector recorded a 54.7 per cent hotel occupancy rate in 2020 – the second highest in the world after China – while the global rate dropped to 37 per cent under the weight of the pandemic. Hotels in the Middle East region recorded just 43 per cent occupancy. This is in parallel to the significant decline in tourist activity, which fell by 74 per cent around the world and 76 per cent in the region. “The UAE tourism sector’s accomplishments over the past year are a result of the notable efforts made by all relevant parties to promote the sector at the federal and local levels,” said Ahmad Al Falasi, Minister of State for Entrepreneurship and Small and Medium Enterprises. “This is in addition to the proactive measures the UAE implemented to deal with the outbreak and minimise its impact on public health.” UAE hotels will expect a repeat performance for Ramadan 2021.

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Celebrate Ramadan at InterContinental Hotels at Dubai Festival City

UAE|: Head to InterContinental Hotels at Dubai Festival City this Ramadan to enjoy the sumptuous iftar and suhour experiences the property has put together for people wanting to spend quality time with family and friends. Here's a look at what’s on offer. Inimitable iftars Anise – InterContinental Dubai Festival City Image Credit: Supplied Take your loved ones on a culinary journey and taste the world this Ramadan with the renowned lavish iftar spread set in the magnificent ambiance of Anise. End your fast with the finest selection of authentic Arabian delicacies featuring Levantine and North African favourites and international flavours with weekly culinary highlights. Enjoy interactive dining with eight live cooking stations serving dishes à la minute. Dh225 per person; Dh110 for children aged 7-12; six and under dine complimentary Zaytoun – Crowne Plaza Dubai Festival City Share special moments this Ramadan with your family and friends at Zaytoun. End your fast under the stars with striking views of Dubai Skyline while savouring a bountiful iftar spread of authentic Arabian delicacies featuring Levantine favourites and international flavours with weekly culinary highlights. Dh175 per person; Dh85 for children aged 7-12; six and under dine complimentary IHG Rewards members get up to 30 per cent off – IHG Dining Rewards Sirocco – Holiday Inn Dubai Festival City Feel the true spirit of Ramadan as you end your fast with your loved ones at Sirocco. Enjoy a bountiful iftar buffet and embrace an abundance of delicacies with a selection of international dishes and authentic Arabian flavours featuring Levantine favourites. Dh125 per person; children under 12 dine complimentary IHG Rewards members get up to 30 per cent off – IHG Dining Rewards; buy 1 get 1 on first 10 days Serene suhours Zaytoun – Crowne Plaza Dubai Festival City Enjoy suhour under the star with a relaxing view of the Dubai skyline. Indulge in its selection of delicious Arabian flavours including hot and cold mezze and scrumptious Arabian sweets while enjoying a flavourful shisha. A la carte menu; Dh95 per person minimum spend on food and beverage; a range of shisha flavours is available; from 9pm to 2am IHG Rewards members get up to 30 per cent off – IHG Dining Rewards Vista Shisha available Shisha available; a la carte menu; Dh95 per person minimum spend on food and beverage; every day, 8pm until 2am IHG Rewards members get up to 30 per cent off – IHG Dining Rewards Staycation special The group is also offering staycation packages for people looking for a break. InterContinental Dubai Festival City starting at Dh499++ This Ramadan, treat yourself to an urban city staycation at InterContinental Dubai festival City. From traditional Arabian iftar spreads to a mouth-watering suhour in the privacy of your suite, all set amidst beautiful settings evoke the true essence of the Holy Month. This staycation includes stay in a luxurious one-bedroom suite, a lavish iftar for two at Zaytoun restaurant, suhour for two in the privacy of your own suite, early check-in, late checkout and up to 30 per cent off food and beverages (IHG Dining Deals Rewards) Crowne Plaza Dubai Festival City starting at Dh399++ There is no better way to enjoy the holidays than a memorable staycation with your loved ones at Crowne Plaza Dubai Festival City. Spend quality time this Ramadan with family and enjoy your stay at the family room including suhour and iftar experience for two at Zaytoun Restaurant. This staycation includes stay in a family room, a lavish iftar experience for two at Zaytoun restaurant, suhour for two in the privacy of your own room, early check-in, late checkout and up to 30 per cent off food and beverages (IHG Dining Deals Rewards) Holiday Inn Dubai Festival City starting at Dh299++ Savour a joyful staycation that delights your taste buds too. Enjoy a lavish and memorable stay-and-dine offer including suhour in the privacy of your room and iftar experience for two at Sirocco. This staycation includes stay in a family room, early check-in, late checkout and up to 30 per cent off food and beverages ( IHG Dining Deals Rewards) For bookings and more information, visit www.dubaifestivalcityhotels.com/ramadan, call or WhatsApp 04 701 1111

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UAE audiences still love films, whether at drive-in or multiplex: Majid Al Futtaim Cinemas CEO

Dubai: “Let’s build a drive-in…” For Cameron Mitchell, it was the ‘Eureka!’ moment he - and the cinema business in the UAE - was searching for to get viewers back after multiplexes were closed during the COVID-19 lockdown phase. Of course, get them queuing up and watching in socially distanced ways… It was also the time when doubts were set to rest whether UAE residents would ever return to the cinemas amidst a pandemic. “The drive-in cinema at Mall of the Emirates was delivered in about five days – from when we said “Let’s do it” to its opening,” said Mitchell, CEO of Majid Al Futtaim Cinemas and Majid Al Futtaim Leisure & Entertainment. “At the time, it was one of the only cinemas that was open globally. People just embraced it. We feel it came at a time when people needed some good news, when they wanted to spend some time with their family – outside of their homes. “We were getting a lot of feedback on social media that people were really missing the experience. With all the cinemas closed, we looked at what we could do. We spoke to the government whether we could run a drive-in, following their guidance on the number of people that could be together at any given time. “We worked through the protocols with them, and these were similar to those being followed at the malls. We also worked with our sustainability team to offset the carbon emissions from the cars at the drive-in so that it wouldn’t adversely affect the environment.” As far as ideas go, the return of the drive-in cinema viewing proved an instant hit. Majid Al Futtaim Cinemas introduced one at Mall of the Emirates, which was the first attempt at getting audiences back to the big screens. Image Credit: Supplied Work in progress The drive-in was as much about making a statement of intent as it was about gauging potential viewer interest in catching a flick at a big screen. With cinemas having re-opened subsequently, the drive-in has dropped in prominence as a box-office draw – but it sure had its moments. Recently, VOX Cinemas opened the biggest multiplex in Sharjah, at the brand new City Centre Al Zahia. That’s 1,485 additional seats spread over 16 screens, and puts VOX Cinemas firmly in line to “hit 1,000 screens in about three to four years and that will take us to the Top 10 cinema operators globally,” the CEO said. “We are investing $100 million annually and we will stick to that.”Cameron Mitchell sure has a front row view of how the business of cinema will pan out in the UAE and elsewhere in the region.Irish Eden R. Belleza/Gulf News Curbs on capacity It will be some time before catching a cinema heads back to pre-COVID-19 times. For one, there are strict limits on the audience numbers for each show, and these vary across Gulf markets. But Mitchell says it’s about adapting as every other business and sector has been doing. But did the pandemic force a re-think on existing Majid Al Futtaim multiplex projects in terms of seating capacity or number of screens? “It was never considered to downsize - we show about 400 movies a [normal] year,” he said. “It’s about giving customers the right experience along and where they have the ability to see any film at a time convenient to them. Maximising the size of a location is always critical. “We have a mix of different screen sizes – that matters. Whether it’s for someone who wants to catch the latest release in its first week at a 400-seat cinema, or who prefers 80- or 100-seat cinema after six to 10 weeks from its release. “No cinema operator can sit back and say we hope people come back. We are sticking to the investments we have announced [on new screens]. Yes, last year was disastrous for the industry and that too coming from a record year in 2019, when between 6-7 billion people went to the cinema.” Getting them back... and following the strict safety and social distancing protocols. Before the pandemic, Middle East cinemas had their best box-office returns ever with 55 million visits. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News Saudi is central Some of that bullishness stems from all that can be done in the near- to mid-term in Saudi Arabia, which allowed cinemas to operate in 2018 after a long gestation period of 35 years. VOX Cinemas currently operates 12 cinemas and 134 screens in the Kingdom and is fast catching up on the 22 cinemas and 237 screens it has in the UAE. “In Saudi Arabia, we are running the cinemas 24 hours a day - there is demand for it,” the CEO added. “If customers are looking for something, we deliver it. We are entering a number of new cities across this market including Hail and Jubail “Saudi Arabia in three- to five years will be a $1 billion market on its own - it is going to be a Top 10 global market very, very quickly.” Pent-up viewing Even before COVID-19 came calling, the global cinema industry has had its share of worst-case scenarios to contend with. Web-delivered content was building audiences worldwide, and the thinking was it will massively eat into cinema’s viewer base. Is cinema entering a crisis phase? To that Mitchell has one short and eloquent response: “Rubbish…” “What we have seen in recent months is people are missing not going to the cinemas. As cinemas returned, we are seeing phenomenal results. We released ‘Godzilla vs. Kong’ and I think we had a 35 per cent increase in business in one week on the back of that single release. Globally, it went on to reach almost $300 million. “As and when movies get released, people will race back to the cinemas. Of course, they are a little bit nervous, “Yes, you can watch movies at home, but we definitely see there is a market for both. Our region admitted 55 million cinema visits in 2019 and we are predicting 90 million to 100 million next year. The cinema experience here is better than anywhere else in the world and the line-up is incredibly strong. “In some markets where operators aren’t as focussed on the cinema experience - food, ambience, concepts, and whatever else - maybe there attendances have plateaued. But in our markets, we expect to see strong growth. Anyone who thinks those people are going to stay at home moving forward are just kidding themselves.” Now, that's meant for a big screen viewing. UAE audiences shared that sentiment, making a rush to the cinemas to catch the duel. Image Credit: Warner Bros.

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How drinking even half a coffee while pregnant could harm your baby

It might be advisable to avoid caffeine all together when you’re expecting, according to a spate of recent studies - meaning that even moderate coffee intake or a simple bar of chocolate could soon be off the menu for mums-to-be. Two new studies published in February and March this year highlight the potentially harmful impact of caffeine consumption in pregnancy. The first, conducted by the University of Rochester Medical Center, found that caffeine consumed during pregnancy can change important brain pathways that could lead to behavioural problems such as ADHD later in life. The second study, by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and published in JAMA Open Network on 25 March 2021, found that women who drank as little as half a cup of coffee per day on average gave birth to smaller babies than pregnant women who did not consume caffeinated beverages. These add to the controversial but growing body of evidence that suggests that – contrary to official guidance across the world - pregnant women should cut out coffee and caffeine-containing food and beverages all together. New study review concludes that there is no safe level of caffeine consumption for pregnant women Image Credit: Michael Fallon/Unsplash Official current advice on caffeine in pregnancy Resources such as the World Health Organisation (WHO), American Pregnancy Association and the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) currently advise limiting caffeine intake to under 200mg daily during pregnancy (around one to two cups of coffee a day). It is well known that consuming high levels of caffeine in pregnancy is linked to problems such as growth restriction, reduced birth weight, preterm birth or stillbirth. The WHO recommends that any pregnant women with a caffeine intake of more than 300mg per day lowers her intake in order to reduce these risks. However, increasing numbers of scientists believe that there is actually no safe limit of caffeine consumption for pregnant women. They say that although the bulk of research has focused only on high caffeine consumers, new research is revealing that even moderate and low level caffeine consumers in pregnancy may be putting their baby at risk. Image Credit: Shutterstock What the controversial new evidence says The latest study by National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, published on 25 March 2021 in JAMA Open Network, analyzed data on more than 2,000 racially and ethnically diverse women at 12 clinical sites who were enrolled from 8 to 13 weeks of pregnancy. The women were non-smokers and did not have any health problems before pregnancy. Based on the women's own estimates of the beverages they drank, women who consumed about 50 milligrams of caffeine a day (equivalent to a half cup of coffee) had infants 66 grams (about 2.3 ounces) lighter than infants born to non-caffeine consumers Meanwhile researchers in the Del Monte Institute for Neuroscience at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) analyzed thousands of brain scans of nine and ten-year-olds, and revealed changes in the brain structure in children who were exposed to caffeine in utero. Elevated behavioural issues, attention difficulties, and hyperactivity are all symptoms that researchers observed in these children, according to the February 2021 study. An analysis of more than 1,200 studies of caffeine’s effect on pregnancy and found “persuasive confirmation of increased risk … for at least five major negative pregnancy outcomes: miscarriage, stillbirth, lower birth weight and/or small for gestational age, childhood acute leukaemia, and childhood overweight and obesity.” Professor Jack E. James, Psychology, Reykjavik University In addition to these two 2021 studies, a peer-reviewed study published in the journal BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine in August 2020 analysed more than 1,200 studies of caffeine’s effect on pregnancy and found “persuasive confirmation of increased risk … for at least five major negative pregnancy outcomes: miscarriage, stillbirth, lower birth weight and/or small for gestational age, childhood acute leukaemia, and childhood overweight and obesity.” Prof Jack James, of Reykjavik University, told The Guardian that “current advice … is not consistent with the level of threat indicated by biological plausibility of harm and extensive empirical evidence of actual harm.” It concluded that health recommendations needed “radical revision”. “The cumulative scientific evidence supports pregnant women and women contemplating pregnancy being advised to avoid caffeine,” the report said. Image Credit: Pixabay How is caffeine consumption different in pregnancy? Caffeine – a central nervous system stimulant - passes rapidly through the body, including the placenta, and takes longer to process during pregnancy. This means that caffeine lingers in a pregnant woman’s bloodstream for a while after drinking coffee or other caffeine-containing substances – something called ‘caffeine clearance’. The speed of caffeine clearance varies between people, with some people metabolising caffeine much more quickly than others. The placenta provides a growing baby with food and oxygen through the umbilical cord. Because caffeine is able to pass freely through the placenta, when a pregnant woman drinks coffee or other caffeinated beverages, the baby will also receive it. It has been established that neither the fetus nor the placenta contains the enzyme necessary to process caffeine properly. Previous studies have linked the impact of caffeine consumption on the fetus with the pregnant mother’s ‘caffeine clearance’ rate, which depends on the individual woman. In their report, researchers at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development speculated that caffeine could reduce the blood supply to the fetus and inhibit growth. Similarly, researchers believe caffeine could potentially disrupt fetal stress hormones, putting infants at risk for rapid weight gain after birth and for later life obesity, heart disease and diabetes, but this is still speculation at this stage. Image Credit: Pexels WHAT ABOUT DECAF COFFEE? Since decaf coffee – often thought of as the safe option for expectant women - still retains some caffeine after the decaffeination process, its safety for pregnant women is now in question, as well as other caffeine-containing food and drinks such as chocolate, black tea, green tea, some soft drinks and some over-the-counter medications. “Although studies have remained generally inconclusive on decaffeinated coffee and its link to miscarriages, I would still advise avoiding it during pregnancy,” said UAE-based nutritionist Alexandra Chaston. “Partly because some caffeine still remains in the coffee after the decaffeination process, but also because decaffeinated coffee contains two other stimulants; theobromine and theophylline, which are not removed when the coffee is decaffeinated.” The amount of caffeine left in decaffeinated coffee can also vary drastically depending on the brand, the process used and the type of bean, so it’s not always possible to be sure of exactly how much you’re consuming. It’s not just women who are affected by caffeine, adds Chaston. Research has also shown caffeine can affect sperm health such as count, motility and abnormalities, meaning it may be advisable for both partners to cut out caffeine when trying to conceive. Does this mean I have to cut out caffeine in pregnancy completely? The research on the impact of caffeine in pregnancy is mixed and controversial. The official public health guidance is still that pregnant women can safely consume up to 200mg of caffeine per day – which equates to 1-2 cups of coffee per day. While many scientists are convinced by the growing evidence against caffeine consumption in pregnancy, many others are skeptical. In a reaction piece to the 2020 study review, Dr Daghni Rajasingham, Consultant Obstetrician and spokesperson for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said: “The findings of this study add to the large body of evidence that supports limited caffeine intake during pregnancy, but pregnant women do not need to completely cut out caffeine, as this paper suggests. “As the study notes, high levels of caffeine during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage and babies having a low birth weight and may lead to excess weight gain in the child’s early years, which can increase risk of health problems later in life. However, as other – and potentially more reliable – research has found, pregnant women do not need to cut caffeine out entirely because these risks are extremely small, even if the recommended caffeine limits are exceeded. “The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists’ advise to limit caffeine intake to 200 milligrams (mg) per day – the equivalent to two cups of instant coffee – still stands.” While some pregnant women may prefer to err on the side of caution and cut out caffeine completely, for the time being those who can’t do without their daily cup of java may prefer to stick to the current official advice and drink no more than 200mg per day. Some herbal teas, such as green tea, are thought to aid weight loss, and the antioxidants within herbal teas can help improve your skin and protect your heart and blood vessels. Image Credit: Supplied picture HOW TO CUT DOWN YOUR COFFEE INTAKE “For those who are heavy coffee drinkers, I wouldn’t recommend stopping it cold turkey as you are likely to get unpleasant withdrawal symptoms,” nutritionist Alexandra Chaston told Baby & Child. “I would recommend weaning yourself off the caffeine slowly, reducing a cup per day, and substitute your coffee with a decaf or herbal tea – to gradually coming off caffeine altogether within approximately weeks. “Herbal teas such as ginger, dandelion tea, peppermint tea, nettle tea and Rooibos tea are good substitutes to coffee and black tea as they are nourishing and satisfying without the depleting effects of caffeine. I advise you speak to your nutritionist, naturopath or herbalist if you have any concerns on which teas are safe to drink whilst pregnant.” Chocolate Image Credit: Pixabay How much caffeine is in your food and drink? Very high caffeine intake is usually defined as 300mg or more per day High caffeine intake is defined as 200–299mg per day Average caffeine intake is defined as 50-199mg per day Low caffeine intake is defined as less than 50mg per day Brewed coffee (235ml): 95-165mg Instant coffee (235ml): 63mg Decaf brewed coffee (235ml): 2-5mg Decaf instant coffee (235ml): 2mg Latte or mocha (235ml): 63-126mg Black tea (235ml): 25-48mg Decaf black tea (235ml): 2-5mg Green tea (235ml): 25-29mg Cola (235ml): 24-46mg Dark chocolate (100g): 43mg Milk chocolate (100g): 20mg White chocolate (100g): 0mg Source: Mayo Clinic and USDA

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What do we know about Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine and rare clots?

Dubai: The US has recommended that states pause giving the J&J vaccine while authorities examine six reports of unusual clots, including a death, out of more than 6.8 million Americans given the one-dose vaccination so far. Fewer than 1 in 1 million Johnson & Johnson vaccinations are under investigation. But the small number of cases has sparked concern, and J&J delayed its imminent European rollout. Here’s a look at what we know about the vaccine and the unusual blood clots. Why are these clots different? These are not typical blood clots. They're weird in two ways. First, they're occurring in unusual parts of the body, such as veins that drain blood from the brain. Second, those patients also have abnormally low levels of platelets - cells that help form clots - a condition normally linked to bleeding, not clotting. Image Credit: Graphic News Scientists in Norway and Germany first raised the possibility that some people are experiencing an abnormal immune system response to the AstraZeneca vaccine, forming antibodies that attack their own platelets. That's the theory as the US now investigates clots in J&J vaccine recipients, Dr. Peter Marks, the Food and Drug Administration's vaccine chief, said Tuesday, AP reported. Why suspect immune response? The first clue: A widely used blood thinner named heparin sometimes causes a very similar side effect. Very rarely, heparin recipients form antibodies that both attack and overstimulate platelets, said Dr. Geoffrey Barnes, a clot expert at the University of Michigan, AP reported “It kind of can cause both sides of the bleeding-clotting spectrum,” Barnes said. Because heparin is used so often in hospitals, that reaction is something “that every hospital in America knows how to diagnose and treat.” Vials with a sticker reading, "COVID-19 / Coronavirus vaccine / Injection only" and a medical syringe are seen in front of a displayed Johnson & Johnson logo in this illustration taken October 31, 2020. Image Credit: Reuters There also are incredibly rare reports of this weird clot-low platelet combination in people who never took heparin, such as after an infection. Health officials said one reason for the J&J pause was to make sure doctors know how to treat patients suspected of having these clots, which includes avoiding giving heparin. The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention later Tuesday provided advice on how to spot and treat the unusual clots. What does research show? Among possible causes being investigated are that the vaccine triggers an unusual antibody in rare cases. So far, risk factors like age or gender have not been singled out. In this Feb. 17, 2021, file photo, a health care worker receives a Johnson & Johnson vaccine at a hospital in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, South Africa. Image Credit: AP In two studies in the New England Journal of Medicine last week, research teams from Norway and Germany found platelet-attacking antibodies in the blood of some AstraZeneca vaccine recipients who had the strange clots. The antibodies were similar to those found with the heparin side effect even though the patients had never used that blood thinner. It's not yet clear if there's a similar link to the J&J vaccine. Who experienced the rare side effects? In J&J's case, all six recipients were women between the ages of 18 and 48, and the symptoms occurred six to 13 days after vaccination. In the six cases, a type of blood clot called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) was seen in combination with low levels of blood platelets, or thrombocytopenia. Read more COVID-19 variants or 'scariants’? Virologist calls for ramped up vaccinations globally Drew Weissman, father of revolutionary COVID-19 mRNA vaccine, sets next target: Cancer, other viral diseases First-person account: Emirates vaccine flight a signal of return to normality Top 5 vaccine myths: Meet the top COVID-19 anti-vax advocates In total, more than 6.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been given in the United States through April 12. What technology does it use? The J&J vaccine uses a common-cold causing adenovirus, which has been genetically modified so that it can't replicate, to carry the gene for a key part of the coronavirus. The part is known as the "spike protein" and it's what gives the virus its crown-like appearance. The vaccine delivers the instructions to make this protein to human cells, and our immune systems then develop antibodies against it, preventing the virus from invading cells. Apart from antibodies, the vaccine also elicits the production of immune T cells, which kill infected cells and help make more antibodies. J&J's shot is known as an "adenovirus vector vaccine" and the company previously produced a European Union-approved Ebola vaccine using the same technology. Esselen Reza, at right, receives a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at the Banning Recreation Center Tuesday, April 13, 2021, in Wilmington, Calif. Image Credit: AP Oxford-AstraZeneca and Sputnik's shots are both adenovirus vector vaccines, too. They all use double-stranded DNA molecules to carry genetic instructions, rather than single-stranded RNA used by Pfizer and Moderna. DNA is more rugged, which allows these vaccines to be stored at warmer temperatures. Are pauses like this common? Fewer than 1 in 1 million Johnson & Johnson vaccinations are under investigation, and it still hasn't been determined that the blood clots were related to the vaccine. Pauses like this are common even after vaccines go into wide use to investigate further if an unusually large cluster of a certain type of medical cases turns up among people who've been inoculated. What about the other vaccines? The most widely used COVID-19 vaccines in the US - from Pfizer and Moderna - are made with a completely different technology, and the FDA said there is no sign of a similar clot concern with those vaccines. Should people be worried because they received the J&J vaccination? Marks said it's important not to confuse the rare clot risk with normal flu-like symptoms people often feel a day or two after a COVID-19 vaccination. He said concerning symptoms, such as severe headache or severe abdominal pain, would occur a week to three weeks after the J&J vaccine. How are other countries reacting? Deliveries have already begun in some European countries. Authorities took differing approaches on whether to restrict use of the single-shot vaccine with Belgium and France saying they would go ahead, while Sweden, Greece and Italy put them on hold. France is sticking to its plan to give over-55s the Johnson & Johnson vaccine suspended in the US and South Africa over rare blood clots, a government spokesman said Wednesday. Gabriel Attal also reaffirmed the government's confidence in the AstraZeneca jab as an "essential tool" in the fight against Covid-19, hours after Denmark said it was stopping its use, also over rare incidents of clots in people who received the vaccine. France has already been using the AstraZeneca jab among over-55s and had been planning to boost its campaign with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which is similar to the AstraZeneca shot.

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How to remain fit and healthy while fasting during Ramadan in UAE despite COVID-19

Health|: Dubai: UAE doctors have cautioned patients who have recovered from COVID-19 to be mindful of their nutrition, hydration, sleep and physical fitness if they plan to observe the fast during Ramadan. International medical journals and organsiations such as the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) have warned that even two to three months after recovery, long-haul patients of COVID-19 are likely to suffer from several symptoms such as fatigue, breathlessness, poor muscle tone, threats of blood clots and brain fogging among other side-effects. Take the case of Mohammad Kunhi Siddiqui, 58, an Indian expatriate businessman in Dubai who recovered in February and was planning to observe the fast during Ramadan. He told Gulf News: “I suffered from many complications, including pneumonia, and had to be put on a mechanical ventilation. It’s been almost two months since I recovered and I still feel very fatigued and tired. But I am determined to observe the fast and recently went to get a thorough check up from my treating physician, Dr Salvin George, specialist internal medicine, at Medcare Hospital Dubai. He has reassured me that under medical supervision I can fast.” Dr Salvin George Explaining the potential of health risks of fasting for those who have recovered from COVID-19 complications, Dr George said: “Recovery for critical COVID-19 patients is gradual and they are advised to observe the fast under medical supervision. Many critically ill COVID patients continue to experience fatigue, tiredness, respiratory infections, breathing trouble. Such patients are not advised to fast, while others who had moderate-to-mild symptoms can go ahead. There is a threat of blood clots as well and sometimes fasting that can trigger dehydration can cause blood to get thicker and result in clots. We typically prescribe most seriously ill patients blood thinners for a month after discharge." He added: “If these patients still plan to fast, we advise them to undergo the D-dimer test. This is a test can rule out any inappropriate blood clots. If the reading is below 0.5, the patient’s blood is sufficiently thin. However, if the reading shows 1 or more than 1 then the patient has a chance of getting blood clots and needs thinners and must be mindful of proper hydration during the fast.” Dr Sarla Kumari, specialist Internal Medicine at the Canadian Specialist Hospital, Dubai, explained that those who had mild COVID-19 and had no major health threats were fine to fast during Ramadan. “There is no evidence to suggest an adverse effect from fasting during the COVID-19 pandemic on asymptomatic, healthy individuals who have previously fasted safely. However, patients with fever and prolonged illness secondary to COVID-19 can become severely dehydrated and are at risk of sudden acute deterioration. As such, these patients should not fast (or cease fasting) and ensure adequate hydration. Prior to commencing fasting, any comorbidities need to be risk stratified and discussed with the patient’s clinician.” Dr Sarla Kumari Dr Kumari explained, “The majority of COVID-19 infections either do not produce any symptoms or cause a self-limiting flu-like illness, whilst up to 20 per cent can cause severe or critical illness. People with mild illness with no other medical condition can fast. However, if they feel sick or have fever then they need to stop fasting.” Long-haul COVID-19 patients need to take care of choosing suhour and iftar food that is balanced in nutrition, provides ample macro and micronutrients. They must stay hydrated throughout the day, do mild-to-moderate exercise once they end the fast for the day and must make sure they get at least nine hours of sleep each day. Why is water intake so important for post-COVID patients? Juliot Vinolia, clinical dietician and consultant nutritionist at Medeor Hospital elaborated: “Unlike the regular fasting diets, Ramadan fasting involves the withdrawal of both food and water, Therefore, dehydration risks should be mindfully managed. Post-COVID patients must take extra precaution in staying well-hydrated during Ramadan and at all times. “ Juliot Vinolia She further explained: “Individuals who suffered from very serious impact of the virus experience a cytokine storm (where the body’s immune cells turn rouge and begin attacking the healthy cells). This increases the inflammatory and blood clotting factors in the body. Dehydration further complicates the side effects of the inflammatory response of an active virus or vaccine. Dehydration makes you infection prone “The eyes, nose, mouth and gut are the entry zones for viruses and other pathogens. Dehydration makes our body’s protective barriers like the mucosal lining very dry and it is easier for the pathogens to easily cling on to dry surface and travel deep into our body and multiply. This also is the reason behind increase in gastrointestinal infections among people eating more outside food during humid summers with heat-resistant thermophilic bacteria. Proper hydration outside fasting hours can keep our body’s first line of defence strong against the invasion of pathogens, while following good hygiene practices.” Consume water and fibre-rich food Vinolia explained. “While the dense carbs such as whole grains, legumes and pulses are a good source of micro and macro nutrition, water-rich berries, vegetables and fruit will add more water-content to the body. The fibre-rich, non-processed food items will help hold water in the body which will be of great help to post COVID-19 patients observing the fast.” Keep up with your circadian rhythms Circadian rhythms refer to the syncing of the human body and other living organisms to sunrise and sunset. When we keep awake during the night and sleep during the day, that disrupts the natural rhythm and affects the metabolism, hormonal impact on body’s processes and weakens our immunity. That is why Dr George advises post-COVID patients to catch up on their sleep. “In UAE, residents most sleep for five-seven hours day. I advise all COVID-19 patients in general, to sleep at least two hours more than this, to accelerate healing and rejuvenation. They can follow this sleeping pattern even during Ramadan and not stay awake through the night.” Boost your immune system Post-COVID patients who are fasting during Ramadan, need to follow the following guidelines: No matter what variant of the virus the efficacy of one’s immune system or the efficacy of a vaccine solely depends on the overall health status of an individual. The deleterious mortality effect of the immune response of post-COVID exposure is mainly due preexisting imbalances in our body that affect poor recovery and lowers longevity. The most immune influencing factors: 1. Environment: We need to make our homes toxin free, have good aeration and healthy sunlight. These reduce our predisposition to disease. 2. Mental stress: Managing depression, loneliness, toxic impact of people should be managed and therapy taken as needed. Seeking help is a life saver and one should not hesitate. 3. Healthy sleep: A good circadian rhythm is the driving force of our body. Imbalance can lead to hormonal imbalances and poor regeneration of damaged tissue. Sleep plays a vital role in the formation of immune related enzymes. 4. Quality nutrition intake is also vital. While following a healthy fasting regimen, we should be mindful to take adequate nutrients our limited food intake and prevent any deficiencies. Deficiency of Vitamin D, Zinc, Vitamin C has shown poor immune response. 5. Toxin-free lifestyle: Our food, cosmetics, home-cleaning agents and other consumables should be as least in toxins as possible as these are latent stress-inducing factors apart from mental stress. 6. Keeping track of health status and nutritional status can keep us all on a safe journey through any pandemic. Read more COVID-19: UAE reports 1,798 new coronavirus cases, 4 deaths Four Emiratis with Parkinson’s disease receive Deep Brain Stimulation surgeries in Abu Dhabi Abu Dhabi intensifies COVID-19 screenings in five areas Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed inaugurates the new building of Dubai Fertility Centre How fasting can strengthen immunity? • Fasting for limited hours in a day is considered to be a recent adaptable lifestyle. • High carbs or frequent energy intake has taxed our body and make it sluggish. Fasting gives our body a break and rather focus on healing and reviving. • Processed sugar is the feeding zone for pathogens, oxidative stress and tissue damage leading to cancer, genetic mutation risk to disease and higher infertility rates. • By introducing healthy fasting within limited hours, in line with an individual’s circadian rhythm, healthy environment and healthy mind can make mankind less dependent on vaccines in the future. • Moreover, fasting reduces food wastage and indirectly reduces global warming. • Non-Muslims can also follow Ramadan fasting in a healthy way and improve their health and immunity.