From left: Shafi, Zenher, Anas Kunnath , Mohammad, Rafeeq and Fahad K.K, who are part of a group of expatriates from Kerala wearing T-shirts with #ThankYouUAE slogan. Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: A group of expatriates from the south Indian state of Kerala have been wearing T-shirts with the #ThankYouUAE campaign slogan to raise awareness on UAE’s overwhelming concern and solidarity expressed for the flood victims in their state.

Afsal Shyam, a 40-year-old photojournalist in Dubai, said a senior Emirati official told him that “we will always hold your hand because we cannot leave you alone [in this situation],” Shyam told Gulf News on Thursday.

He, along with his friends, started the campaign to express their gratitude towards the UAE rulers who announced their support for Kerala and offered concrete measures to help the flood victims.

Hisham Abbas, 31, an assistant community manager in Dubai, said officials at the Dubai International Airport expressed their concern about flood victims while he was travelling to Kerala on Tuesday night, wearing the campaign T-shirt.

“A worker from the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh approached me at the airport and asked if he could give me Dh100 as a donation towards people in relief camps. I requested him to send the money to the Kerala Chief Minister’s Distress Fund,” said Abbas, speaking on the phone from Kerala.

Though it was a big amount for the worker — who earns less than Dh1,000 a month — he volunteered to help, Abbas said.

Shyam and Abbas expressed their deep appreciation for the outpouring of concern by the people of the UAE on the well-being of their families and friends back home.

“It felt like they were not strangers but our brothers and sisters. This degree of concern made us so happy,” Shyam said.

The #ThankYouUAE T-shirt was designed by Rafi Siddique with the help of friends. A 100 T-shirts were made and distributed. “

Each Keralite, said Shyam and Abbas, has an obligation to thank the UAE for its acknowledgement of the contribution of Keralites while announcing the support and help for flood victims.

“The people of Kerala have always been, and are still a part of our success story in the UAE. We have a special responsibility to help and support those affected, especially during this holy and blessed days,” tweeted His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, discussed the devastation caused by the floods in Kerala during a telephone call with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

He told Modi that the UAE was prepared to extend all help during this humanitarian crisis.

Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed has also tweeted: “Today, we stand together to provide relief to the citizens of Kerala, which has been ravaged by floods.”