Abu Dhabi: The UAE’s global stature in combating COVID-19 is growing steadily, enhanced by its generous distribution of international aid to help counter the strain.
Continuing the legacy the founding father’s philanthropy, the nation’s commitment to give more and help as many people as possible is aligned with its core values — a broad generosity, the desire to ease suffering and help rehabilitate people from living in conditions beyond their control.
At the heart of these endeavours was the UAE’s provision of medical supplies to China before flying hundreds of foreign citizens from Hubei province to Abu Dhabi in a humanitarian operation conducted in co-operation with the Chinese government.
The 215 people – from countries that include Syria, Iraq, Mauritania, Sudan, Brazil, Egypt, Yemen and Jordan – were flown to the UAE capital in a plane equipped with medical facilities.
All of the students, mostly of Arabic nationalities, tested clear of the virus before departure and a specialist medical team provided by UAE health authorities accompanied the group as a further precautionary measure.
The passengers were welcomed to the UAE with a personal message written by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.
“We recognise that it is difficult to leave a place that was a safe home to you, particularly when you are leaving it because of an unexpected crisis to go to a new land where you don’t know anyone. For that reason we wanted to welcome you personally to the Emirates. We want you to rest assured that you are among friends and family and you are a dear and honoured guest. We will provide you with complete health care and everything necessary to continue the trip to your home country whenever it is safe for you,” the message signed by Sheikh Mohammad read.
Setting up London’s 4,000-bed field hospital
The UAE has also acted beyond their borders offering a helping hand to Britain as it grapples with the mounting public health emergency posed by the virus.
ExCel London events space, owned by the Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company, plays a crucial role in UK efforts to counter the novel coronavirus when it opens later this week as a 4,000-bed field hospital, called NHS Nightingale.
UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the new NHS Nightingale hospital would be vital to efforts to contain the pandemic.
And these crucial efforts were made to where need was most dire – Iran to confront one of the largest coronavirus outbreaks in the world.
The UAE has dispatched two urgent relief planes carrying onboard 32 tonnes of medical supplies and relief equipment to support Iran’s ongoing efforts to contain the spread of coronavirus.
The supplies include gloves, surgical masks and protective equipment.
Earlier, the UAE facilitated a mission by the World Health Organisation to deliver medical supplies and equipment to Iran in a bid to help contain the new coronavirus. It is when the UAE Air Force deployed an aircraft that carried 7.5 tonnes of cargo from Dubai to Iran.
“The UAE’s support to Iran reflects the humanitarian principles on which our county was founded. Providing assistance to save the lives of those in distress is essential to serve the common human interest,” Reem Bint Ibrahim Al Hashemi, Minister of State for International Cooperation Affairs, said.
The UAE also sent an urgent medical aid shipment to Afghanistan containing 20,000 testing units and equipment to examine thousands of people.
The UAE also donated 11.5 tonnes of medical equipment, including face masks, to Croatia following its recent devastating earthquake described as the strongest to strike the country in 140 years.
The Croatian government cancelled a deal to buy protective masks worth HRK19 million ($2.7 million) following the UAE’s donation.
The UAE has offered to help Syria battle the coronavirus pandemic during a phone call between Shaikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyanand Syrian President Bashar Al Assad to discuss the global crisis.
Shaikh Mohammad told the Syrian leader their countries needed to “place humanitarian solidarity over political issues during this common challenge we are all facing.”
Syria “will not be left alone during these delicate and critical circumstances,” Shaikh Mohammad told Al Assad.
The UAE’s outreach is despite a cooling of relations with Syria since an uprising against Al Assad’s rule sparked a civil war that is now in its 10th year.
UAE Ambassador to the United States (US) Yousef Al Otaiba has met with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and delivered a message from Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Foreign Minister, that conveyed continued support and solidarity with the US, as both countries work to protect the public and prevent the global spread of COVID-19.
The UAE Foreign Minister’s message to Secretary Pompeo reaffirmed the country’s commitment to provide medical assistance to any private American citizen or member of the US armed forces residing in the Emirates.
In addition, the UAE has offered to facilitate any repatriation of US citizens, if necessary, through the US customs pre-clearance facility at Abu Dhabi International Airport. This includes making the airport available to any US airlines that may want to schedule special flights to or from the US.
UAE technology tackling outbreak head-on
Additionally, the UAE’s technology sector is proving useful as Emirati company Group 42 (G42) has been tackling the outbreak head-on. The plan is to leverage existing artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud computing technology to prevent the virus from spreading and to ensure medical supplies reach the areas where they are most needed. For this, the company announced the launch of its Population Genome Program, which will provide rapid genotyping to help gather necessary data for researchers to develop a cure for the virus.
G42 will also be supplying hundreds of thousands of essential medical supplies to China, which includes surgical masks, goggles, gloves, and a variety of other protective clothing to protect the healthcare workers that are treating sick individuals.
By leading the way in combating COVID-19, the UAE has shown, time and again, how nations should be driven by a moral duty to help where they can. It is this spirit that makes a difference to millions of lives.