Abu Dhabi: Expatriates from the South Indian State of Kerala have immensely contributed to the growth and development of the UAE, a top UAE official said during a meeting with visiting Kerala Chief Minister on Thursday.
“Keralites in the UAE are vital to our economy and society,” said Shaikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance, at the event held at the Indian Social and Cultural Centre (ISC) attended by more than 2,000 people.
“The stress caused by the [recent] floods in Kerala has compelled us to do what we can do to relieve the distress [of Keralites]. Our compassion deepens the closer we are to the victims of the disastrous flood,” he said.
Shailkh Nahyan pointed out that Kerlaites and other Indians have lived in the UAE and the Gulf region for centuries.
“They have always been welcomed here. People of Kerala are in our hearts. I am confident that the resilience and teamwork of Kerala diaspora will help rebuild Kerala,” he said.
Shaikh Nahyan’s words reflected the UAE’s love and affection towards people of Kerala, chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said while addressing the meeting, adding that Kerala will survive the crisis.
“At any cost we will not allow the downfall of our state. Our children in future should not blame us that a calamity terrified us and caused us to lose our direction. Nothing can destroy us. We will be together to build a new Kerala,” Vijayan said.
He repeated his request to his countrymen to donate their one-month’s salary to the Chief Minister’s Disaster Relief Fund (CMDRF).
The chief minister congratulated the senior management staff of the Abu Dhabi-headquartered Lulu Group International who contributed Dh4.98 million to the CMDRF.
M.A. Yousuf Ali, chairman of the Lulu Group, said at the event that he requested his senior colleagues to take up the ‘salary challenge’ proposed by the chief minister and donate their one month’s salary.
“I am fulfilling my duty,” he said while presiding over the public meeting.
Ali, who is also the chairman of the ISC, said the group has more than 48,000 staff across the globe but he asked only the senior staff to make the contribution.
In addition, V. Nanda Kumar, chief communications officer of Lulu Group, said around 200 senior management staff have already contributed the money. He said Ali had earlier announced a total of around Dh10 million in donations for the reconstruction of Kerala. The staff’s contribution is a separate initiative.