Dubai: In the past few days, floods in Kerala have become a cause of grave concern for UAE expatriates from the Indian state. For many, the weekend was spent watching news updates from Kerala while trying to reach their friends and family members in the state.
Indian expatriates make up nearly 27 per cent of the UAE population. Of these, a sizeable number are people from the South Indian state of Kerala. However, distance did not keep Malayalis from helping out the victims in their flood-stricken state. Using the hashtag #KeralaFloods, expatriates in the UAE joined Keralites from across the globe in sending financial and humanitarian aid. But that was not all.
Many came together to use social media to volunteer by collecting relief items and even transporting them. Many others shared emergency numbers and coordinated to connect victims with rescue missions through social media and messaging platforms like WhatsApp.
The people of Kerala have always been and are still 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 pic.twitter.com/ZGom5A6WRy— HH Sheikh Mohammed (@HHShkMohd) August 17, 2018
On Saturday, Facebook user Subramaniya Chidambaram posted: “Volunteers ... have contributed below things for Kerala flood relief. Thanks alone will not be an apt word, but praying for the people who are in Kerala to recover from disaster.”
Dubai-based expat Vijay Babu, from Thiruvananthapuram, has many friends whose houses were submerged in flood waters. He decided to do something about it.
The 30-year-old, with the help of some of his UAE-based social media friends, helped those who are battling the floods. Babu told Gulf News: “I put up a post on my Facebook wall with the idea that we could send some relief items to people in need. Many of my friends from Kerala, who live in different parts of the UAE, have joined in to volunteer. Together, we collected some non-perishable food like rice, lentils etc, clothes, baby food and other essential items. We are in touch with a couple of cargo companies in the UAE, which are providing free service till August 20, to send the items to a trust in Wayanad. The items will then directly be distributed to people in need.”
Twitter user @minicnair posted: “And the Malayali Mum’s Association from Dubai sent one container of essentials yesterday, two today to Kerala.
#KeralaFloodRelief. Thank you ...!”
Another tweep from the UAE @Tiim27 posted a picture of relief goods packed and ready to be sent to Kerala. He posted: “In this difficult period, my prayers for all flood-affected people of Kerala. We know Kerala is [the] most beautiful state of India and people of Kerala are a part of UAE’s success. Let us extend our hands in support in their difficulties.”
Keralites were not the only ones to help. Popular Emirati vlogger, Khalid Al Ameri, uploaded a video on his social media channels, requesting support for victims of the flood.
On Facebook, he wrote: “Heavy monsoons in Kerala, India, have led to some of the worst floods it has ever seen ... tens of thousands are either displaced or homeless, they need our help now.
To people in the UAE: You can donate directly through exchanges ... Stay strong Kerala, we are here for you and we are helping, hold on.”
The video was re-shared close to 80,000 times.
Like many others, Noorul Rahman of Kerala Muslim Cultural Centre in the UAE posted a list of relief items on Twitter: “#KeralaFloodRelief Wish to help Kerala from UAE, please contact.”
A big thanks to @hhshkmohd for his gracious offer to support people of Kerala during this difficult time. His concern reflects the special ties between governments and people of India and UAE.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) August 18, 2018
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) thanked Shaikh Mohammad and tweeted: “A big thanks to @hhshkmohd for his gracious offer to support people of Kerala during this difficult time. His concern reflects the special ties between governments and people of India and UAE.”
Like many other Indians, @Neeraj_SKumar also posted a message of gratitude for UAE leaders. He posted: “UAE President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan has instructed the formation of a national emergency committee to provide assistance to the people affected in Kerala floods. orders formation of emergency committee to provide aid to #Kerala. UAE is full of Malayalis ... This response of [the UAE] government is admirable.”
Twitter user @sonykalloor highlighted: “The way Keralities are united from New York to Dubai to Bangalore and around the world, contributing to the relief fund in Kerala, is amazing. Millions flowing to Chief Minister’s fund, keep it going.”
Exchange houses in the UAE are sending money to the Chief Minister’s Disaster Relief Fund in Kerala, free of service charge. Many cargo companies are also providing free services to transport relief goods.