Fire At Dubai Port After Loud Explosion

 

 

A fire that broke out on a container ship in Dubai’s main port following a blast has been bought under control with no casualties reported, the emirate’s media office said Thursday.

At least three residents in the area of the blast, the cause of which remains unknown, reported windows and doors in their homes were shaken as a result of the incident.

“A fire caused by an explosion within a container on board a ship at Jebel Ali Port has been brought under control; no casualties have been reported,” the Dubai Media Office wrote on Twitter.

The post was accompanied by video of firefighters tackling the blaze on a large vessel stacked with containers, identical except for their logos, as the flames scattered detritus over the quayside.

An AFP correspondent at the scene said there was a helicopter circling overhead as smoke rose from the tightly secured facility.

The port is capable of handling aircraft carriers and was the US Navy’s busiest port of call outside of the United States in 2017, according to the US’ Congressional Research Service.

Such events are a rarity in the ultra-secure Gulf emirate, one of seven which make up the wealthy United Arab Emirates.

 

A fireball is seen after an explosion at the Jebel Ali port in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, July 7, 2021.

 

– ‘Saw the windows shaking’ –
“I was outside on my balcony. My friend saw something yellow coming (like) the sun. I took the picture and after (there was) a sound,” said intern Clemence Lefaix, who is staying near the blast site and posted a photo of a bright orange light against the night sky in front of apartment buildings.

A resident of Dubai’s Marina district, close to the Jebel Ali port, told AFP they “saw the windows shaking”.

“I have been living here for 15 years and this is the first time I’ve seen and heard this,” they said.

The port of Jebel Ali handled 14.1 million TEU in 2019, a 5.6 percent decline, but still leaving it among the top 10 globally.

There are 8,000 companies based at the Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZA) which contributed a whopping 23 percent of Dubai’s gross domestic product last year. It is the Middle East’s largest trade zone.

The glitzy Gulf emirate of Dubai transformed itself over 50 years from a sleepy port town to a regional travel, trade and financial services centre.

The city state is now home to more than three million people, mostly foreigners, compared with only 15,000 inhabitants in the 1950s.

Unlike Abu Dhabi, the leading member of the UAE that sits on a large wealth of petroleum, Dubai has dwindling oil resources and has worked to develop non-oil industries, diversifying into services.

UAE To Allow Full Foreign Ownership Of Firms

FILES: (Photo by GIUSEPPE CACACE / AFP)

 

The United Arab Emirates announced Wednesday it will lift a cap on non-local ownership and allow full foreign control of business ventures from June 1,

The reform, originally flagged in 2019, will make it easier to do business in the Gulf state and encourage investment, the economy ministry said.

“The amended Commercial Companies Law aims at boosting the country’s competitive edge and is a part of UAE government efforts to facilitate doing business,” said Economy Minister Abdulla bin Touq al-Marri.

The decision abolishes a longstanding law that limits foreign ownership to just 49 percent.

To dodge the limit, some of the seven emirates that make up the UAE — including Dubai — have for years established free trade zones where foreigners can own up to 100 percent of their business.

The UAE’s economy is the second-largest in the Arab world, behind Saudi Arabia.

It counts as the most diversified, particularly thanks to Dubai which gains 95 percent of its income from outside the oil industry.

The capital Abu Dhabi sits on the majority of the UAE’s vast oil reserves.

The country ranks 16th in the World Bank’s index on the ease of doing business.

The decision opens up 13 major economic sectors to unrestricted foreign investment, including renewable energy, agriculture, transport and e-commerce.

In 2019, the UAE was the top destination for foreign direct investment in the Arab world, attracting nearly $13.8 billion, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

AFP

At Least 8 Dead In Fire At Yemen Migrant Facility – IOM

map of Yemen, Al-Qaeda militants in Yemen executed a dentist accused of spying

 

At least eight migrants and guards were killed, and scores more injured, in a fire on Sunday at a holding facility in Yemen’s capital, the International Organization for Migration said.

“Eight people confirmed dead, the total death toll is reported to be much higher,” tweeted Carmela Godeau, IOM’s regional director for the Middle East and North Africa.

“IOM is responding particularly with emergency health care for over 170 injured, more than 90 of them are in a serious condition.”

Godeau said that it “remains unclear” how the fire at the centre in Sanaa started, adding: “This is just one of the many dangers that migrants have faced during the past six years of the crisis in Yemen.”

It is believed thousands of migrants are stranded in Yemen, where a years-long conflict has claimed tens of thousands of lives and displaced millions in what the UN calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Every year thousands of migrants make perilous boat journeys from the Horn of Africa to the war-torn nation, many with the aim of travelling overland to Gulf countries in search of work.

Last week, at least 20 people drowned after smugglers threw dozens of migrants overboard during a crossing between Djibouti and Yemen, according to IOM.

In Transient Dubai, Expats Struggle To Find Love

(FILES) In this file photo taken on January 14, 2021, a woman looks at a view of the Marina Beach in the Gulf emirate of Dubai.  (Photo by GIUSEPPE CACACE / AFP)

 

 

In Dubai, known for its luxury haunts and parties, Lindsey knows she has reasons to be happy. But like many young expatriates, she’s sure her quest for a partner will force her to leave.

“Even if I had the best job, I wouldn’t stay,” said the curly-haired 32-year-old French teacher who is keen on starting a family.

“I have friends who have been here for years and all are single,” Lindsey said as she ate sushi just ahead of Valentine’s day on a restaurant terrace at the foot of the sprawling Dubai Mall.

“Even if I’m having fun, have friends and am not alone, I’m wasting my time.”

With little of the oil wealth of its sister emirate Abu Dhabi, Dubai has built its economy with the help of legions of expatriates, who work in sectors including finance, communications, technology and hospitality.

More than 90 percent of the emirate’s 3.3 million population are foreigners.

Many work menial jobs that keep the city humming, but large numbers of Arab, European and American residents form the middle class.

After being in Dubai — one of seven emirates comprising the United Arab Emirates — for two years, Lindsey has resorted to using the popular Tinder dating app.

But she is put off by the frequent ostentatious displays of muscular torsos and luxury cars.

“It’s possible that I won’t find anyone in France either, but I think there’s a greater chance there,” she said of her home nation.

– Have fun and go –
Clinical psychologist Thoraiya Kanafani said that behind the facade of all-day brunches and throbbing nightclubs, many of her clients in Dubai suffer from “a sense of loneliness”.

While other large globalised cities such as New York, London and Paris also present difficulties in establishing lasting relationships, she said that in Dubai — a temporary stop for many — the situation is exacerbated.

“The perception that Dubai tends to be a transitory city plays a big role in people’s unwillingness or difficulty in committing,” Kanafani told AFP, adding that heartache can lead to long-term consequences like depression, anxiety and substance abuse.

Waed, 34, a Palestinian design consultant who has lived in Dubai her whole life, said she has been unsuccessful in finding love after she divorced in 2018.

She got married in 2008, she said, before “trashy expats” started flocking to the emirate and people became obsessed with the superficiality of luxury living.

“Dating in Dubai? If anyone says it’s good, tell them no,” she told AFP, adding that she was able to tolerate Tinder for about four days before dumping it.

“I’m sure you’ll find some people who want to commit, but a lot of them come here for a couple of years to make some money, build a career, have a good time and then leave.”

Many of Waed’s friends have left Dubai and found love in other countries despite a “very good life in DIFC” — a lavish business district full of Instagrammable bars and restaurants.

“One of them has a boyfriend and a dog now, the other one got engaged, and another has met someone,” she said, adding they had opted for men who didn’t aspire to Dubai stereotypes of glamour and success.

“In Dubai you need to look perfect, to live up to standard, to have a nice car, to be able to afford fine dining… to put up a show.”

– ‘We need more’ –
The gay community has also not been spared the difficulties of dating in the Muslim emirate, where authorities tolerate the community so long as it remains discreet.

A handful of bars are known to be gay-friendly and, while dating apps for the LGBTQ community are blocked by the government, they can easily be accessed via VPN.

“Most of the guys I’ve had some kind of relationship with, I met through dating apps,” said one 35-year-old Brazilian expat with a bright smile.

However, he too has trouble finding a long-term relationship.

People “want to be free in case there’s somebody better out there and, as they don’t see themselves living in Dubai long term, they prefer not to commit,” he told AFP.

An executive at a multinational company, he said he will stay in the city “as long as it makes sense for my career” but in the end the search for a partner could see him move on.

“We need more than just our work to feel complete,” he said.

Dubai Limits Entertainment Activity As COVID-19 Cases Surge

Women wearing masks for protection against the coronavirus, walk in the Mall of Dubai on April 28, 2020, after the shopping center was reopened as part of moves in the Gulf emirate to ease lockdown restrictions imposed last month.
(Karim Sahib | AFP)

 

Dubai clamped down on its entertainment scene Thursday and suspended non-essential surgery in hospitals after a spike in coronavirus cases in the UAE as the glitzy emirate stays open to tourists.

One of the seven emirates that make up the UAE, Dubai has branded itself this winter as an open, sunny and quarantine-free escape.

But Covid-19 infections have surged since the New Year and the UAE registered a daily record of 3,529 new cases on Thursday, a new high for the 10th consecutive day.

“To ensure public health and safety, all entertainment permits issued will be on hold effective immediately,” Dubai Media Office tweeted.

“Dubai Tourism will continue to evaluate the progress with the health authorities.”

It said more than 200 cases of non-compliance with coronavirus guidelines had been recorded and around 20 establishments closed in the past three weeks.

Authorities have also instructed hospitals to suspend all non-essential surgery until February 19.

While mask-wearing and social distancing have been in force, restaurants, hotels and mega-malls have remained open in tourism-reliant Dubai.

Businesses contacted by AFP on Thursday said they will continue to serve customers but without live entertainment such as disc jockeys and dancers.

According to Emirati health officials, the UAE has already inoculated over two million of its approximately 10 million population.

Dubai reopened its doors for tourism in July last year.

Posts of sports and media celebrities at Dubai’s multitude of beach clubs and cocktail bars have flooded social media over Christmas and New Year.

Fellow emirate Abu Dhabi, which has large oil reserves and so is less dependent on tourism, has taken a more conservative approach, generally requiring quarantine on arrival.

But tourists can freely enter Dubai with a negative PCR test in their home countries — and possibly another upon arrival, depending on the place of departure.

Its airline Emirates offers free travel insurance with every ticket purchased, including hospitalisation and repatriation costs for coronavirus.

Tourism has long been an economic mainstay of Dubai, which welcomed more than 16 million visitors in 2019 before the pandemic struck.

The UAE has recorded a total of more than 263,000 cases, including 762 deaths.

Britain has dropped the UAE from its “travel corridor” list of quarantine-exempted countries because of its rising cases.

Escaping COVID-19 Lockdowns, Tourists Flock To Dubai

Israeli tourists, mask-clad due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, visit al-Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood of Dubai on January 11, 2021.
Karim SAHIB / AFP

 

As much of the world tightens lockdowns to stem coronavirus, Dubai has flung its doors open, branding itself as a sunny, quarantine-free escape — despite a sharp rise in cases.

While mask-wearing and social distancing are strictly enforced, life in the tourism-reliant emirate looks much like normal, with its restaurants, hotels and mega-malls open for business.

Images of sports stars and television personalities enjoying life at beach clubs and cocktail bars have flooded social media — sometimes to disapproval back home.

Emirates, which restored its network to about three quarters of pre-pandemic levels, is again operating A380 super-jumbos – the world’s largest commercial airliner — ferrying in visitors from Britain and Russia.

Russian tourist, Dmitriy Melnikov, said he came to Dubai because his choices were otherwise limited, with many destinations in partial or full lockdown.

“I am not scared,” the 30-year-old told AFP. “If you look at people here, everyone has a mask, and I think it’s cool.”

But the downside to becoming one of the world’s most open destinations has been a sharp rise in coronavirus cases.

Daily detected cases hover in the mid-3,000s across the United Arab Emirates, which has a population of under 10 million, with 745 deaths from Covid-19 since the pandemic began.

“There are significant risks in Dubai remaining so open,” said Scott Livermore, chief economist at Oxford Economics Middle East.

“A renewed outbreak of Covid-19 would set the recovery back quite some way.”

 

– ‘Willing to take the risk’ –

With a negative PCR test in their home countries — and possibly another upon arrival, depending on the place of departure — tourists can freely enter Dubai, where winter temperatures average a pleasant 25 degrees Celsius (77 degrees Fahrenheit).

The neighbouring emirate of Abu Dhabi, which with large oil reserves is less dependent on tourism, has taken a much more conservative approach, generally requiring quarantine on arrival.

In the Al Fahidi historical neighbourhood in Dubai, mask-clad tourists walk through alleyways, taking pictures of the recreation of life a century ago.

Hand sanitisers and floor stickers warning people to maintain their distance are everywhere, while most restaurants have replaced their menus with digital QR barcodes, that can be displayed on a smartphone.

“Before the coronavirus, tour groups were up to 100 or 250 visitors with each tour guide, but now things are different, only 20 visitors maximum for each tour guide,” said the district’s director Nasser Juma bin Sulaiman.

Andi Pitman, from the US state of Alabama, said it was her first trip abroad since the start of the pandemic.

“We are very excited to be here and a little nervous, but happy to be out again,” she told AFP, strolling through Al-Fahidi with her husband and two children.

“None of us have had the vaccine yet, but we have small kids that need to be out and need to see the world, so we’re willing to take the risk.”

Sophia Amouch, from France, said she was not too concerned about the rise in cases in the UAE.

“Everything is run better here,” the 25-year-old told AFP, adding that she felt “safer in Dubai, where everyone abides by all the measures.”

– ‘Growth strategy’ –

Tourism has long been an economic mainstay of Dubai, which welcomed more than 16 million visitors in 2019.

Before the pandemic, the aim was to reach 20 million by 2020. The economy — the most diversified in the Gulf — was decimated by the crisis.

The government was counting on the six-month Dubai Expo 2020 global trade fair — delayed by a year and now set to open in October — to attract millions of visitors and boost the economy.

Now it is seeking to find what benefits it can from the crisis.

“Dubai seems to be positioning itself as the destination of choice for those wanting to escape lockdown conditions and have a winter break, especially given ski resorts in Europe are largely closed,” said Livermore.

“This is a growth strategy in its own right, but the more successful Dubai can be in achieving this aim, the more benefits will spill over for when Expo opens.”

Ahead of the Expo, authorities are mounting a huge vaccination campaign, which has seen 14 percent of the population inoculated.

“Travel and tourism is very important to Dubai,” Livermore said. “The sector is crucial for generating a sustainable recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

“It is essential the city remains open and connected, but critically keeps Covid-19 in check.”

-AFP

Dubai Cuts 2021 Budget As Pandemic Impacts Economy

A picture taken on March 28, 2020 shows a deserted street in the Emirate city of Dubai amid the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak. KARIM SAHIB / AFP

 

Dubai said Sunday it expects to cut its budget to $15.5 billion in 2021 after its economy was impacted by a plunge in tourism and other sectors amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The emirate, one of the seven that make up the United Arab Emirates, had posted a record $18.1 billion budget for 2020.

“The newly-announced budget takes into account the exceptional economic conditions of the fiscal year 2020 and the repercussions of the Covid-19 pandemic on the global economy,” said a statement by the Dubai Media Office.

Dubai foresees a deficit for the fifth year in a row, of $1.3 billion in 2021. In 2019, it had forecast a $700 million deficit for this year.

The emirate, which depends heavily on tourism and retail services, closed its border for several months due to the pandemic, resulting in a 10.8 percent GDP plunge in the first half of the year.

According to government estimates published earlier this week, the economy will likely contract 6.2 percent this year but is expected to see four percent growth in 2021.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: EU Begins Vaccinations To End Pandemic

The new budget “confirms Dubai’s ability to deal with the crisis, restore the pace of economic growth, strengthen social benefits and essential services,” the media office said.

The government was counting on the six-month Dubai Expo 2020 global trade fair — which was scheduled for October but postponed by one year — to attract millions of visitors.

Tourism has long been an economic mainstay of Dubai, which welcomed more than 16 million visitors last year. Before the pandemic, the aim was to reach 20 million this year.

Dubai is renowned for its skyscrapers, including the world’s tallest building, Burj Khalifa, but its key property sector has been hit since 2014 by lower oil prices.

 

UAE To Grant Infectious Disease Experts, Others ‘Golden’ 10-Year Residence Visa

A picture taken on January 8, 2018 shows the skyline of Dubai with the Burj al-Arab in the foreground and Burj Khalifa (L) in the background.
GIUSEPPE CACACE / AFP

 

The United Arab Emirates said on Sunday it will grant all doctors and infectious disease experts living in the country a 10-year visa, who are helping to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

Foreigners in the UAE, like most Gulf countries, are generally only given limited residence visas tied to their current employment, and long-term residency is difficult to obtain.

But to attract wealthy business people and highly skilled workers, the UAE last year launched the “Golden” 10-year visa programme, which is now being expanded.

Those eligible include holders of doctorate degrees, medical doctors, and computer, electronics, programming, electrical and biotechnology engineers, tweeted Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum.

READ ALSO: SpaceX Launches Four Astronauts To ISS

“We are keen to embrace talent that drives future development and this is only the beginning,” said Sheikh Mohammed, who is also the ruler of Dubai, which has the most diversified economy in the Gulf.

Students from accredited universities who are getting top grades could also qualify, he said, along with those holding specialised degrees in artificial intelligence, big data and epidemiology.

The scheme last year drew in some 6,800 investors, in a windfall worth $27 billion for the economy.

Foreigners account for 90 per cent of the population of some 10 million in the oil-rich UAE, the Arab world’s second-largest economy.

The country has so far recorded more than 150,000 cases of the coronavirus, including 530 deaths.

A months-long lockdown and the impact on tourism and business has done serious damage to the economy, which was already slumping in recent years due to low oil prices.

The “Golden Visa” was the first such scheme in the Gulf, which keeps tight control on residency.

Similar programmes have been launched in other countries that seek to diversify their economies such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Riyadh said in June 2019 that it will offer permanent residency for 800,000 riyals ($213,000) and a one-year renewable residency costing 100,000 riyals ($27,000), allowing expats to do business and buy property without a Saudi sponsor.

Meanwhile, Doha has recently flung open its property market to foreigners, with a scheme giving those purchasing homes or stores the right to longer-term or permanent residency permits.

AFP

Dubai Introduces Facial Recognition On Public Transport


A handout image provided by United Arab Emirates News Agency (WAM) shows Crown Prince of Dubai Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum (L) during the opening of the smart simulation training station in the Gulf emirate, on October 25, 2020.
WAM / AFP

 

Dubai is introducing a facial recognition system on public transport to beef up security, officials said Sunday, as the emirate prepares to host the global Expo exhibition.

“This technology has proven its effectiveness to identify suspicious and wanted people,” said Obaid al-Hathboor, director of Dubai’s Transport Security Department.

The emirate already operates a biometric system using facial recognition at its international airport.

Dubai, which sees itself as a leading “smart city” in the Middle East, has ambitions to become a hub for technology and artificial intelligence.

Both sectors will be on show when it opens the multi-billion-dollar Expo fair.

“We aspire to raise our performance by building on our current capabilities, to ensure a high level of security in metro stations and other transport sectors,” said Hathboor.

Earlier this week, under the watch of Dubai’s Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, the city’s police used facial recognition in a simulated scenario to identify gunmen launching an attack on a metro station.

A special police unit, trained in the United States, helped “evacuate” commuters from the station in the mock attack, before working in tandem with a control centre to apprehend the suspects.

Members of the special unit will be sent to major metro stations during Expo 2020.

The six-month event was delayed by one year due to coronavirus, and is now set to open in October 2021.

It was expected to attract 15 million visitors before the global economy and transport systems were disrupted by the pandemic.

Jamal Rashed, of Dubai Police’s Transport Security Department, said the facial recognition technology will be rolled out in the coming months in all metro stations.

Other technology already in use to combat the spread of the coronavirus, such as helmets with thermal cameras and smart glasses, will also be used to identify and manage large crowds.

“It took at least five hours to identify a suspect before,” said Rashed. “With this technology, it takes less than a minute.”

But while the technology to identify individuals has simplified lives, such as being used for unlocking phones, it has also raised concerns over privacy.

Berlin-based advocacy group AlgorithmWatch says that at least 10 European police forces use facial recognition technology — a trend that privacy and rights groups are concerned about.

China has also been criticised for the facial recognition systems in its public surveillance network.

AFP

Dubai Gets Ready To Go Kosher After Israel Peace Deal

A picture taken on January 8, 2018 shows the skyline of Dubai with the Burj al-Arab in the foreground and Burj Khalifa (L) in the background.
GIUSEPPE CACACE / AFP

 

At the plush Armani hotel in the shadow of the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest tower, a rabbi switches on the stoves at what is billed as Dubai’s first kosher restaurant.

With the ink still fresh on the United Arab Emirates’ landmark normalisation accord with Israel, restaurants and caterers are rushing to prepare for what they hope will be a flood of Jewish visitors arriving on new direct flights.

The city-state welcomed more than 16 million visitors in 2019 and expected to reach a record 20 million this year, although that was before the coronavirus hit.

It reopened its doors to tourists again in July after a painful four-month shutdown, but business is slow.

Under the normalisation deal, the Emirates and Israel will establish air links — likely to begin in January — and a visa regime that will allow residents to travel for business and pleasure.

But before then, businesses hoping to cash in on the new market must overcome challenges including building kosher kitchens, training staff and sourcing appropriate foodstuffs.

“We have been training our staff for months,” said Fabien Fayolle, the chef at the upscale 40-seat Armani/Kaf, one of a cluster of restaurants in the luxury hotel.

“In this kitchen we teach them what they can use and what they can’t do.”

“The idea for us to open this restaurant is to be able to provide a five-star experience to Jewish people or anyone who wants to try kosher food. It didn’t make any sense to make ‘home cooked’ food. We wanted to give more of an experience,” he told AFP.

Until local suppliers begin servicing the new market in the UAE though, “our main challenge will be obtaining the ingredients,” he said of the lavishly priced international menu which includes items adapted to make them compatible with kosher rules.

– Hi-tech kosher –
As well as requiring a Jewish person to switch on the cooking stoves and supervise a restaurant kitchen, the rules governing kosher food prohibit consumption of meat from certain animals and sea creatures, as well as the mixing of meat and dairy products.

Much like halal rules for Muslims, animals must be slaughtered in a prescribed way.

Rabbi Levi Duchman, who certified the Armani/Kaf, said he has received requests from “dozens of restaurants in the Emirates that want to offer kosher dishes”.

At the Dubai restaurant, the stoves can be turned on by a rabbi remotely using a mobile application, and the cooking monitored by cameras.

Duchman said the halal tradition, which governs the Muslim diet and shares rules with the kosher approach, including a ban on eating pork, made it “easier to explain the rules of kosher in the Emirates”.

– Long way to go –
Elli Kriel is the pioneer of kosher cuisine in the Emirates, after moving to Dubai eight years ago from South Africa and realising she needed to find kosher products for her home kitchen.

She has been running Elli’s Kosher Kitchen for the past two years, born out of the need for Jewish travellers to remain observant while in the UAE.

Her business got underway in November 2018 when she was asked to provide meals for rabbis attending an interfaith meeting in the capital Abu Dhabi.

“From there, word spread and I started getting more and more requests,” she said.

“The challenge of running a kosher kitchen in the UAE is that.. there is high demand” following the normalisation agreement. “But the industry is not really set up for that — it is really hard to get a lot of products, especially the meats and the cheeses,” she said.

However, import channels are now being established, Kriel added.

“And in terms of actually opening a kitchen, you can open one but then you need to have a rabbi with you and there aren’t many here, so we had to bring one in for this specific task,” she said of the rabbi who supervises her kitchen full-time.

While the speed of the rapprochement between the two countries caught everyone by surprise, entrepreneurs have been quick to start filling the space.

Just two days after the signing of the accord in Washington, Dubai-based Emirates Airlines unveiled plans to produce kosher meals in collaboration with a company owned by Ross Kriel — Elli’s husband who is one of the leaders of the Jewish community in the UAE.

The Middle East’s largest airline previously used suppliers in Thailand for kosher meals on its international flights.

From the new year it will produce them at a dedicated facility in the UAE, expected to be operating in time for the inauguration of direct flights.

Aisha Buhari Returns From UAE Medical Trip, Advocates Improved Healthcare Services

This picture, released on August 22, 2020, shows the First Lady, Aisha Buhari, arriving the country from Dubai.
This picture, released on August 22, 2020, shows the First Lady, Aisha Buhari, arriving the country from Dubai.

 

Nigeria’s First Lady, Aisha Buhari, on Saturday announced her return from medical treatment in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), while calling for healthcare providers to improve the capacity of the country’s health sector and reduce foreign medical trips.

In a statement signed by her and obtained by Channels Television, the First Lady said healthcare providers should take advantage of the Federal Government’s N100bn credit support for the health sector in order to ramp up capacity.

Channels Television had earlier reported Mrs. Buhari’s exit from the country on August 8, although her office did not confirm the news at the time.

Officials of the Nigerian Airforce pose with First Lady, Aisha Buhari, in this photo released on August 22, 2020.
Officials of the Nigerian Airforce pose with First Lady, Aisha Buhari, in this photo released on August 22, 2020.

 

In her Saturday statement, Mrs Buhari thanked Nigerians for their prayers and well-wishes and also extended gratitude to the men and women of the Nigerian Airforce who facilitated her journey back to Nigeria.

 

READ MRS BUHARI’S FULL STATEMENT:

I want to use this opportunity to thank all Nigerians for their prayers and well wishes while I was away for medical treatment in the United Arabs Emirates (UAE). I am well now and fully recovered and had since returned back home, Nigeria.

On our way back, the Nigerian Airforce Flight encountered a violent clear air turbulence which was navigated safely and professionally by the Captain and crew of the Flight.

I want to commend and appreciate the courage and professionalism of the Captain and his crew, the wonderful gallant service men and women of the entire Nigerian Airforce for their dedication to duty and the quality of maintainance of its Fleet.

I recall hosting the private healthcare Providers earlier in the year and we had a very productive engagement where the issue of building the capacity of Nigeria health sector was the major focus, and funding was discovered to be the major challenge.

I therefore call on the healthcare providers to take the advantage of the Federal Government’s initiative through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) guidelines for the operation of NGN100 Billion Credit Support for the Healthcare Sector as was released recently contained in a circular dated March 25, 2020 to the Commercial Banks. This will no doubt help in building and expanding the capacity of the Nigerian health sector and ultimately reduce medical trips and tourism outside the Country.

Once again, I thank our frontline workers, and all Nigerians for their steadfast as we navigate the challenges facing the entire world.

Aisha Muhammadu Buhari
First Lady, Federal Republic of Nigeria
August 22, 2020

Dubai Ruler Sends Medical Supplies To Nigeria

This picture, released by the Dubai Media Office on August 15, 2020, shows cargo being loaded into a plane apparently headed for Nigeria and Sudan.
This picture, released by the Dubai Media Office on August 15, 2020, shows cargo being loaded into a plane apparently headed for Nigeria and Sudan.

 

The Ruler of Dubai has ordered 14 tonnes of medical supplies and 20 tonnes of food supplies to Nigeria and Sudan, the Dubai Media Office said on Saturday.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum “orders humanitarian aid flight to Sudan and Nigeria carrying 14 tonnes of medical supplies, 20 tonnes of food supplies,” the press office said in a tweet.

The Nigerian government is yet to confirm the reception of the supplies or the date it is expected in the country.

 

The supplies, a statement on the Ruler’s website noted, was to help Nigeria fight the pandemic.

On August 11, the United States Government also handed over 200 modern ventilators to the Nigerian government to aid the latter’s fight against the pandemic.

Meanwhile, 170 Nigerians returned from the United Arab Emirates to Nigeria on Saturday, taking the number of evacuees from the Arab nation to over 3,000 amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM).