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).

 

 

170 Stranded Nigerians Return From Dubai

The aircraft conveying the stranded Nigerians from Dubai. Credit: NIDCOM

 

One hundred and seventy Nigerians have returned from Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, taking the number of evacuees from the Arab nation to over 3,000.

The Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) disclosed this in a tweet via its official handle on Friday.

It explained that the evacuees arrived at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos on board the Fly Dubai airlines.

According to the agency, the returnees who arrived on Friday night came on board one of three free flights offered by the UAE government.

The UAE government offered the gesture to Nigerians whose documentation expired since March 1 and were given till August 17 to leave the country.

All evacuees tested negative to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and are now on a mandatory 14-day self-isolation as part of the guidelines stipulated by the Presidential Task Force.

This development comes three days after 292 more Nigerians were evacuated from the UAE.

On Thursday, NIDCOM said 175 Nigerians returned from Uganda.

READ ALSO: Bayelsa Election: Governor Duoye Diri To Know Fate As Tribunal Set For Judgement

As at June 2020, the Federal Government said it had spent N169 million on the evacuation of Nigerians from overseas.

During a briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 on April, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, had directed all Nigerians interested in returning to the country to work with Nigeria’s embassies and high commissions where they are.

“What is important to get out to all Nigerians is that their engagement and communication should be with the embassies, high commissions and not with any other parallel agency, department of government or anything like that.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted regular daily activities in several countries across the world, leaving millions of people stranded in foreign nations.

Against the backdrop of the outbreak, many countries initiated the process of evacuating their citizens back home.

Nigeria is not left out as the Federal Government has facilitated the repatriation of thousands of its citizens stranded abroad.

Among the nations where Nigerians have been brought back home include the United States, the United Kingdom, Egypt, Sudan, France, Ethiopia, and several others.

Stranded Nigerian Woman Delivered Of Quadruplets In Dubai Calls For Help

 

 

COVID-19 induced restrictions on air travel between Nigeria and Dubai has resulted in financial woes for a young Nigerian mother, whose plan to return home before the birth of her children, has failed.

Suliyat Tijani, a 29-year-old indigene of Oyo State, had relocated to Dubai in 2017 to be with her Chef husband, Shakiru.

Life for them had been good enough until they found out their first pregnancy would bring a set of quadruplets.

Mother of Quadruplets, Suliyat Tijani.

 

“When my wife told me she was pregnant, and she went for a scan, I told her she was joking,” Shakiru said to Channels Television.

“I never thought of having four babies, because there’s no money,” the new mother also said.

Delivering the babies in Dubai was not an option they could afford and so they made plans for her to return to Nigeria.

However, COVID-19 restrictions on air travel between Nigeria and Dubai did not make that trip possible in time.

Read Also: Katsina Explosion: Five Children Killed By Military Grenade – Police

Suliyat delivered the babies on July 1, two days before her planned return to Nigeria.

 

One of the quadruplets which Suliyat Tijani gave birth to in Dubai.

 

The couple now face hospital bills of over 30 million naira after she went into labour and delivered the set of quadruplets.

Her husband, Shakiru, who works as a chef in the city, is calling on well-meaning individuals for assistance as his salary has been slashed in half and he has no medical insurance cover for his wife or children.

Meanwhile, a support group has offered to assist the family with 5,000 dirhams even as the young couple still seek more support.

 

The young couple.

Dubai Holds First ‘Real Life’ Conference After COVID-19 Shutdown

The image of Emirati businessman Mohamed Alabba is projected on large screens as he speaks at the first "real life" conference in the Gulf city of Dubai, on July 16, 2020, since the coronavirus protective restrictions were put in place in March. KARIM SAHIB / AFP
The image of Emirati businessman Mohamed Alabba is projected on large screens as he speaks at the first “real life” conference in the Gulf city of Dubai, on July 16, 2020, since the coronavirus protective restrictions were put in place in March. KARIM SAHIB / AFP

 

“Don’t touch the screen!” warned an organiser as participants attempted to print their badges, via barcodes sent to their phones, at Dubai’s first “real life” business conference since the coronavirus shutdown hit in March.

The glitzy emirate hosts dozens of conventions every year, from political events to technology and lifestyle forums, but for months the virus forced the lucrative sector to move from conference halls to computer screens.

Now, 10 days after reopening its doors to tourists, the city that received more than 16.7 million visitors last year has also restarted its conference business, with an event focusing on the artificial intelligence industry.

In a vast hall at the city’s World Trade Centre, until recently converted into a field hospital for coronavirus patients, it was a full house on Thursday as hundreds of attendees at the AI Everything conference occupied rows of chairs spaced far apart under social distancing guidelines.

Dubai's Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al-Maktoum (C) attends the first "real life" conference in the Gulf city on July 16, 2020, since the coronavirus protective restrictions were put in place in March. KARIM SAHIB / AFP
Dubai’s Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al-Maktoum (C) attends the first “real life” conference in the Gulf city on July 16, 2020, since the coronavirus protective restrictions were put in place in March. KARIM SAHIB / AFP

 

Others were outside the hall, listening to the event on screens as they waited for someone to leave their seat so they could enter.

“It’s good to be here, face to face with others,” said Reem Al Hashimi, minister of state for international cooperation, in one of the opening sessions.

“What this pandemic has taught us is that we need to be conscious and careful, but we also need to live our lives, so finding that healthy proper scientific balance is critical.”

The four-hour event looked very different from what the glittering city used to offer pre-COVID — with no crowded foyers or waiters bearing trays of drinks, and packaged energy bars and fruit replacing gourmet buffets.

A badge printing station was set up next to the hall entrance, with organisers in face shields and black suits advising attendees on how to get their credentials without touching anything.

Colourful signs on the floor adorned with smiley faces reminded participants to “keep a safe distance” and told them “don’t forget your mask”.

Dubai is betting that pent-up demand for tourism, and a quick adaptation to life under COVID-19, will see its tourism industry bounce back quickly after the painful shutdown, billing itself as a safe destination with the resources to ward off the virus.

The reopening comes even as the United Arab Emirates, made up of seven sheikhdoms including Dubai, battles coronavirus infection rates that have climbed to more than 55,800 with 335 deaths.

However, the field hospital at the World Trade Centre discharged its last patient on July 8 and closed its doors before turning the wards back into event halls bearing the slogan “Restart Dubai”.

 

AFP

Dubai Counts On Pent-Up Demand For Tourism Comeback

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

 

 

After a painful four-month tourism shutdown that ended this week, Dubai is betting pent-up demand will see the industry quickly bounce back, billing itself as a safe destination with the resources to ward off coronavirus.

The emirate, which had 16.7 million visitors last year, opened its doors to tourists despite global travel restrictions and the onset of the scorching Gulf summer in the hopes the sector will reboot before high season begins in the last quarter of 2020.

Embarking from Emirates flights, where cabin crew work in gowns and face shields, the first visitors arrived on Tuesday to be greeted by temperature checks and nasal swabs, in a city better known for skyscrapers, luxury resorts and over-the-top attractions.

Tourism chief Helal Al Marri said that people may still be reluctant to travel right now, but that data shows they are already looking at destinations and preparing to come out of their shells.

“When you look at the indicators, and who is trying to buy travel… 10 weeks ago, six weeks ago and today look extremely different,” he told AFP in an interview.

“People were worried (but) people today are really searching heavily for their next holiday and that is a very positive sign and I see a very strong comeback.”

The crisis crushed Dubai’s goal to push arrivals to 20 million this year and forced flag carrier Emirates, the largest airline in the Middle East, to cut its sprawling network and lay off an undisclosed number of staff.

But Al Marri, director-general of Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, said that unlike the gloom after the 2008 global financial crisis, the downturn is a one-off “shock event”.

“Once we do get to the other side, as we start to talk about next year and later on, we see very much a quick uptick. Because once things normalise people will go back to travel again,” he said.

– New wish lists –
The reopening comes as the United Arab Emirates, made up of seven sheikhdoms, including Dubai, battles stubbornly high coronavirus infection rates that have climbed to more than 53,500 with 328 deaths.

And as swathes of the world emerge from lockdown, for many travellers their holiday wish lists have shifted from free breakfasts and room upgrades to more pressing issues like hotel sanitation and hospital capacity.

With its advanced medical facilities and infrastructure, Dubai is betting it will be an attractive option for tourists.

“The first thing I’m thinking is — how is the health care system, do they have it under control? Do I trust the government there?” Al Marri said.

“Yes they expect the airline to have precautionary measures, they expect it at the airport. But are they going to a city where everything from the taxi, to the restaurant, to the mall, to the beach has these measures in place? They’re looking at that.”

Tourists arriving in Dubai are required to present a negative test result taken within four days of the flight. If not, they can take the test on arrival, but must self-isolate until they receive the all-clear.

While social distancing and face masks are widely enforced, many restaurants and attractions have reopened with business as usual, even if wait staff wear protective gear and menus have been replaced with QR codes.

“When it comes to Dubai, I think it’s really great to see the fun returning to the city. As you’ve seen, everything’s opened up,” Al Marri said.

 

AFP

Dubai Reopens Doors To Tourists After Long COVID-19 Shutdown

Tourists sunbathe at the beach of the Al Naseem hotel in the Gulf emirate of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, on July 7, 2020. KARIM SAHIB / AFP
Tourists sunbathe at the beach of the Al Naseem hotel in the Gulf emirate of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, on July 7, 2020. KARIM SAHIB / AFP

 

With a “welcome” passport sticker and coronavirus tests on arrival, Dubai reopened its doors to international visitors Tuesday in the hope of reviving its tourism industry after a nearly four-month closure.

But businesses are mainly betting on those already living in the gleaming desert city to energise its ailing economy and serve as a test run before wary foreign holidaymakers return.

“A warm welcome to your second home,” said the sticker applied to passports at Dubai airport, where employees wore hazmat suits and vending machines offered personal protective equipment.

Italian tourist Francesca Conte said on arrival she was worried up until the last minute that her flight would be cancelled.

“When I saw passengers queueing at the gate, I thought today we are not leaving, since the trip to Dubai had already been skipped three times,” Conte said.

She said she felt sad “seeing empty spaces” on the plane and stewards and hostesses “dressed like nurses and doctors”, in their lab coats.

The reopening Tuesday came as the number of COVID-19 cases in the United Arab Emirates climbed to 52,600 included 326 deaths, with millions of foreign workers living in cramped accommodation particularly hard hit.

Incoming tourists are required to present a negative test result taken within four days of the flight. If not, they can take the test on arrival, but must self-isolate until they receive the all-clear.

Tourism has long been the lifeline of the glitzy Gulf emirate, one of the seven sheikhdoms that make up the UAE.

High season starts in October when the scorching heat of the Gulf summer starts to dissipate.

Staycation, daycation

Dubai welcomed more than 16.7 million visitors last year, and before the pandemic crippled global travel, the aim had been to reach 20 million arrivals in 2020.

“We are ready to receive tourists while we take all necessary precautions,” said Talal al-Shanqiti of Dubai’s General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs in a video message tweeted on Sunday.

With scant oil resources compared to its neighbours, Dubai has built the most diversified economy in the Gulf, boasting a reputation as a financial, commercial and tourism hub despite an economic downturn in recent years.

The city-state is known for its mega malls, high-end restaurants and five-star hotels and resorts.

But all have taken a severe hit during the coronavirus outbreak, and Dubai’s GDP in the first quarter of 2020 contracted 3.5 percent following two years of modest growth.

Dubai-based airline Emirates, the largest in the Middle East, has been forced to slash its sprawling network and is believed to have laid off thousands of staff.

Before reopening to international tourists, authorities launched social media campaigns and deployed hundreds of social media “influencers” to tout Dubai’s attractions.

As the hospitality business works out how to create an environment that follows strict hygiene rules but is still worth the hassle for potential foreign clients, hotels are offering Dubai residents “staycation” and “daycation” deals to offset the slump.

‘Plans have changed’

Restarting hospitality by “primarily targeting the domestic market is an important first step in our phased approach towards restoring normalcy in the tourism industry,” said Issam Kazim, CEO of the Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing.

And key to the effort are health and safety measures at hotels to “reassure guests and travellers that Dubai is one of the world’s safest destinations”, he said in a statement last month.

Boosting domestic tourism is also part of the strategy of the UAE’s other main destination, the oil-rich capital Abu Dhabi, which welcomed a record 11.35 million international visitors in 2019.

The UAE’s capital is home to top attractions including an F1 circuit and the Louvre Abu Dhabi museum, which in late June opened its doors to masked, gloved visitors after a 100-day closure.

But the emirate does not share Dubai’s enthusiasm about opening doors to foreign tourists just yet, although those with negative test results are now allowed to enter.

“Plans have changed and we are not expecting to have the same numbers of 2019 this year definitely. It would take another two to three years,” said Ali al-Shaiba, executive director of tourism and marketing for the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism.

“As of today, I can say domestic tourism is what is in our plan. We believe domestic tourism is key now and we don’t see us opening for international travellers very soon,” he told AFP on Monday.

 

AFP

Dubai Reopens Doors To Tourists After Long Shutdown

A man sunbathes along the Marina beach near the Ain Dubai Ferris wheel in the Gulf emirate of Dubai on July 7, 2020. (Photo by Giuseppe CACACE / AFP)
A man sunbathes along the Marina beach near the Ain Dubai Ferris wheel in the Gulf emirate of Dubai on July 7, 2020. (Photo by Giuseppe CACACE / AFP)

 

 

With a “welcome” passport sticker and coronavirus tests on arrival, Dubai reopens its doors to international visitors Tuesday in the hope of reviving its tourism industry after a nearly four-month closure.

But businesses are mainly betting on those already living in the gleaming desert city to energise its ailing economy and serve as a test run before wary foreign holidaymakers return.

“A warm welcome to your second home,” says the sticker applied to passports at Dubai airport, where employees wear hazmat suits and vending machines offer personal protective equipment.

The reopening comes even as the number of COVID-19 cases in the United Arab Emirates climbs to 52,068 included 324 deaths, with millions of foreign workers living in cramped accommodation particularly hard hit.

Incoming tourists are required to present a negative test result taken within four days of the flight. If not, they can take the test on arrival, but must self-isolate until they receive the all-clear.

Tourism has long been the lifeline of the glitzy Gulf emirate, one of the seven sheikhdoms that make up the United Arab Emirates.

High season starts in October when the scorching heat of the Gulf summer starts to dissipate.

Dubai welcomed more than 16.7 million visitors last year, and before the pandemic crippled global travel, the aim had been to reach 20 million arrivals in 2020.

“We are ready to receive tourists while we take all necessary precautions,” said Talal Al-Shanqiti of Dubai’s General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs in a video message tweeted on Sunday.

– Staycation, daycation –
With scant oil resources compared to its neighbours, Dubai has built the most diversified economy in the Gulf, boasting a reputation as a financial, commercial and tourism hub despite an economic downturn in recent years.

The city-state is known for its mega malls, high-end restaurants and five-star hotels and resorts.

But all have taken a severe hit during the coronavirus outbreak, and Dubai’s GDP in the first quarter of 2020 was down by 3.5 percent year-on-year.

Dubai-based airline Emirates, the largest in the Middle East, has been forced to slash its sprawling network and is believed to have laid off thousands of staff.

Before reopening to international tourists, authorities launched social media campaigns and deployed hundreds of social media “influencers” to tout Dubai’s attractions.

But as the hospitality business works out how to create an environment that follows strict hygiene rules but is still worth the hassle for potential foreign clients, hotels are offering Dubai residents “staycation” and “daycation” deals to offset the slump.

– ‘Plans have changed’ –
Restarting hospitality by “primarily targeting the domestic market is an important first step in our phased approach towards restoring normalcy in the tourism industry,” said Issam Kazim, CEO of the Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing.

And key to the effort are health and safety measures at hotels to “reassure guests and travellers that Dubai is one of the world’s safest destinations,” he said in a statement last month.

Boosting domestic tourism is also part of the strategy of the UAE’s other main destination, the oil-rich capital Abu Dhabi, which welcomed a record 11.35 million international visitors in 2019.

The UAE’s capital is home to top attractions including an F1 circuit and the Louvre Abu Dhabi museum, which in late June opened its doors to masked, gloved visitors after a 100-day closure.

But the emirate does not share Dubai’s enthusiasm about opening doors to foreign tourists just yet, although those with negative test results are now allowed to enter.

“Plans have changed and we are not expecting to have the same numbers of 2019 this year definitely. It would take another two to three years,” said Ali Al Shaiba, executive director of tourism and marketing for the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism.

“As of today, I can say domestic tourism is what is in our plan. We believe domestic tourism is key now and we don’t see us opening for international travellers very soon,” he told AFP on Monday.

 

 

-AFP

Hushpuppi Makes First Appearance In Court After Arrest

Ramoni Igbalode aka Hushpuppi, was arrested by Dubai Police in June for fraud, among other crimes.
Ramoni Igbalode aka Hushpuppi, was arrested by Dubai Police in June for fraud, among other crimes.

 

The United States Department of Justice has confirmed that Nigerian cyber-crime suspect, Raymond Abass also known as Hushpuppi made his first appearance in court in Chicago on Friday.

The United State Department of Justice says the 37-year-old is expected to be transferred to Los Angeles in the coming weeks to face criminal charges.

Hushpuppi, a Dubai resident was arrested last month by UAE security agencies for allegedly conspiring to launder hundreds of millions of dollars from business email compromise (BEC) frauds and other scams, including schemes targeting a U.S. law firm, a foreign bank and an English Premier League club.

Hushpuppi was then extradited to the United States and taken into custody by FBI special agents earlier this week.

If convicted of conspiracy to engage in money laundering, Abbas would face a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison.

Read Also: Dubai Police Extradites ‘Hushpuppi’ To United States

While the arrest of Hushpuppi by Dubai Interpol may help to resolve some cybercrimes, it has, on the other hand, also created problems for some Nigerians living in that country.

Nigerian youths and business owners in the UAE say they are at risk of being blacklisted by financial institutions, a move which could make their legitimate transactions in the country problematic.

Dubai Police Extradites ‘Hushpuppi’ To United States

Ramoni Igbalode aka Hushpuppi, was arrested by Dubai Police in June for fraud, among other crimes.
Ramoni Igbalode aka Hushpuppi, was arrested by Dubai Police in June 2020 for fraud, among other crimes.

 

Alleged criminal mastermind Raymond Igbalode Abbas, known as ‘Hushpuppi’ has been extradited from the United Arab Emirates to the United States.

This was revealed in a statement by the Dubai Police on Thursday in which the US Federal Bureau of Investigations extended its gratitude to the UAE crime watchdog for its role in apprehending and extraditing ‘Hushpuppi’.

 

In June, the Dubai Police had arrested Hushpuppi, Olalekan Jacob Ponle, known as ‘Woodberry’, and ten others in an operation tagged ‘Fox Hunt’.

The suspects were accused of “committing crimes outside the UAE, including money-laundering, cyber fraud, hacking, criminal impersonating, scamming individuals, banking fraud and identity theft,” the Dubai Police said.

 

Before his arrest, Hushpuppi had gained fame on social media for his outlandish display of wealth.

The director of Dubai CID, Brigadier Jamal Salem Al Jallaf said the raid that led to his arrest resulted in the confiscation of incriminating documents of a planned fraud on a global scale worth AED 1.6 billion ($ 435 million).

“The team also seized more than AED 150 million ($40.9 million) in cash, 13 luxury cars with an estimated value of AED 25 million ($6.8 million) obtained from fraud crimes, and confiscated 21 computer devices, 47 smartphones, 15 memory sticks, five hard disks containing 119,580 fraud files as well as addresses of 1,926,400 victims”, he said.

After conducting further investigations and analysing confiscated electronic devices, Dubai Police investigators uncovered sensitive information mined by the suspects on individuals and companies overseas including bank accounts and fake credit cards as well as documents and files condemning the gangs’ illegal activities, the Dubai Police said.

350 Stranded Nigerians Return From UAE, Pakistan

The Emirates Airlines plane conveying the 300 evacuated Nigerians from Dubai, the United Arab Emirates arrive the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja on June 19, 2020.

 

The Federal Government has evacuated 300 stranded Nigerians from Dubai, the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

This was confirmed on Friday by the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) via Twitter.

According to the commission, the Nigerians were on-board Emirates Airlines plane.

NIDCOM noted that the repatriated citizens would embark on the 14-day self-isolation period to ascertain their COVID-19 status.

 

“300 Stranded Nigerians in UAE landed in Abuja, Nigeria today, Friday 19th June 2020 via Emirates Airlines.

“All Evacuees are to go on Compulsory 14 days SELF ISOLATION according to the new Protocol by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19,” it said.

READ ALSO: Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, Joins PDP

Meanwhile, another set of 50 stranded Nigerians have returned to the country from Pakistan.

The Pakistan returnees who were onboard the Tarco Air arrived at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja about 0145HRS.

 

Pandemic Gives Dubai Chance To Put Tech To Test

Police officers monitor the streets and receive calls from citizens at the Command and Control Center of Dubai Police in the Gulf emirate, on February 24, 2020. – The novel coronavirus has given the Gulf emirate of Dubai an opportunity to showcase its technological and scientific clout as it seeks to shape its own model for approaching the pandemic. KARIM SAHIB / AFP.

 

From smart police helmets to research labs, the novel coronavirus has given Dubai an opportunity to test its technological and scientific clout as it shapes its approach to the pandemic.

A key part of the glitzy Gulf emirate’s fight is its COVID-19 Command and Control Centre, set up to coordinate the efforts of Dubai’s doctors, epidemiologists and other professionals.

It is hosted within the Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences (MBRU) in Dubai’s Healthcare City, also home to state-of-the-art hospitals, labs and research centres.

“For several years, Dubai has endeavoured to put in place solid digital infrastructure, and this has contributed to the fight against the coronavirus”, said Amer Sharif, who heads the multidisciplinary centre.

It was established at the start of the health crisis by Dubai Crown Prince and social media star Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum.

In one room, young mask-wearing men and women sit at carefully separated desks crunching data on laptops and coordinating with workers on the ground.

The initiative includes a scientific team whose role is “to stay abreast of the latest advances in research and scientific evidence, both in the country and elsewhere in the world”, team head Alawi Alsheikh-Ali told AFP.

– ‘Data and science’ –

The United Arab Emirates has carried out more than 1.6 million coronavirus tests, and has officially declared over 28,700 infections, including 244 deaths.

This high-tech approach, Sharif said, including “the complete digitisation of the health system”, has prevented a greater spread of the virus and made the lockdown easier.

Tom Loney, associate professor of public health and epidemiology at MBRU, said the coronavirus was an opportunity for Dubai to put its capabilities to the test.

“It’s the ability to react, to make quick decisions based on data and science” that sets Dubai apart, said Loney, who is also an adviser to authorities in the city-state.

According to him decisions were made by order of Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, whose portrait is featured on the MBRU building.

Dubai is one of seven emirates in the UAE, a key Gulf state with big technological and scientific ambitions.

The emirate lacks the oil wealth of its neighbours, but has the most diversified economy in the Gulf, building a reputation as a financial, commercial and tourism hub.

The UAE sent an astronaut into space last year, and in July is set to launch the first Arab probe towards Mars, a project sponsored by the emir of Dubai.

– ‘Own model’ –

Many tech options were already at Dubai’s fingertips when the pandemic struck, and the emirate was quick at putting its technology to a variety of uses during the virus crisis.

Police wear smart helmets that take the temperature of passers-by while laboratories make protective masks using 3D printers.

When a night-time curfew begins, Dubai residents — 90 percent of whom are expats — receive a reminder message on their mobile phone in Arabic, English or other languages.

The UAE has regularly announced research advances into the COVID-19 illness, developing several apps to help manage the pandemic.

One of them, Alhosn, which the government has encouraged residents to download, helps track people who are infected with the virus or who may have come in close contact with confirmed cases.

But the use of technology to fight the pandemic has raised concern across the world over government surveillance and privacy risks.

Tech experts and the media have highlighted this issue in the UAE, where some foreign websites and applications are already blocked.

But Sharif pushed back against scepticism.

“Dubai and the Emirates respect privacy, whether it is a question of patient records or smart applications”, he said.

The emirate was creating its “own model” of responding to the health crisis, Sharif added, though authorities were also looking at countries such as South Korea, seen as a positive policy response to the crisis.

“We must follow the developments… but also add to them,” he said.

AFP