In times of crisis, strong leadership and rational decision-making are integral to saving lives and finding durable solutions. As the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread, the need for these qualities becomes increasingly apparent. The UAE, for its part, has taken significant action against the virus, and the country’s leaders have spoken directly to the people to address their concerns.
In a meeting of senior officials, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, has assured citizens and residents alike that the UAE has enough supplies of food and medicine to weather the global health crisis – a reassurance that ought to allay the fears that lead to panic-buying of basic goods and supplies.
Sheikh Mohamed delivered the same message in a series of tweets, where he also thanked medical workers, who have been “on the front line of our defences".
The UAE is taking precautions to keep its people safe and their livelihoods afloat at a time when the pandemic has taken a toll on both global health and the global economy. The latest of these measures is a Dh100 billion economic stimulus package launched by the UAE Central Bank. From supporting businesses to easing the daily living costs of ordinary people, these measures have taken into account the concerns of many about the impact of this pandemic. Moreover, measures have been taken to ensure the safety of all those in the UAE. Many evening social venues and tourist sites have been closed in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and schools have been shut down for four weeks to practise social distancing, a precaution that has proven effective in East Asia. The UAE has taken a steady but firm approach in dealing with the virus for weeks, which allowed it to tackle the situation early on.
This strain of coronavirus, first detected in December, has infected over 185,000 people worldwide, over 80,000 recovered and killed more than 7,000. The UAE has only recorded 98 cases of the virus, 26 recovered and, thus far, no deaths.
While China and South Korea had been the hardest hit countries at the onset of the pandemic, the number of new cases has drastically decreased in the past month, as the two nations took steps to contain the virus. Chinese authorities have quarantined whole cities and South Korea is enforcing social distancing.
Sheikh Mohamed said the country “has benefitted from the experience of other advanced countries, like Singapore, South Korea and China” and pointed out that Emirati authorities “are still maintaining transparent channels of coordination with them".
International co-operation and solidarity are key to tackling global crises, especially in the case of pandemics, which know no borders. For instance, Dubai has served as a hub for the World Health Organisation to send live-saving medical supplies to Iran, and the UAE’s air force has aided in these deliveries. WHO Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has thanked the UAE repeatedly for its work, most recently on Tuesday tweeting out a message of thanks to the country and to Sheikh Mohamed, stating “solidarity among international communities is of the utmost necessity”. Other countries are also doing their part, including China delivering crucial aid to Italy and Spain.
In times of growing political polarisation, responsible leaders are setting their qualms aside, and presenting a united front against the virus. This spirit of solidarity and collaboration must persist in the weeks and months to come.