Samaiya Sakrani with her daughter Rania, 4. Ms Sakrani has set up Premie Parenting a support group. Reem Mohammed / The National
Samaiya Sakrani with her daughter Rania, 4. Ms Sakrani has set up Premie Parenting a support group. Reem Mohammed / The National

Dubai mother sets up support group for families with premature babies

DUBAI // Support groups have forged a network of families to help cope with the heartbreak of watching infants battle life-threatening conditions in hospital.

Mothers reach out to each other for advice on how to deal with the problems faced by premature babies – preemies – to talk about upcoming surgery, or simply for a shoulder to lean on.

“I get several calls or messages from people who are worried their child is not making progress or is having trouble breathing. They want to know what to do,” said Samaiya Sakrani, whose daughter Rania ­Fahad was born at 26 weeks and weighed 900 grams.

“Early intervention is important, and families need more emotional support.

“We need to create awareness that there are people willing to help. It’s a whole world out there that you have no idea about until you’re in it.”

Rania, now 4, was in intensive care for 113 days, on a ventilator for more than two months and required treatment for chronic lung disease and bleeding on the brain.

She went home with an oxygen tank, then returned to hospital for eye surgery.

Parents needed to know the complications a baby could suffer, the high expenses involved and the depression they may grapple with, said Ms Sakrani, who started Preemie Parenting – Dubai, a Facebook and WhatsApp-based support group.

“The first year is really tough. Your child is out of intensive care. You are emotionally pretty depressed because you have gone through a hard time. If you keep it all in and say, ‘Everything is OK,’ you break down inside.

“Once I started talking to others and accepting that we did go through a hard time, it gave me strength.”

Over time, Rania has grown stronger. Petite at four years, her voice is still soft from being on the ventilator for nine weeks, but her mother describes her as “perfectly fine physically and emotionally”.

“In school they say she is a bit behind and she may be a bit ­delayed in terms of speech, but it doesn’t bother me. After all she has been through, as an adult if I had gone through it, I would be delayed as well.”

Maria Settembri remembered every detail of her son Joaquin’s 113-day hospital stay after he was born at 23 weeks, weighing 600g. He underwent a hernia operation, eye surgery and 36 blood transfusions before he was discharged at four months and later required laser surgery for his vocal chords.

From that tentative start, the five-year-old now swims and plays football and tennis.

“He is a super happy boy. There are no major consequences, but I make sure he does exercise for strength and mobility. Things that come natural to others, come slower for him. If I boost him now, it can prevent future problems,” Ms Settembri said.

Now pregnant with her third child, she asked parents to be proactive.

“Get to know the doctors and be on top of everything. It is not enough to be present, you must be there emotionally.”

Joanne Hanson-Halliwell helps mothers to cope via the support group Small and Mighty Babies. The group also helps grieving parents by linking them to others who have suffered the loss of a premature child.

“It’s about giving someone a hand to hold and getting them through the stress,” Ms Hanson­-Halliwell said.

“Some babies in the group were born at 600 or 700 grams, it’s so beautiful to see them outside the hospital as little boys and girls, to see their strength.”


Director: Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah

Starring: Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Joe Pantoliano

Rating: 3.5/5

Anti-semitic attacks

The annual report by the Community Security Trust, which advises the Jewish community on security , warned on Thursday that anti-Semitic incidents in Britain had reached a record high.

It found there had been 2,255 anti-Semitic incidents reported in 2021, a rise of 34 per cent from the previous year.

The report detailed the convictions of a number of people for anti-Semitic crimes, including one man who was jailed for setting up a neo-Nazi group which had encouraged “the eradication of Jewish people” and another who had posted anti-Semitic homemade videos on social media.

The more serious side of specialty coffee

While the taste of beans and freshness of roast is paramount to the specialty coffee scene, so is sustainability and workers’ rights.

The bulk of genuine specialty coffee companies aim to improve on these elements in every stage of production via direct relationships with farmers. For instance, Mokha 1450 on Al Wasl Road strives to work predominantly with women-owned and -operated coffee organisations, including female farmers in the Sabree mountains of Yemen.

Because, as the boutique’s owner, Garfield Kerr, points out: “women represent over 90 per cent of the coffee value chain, but are woefully underrepresented in less than 10 per cent of ownership and management throughout the global coffee industry.”

One of the UAE’s largest suppliers of green (meaning not-yet-roasted) beans, Raw Coffee, is a founding member of the Partnership of Gender Equity, which aims to empower female coffee farmers and harvesters.

Also, globally, many companies have found the perfect way to recycle old coffee grounds: they create the perfect fertile soil in which to grow mushrooms. 

'The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey'

Rating: 3/5

Directors: Ramin Bahrani, Debbie Allen, Hanelle Culpepper, Guillermo Navarro

Writers: Walter Mosley

Stars: Samuel L Jackson, Dominique Fishback, Walton Goggins

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Started: 2023
Co-founders: Arto Bendiken and Talal Thabet
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: AI
Number of employees: 41
Funding: About $1.7 million
Investors: Self, family and friends

Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One

Director: Christopher McQuarrie
Stars: Tom Cruise, Hayley Atwell, Pom Klementieff, Simon Pegg
Rating: 4/5

Henrik Stenson's finishes at Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship:

2006 - 2
2007 - 8
2008 - 2
2009 - MC
2010 - 21
2011 - 42
2012 - MC
2013 - 23
2014 - MC
2015 - MC
2016 - 3
2017 - 8


Battery: 60kW lithium-ion phosphate
Power: Up to 201bhp
0 to 100kph: 7.3 seconds
Range: 418km
Price: From Dh149,900
Available: Now

The Prison Letters of Nelson Mandela
Edited by Sahm Venter
Published by Liveright

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