Coronavirus: the UAE companies and businessmen helping fight Covid-19

From cash donations to free services, companies and businesspeople are making contributions to the fight against the deadly virus

Dubai, U.A.E., September 27, 2018.  Khalaf Al Habtoor portraits.
Victor Besa/ The National
Section:  NA
Reporter:  Shireena al Nuwais

Some of the UAE’s biggest companies and leading businessmen have stepped up to lend a helping hand in the country’s fight against coronavirus.

From hotels and business groups to individual donations, Emiratis and UAE-based businessmen have announced contributions to help stop the spread of the deadly disease.

As the world faces major health challenges, it is critical that everyone joins forces to overcome this crisis period

On Thursday, Emirati tycoon Khalaf Al Habtoor, chief executive of Al Habtoor Group, one of the largest conglomerate corporations in the UAE, said he would donate 50 ambulance vehicles and a medically-equipped building to be used for quarantine purposes.

He also announced plans to establish an integrated virology laboratory for medical research to support global efforts in the fight against the virus.

“As the world faces major health challenges, it is critical that everyone joins forces to overcome this crisis period,” Mr Al Habtoor said.

Khurran Shroff, chairman of Dubai’s IBC Group, a real estate and technology investment company, pledged $5 million to help contain the pandemic – which has now infected more than 245,000 and killed more than 10,000 worldwide.

He also announced he would join Vaxbio, as a strategic adviser, to help the biotechnology company, based in Oxford, UK, launch an affordable vaccine for Covid-19.

“We should be ready with the vaccine in the summer, especially if we get fast-tracked by the British Patent Office, and are adequately supported by resources,” said Mr Shroff.

His contribution stands alongside donations from other leaders of the global business community, such as Alibaba founder Jack Ma, billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates, and Hong Kong's richest man Li Ka-Shing, who have collectively pledged more than $100 billion to the efforts to help flatten the curve of this outbreak.

Companies have also offered their facilities to health authorities to contain the spread of the virus.

Emirates Palace Hotel Company said it would commit staff and logistical capabilities to support the UAE, in co-operation with the National Emergency, Crisis and Disaster Management Authority.

It said it would offer transportation and cleaning services to support the precautionary measures being taken by the UAE government.

“A number of employees at the Emirates Palace have been trained and qualified to deliver support services, and are ready to assist teams across the country,” the Abu Dhabi hotel said in a statement.

On Thursday, Al Futtaim Group announced a Dh100m fund to help its mall tenants in Dubai Festival City and Festival Plaza, ease their financial burden.

The fund, which will cover up to three months' rent relief for eligible tenants across the group's malls, seeks to aid the recovery of their businesses in the UAE.
Malls in the UAE have experienced a decrease in footfall after the government called on the public to avoid crowded areas.
"Al Futtaim Group closely understands the problems faced by businesses and investors in challenging economic conditions," said Omar Al Futtaim, vice chairman of the group.
"We earnestly hope this support will help our mall tenants recover and restore their business health rapidly."