Hello and welcome to Emirati, a monthly newsletter from The National.
More than 25,400 people have been killed in Gaza since the war with Israel started on October 7.
The crossing of another grim milestone serves only to highlight the worsening humanitarian crisis faced by the Palestinian people, as a harrowing conflict rages on.
For tens of thousands more who have survived the war, their world will never be the same.
But even in the darkest of times, embattled Gazan families cling to the hope they are not facing such adversity alone.
The UAE is among those friendly nations seeking to offer solace and sanctuary.
About 1,000 Palestinians, including many children, have found respite in Emirates Humanitarian City (EHC) in Abu Dhabi.
They are receiving psychological support and have been afforded opportunities in education, as well as a crucial safe haven, while their homeland remains under heavy bombardment.
I spoke to Palestinian patients staying at the EHC, who are carrying the mental and physical wounds of war, as they strive to rebuild lives forever changed.
Their stories are heartbreaking and distressing to read, but offer an important insight into the harsh realities of war which they and many of their fellow Gazans have endured.
Thank you for reading,
Shireena Al Nowais
Hope amid horrors of war: Survivors of Gaza conflict find sanctuary in Abu Dhabi
A humanitarian compound in Abu Dhabi is offering an unlikely lifeline to survivors of the conflict in Gaza.
About 1,000 Palestinians, including children, have found respite in Emirates Humanitarian City (EHC).
Offering psychological support and educational opportunities, the city has become a sanctuary for those whose lives have been irrevocably altered by the war in Gaza.
The National spoke to Palestinian patients staying at the EHC, each clinging on to hope despite the harrowing experiences that led them here.
Mohamed Elmadhoun, 18, has had a prosthetic leg fitted. He was at his grandfather’s house in Gaza when they received the news early in the morning that they had to move to a safer place.
As they headed to a safer location, air strikes hit, killing his mother and wounding him in the leg.
At hospital, Mohamed said doctors inserted steel rods and cauterised the wound to stop the bleeding. They proceeded to amputate his leg a few weeks later.
“There was no sterilisation or any anaesthesia,” he said. "My dressings were rarely changed and the pain was unbearable."
Mohamed arrived in the UAE on December 8 with his father and sister, who were also wounded.
Did you know?
The UAE has sent more than 1.6 million items of warm clothing and blankets to the Gaza Strip to help alleviate the suffering of embattled Palestinians grappling with the continuing conflict and harsh winter conditions.
Gaza mother paralysed in Israeli air strike grateful to be alive
A Palestinian mother of six receiving treatment in the UAE after being paralysed by shrapnel from an Israeli air strike said it was “a blessing” she and her family survived the terrifying ordeal.
Nesreen Al Muqayed, 48, was sleeping at home in the Gaza Strip with her children when she was awoken by screams as a rocket blasted into their building.
She was struck by flying shrapnel, some of which went through her skull and lodged in her spinal cord.
Her eldest son, Firas, was in the room adjacent and saw the approaching missile smash through his bedroom window and the wall of his mother’s room.
The mother said: “I was asleep in the next room and woke up to the screams of my children [telling everyone] to hide because the missile was coming towards us. I had just opened my eyes when flying shrapnel hit me in the head."
The incident took place in late October – in the early weeks of the war – when the enclave's health sector was not as devastated by relentless Israeli bombardment.
UAE expands desalination plants at Rafah border with Gaza
The UAE has doubled the capacity of its desalination plants on the Egyptian side of the Rafah border with the Gaza Strip.
The expanded plants, inaugurated by Sheikh Shakhbout bin Nahyan, Minister of State, will supply 4.5 million litres of clean drinking water a day to Palestinians.
The plants gather water from the Mediterranean through a system of pipes. The water is then filtered and sent underground across the border to the Palestinian enclave.
“Drinking water contains 100 to 800 parts per million [of salt], but the sea gives us around 25,000 parts per million,” the desalination plants' project manager, Mohammad Al Rashidi, told The National in Rafah.
"So, the clean water can now be used for drinking and other uses."
Before the expansion, the plants had six containers, with a total capacity of 2.25 million litres. That figure has now been doubled, he said.
As part of the UAE's Gallant Knight 3 humanitarian operation to supply aid to Gaza, a warehouse has opened in Al Arish, near Rafah, where vital items including nappies, blankets, canned food and electric heaters are being stockpiled.