A showcase displays a memorial to Ashton Saldanha at Emirates English Speaking School in Dubai.
A showcase displays a memorial to Ashton Saldanha at Emirates English Speaking School in Dubai.

Schools mourn for the pupils who will not return

DUBAI // Ashton Saldanha was just five-years-old when he boarded the doomed Air India Express flight to Mangalore on Saturday with his father Denis. They were heading to a family function where Ashton's mother was waiting to be reunited with her son and husband. She will never see them again. Her loss was also being felt by others yesterday. The principal of Emirates English Speaking School (EESS), S S U Tabrez, paid an emotional tribute to his kindergarten pupil yesterday, one of 19 children aboard the Boeing 737 which overshot the runway and burst into flames.

"He was a very promising child," Mr Tabrez said of Ashton. "He already held his proficiency certificate in KG1, was a pretty boy and had a very bright future ahead. It's tragic." Mr Tabrez was only made aware of his pupil's death this morning, he said, and had spoken to his relatives. He had spent the weekend comforting a close friend who had lost four family members in the crash. The first thing he did on hearing the news about the KG2 pupil, he said, was to cross-check to see if there were any staff in Mangalore who could support his mother.

"He was a part of the family here," Mr Tabrez said. "We had a condolence meeting at the school for the child this morning. We can't say too much to the pupils, though, because of their sensitivities. They are very young." Mr Tabrez was unsure if Ashton's mother, who was not identified by name, would return to Dubai. "She is still in India and was due to come back to Dubai on the May 28, but there is no certainty now that she will want to come," he said.

An obituary board was set up in tribute to Ashton at EESS with a message that read: "Goodbye our friend Ashton. We all loved, so dear. We will miss your smiling face but you will always be in our hearts. We know that God will cherish you in His arms. So bye Ashton. May God be with you." The mood at Indian schools across the emirate was equally sombre yesterday as teachers and pupils tried to come to terms with a tragedy that had beset friends and family. Thomas Mathew, the principal of Our Own English High School, led a remembrance gathering yesterday for 15-year-old Akshay Bolar, a grade 12 student who was travelling with his mother and grandmother. "All of Akshay's friends had come for the condolence meeting," he said. "It was a very emotional moment."

At Al Majd Indian School, the principal, Rafiq Rahim, said the school's 830 pupils and staff had observed a minute's silence for the victims of the air disaster at a general assembly and that teachers were wearing black ribbons. loatway@thenational.ae pmenon@thenational.ae

The Cairo Statement

1: Commit to countering all types of terrorism and extremism in all their manifestations

2: Denounce violence and the rhetoric of hatred

3: Adhere to the full compliance with the Riyadh accord of 2014 and the subsequent meeting and executive procedures approved in 2014 by the GCC

4: Comply with all recommendations of the Summit between the US and Muslim countries held in May 2017 in Saudi Arabia.

5: Refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of countries and of supporting rogue entities.

6: Carry out the responsibility of all the countries with the international community to counter all manifestations of extremism and terrorism that threaten international peace and security

Feeding the thousands for iftar

Six industrial scale vats of 500litres each are used to cook the kanji or broth 

Each vat contains kanji or porridge to feed 1,000 people

The rice porridge is poured into a 500ml plastic box

350 plastic tubs are placed in one container trolley

Each aluminium container trolley weighing 300kg is unloaded by a small crane fitted on a truck

Long Shot

Director: Jonathan Levine

Starring: Charlize Theron, Seth Rogan

Four stars

Company profile

Company name: Fasset
Started: 2019
Founders: Mohammad Raafi Hossain, Daniel Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech
Initial investment: $2.45 million
Current number of staff: 86
Investment stage: Pre-series B
Investors: Investcorp, Liberty City Ventures, Fatima Gobi Ventures, Primal Capital, Wealthwell Ventures, FHS Capital, VN2 Capital, local family offices

How to improve Arabic reading in early years

One 45-minute class per week in Standard Arabic is not sufficient

The goal should be for grade 1 and 2 students to become fluent readers

Subjects like technology, social studies, science can be taught in later grades

Grade 1 curricula should include oral instruction in Standard Arabic

First graders must regularly practice individual letters and combinations

Time should be slotted in class to read longer passages in early grades

Improve the appearance of textbooks

Revision of curriculum should be undertaken as per research findings

Conjugations of most common verb forms should be taught

Systematic learning of Standard Arabic grammar


Jaguar F-Pace SVR

Engine: 5-litre supercharged V8​​​​​​​

Transmission: 8-speed automatic

Power: 542bhp​​​​​​​

Torque: 680Nm​​​​​​​

Price: Dh465,071

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Company name: baraka
Started: July 2020
Founders: Feras Jalbout and Kunal Taneja
Based: Dubai and Bahrain
Sector: FinTech
Initial investment: $150,000
Current staff: 12
Stage: Pre-seed capital raising of $1 million
Investors: Class 5 Global, FJ Labs, IMO Ventures, The Community Fund, VentureSouq, Fox Ventures, Dr Abdulla Elyas (private investment)

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