UAE embassy puts up Emiratis stranded by Sandy in hotels

Embassy gathered citizens stranded without power in New York as superstorm Sandy recedes, and put them up in hotels to ensure their safety.

Emiratis (second from left) Meera, Mansour, Ahmed and Rashid Almarri are seen outside the Waldorf Astoria after being stranded in New York following superstorm Sandy. Photo by Walter Pinkney for The National
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ABU DHABI // Emiratis stranded without power in New York City in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy did not have to suffer for long – the UAE Embassy had put up more than a dozen of its citizens in Park Avenue hotels by Tuesday night.

Most of the citizens, including students and at least one family, are being housed at the iconic Waldorf Astoria at the embassy’s expense.

“Some people would say it is frivolous, but it shows the UAE’s care for its citizens affected by this,” said Butheina Kazim, a Fulbright scholar studying at New York University who lost power in Gramercy Park on Monday. “They were willing to go the extra mile.”

An official from the UAE’s permanent mission to the United Nations said the group would be kept at hotels until it was safe for them to return to their homes.

“We have no problems keeping them there until everything is fixed,” the official said. “It is most important now for them to wait until power and water is returned.”

Rashid Al Marri, a student at The New School, lives just a few blocks from where a Consolidated Edison substation exploded on Monday night. The power is expected to be out for at least three days at his flat near Union Square.

“All the Emiratis stuck here are being taken care of,” Mr Al Marri said. “Once they realised that people here were going to be without power or mobile phone service, they knew they had to do something.”

The embassy arranged for cars to pick up citizens trapped across the city.

“I had walked up to Midtown to find a phone service, and within 10 minutes of contacting the embassy they had sent a car to pick me up and take me to the hotel,” Ms Kazim said. “The driver was going all over – to Queens, to Soho – trying to pick everyone else up.”

The UAE mission official said: “It was definitely a challenge finding transportation for everyone, because the city was just dead.

There was just no way to get around. But we have everyone now, and the important thing is that they are safe."