An alert system to help find missing children in the UAE using the Facebook app launched this week.
The Neda system — which is Arabic for alert — is the first of its kind in the Middle East and was developed by the Ministry of Interior in co-operation with Facebook to assist in the search for missing children.
The app also aims to promote social responsibility among residents and Emiratis and strengthen the ministry’s efforts to maintain security and safety in the Emirates.
An alert is issued after police report a missing child to the Ministry’s children’s centre.
The alert will be sent out to all Facebook users in the area where the child was reported missing, using Neda system. The message, which will come in the form of a Facebook notification for users, will include a photo of the missing child and any descriptions or details, such as last known location, that may help with identification.
If the child is not found within a certain period of time, the message is then sent to all the Facebook users across the country.
Lt Gen Saif Al Shafar, the under-secretary of the Ministry of Interior, said the Neda system was an example of benefits of technology and social media in efforts to further safety in the UAE.
"The launch of the first stage of Neda is part of the ministry’s strategic initiatives that aim to promote child protection and utilise modern technologies,” he said.
“We will work on managing calls from police general commands in the country, and after taking the required measures, we will circulate their reports in the form of a call through Facebook in the areas where children have gone missing.”
He said the UAE has a leading international reputation in dealing with child protection, which is one of the main priorities of its social policy.
“The ministry aims to further this approach, according to its working competencies, as well as to employ international expertise to promote child protection in the country,” said Lt Gen Al Safar.
The UAE’s Child Protection Law was implemented in 2016 and includes at least 10 years’ imprisonment for anyone convicted of exploiting a child and fines of up to Dh1 million for circulating child pornography online.