Despite a few incidents wherein expatriates were sacked from their jobs for the alleged circulation of Islamophobic social media posts, the Indian community has been enjoying the goodwill of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) during the COVID-19 crisis.
Sources said the Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi and the Consulate General of India in Dubai, in association with the UAE government, had been providing relief to the Indian community in distress. The Dubai Health Authority and other agencies have been looking after COVID-19 patients. A team of doctors and paramedics have been volunteering for the initiative supported by the Indian Business and Professional Council.
In the past one month, the consulate has helped more than 4,000 persons by distributing food packets through the Indian Community Welfare Fund and various Indian organisations and associations in the UAE. Assistance is also being extended to people in various labour camps in Dubai.
Besides, the Emirates Airlines has offered to help as many as 19 Indians at the Dubai airport as they could not travel back to India owing to flight restrictions. Around 80 Indian nationals died in the UAE in the past one month.
According to a rough estimate, there are 34.2 lakh Indians in the UAE, and 8.30 lakh are from Kerala. Among the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nations, the UAE is far ahead when it comes to dealing with the COVID-19 crisis. It has conducted nearly 8 lakh tests so far. The country has reported 8,756 positive cases and 56 deaths.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) had engaged in damage control following the circulation of the social media posts. Pavan Kapoor, India’s Ambassador in the UAE, had to issue a warning through his tweet which said: “India and UAE share the value of non-discrimination on any grounds. Discrimination is against our moral fabric and the Rule of law. Indian nationals in the UAE should always remember this.”
Incidentally, the UAE authorities are yet to react to the social media posts.