FM Sheikh Abdullah also tells top-level summit of the ‘exceptional measures’ the UAE has taken to curb Covid-19.
Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, has highlighted four key lessons the world must learn from countries’ handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
He was participating in the Group of 20 (G20) Foreign Ministers’ meeting which was held virtually on Thursday under the chairmanship of Saudi Arabia.
The UAE attended in its capacity as a guest invitee at the G20 Summit, which will take place in November 2020 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
The Foreign Ministers’ meeting was convened to discuss cross-border management measures taken in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, with the aim of exchanging national experiences, reinforcing the overall global preparedness framework, and discussing relevant lessons learned.
In a statement issued to the meeting, Sheikh Abdullah said: “The UAE, similar to other countries, has taken exceptional measures to contain the spread of Covid-19. At the onset of the pandemic, the UAE immediately suspended all incoming and outgoing flights, accelerated strict procedures at all border crossings, suspended the issuances of all visas, and ensured there were sufficient cross-border controls in place to minimise movement.”
Since June, Sheikh Abdullah stated, the UAE has worked to cautiously loosen such restrictions, as the country has brought Covid-19 under control. This minimised the challenges facing UAE citizens and residents stuck abroad and to reopen the national economy. Around 700,000 residents have now managed to come home to the UAE, Sheikh Abdullah said.
”The UAE has also played a leading role in facilitating the repatriation of citizens, both from the UAE and also between third countries, given the UAE is home to the world’s busiest international airport, two of the world’s leading airlines, and a very large expatriate population. As part of these measures, the UAE has facilitated nearly 2,000 repatriation flights through the UAE,” he added.
”Our experiences during Covid-19 have highlighted a number of lessons: First, I suggest we collectively think more about contingency planning. This would ensure that we are better prepared to deal with global challenges of the likes of the Covid-19 pandemic in the future, and to respond to them in a more coordinated way.
“By contrast, globally, our initial responses to Covid-19 were relatively hap-hazard and ad-hoc, without enough consideration of their impact on people often stranded far away from home or their families.
“Secondly, we need to consider ways of effecting essential international travel in the context of the ongoing pandemic. In the UAE, we have worked hard to ensure that our international airports are fit for purpose and provided with state-of-the-art machinery for the purpose of preventing and identifying Covid-19 cases,” he explained.
”Third, we should ensure fair and equal treatment of citizens of all countries, irrespective of where they are coming from or travelling to. Many countries which have been applauded for their success in managing Covid-19 are now themselves subject to a second wave of cases.”
”Fourth, it is important that we communicate effectively with our citizens and ensure that there is widespread understanding of the rationale behind our Covid-19 policies. Such communication is necessary to ensure buy-in and acceptance and the sense that we are all on one team, especially given how onerous and challenging some of these policies may have been for some individuals, families and small businesses.”
Established in 1999, the G20 Summit is an annual gathering of representatives of the world’s largest economies that works to strengthen international economic cooperation.
This year’s theme under Saudi Arabia’s G20 presidency is “Realizing Opportunities of the 21st Century for All,” with the broad aims of “Empowering People, Safeguarding the Planet, and Shaping New Frontiers.”
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