UAE, Austria look to build stronger ties
The UAE and Austria are looking to build on existing ties in the field of healthcare and education, in light of the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, experts said at a webinar on Thursday.
Speaking at the ‘Sharaka Experts Talk: Adjusting to “New Normal” in Education and Healthcare sectors in UAE & Austria’, experts highlighted how both countries had risen to tackle the challenges posed by the pandemic. The event was presented by the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce & Industry, in cooperation with Austro-Arab Chamber of Commerce.
Senator Dr. Richard Schenz, president of the Austro-Arab Chamber of Commerce and vice president of the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber, said that Austria was “hard hit” by the outbreak of Covid-19. “However, thanks to the government’s strict measures and the rapid and long lockdown and national vaccination strategy, and despite the recent alarming rise of the Delta variant, the country has been able to slow down the infection rate and the number of cases which have dropped significantly. Austria has recently started reopening shops, restaurants, museums and easing travel restrictions for tourists coming from various countries.”
The government’s precautionary measures implemented since the start of the pandemic came hand in hand with a set of economic assistance measures and aid packages that were rapidly designed and implemented to support the private sector, he added. “The economy has been doing quite well since we opened. We are a little bit cautious with regards to the autumn season, but I hope that in the meantime, many Austrians are vaccinated so that we can have a smooth autumn.”
Abdulla Sultan Al Owais, chairman of Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, noted that the UAE’s healthcare sector performed extremely efficiently during 2020. “The procedures taken by the government at the international and domestic level were amazing. It was a challenging year for all of us in the private and public sector to keep people safe and businesses going as normal.”
Fatema Khalifa Al Muqarrab, director of the International Relations Department, Sharjah Chamber of Commerce & Industry, highlighted how authorities had reacted to tackle the challenges of the pandemic, especially the response in the healthcare sector.
“The Sharjah Chamber of Commerce & Industry mobilised all the resources available to support the Ministry of Health and Prevention in the UAE,” she said, adding that Expo Centre Sharjah, operating under the umbrella of the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce, was key to the response. The centre responded to the challenge in three stages to meet the needs of the hour.
“The first stage involved using Expo Centre Sharjah as a Covid-19 testing centre where free tests were offered for three weeks to encourage people to test for symptoms,” she said. “The second stage involved turning the space into a field hospital set up by the Ministry of Health and Prevention. The last involved turning the centre into a vaccination centre with over 50 booths ready to administer the vaccine.”
Ibrahim Al Musharrakh, ambassador of United Arab Emirates in Austria, added that the UAE had launched a UAE Volunteers platform to consolidate volunteering efforts nationwide to fight the Covid-19 pandemic. “The platform is a result of the collaboration of various government and semi-government entities, as well as the public and private sector associations, to promote volunteerism across the country and utilize the talent of community members.”
He also explained that the UAE is looking forward to the establishment of comprehensive strategic partnerships with Austria, which will allow both sides to work on possible joint projects in the fields of education, heath, technology, green energy, and the environment.
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