How Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed’s ‘Don’t worry’ became UAE’s motto in its Covid fight

Healthcare workers wore armbands featuring the reassuring words and the phrase inspired the launch of a national campaign



by

Sahim Salim

Published: Tue 17 May 2022, 2:39 PM

Last updated: Tue 17 May 2022, 10:02 PM

‘La Tsheloon Hamm’. This Arabic phrase, which means ‘Don’t worry’, was the UAE’s rallying cry in its fight against Covid-19. First said by the newly elected UAE President, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, in March 2020, the simple words spurred the launch of a mental health campaign in the country, inspired scores of officials to go the extra mile, and reassured residents.

The phrase was so inspirational that healthcare workers started sporting armbands featuring the words in a bid to reassure patients. This image shows nurses at Sheikh Khalifa Medical City wearing such a band:

In early 2020, the pandemic forced the closure of schools, offices and malls, and stay home orders were issued across the UAE. As flights were grounded and airports shut, Sheikh Mohamed set out to reassure residents that the country was fully prepared to fight the virus.

That’s when he said: “Don’t worry.”

Such was the impact of the words that the UAE Central Bank chief said they “encouraged officials to take bold steps and make quick, sharp decisions to contain the crisis”.

Mental health campaign

The pandemic took a toll on the mental wellbeing of residents. To address this, a campaign, aptly titled ‘Don’t worry’, was launched to support the community.

At the time of its launch, an official explained that the “profound” phrase “reassures everyone that everything will be fine”.

Over 50 specialists, psychologists and social workers voluntarily took part in the national campaign.

Abu Dhabi cop beat Covid and returned to frontlines

The phrase helped a top Abu Dhabi Police officer recover from Covid-19 and return to the frontline in the war against the pandemic:

In December 2020, Colonel Mohammed Al Khoury, who was a deputy at the Capital Police Department, said: “I am the head of a family and worry about them more than I worry about myself. But the words of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan — ‘Don’t worry’ — gave me the confidence that I was in good hands.”

Reassuring residents

Sheikh Mohamed has addressed residents in virtual and actual majlises throughout the pandemic. At the start of Covid-19, during the holy month of Ramadan, his majlis programme went online.

In one of the programmes, he reassured expatriates that the UAE was their second home and that the country would take care of them.

“We wish, and I wish personally, that our residents in the UAE will feel that this is their second home.

“We cannot compensate them in their first home. But this is their second home. God willing, this crisis will pass. But we need to be a little patient,” he said.

In the same address, he told the people of the UAE: "We are on the verge of a breakthrough. It's true that until that happens, things will be challenging. Despite the lockdown and quarantines, we will get through this."

‘Sheikh Mohamed’s support gave us hope’

In May 2020, Sheikh Mohamed had publicly thanked a Filipina nurse for her dedication:

Jessa Dawn Ubag, who was a nurse at the Infectious Disease Unit at Rashid Hospital in Dubai, highlighted how the conversation motivated her to do more.

"His words inspired me and my fellow nurses to spread more hope to patients and the community at large. We nurses felt like we were heroes in our own small way,” she said.

After speaking to Sheikh Mohamed, she said the Emirati value of tolerance has effectively been communicated from the top leadership to the “grassroots of the government and society”.

"I got this opportunity despite being a foreigner. I am a Filipina and I felt it was a recognition to the Filipino community in the UAE along with all frontliners," said Ubag.

While speaking to him, she said she felt she was "talking to someone who knew me for a long time".

‘This wave, too, shall pass’

In December 2021, when the UAE saw another wave of Covid-19, Sheikh Mohamed was quick to reassure residents that it, too, would pass like the previous ones.

He said this as he hosted a socially distanced reception:

The reassurance came after daily Covid cases in the UAE crossed the 2,200-mark —weeks after they had dipped below 50.

“I want to warn and reassure at the same time; warn that the numbers are increasing and reassure that the virus is weakening, as per the scientific facts we have received.

“God willing, we will overcome it like we have in the last two years. My only request to you is to take care of yourself and your families. Also follow all due safety precautions,” he had said.

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