UAE nurses turn emotional after surprise Golden Visa upgrade

Frontline heroes honoured by authorities for their efforts during the Covid-19 pandemic


Ashwani Kumar

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Published: Sat 9 Jul 2022, 6:17 PM

Last updated: Sat 9 Jul 2022, 10:30 PM

Nurses and medical staff, the unsung heroes of the UAE’s Covid-19 fight, were surprised to find their two-year validity of Emirates ID was extended to 10 years. Receiving the prestigious Golden Visa has become an unforgettable and cherished moment of their lives. It was in November last year that a government directive was announced to grant Golden Visas to frontline workers and their families.

On the day of Eid Al Adha, nurses share their joyous moments with Khaleej Times.

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Supplied photo

Rani Elsa Oommen, chief nursing officer at VPS Healthcare, turned emotional seeing the 10-year visa status on the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship app. She led the Group’s nursing taskforce throughout the pandemic and has heart-rending stories to tell on how her team toiled round-the-clock to contain an outbreak of Covid-19.

“We are not out of the woods yet but as part of the UAE’s healthcare system, we have ably managed the situation. Over the past three years there have been a lot of personal sacrifices by the nursing community. So, I feel touched by this gesture,” said Rani, whose husband is a frontliner working at Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City in Abu Dhabi.

“We both have got the 10-year Golden Visa. We feel blessed. We are inspired to give more to the community and to serve the nation with renewed passion and commitment. We plan to spend the rest of our lives in Abu Dhabi,” Rani noted.

Dropped migration plan

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Supplied photo

Smitha Alias Moolan, an assistant chief nursing officer at Aster Hospital, Qusais, is excited to see her visa upgraded to 10 years.

“I cannot believe it even now. I am super happy. The UAE has been a nation where I was groomed as a nurse and grew up in my career.”

A frontline warrior, she contracted Covid-19 twice during the period but never backed off from the battlefield. And she is over the moon after being recognised for her hard work.

“It is a great privilege when the nation honours you for your services. The UAE is setting up a new model in the world by manifesting the care it has for its residents. My family and I would always be grateful to the UAE and indebted to the visionary leaders of this nation for their constant support, encouragement, and motivation.”

A mother of a four-year-old son, Smitha has now dropped plans to migrate to Australia with her husband Liju Mathew, who works in an insurance company.

“It is a family decision. The UAE has been a second home for the past six years. But with this honour coming in it feels like the UAE is our real home. So we have decided to stay back in the UAE,” Smitha added.

To live, work in the UAE forever

Sheeja Mathew, nursing supervisor, LLH Abu Dhabi, who has served in the Capital for 15 years, stressed that she along with her family will continue to stay here for the rest of their lives.

“I have my family here. Both my children are studying here. Now I do not have to worry about their future. We have a 10-year visa and I am sure the future holds several surprises for people who work hard for this great nation. I pray for the leadership’s continuous guidance. I pray for their health and well-being. They have taken care of us frontliners and our families. Words fall short to describe the support we have received from the leaders of the country and our own management. I am surely living and working here for my life.”

Hard work has been recognised

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Supplied photo

Arnold Flores Navales, team leader of outpatient department and deputy infection control nurse, Medeor, Abu Dhabi, felt surreal when he found his two-year validity upgraded to 10 years.

“It’s been the talk of the town since a year ago about the issuance of a Golden Visa for nurses. But two days ago, I came to know from my colleague about the change in status. So, I checked the federal app and found my visa has been extended for 10 years. It was an emotional moment. Our hard work has been recognised. It (the pandemic) was a difficult phase but I, like all my colleagues, made our way through paths fraught with danger. We succeeded as a team and we have been rewarded by the UAE government. Now, I am determined to continue serving here as long as I can.”

Deeply humbled and honoured

Shiya Shaji, senior registered nurse at Medcare Hospital, Sharjah, noted the recognition is a joyous occasion and also a great responsibility.

“I am deeply humbled and honoured. It fills me with utmost joy and pride. My family and I are profoundly grateful to the leaders of this great nation for this incredible gesture towards nurses who have been at the forefront in fighting Covid-19. The UAE is setting a new benchmark in caring for its residents, especially healthcare professionals. We realise that this recognition is a great responsibility and we will continue to serve the community for its betterment. This is our promise to the nation and its leaders who are initiating policies to ensure our well-being,” Shiya said.

Nurses encouraged to offer best care

Dr Azad Moopen, founder, chairman and managing director, Aster DM Healthcare, praised the frontline healthcare workers.

“They have done a phenomenal job risking their own lives in serving Covid-19 patients. We are glad to learn that our nursing staff are honoured with the Golden Visa by the UAE Government. Many of our doctors have been awarded the Golden Visa. I am sure the extension of this to nurses and other paramedical staff will encourage all frontline healthcare soldiers to continue providing the best possible care to patients.”


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