'May Allah bless UAE': 86-year-old Turkish woman gets emotional as second Emirati field hospital opens

Doctors, who were practising in healthcare facilities in the province before the earthquake, will take charge here

By SM Ayaz Zakir from Gaziantep and Kahramanmaras

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Photos: Neeraj Murali from Gaziantep and Kahramanmaras
Photos: Neeraj Murali from Gaziantep and Kahramanmaras

Published: Sun 19 Feb 2023, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Sun 19 Feb 2023, 9:35 PM

Aisha Meram, an 86-year-old resident of Hatay in Turkey, walks briskly towards a field hospital with tears in her eyes and just one sentence on her tongue: “May Allah bless UAE and Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed.” “This brings in hope for us,” says Meram as she wipes her tears.

The devastating earthquake in Turkey and Syria killed over 46,000 people and brought about unimaginable destruction in the region. The UAE has launched multiple aid campaigns, sending supplies, search-and-rescue teams, medical personnel and even setting up field hospitals to treat the victims.

Meram has been watching the construction of the field hospital for three days. “I was wondering who is coming up with construction here after the disaster. But when I learned that UAE is setting up a field hospital, I could utter ‘Alhamdulillah’ and pray for the leaders who made this much-needed decision,” says Meram.

She sheds tears of joy while speaking to Khaleej Times. “I was waiting for the facility to open soon. When I saw many people gathered at the field hospital I left all my work and walked towards it (with not-so-strong legs). On my way, I called all my neighbours and children playing around their homes to thank the authorities."

Meram has been a Hatay resident since birth, and mentioned that they had a few quality healthcare facilities in the region. However, when the earthquake struck, the hospitals were closed due to cracks in their structure. The province has an area of 5,524 square kilometres and houses 1.6 million people. Meram says that it was "in dire need of a dedicated medical facility as there are many old and pregnant women."

“When I learned that the hospitals in the province were closed down, I was terrified for the people residing here. But this brings in the hope that we are safe,” says Meram.

The hospital was established in about 5 days and can accommodate 200 patients simultaneously, with 2 intensive care units, 20 beds, and 12 private in-patient wards. The hospital has an ​​​​area of 2,000 square meters and has two operating rooms, as well as laboratory and x-ray services. Local Turkish doctors and nurses will be looking after the overall operation of the hospital.

The hospital is equipped with all the required high-tech equipment, making it a full-fledged facility. Specialist doctors, who were practising in hospitals in the province before the earthquake, will be taking charge here.

Many dignitaries, including Saeed Thani Hareb Al Dhaheri, Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to the Republic of Turkey, Brigadier Sarhan M Al Neyadi, head of the medical corps, Yasin Öztürk, Hatay District Governor, Mehmet Hacioglu, Mayor of Hatay attended the inauguration along with the residents, who were delighted to get a new hospital in the region.

‘We are with our Turkish brothers’

The ambassador has a clear and loud message - that the UAE is there with their Turkish brothers, no matter what may come. “The hospital was started under the guidance of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE. We started (building) the hospital and ended it quickly. This hospital is a gift from the people of UAE to the people of Turkey to show our brotherly relation to the world,” says Al Dhaheri.

“We are in talks with the Turkish authorities to set up more field hospitals in the earthquake-struck regions,” he adds.

“We reached out to help humanity and human lives as it matters most and is precious to us. Our rescue teams were the first to arrive here and they are not going to leave. They will be here to help you until Turkish people don’t tell them to return,” Al Dhaheri confirms.

After the inauguration, the guests toured the field hospital and learned about the humanitarian aid provided by the UAE to Turkey after the earthquake.

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