30 April 2006

Calling all Angels

My dentist’s surgery in Dubai is my second home; I spend a lot of time there, or at least that’s how it feels to me!

On the plus side, it gives me the opportunity to read new publications that I haven’t seen before, and on the last visit, I found a little gem – the UAE Digest.

Although most of the articles are written with an essence of Hindlish and verbosity that my English teacher was so fond of accusing me of, there’s a wide range of interesting topics covered, mostly with reference to the UAE and the surrounding Middle Eastern countries.

In the April issue, there was even a 3 page spread on blogging in the UAE, featuring Gautam representing the Dubai Bloggers’ Group.

UAE Digest's publishing house, Sterling Publications has a website which promotes their other magazine, UAE Banking. I can’t see any links to the UAE Digest, so unfortunately I can’t link to a story written by Bindu Ganesh titled “Fujairah Angel”. However, while Googling for more info, it appears that it’s been covered by many publications, all of which appeared to have received the same Press Release and regurgitated it in some form!

Have you ever been to Fujairah and stared out to sea and seen the horizon dotted with dozens of ships? I thought that they were anchored there to wait their turn to enter the Arabian Gulf through the Strait of Hormuz. Wrong!

It turns out that off the East Coast, there is the world’s second largest ships’ bunker anchorage – a place where ships anchor and stay until they are called into service again. At any time, there may be between 100 to 150 ships out there – all with crews who can’t come ashore because their companies can’t afford/be bothered to ferry them the 15+ miles into the nearest port. I would imagine that there is also the concern that most sailors, once stepping foot on land, would desert their ships - never to be seen again.

Upwards of 2,000 sailors may be out there; unable to communicate with their families back home for weeks on end. Boredom and loneliness are only part of their frustration, and depression wouldn’t be far away for some of these men.

Enter the Mission to Seafarers in Dubai. As part of the international charitable organisation chartered to help all seafarers regardless of colour, race, or religion, the Dubai chapter recently launched its “The Angel Appeal” mission to help the sailors off Fujairah.

Their goal is to raise over US$1 million dollars before 2006 ends, to fund the building and equipping of a boat that will support some of the 140.000+ sailors using the anchorages off the east coast of the UAE each year.

Called the “Fujairah Angel”, the boat will be built by Albawardy Marine in Al Jadaf, Dubai. On board will be an internet café, a book and DVD library, a medical clinic and access to telecommunications so that ET can phone home. A welfare officer will also be onboard to offer pastoral and spiritual support to sailors in need.

The Fujairah Angel is anticipated to be ready to launch at the end of 2006 and will operate every week for 72 hours at a time – sailing between the anchored boats so that sailors can step aboard and spend some time relaxing and in communication with their families and friends back home.

The Fujairah Port Clinic which provides 24 hour medical aid to sailors has already pledged their support to the Angel Appeal, and will man the onboard clinic with paramedics.

As well, some major businesses such as Fujairah National Group, Lamnalco of Sharjah, National Bank of Dubai and Fairmont Dubai have chipped in to help.

If you would like to donate to The Angel Appeal, you can find out how by phoning (+971) 4 3441823.


black feline said...

all the rantings out there about UAE...im glad to read something worthy and positive..well done :)will chip in.

Gautam said...

Hey..Did you like the artice where they featured me?


nzm said...

Thanks Black Feline - I try to focus on positive stuff!

Gautam - I liked the article - 3 pages, man - that's amazing! Good pic too!

archer14 said...

"Upwards of 2,000 sailors may be out there; unable to communicate with their families back home for weeks on end. Boredom and loneliness are only part of their frustration, and depression wouldn’t be far away for some of these men."

Arr...this calls for a pirates attention. Cap-tin, steer the black pearl nowwwww...

Gautam said...

Thank you!!
Would love to have you as a member of the Dubai Bloggers Group..why dont you visit my blog and leave me with your email address so that I can send you an invite.