By Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Board of the Frontline Heroes Office
Last year was long and challenging for the vast majority of us, and we have seen so many heroes, across different sectors work tirelessly to curb the effects of the pandemic.
Looking ahead, 2021 marks the build-up to the UAE’s Golden Jubilee, a moment that marks collective optimism for our shared future with tremendous optimism for our shared future whilst maintaining the knowledge that life will never again be quite the same, and nor do we want it to.
In the midst of chaos, the pandemic brought with it clarity and a wealth of experience, and what a lost opportunity it would be if we as a nation reverted back to life as we lived it pre-pandemic, and we were to overlook our most invaluable guardians who have put their personal health at risk to protect the lives of citizens and residents of the UAE.
Throughout 2021 and thereafter, the Frontline Heroes Office will continue to go beyond listening to the concerns of frontline professionals by creating opportunities for us all to celebrate our national heroes to ensure that they will never be unsung again. We invite all government entities, businesses, and social support groups to unite with us to develop new programmes that support and provide for our frontline heroes.
The Office will continue its mandate of finding nation-wide solutions to ensure a prosperous and stable future for our frontline heroes. Through various upcoming initiatives, we aim to address essential needs for our heroes and their children across multiple areas such as higher education, mental and psychological wellbeing, housing and healthcare.
When the Frontline Heroes Office was established in July by Presidential Decree under the Chairmanship of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, two central imperatives were evident.
The first is that as a nation, we must recognise, celebrate and support our frontline heroes and their families. We need to understand the unique circumstances and challenges they face when asked day-in and day-out to put their personal safety at risk for the greater societal good. And we need to unite to help alleviate the stresses they endure, to best enable them to deliver the service and protection we ask of them.
The second imperative is that we need to continuously invest in, develop, train and maintain a world-class emergency and disaster management network that is always ready to respond and protect us from all types of potential emergency situations.
While forming the Frontline Heroes Office, we started by listening and learning. We wanted to hear directly from our frontline professionals about the challenges and stresses they faced and what we could do to help alleviate them.
We built the principle of partnerships into the ethos of the Office because we saw a great opportunity to harness the strength and expertise of an incredibly wide range of resources across our government, business community and social services sector to deliver immediate support for our frontline heroes, while investing in a sustainable emergency preparedness and response network.
Most recently we launched the new Jaheziya emergency response preparedness and training programme. This best-in-class training initiative was developed in partnership with the Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Volunteer Programme and a group of prominent US and UK disaster management institutions. It will provide internationally accredited critical care and life-saving certification that will contribute to the UAE’s ability to maintain a sustainable network of highly trained frontline professionals to protect our nation and its people in the face of any future emergency.
Several partnerships have directly addressed the concerns put forward by frontline heroes, for example:
- With the Emirates Foundation and the Ministry of Community Development, we rolled out an innovative new mental health support initiative, addressing one of the highest priorities our frontline heroes told us they need.
- With the Ministry of Education, we launched Hayyakum to provide scholarships to more than 2,000 children of frontline heroes that extend throughout their education in the UAE.
- With Daman, we launched an AED 20 million programme to upgrade health insurance plans for the 10,000 lowest-earning frontline heroes and their families as well as to provide 2,500 frontline professionals with mental health insurance coverage.
And through partnerships with a wide range of groups including the Abu Dhabi Sports Council, Etisalat, Du, the tourism boards of Abu Dhabi, Ras Al Khaimah and Umm Al-Quwain, and the National Behavioural Rewards Programme – Fazaa, we introduced a diverse series of initiatives. These programmes help address the physical health and wellbeing of our frontline heroes, better enabling them to stay connected to their families in the UAE and abroad in addition to providing a series of benefits and rewards in recognition of their dedication and commitment in service to the UAE.
It is through the most difficult of times that we truly learn what we are made of as a society. We have witnessed incredible acts of kindness, and unity as friends, neighbours, and total strangers have stepped up to support and help each other.
Nowhere have we seen such resilience, commitment and courage as we have from our more than 90,000 frontline professionals and volunteers who worked so hard and risked so much to protect the health and wellbeing of us all.
It is because of these true national heroes that we are so well prepared to enter 2021 and our Golden Jubilee with great optimism for our future. We are poised to realise the ambitious vision the leaders of the UAE have set forth for the next 50 years of this great nation.