Excited for the Olympics

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It is a time of anticipation and excitement as India, my home country, and UAE, my home away from home, field their largest contingents to the Rio Olympics. From the Indian team, expectations are high on the 12-member shooting contingent, badminton, wrestling, tennis and archery team members along with boxing and the men’s hockey team all set to keep the Indian flag flying high at least a few times through their wins. Meanwhile, for the UAE it is all the more prestigious as there is a woman athlete representing the country in swimming along with the overall 13 athletes who will represent the country in six different disciplines like cycling, judo, weightlifting and athletics. Best wishes for the safe conduct of the event and let peace and harmony prevail with everyone enjoying the individual and team events.

From Mr Ramesh Menon

Abu Dhabi

Letters to the Editor/Gulf News

EK 521 Incident – Efficient Crisis Management & Communication by Emirates Airlines

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Dubai, Wednesday, 3rd August 2016

3 August 2016 - Mind Speaks - EK521 Incident

Emirates flight EK521 took off from Trivandrum in India while landing at Dubai International Airport on August 3, 2016 at about 12.45pm local time met with an emergency situation.

This is an age of swift and uninterrupted electronic communication. Dubai is an extremely busy city and its airport being open and visible from several points within the city.

  1. The airlines tweeted about this incident immediately.  As soon as news broke of the incident, Emirates airlines official social media pages on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter changed their logo to a grey and white picture.As the news broke out and evolved, social media photos started coming out which showed thick plumes of black smoke rising from the burning plane.
  1. Within almost 1 hour of the incident, i.e. at 2pm Emirates put out a tweet saying, “We can confirm that there are no fatalities among our passengers and crew. All passengers and crew are accounted for and safe. #EK521”. Emirates confirmed that there were 282 passengers and 18 crew on board. They also confirmed that emergency response teams at Dubai Airport had fully extinguished the fire on the Emirates plane.
  1. The Airline’s well-trained crew were quick and safely evacuated all the 300 passengers including the 18 member crew from the plane in a matter of 46 seconds! (as tweeted by one user on Twitter).
  1. The nationalities of the passengers were announced on Facebook at 3pm. Dubai Airports offered refreshments across all terminals throughout the day. Passengers were just asked to present their ticket or boarding card.
  1. At 4.10pm Emirates put out an official statement on their website and Youtube page by His Highness Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Emirates’ Chairman & Chief Executive on incident involving EK521. “We can confirm that there are no fatalities among our passengers and crew. All passengers and crew are accounted for and safe,” he said.
  2. At 5.30pm, Emirates cancelled 42 flights at Dubai International.  Dubai Media office tweeted at 5.50pm that specialized teams at Dubai Airports worked simultaneously to ensure safety & comfort of all passengers following the incident.  The media office also tweeted that DXB will resume departure operations starting 18.30 UAE local time with larger aircraft given first priority. They also tweeted that all Emirates passengers who had purchased tickets on or before 3rd August will have rebooking; re-issue & cancellation charges waived.
  3. The General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) confirmed at 7.22pm that a fire fighter Jasim Issa Mohammad Hassan attached to Dubai Airports lost his life during firefighting operations. “He died while doing his duty and while evacuating the people to safety. On behalf of the General Civil Aviation Authority, I would like to offer my heartfelt condolences to the family of deceased. I salute his ultimate sacrifice that kept many from harm’s way. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family”, said the director general of GCAA. At the 7.30pm press conference Ahmed bin Saeed Al Makhtoum said: “We pay tribute to the firefighter who lost his life fighting the blaze. We thank all teams that dealt with the incident. He also paid tribute to the pilot who was instrumental in saving the passengers lives. The flight pilot is a well experienced Emirati national with more than 7000 flight hour. Medical teams dealt with 13 persons with minor injuries, who left after a short time.

An excellent example of Crisis Management

Emirates 3

My sincere congratulations to Emirates Airline EK521 Captain and Crew for handling the Crisis exceedingly well. Highest level of praise also goes to the Dubai Airport Emergency Response Team, who handled the situation and made sure the incident was brought under control. As regards to Emirates Airline Crisis Management and Communication Team, this is an excellent example for all global Comms/Crisis Management Teams to observe and follow how effectively and efficiently a major crisis can be handled and communicated.

Proof of Efficient Crisis Communication from Emirates

Emirates 4Everyone will agree and accept that this is not an easy task these days, when all are on social media and dissemination of information is just within the press of our fingers. On behalf of Emirates, the press conference and address by His Highness Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Emirates’ Chairman & Chief Executive was very clear and matter of fact. The airline also came out with timely developing statements to avoid any rumors and feed stakeholders with right information.

Jasim Issa Mohammad Hassan – A great hero born!

Emirates 2.jpgLast but not the least, as a fitting tribute to the brave firefighter Jasim Issa Mohammad Hassan who lost his life, several high authorities from UAE government, including H.H. Vice President and Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Ruler of Dubai, H.H. General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces attended his funeral and offered condolences to his family and friends.  His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, offered his sincere condolences and sympathy to the family and friends of the martyr of the nation, firefighter Jassim Issa Al Balooshi, who was martyred while extinguishing the fire, which involved Emirates Airline plane on Wednesday. In his account on the social networking “Twitter” said, “We offer our condolences to the family and friends of the martyr of the nation, firefighter, Jassim Issa Al Balooshi. And we ask God to bestow patience and solace on his bereaved family.” He added, “As far as our grief on Jassim, however we are proud of our youth and their sacrifices while performing their duties in protecting the lives and saving people. This country has men to be proud of.


Ramesh Menon, Abu Dhabi

@rameshmenonauh /3rd August 2016

{Compilation of information from: Various news media – Khaleej Times, Gulf News, The National/Twitter/Emirates Airlines site etc}

#EK521 #EmiratesAirlines #CrisisManagement #CrisisCommunication #HSE


Traffic fines at the airport

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Your report, Forcing UAE expats to pay traffic fines before travelling could ‘change behaviour’ (August 1), shed light on an important issue.

I hope the recently implemented removal of discounts to speeding fines and the new suggestion to make it mandatory to pay the fine before exiting the country will bring a fear factor in the minds of those who violate traffic rules.

Generally, those who pay up diligently have a fear for themselves and other road users and comply with the rules.

What is yet to be experienced as a result of these new moves are behavioural changes from those who seldom travel outside and do not pay up.

I sincerely wish that this group of reckless drivers becomes a minority on our roads. Safe road sense must prevail if we are going to have fewer traffic accidents and avoid unnecessary deaths.

Ramesh Menon, Abu Dhabi

Letters to the Editor/The National:

Forcing UAE expats to pay traffic fines before travelling could ‘change behaviour’

Changes to UAE Health Insurance Policy will reduce misuse

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The facts provided by Dr Samih Tarabichi highlights the scenario that existed. With flexible insurance options medical users could be manipulated as detailed by him and unwarranted surgical and medical treatment conducted. However, this may not be the case in future, with the recent changes to health insurance policies for medical treatment, with some category patients may have to even pay up to 50 per cent of their insurance premiums. Whatever said and done, the facilities provided by authorities should not be misused.

Letters to Editor/The National:

Knee operations for UAE’s elderly ‘expensive and unnecessary’

Expatriates benefit country in many ways

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The headline Expats using business loophole to stay in UAE after retirement (July 31) may convey a negative impression about the expatriate community, but this phenomenon is beneficial for the country.

Many expatriates who have been in this country for a long time consider it to be their home with their families and children wanting to settle here. They are ready to invest their lifetime of savings in this country. They feel that the UAE is a safe country to live.

This is the case in most developed countries that encourage expatriates to invest in return for residence visas.

Ramesh Menon, Abu Dhabi

Letters to the Editorial/The National:

Expats using business loophole to stay in UAE after retirement

Stopping speeders

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Stopping speeders

The move by Abu Dhabi Police to remove the discount on traffic tickets will give more strength to reinforce the traffic safety plan drawn up by the Abu Dhabi municipality and the Urban Planning Council (‘Abu Dhabi Police to stop discount on traffic fine’, Gulf News, July 25). It should also reduce accidents and traffic deaths. The method of giving a discount on traffic fines, especially speeding fines, was not welcomed by many as people remain relaxed even when fined. A system that could be introduced to gain more control on speeding may be to have a fine system that raises the fines with each ticket.

From Mr Ramesh Menon

Abu Dhabi

Letters to Editor / Gulf News on:

Abu Dhabi Police to stop discount on traffic fine

Petrol prices should flow

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Petrol prices should flow

I am very happy that fuel prices will be reduced by 15 fils per litre in August (UAE petrol prices to fall for first time in five months, July 28).

As a consumer, it is refreshing to note that this critical item will be cheaper, especially at a time that many daily consumables are becoming more expensive.

My hope is that this discount is reflected in the cost of other products. Lower prices would be a great relief to many in society.

Ramesh Menon, Abu Dhabi

Letters to the Editor/The National :

UAE petrol prices to fall for first time in five months

Moral education will help nation

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Moral education will help nation

I applaud the decision described in Pupils to be given moral education (July 28).

This is a great move. Children who are taught the essential values of life – including ethics, personal and community growth, culture and heritage, civic education, and rights and responsibilities – from a young age will become engaged and involved with the realities of daily life.

A sense of attachment and belonging will grow in them as these values are instilled and as they learn more about them on a regular basis.

I suggest that they also include an element of health, safety and environment education into the curriculum.

Discipline in these three areas will help produce a committed generation who will be a source of pride for their nation and make their leaders’ vision a reality.

Ramesh Menon, Abu Dhabi

Letters on @TheNationalUAE :

Moral education to be introduced to UAE school curriculums

Solar Impulse flight was a big achievement

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The touchdown of Solar Impulse 2 was a proud moment for Abu Dhabi, the UAE and the energy industry worldwide (Solar Impulse 2 lands in Abu Dhabi, completing first zero-fuel flight around the world, July 25).

Congratulations to Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg and the entire team for the success of this amazing journey of 40,000 kilometres without fuel.

The world has changed vastly since the beginning of this journey, in terms of energy outlook and utilisation.

Even if one takes a UAE-only perspective, there has been a lot of change. We have new ministries and departments to harmonise energy production and produce better outcomes. The UAE is setting a trend.

Ramesh Menon, Abu Dhabi

On the news:

Solar Impulse 2 lands in Abu Dhabi completing first zero-fuel flight around the world