Friday 17 September 2021 - 10:57:56 am

Communities will enjoy close family ties, socially united after social distancing: Hessa Buhumaid


DUBAI, 13th May, 2020 (WAM) -- Hessa Essa Buhumaid, Minister of Community Development, emphasised that the post-coronavirus COVID-19 period will herald positive outlook for social welfare and sustainable development sectors, given the elaborate precautionary measures enforced to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, notably ‘spatial (social) distancing’.

This has led to a significant and noticeable change to social behaviours and ties and enhanced family cohesion and social solidarity, she added.

The Minister made her remarks during her address at the session titled ‘COVID-19 implications on the United Arab Emirates – Opportunities and Challenges’, which examined the key implications and potential impacts on the social welfare sector in the UAE and the world, the general lifestyle of individuals due to COVID-19.

"Social distancing has led to large-scale social and behavioural changes, with 96 percent of community members signaling ‘more than usual’ change to their daily lifestyle, according to the ‘Life During Coronavirus Survey’," she continued, pointing out that 34 per cent of the respondents are optimistic about the future; 28 percent are ‘calm’, 25 percent are ‘confident,’ while 45 percent strongly expect the crisis will increase family cohesion and strengthen friendship bonds in the long-term.

Buhumaid indicated that the UAE has encouraged preventive ‘social distancing’ with several qualitative nationwide initiatives, which fall in line with its efforts to achieve sustainable communication.

Hessa Buhamid explained that the most important change to social life was the result of social distancing measures enforced by many countries, including the UAE, which has led to a noticeable change to social behaviours and practices in public places, with an increase of sterilisation and personal hygiene efforts during April 2020, compared to March 2020.

According to the survey, 86 percent of the respondents said they have taken to washing their hands more regularly, while 81 percent of people say they use medical face masks and 76 percent of people say they use hand sanitisers all day. Other results have indicated an overall improvement in healthy eating among 50 percent of the respondents; "a positive change that should be maintained in the future," she noted.

Buhumaid pointed out that 2020 will bring positive changes to wellbeing of society, as community members will enjoy family cohesion and solidarity within the same household, and enhanced bonds with extended family formations by maintaining communication via smart technologies, with increased awareness among individuals of the importance of life/work balance.

"The UAE is at a high state of readiness to overcome this crisis," the Minister said, adding that radical changes to societal behaviors and social life are expected in UAE, as people will continue to comply with precautionary measures.

"Giving and volunteering are inherent values in the UAE society, but we need to develop new and innovative ways to encourage more people to volunteer, either personally or via virtual platforms to help communities in need, especially via the ‘Volunteering’ platform, which provides qualitative opportunities to avail of the skills of experienced people, elderly, people of determination and the youth," she further stated.

Buhumaid stressed the importance of improving social services offered to the various segments of society. She also stressed the need to encourage entrepreneurship and ways to diversify income for individuals and families and develop advanced skills and opportunities for lifelong learning.

Buhumaid also answered a few questions by the attending ministers during the session, which was moderated by Dr. Amna Al Dahhak Al Shamsi, Official Spokesperson for the UAE government, Assistant Undersecretary for the Welfare and Activities Sector at the Ministry of Education.

The Minister indicated that the ministry keeps track of all categories of beneficiaries who avail its services, especially people of determination, and is implementing the ‘remote learning’ decision across 7 government centres nationwide and a number of private centres for this category, to benefit more than 1700 students.

She added that the ministry and the Council of Education and Human Resources are already evaluating this process in preparation for the upcoming exams.

WAM/MOHD AAMIR/Hazem Hussein