IDB signs SR200m rural health plan for India

Updated 14 April 2016

IDB signs SR200m rural health plan for India

JEDDAH: The Jeddah-based Islamic Development Bank (IDB) has signed a SR200 million agreement with an Indian non-governmental organization (NGO) to provide medical care for poor rural people.

The money is part of a SR1 billion donation which was given by a Saudi benefactor to be utilized for the benefit of poor people across the globe. The benefactor earmarked SR200 million for India, thereby funding 15 mobile health clinics, which the IDB will maintain for the first five years.
The rest of the money is reserved for the deployment of 60 mobile clinics in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Yemen, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.
The benefactor followed the mechanism of the IDB because of the bank’s impeccable record of work in poverty alleviation and health care. The IDB’s funds provide support for countless development projects, emergency response teams, recovery and capacity building. Apart from Palestine, new beneficiaries include Somalia, Niger, Comoros and the minority Rohingya community in Myanmar.
The Mumbai-based NGO, the Rashtriya Institute of Skill and Education (RISE), led by Chairperson Dimple Kapani, is engaged in promoting high-quality medical care for India’s rural poor. It is very active in the Indian state of Rajasthan.
The aid and assistance from IDB will help RISE buy sophisticated mobile health units that are custom-made for countries such as India. The mobile units are connected to a centralized studio in Mumbai where specialists of top hospitals are present to provide solutions in real time.
Among those present at the signing ceremony was Zafar Sareshwala, chancellor of Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU) and RISE board member.
Welcoming the agreement, he said: “The pact, following so closely on the heels of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s successful visit to Saudi Arabia, is being seen as one more step in cementing our ties with the Kingdom.”
Sareshwala stated that RISE is also engaged in raising awareness through its flagship outreach program “Taleem Ki Taquat” which focuses on the importance of education for minorities, enabling them to find sustainable employment and improving their standard of living.
“In the six ‘Taleem Ki Taquat’ programs that we have conducted so far all over India, we have been able to bring top federal ministers to our programs. Interaction with them has helped Muslims and other neglected communities solve their problems with practical solutions,” said Sareshwala.
The IDB-funded program will be rolled out initially in rural areas of Maharashtra where RISE already has mobile health units. The agreement with RISE gathered momentum after the recent visit to India by Khaled Al-Aboodi, CEO of the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD). The ICD is IDB’s private sector arm.
Al-Aboodi was also present during the signing ceremony, when the agreement was sealed by IDB Vice President Sayed Aqa and RISE Chairperson Dimple Kapani.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Aqa said the present agreements with RISE and the previous one with the Export-Import Bank of India (EXIM Bank) are aimed at “establishing bridges with Muslim communities around the world, particularly in India, to promote business ties, educational links and social projects.”
Aqa said: “With India, we have a very good, all-weather relationship. These projects open up many good opportunities for the integration of businesses into the Indian community. We will build on this to further strengthen our relationship. The whole notion is to foster understanding between different communities.”
Kapani thanked the IDB for the funding and said the agreement would boost ties between the two organizations and nations. It will also raise the visibility of the IDB in India because disadvantaged people in rural India will benefit directly from its funds, she added.


Etihad and Air Arabia start Abu Dhabi-based budget carrier

Updated 47 min 25 sec ago

Etihad and Air Arabia start Abu Dhabi-based budget carrier

  • The new Air Arabia Abu Dhabi will be launched in due course: Etihad CEO
  • Etihad invested heavily in carriers around the world

LONDON: Etihad Airways is setting up a low-cost carrier with Air Arabia in what is a major change of direction for the Abu Dhabi-based airline.
It represents Etihad’s first tie-up with another airline since its ill-fated equity alliance strategy which saw it take stakes in a number of struggling European carriers, some of which went bust, including Air Berlin.
Air Arabia Abu Dhabi will operate from Abu Dhabi International Airport and will target rising demand from the budget segment, the pair said in a statement on Wednesday.
Etihad Group CEO Tony Douglas said: “This exciting partnership supports our transformation program and will offer our guests a new option for low-cost travel to and from Abu Dhabi, supplementing our own services.”
Abu Dhabi-based Etihad and Dubai-based Emirates invested heavily in their premium-cabin offering during the UAE’s boom years, tapping into strong regional demand for business and first-class travel. However, the sharp fall in oil prices since 2014 and a regional economic slowdown has hit premium travel hard and forced both carriers to cut costs and lay off staff.
Etihad’s move into the low-cost segment mirrors a similar partnership between Emirates and flydubai, the low- cost carrier started in 2008.
Etihad and Air Arabia did not say when flights would start or which routes would be served, but that further details “would be communicated in the near future.”
While premium travel continues to face headwinds in the Gulf, demand remains strong in the budget segment. Low-cost carriers accounted for a 17 percent share of seat capacity to and from the Middle East in 2018, compared to only 8 percent in 2009. 
Etihad Airways currently flies to about 80 destinations with a fleet of 108 Airbus and Boeing aircraft that carried 17.8 million passengers in 2018. Air Arabia, which is listed on the Dubai Financial Market, operates 54 Airbus A320 and A321 aircraft and serves 170 routes.