Concerts, sports events in UAE canceled, put off as virus spreads

In Iaq’s central shrine city of Najaf, civil defense personnel disinfect on Tuesday a mosque where a confirmed case of novel coronavirus infection, also known as COVID-19, was reported. (AFP)
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Updated 04 March 2020

Concerts, sports events in UAE canceled, put off as virus spreads

  • Iran on war footing against COVID-19 as 77 lose lives
  • Emirates asks staff to take one month’s unpaid leave

DUBAI, TEHRAN: Major concerts and events in the UAE, an air transit center as well as a tourism and business hub, have been canceled or postponed as the coronavirus spreads in the Gulf.

There have been at least 1,641 cases of the virus in the Gulf region, mostly in Iran where 66 people have died. Cases have also been reported in other Middle East nations.
The March 5-6 electronic music Ultra festival at Abu Dhabi’s 25,000-capacity Du arena and the March 21 K-pop concert Music Bank at Dubai’s 17,000-capacity Coca-Cola Arena have been canceled.
Organizers of Ultra, where electronic group Major Lazer and DJ Afrojack were to perform, cited travel restrictions imposed by some countries and airlines due to the rapidly spreading virus.
South Korea’s national broadcaster KBS and crowdfunding platform Makestar, organizers of the K-pop concert, said Music Bank was canceled because of the spread of the epidemic in South Korea and elsewhere.

Dubai’s flagship international art fair “Art Dubai,” which was scheduled to be held from March 25-28, has also been postponed, organizers said.
The UAE, which has reported 21 cases of coronavirus, regularly hosts major conferences, concerts and sporting events, a significant draw-card for foreign visitors.
The UAE central bank will reassess its forecast for economic growth in 2020 due to the coronavirus outbreak, an official said on Tuesday. A women’s forum and yoga festival in Abu Dhabi and a carnival in Dubai for the Hindu holi festival, all in March, have also been canceled or rescheduled.
American rapper and producer Russ said his March 27 concert in Dubai will now take place in November because of the virus.
“I know, wild lol (laugh out loud) but outta my control,” he said on Twitter.
Dubai has postponed its March boat show until November and Abu Dhabi postponed the ITU World Triathlon event this month, after earlier canceling a cycling event in which two riders were diagnosed with the virus.
Meanwhile, the Middle East’s largest airline, Emirates, said it had to reduce or ground flights due to the new virus. Because of the slowdown, the government-owned carrier has asked its employees to take paid and even unpaid leave for up to a month at a time. Emirates’ operates out of Dubai, the world’s busiest for international travel.

HIGHLIGHT

Experts worry Iran’s percentage of deaths to infections, now around 3.3%, is much higher than other countries, suggesting the number of infections in Iran may be far greater than current figures show.

Qatar has canceled a defense exhibition and Bahrain has postponed two oil and gas conferences that had been scheduled to take place this month.
The March 16-18 Doha International Maritime Defense Exhibition and Conference (Dimdex) was scheduled to take place at the city’s exhibition center DECC.
Doha has recorded a new case of coronavirus, a Qatari national who was among a group evacuated from Iran on Feb. 27. This brings the number of infections in Qatar to eight.
Iran’s supreme leader has put the country on war footing against the coronavirus, known as COVID-19, by ordering its armed forces to assist health officials in combating the outbreak — the deadliest outside of China — that authorities say has killed 77 people.
Experts worry Iran’s percentage of deaths to infections, now around 3.3%, is much higher than other countries, suggesting the number of infections in Iran may be far greater than current figures show.
Iran stands alone in how the virus has affected its government, even compared to hard-hit China, the epicenter of the outbreak.

The death of Expediency Council member Mohammad Mirmohammadi on Monday makes him the highest-ranking official within Iran’s leadership to be killed by the virus. State media referred to him as a confidant of Khamenei.
The virus earlier killed Hadi Khosroshahi, Iran’s former ambassador to the Vatican, as well as a recently elected member of parliament.
Those sick include Vice President Masoumeh Ebtekar, better known as “Sister Mary,” the English-speaking spokeswoman for the students who seized the US Embassy in Tehran in 1979 and sparked the 444-day hostage crisis, state media reported. Also sick is Iraj Harirchi, the head of an Iranian government task force on the coronavirus who tried to downplay the virus before falling ill.
On Tuesday, lawmaker Abdolreza Mesri told Iranian state television’s Young Journalists Club program that 23 members of parliament had the coronavirus. He urged all lawmakers to avoid the public.
“These people have a close relationship with the people and they carry different viruses from different parts of the country, which may create a new virus, so we recommend the lawmakers to cut off their relationship with the public for now,” Mesri said.
An activist group also said that Wikipedia’s Farsi-language website appeared to be disrupted in Iran after a close confidant to the supreme leader died of the new coronavirus.

 


Children in Beirut suffer from trauma after deadly blast

Updated 10 min 56 sec ago

Children in Beirut suffer from trauma after deadly blast

  • The massive explosion of nearly 3,000 tons of ammonium nitrate in Beirut's port killed more than 170 people
  • As many as 100,000 children were displaced from their homes according to Save the Children, with many of them traumatized

BEIRUT: When the huge explosion ripped through Beirut last week, it shattered the glass doors near where 3-year-old Abed Achi was playing with his Lego blocks. He suffered a head injury and cuts on his tiny arms and feet, and he was taken to the emergency room, where he sat amid other bleeding people.
In the days since then, Abed has not been the same. Like thousands of others in Lebanon, he is grappling with trauma.
“When I got to the hospital, I found him sitting in a corner in the emergency room, trembling at the sight of badly injured people around him, blood dripping all over the floor,” said his mother, Hiba Achi, who was at work when the blast hit on Aug. 4 and had left him in the care of his grandmother.
“He hates red now. He refuses to wear his red shoes," Achi said, adding that Abed insists that she wash them.
The massive explosion of nearly 3,000 tons of ammonium nitrate in Beirut's port killed more than 170 people, injured about 6,000 others and caused widespread damage. The U.N. children’s agency UNICEF said three children were among the dead and at least 31 were hurt seriously enough to need hospital treatment.
As many as 100,000 children were displaced from their homes according to Save the Children, with many of them traumatized.
“Any noise makes him jump now. He is not eating well anymore,” Achi says. “He was a happy boy, very sociable. Now, he doesn’t talk to anyone.”
Joy Abi Habibi, a mental health expert with Save The Children, says young people who are traumatized can react differently.
“Headaches, nausea, bed-wetting, digestive problems are physical symptoms parents tend to overlook,” she said. “They become clingy and extremely on edge.”
Zeinab Ghazale’s daughters, Yasmine, 8, and Talia, 11, have refused to sleep alone in their bedroom since the explosion, which broke windows in their apartment and sent glass flying around their room.
“We miraculously survived,” said Ghazale, who had to move her daughters out of their home for a few days until the windows were fixed. “But my daughter Yasmin keeps asking, ‘Why don’t I have a normal childhood? Why do I have to go through all this when I am only 8?’"
Psychologist Maha Ghazale, who is no relation, has been treating many children after the explosion. She said many are experiencing uncertainty "and they keep asking if this will happen again.”
“Many children are refusing to go back home, to get close to a glass door or window,” Ghazale added.
Ricardo Molaschi was visiting his grandparents' apartment in Beirut with his Italian father and Lebanese mother. When the blast hit, the 6-year-old was cut by flying glass, requiring stitches. His grandfather, Kazem Shamseddine, was killed.
The youngster has been having recurrent bursts of anger toward whoever caused the explosion.
“I want to put them in a volcano and let them explode,” he said.
Ghazale said that allowing children to process the trauma is crucial — letting them be angry but also encouraging them to tell the story orally or through art and play.
“My son, Fares, keeps playing a game where there is a fire, and he needs to escape,” says Rania Achkar, a mother of two. Her 4-year-old daughter Raya has turned the Lebanese national anthem into a song about the blast.
“The whole world has exploded,” she sings, “there is a fire everywhere, everyone is talking about us on television.”
The trauma can repeat itself if children are exposed to the news and adult conversations about it, says Ghazali, who advises isolating them from that and seeking help.
“Children are resilient, but unprocessed trauma can lead to increased anxiety, behavioral problems, it becomes part of their life and can lead later to negative coping mechanisms,” she says.
Restoring a sense of safety, normalcy and routine will help, Ghazali says.
Hiba Achi says she has decided to leave Lebanon with her son and join her husband who works in Dubai. It's a sentiment echoed by many.
“This place is not safe for Abed, it never was, never will be,” she says, “I don’t want to stay here anymore, that’s it."
Her guilt is shared by many parents, particularly those who have lived through Lebanon's 1975-90 civil war and feel like they have failed their children.
“Our generation is traumatized forever,” says Achkar, the mother of two, referring to those who grew up in Lebanon after the war. “But why do our children have to go through this as well?”