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Gulf countries, expats, rush critical supplies to counter India’s second Covid wave

The Gulf countries are supporting India in a big way. A tweet by the Ministry of External Affairs (Photo: @MEAIndia)

India’s Gulf neighbours and the Indian expats residing in these countries have mounted a herculean effort to help India counter the second deadly wave of Covid-19.

On Tuesday, Kuwait rushed 60 oxygen concentrators and ventilators and 282 oxygen cylinders to India, evoking prompt appreciation from Indian shores.: "Deepening our fraternal ties of friendship. Thank Kuwait for shipment of 282 oxygen cylinders, 60 oxygen concentrators, ventilators and other medical supplies that arrived today," Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Arindam Bagchi tweeted.

In March this year, Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Ahmad Nasser Al Mohammad Al Sabah was in India to thank New Delhi for its support to Kuwait during the coronavirus pandemic. In the first wave of the pandemic last year, India had sent medical assistance to Kuwait in the form of a "white army of Indians" – nurses and doctors, who bolstered the health services in that country.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE), on its part, sent liquid medical oxygen at Gujarat's Mundra Port. The Khaleej Times reported that Indian Navy ships have reached Gulf ports to pick up shipments of liquid medical oxygen-filled cryogenic containers and associated medical equipment from the six nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries. "INS Talwar and INS Kolkata are among the seven Indian naval ships which are in the process of being deployed by India on an operation which has been code-named "Samudra Setu II," the daily reported.

Acknowledging the timely assistance, the External Affairs Ministry said: "Further consolidating our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. 7 ISO tankers with 20 MT Liquid Medical Oxygen (LMO) each arrive at Mundra Port (India). First such shipment of LMO to India. Deeply value the support from UAE. Will help augment oxygen availability."

The GCC’s effort to transfer medical supplies followed a telephonic conversation between External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and his UAE counterpart Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, late last month.

Bahrain, another GCC member state, has also stepped into the relief effort. The two ships – INS Kolkata and INS Talwar – transiting from the UAE also picked up 40 MT of liquid oxygen from the port of Manama, the country’s capital.

Qatar also flew 300 tonnes of medical aid in the form of ventilators, concentrators, PPE kits by three cargo planes. The medical supplies were sent as aid to India.

Meanwhile, the Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi and Indian expats in the UAE have been effusive in thanking the UAE for standing by India during the unfolding crisis.

Late last month, the UAE took the unusual step of lighting up the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest tower in the colours of the Indian national flag, bearing the simple but stirring message: “Stay Strong India”.

According to local media reports, the Dubai media office tweeted the video of the event, while the Abu Dhabi media office tweeted images of the Indian national flag from multiple landmarks in the Emirate with the same message written in English, Arabic and Hindi, the daily Gulf News reported.

The Indian missions in the UAE retweeted these messages to amplify the Emirates’ solid and visible support.

“We thank our friend #UAE for standing by us in these testing times,” the Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi tweeted with the hashtag #IndiaUAEDosti and a handshaking emoji placed in between the flags of both the nations.