Successful communication reflects the UAE's ability to manage COVID-19

Successful Communication Reflects The Uaes Ability To Manage Covid 19

Risk and emergency communication play a strategic role in preventing, addressing and, as far as possible, bringing critical events back to normal and rebuilding a climate of trust in relations with public opinion and within the organizations themselves. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the leadership and the authorities of the United Arab Emirates have been prepared and have developed managerial plans and procedures to manage communication effectively, improving its reputation inside and outside the country thanks to the orderly control room of the National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority (NCEMA).The authority developed a national plan for responding to the pandemic, focusing on the consolidation and maintenance of laws, policies and procedures of emergency and crisis management at the national level. NCEMA, in coordination with local authorities, has developed standardized management and communication procedures, coded through clear and comprehensible languages, and explaining them with the help of all the tools available.

As part of efforts to boost the nation’s readiness and response for emergencies and transfer best international practices, on March 14th NCEMA launched the Business Continuity Readiness Guidelines for UAE Organisations in the event of the novel Coronavirus, COVID-19, outbreak. The Guide explains precautionary and preventive measures aiming to sustain business continuity for organisations across Preventive Measures, Preparing and Increasing of Readiness, and Response and Handling of Cases, while planning for business continuity during outbreaks features Leadership, Remote Work Strategy, Staff Distribution, Flexibility of Procedures, Monitoring and Evaluation of Suppliers, and Supply Chain Readiness. The document explains ways to address the risks arising from the outbreak of epidemics in the organisations that may directly affect business continuity and community stability. UAE organisations at federal, local and private levels adopted this approach by assessing risks, threats, weaknesses and consequences thereof. Scenarios, assumptions and considerations were developed in an integrated manner to guide the process of planning at all levels, as related to points of improvement and the potential impacts of risks and threats. To raise public health awareness on the coronavirus, NCEMA also launched our website ‘Weqaya’ providing information to the UAE public on preventative health and safety measures to curb the spread of COVID-19. Through our platform, users have the opportunity to communicate with medical and health experts by sending their questions.

At the same time, to support the workflow and its efficiency in the government, taking advantage of the sophisticated technological infrastructure available, the UAE Federal Authority for Government Human Resources (FAHR) has issued five guidelines for employees working remotely. Employees covered under the system include pregnant women, mothers of children under grade nine whose duties do not require their presence in the workplace, people of determination, and those with chronic diseases, immune system dysfunction and respiratory symptoms, as well as employees who are 60-years-old and above. The guideline explains that employees must first obtain prior approval from employers if they choose to work remotely, and should attend the workplace and other work-related functions if requested by their employer. Employees operating via the remote work system in UAE should demonstrate strong work ethics, maintain the confidentiality of information and documents, and to use their work hours to accomplish the tasks required of him. Furthermore, employees should adhere to the standards of professional behavior and job ethics. According to the guideline, employees are also required to provide a daily report on their accomplishments and level of productivity.

The UAE have relied on professionals and experts not only in the medical field, but also in communication, managing to limit the spread of the virus in the country and to provide aid also to friendly countries in difficulty. Communication was not limited only to official channels, but reached residents and visitors, in all languages, also on social networks. To improve knowledge about COVID-19 and preventive measures to combat it, Health authorities have taken to Instagram to discuss key topics and concerns regarding the Coronavirus pandemic. They recently tackled the topic of sanitizing one’s workplace, for those still going to work in the UAE. The Dubai Health Authority on Instagram (@dha_dubai) posted a directive to ensure that people, who are working during this period, are in a healthy environment. Another directive given by health authority is to keep a distance of two metres from other individuals, emphasizing on the need for strict disinfection and sterilization procedures in elevators. The Department of Health-Abu Dhabi also came out with a list of guidelines for people who still have to go work, and shared it on their Instagram and Twitter accounts (@dohsocial). The health authority for example says that objects like desk telephones, keyboards, and surfaces need to be disinfected regularly to avoid spreading germs. They also emphasise the need to keep one’s hands clean and wash or sanitise them regularly. In addition to the directive of maintaining distance from people, the DOH says that “shaking hands or close contact” needs to be avoided.

This real-time, fast and direct communication allowed the UAE leadership, Government and local authorities to be close to their community, keep the situation under control, transmitting comfort and security for the well-being of everyone. The latest project in this regard has been launched by the General Command of the Abu Dhabi Police, ADP, represented by the Security Media Department of the Leadership Affairs Sector. To enhance its communication with the community and spread awareness messages and urgent announcements during the current crisis, ADP announced the ‘From Home to Home’ initiative which aims to provide the public with advice and guidance around the clock. The last developments have posed challenges to media platforms related to dealing with considerable amounts of messages and information and responding rapidly to events taking place around the world, as well as providing reliable information and countering rumors and misinformation. ‘From Home to Home’ aims to monitor the facts, decisions and precautionary measures issued by official authorities, and release educational messages in many languages in real-time based on the specialities of ADP employees, in line with the national campaign, titled, “Stay at Home,” which aims to preserve the health and safety of all members of society. Successful communication reflects the authorities’ ability to manage the crisis, that combined with the efforts made by their citizens, make Coronavirus an opportunity to prove that the UAE is a great country.

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