Pakistan loses first doctor to COVID-19 in UAE

Dr. Muhammad Usman is the first Pakistani health practitioner to lose his life to COVID-19 in the UAE. Working at a small Dubai clinic, he mostly attended to blue collar workers. (Photo by Alia Usman)
Short Url
Updated 22 May 2020

Pakistan loses first doctor to COVID-19 in UAE

  • Dr. Usman worked at a small clinic in Abu Dhabi mostly attending to blue-collar workers, wife says
  • UAE granted Golden Visas to 212 doctors of various specializations this month recognizing their role in fight against COVID-19

DUBAI: Dr. Mohammad Usman, a 56-year-old general practitioner working in Abu Dhabi, is the first Pakistani doctor in the UAE to lose his life to COVID-19, said the Medical Wing of Pakistan Association Dubai (PAD). 
“We are saddened by the news and are trying to extend all possible help,” Dr. Nighat Aftab, president of PAD, told Arab News while confirming Pakistan’s first casualty among the front-liners in the Gulf state. 
The UAE-based Pakistani doctor passed away on May 15 due to complications arising from COVID19.
He contracted the virus during work two weeks before he passed away, his widow, Alia Usman told Arab News on Thursday. “My husband is a hero and Shaheed (martyr),” she said.
Alia said he started having breathing problems on May 2 and was admitted to hospital but passed away after two weeks. He leaves behind two sons aged 6, and 4.
Hailing from Pakistan’s northern town of Rawalakot, Azad Kashmir, Dr. Usman worked for a private health care group for the past 11 years but lost his job last year following which he joined a small clinic where he mostly saw blue-collared workers, she informed.
“He was a very dedicated doctor and paid immense attention to all his patients. I often told him to take extra care since we had young children but he always said that if as a doctor I can’t satisfy my patients then there is no point in me working,” Alia said, adding that Dr. Usman had no underlying health problems.
“Once COVID-19 started, he said that if anything happened to him, he would like to be buried in his home country but since the situation does not permit, he has been laid to rest here,” she said.

Children of Dr. Muhammad Usman during an outing in Abu Dhabi in February 2020. Dr. Usman is the first Pakistani health practitioner lost to COVID-19 in the UAE on May 15. (Photo courtesy: Alia Usman)

Remembering Dr. Usman as a “very dedicated doctor,” Alia said that “if any doctor refused to examine patients due to the virus, he would always present himself. He said that the virus does not choose people and if they fall sick, where will they go?”
She, however, lamented that he had not been provided proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). “He had only been given a mask, gloves and a sanitizer which isn’t enough for any doctor in these conditions,” she said.
Alia requested the UAE government to educate people on how to approach hospitals. She further said the she did not need any donations. “I would also like to add that we do not need any kind of donations…if the government realizes his services and would like to extend recognition, then that is welcome,” she said.
Dr. VSN Kiran, and Indian orthopedic and spine surgeon, who worked with Dr. Usman until 2016, remembered him as a very kind and soft-spoken man.
“He was two years elder to me and all I can say is that he was like an angel…very calm and dedicated,” Dr. Kiran told Arab News.
She said she still had messages from Dr. Usman where he said that he was seeing between 40 to 60 cases even during this health crisis. “His passing is very sad and unfortunate,” said Dr. Kiran.
While the Gulf state with an estimated population of 9.8 million has taken some stringent measures to curb virus spread including ban on social gatherings, congregational prayers, and movement of people in groups, doctors still remain at the forefront of the fight against coronavirus.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, vice president, prime minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai, granted “Golden Visas” to around 212 doctors of various specializations this month as “a token of appreciation for their efforts in the fight against COVID-19 and their selfless dedication to caring for infected patients,” reported the Emirati WAM news agency.

Mid-Eastern eateries add to Eid spreads in Islamabad

Updated 25 May 2020

Mid-Eastern eateries add to Eid spreads in Islamabad

  • Owners say home delivery orders increased more than 20 % in Ramadan as netizens crave for Arab cuisines
  • All checks in place to ensure anti-virus measures are being followed during lockdown, restaurants say

ISLAMABAD: Despite countrywide lockdown closing doors of some of the most sought-after restaurants for costumers in Islamabad, Arab cuisines remained a staple at Ramadan & Eid meals for the food lovers, said the restaurant owners.

Employees at Arz Lebanon restaurant in Islamabad enter the restaurant after going through disinfectant spray and temperature scanning on May 20, 2020. (AN photo)

Many Middle Eastern eateries are staying afloat by delivering food at the doorstep as people could not gather for group meals with friends and families under government-imposed restrictions to enjoy a bite of their favorite dishes served in a chic and sometimes traditional ambiance.

With a dedicated delivery service, Arz Lebanon, a medium-sized joint in Islamabad’s upscale Jinnah Super Market has been busy catering to growing home-delivery orders with an exclusive Iftar menu including over 12 different dishes during the fasting month of Ramadan and the Eid festivities.

Staff of Arz Lebanon restaurant in Islamabad is preparing food parcels for home delivery on May 20, 2020. (AN photo)

“We have made Ramadan package this year with a small menu of 12 Arab dishes,” Sheikh Abdul Rauf, the chief chef and owner of Arz Labanon restaurant told Arab News.

“Our famous dishes include mix Arab barbeque, hummus, fatosh, tabbouleh, cheese manakish and harbora,” he added hinting at the popular cravings of Islamabad’s food lovers.

Staff of Arz Lebanon restaurant in Islamabad are taking order for takeaway delivery on May 20, 2020. (AN photo)

He said that a lot of regular customers, both Arabs and Pakistanis, insisted through phone calls to serve them Arab food during Ramadan and on Eid.

The restaurant is among a list of eateries that remained closed for almost one-and-a-half month during lockdown and then thought of a smart comeback, while quite a few still remain closed including popular attractions like Serai Bistro situated at the capital’s diplomatic enclave – serving Lebanese, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food – and Omar Khayyam.

An employee of Arz Lebanon restaurant in Islamabad delivers a takeaway order to a customer on May 20, 2020. The restaurant does not allow customers inside the dining space. (AN photo)

“Before covid-19, the staff at my restaurant was 45 now I am working with only seven employees to maintain social distancing,” Rauf said, adding that they use disinfectant spray for the entire staff before commencing work and also check their body temperature through thermal scanner at least three to four times a day.

“We are serving only takeaways and home delivery orders. I am getting around 70 delivery orders daily which is 20 percent more than usual days and a lot of people come for takeaway as well,” Rauf informed. ” Most of my Arab customers order home delivery these days. We have three vans for this purpose. Pakistani customers take both home delivery and takeaway,” he said.

Another big attraction for the Islamabadians is Syrian ‘Shawarma’ in F-10 Markaz area, prepared in authentic Arab style by Abu Amir aka Adnan who came to Pakistan in 2011 fleeing the complex civil war in his homeland.

Abu Amir, a Syrian Shawarma maker is busy cutting fresh slices of meat for parcels at his food kiosk in F-10 area of Islamabad on May 20, 2020. (AN photo)

“My major dish is shawarma and sheesh taouq while in Ramadan I also started serving basbousa, kunafa and baklava,” Amir told Arab News.

“We provide home delivery through bike-riding services. People also visit us for take-aways,” he said.

Amir said that coronavirus pandemic had adversely affected his business but home delivery increased during Ramadan.

A man at Arz Lebanon restaurant in Islamabad grills kebabs for food parcels on May 20, 2020. (AN photo)

“I used to sell around 450 shawarmas daily before the pandemic but now the number has reduced. On the other hand, request for home deliveries increased from around 30 orders earlier to approximately 100 now a days,” he added.

On the south side of Shawarma guy in F-10 markaz, another home delivery option for Arab food lovers is Al-Beirut kitchen which provides only home delivery order of trending Lebanese and Arab foods. 

“We are providing home delivery only and that also by ensuring all precautions. Our customers are very loyal as we are delivering for the past two decades in Islamabad,” Ahmad Shabbir, the restaurant manager told Arab News. “Business got better in the second half of Ramadan after re-opening of markets,” he added.