Volunteer programme to befriend elderly expats in Abu Dhabi

Published:  22 Aug at 6 PM
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The results of a Better Life Index study by Abu Dhabi’s Department of Community Development have revealed a high proportion of elderly residents are depressed and lonely as well as suffering from heart disease, diabetes and other age-related disorders. It’s not just local people who’re affected, as there are now some 30,000 expats aged over 60 years living in the emirate. In order to improve their lives, a volunteer initiative is being put in place in an attempt to build a bridge between the generations.

The pilot programme, to be known as the ‘Journey of Generations’, will see young volunteers taking walks with older members of Abu Dhabi society, with the young learning from their older friends after basic relationships have been established. Assessments will be made before the programme begins, along with later checks to establish the changes in both the young volunteers and their new elderly friends. The programme will initially cover Emiratis, with expat senior citizens joining in once talks with expat groups of various nationalities are concluded.

Meanwhile in Saudi Arabia, a new work permit system via the Ministry of Labour’s Qiwa portal will allow companies in the private sector to instantly legitimise new workers rather than having to use the old system which can take up to eight months. However, only firms which have achieved a high level of Saudization in their workforce will be permitted to use the new service. If full compliance with Saudi rules has been the norm, employers will be able to apply for an unlimited number of work visas once they’ve registered to use the service.

There’s good news coming out of Dubai for expat parents who’re suffering financial hardship due to increasing international school fees for their kids, as it’s now been made clear that schools are forbidden from excluding pupils or disallowing them from taking examinations due to non-payment. The catch is that parents and schools must work out an acceptable payment plan in order to ensure the continuity of their children's’ education. For expat parents who’ve lost their jobs for any reason, it’s a relief, but it remains to be seen how generous schools are as regards rates of repayment.
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