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Tue 11 Feb 2020 02:38 PM

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UAE's response to Australian bushfires disaster 'breathtaking', says ambassadoor

Australian Ambassador to the UAE, Heidi Venamore, hails country's role after llaunching of several campaigns to support victims

UAE's response to Australian bushfires disaster 'breathtaking', says ambassadoor

The reported death toll from the bushfires has reached 33, and more than 11 million hectares of bush, forest and parks across the country has burned.

The Australian Ambassador to the UAE, Heidi Venamore, has described the UAE's response to the country's bushfires as "breathtaking".

During a Celebrate Australia event, held on Monday by the Australian Embassy in the UAE, the newly appointed Ambassador said that she had arrived in the country "at a time when the UAE has been demonstrating extraordinary generosity and kindness towards Australia".

In comments published by state news agency WAM, she said: "The UAE has shown us the kind of help that is effective in helping many communities deal with the onslaught of the fires"

The UAE introduced several campaigns to support Australia, including the Emirates Red Crescent’s #MatesHelpMates bushfire appeal, and the efforts of the country’s airlines - Etihad Airways and Emirates Airlines - which waived flight change fees for Australians impacted by the fires.

The #MatesHelpMates grassroots movement was also launched in the UAE to raise funds and support people impacted by the unprecedented bushfires in Australia.

Venamore offered her "heartfelt thanks" to the UAE and "everyone who has given of themselves to help Australians in need".

During her speech at Monday's event, Venamore noted that ties between the two countries had "advanced to new levels".

"Our business, defence, security, aviation, education and people to people links are thriving," she said.

The UAE is Australia’s largest trading partner in the Middle East, with trade reaching AU$9.8 billion (AED24.14 billion) during the 2018-2019 period.

The reported death toll from the bushfires has reached 33, and more than 11 million hectares of bush, forest and parks across the country has burned.

Some 25,000 Australians currently reside in the UAE, making it the ninth largest Australian overseas community in the world.