DUBAI // Parents have been urged to fasten their seat belts by the head of an organisation that often helps families to deal with the tragic aftermath of fatal accidents.
The Awqaf and Minors Affairs Foundation cares for 2,500 Emirati orphans in Dubai and says car crashes are the second most common cause of death among parents.
"Before you do anything you'll regret, just take a second and think about it," said Tayeb Abdulrahman Al Rais, the foundation's secretary general who has a background in the car industry.
"You come out of the house, you get into the car and before you even start the engine or put your foot on the gas, put your seat belt on.
"It's not the airbag that protects you, it's the seat belt. The airbag is … only a supplement to the seat belt. If you're not wearing a seat belt and you have an accident your chances of dying are even greater because of the airbag, because you're running into a bag that's coming at you at 200mph in a split second.
"We have a family that lost both parents and the kids are … physically disabled, and they have no mum or dad as they died in a car crash."
Mr Al Rais also warned against driving while tired, and said new research showed fatigue was more dangerous than taking the wheel under the influence of alcohol.
His foundation, part of the Dubai Government, looks after funds inherited by orphans. The money is invested and the proceeds are used to support the youngsters, and the capital - plus any accumulated profits - is returned to them when they turn 21.
But only 20 per cent of the orphans have such funds, and the foundation supports the rest from the proceeds of awqaf, endowments made under Islamic law.
Zakat, the tax of 2.5 per cent on income that is one of the five pillars of Islam, is deducted from the wealthy orphans' gains and helps to support those less well off.
"In the past five years we've spent Dh62 million on the orphans," said Mr Al Rais. "This is the money that was generated from the zakat of the well-off orphans and money generated from awqaf."
The number one cause of death among fathers of the orphans the foundation helps is old age - "old men marrying young women and dying when the kids are still young", he explained.
In the UAE, an orphan is defined as a child who has lost either or both parents, Mr Al Rais said.
The foundation also looks after youngsters who are mentally or physically incapacitated, who cannot manage their funds, or who have been abandoned.
"Our main and major responsibility is to make sure our orphans are content," Mr Al Rais said. "I consider them all my kids.
"If I'm spending money on them, I'm their father and I want to see every one of them become a leader."