DUBAI // A foundation stone for cyclone shelters has been laid in Australia by Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, the UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Sheikh Abdullah recently toured the northern state of Queensland, announcing a US$30 million (Dh110.1m) plan to build multi-purpose halls and educational and sports centres in the cyclone-prone region, the official Wam news agency has reported.
Queensland has been hit by three cyclones in the past 12 months - Tasha (category 1), Anthony (category 2) and Yasi (category 5, the most severe of all) - that wreaked havoc on homes and businesses in the area.
The shelters have been designed and built to withstand winds from a category 5 storm and can provide protection to 500 people each from winds up to 300kph, flying debris and storm tides.
As Sheikh Abdullah was landing in Brisbane, students with UAE flags formed the words "United Arab Emirates" on the ground to celebrate his arrival.
During his visit to their school he reviewed designs for the shelters and was briefed about the damaged caused by the cyclones and severe flooding this year.
In a statement, the Foreign Ministry said the shelters would be an asset for decades to come.
They would be able to safely house thousands of people and offer valuable community services for the people of Queensland all year.
Andrew Fraser, the deputy premier of Queensland, thanked Sheikh Abdullah, the Abu Dhabi Government and the UAE Government for the initiative, which he said would strengthen relations between the countries.
Also at the stone-laying ceremony were Jan Jarratt, the Queensland minister of tourism, manufacturing and small business; several Australian officials; Ali Nasser Al Nuaimi, the UAE Ambassador to Australia; and members of the delegation accompanying Sheikh Abdullah.