What do you notice when you look at the buses carrying construction workers around the streets of Dubai? Jamie Phares noticed that virtually none of the workers wore eye glasses. Jamie raised the subject with her friend, Navin Valrani, and asked him why this was. Do construction workers have unusually good eyesight? Or was there some other reason? This conversation laid the foundations for the Eye Glass Project, which was to become a major charitable initiative driven by Al Shirawi Electrical and Mechanical Engineering. Jamie Phares happens to work with Johnson & Johnson, one of the world’s leading sight specialists, supplying vision correction technology to opticians throughout the region. Navin Valrani was impressed with her concerns, and recognized immediately that proper eye care and correct vision are vital for the welfare of all company employees. The problem was that many workers did not have access to qualified and professional eye care. So, a company-wide initiative was implemented to ensure that all workers had access to proper sight testing and vision correction. The company teamed up with Al Jaber Optical to offer all workers free eye testing, and also arranged with Johnson & Johnson to provide spectacles to those who needed them at a heavily
subsidized rate. It began with a Notice posted in April 2006 inviting workers to come for a free eye test. That first notice brought 69 enquiries, and resulted in 69 pairs of spectacles being issued! Subsequent rounds have seen a further 200 applicants, of which 173 now have glasses and better vision. The program was an immediate success, and so far more than 250 workers have been enabled to see properly, many of them for the first time! The program is ongoing, and when every member of current workforce has taken up the opportunity, it will be offered to all new recruits as well. Employee welfare is a one of the cornerstones of all Al Shirawi group businesses, and the company’s initiative was prominently featured in 7Days.