UAE’s Dates to ‘Cure’ One in Seven Bulgarians

Twelve metric tons gross weight or over nine tons net weight, this the weight of all dates received from Abu Dhabi, advertised by the government and the national coronavirus tasks force as “medical supplies”. The weigh has been established by a special government commission that has counted the dates and the medical supplies at the Bulgarian Red Cross warehouse. The exact amount will be announced early next week.

According to unofficial information, 1,403 boxes of dates in 8-kg and 5-kg packages have been counted. As for the medical supplies, a few days ago the Red Cross told Bivol that it had received 80,000 masks, 49,000 gloves, and 32,000 protective footwear. In addition, there are 3,970 0.5-liter bottles with disinfectant and 1,824 250-milliliter bottles with disinfectant.

It remains unclear why a government commission had to do such counting since the Customs Agency should have an inventory with the exact quantities of the imported masks, gloves, footwear, disinfectants, and dates. Maybe the State has concerns that some of the goods might have disappeared between their unloading from the aircraft and their delivery to the Red Cross’ warehouse in the village of Dolni Lozen near the capital Sofia.

Bivol revealed on April 15, 2020, that of the 15 tons of “medical supplies” that arrived on a special flight from Abu Dhabi, only three tons were actually supplies, and the rest were dates. The authorities have not provided yet a logical explanation about the strange deal with the Emirates, which involved companies linked to powerful politicians and strong logistical support from the government.

From “great help” to “they can be anything”

“Two companies, Gradus and Intrust, have concluded a very serious deal with the United Arab Emirates. It concerns the exchange of 32 tons of food with the UAE against which we received 15 tons of medical supplies. The companies funded the transport and the State paid nothing. This is a great help because the shipment consists of protective gear such as masks, gloves, and clothing,” said General Mutafchiyski, the head of the taskforce at its regularly scheduled press briefing on April 14, 2020, at the Council of Ministers.

The Intrust company is the sole property of controversial lawmaker and media mogul Delyan Peevski, who is repeatedly promoted during the taskforce’s morning briefings as a generous donor to hospitals amidst the COVID-19 crisis. The Bulgarian shipment to the UAE consisted of lamb, dairy products, and vegetables. Peevski has interests in the dairy industry through his company Lakrima company, which has been present in the UAE market for years.

To a reporter’s question about the dates, asked on 22 April 2020, General Mutafchiyski replied that he was not familiar with the details of the UAE donation. “Many donations can be anything,” he said.

However, National Health Inspector Anguel Kunchev impressed reporters with a special statement, stressing that one medical mask weighed 2 grams and a box of dates – half a kilogram, therefore it would not be fair to compare numbers with weight.

If the dates were masks

In fact, it is easy to calculate how many masks would equal nine tons. According to Kunchev’s math, if one mask weighs 2 grams, than 500 will weigh one kilogram, 500,000 masks – one ton, and 4.5 million masks – nine tons.

The number of dates are per capita can be estimated as well. Bivol conducted an “investigative experiment” (in the headline picture), according to which 10 dates weigh about 120 grams. This means that one kilogram consists of between 80 and 90 dates. The data were verified by a manual count of the one kilogram of dates purchased. They turned out to be exactly 83.

Therefore, it turns out that Bulgaria received about 750,000 dates from the UAE. This makes one date per nine Bulgarians as the country’s population is around seven million or one date per six to seven people if only the number of people actually residing in Bulgaria, without the emigration, is taken into account.

However, according to Bulgarian Economy Minister Emil Karanikolov, who traveled with the shipments to and from Abu Dhabi, the dates would be distributed to homes of the poor, not to the entire population. “Dates are good, nutritious food,” Karanikolov said.

It also became known that the National Logistic Coordination Center under the guidance of the Fire Department Head, Chief Commissioner Nikolay Nikolov would be in charge of the distribution of the dates. This Center was created on March 15, 2020 to “support efforts to obtain, order, distribute and prioritize” protective gear such as masks, gloves and clothing. Obviously, the perimeter of the Center’s tasks has already expanded to include food distribution.

*The dates purchased for our experiment had pits and small twigs. We don’t know whether UAE’s dates have pits and twigs.

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