DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) – The minute you step inside it stops. It’s 2019 like bars pack and pulsing. Social media stars waving a bottle of champagne. DJ spinning party tunes through multi-hour brunch.
Since becoming one of the world’s first destinations for tourism, in the United Arab Emirates, Dubai has promoted itself as an ideal pandemic holiday destination. It cannot afford otherwise, analysts say, as the virus shakes the foundations of the city-state’s economy.
With its cautious mall, frenzied construction and giants of foreign workers, Dubai was built on the promise of globalization, Large-scale draws from aviation, hospitality and retail sectors – all in the grip of the virus.
Now the reality is capturing the big dreamer Emirates. With the peak tourist season in full swing, coronavirus infections are reaching unprecedented heights. Daily affairs have increased nearly three-fold in the past month, forcing Britain to close its travel corridor with Dubai last week. But in the face of growing economic crisis, the city will not close.
“Dubai’s economy is a house of cards,” said Matthew Page, a nonwhite scholar from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “Its competitive advantage is a place where the rules don’t apply.”
While most countries banned tourists from the UK in anticipation of a rapidly spreading virus variant found there, Dubai, home to some 240,000 British expats, kept its doors open for the holidays. Emirates flew five daily flights to London’s Heathrow Airport.
Within days, the strain of the new virus had hit the Emirates, but that did not deter reality TV and soccer stars from fleeing the UK’s lockdown and wintry weather for Dubai’s bars and beaches – without having a coronovirus test before boarding . Scenes of pre-pandemic revelations were scattered among the British epidemics. Facing backlash, the Instagram affected, spotted at the rowdy yacht parties, were quick to declare their trip “necessary”.
Dubai was happy with the influx. According to data provider STR, the hotel occupancy rate increased to 71% in December. Aviation data analysis firm OAG said the London-Dubai air route ranked the world’s busiest in the first week of January.
Iris Sabellano of Dubai’s Al Arabi Travel Agency said, “There was already a lot of people causing the epidemic, saying that many of their customers had to quarantine after testing positive for the virus upon arrival or before departure.” Has been forced. ” Travelers arriving from a selected list of countries are not required to test before their trip, but all must visit Dubai’s airport.
“With the vaccine coming out, they think it’s not the end of the world, they’re not going to die,” she said.
For those who die from COVID-19, the long-haul airline Emirates pays $ 1,800 to help with the funeral costs.
As the outbreak worsens, it seems likely that the stampede will slow down. Israeli tourists, who were arriving in the thousands after a normalization deal between countries, have disappeared due to new quarantine regulations. It was decided to suspend the visa exemption for Israel to the UAE by Monday until July. The UK’s move to mandate a 10-day tenure for those returning from Dubai is what is said about the tourism sector.
“Brits have such a significant proportion of tourists and investors,” said David Tars, a spokesman for ForwardK, a travel data analysis company. “Cutting that pipeline … is a complete disaster for the city.”
British Transport Secretary Grant Shaps tweeted that the government’s decision was prompted by the UAE’s latest virus data. Beyond the daily transition, however, the data is frightening. The UAE does not provide public information about disease groups or hospitals.
In the midst of an aggressive trial operation, there have been more than 256,000 cases and 751 deaths in the country.
On Tuesday, dozens of cars were tested at a drive-in coronavirus clinic on the outskirts of Dubai’s desert. At the American Hospital in Dubai, where a parking lot tent administration tests the virus, a guard said the waiting time is more than two hours. At least 80 people got in line at the call of the afternoon prayer.
Hours after the Associated Press published this story, Shekhadom’s government-run Dubai Media Office released a statement Noting that the Emirates “maintains the highest level of protection against the epidemic and complies with preventive measures.”
Analysts estimate the UAE’s unique demographics – 90% of expatriates, consisting mostly of healthy, young laborers – have kept well-staffed hospitals from being overwhelmed and put the mortality rate at 0.3%.
But it did no harm to Abu Dhabi, Dubai’s more conservative neighbor and the country’s capital. Without explanation, Abu Dhabi has kept Dubai’s border closed, despite promises to reopen Christmas. Anyone crossing into Abu Dhabi must present a negative coronovirus test.
Relations between service-heavy Dubai and oil-rich Abu Dhabi can be tense. During the 2009 financial crisis, Abu Dhabi needed to save Dubai with a $ 20 billion bailout. This time, it is unclear whether Dubai can rely on another cash infusion, given the crash in global oil prices.
Even due to the pre-pandemic, Dubai’s economy was headed for a second recession thanks to a volatile real estate market that has seen a 30% drop in value since the 2014 peaks. Emirates and its web of government-linked entities face billions of dollars in debt repayment. Already the government has stepped in to help the carrier Emirates, which received $ 2 billion in aid last year. Other indebted firms invested in hospitality and tourism may need help, especially with events such as the World Expo pushed back a year. Rating agency S&P Global has estimated that Dubai’s debt burden would be around 148% of GDP if state-owned industries were included.
Under pressure, authorities have captured vaccines as the only measure to prevent the outbreak. The news that appeared on the first pages of state-related newspapers is the story of a mass vaccination campaign, which officials claim is the second-fastest in the world after Israel, with 19 doses being distributed to 100 people on Tuesday.
The UAE is offering the Chinese Coronavirus Vaccine Cyanopharma to everyone, even as its announcement about the efficacy of the shot lacks data and details.. Demand has boosted supply for the Pfizer-BioNotech vaccine in Dubai, where hotline operators say thousands of high-risk residents remain on the waiting list.
With the country breaking its transition record for seven consecutive days, the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, declared that widespread vaccination, not movement restrictions, would “accelerate the full recovery of our country.”
But even though Dubai fulfills its goal of neutralizing 70% of the population by the end of 2021, the Moody’s Investors Service expects the UAE economy to take three years to bounce back.
“I don’t think Dubai days are numbered,” said Page, Carnegie scholar. “But if the cities were more polite and responsible, it would be a more sustainable place.”
Associated Press writer John Gambrel in Dubai contributed to this report.