Dubai opened up 30 pct of economy, rest depends on rate of coronavirus infection: DED

A man walks at the Dubai International Financial Centre, almost empty of people, following the outbreak of coronavirus, in Dubai, UAE, March 18, 2020. (Reuters)

Dubai has opened up 30 percent of its economy and the restoration of normalcy in the different sectors depends on the rate of coronavirus infections and the overall health situation in the emirate, said Director General of the Department of Economic Development (DED), Sami al-Qamzi on Thursday.

“The ability of the healthcare sector to deal with infected cases will be critical to the restoration of normalcy. In the first phase of partial easing of restrictions, 30 percent of the economy has been opened up,” he added, during a remote press conference of government officials.

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“Moving to the next stage of easing of restrictions will depend on the commitment of the people and businesses to observe precautionary measures. Dubai and the UAE will also draw from the experiences of other countries in this respect.”

He added that Dubai will revise its strategies and may come up with a new economic model to deal with the unprecedented challenges based on how the situation develops in the coming months.

Al-Qamzi also stressed that preventing loss of jobs and ensuring the sustainability of businesses is a key focus for the government.

The UAE and Dubai have launched many stimulus measures to reduce the pressure on businesses. He mentioned Dubai’s 1.5 billion dirhams ($408 million) stimulus package to support companies and the business sector in Dubai. The purpose of the package was to enhance liquidity and reduce the impact of the current global economic situation.

Further stimulus packages are being studied by the government in the upcoming period. It is closely monitoring the situation as it develops.

Dubai is looking to launch more initiatives in cooperation with the private sector to enable businesses to continue operating profitably and to prevent loss of jobs, al-Qamzi said.

Tourism in Dubai amid coronavirus

Al-Qamzi stressed that restoring normalcy to the tourism sector is “complex,” as it depends on the opening up of airports and worldwide markets. As tourism is a major sector, the renewed influx of tourists is critical for Dubai.

“Achieving this depends on the success of global efforts to control the pandemic and discover a vaccine. The tourism sector worldwide will have to negotiate critical challenges before it is on a firm path to recovery,” he said.

Regarding further lifting of controls like opening of beaches and parks, al-Qamzi said it would “depend on the overall pandemic situation and an assessment of the health of the community.”

Empty beaches in Dubai. (Reuters)

Empty beaches in Dubai. (Reuters)

“The government has a clear framework for moving to each new phase, but the timing of this depends on a variety of factors,” the DED chief said.

Retail sector performance amid coronavirus

“Some strict actions were required to ensure certain retail outlets, especially those outside malls, stringently implemented precautionary measures,” al-Qamzi said.

A woman walks in an almost empty mall amid the outbreak of coronavirus, in Dubai. (Reuters)

A woman walks in an almost empty mall amid the outbreak of coronavirus, in Dubai. (Reuters)

However, he noted that penalties such as fines had a limited impact on businesses compared to awareness campaigns, which were able to significantly raise the level of compliance among consumers and retail merchants.

Following the reduction of curbs, a no-exchange policy was put in place in all retail outlets except in case of defects or contamination. Use of fitting rooms was also prohibited to prevent any risk of infection.

Al-Qamzi affirmed that broadly, the retail sector has responded positively to the directives issued and showed strong commitment to preventive measures, except for businesses in some areas that did not understand the guidelines.

Recent reports showed that 80 percent of businesses showed strong commitment to precautionary measures. Al Qamzi believes this rate will improve with more awareness campaigns and inspections in the sector.

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