Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi in Downing Street on September 16, 2021 in London, England.
Hannah McKay – WPA Pool | Getty Images
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – About a year and a half after the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, people’s lives must return to normal, UAE de facto leader Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed said on Wednesday during a public address.
“I tell you that things are going well; the state of health in the United Arab Emirates is good. I want to assure all of you that our lives have to get back to normal,” said the leader, who is also the crown prince. of Abu Dhabi and deputy supreme commander of the armed forces of the United Arab Emirates, said in a video released by state media WAM.
The comments come as the UAE sees a dramatic reduction in the daily number of Covid-19 cases, hitting an 18-month low on Wednesday with 156 new cases. They also come during the first week of the Dubai Expo, a six-month mega-event aimed at showcasing innovations from around the world, raising Dubai’s international profile and boosting tourism to the Gulf Emirate, which saw nearly 9% of its population leave. in 2020 due to the pandemic.
“Maybe our habits could change a bit. We will adjust and make changes to our habits such as our work, our children’s education or our privacy like going out, seeing people and being seen by people. “said the crown prince.
The outlook differs considerably from those of other emerging market financial centers like Singapore, or countries that have chosen to pursue “zero covid” strategies like New Zealand and Australia, which are still bound by much more regulations. strict on travel, business and commuting.
The coronavirus experience in the UAE has varied from emirate to emirate; Dubai experienced a strict lockdown in the spring of 2020, then gradually reopened throughout the summer, becoming one of the first cities to reopen to tourism the following July. The capital of the UAE, Abu Dhabi, has been more stringent, but recently relaxed several restrictions.
The country peaked at nearly 4,000 cases per day in February this year, but also boasted of one of the fastest vaccination campaigns in the world, with residents of Dubai in particular enjoying a relative ease of travel and social mobility compared to much of the rest of the population. the world.
“2020 has been difficult and has witnessed great challenges, but the United Arab Emirates, thank God, was able to be one of the first countries to emerge from the crisis at a time when some countries were facing great difficulties.” , said the crown prince.
“The number of cases in the country has dropped to less than 500 [per day]. This is promising and indicates that the Covid-19 is under control and less dangerous than it was. “
A masked Israeli tourist in Dubai’s historic al-Fahidi district on January 11, 2021. As much of the world tightens closures amid the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, Dubai remains open to the tourism, presenting itself as a sunny country with no escape quarantine – despite a sharp increase in cases.
KARIM SAHIB | AFP via Getty Images
Life in Dubai in particular seems closer to “normal” than at any time during the pandemic; groups of up to 10 people can sit at tables in restaurants, businesses have reopened at full capacity, bars and gyms are lively and the airport is busy. However, masks remain mandatory in most places and activities like dancing in clubs and bars are still not allowed.
The United Arab Emirates has one of the highest rates of fully immunized residents in the world; So far, more than 20.2 million doses of the Covid vaccine have been administered to a population of around 10 million, and more than 85.5 million PCR tests have been performed, according to the Ministry of Country health.