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Dubai responds to “party haven amid pandemic” media report

Dubai responds to “party haven amid pandemic” media report

The state-run Dubai Media Office issued a clarification on Tuesday, January 19

Dubai UAE

Dubai has responded to an Associated Press media report that labelled the emirate as a “party haven” amid the pandemic. The report claimed that the city was facing its biggest surge in Covid-19 cases as a result of lax preventive measures.

However, the state-run Dubai Media Office dismissed the report in a statement issued on Tuesday, January 19, in which it said that the “emirate continues to maintain the highest levels of protection against the pandemic and compliance with preventive measures.”

It pointed to the fact that that there were already 120 vaccination centres set up across the city and that “several more will be established in the coming weeks.”

Read: Covid-19 vaccination centre opens in Dubai World Trade Centre; minimum age for jab reduced to 16

The UAE has until now administered 2 million Covid-19 vaccine doses, covering a fifth of its population.

While the AP report stated that reality TV and soccer stars were escaping Britain’s lockdown and heading to Dubai where commercial establishments including restaurants and bars are open, Dubai Media Office responded by saying that the authorities in the city “follow a zero-tolerance policy in enforcing preventive guidelines including mask-wearing, social distancing and precautionary measures in all restaurants, hotels, social gatherings and entertainment outlets.

“Regular and widespread inspections are carried out to ensure stringent adherence to precautionary measures by businesses and public facilities; violators face severe penalties,” Dubai’s Media Office reiterated.

Beyond the Covid-19 pandemic, the AP report also claimed that the city’s real estate had “plunged 30 per cent in value since 2014” and that S&P Global “estimates Dubai’s debt burden to be some 148 per cent of gross domestic product if state-linked industries are included.”

However, the Dubai Media Office clarified that from an economic standpoint, “Dubai continues to demonstrate its resilience from the pandemic’s repercussions. The 4 per cent annual increase in new licenses issued by the Dubai Economy in 2020, clearly demonstrates the renewed rise of growth opportunities for entrepreneurs.

“Customs transactions recorded by Dubai Customs saw a significant rise of 23 per cent to reach 16 million in 2020, despite the challenging global environment caused by the Covid-19 pandemic,” the Media Office added.

Read: Dubai Customs completes 16 million transactions in 2020

The Media Office went on to cite further examples of a total of Dhs7.1bn stimulus package that has been extended by the government in Dubai, which includes a package valued at Dhs315m which was announced by the Crown Prince of Dubai, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, earlier this month.

“Dubai’s robust economic policies have ensured financial stability and prudent debt management; Dubai World completed recently repaid its $8.2bn debt more than two years ahead of schedule,” asserted the Media Office.

In October, the Dubai government also repaid a $750m (Dhs2.755bn) fixed rate note issued on October 4, 2010, which matured on October 5, 2020.

Read also: Sheikh Hamdan announces Dhs315m economic stimulus package for Dubai

That same month the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) also repaid a $1.5bn bond issued in 2010 and said that new projects worth over Dhs80bn were either ongoing or envisaged for completion over the next five years.

Read more: Dubai’s DEWA repays $1.5bn bond, turns debt-free

As per a budget approved by Dubai’s Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, in December, the emirate’s government expects to spend Dhs57.1bn ($15.5bn) in 2021.

Read: Sheikh Mohammed approves Dhs57.1bn spend in 2021 Dubai budget

With regards to the AP report of airlines continuing to operate a number of flights between countries such as the UK and Israel where new Covid-19 infections continue to remain high, the Media Office said: “Dubai’s Emirates offers the global airline industry’s first comprehensive multi-risk travel insurance coverage and Covid-19 cover for all its customers, which includes out-of-country emergency medical expenses of up to $500,000.”

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