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FeaturesDubai turns haven for tourists eager to escape lockdowns

Dubai turns haven for tourists eager to escape lockdowns

Published: 18th Jan 2021 1:06 pm

Dubai: As much of the world tightens lockdowns to stem coronavirus outbreak, Dubai has flung its doors open, branding itself as a sunny, quarantine-free escape — despite a sharp rise in cases.

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While mask-wearing and social distancing are strictly enforced, life in the tourism-reliant emirate looks much like normal, with its restaurants, hotels and mega-malls open for business.Emirates, which restored its network to about three quarters of pre-pandemic levels, is again operating A380 super-jumbos – the world’s largest commercial airliner — ferrying in visitors from Britain and Russia.

Russian tourist, Dmitriy Melnikov, said he came to Dubai because his choices were otherwise limited, with many destinations in partial or full lockdown.

“I am not scared. If you look at people here, everyone has a mask, and I think it’s cool.” the 30-year-old said. Daily detected cases hover in the mid-3,000s across the United Arab Emirates, which has a population of under 10 million, with 745 deaths from Covid-19 since the pandemic began.

With a negative PCR test in their home countries — and possibly another upon arrival, depending on the place of departure — tourists can freely enter Dubai, where winter temperatures average a pleasant 25 degrees Celsius (77 degrees Fahrenheit).

“Before the coronavirus, tour groups were up to 100 or 250 visitors with each tour guide, but now things are different, only 20 visitors maximum for each tour guide,” said the district’s director Nasser Juma bin Sulaiman.

American tourist Andi Pitman, said it was her first trip abroad since the start of the pandemic.”We are very excited to be here and a little nervous, but happy to be out again,” she said, strolling through Al-Fahidi with her husband and two children. “None of us have had the vaccine yet, but we have small kids that need to be out and need to see the world, so we’re willing to take the risk.”

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