Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, on Downing Street on September 16, 2021 in London, England.
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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – About a year and a half since the coronavirus pandemic began, people’s lives must return to normal, United Arab Emirates’ de facto leader Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed said in a public address on Wednesday.
“I tell you that things are good; the state of health in the UAE is good. I want to assure you all that our lives need to get back to normal,” the leader who is also Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Commander in Chief of the United Armed Forces United Arab Emirates said in a video released by state news agency WAM.
The comments come as the UAE sees a dramatic drop in the daily number of Covid-19 cases, hitting an 18-month low of 156 new cases on Wednesday. They’re also coming during the first week of Dubai Expo, a six-month mega-event designed to showcase innovations from around the world, boost Dubai’s international profile and boost tourism to the Gulf emirate, which has left nearly 9% of its population due to 2020 the pandemic.
“Maybe our habits will change a little. We will adapt our habits like our work, our children’s education or our private lives like going out, seeing people and being seen by people, and make some changes,” said the Crown Prince.
The outlook is dramatically different from other financial hubs in emerging markets like Singapore or countries that have adopted “zero covid” strategies like New Zealand and Australia, which are still bound by far stricter travel, business and traffic regulations.
The UAE’s coronavirus experience varies by emirate; Dubai experienced a strict lockdown in the spring of 2020, then gradually reopened over the summer and was one of the first cities to reopen to tourism the following July. The capital of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi, has been stricter but has recently relaxed several restrictions.
The country peaked nearly 4,000 cases per day in February this year, but it also boasted one of the fastest vaccination campaigns in the world, with Dubai residents in particular enjoying relatively easy travel and social mobility around the world compared to most other countries.
“2020 was difficult and presented great challenges, but thankfully the UAE was able to be one of the first countries to emerge from the crisis when some countries faced great difficulties,” said the Crown Prince.
“The number of cases in the country has dropped below 500 [per day]. That is promising and suggests that 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. With much of the world tightening lockdowns amid the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, Dubai remains open to tourism and brands itself as sunny, quarantine-free Escape – despite the sharp rise in cases.
KARIM SAHIB | AFP via Getty Images
Life in Dubai in particular feels “more normal” than at any point during the pandemic; Groups of up to 10 people can sit at tables in restaurants, shops are fully open again, bars and gyms are busy, and the airport is full. In most places, however, it is still compulsory to wear a mask and activities such as dancing in clubs and bars are still not allowed.
The UAE has one of the highest rates of fully vaccinated residents in the world; According to the country’s health ministry, more than 20.2 million doses of the Covid vaccine have been given to the roughly 10 million population and more than 85.5 million PCR tests have been performed.