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US News In the midst of a pandemic, Dubai attracts tourists fleeing confinements

14:55  18 january  2021
14:55  18 january  2021 Source:   europe1.fr

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Dubai is preparing to bring back tourists from July 7 with a strict set of rules.

Dubaï garde ses portes grandes ouvertes aux touristes qui fuient les confinements imposés à travers le monde. © Karim SAHIB / AFP Dubai is keeping its doors wide open to tourists fleeing the confinements imposed across the world.

Neither quarantine nor curfew: the number of contaminations may increase, Dubai keeps its doors wide open to tourists fleeing the confinements imposed around the world to contain the pandemic of new coronavirus.

While other tourist destinations apply heavy restrictions to control the health crisis, the rowdy Gulf Emirate vibrates to the sound of the hubbub of trendy bars and to the rhythm of photos of skyscrapers or desert shared on Instagram.

"I'm not afraid here. Look, everyone wears a mask," remarks Dmitri Melnikov, a 30-year-old Russian tourist.

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Since the start of the crisis, the Dubai authorities have boasted of having controlled the pandemic, with new technologies as weapons and very heavy fines to dissuade people from not wearing a mask. Physical distancing is also widely used in public places.

Tourists must present a recent negative PCR test upon arrival and / or undergo one at Dubai Airport, where health workers continually push thin swabs into travelers' noses.

There are no specific statistics on infections in Dubai which, with its approximately 2.9 million inhabitants, is one of the seven principalities forming the United Arab Emirates.

Nationally, the daily number of contaminations, around 3,400, has almost doubled since January 1.

In total, the country, which has embarked on a vast vaccination campaign, has officially recorded more than 253,000 cases, including 745 deaths for a population of approximately 10 million inhabitants.

In the midst of a pandemic, Dubai attracts tourists fleeing lockdowns

 In the midst of a pandemic, Dubai attracts tourists fleeing lockdowns © Karim SAHIB Emiratis watch boats carrying tourists near the old quarter of Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, January 6, 2021 Neither quarantine nor curfew : The number of contaminations may increase, Dubai is keeping its doors wide open to tourists fleeing the confinements imposed across the world to contain the novel coronavirus pandemic.

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- "Take the risk" - In the historic district of Al-Fahidi, many visitors throng between small stone buildings on the edge of a canal, a setting of the Dubai of yesteryear. Antiseptics are available everywhere and many signs remind you of barrier measures.

The protection of the population is a priority, assures Nasser Jomaa ben Suleiman, director of the site. "The number of tourists has been limited to 20 per guide instead of 100 to reduce attendance," he told AFP.

"I feel safer here than in the United States because I think people respect the wearing of a mask and physical distancing better," says Andi Pitman, an American who came to spend five weeks in Dubai with her family.

“We have young kids who need to get out and see the world, so we're willing to take the risk,” she says.

Sophia Amouch, 24, came from France for two weeks of vacation that she decided to extend to spend a full month in the emirate, where "everything is done to avoid contact".

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Such travel curbs have turned the travel and tourism industry into one of the largest casualties of the coronavirus pandemic . Job losses in the travel industry could reach more than 100 million this year, according to an analysis by World Travel and Tourism Council.

"The pandemic in Dubai is much better managed than in Paris", she believes, while France imposes a night curfew and exceptional measures on travelers to try to slow the arrival of new mutations of the coronavirus .

- “Keeping control” - Tourism is one of the pillars of Dubai's economy, which welcomed 16 million visitors in 2019 and, before the pandemic, expected 20 million in 2020.

Poor in oil but economy the most diverse in the Gulf, Dubai reopened its doors to tourists last July, after a period of strict containment in the spring.

"Dubai seems to position itself as the destination of choice for those who want to escape lockdowns," observes Scott Livermore, chief economist of Oxford Economics Middle East, a British analysis center.

According to him, this "growth strategy", if it is successful, will have a positive impact on the organization in the next fall of the World Expo that the emirate, which has spent 8.2 billion dollars (6, 8 billion euros) for this event, had to postpone in 2020.

But the bet is risky, estimates the specialist, because a second wave of Covid-19 would undermine this strategy. To succeed, the emirate must remain "open and connected, but above all keep control of the Covid-19", adds Mr. Livermore.

In the meantime, Dubai's airline Emirates, the largest in the Middle East, has resumed a good part of its services around the world. Dubai Airport saw, according to official statistics, half a million travelers during the first week of January.

#Jenemeconfineraipas: these French people who are mobilizing against a reconfinement .
© JOE RAEDLE / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP Doctor in Essonne, Fabien Quedeville launched the hashtag #jenemeconfineraipas, which has gone viral. However, this doctor does not call for "civil disobedience". He wants to "create an electric shock" because the measure would do, according to him, more harm than good.

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