About half a year ago, when the countdown for ringing in the new year started, none of us were prepared for what was in store.
Little did we know that the highly connected, globalised and digitised world of 2020 was in for a situation beyond imagination and predictability. Before we could assess how the start of the year was faring, we were forced to stay at home, travel plans were cancelled, family events postponed, and we all watched in awe as an unheard-of virus changed all of our plans and agendas.
As travel restrictions took effect, there were some of us who managed to stay where they were, and there were others, like me, who had to travel for some unavoidable reasons. From Dubai, I had to travel to Germany with my family. So, we prepared by equipping ourselves with all sorts of safety elements, including sanitisers, masks, and gloves.
As we checked into Dubai International Airport, we were astonished at the precautionary measures that the airport staff, security personnel, and flight attendants carried out with ease and normality, as though they had been doing it for years.
The airport facilitated Covid-19 tests for every traveller and shared results via an app and SMS. A handful of safety travel equipment, such as sanitisers, were also distributed to ensure each traveller was well-equipped, safe, and had peace of mind. What’s even more fascinating was that we were not asked to pay for the sanitisation kit, and the outstanding efforts that the authorities were taking to ensure we had a safe travel.
Every single tool at the airport was sanitised, from strollers for children to counters and luggage trolleys. Food was served with all precautionary measures in mind and social distancing rules skilfully adhered to. At every checkpoint, attendants and guards would seek our permission to touch our bags and items. I was mesmerised by the ease with which Dubai airport and Emirates airline handled the situation.
Exciting adventures to be embarked on and world-renowned landmarks and sites to be seen in person intertwined with Dubai’s captivating culture are undertakings that are on the bucket lists of every holiday-seeker. As Dubai opened up to international visitors from July 7, I, as a resident of this city and someone who had recently travelled, am very confident about the safety of travellers.
With all precautions being taken, and comfort and well-being being made a priority, the tourism sector may very well be boosted and accelerate even faster than anticipated. I count myself lucky to be part of the UAE economy that has already shifted to the third phase of Covid-19 normalcy in a short span, setting examples for other nations to follow.
Government policies have played a major role in normalising the economy. Dubai was recently awarded a “Safe Travel Certification” from the World Travel and Tourism Council, while the UAE ranks third in Covid-19 testing per one million of population.
Not only is the UAE bouncing back economically — opening malls, allowing offices to operate, and bringing life back on track — it is also actively forming legislation and taking measures to support residents and tourists without halting any of its national projects or plans. This undoubtedly entices more “revenge spending” due to the flow of more tourists into the emirate and, hence, can lead to a V-shaped recovery.
For us as developers, this works very well with investors getting a chance to visit the properties we have to offer, instead of merely engaging in virtual tours, which work very well, but are limited in the impact they have on purchasing decisions. Seeing a property in person remains an unmatchable experience. This helps us close more deals and contribute to revitalising the market.
As the tug of war with the pandemic continues globally, the UAE is not just making sure that the best facilities are made available, but not letting the contagion affect its plans. The successful launch of the first Arab space mission to Mars and the gradual opening of the economy is a testimony to the fact that if a nation has thoughtful leadership, innovative and adaptive professionals across industries, and committed residents who believe in the national visions, nothing is impossible.
- Farhad Azizi is CEO of Azizi Developments.