With the successful administration of more than 5 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines, the UAE continues to race ahead towards its goal of inoculating half of the country’s population by the end of March. It has administered 50.61 doses of the vaccine per 100 people so far — a rate globally second only to Israel — and wants all eligible adults vaccinated this year. This is surely a milestone to celebrate in the global war against the coronavirus — and also a time to reflect on the hard-won sacrifices that have made this moment possible.
From the very early days of the pandemic, the UAE’s topmost priority has been the safety and well-being of its people, as well as ensuring their economic sustainability and social well-being. In order to achieve this, the UAE never hesitated to implement strict restrictions — as well as to resume businesses and social activities and welcome international tourists back to the country when it was appropriate to do so.
While it has remained open to tourism, Dubai, for instance, has strengthened travel protocols, elective procedures in hospitals have been temporarily cancelled, masks and social distancing remain mandatory in public places while the capacities of hotels, shopping malls and restaurants have all been capped. These rigorous measures are monitored with stringent penalties for violators.
At the same time, the UAE has rapidly scaled up its National Vaccination Programme, making Covid-19 vaccines available across government and private health care establishments so that the most vulnerable segments of the society get vaccinated at the earliest. It has also increased the testing capacity for the virus, aggressively building a “new normal” health care infrastructure where people can continue with their daily lives and livelihoods.
World over, policymakers have grappled with the dilemma of balancing lives and livelihoods with the pandemic in full flow. While there are no formulaic answers, the UAE has shown one of the safest and most pragmatic ways forward — and is already reaping the benefits. Industrial output in Dubai continued to rise for the second consecutive month in January, employment rates have increased and Dubai’s economy is forecast to grow 4% this year.
It is now the responsibility of every citizen and resident to ensure that the UAE continues to journey down this path. But as we have seen, not every resident or visitor or business respects that path or follows the rules — thereby disrupting the humungous efforts of the authorities. Such irresponsible and hazardous behaviour from a tiny minority of the population must stop immediately and violators must face the full force of the law. It is only with the full-scale cooperation of everyone involved, that the UAE will continue to forge its path of progress out of this pandemic.