Dubai: Residents in the UAE are not generally scared of the novel coronavirus, although they are taking precautionary measures as advised by the government.
This is evident by the fact that shopping in the commercial business district of Deira — old Dubai — continues unabated. There is hardly any slowdown in the hustle and bustle at the souqs — be it the spice, gold, garment or perfume souq - on the East Coast of popular Dubai Creek.
Some netizens have been sharing fake photos showing empty shopping areas and restaurants and even the Dubai Creek without any boats. We set out to investigate and can attest to the fact that it just isn’t true.
I took the tour of Deira’s commercial business district on Sunday and visited the crowded streets of Naif and Al Ras districts, which are popular spots for wholesale and retail shopping.
Oldest trading hub
For decades, the area has been an international wholesale trading hub and attracts traders from around the world. These days, it is very popular among merchants from African countries who come here to buy wares such as clothes, mobile phone accessories, shoes, spices, car accessories, jewellery and much more.
It was business as usual as shops reported good turnovers while the roadside restaurants and cafés were full. I did not notice anyone worried about coronavirus. There were a few people wearing masks – but this was the only reminder of a Covid-19 scare.
Not bothered about coronavirus
“I don’t think people who come to this market are even bothered about coronavirus,” said a shopkeeper at a busy garment shop. He said that there was no dearth of customers as winter and spring seasons are also always a busy time for traders in Deira, where visitors must walk the streets to shop.
I myself did not hesitate a bit to eat ‘fruit chat’ and ‘samosas’ from a popular snack shop in Naif. And I was not alone – there was a long wait to place my order.
Tourists having fun
Then, I walked along the Dubai Creek I was pleased to see a lot of tourists taking photos or readying for a ride on the beautiful, colourful dhows and Arbas. I approached some European tourists having ‘karak’ tea in the cafeteria on the Sabka Abra Station and asked them whether they have any concerns about coronavirus. “Absolutely no, we arrived in Dubai last week for holidays and we absolutely love the place,” said one of the tourists in the group. I rode an Abra and had to squeeze between two other passengers; the boat was full to capacity.
After getting off at Bur Dubai station, I went straight for a drink of refreshing fresh sugar cane juice, which is a popular delicacy at creekside cafeterias. Again, I did not see anyone running away or hiding for fear of the virus. Residents and tourists were having a good time. While some were busy taking selfies with popular historic buildings and the creek in the background, others were busy shopping at the bargain stores.