A man wearing a protective face mask as a preventive measure against coronavirus disease (COVID-19), walks at the Deira Gold Souq in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, March 18, 2020.
A man wearing a protective face mask as a preventive measure against coronavirus disease (COVID-19), walks at the Deira Gold Souq in Dubai, March 18, 2020. Image Credit: Reuters

Dubai: Dubai Gold & Jewellery Group (DGJG), the trade body for the gold and diamond jewellery sector in Dubai, has announced the re-opening of iconic Deira Gold Souq, in accordance with the directives by the Supreme Committee of Crisis and Disaster Management.

Starting April 26, retailers within the souq began operating at reduced trading hours — stores from 11am to 9pm and wholesale offices to work from 10am to 5pm.

Prior to the opening, Dubai’s Al Ras, Naif, Deira Gold Souq and individual stores completed an extensive sterilization programme with stringent guidelines and to ensure the Dubai Department of Economic Development’s retail protocols within strict health and safety guidelines.

Tawhid Abdullah, Chairman of DGJG, said: “We express our gratitude towards the leaders of this country, all the Government entities, Dubai Police, CID and all the first responders who worked tirelessly to get us to this point.

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“The UAE has led by example and left no stones unturned before easing the COVID-19 restriction and opening shopping malls, markets and commercial outlets. It is a good step towards safely opening the economy and as an industry we are all gearing up to meet the Government expectations and consumer confidence.

“It is our collective effort aimed at successfully implementing the retail protocol mandated by Dubai Economy in a manner that is both safe and effective, as we prepare in stages in the coming months to work towards 100 per cent capacity operations.”

Commenting on behalf of mall-based jewellers, Amit Dhamani, Joint Secretary of DGJG, said: “We are delighted to welcome back our customers and patrons of our businesses.

“Along with high-street stores, various fine jewellery boutiques and large Jewellery brands that have presence in Dubai based malls are alsoimploring towards the safety and precaution measures as per the directives.

“This is along with physical distancing measures that each jewellery retailer has planned. We are excited to see how our efforts will pan out during this new way of retailing.”

As per the guidelines, this stage of retail operations will allow retailers to employ 30 per cent of the workforce and operate at 30 per cent capacity. This will enable the correct practice of physical distancing norms. Sanitisers, masks and gloves will be made available for all staff and customers to minimise any risk within the outlets.

Chandu Siroya, Vice Chairman of DGJG, said: “Dubai gold and diamond jewellery retailers are doing a great job on by following all the required precautions in sync with government advice. They will operate in accordance with all guidelines as laid by Dubai Government to ensure the health and safety of our retailers and customers. From adhering to the timings to sanitizing Jewellery pieces, we are working at all levels to ensure that customers feel safe to shop.”

While all the efforts are to operate with highest safety measures, Dubai Gold & Jewellery Group retailers are also looking at ways to work on customer experience where the focus will be to make them confident of their retail environment.

When asked about expected sales, Abdul Salam KP, Treasurer of DGJG, said: “From last year’s Akshaya Tritiya to this year’s Akshaya Tritiya, gold prices are up about 35 per cent in a span of one year and is expected to further rise. With the opening of the retail outlets, we expect gold jewellery demand to pick up as Gold has proven to be a safer investment option in this market condition. Historically the value of gold jewellery has appreciated during uncertain times, pandemic, or an economic slowdown. This can be easily analysed by studying the last 20 years, as gold price is hiked by 500 per cent.”

DGJG will also guide the retailers to debrief all working staffs how to monitor customers within the souq area or outlets to ensure all standards are met andfocus on cutting short the impact of COVID-19.