Dubai's post-vax boom: Bustling bars and surging business

DUBAI (UAE) -- Nation after nation are locked down, preparing for a massive surge in the omicron variant's spread like wildfire.

Dubai's post-vax boom: Bustling bars and surging business

Donna Sese in Dubai is expecting a different surge. She anticipates a flurry of restaurant bookings and long drink bills.

Sese, the manager of the Yalumba restaurant in the five-star Le Meridien hotel said, "We're back, and busy like how things used to be." Friday brunch lovers will pay $250 for extravagant spreads with Clicquot Champagne.

Globalized cities-states appear to be experiencing a boom season. This is due to one of the highest vaccination rates in the world and government steps to attract businesses and de-escalate tensions between regional rivals.

The dance floor is seeing a return to maskless debauchery. Brunch-goers drink with abandon. The market is flooded with home-buyers. Hotel suites are being snapped up by tourists. Millionaires from abroad are moving to the Emirates. Although Coronavirus infections are making a comeback now, they remain at a lower level than in the past.

Dubai's government didn't respond to our request for comment.

For those who remember the December 2012 rush in Dubai, it's déjà vu. This is because they are still reminiscing on the chaos of that year. Open-door policies allowed revelers to indulge their pent-up desire for New Year's Eve, but the number of infections soared quickly and hospitals were overflowing with COVID-19 victims.

One year later, Dubai feels like it is free from the burden of mass vaccination. Even though the spread of omicron is threatening to increase, there have been very few cases of virus hospitalizations or deaths. After lows of 100 in the previous weeks, daily infections reached 1,000 on Thursday.

While inoculation rates have been declining in many Western countries, the UAE claims that 99% of all eligible vaccine recipients -- any person over 12 years old -- have received at least one dose.

Some received five.

The UAE initially relied on Sinopharm, a Chinese state-backed company, to provide a vaccine during the global vaccination scramble. Despite the country's high vaccination rate, infections increased -- and there were concerns about Sinopharm's inadequate antibody response.

In Dubai, Sinopharm is no more an option. People who had received both doses, as well as the legions of low-paid foreign laborers in Dubai, opted to get double vaccinations with Pfizer BioNTech. All adults can receive Pfizer boosters from the government.

Months of fear and anxiety have been replaced by unburdened excitement. Website Property Finder reports that more properties were sold in Dubai than any other month over the past eight years because of widespread vaccinations and record-low interest rates.

The sales prices have risen beyond pre-pandemic levels. Prices were rising 2.5% per month up to June, with wild appreciations in luxury segments.

Analysts have linked the hot streak to a pause for villa construction, and an influx of Indian, Chinese, and Western European financiers attracted to Dubai's open offices and low taxes.

Numerous young millionaires paid cash upfront to purchase beach villas at a huge cryptocurrency conference held in October, real estate agents reported.

"You can go out to restaurants. Remote working is a common topic. "This is not the case for Europe, where it's still locking up," Christophe De Rassenfosse (chief product officer at Property Finder) said about why he moved with his family from Brussels, Belgium, to Dubai in October. "There is no need to have an overwhelming number of elderly people in hospitals.

The government is promoting plans to make the sheikhdom attractive to foreign investors. This includes new 10-year visas, retirement options, freelance options, and reforms to the Islamic legal code.

As competition heats up against Saudi Arabia, the UAE has changed its work week to Monday-Friday in January. This is to align itself with the West.

You can see the rebound in the full hotels, jammed roads and raucous clubs.

According to data firm STR, Dubai's hotel occupancy exceeded 90% by mid-November. Emirates, a long-haul carrier, estimated that more than 1.1 million passengers would be able to squeeze through Dubai's terminal in time for the holidays.

According to TomTom, traffic levels in the first week of December exceeded those of 2019. Many taxis have gone missing from street corners. Fleet owners who downsized their operations in the face of "unprecedented demand" cited a shortage as the reason for this absence.

According to Euromonitor, the UAE's overall alcohol volume sales rose by 7.8% to 117.5 Million Liters (31.3 Million Gallons) in this year.

This growth even reached out to long-standing rivals, Turkey and Iran.

In the past, politics had choked trade between powerhouses. In a recent frenzy of diplomacy throughout the Middle East, UAE’s de factor leader met Turkey’s president in Ankara and a top Emirati security advisor visited Tehran.

According to Iranian government statistics, Iran's imports to the UAE increased by 70% from March 2021 to $5.4 billion between September 2021 and September 2021. Emirati imports from the UAE will reach levels never seen since America imposed severe sanctions against Iran in 2018.

According to Emirati WAM news agency, trade between Turkey and UAE jumped more than 100% to $7.2 Billion in the first half of the year.

Dubai business leaders from Iran and Turkey claim that the detente has relaxed restrictions on their visas and licenses.

Fatma Nilgun Emrem, a Turkish business consultant from Tamimi Consulting, has received a flood of requests from Turkish beauty salons and retailers looking to open a shop in Dubai.

She stated that "The UAE's policies and perspectives are changing."

Hossein Asrar Haghighi is a board member of Iran-UAE Business Council. He also described "a relaxing” of Iranian trade regulations and the growing number Iranian businessmen who have been granted the UAE's 10-year gold visas.

Gregory Gause, a Texas A&M University scholar on the region, said that "Dubai getting out of COVID and reducing regional tensions, as well as new moves to attract business, makes it a pretty great environment." "But Dubai can't control the events around it."

The possibility of Mideast tensions rising from the collapse of Vienna's ongoing negotiations to revive Tehran’s nuclear agreement could be a result. According to James Swanston, Capital Economics' economist, overcapacity could be a problem for industries when the fair closes in Dubai next year.

The rapid spread of Omicron could soon ruin Dubai's party.

But for now, optimism reigns.

"The money has returned," stated Saeed Zakari (a captain at Dubai Creek who travels the Persian Gulf in a dhow loaded with Iranian appliances).

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